“Alessa!” Mikaelo exclaimed. “What is going on!”
“That’s how doors work here,” she replied. “Instead of knocking, you press a button and a chime sounds to let the person inside know that someone wants to come in.”
“Oh,” Mikaelo said, looking somewhat chagrined. “That’s different.”
“Yeah, it’s a little weird,” Alessandra said with a shrug.
“So what are you doing here?” Mikaelo asked.
“I just got done meeting with the Sutorlah,” Alessandra said, flopping down onto Mikaelo’s couch. “They approved my plan to ask the Mekoval clan to break into a Storm Corps base.”
“Wait, what?” Mikaelo shouted, his eyes going wide.
“Oh, shoot,” Alessandra grimaced. “Well, it’s probably okay that I tell you now. I mean, the plan was approved, so I can’t imagine why I’d need to keep it a secret from you now.”
“Are you serious?” Mikaelo whispered.
“Yeah,” Alessandra sighed. “The Storm Corps stole something from us, and we want it back, but we can’t figure out where they’re hiding it. I thought maybe they have the information in one of their bases, but we can’t break into a Storm Corps base for political reasons, so I thought, why don’t we hire some thieves to break in for us? Apparently the Sutorlah thinks it’s a good idea, too.”
“I don’t know, Alessa,” Mikaelo said hesitantly. “I mean, the Storm Corps? I can’t imagine Meela turning down a request from the Order of Sunaru, but going up against the Storm Corps is bad news. I mean, you remember what happened the first time we broke into the Vanmorzen manor, right?”
“Of course!” Alessandra snapped. “But this won’t be like that. They’ll have no idea you’re coming. If you’re careful, and quiet, you should be able to get in and get the information we need without any trouble.”
“I hope you’re right,” Mikaelo said doubtfully. Alessandra frowned at him, but before she could respond, the door chimed again, and Mikaelo jumped. “There’s that sound again!” he yelped. Alessandra grinned and rolled her eyes, and then called for whoever was at the door to enter.
“Ah, there you are, Alessandra,” said Olorin Evila as she stepped into the room. “I went to speak to you in your quarters, but I was stymied by your absence. Someone told me that a friend of yours from the slums was visiting, so I suspected that you might be here. It seems I was correct.”
“Oh, um, Olorin, what a pleasure to see you,” Alessandra said quickly, jumping to her feet and bowing low.
“You need not be so formal, child,” Evila said with a satisfied smile. “Are you going to introduce me to your friend?”
“Oh, yes, of course,” Alessandra said with another bow. “Olorin Evila, this is Mikaelo Mekoval. Mikaelo, this is Olorin Evila.”
“A-a pleasure to m-meet you, ma’am,” Mikaelo said with a bow, flustered at meeting such an obviously high-ranking member of the Order of Sunaru.
“Indeed,” Evila said, inclining her head to Mikaelo slightly. “Now, if you’ll excuse me young man, I must borrow Alessandra for awhile.”
“Oh, yes, of course, Olorin,” Mikaelo said, bowing even lower. “Please, take your time.” Evila nodded to Mikaelo again, and then gestured for Alessandra to follow her.
“I was impressed by how you handled yourself in front of the Sutorlah,” Evila said as they walked along. “Part of the testing for apprentices is giving a presentation before the Sutorlah with minimal preparation. It is a good way of seeing how a person handles high pressure situations. You are not an apprentice, of course, but I feel it is important for you to have as many apprenticeship experiences as possible until you have recovered your memory. You did well, better than most apprentices in fact. Better, even, than most Atavames as well.”
“Thank you, Olorin,” Alessandra said with a bow.
“Please, I told you before, you need not be so formal,” Evila replied. “Call me Evila. We are not ones to stand on formality here in the Order.”
“Thank you…Evila,” Alessandra said hesitantly.
“That’s better,” Evila said with a pleased smile. “Now, I have a couple of questions for you. First of all, how did you feel about Shalor’s statement that your former clan will be exterminated if they are apprehended in the process of retrieving the information we are looking for?”
Alessandra froze for a moment. Between her concerns about Habrival and her excitement that her plan had been approved by the Sutorlah, she had completely forgotten about what Shalor had said.
“I…um, don’t really like it,” Alessandra muttered.
“No, I suspect you wouldn’t,” Evila said, her head held slightly at an angle. She was eyeing Alessandra thoughtfully, as if trying to penetrate to her innermost thoughts and feelings. “But what if it comes to that? What if your former companions do get caught, and the Sutorlah votes to exterminate their clan? What will you do?”
“I…I don’t know,” Alessandra mumbled, looking at the floor.
“An excellent response,” Evila said with a satisfied nod. “Most people, sufficiently cowed by my high rank and the reputation of the Order would tell me that they would abide by the decision of the Sutorlah regardless of their true feelings. A bolder but more foolish person would tell me that they will stand by their old friends no matter what, in which case I would be forced to report them to the Honesival and remove them from their position in the investigation. You, on the other hand, have shown me that you are both honest enough not to lie to my face for the purpose of currying favor, and smart enough to not admit that you may be considering treason. Most impressive.”
“I…um…okay,” Alessandra said, feeling confused and awkward. Evila gave her a tiny smile, as if she knew exactly how Alessandra felt.
“In any case, the other thing I wanted to ask you has to do with your plan,” Evila continued. “I suspect you haven’t finalized your proposal to the thief clan, but I wondered if you might tell me what you have in mind so far.”
To be continued…