Chapter 29 - Meeting in the Forest

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Three people met in a forest at night. The first two were a man and a woman who both wore long, dark, thick cloaks with deep hoods that shrouded their faces already obscured by the night.

"How much longer?" hissed the female under her breath. "It was supposed to be done. We cannot afford any more of these mishaps! They came again. They found them!"

"No!" exclaimed the third figure (a man) in a hushed shout.

"Yes! You know he will not give up. This is shambolic! We are running out of time!" The woman had a very polished, aristocratic sounding English accent and spoke in a whispered sort of shout.

"Io, I am sure he understands the gravity of it," said the cloaked man next to her. He too spoke in the same polished, aristocratic accent, yet in a more relaxed tone.

"Yes, forgive me. Yes, I know. He is--. He proves more stubborn (more difficult... to lead) than I imagined," said the third figure, with a cough. By his voice and the moonlight on his face, it could just be recognised that it was Sander.

"That is not a valid excuse! And your job is to watch him."

"Yes, I know. Please excuse my mistake Domina. It will be done shortly. I promise it," Sander said and cleared his croaky sounding throat.

"We employ you because you are meant to be the best. You are supposed to be reading him! What if he had succeeded the other night?! Where would we be?! You should have known..."

"Io that cannot help," reasoned the other cloaked male, trying to mollify the woman. "Although Io is right. Things ARE getting out of hand. We must have the pairing sooner rather than later. There is simply too much at stake. If the heavy ones are successful beforehand, all is lost. And with that Parum here also advancing – we have a double calamity on our hands. Io is right."

"I promise it will be done before the next full moon. Domina, Monsignore, you both have my sincere promise. I will not fail again," Sander said, addressing the two figures and making a very low bow first to the female and then the male. He sniffed and cleared his throat.

"Here, take this. We cannot afford for you to be ill and it further impairing your abilities," said the female figure, placing a gold vial decorated with etching and enamelling and into Sander's hand.

It sounded as if there was footfall on the fallen leaves in the distance. The two figures parted instantly, Apparating silently, with just a gentle rush of wind. As he turned to leave, the moonlight shone on Sander's face revealing that he looked very daunted.

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