IRRR – Chapter 4
The sun had just begun to slide into its midday perch above when the small brown carriage pulled down a small unpaved side street that wound its way to a lonely little run down estate. From the outside it didn’t appear to be much of anything important, let alone the space it took up just sitting there in its dilapidated state, but Carlisle insisted it was the perfect venue for them. And so far he had been right. This part of the city had once been the center of the elite social life back in the day. But some years back it had inexplicably become over run by prostitutes and other unscrupulous citizens., which of course prompted the rich and ‘nobility’ to move to the other side of the city all together. Not that either Xora or Jeneveve mourned it at all.
“Sometimes I can’t get over how almost eerily quiet this section of the city is now. It feels almost like a ghost town. Which is almost amusing because you just walk down that street for five minutes and you’re back amongst the usual crowd.” Xora mused, glancing out of the small carriage windows. She was well aware that both she and Jeneveve were still on ‘alert mode’ and wouldn’t be able to relax entirely until they were inside that old estate house and the doors locked behind them.
“Aye.. lucky for us though, I suppose.” countered Jeneveve, already unlatching the carriage door.
A moment later and Carlisle had turn down the long estate driveway and woven the carriage around to the back of the building and hopped down to unhitch the horse and deposit it in the small stable that was hidden from the street as well as the scant few surrounding structures by a couple large trees and dense brush.
As the carriage had come to a stop, Jeneveve wasted no time in stepping out of it and holding her hand out for Xora’s own. After the morning they had, they were both much too eager to get out and step onto some solid ground again without precious seconds ticking away. With her love standing right beside her, Jeneveve made a cursory look around the area, her breath catching in her throat as she did so. What if someone had followed them? She seemed to be waiting for a gaggle of police and angry villiagers to come around the street corner to burn them out and arrest them..
“O’Tha, v’ l’resh da Pilo mal..” spoke Xora then quietly as her hand tightened around her companions ever so slightly.
“I am not worrying too much.” Jeneveve countered flatly, her gaze snapping back to Xora, rather unamused in her overall countenance. “But I can’t help it. This is the biggest thing we’ve done so far, and we’ve had some pretty close calls in getting to this place… I cannot help but be a little… edgy..”
“Edgy?” Xora questioned with a soft chuckle following.
“Yes. Edgy. I keep thinking they’re going to come around the corner at any sec–”
Xora’s lips were soon pressed against hers; crushing them together in a loving sensuousness she hadn’t felt in some time.. Least not like this.. Every kiss Xora gave her was wonderful, but this one, was perhaps more to soothe her nerves than anything.
Over their years as a pair, Jeneveve came to understand that many things could be conveyed in a simple kiss such as this. Trust, love, friendship, reassurance, comfort.. Xora was a master at that; relaying a simple yet profound message through a kiss. HER kiss. A feat Jeneveve had never figured out but never had grown tired of either. When their moment passed, her cheeks may have been bright red, but Jeneveve was able to breathe a sigh of relief.. No longer so paranoid, but still a bit jumpy.
“We alright, kids?” bellowed Carlisle from behind Jeneveve, who almost smacked him upside the head as she yelped and spun around reflexively. Even Xora had to scowl a bit as her companion reacted as she had. They were all terribly excited and rather anxious after that morning, and it was no time to start sneaking up on people.. Not a thing either of them were particularly fond of anyway, but Carlisle should have better than to pull a stunt like that. What disturbed Xora perhaps more than it ought to have, was HOW silently he had crept up. Carlisle was a large man, he couldn’t walk softly if his life counted upon it, but had somehow managed to creep up on them without so much as a warning?
Xora looked him over for a moment before forcing a tiny laugh and resting a hand on Jeneveves shoulder.
“Easy, O’Tha.. I didn’t kiss you like that for nothing.” Squeezing that shoulder Xora had lain her hand upon, her eyes flickered back to Carlisle’s with a nod. “Yes, I think we’re more or less alright. Thank you for asking. Did you have any trouble yourself this morn?”
“Not really.” began Carlisle quietly. I had a roaming constable askin’ me what I was doin’ with my carriage on the corner so early.”
“What did you say?” Jeneveve questioned with rapt attention.
“Hold on to yer britches, ‘Veve.” he noted, pausing to take a breath. “I told ‘im I was waitin’ on my master who was at the market. He said ‘Right, mind your own and be gone ‘fore the crowds kick up’ and then he left. I watched ‘im walk down the street and then he was gone.”
Carlisle gave a nonchalant shrug as he finished. He was a man in his early thirties who looked nearly a decade older up close. Standing a good six feet and a hand full of inches tall; muscular, he was an intimidating man, but poorly dressed in grey and brown clothes with a balding patch of messy brown hair on his head and a full face that was a bit stern by habit and was now marked noticeably by crows feet and frown lines.
Normally those soft brown eyes that met theirs held a touch of warm kindness to them, but Xora couldn’t seem to find that now.. Maybe he too was suffering from the stress of the day and all the planning that had gone into it. All Xora knew was that something seemed amiss in their old friend and firm ally.. Yet she couldn’t pin point what it was.. Perhaps she could pry it out of him at lunch, whatever that might have been. Frankly she would have settled for a hot biscuit and some tea, but they’d make due with whatever there was.
“He couldn’t have heard anything, right?” Jeneveve asked Xora who shrugged herself and chuckled softly.
“Who cares, Sweetling? We’re here and as far as we know everything went according to plan. If he DID see something, it’s too long gone by for him to do anything about it now.. No one has come after us, we’re fine. I think we’ve earned a little down time.” Assured Xora with a warm smile. Deftly her hands slid down Jeneveves upper arms, and down to her wrists. “Relax, alright?”
“Right.. Right…” Jeneveve chuckled, leaning in to her companion for a moment. That box and bundle of letters still tucked beneath her arms. “Well let’s go then. You coming Carlisle or are you going to stand out here all afternoon with the horse?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m comin’.” he mumbled after a moment and followed the pair inside. “Hey, uh.. ‘Veve. Whats in the box? Is it what you think? And those letters? When do I get a look?”
“When we’ve had a chance to go over them ourselves.” Jeneveve sighed, glancing over her shoulder. ” Which is what we signed up for in the first place, remember? Why are you suddenly so interested? I thought you didn’t give a care what we found as long as those things of yours blew stuff up?”
“I don’t, but well.. I lost a wife in all this mess too. I’m glad everything worked out, but well.. we’re all in this together. I’ve got to have something to report back to the others when I go to them next week.”
“That will give us plenty of time to look what we’ve got over, Carlisle.” Xora insisted, turning slightly as they walked into the house. “Honestly, we ARE all in this together, but seeing how Jeneveve and I were the ones to actually go and get them we want to look over stuff before we turn it over.. We have the runes, I think. I’m not sure if the letters are anything important, but we’ll see.”
“Ah.. Right. No worries’n.” Carlisle murmured, raking a hand through his hair as they stepped inside and he locked the door behind them. “Jus’ let me know.. Maybe I could lend a land readin’ stuff or somethin’.. You never know.”
“So very true.” Xora mused. “You’re so right Carlisle.. We’ll have a look over at once and make sure you see them too as soon as possible. You’ve been invaluable to us, we wouldn’t dream of hiding anything. We couldn’t.”
“Like I said, no big deal. I just feel useless sittin’ ’round all day just drivin’ a carriage and such.” he noted.
“Getaway carriage.” Jeneveve corrected with a laugh. Which earned a light chuckle from both her lover and their friend. “Man the fort Carlisle, we’re going for a bath!” she suddenly declared and bolted up the main staircase that sat in the back of what used to be a rather lovely sitting room adjacent to the foyer. Xora laughing behind her as they ran, quite happy to relax finally.