Relieved, Howell took a seat at one of the long oak tables in the Arcanum Library Common Room. Just as he began to fall asleep, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Howell languidly shifted his head to see Giuseppe, face as pale as snow, shaking uncontrollably.

Howell spoke in a quiet voice, wanting to avoid attention (they were in a library after all) , “You alright? Don’t worry about your secret, it’s safe with—”

“She’s here!” the gnome blurted out, “Upstairs. Make a left then a right, down the hall, fourth door on your left… she’s waiting for you there.”

After an hour of being lost, Howell found his way to the room. He grabbed the doorknob. He turned the doorknob. Just as the door began to creak open a hand reached out and dragged Howell by the collar of the bluecoat uniform into the room. The door slammed shut.

Howell tumbled on the floor. Didn’t even get a chance to feel confused before the fist crashed into his face, the force of which sent him flying into some stacks. As the books fell on him, Howell caught a glimpse of his assailant and realized that he must have messed up.

“I can explain!” Howell pleaded as he gestured to his outfit. Next thing he knew, he felt the cold sting of a dagger under his chin. The attacker had gotten behind him. With a flick of her wrist, the blood would be drained from his neck. Howell tried to turn but she jerked him back into place, spilling a few drops of blood. “Hey, watch it!”

She leaned her cloaked face to his ear and said, “Never make such a threat again!” Her voice was raspy, muffled by the layers of fabric that hid her mouth. It would be difficult to understand for anyone other than Howell.

Knife to the neck, Howell thought about his actions. What would make her so mad? He saved his friends. That was good. He helped murder some bluecoats… okay, also fine. If anything, she should be happy with the situation.

“The gnome,” sadness crept into that hoarse voice of hers, “Would you really reveal such a thing about a man?”

That damn loose-lipped nerd! Thought he could tattle on me, eh? Just you wait, buddy. When I get out of this, you are toast. First, I’ll take that stupid little pointy hat of yours and—

“Charlie!” the anger in her voice stung Howell, especially with that name. Maybe using such a secret was too far, even if it was to help comrades. Giuseppe doesn’t deserve the heat that such a revelation would bring. Why does she care about this so much? Stormgate’s a forsaken place, always has been.

“When will we leave this place?” Howell ventured.

“When every last one of them is dead.” She replied.

“Even his dog?”

“Yes.”

- TO BE CONTINUED -

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