The crescent moon was shaded by heavy clouds and the heavy dampness of imminent rain mingled with smoke in the air around them as the group approached the gambling den.
Rory himself had never been to this particular space. He had opted out of joining the Seekers when they had come here one night as part of a mission. But even as a royal he had been to the Moras District of Port Roubeles – the area of the city that was for those with less refined tastes.
In the past, entering the Moras District had thrilled him. In his younger years sneaking there at night had been an act of rebellion. Submersing himself in the underbelly of the port city had given him a different outlook on the lives of the people who lived and breathed here – whether they breathed clear sea air, or tobacco smoke was their choice.
It was still too early for the truly questionable folks to be out, but as they approached the gambling den, Rory caught Alessa wrinkle her nose. He didn't think that the raven-haired woman would have been here under normal circumstances – but it seemed that the Moras District was the lesser of two evils when compared to staying at the townhouse with Duke Lonan.
The den itself was unlike anything Rory had ever seen inside. Giant crystal mage-lights hung from the ceilings over the tables that players sat around, rolling dice or playing cards. A handful of brightly clad men and women walked around with trays of drinks. Rory and Alessa passed on those, while Ainslee purchased wine and Seaver an ale. They found a table in a dark corner underneath the partial second level of the place.
Ainslee swirled the wine around in her glass, staring at it while she slouched in her chair. Seaver took a sip of ale and then cleared his throat. "Thank the stars Lonan didn't tag along with us." he said, glancing around the table.
Rory drummed his fingers on the table, glancing around the room, "I half expected him to be following us discreetly. So I wouldn't get too comfortable."
Ainslee sniffed, "He needs boundaries."
Alessa said, "When you're the Queen's lapdog, you have no boundaries."
They all sat in affirmative silence in response to that. The whole situation was dismal really. They all wanted to see Blayre back in Emares safe and sound. And none of them trusted Duke Lonan as far as they could spit.
Seaver drained the rest of his ale and got up in search of more. When he was gone, Ainslee stood abruptly and said, "I want my fortune read."
Rory stood to follow her, his chair screeching behind him. "You're not walking alone through here," He growled.
"Suit yourself," Ainslee shrugged,
Alessa stood too, not even waiting for Rory's invitation, and they wove their way through the thin crowd following Ainslee up the creaking staircase to the second level where brightly colored curtains covered the entrances to several rooms.
"The blue one," Ainslee said, pointing to the cerulean colored curtain that shimmered iridescently in the mage-lit room. The upstairs was dimmer than the bright and lively lower level, and the sweet smell of some sort of incense burned around them.
"Wait outside," She said to them.
Rory and Alessa exchanged reluctant glances but nodded. Alessa walked a few steps away and peered over the mahogany rail that lined the second level, giving it the look of a balcony, while Rory got as close to the curtain as he could without going into the fortune teller's lair with Ainslee.
There was a murmuring of voices, but not clear enough for Rory to make out. He cursed silently. He shouldn't eavesdrop anyway. But he couldn't help it. Any information could be helpful, and he didn't know why in twelve hells Ainslee had made the seemingly impulsive decision to come here, and to see this quack.
But Ainslee wasn't stupid. She could certainly be impulsive at times, and occasionally selfish, but for the most part she was always calculating behind the scenes. And he knew she had Blayre's best interest in mind.
Frustrated, he gave up and walked across the small space to where Alessa still leaned on the railing. "Seaver's down there. He has no clue where we've gone," She remarked. They watched him glance around. Finally, Blayre's brother looked up. Alessa waved.
He looked confused but climbed the staircase. He'd reached the top just as Ainslee burst out from behind the curtain. She was pale as a ghost as she grabbed Rory's arm.
"They were here, in Port Roubeles. Caval was at least. He came here to have someone send a message."
Rory's heart raced. After all the time they had spent here, this was the most information they'd come across so far.
"Was... was Blayre here as well?" He dared to ask. He was trembling beneath his clothes.
"Not here, in this building per say. But if they were traveling together, she had to be nearby." Said Ainslee, twirling a piece of her red hair.
"Did she know where the message was being sent to?" Seaver inquired.
"To the University in Solpor."
A/N: Sorry this is a bit short - it's really more of a continuation of the previous chapter. I know a lot of you have mixed feelings about Rory. How do you feel about him now knowing where Blayre might have gone?
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DRAGON MARKED (On Hold)Fantasy
Dragons went extinct in Emares hundreds of years ago as a result of the war waged between the Crown and the mages. Or so the Emarians thought. Blayre has always hated secrecy, but secrecy has always been a necessary skill for her survival in Emares...