The Merchant's Mayhem: Part Eleven
Blocks of stone were the interior, a gray spectacle that could make the soul tainted with dismay. Marcilli's limp body had collapsed onto the cement ground while a few flickering torches illuminated the dungeon. As Marcilli slowly sat up, a sharp pain rang out in her head. Upon finding a loose brick next to her, she concluded that she had been clocked in the back of the head.
Clauret had entered from around a corner. Same stature, same trench coat, different demeanor. It looked like he was pitying Marcilli. He could not have knocked her out; he was much too weak.
"How could you, Clauret?" Marcilli murmured. She assumed him to be harmless... he genuinely liked her, or so she always thought.
"How couldn't I? I'm set for life thanks to a gracious payment from Ulf," Clauret loudly protested as footsteps echoed throughout the basement. Much to Marcilli's surprise, he mouthed a quick "I'm sorry." And Marcilli put two and two together; Ulf forced Clauret to help, knowing that he was acquaintances with her. Clauret hated how this was happening to her. He could do nothing as Ulf descended down the stairs with Cybin behind him, approaching a weakened Marcilli.
"I've been here for months, waiting for you to return," he said satisfyingly. "I knew you would."
Trying to escape would be pointless; there was only one exit, and Cybin was guarding it carefully. Marcilli no longer had her sword and was much to weak to stand up and fight. Stalling them and hoping Arwman and her crew would find her was the only option, no matter how farfetched it seemed. "Where is here, exactly?"
"The Governor's mansion. It's amazing how far some extra payments can take you."
The rich had connections. Surprise, surprise. "How did you find me?"
Never had Ulf felt more superior. "You thought that changing your appearance would fool me? Quite insulting. Now, where is Elrique?"
Ulf had learned the truth. Winston was dead to him... his prime concern was Elrique. Marcilli tried to cover for him by briskly responding, "He isn't here."
"You don't understand. If Elrique doesn't show up, you won't be going anywhere."
Why was Ulf not concerned over her parents? Perhaps he had already taken them. But as if reading her mind, Ulf answered her question.
"No one gets away with taking what is mine. Your parents may be out of my grasp, but they have been punished and will surely think twice before crossing my path again. But you and Winston need to be properly reprimanded."
"It's all about revenge for you!" Marcilli seethed.
"Isn't it obvious after the lengths I went to take your parents?"
"You couldn't even control their whereabouts for more than a week," scowled Marcilli. "If you really wanted possession of someone, you should have asked me how I kept Felicia all these years."
She saw Cybin stifle back a cry of surprise at Marcilli's remark. Ulf's face was that of pure horror and terror. He had no trouble raising the brick over his head and striking it against Marcilli's temple. And Marcilli had no trouble once again finding herself in the still of darkness.
"Elrique, we've got a problem."
Elrique's attention broke away from the mountains of papers skewed around his mahogany desk. If the faction leader ever became stressed or needed a break from the outside, he would retreat to his office chambers and review paperwork. Occasionally the fire Eyrie would enter and question him, but this was allowed as he was Elrique's second in command.
"A problem, you say? Fear not, good Vaughn! Problem is my middle name."
Vaughn smirked. "I thought it was Gerald."
"Well, I'm changing it as soon as all of this is over," Elrique huffed. "It suits me better. It's more dashing than Gerald, don't you think?"
Not acknowledging his boss's carefree attitude, Vaughn tossed a rolled up piece of paper on the Krawk's desk. Elrique studied his companions face for any signs of lightheartedness, but the deadpan expression of the Eyrie remained. Vaughn was not always serious, but when he was, he would remain that way until the underlying problem was solved. Elrique tentatively reached for the paper and unrolled it to read the scribbles, a sign that whichever one of his faction members wrote it, he was in a desperate hurry. Elrique frowned once he reached the end.
"Is this for real?"
Vaughn crossed his arms over his chest and sighed. "Unfortunately, yes."
The paper contained a statement from one of Elrique's faction members that had traveled to Krawk Island to scam some unsuspecting "clients." It was short and to the point, but with each passing word, Elrique's vision waned.
I have confirmed that Ulf is on the island and has been for months. He is doing everything in his power to find you, but he will happily settle for Marcilli should he get the opportunity.
"Ulf has been there for months! And we had no clue!" Elrique slapped the paper with the back of his hand. The faction leader felt embarrassed that Ulf was able to go undetected. His skilled faction members were usually on top of such things.
"Do you think Marcilli is in any real danger?" inquired Vaughn.
That was quite obvious. With Ulf in full force, Marcilli did not stand a chance protecting herself. "I think she's in the middle of the fire," Elrique buried his face in his hands. "And I'm about to be as well."
Vaughn scoffed, knowing well what Elrique was planning but wanting to hear it for himself.
"I don't know how, but Ulf tricked me. You know that new client that wanted to sell to me? That was Ulf, trying to lure me into his clutches. It all makes sense now," Elrique groaned. "Come on, Vaughn. You know what I have to do."
The Eyrie crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow. "You're not going to Krawk Island."
"Of course I am!"
Elrique rarely went on missions. It was only in dire situations, like rescuing his young sister Jesqe a while back from the Qasalan Defenders of Neopia post, that he was front and center of the action. That was why Vaughn was not amused. "Your cousin has a fourteen-man crew and a love-struck chief officer that will happily rescue her from any impending doom," Vaughn was quick to point out.
Elrique tapped a finger against his face. "Tell me, Vaughn... behind those giant menacing wings, are Eyries big, fluffy, cuddly Babaas?"
"What makes you say that?" he replied hastily, clearly embarrassed by the comparison.
"Because Arwman sure is."
"If you keep using adjectives like those, I'll happily support your journey to Krawk Island." Vaughn's mouth curved into a thin smile. "It'll take you more than a day to travel by ship... what ship would you use? The spare dingy?"
"Nonsense, good old Vaughn. This calls for something special."
As Elrique began to savagely rummage through his desk, Vaughn towered over him in amusement. "I don't follow."
That was when Elrique emerged with a spherical orb; it glowed a dim green as the Krawk held it in his hands. It was one of the hundreds of trinkets and mystical treasures that his faction had stolen over the years. "I knew this would come in handy eventually."
Vaughn nodded understandingly. "Ah... a teleportation device. I forgot you had that."
"I have many more as well. Worldwide raids call for worldwide treasures!" he tossed it back and forth in his hands. "Now how do I work this thing?"
Before Elrique could continue to inspect the artifact, a blinding light flashed, and in the blink of an eye, Elrique was gone. The only thing that remained in his place was the chair that he was sitting on, but it was spinning around.
"Best of luck, Elrique," Vaughn remarked to the empty office as he turned to make his exit. "You're going to need it."
Arwman did not even think to knock on the door of the Governor's mansion. He barged into the main lobby where a Pteri maid was sweeping the floors.
"There's a patron here named Ulf that I'm here to see."
The old Pteri shook her head. "I do not believe that he was expecting visitors."
Something snapped inside of Arwman, and he reached for the Pteri and grabbed hold of her. "I need to see him immediately! Where is he?"
"Unhand me!" she shrieked.
Arwman's eyes narrowed as he released the maid from his grasp. "I'm sorry about that. I just really need to see him."
"Had the Governor himself witnessed that, you would be in quite the predicament," the Pteri scolded him before flattening her apron. "Because you seem so set in your ways, I'll have you know that Mr. Ulf is downstairs with some guests Walk past the fountain, take a left, and go down the stairs that come up on your immediate right. If you disrupt him at a bad time, it is not my responsibility for how he deals with you."
"The Governor is the least of my worries. Now that is the information I needed," Arwman concluded, adding a fleeting "thank you" before he went on to follow her directions. Past the fountain, down the stairs that were to the right... there were no voices from what he could tell, only the flickering light of what appeared to be from torches. Arwman lingered down the grim staircase until he saw someone lying in the middle of the vast chamber. Upon realizing it was Marcilli, Arwman's eyes widened and he ran over to her.
"Marcilli..." Arwman's gaze softened as he knelt down next to Marcilli's limp body. Her mind was not present, and her eyes were shut. "What have they done to you, Marcilli?"
"Oh, she's just resting."
Arwman glared over his shoulder. Ulf loomed over the two as Cybin and Clauret stood behind him.
"Clauret," Arwman huffed. "I would have never expected you to do something like this."
Clauret hastily looked at the floor and said nothing. He was ashamed, no doubt, but why had he been a part of this?
"What did you do, Ulf?!" Arwman roared.
But his pleas went on to be ignored. "Bring me Elrique."
"Elrique?" Arwman muttered, but then quickly realized that Ulf no longer knew of the Krawk as Winston. The Tonu definitely found a way to discover insight to the truth. "Elrique won't be coming."
Ulf shrugged. "That's unfortunate for Marcilli."
One fleeting look at a helpless Marcilli made Arwman think on his feet. "Fine! If you would just let me contact him, I'm sure something can be arranged..."
"Then you'll go fetch your crew waiting on your ship," Ulf complained with a slight wave of the hand. "There will be no need for that. Just like there is no need for you to be questioning my ways. Cybin, Clauret, would you please?"
The two accomplices yanked Arwman up from the ground. He would have fought back, but Ulf had pulled out his sword and was pointing it at his chest. Cybin and Clauret pulled a reluctant Arwman over to a collection of cells that were built into the basement wall. Under the watchful eye of Ulf, he was locked in a cell with no means of escape.
"Tell me one thing, Ulf," Arwman begged as he leaned on the cell bars. "What do you want from her?"
"Isn't it clear?" Ulf seethed. "I want her to suffer."
To be continued...