Author's Note: This story takes place in the 7th Sea system (also known as Swashbuckling Adventures for those of you who use the newer d20 version of the game). Sylistically I was bored with the typical character write up for the game so I thought I would take a poke at writing something a little more interesting. I would greatly appreciate it if you would take the time to review and let me know what you thought. Many thanks to Sapphirefly for helping me tighten this up a bit and straightening me out on my grammatical issues.

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A chill breeze chases you through the door of the tavern, tugging at the hem of your cloak and plastering it briefly against the back of your knees. The common room is nearly packed and the smoke from the fish oil lanterns makes the press of bodies seem even worse. If it weren't for the fact that you came here searching for information, you would have turned around right then and walked out. All your searching has finally led you to this less than reputable tavern in the slim hope that your tenuous contact would deign to speak to you.

Scanning the crowd, you spot a woman sitting alone in a shadowed booth. Her shoulder length black hair falls across her face like a curtain, casting her face into shadows despite the single candle flickering on the table before her. She is dressed in a loose white shirt and tan leather trousers tucked into calf length black boots. A simple but functional rapier lies across the table beside the half finished tankard of ale. One black-gloved hand rests on the table within easy reach of either the blade or the tankard, the other hand is draped casually over the back of the seat.

The woman was utterly ordinary and almost completely blended into the background of a disreputable tavern like this. She had just enough presence that those around her seemed to sense she was dangerous to mess with, but not so much presence that anybody would actually take note of her. In fact, you would not have even noticed her if it were not for the blood red rose laying in the circle of light from the candle just in front of the seat across from her. She was the person your contact had sent you to meet.

Slipping as quickly as possible across the room, you slide into the seat opposite her. Piercing blue eyes glance up at you through the curtain of hair but the majority of her face remains in shadows. She seems to be searching for something in your face but her face remains a mask that you cannot read leaving you uncertain about whether or not she found what she was looking for.

"So you seek the story of The Fire Rose do you?" She asked in a quite voice that barely cut through the din of the common room enough to reach your ears. At your eager nod, she continues, "I'm no bard, but I suppose I have the time to tell you a tale, but only because some one, somewhere needs to hear the truth."

The woman sat in silence for a moment before picking up her tankard and taking a long pull. With a wave of her hand, she ordered another round of ale before speaking again. "This tale you ask of me, has its beginnings in the year 1656, during the reign of High King Salvador Aldana de Sandoval del Castillo.

'Fall of the year 1656 marked the end of an era for one of Castille's noble families. Prior to that year, the Alvarez line had flourished under the protection of the Gallegos Ranchero. From their mountain home in La Sierra de Hierro the Alvarez estate produced some of the most beautiful glass sculptures Theah has ever seen. In those days it was considered quite prestigious to own and Alvarez piece, much less receive an invitation to study at Fuego de Cristal Ranchero. Peurto de Sur, being the nearest city, did quite a bit of business selling the Alvarez's glassware.

'There were always rumors that the Alvarez's used magic to craft such wondrous pieces, for surely no natural talent could produce such fantastic pieces. It was suggested that the members of the noble family could touch the molten glass itself with their bare hands and mold it to their will. Considering how closely related the Alvarez line was to the line of Gallegos, these rumors are unsurprising. After all, the Gallegos family still bears the stigma of having magic in their blood despite the fact that what magic once existed in the Castillian bloodlines has long since passed into legend. My opinion on the matter I will keep to myself, but most people, preferred to believe that the only magic involved in these stunning creations was the natural talent gifted to the family by Theus himself.

'In late summer of '56, one jealous soul accused the Alvarez family of consorting with sorcery. Four weeks later, in early fall, the Inquisition descended upon Fuego del Cristal Ranchero and it is on that bloody night that my tale begins…

,---

It was a chill fall evening with the air carrying the threat of rain when the squad of Inquisitors pounded into the front courtyard of Fuego del Cristal Ranchero. The arrival of the Inquisitors marked the end of the era of peace and prosperity. In the playroom on the second floor of the manor, the arrival in the courtyard went unnoticed by the ladies of the house. In the peaceful confines of the playroom, Donna Esperanza Riviera Gallegos de Alvarez sat embroidering as she watched her daughter Alejandra reading a book to her doll beside the fire.

The sudden pounding at the main doors accompanied by a shouted demand for entry broke the peaceful stillness. Startled and wondering who could be calling this late in the day, Esperanza leapt to her feet and hurried to the window as quickly as her heavily pregnant body would allow. In the courtyard below she could see nearly forty men wearing the robes of the Inquisition. Spinning away from the window, Esperanza took her daughter by the arm and led the girl toward the fireplace. Esperanza knew that if the Inquisition had come with the numbers she could see, somebody had betrayed her family's greatest secret. Esperanza and her husband, like most of the master craftsmen employed by the Ranchero were able to use the legendary power of El Fuego Adentro, the Fire Magic.

The Inquisition had been so ruthless in stamping out the Fire Magic that most people believed it no longer existed and when the occasional sorcerer appeared, he was ruthlessly put to death for his heretical abilities. Esperanza knew that the magic was simply an accident of birth, but it was one that would condemn her to death along with her unborn babe. If Theus smiled upon her this night though, she could save her daughter.

"Little one, there are bad men coming for us. I need you to be brave for me. Can you do that?" Esperanza asked, brushing a lock of the girl's dark red curls off her forehead.

Alejandra nodded bravely, clutching her doll to her chest, obviously trying not to cry. Esperanza leaned forward and kissed her daughter's cheek, right on the tiny rose shaped birth mark below the corner of the girl's left eye.

"Whatever happens, know that your father and I love you with all our hearts my little Rose," Esperanza whispered hugging her daughter to her.

"I love you too mamma," Alejandra replied, her voice thick with fear.

As the last words left Alejandra's mouth, the playroom door slammed open and a group of hooded men walked in. Esperanza stood up, turning to face them as she placed herself between her daughter and the intruders. For a moment there was silence as the six men stared across the room at the lone woman protecting her daughter. Finally another man entered the room dragging a second by his hair. With a contemptuous flick of the wrist, the newcomer tossed his burden to the ground at Esperanza's feet.

The body landed with a limp thud as the head rolled to stare at her with vacant eyes. Esperanza sucked in a sharp breath and stared at the brutalized body of the man she had married. Don Ramon Garcia de Alvarez was dead. With a sinking feeling in her heart, Esperanza knew that this moment marked the beginning of the end. All she could hope to do now was face it with courage and honor.

"Oh Ramon," she whispered, her grief freezing her in place until a young voice cried out from behind her.

"Pappa!" Cried Alejandra as she lunged past her mother in an attempt to reach her father's body.

Esperanza was quicker and scooped her daughter into her arms. Alejandra squirmed and shouted for a moment, but then settled into her mother's arms and cried silently into her neck.

"So now you see the punishment for deifying Theus's wishes, sorceress," a smooth voice drawled. The cold tone seemed almost inhuman.

Esperanza glared across the room at the man who had spoken. "Neither my husband nor I have done anything against the church. Please leave my daughter and I to mourn our dead," Esperanza said putting as much cold hauteur into her voice as she could manage. She hoped that if she sounded confident enough in her own innocence that the Inquisition would leave.

"You lie, foul sorceress," snarled the masked man. "But Theus is merciful. There is no hope for your blackened and depraved soul, but if you come quietly I'm sure your daughter and the babe you carry can be saved despite their… tainted… blood."

Esperanza stared at the man who was slowly advancing toward her. Spinning quickly Esperanza set her daughter down and pushed the girl into the roaring fire behind her. "I would sooner see my daughter dead at my own hands than submitted to the Inquisition's false cleansing!" Esperanza cried.

Alejandra stared at her mother in shock as she was shoved into the fireplace. The little girl had no fear of the fire itself since the flames had never harmed her, only wrapped her in a gentle, comforting warmth. Through the flames, Alejandra could see her mother standing before the angry men as the flames suddenly surged up around her igniting everything in their path.

"Kill the witch before she can use her powers!" shouted one of the men.

Two men lunged toward Esperanza as the flames licked higher into the room. Alejandra watched in horror as another man moved toward the fire to try and pull her out. Knowing that her mother wanted her to stay put, Alejandra pulled back and the flames roared higher in front of her. The man backed away, leaving Alejandra's field of view open just in time for her to see one of the men run his sword through her mother's heart, killing her instantly.

Alejandra screamed in fear and pain as the flames around her grew into an unnatural pyrotechnic fury. Around her, Alejandra could hear the timbers of the building creaking as stones cracked apart under the sudden heat. Without warning, the ceiling gave way and the entire building collapsed. Alejandra saw several beams crash down in front of her and could hear the screams of the men before she blacked out.

When she came to, Alejandra found herself curled up in the tiny alcove of what had once been the fireplace. Through the pile of rubble she could see a tiny patch of slate gray sky. Moving cautiously, Alejandra managed to extricate herself from the wreckage of the house. Once free, she found that it was late afternoon and raining as if the world itself mourned the deaths of her parents. Feeling lost and alone, Alejandra sat down on a broken stone and began to cry.

She did not know how long she cried before she heard something that sounded like footsteps coming through the ruins. Quickly she slipped off her perch and spun around, trying to find the source of the sounds she had heard. When nothing was forthcoming, she tentatively called out, "Who's there?"

The noises stopped suddenly and a few seconds later, a scruffy brown head popped out from behind another bit of rubble. A tall, lanky man with clear gray eyes stared at Alejandra from behind another bit of rubble as if he was assessing her as a threat. After a moment, the man moved slowly toward Alejandra. As silently as the man was moving now, Alejandra was surprised she had heard him in the first place.

"Who be ye girlie?" The man asked gruffly as he stopped in front of Alejandra.

Alejandra drew herself up to her full height before answering, "I am Alejandra Gallegos de Alvarez del Castillo, daughter of Don Ramon Garcia de Alvarez and Donna Esperanza Riviera Gallegos de Alvarez"

"Neh girlie, ye be pullin' me leg," the man said, "the Inquisition been here and burned the Alvarez's for the heretics they be."

"I do not lie, sir," Alejandra said stiffly as she fought back tears.

"Mehbe, mehbe not girlie. Either way yer dead if you insist on that story," the man said in a voice that seemed kindly to the girl.

Alejandra stared up at the man for a moment before daring a question of her own, "Who are you then?"

"I be called Snitch," the man said with a grin.

"What are you doing here?" Alejandra asked.

"Snitchin' o' course," he replied as he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against a bit of rubble.

"That's horrible," Alejandra said, doing her best to look cross with the man.

"Ne, it ain't l'il 'un," laughed Snitch as he reached out to tousle Alejandra's hair, "That be life."

"But won't you get in trouble for stealing?" Alejandra asked.

"Pro'lly," Snitch answered as he turned back toward the place he had been looting.

Desiring not to be alone, Alejandra trailed along after the man, continuing to pepper him with questions. For no reason that Snitch would ever admit to, he took a liking to the orphaned girl and allowed her to follow him around. When Snitch left with his ill-gotten gains to return to Peurto de Sur, Alejandra, followed him. After all, she did not want to be left alone at the site of her parents' murder and Snitch, despite his questionable ethics, was at least friendly.

It was fortunate for the little girl that despite Snitch's choice of profession, he was a good-hearted man. He took the little orphan in and adopted her as a daughter, dubbing her Julianna and carefully hiding anything about her that might give away her true heritage. By unspoken agreement, they never again spoke of the rainy afternoon when they had first met. Snitch taught his little Julianna all the skills she needed to become a thief and pickpocket. At first, he never phrased the lessoning as learning to steal, but rather as a simple challenge that Juliana's eagerly inquisitive mind could not leave alone. As the years passed, Julianna found she truly enjoyed the challenge of defeating a lock or climbing a wall without being seen. Slowly her ideals about personal possessions changed, though she did make it a point to take only from those who could afford the loss. For seven years, Julianna and Snitch made their way in the world through less than legal means.

The year Julianna turned thirteen proved to be quite eventful for the young woman and her mentor. That was the year that Julianna learned that not only was she impervious to fire, but that she could bend any flame to her will. She was so excited by her new discoveries that she was somewhat less than careful about hiding her abilities. Julianna learned the hard way what her parents never had a chance to tell her.

The Inquisition heard rumors of a young sorceress turned thief and they showed up in Peurto de Sur en masse to eliminate the heretical uprising that she was obviously leading. For six months, Julianna and Snitch managed to evade capture, but many other members of the criminal element were not so lucky. Nearly every street corner bore a permanent scorch mark from all the burnings as neighbor turned on neighbor in an attempt to prove their loyalty to the church. All the suspicion and false accusations made tensions run high. As trust weakened, betrayal became an increasingly more distinct possibility with each passing day.

Julianna eventually left Snitch's side and fled Peurto de Sur, heading for San Cristobal where she knew she would stand a chance of disappearing into anonymity. For the better part of two years, Julianna scraped by, making sure to keep her head low. She took mostly paying jobs from people who wished artifacts retrieved from tombs and ruins. It was never as lucrative as the more traditional snatch-and-grab but it was worth maintaining the law-abiding cover. Likely she would have continued that way for the rest of her life except that all of Castille was sent reeling by the events of 1664 and 1665.

First there was the disappearance of Crown Prince Javier, which really did not bother Julianna in the least since she had nothing to do with the nobility any more. At least not beyond swiping the occasional bit of forgotten jewelry to fence. Then came the real blow to the nation, the death of King Salvador. The chaos in the noble houses as the church debated crowning thirteen-year-old Sandoval was too great an opportunity to miss.

Knowing that it would be impossible to hide her abilities if she turned to thieving again and ran afoul of the law, Julianna did not bother to hide her talents. Instead, she hid herself. Taking her cue from the birthmark on her cheek that she had taken such pains to keep hidden, Julianna became The Fire Rose.

Within months, The Fire Rose became the bane of the law enforcers and the Inquisition. Neither force could catch their elusive quarry. The closest they ever came was seeing a woman with blood red hair and a rose shaped mark on her left cheek in the moment before a sheet of fire would come up blocking the doorway. By the time the fires cooled, The Fire Rose was invariably gone. For such a flamboyant thief, The Fire Rose was never in any danger of being caught.

Soon people all over San Cristobal began requesting that The Fire Rose retrieve items, information or documents for them. Strangely enough, nobody ever met The Fire Rose herself, though they discovered that if they left messages in certain inns with proper payment, the mission would be taken care of. Julianna continued her consulting for the retrieval of artifacts from ruins and nobody ever connected her with the thriving trade The Fire Rose was doing in underhanded activities.

It was during these years, the rumors about The Fire Rose's mystical abilities began to arise. Some said she was born of fire itself and being other than human, she could become fire and be lurking anywhere, just waiting for her chance to strike. Others claimed she was the herald of the fourth prophet, a warning that the end was near. There was even the odd rumor that she was an avenging goddess come to rescue her people from oppression.

To be fair, the avenging goddess rumor did not really start until the night The Fire Rose met El Vago. Their first meeting was under less than auspicious circumstances. The Fire Rose had broken into a young noblewoman's home in search of a particular ruby ring that had been given to her by a young nobleman. The young man had decided he had been in error with his gift and had hired The Fire Rose to retrieve the troublesome ring.

The Fire Rose had just managed to locate the noblewoman's jewelry box containing the ring and was about to leave when she was interrupted by a commotion outside. Glancing out the window into the street below, The Fire Rose saw a young woman of perhaps fourteen struggling in the arms of two burly Inquisitors. Surrounding the trio were more than half a dozen church guards. The Inquisitors frog marched the tearful girl toward a wooden post surrounded by kindling. The girl was screaming her innocence but nobody in the audience would meet her eyes. As soon as the girl was tied securely to the stake, one of the Inquisitors began reading out a list of charges.

Chewing thoughtfully on her lip, The Fire Rose drew back from the window and turned to find that she was not alone. Standing in a shadowy corner of the room was a man dressed in a dark purple tunic and pants with black trimming. On his face, he wore an odd white mask that completely hid his features. In one hand he carried a pistol, while a rapier hung from his belt. If the rumors were true, then this man could be none other than El Vago, the man who defended his king from murderers and championed the Castillian people against the horrors of the Inquisition.

"The girl down there, she is innocent you know," the man said conversationally.

"Wouldn't surprise me," the Fire Rose replied blandly.

"My intentions are to save her. Will you stand in my way?" The man asked taking a step forward.

The Fire Rose glanced over her shoulder and saw that one of the Inquisitors had already lit the kindling around the girl. Flames were already starting to lick up around the girl's feet. It seemed the wood used for this fire was very dry, in less than a minute the fire would blaze up too hot to cross for any but a Fire Mage

"I have no intention of standing in your way El Vago," the Fire Rose said "But as talented as you are with a blade, I don't think you're going to be crossing that any time soon."

El Vago crossed the room and looked out the window at the street below. "Damn!" He swore as he slammed a gloved fist against the window ledge. Turning his head to the side, he glared at The Fire Rose. "If you hadn't been here I could have saved her!" He snarled.

"If you ask nicely, you still could," The Fire Rose snapped back, irritated that he would assume the worst about her.

"What?" El Vago asked, turning fully to face her.

"I'm called The Fire Rose for a reason," she said calmly.

El Vago cocked his head to the side considering her for a moment and then glanced out the window at the girl below who was desperately trying to climb up the stake to escape the flames.

"Very well," he said, "Fire Rose, will you please help me save this girl's life?"

"It always pays to be polite you know," The Fire Rose said with a grin. "Get us down there and keep those thugs off my back. I'll get your girl for you."

Without another word, El Vago slipped an arm around The Fire Rose's waist. Together, the two stepped out onto the balcony outside the window. With practiced ease, El Vago fired a grappling hook at the building across the street. From the street below, the crowd looked up at the report from the gun just in time to see El Vago and The Fire Rose swing down to the street, their purple and crimson cloaks streaming out behind them.

El Vago dropped The Fire Rose beside the fire, landing a few feet farther away himself. Quickly he drew his rapier and spun to face the church guards, trusting that The Fire Rose would take care of her end of the deal. As soon as her feet touched the ground, The Fire Rose gracefully stepped into the embrace of the flames. Quickly she pulled off one of her black gloves and placed her bare hand against the sweating girl's cheek. Within seconds, the girl sighed in relief as the searing pain from the flames vanished into a gentle warmth. The Fire Rose could still see fear in the girl's eyes, but it was rapidly be replaced by relief and thankfulness.

Working quickly, The Fire Rose pulled her knife from her belt and cut the girl loose. The Fire Rose swept the girl into her arms, being careful to keep skin-to-skin contact and stepped out of the flames. Looking around the square, The Fire Rose spotted El Vago dueling with the last of the church guards. The rest of the guards appeared to be taking an involuntary nap in the dirt at the moment.

"El Vago!" The Fire Rose shouted, "Let's go."

El Vago nodded and delivered a solid blow with the pommel of his rapier to the skull of the last guardsman. With an easy grace, he loped across the space between them.

"So where's our escape route?" The Fire Rose asked.

"I didn't get that far in my planning," El Vago said with an apologetic shrug.

"Men!" The Fire Rose said with an exasperated sigh.

Looking around she shoved the unconscious girl into El Vago's arms and pointed him toward the nearest doorway.

"Go, I'll cover your retreat," The Fire Rose snapped, already turning back toward the Inquisitors.

"You sure?" El Vago asked, hesitating a moment.

"Just come back for me if I end up in prison for this," The Fire Rose said tossing an impish grin over her shoulder.

"As you wish my Lady," El Vago said with a brief salute. Quickly he spun on his heel and vanished into the building.

The Fire Rose drew her own rapier and called out to the fire. With a spectacular burst of fireworks, the bonfire answered her call and the fire roared across the square to surround her and seal off the door behind her. With a grin and a wink, The Fire Rose blew a kiss to the Inquisitors and calmly walked through the flames behind her.

By the time she reached the roof, El Vago was long gone. Not that she had wanted to speak with him again. He was, after all the epitome of a heroic outlaw and The Fire Rose had no desire to get tagged with the same label. Theus however had other ideas for The Fire Rose's future. Six months later, she met El Vago again.

She had been set up. Somehow, one of her informants had been compromised and the Inquisition had set up a job for her that was nothing more than an elaborate trap. The Fire Rose had thought she was simply going after some documentation but when she had arrived, it was to find two squads of Inquisition trained guardsmen waiting for her. By sheer luck, she had spotted the trap before it closed around her. Drawing on the powers of El Fuego with all her strength, she managed to escape to the rooftops where the guardsmen were currently pursuing her.

All in all, it was definitely not a good night for her. A soft orange glow coming from a building off to her right caught her eye. Instinctively she swerved in that direction. Running as fast as she could over the slippery roof tiles, The Fire Rose managed to stay one step ahead of her pursuers until she reached the source of the glow. It was an abandoned warehouse that seemed to have been intentionally set on fire. Here was the perfect escape from her pursuers. Without a second thought, The Fire Rose leapt the gap between the buildings and dropped through the weakened roof of the burning warehouse.

The Fire Rose landed hard, bruising her shoulder as she rolled out from under the hole she'd made coming through the roof. It wasn't likely that any of the guardsmen would follow her into a burning building but there was no sense in taking chances. When no guardsmen followed her, she stood up and surveyed the building.

For the moment, most of the fire seemed to be contained in the walls and the roof. It wouldn't last forever but with a little help from her it should last long enough to let her catch her breath and plan a better escape. Moving quickly, she leapt down the ladder to the next floor. Suddenly a hand snaked out of the darkness behind her trapping her arms and covering her mouth. Reacting instinctively, The Fire Rose lashed out and was rewarded when her booted heel collided with her attackers shin.

With a muffled grunt, the attacker let go of her and The Fire Rose instantly spun around to face him. She had her rapier half drawn before she recognized the white mask and purple outfit. With a snort she put up her rapier again.

"Hell of a way to greet somebody who helped you out," The Fire Rose said sarcastically.

"Didn't know it was you," El Vago said shortly.

At the pained tone in his voice, The Fire Rose looked more closely and realized El Vago was sporting several nasty looking cuts across his chest and thighs.

"Do I even want to know what you were doing to warrant that beating?" The Fire Rose asked, gesturing at El Vago's injuries.

"Probably no more than I want to know why you jumped through the roof of a burning building," El Vago retorted.

"Touche," The Fire Rose said. "So shall we call a truce on the verbal sparring and get out of here or would you rather wait for the goon squad to put in an appearance?"

"Depends, your goon squad or mine?" El Vago quipped.

"Personally I like my skin without holes in it if you don't mind." The Fire Rose said, "I think I'll just leave from somewhere they're not watching."

El Vago cocked his head to the side in silent inquiry at that comment. The Fire Rose just looked at him intently for a moment before she realized he probably had not seen her walk into the bonfire to save the girl the last time they had fought together. It was rather difficult to pay attention to things going on behind you when men with swords were trying to poke holes in you from the front.

"El Fuego Adentro runs in my veins. If you wish, I can take you through the flames with me," The Fire Rose said quietly. She did not particularly want to be known for helping people, but this was El Vago. If there was one thing she had learned in the last couple of years, it was that her people needed him. They needed the hope that he represented in these troubled times, especially with Montaigne invading and a very young king sitting on the throne.

"Is that what you did to save the girl?" El Vago asked curiously as he rose to follow her across the room.

"Yes." The Fire Rose answered shortly as she scanned one burning wall. Finally finding a spot she liked for creating a new exit, she turned back to her companion. "So are you coming?"

"I'm certainly not one to stay behind if you're offering an escape," El Vago said with a shrug.

The Fire Rose pulled off one glove and held out her hand toward El Vago. Hesitantly, El Vago reached out his own hand. Before he could touch her, The Fire Rose withdrew her hand and glared at him for a second. He looked at her with obvious confusion.

"Hey now," he said pleadingly, "The Fire Magic is your deal. At least tell me what I'm supposed to do will you?"

"What you honestly think I'd leave you here?" The Fire Rose said with a laugh. "Take off your gloves and whatever else you do, don't let go of my hand as long as you are in the flames."

El Vago gave her a wry grin before complying. As soon as his bare hand touched hers, The Fire Rose turned and walked into the flames. The pair paused long enough for The Fire Rose to kick out a section of the burning wall, creating their door. Cautiously they looked out into the alleyway, but saw no one. Quickly they moved down the alleyway, slipping from shadow to shadow as they left their pursuers far behind.

The Fire Rose was so relieved to have escaped from the Inquisition that she did not even think twice when El Vago offered to let her stay in one of his safe houses until things cooled down for her. The Fire Rose was rather bemused by the gentlemanly offer since she was a known criminal. El Vago had simply smiled at her when she'd asked about it and said, "I have seen your true heart. You can and will use your abilities to help our people if given the chance."

"I'm no hero," The Fire Rose responded.

"We will see," El Vago said as he kissed her hand before leaving her alone in the safe house.

,----

"There were rumors of The Fire Rose appearing here and there after that night, but it seems the Inquisition was on to her. The latest rumors say she left Castille for a time to let things cool down.

'So now you have the story sought my friend. Was it all that you had hoped for?" The black haired woman said with a smile as she downed the last of her ale. "What you don't believe me? Well that's your problem," she said with a wink as she gathered up her jacket and rapier.

Before she turns to leave, you call out to her. "Wait, what is your name? How will I find you again if I have more questions?" You ask daringly.

"My name is Julianna del Castillo," she said so quietly you barely heard her. Casually she brushes her hair off her left cheek. Just for a moment you thought you saw the faint shadow of a birthmark before her hair fell back across her face, leaving it in shadows once more. "As for the rest, only time will tell if you will find me again."

Without another word, she settled her sword at her hip and walked across the room to vanish into the night.