"Guards, arrest that woman!"
I recognized the voice, there was no way I couldn't. The smarmy little Tyrennhian fink had found me. All that effort, all that time, all the planning completely wasted because of one officious little Imperial officer. If I could have, I probably would have exploded in sheer annoyance at the unfairness of it all.
I turned slowly to face my captors and was stunned to see Arrenus standing alone. There were no guards anywhere in sight, and it seemed to me that the Tyrennhian was snickering at my obvious shock. Questions whirled in my mind as I tried to analyze the situation. What was he doing? Was he working for Savago, or himself? Was he going to turn me in? He couldn't arrest me himself, this was Dahlon not Tarn Frientum, so what in the 17 hells was going on?!
I must have said the last aloud, because the Tyrennhian guffawed a moment and then muttered something about 'women with spirit' in Medarin. He had an odd look on his face, and my mind was rapidly catching up with the situation. The other people on the street had stopped staring when they realized that there wasn't going to be an arrest and were starting to disperse as the officer from the Proconsul's Writ approached me.
"Sorry, it was too good an opportunity to pass up," chuckled the Tyrennhian, "I know, I know, you have a million little question, eh? Perhaps we should get out of the street and talk a moment. I mean, unless you really want to stand out in broad daylight and wait for Savago's clan to find you..."
The obvious rhetorical nature of the last statement put my teeth on edge. This simply would not do, however I had little choice but to step off into the little cafe with the Tyrennhian. I noticed the man in truth for the first time as we sat down. Medium height, medium build, with a rather bland face, the only thing remarkable about him was the number of campaign rings braided into the Ningul at the back of his head. It was obvious that he was a seasoned veteran in spite of his apparent youth and junior rank.
"Let me explain before you get angry. I am an officer in the Tyrennhian navy, yes, but I am also a member of the Proconsul's inner circle. I have been looking for an ally here in the Merlani Free Cities, and when I saw you with those pirates, I knew I had found one. I will help you out and protect you from the pirates, all I ask in return is that you help me out with a bit of a problem."
I started to object with a sinking feeling in my gut. Was he going to ask me to betray my people? I could expect such from a Tyrennhian. I doubt he had ever fought an honest fight in his life, and betrayal would be second nature to him.
"I know that you have no reason to trust, me, but I sent a runner ahead to Secretary Brill to let her know that you were coming. She should be able to help you out and get you work to keep you away from the Polinoys. While I know you don't trust me, I am pretty sure you are going to trust the Secretary, and I am sure that you will see the necessity of what we are doing when she explains what is going on."
Shaking my head in disbelief I started to speak, only to be hushed by Arrenus. The Tyrennhian simply pointed at a small house down the block and nodded, "I will meet you here when you are finished with Madame Brill."
"You're making an awfully big assumption, Tyrennhian," I said through gritted teeth.
"I sincerely doubt it," he said as he smiled knowingly.
Angry and confused I got up and walked as quickly as I could to the house that the Tyrennhian had indicated. When I knocked on the door a middle-aged woman in rich robes of muted purple and green answered. Cocking an eyebrow she said, simply, "Took you long enough. Come in, we have a lot to talk about."
Suddenly I got the feeling that my day was not about to get any better.