(Disclaimer: I own nothing)

Wednesday, April 8, 246

Morning was good to me – for the most part.

I woke in a good mood despite last night but I knew why; we were having our breakfast gathering again. As quickly as I could, I threw on a clean pair of breeches and a shirt, and made my way to the Day Market. It was a nice morning. The sky was blue and the sun was slowly climbing higher in the sky. Pigeons were everywhere, especially around my dwelling. They are nasty little pests but Beka enjoys their company.

In the Day Market, older mots stood in groups and gossiped. They usually supply the best information. I stopped by a group of them and decided to be subtle about my eavesdropping; I bought pickled eggs.

"That Yates boy is in for trouble," one of the mots said. "I hear Beka interfered by pinning his arms down. She's a pretty strong gixie, though she's a bit strange." My ears perked at the sound of Beka's name, and resent quickly followed. Beka isn't weird – well she isn't very weird. She just has weird tendencies.

"Rosto?" I heard a voice that sounded like Verene's. I turned to see the young Puppy sauntering up to me with a basket in her arm. "What are you doin' here?" I held up the pickled eggs. She nodded at me. "Do you want to walk back to Beka's with me?"

"Sure, I'm on my way back anyway," I told her. As we walked, I noticed her silence. Verene always had something to say. What was she holding back then? I would glance at her occasionally. The thoughtful look that plagued her face didn't subside. I knew she was picking her words wisely. "Why so silent?" I asked after a few awkward moments. I shifted the eggs in my arms.

"It's nothin'," she replied, not looking at me. I waited for a bit longer. "You fancy Beka don't you?" The question was so blunt I nearly choked on my tongue. I didn't give her an answer. How could I? I didn't know the answer. I found Beka interesting and I wouldn't mind spending a night or two in her bed (or her in mine) but I never thought of it to be an actual attraction. At the thought of it I denied it automatically.

"No," I said, looking Verene in the eyes. It was weird. I never felt so uncomfortable. I still don't understand what happened. "She's entertaining."

"If you say so," Verene said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. Our conversation dropped immediately after we approached Nipcopper Close.

We walked into Beka's room without saying a word to each other. Everyone was already there, cups nearly filled. Kora caught my eye and gave me a wink as though she knew something I didn't. I ignored her and found a place to sit amongst the rest of our breakfast group. Beka sat near me, I couldn't help but look in her direction.

"I missed breakfast these last two days," I said. Everyone nodded in agreement with their mouths full of food. There was a look in Beka's eyes when she agreed with me. It made me nervous but I concealed it from everyone – even the ever watchful Kora.

Verene started talk about Provost's House and Beka's bruises. She complained how Beka never told anyone about what happened. I was confused briefly; I knew most of what happened that night, and I won a couple extra coins from it too.

Verene mentioned something that her Dogs said about Beka's dogs, making Beka glare viciously at her. The glare made Verene shrink slightly as she covered her comment with, "I'm just tellin' you what they said." I watched Phelan sling an arm around Verene and kiss her temple. "Your Dogs are worthless scuts, sweeting," he told her. "Don't listen when they talk scummer like that. Study the good pairs, like Beka's Dogs."

Batting her eyelashes at Phelan, Verene said, "That being' you and your partner?" I watched the two of thnem, not knowing what to think about their flirting.

Phelan laughed. "We aren't even nearly so good."

"Why try, when it's such an uphill battle?" I asked which was followed by a yawn. Those two were starting to bore me. "When you get in trouble someplace like the Barrel's Bottom, and other Dogs take forever to come to lend a hand?"

Beka's foot nudged me. "Why take the trouble to serve any of the Rogue's chiefs when they won't fight to move up at the Court?" she retorted. "Because you're a rusher. Because we're Dogs." I hate to admit that she made good arguments.

"You speak of bein' a Dog like it's somethin' that's in the blood," Verene said with a laugh. "I just didn't want t' fish!" I knew very little about Verene, so I hadn't an idea what she was talking about. Her family were fishers, I presume.

"It's in Beka's blood," Ersken said. His eyes flicked over to Kora but she didn't seem to see. "And I have to tell you, I get to meet more interesting people this way."

"And Beka will never changer her mind?" I asked. I tried to hold her gaze, her oddly colored eyes. "Never, ever?" She looked away from me. I continued to look though my eyes didn't linger on her face the entire time.

"The only ones who fitly punished a cove who treated all my family like garbage was the Dogs, Rosto the Piper. Did you know folk have gone to the Rogue for justice when their children were kidnapped, and he's done nothing?" The tone she took almost sounded like she was blaming me.

"Nor did the Dogs," Phelan said. "I'd've heard if we sought kidnappers in the Lower City." Phelan seemed to like to talk badly of the Dogs even though he was one.

"We're going to," Beka said, determined. "That's what makes us different. We're outnumbered, and not all of us care. But eventually some of us will do what's right."

Aniki smirked, "That's sweet, Beka."

"I'll believe it when I see it." Verene changed the subject, claiming it was too serious for her simple head. We fed the nasty pigeons. Pounce trotted his way over to Beka's side. The pigeons didn't even flinch when the purple-eyed cat presented himself. Beka made eye contact with the cat and a secret message seemed to pass between the two of them. It was as though they were communicating. That cat is suspicious. He was more than what Beka claimed him to be.

Beka fed us some information about someone called the Shadow Snake, which made Phelan snort. Beka glared at him and explained her sudden mention of him. She made a big speech about how bad of a person the Shadow Snake was and that he needed to be stopped. When she finished, she looked a little sheepish.

"I'll do it," Kora said turning to me as though asking me to support Beka too. "I'll do whatever it takes." Kora was a bit touchy on situations similar to the Shadow Snake. It was something that happened to her when she was younger.

I leaned over and stroked her cheek, knowing how she felt. "You know we'd help just for your sake, love."

Aniki agreed. "We have our reasons. Beyond ambition, that is. We'll keep our ears open." Everyone agreed to help her find out more information about this Shadow Snake.

Ulsa ordered three coves to follow her while she walked the Nightmarket. I, of course, agreed. I was getting bored of staying in the same old district of the city. I was issued as her left guard as we made our way through the market. I thought she wanted to show us off to the people. It was a way of saying "these good looking coves are mine. Look at my power over them."

Though she didn't say why she needed to prowl the market, I knew she had to make an appearance at the Court of Rogue. The Rogue himself was demanding that he saw his Chiefs more. Apparently, he smelled betrayal in his Court. The way I saw it, he wanted more protection.

We made our way through the Market. Ulsa walked with power, having her best coves around her. My eyes swept across the market, observing everyone as we walked. Several pick-pockets and purse snatchers roamed the streets as we made our way to the lower city. People stopped to look at us – well, at Ulsa. Her flashy red shirt and black breeches, both made of Carthaki silk, cause a ripple of heads to turn our way. Ulsa does like to make an appearance.

"Rosto," Ulsa said. I leaned slightly closer to her so she could whisper in my ear. "We are meeting Dawull before we get to the Court. I'll need you to stand guard for us as we discuss a few business matters." I nodded. I had a feeling I knew what these business matters were.

We passed Mistress Noll's stall. Beka stood with her Dogs talking to a girl I didn't recognize. By her body language, she knew Beka very well. I looked away from them, I didn't want my recognition of the Puppy to be noticed. I already received grief for talking to her.

"There," Ulsa said to me, subtly pointing out a rundown inn. "He's meeting us there." She made her way to the side alley where Aniki waited by the door. Her face was blank and she stood in the ready position. She nodded at us and allowed us entry. She showed us to a room where Dawull waited. "All of you out," Ulsa said to her coves. "Rosto, stand outside the door and make sure no one tries to listen in on our conversation." We obeyed without agreement. I stood by the closed door and listened.

"So," Ulsa dragged out impatiently. "Anything?"

"We're going to have to take him down slowly," Dawull said. "We aren't his only well trusted Chiefs."

"But we are his best." I rolled my eyes at that. "He's getting old! There is no way he can stop us."

"I will say this again, we aren't the only people he trusts. There are some folk who will stand up for the scummer. We are going to have to do this piece by piece. Make him weaker by the day. In other words, we need to ruin him and have people turn against him." The man was old and lazy! His reputation was already weakening. Not many people are willing to protect him. If Ulsa or Dawull talked to the other rushers they would know.

"When?" Their voices lowered. The only thing I could hear were two mumbling voices.

"What's going on in there?" Aniki asked leaning against the wall next to me.

"They are planning on overthrowing the Rogue," I whispered in her ear. "And to be honest, they are going about it the wrong way." I sighed.

"I don't think they would be the best people for the Rogue," Aniki said. There was a tone in her voice that indicating she had something on her mind. "There are better suited coves and mots for the job than those jinglenobs."

"It sounds like you're not enjoying your job with Dawull," I said.

"He lacks something," Aniki said, a smirk spread across her face. "We haven't been around for too long, but I think we could do a better job than they can." There was more to her statement than she was letting on.

"Has our Puppy gotten to you?" I teased.

"You have to admit, she made some decent points about the Court of Rogue," Aniki said. "Being in the Court makes us out to be greedy bastards, doesn't it?"

"Yes," I agreed. I silenced her with a hand gesture. Dawull and Ulsa had stopped talking. I heard the sound of careful footsteps come closer to the door. Were they trying to hear what we were saying? "So tonight, are you up for it?" I covered, nudging Aniki to play along.

"We'll just see by the end of the night, laddybuck," Aniki said. "But maybe Kora will have to take my place." She winked at me and walked away.

The door opened, Dawull gave me a look that was meant to be threatening. Ulsa just smirked and walked out of the room. I followed like I was supposed to.

The Rogue was boring. Dawull and his rushers didn't make an appearance. He sent a messenger saying that there was something going on in his district and he needed to take care of it. In the end, everyone knew what happened. The Dogs showed up but they weren't alone. They had the Lady Knight with them.

I returned home Beka was already in her room. I could hear her shuffling around. Kora was sleeping, and I knew better than to wake her. Instead, I went to my room and lay in my bed. I wasn't tired and I'm still not. Everyone is sleeping. Aniki came home a few moments ago; I could tell she had a few drinks more than she should have. I should probably go see if she made it to her room

It's been awhile, I know. I sort of just got my computer back. It had a virus and I had to send it to my sister for fixing. I'm now going to try to update once a week, or once every two weeks. I don't know. It depends on the work schedule. I really need to edit this chapter though. I don't like it.