Dancing with the Devil

Part Thirteen of the Sonata in Red series.
Part One: A Song of Glory
Part Two: A Choir of Intrigue
Part Three: Etude in the Sun
Part Four: A Requiem in the Dark
Part Five: Hymns of Terror
Part Six: Refrain from the Past
Part Seven: Refrain from the Past (pt. 2)
Part Eight: A Fugue in Three Parts
Part Nine: Rondo Alla Contrattempo
Part Ten: Interlude
Part Eleven: A Fool’s Masquerade
Part Twelve: A Reprised Duet

“As you wish Avery, I do wish to compliment your dancing, you were an exquisite partner,” I answer lightly, gauging her reaction at the same time. She gives none. Which may have been valuable if she hadn’t already proven herself more than capable many times over.

“First question, who are you working for?” The question takes me by surprise, I had assumed she was quite familiar with my employment due to her proximity to our first meeting. I let my reaction display naturally having no need to conceal anything from her at this moment.

“My services have been acquired by an anonymous party using an intermediary who gave no name that contacted me through a previous employer,” I state plainly, considering the hidden meanings behind the question. “My investigation has suggested my employer is The Most Honourable Marchioness Madeleine Wilson, her intermediary the crow Daniel Thomas and the previous employer Sir Alexander Taylor. Although his servant Sebastian is the true power behind the throne, so to speak.”

She waits for two beats at the end of my answer, seeming to be waiting for me to continue. I suspect I haven’t delivered the answer she had been looking for. I tense up apprehensively for the outward expression of her displeasure. I’d been tortured before. My alterations and training helped lessen the experience, but that didn’t mean I was any more looking forward to it.
I search for another answer she may be looking for, and though I can think of a number of possible ideas I don’t know enough to successfully bluff her on any of them.

“What jobs are you currently undertaking?” she asks without any retaliation for my apparently incorrect answer.

“Simple switch job on some scribbles I’ve got locked in my stash,” I reply to the same expectant wait.

“What are your intentions for the blood you took from the Thierris serving girl?”

I pause to consider the question. The purpose of the blood must be obvious to her, especially if I assumed she was aware of the face I was having Matthew craft me. My desire in entering the Thierris estate was a purely independent endeavour, there should have been no possibility that she could have preempted it. Even I hadn’t known about it until I’d seen Sophia’s picture in the dossier.
The only explanation I had was that Avery had been looking for someone else and found me. Either she worked security for the Baronet, a possibility I hadn’t considered due to the expense in maintaining a full time shadow far exceeded the ability of aristocrats below true nobility. That she had been employed by the Baron to guard his daughter seemed even less likely for reasons of etiquette on top of the issue of expense. It had to have something to do with the son James’ connection to the Angel.

“There’s someone I’ve been looking for, who I believe might be Ava Thierris. My intention was to disguise myself as the servant and see for myself,” I answer deciding now to alter my strategy away from being absolutely forthcoming.

“Why are you looking for Lady Thierris?”

“She very distinctly resembles a woman who once nearly killed me.”

“Tell me about this woman”

I sighed, her face is like stone. I can’t read her to know if she is already aware of my story. Amelia always warned me that the shadows would be the death of me, and of course I’d always known she was right. In Night Town there is a saying that no shadow has ever died of old age. Some take it to mean that our altered bodies can live forever, in reality its simply a reference to the mortality rate. I had accepted going into the shadows that I would likely die there, I’d been careful to keep my work clean however. To avoid jobs that might put those I cared about at risk.

“First, I need to know what you did to Amelia,” I was pushing my luck asking, but I needed to know. Avery stares through me, her hawk like gaze tearing through to my soul without mercy. I gave nothing away, reflecting her own impassive stony visage back at her. Our contest of wills lasts only a couple of seconds.

“She is unharmed, I gave her the same as you gave to Scarlett.” I have no choice but to believe her, or not. I choose to believe her.

“Around ten years ago I was hired for a switch job on some administrative records at a library in The Day. While on site I was interrupted by a group who seemed to be searching for something at the same time. One of them spotted me through the grey, I disposed of all but one of them. She caught me on the roof and kicked me off after introducing herself as Sophia and saying something about fate. I barely survived the fall and when I saw her in the dossier for this job, I needed to know.”

Once more she gives me weighted pause while studying me. My instincts tell me that this time is different however, but I’m cautiously guard my hopes in case they are unfounded. In a sudden, fluid motion a knife appears in her hand as she kneels before me. She saws through the ropes binding my hands and drops the knife beside me and turns to make for the door.

“Your equipment is in the room at the end of the hall. Carry on with your plan to see Ava if you wish, my job doesn’t require me to care about that. I’ll be seeing you.”

I take the knife and cut myself free. I recognise the blade as one of my own. By the time I’ve made it out of my bindings and out of the room there’s no sign of Avery anywhere in the abandoned building. At the end of the hall, my things are waiting like she said. Including the vial of Scarlett’s blood. I reequip myself with a sense of ritualistic cleansing. The smart thing to do would be to stop chasing this lead, I’d already proven I’m in over my head. But I’m not especially smart, and things have just started to get interesting.

Author: Zairron

I'm writing to build a habit, practice, and be creative.

7 thoughts on “Dancing with the Devil”

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