Chapter Eleven: Duel Confrontations

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Duel Confrontations

As the last rays of sun disappeared over the horizon, and the faded, flickering lights from the gas lamps illuminated the city, Natalia was just waking up.

She had been awake for hours in the physical sense, of course, but it was as if she was simply going through the motions of life. But when the sun went down and the moon had just barely risen, it was as if a hazy film had been lifted from her life. Suddenly, Natalia’s senses were sharp: she could focus on the slightest details and practically feel people walking towards her down the street.

She was on top of her game.

If Natalia’s sources were correct, a very important raid was to happen that night. A very important Citadel raid. So, she had decided it was the perfect night to finish her job. After all, she could scare the few deployed away from whatever bounty they had collected, as well as tack on one or two kills to scare the Citadel a little bit more. It was the perfect plan.

Natalia turned a corner, leaving the cobblestone streets for a dark back alley. She walked confidently, but was careful to keep her boots from making any noise. Her standard black cloak fluttered slightly, though the hood stayed securely balanced atop her head, and concealing her face. It was the night. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Reaching her destination, which she had plotted out earlier that day, Natalia hoisted herself up from balcony to balcony, until she was practically on the roof of the building, but not quite so. Eventually, she’d climb up to the very top. However, that came later.

Somewhere in in the town, a clock tower rang out eleven chimes. Each toll echoed throughout the city at an even rhythm, rattling her bones as she crouched, ready. Natalia couldn’t help but feel the haunting sensation that came as the last toll rang then faded. Finally, from above came some voices whispering, hushed and quick.

The time was almost upon them all.

Then came the footsteps. The wearer of a particularly thick sort of boot was haphazardly stomping across the roof, alerting Natalia to their exact location. Were it not that the top apartment of the building was vacant, someone surely would have come out to see what was causing such clamor.

Though of course no such thing happened. It was all too calculated, too thought out. There was no possibility that hadn’t been thought out and prepared for on the Citadel’s part. Finally, the voices rose to the point of which Natalia could make out what they were saying.

“Come on Georges, we have to hurry!” One voice exclaimed, a female voice.

“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Another voice, presumably Georges, said, obviously annoyed to be up at such a late hour. “Why must I even be here, Pippa? You obviously have it under control.”

“Because.” The girl, Pippa, said. “We have direct orders from the Citadel. You check to make sure that this thing is the real deal, and I take it back.”

This, Natalia knew, was true. It was a small operation to steal one precious artifact: a rare artifact that hadn’t been seen in ten years. There had been stories, rumors of it appearing on the black market from time to time. But, whenever they were investigated, it was a dead end. They needed an expert to make sure it was the real deal, and a powerful fighter to get it to their headquarters in one piece.

“Fine, fine.” Georges said, giving in to the fact that there was no way around it. After all, what would be the point of stealing it if it were a fake? Natalia craned her neck to listen. The next few moments would decide her next move. There was the heavy sound of a crate being opened, and the rustle of hay and other packing materials. Finally, the thing was brought out.

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