Marine opened her mouth to greet Aysmar but Ezria beat her to it.
‘I haven’t seen Marine.’ She said quickly, and Marine smirked invisibly at the neat avoidance of a lie from Ezria.
‘Good.’ Aysmar responded quickly, ‘They are hot on your trail and it’s best she doesn’t lead them here.’
Marine smarted silently at Aysmar’s assumption that she would be so foolish and clumsy as to lead Vanweer to the Cavern.
‘Do you know if Vanweer got any information out of her?’ Ezria asked gently, and Aysmar shook her head.
‘Not from what I’ve heard. I think she was interviewed but I’m not sure Vanweer has told anyone what happened. Most of the rank and file have no idea what’s going on they’ve just been told to recapture a traitor.’
‘How did she escape?’ Asked Ezria, and Marine was surprised to see Aysmar falter. Her eyes seemed to cast about for a few seconds searching for an answer.
‘They are saying she went invisible. There’s talk that she’s some sort of wild sorceress… I… I can’t see how that can be true? We would know if one of the team had magic, wouldn’t we?’
‘I cannot see how we wouldn’t.’ Said Ezria, pretending to chew over Aysmar’s remarks with a nod.
‘Did you know she was magic?’ Aysmar prodded. Ezria continued the slight bouncing head nod as she let the question swill about her head.
‘I don’t believe she can be. I would have known.’ She said finally, ‘I… I wonder if it’s something Vanweer is cooking up to hide the fact that she still has Marine in captivity? She understands how the population will react to unrest and coming up with a story like this and filling the streets with guards is the quickest way to cement the danger and shore up her own position as great protector.’
Aysmar considered this for a few seconds, ‘It’s a huge story to fabricate…’
‘It’s a bigger story to be true.’ Replied Ezria evenly.
There was a scuffling sound behind them and the three Tingions whipped their heads round to face the noise. Eleff and Rishekke appeared through a tunnel entrance and saluted Aysmar and Ezria.
‘We heard the news and came as soon as we could.’ Said Rishekke, ‘Have you heard from Marine?’
‘No,’ said Aysmar as Ezria shook her head.
‘That’s good.’ Said Eleff, ‘I don’t trust the story Vanweer is putting about, ‘If Marine had the magic we would surely know?’
‘That’s exactly what we were just discussing.’ Said Ezria, ‘Aysmar, Rishekke - when did Vanweer decide to visit the laboratory?’
‘It was very last minute.’ Said Aysmar, quickly, ‘We had no time to get a message out to you as she arrived at the lab after Rishekke had delivered the uniforms.’
Rishekke looked downcast, ‘By the time I knew she was there, she already had Marine. Poor Marine.’
Ezria nodded, taking it all in. ‘Has anyone heard from Jurann or Mortglade?’ The little group shook their heads. Ezria nodded. ‘Ok, I think we should wait here to see if they check in.’
‘Are you worried?’ Eleff asked gently, laying a little hand on Ezria’s arm.
‘Mortally.’ Ezria said, and sat down to wait.
Marine sat down as well, as quietly as she could but she noticed Aysmar’s eyes flicker to where she sat as a single pebble wobbled under her invisible feet. Marine wasn’t entirely sure what to do now… she was aware she could flicker back into view at any moment and that would undoubtedly be a bad thing. Ezria not revealing everything to Aysmar had somewhat thrown her off… did Ezria not trust Aysmar? Days ago that would have been unthinkable for Marine. She heard Ezria’s voice in the back of her head saying she would trust the entire team with her life, now there was supposed to be a mole? Since when?
Marine’s stomach was in turmoil… it all felt too much. Too complicated. She fiddled with the laces on her boot absent mindedly wondering what the truth was behind it all. Then she froze. She could see the laces on her boot. She could see her entire boot. Her foot had come back into view.
As quietly as she could, keeping her booted foot as still as she could she stood up. Immediately she saw Ezria’s eyes flick casually to her and an eyebrow flex in a questioning motion. Marine pointed urgently down to her foot and Ezria understood immediately.
Ezria stood up calmly and Marine marvelled in how the woman moved so cautiously and controlled even in an emergency.
‘Excuse me,’ said Ezria, and turned away from the little group, on the opposite side of the circle to Marine. Marine used the distraction to dart as quickly and quietly as she could further back into the shadows with her now visible foot. ‘It seems my bladder does not know we are lying low.’ Continued Ezria and wandered away into the shadows whistling gently to herself.
Marine backed away quietly, looking at the group. Everyone was watching the departing back of Ezria. Except Rishekke.
For hours Marine hovered in the gloom at the far wall of the Cavern watching her treacherous body slowly coming into view part by part. There was an amusing hour where she was just a foot and a hand; Marine vaguely wondered if this would ever be useful were she able to repeat the trick in the future with more control.
First she heard the group greeting Kurann; he had no new major information but was glad to see everyone safe. He said the city had been placed in a lockdown while Vanweer searched for Marine. They had still been told nothing further than that she was a traitor.
Some time later though, Mortglade arrived with terrible news.
‘They’ve announced her parents are traitors also for harbouring her.’
It was all Marine could do to keep quiet over in the shadows where her left leg was still stubbornly invisible. She wanted to run to Vanweer and offer anything she could for the safe delivery of her parents.
‘Some of Marine’s wider family have been taken in for questioning too.’ Mortglade continued, ‘I assume we’ve not heard from her? Lying low. Sensible girl. This is not good.’
Marine felt tears slipping down her face as she thought of her nieces and nephews trying to sleep that night with their parents in custody. Or perhaps Vanweer had taken the children too? She couldn’t bear it any longer - she had to act.
- Dash over to the group and demand they free her family
- Go straight to Vanweer now to negotiate
- Go back to the lab and try and touch the stone now
- Dash over to the group and say that she thinks there’s a mole