3 – The Party

The bag was much heavier than Ariel had expected. It had taken her a long time to pack it. She must have repacked it at least three times. Spare clothes had been easy enough but she had had to go to the coven in order to replace her ingredients . 

Which had resulted in a much too heavy bag. She shifted the strap to the  other side of her shoulder and wished once again she could carry a trolly like a normal person. She really hoped she did not have to carry it around herself.

The plaza was full of people. Not at all a clandestine operation as Ariel half had expected. There were soldiers, priests and civilians like herself.

A clerk noticed her and waved her over. He was young but had an air of authority around him. He smiled professionally.

“Papers miss?”

Ariel handed him her ID and the decree. He studied them for a moment. Looked more closely at her and raised an eyebrow. He did not say anything though.

“This way miss Sanara” he said, only the extra glance betrayed his unease. “Most of the others have arrived”.

“How many are we”, Ariel asked curiously glancing around. There were so many people, but she doubted they were all going.

“Party of eleven”, the clerk said, “Sister Freya is the leader. Brother Belle and Sengey are our clerics. They are supplemented by Stone and Alegra, kindly on loan from KEA. You are the only witch in the party, but Kaluna and his apprentice Kessler are also civilians though mages. Arquinen and sir Roane are – ehm – specialists from within the Church”.

“I know them. No need to sugar coat them. I know he is a shadow priest and that his companion is a minion”, Ariel said. She was still mad at them for ruining her inventory. They didn’t wear their suits but long black robes with hoods that could have been taken out of a horror movie if not for the military trousers and boots she could see underneath the slits. Sir Roane was of course still wearing sunglasses and carrying his sword. “No sorcerers?”

The clerk laughed. It mirrored how Ariel felt about her shop. Bitter. “Have you ever tried to draft a sorcerer? They would rather start a holy war, if we could even find them to begin with. Sneaky bastards”.

Ariel smiled inwardly. There was some small satisfaction of knowing that even the Church respected somebody. There was an informal stalemate between the Church and the Conclaves. They did not exactly hate each other but they definitely did not like each other, something about an ideological disagreement of the use of souls. Oddly enough they cooperated willingly with the Ministry and everybody else. Just not the Church.

Her eye caught something glimmering. By the Divine! Was that -? “Is that who I think it is?” Ariel stopped and stared.

“Last but not least”. Now the clerk was laughing, but it was a light and amused one. Apparently she had not been the first one to give him that reaction today. “Lets get this over with, shall we? Come with me”.

Without touching her, he guided her over to the armoured figure. Her helmet was off, but Ariel would have recognised the heraldry on the shield and chest any day. The proud winged white horse.

“Abalone, may I present miss Ariel Sanara to you? Ariel is our nature witch”.

Sparkling blue eyes that could rival Ariels on a stormy day. Her smile was warm as she removed her glove and shook Ariel’s hand.

“A pleasure, miss Sanara. I’m -”

“A real hero!” Ariel interrupted. “Wow, I can’t believe it’s you! I have been a fan since I was a kid. You are fantastic! You look even younger in real life than you do in the shows. And more pretty. How do you fit your hair under the helmet? It’s like its glowing! Isn’t it difficult to always wear armour? It looks so hot, I mean you look hot – like hot inside. By the Divine – I’m rambling aren’t I?”

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