Richard didn’t have to look long before he found Grace in amongst dozens of scrolls, he stood there watching her look through them then toss them to the side when finished, then moving onto the next one, he wasn’t even sure if she was reading them or not.
Walking up to her he was greeted with a broad smile from the girl. Standing, the scrolls that covered her lap fell around her in messy rolls. “Hey!” She yelled, her smile only getting larger.
Mildly confused Richard asked, “Uh, what are you doing, Grace?” he picked up one of the forgotten scrolls looking it over, his eyes landing on the seal, the long vine-like shape twisting around a long branch. The Kingdom of Merula was known for their skills in healing, they were very talented people. They would sometimes travel to other Kingdoms to heal their sick. But, after Damien took over, any contact with the other Kingdoms was forbidden, so he never got to see it for himself. It was part of the reason why food was not easy to come by; Merula had one of the largest trading routes.
“Nothing,” Grace mumbled picking up a scroll quickly hiding it behind her back while fidgeting on her feet.
Narrowing his eyes at her Richard held out his hand, “Give it.”
A look of defiance swept over Grace’s face as she pondered over how to get out of the situation.
“Grace,” Richard called out to her, his tone a little harsher than he intended.
Seeming to mess with the item she had stolen behind her back, Grace looked towards the door then to Richard. She seemed to eye him up before dashing for the door.
Watching her run with a hint of amusement Richard’s eyes followed her flee towards the door, the table in the center of the room the only thing in her way before she can dash down the corridors. Slowly walking towards the door he watched as Grace crawled under the table.
Turning a right Richard waited for Grace to come racing around the corner towards her room, he knew that would be the one place she would run off to, he just hoped she didn’t have anything like climbing out her window up her sleeve.
Chuckling to himself Richard shook his head, like she would even get that far, if he was going to train her he had a lot of work to do. He didn’t understand why she went under the table; it would have been faster to go around.
He could hear Grace’s heavy breathing as she made her way towards the exit, he could only imagine her franticly looking behind her searching for him. He shook his head; this sure told him what was in store for him later.
Just as he saw Grace skid around the corner he stuck his foot out in her path. Not seeming to notice, Grace kept running when she got her foot stuck on his, the action sending her flying towards the floor. Catching her in the nick of time by the back of her top Richard quickly grabbed the scroll from her grip, as it had loosened by the shock of the fall. Looking the seal over Richard narrowed his eyes at the girl who was now looking at him over her shoulder with a guilty look.
Letting go of her Richard let her regain her balance. Holding up the scroll Richard asked in a firm voice. “What do you think you’re doing with this?”
Looking away Grace shrugged her shoulders a small glare coming onto her face. “You didn’t want to teach me, so I thought I could teach myself, it doesn’t look that hard.”
Richard couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He just allowed himself to process the fact this seven-year-old girl had gone through dozens of scrolls just so she could learn how to fight. Trying to remain serious Richard smothered the smile coming onto his face with a glare. “You do realize without someone there to teach you, you won’t get very far?”
Pouting, Grace shook her head in disagreement. “I don’t think so…”
Allowing Grace to ramble on about how she was able to do it and the reasons why Richard opened the scroll she had stolen. It did explain most of the basics rather well, and she could learn a thing or two from it. But as he had learned, the best way to learn anything was to have someone more experienced show you.Though the fact she went to such lengths to get hold of it made him hopeful she would catch on fast.
“And that’s how I will be better!” Grace finished the look on her face hopeful as she grinned up at him seeming to forget she was in trouble.
Closing the scroll Richard crossed his arms frowning down at her, “So, you think because you will read the scroll you will become better than me? Did I hear that right?”
Vigorously nodding her head Grace chirped, “Aha!”
Baffled by her confidence Richard could only frown down at her, he had forgotten how naive children were, not like he was any better at her age, though he did have to grow up a little sooner than most.Letting loose a long sigh Richard waved at her to follow him as he walked into the scroll room.
Confused, Grace followed, remaining silent as her eyes followed Richard as he put the scrolls she had all over the floor away in their respected places. “So I’m not getting the scroll back am I?” She asked a little down.
“No, you’re not.” Richard looked at her over the stack of scrolls he had collected. “Though I did speak to Ryan, he is convinced that we could start your training.”
“Really?” Grace squeaked bouncing on her feet, excitement bubbling out of her in large waves.
“Yes,” Richard replied. Once putting the scrolls away her turned to face her, her expression was pure joy. He could see she was eager to start. “But, we will start tomorrow.”
“But, why?” Grace protested, her eager attitude deflating like a popped balloon.
“Well, first you will have to clean the mess you made.” Richard gestured to the scrolls and papers littering the floor. “And I can’t do it right now, I have other things I would like to do.” Kneeling to her height Richard smiled at Grace while ruffling her hair. “Don’t worry, I’ll teach you some things tomorrow.”
Dejected Grace nodded letting loose a disappointed sigh. “Fine.”
Standing Richard walked towards the door. “You know, if you’re good, maybe I can get Ryan to teach you one or two things.” Waving, he walked into the dark hallway. Now that was something he wished would change soon, he couldn’t stand being in darkness, the only light coming from the fires, or his room's window, though even then it was faint.
Pushing his room’s door open, Richard walked to the window the sun now slowly sinking towards the horizon, he only had a few hours before nightfall. Making sure no one was around Richard closed the door then moved to his fireplace, removing the stones above. Once they were beside him on the floor he quickly removed the pouch containing the Gem.
After placing the stones back, he changed into his assassin gear, the pouch attached to his hip with the rest. Removing his billhook blades from the shelf he climbed out his window, digging the mettle into the stone, making his dissent easier.
He only had a few hours before Ryan would wonder where he was, and Grace shouldn’t be a problem, being she will forget about her task and look for the scroll he had taken from her. He would have to be quick about his meeting up with Vanessa and Mikel if they were even at their hideout.
As far as he knew their parents worked for King Damien, so Vanessa and Mikel had to live alone and find a way to make money by themselves. He had no idea how Mikel had gotten away with not being chosen to join the army; he could only assume he sells the weapons he makes.
It didn’t take Richard long to find the hideout as he remembered the route Vanessa had taken the other day, he had to give it to her, she had picked the perfect path to take to remain undetected. The river nearby an excellent way to cover any conversation or noise with the noise it was constantly giving off. The forest only adding to their cover, when in full bloom the leaves would cover most from view.
Riding up to the vine curtain, Richard dismounted Thunder noticing the other horse's from last time wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Even though they may not be around Richard still entered the hideout, the hallway just as dark as last time. Not wanting to make too much noise Richard kept his footsteps light, looking for any sign there was someone in the cave.
He first made his way to the armory room where he had met up with Mikel, but it seemed to be free of any activity as there wasn’t a spark nor a sound coming from the room. Moving on Richard chose another hall, searching for a light source.
As Richard walked down the twisty hall his eye managed to see the faint flicker of light coming from the end, the large door doing well the block most of the light. As he got closer, the light under the door shimmered with the dust fragments in the air, creating a dense fog.
Taking hold of the door’s handle he slowly began to twist not wanting to frighten the person inside; he could only hope both Mikel and Vanessa were together.Having to squint his eyes to shield them from the sudden light Richard looked around the room, shelves upon shelves littered the walls, all of them obtaining a few weapons.
Blinking, Richard looked around the large training area, completely forgetting his purpose of being there. A twitch in his hand formed as he stopped on two blades lying on a shelf nearby, as if taken over by a trance Richard moved forwards removing the blades from their home. Sliding his fingers through the four holes he formed a fist, the mettle gleaming in the firelight.
“Wonderful aren’t they.”
Like a child being found with his hand in the biscuit tin Richard hurriedly removed the weapons from his hands quickly whirling around only to face an amused Mikel. “Oh, yes, they have been crafted very well.”Removing the hood to his cloak Richard handed Mikel his weapons back.
“No, you keep them,” Smiling Mikel continued, “My sister has told me a lot about the things you have done lately, and from the sounds of it, you like close-range fighting.” “His brown gaze shifting down to the weapons in Richard’s hand he preceded, “They will do you a lot of good. They're made out of the finest mettle, so they will be able to block an oncoming attack like any other sword.”
“Thank you.” Were the only two words Richard managed to get out as his eyes wandered down to the weapons Mikel had just offered him, they were one of his best creations.
“So, what brings you here anyway?” Mikel asked, curiosity covering his features.
Removing the Gem from its little home Richard held it up. “I figured it out.”