3

3. Bruises

After that last man left and I had waited a while to be certain, I slid back through the wall and crept out of my room, casting one last regretful look at my torn up bed.

I went into full stealth mode (which entailed putting on an aggrieved face and stumbling around like I had a hangover – trust me, very inconspicuous when you're at the Dove in the morning) and decided that I'd go and give Jak a piece of my mind and demand he buy me a new bed. Yes, I know that this may seem unfair; but hey, as far as I'm concerned it didn't matter whose fault it was, just as long as I got a new bed. And it was technically Jak's responsibility for the upkeep of the Dove.

Ok, so back to me stumbling down the corridor to Jak's room. Well, I stumbled and grunted like the best of them, attracting sympathetic glances from some of the other rogues. Yes, I will tell you now that I was fully aware of the paradox of the situation – and how hilarious it was, although my lips twitched not a whit.

When I reached Jak's door, I was undeterred by the fact that it was locked. I just shook my head at his foolishness – what was the point of a locked door in a house full of thieves? Sure, I guess he probably uses it to the same effect that I use mine – a window of escape (and he actually has a window to jump out of… not to mention the five other doors) but when he is as drunk as he was last night, there really was no point. So I just twiddled my fingers and the lock cracked open (admittedly with some use of my trusty picks) and I firmly placed one hand over my eyes and sauntered inside.

Now, one may think that one entering a room blind is a very unusual and stupid thing to do – even more so considering that the occupant of that room is the Rogue and predisposed to attack any unannounced visitors – but I consider it saving my sanity. You see, the first few times I bothered to 'intrude' in the morning (to complain about something, although I can't remember exactly what it was at this moment) I was mentally scarred for life. Yes for life. I was not so troubled by Jak himself, it was more the woman next to him shudder and the mental pictures of what both of them had been doing previously. And now I will probably get those mental pictures every time I read over this journal – great idea, Calla. (note sarcasm, it is extremely important).

Ahh yes, so we're back on track and I've just waltzed into Jak's room, and decided to shout something like, "Get your clothes on for Mithros' sakes!"… when I realised that there was no surprised shriek (usually curtesy of whichever doxie he had spent the night with) or dagger at my throat. This may seem like an odd thing to miss, but that is pretty much the standard 'hi, how are you?' when you enter the Rogue's room. And yes, I know that that is very paranoid. Trust me, I've berated him many times. But it never seems to stick. So I continue barging in with shielded eyes and he continues to point a dagger at my throat. What can I say? We don't have a perfectly healthy relationship. In more ways than one.

So due to the absence of the dagger at my throat and/or a scream, I decided that the coast just may be clear. Cautiously I parted my fingers and opened my eye a crack.

I was not brave enough to look towards the bed, so I started with a side of the room. Instantly I saw that there seemed to be much less stuff hanging around. Feeling a tad bit braver I dared to open both eyes and check the bed. It was empty. NOT GOOD. Immediately after this, I saw small signs of a struggle and a hell of a lot of blood on the bed sheets. Something clenched in my gut as I stared stunned for a few moments. My breath started to come faster as I realised the implications of this, but before I reached hyperventilating status I forced myself to calm down. It may not be exactly what it looked like.

Glancing around, I started hoping to Mithros that it wasn't what it looked like. Think. I told myself. Unfortunately panicking seems to slow down the whole rational thought processes – go figure. I closed my eyes and re-examined all that had happened in the short space of the morning. I remembered something that the rushers (thugs) had inadvertently told me: "At least the cove's injured, that oughta make it easier to take him down." 'The Cove' he was referring to must have been Jak. Or at least that's what I was telling myself – because 'the cove' was only injured. Not dead. I'll take anything that entails Jak actually being alive. My mind somehow followed this rational line of thought (or at least what I hoped was rational) and turned to where Jak would go in the eventuality the he was injured.

Ah-ha! My mind supplied me with the first tangible and realistic thought that it had had in a few minutes – the bolt hole. Immediately upon coming to this inspiration, I 'stumbled' precariously down the stairs (what kind of looby would I be if I all of a sudden dropped my disguise?) and out the back of the Dove.

While I was casually strutting and weaving through the early morning markets - being careful enough to lose any who may be following me – if Jak was alive, I wasn't looby enough to go charging straight to his hidey hole.

As I weaved I contrived to 'find' my breakfast (which consisted of a turnover) - hey, I had no patience for going back to get my coin – and slowly made my way to a house on the east side of the Patten district (what better way to hide the Rogue than by doing it right under the Provost's nose?).

A few very frustrating hours later – yes, hours – I arrived at an inoffensive little house with a high wall around it.

Didn't I mention just how damn paranoid the Rogue is? Well, he made a very specific set of rules that must be followed every single time that one of those very few people who actually know that it exists (his inner circle) want to go there. On a side note, can you believe how appreciated it makes me feel to be included in his 'most trusted' category? Well, I've got to tell you a lot. Not that he could have actually stopped me from finding out, but still. Glancing around at the dead street, I decided that my feet hurt so damn much that if Jak was alive and in there I would have words with him about those stupid rules.

So, I knocked on the gate impatiently – rapping out the proper code, of course. (I deducted that now was not the time to try anyone's patience with me… especially since the last time I had to go around the back and stop them from 'escaping' from their 'enemies.' Mithros knows they can't take a joke.) And was met with a dark brown eye peering through a gap in the wood – to which I waved cheerfully. (Never let anyone say I am anything but pleasant… and annoying.) I witnessed with a grin that the eye rolled in exasperation and then I heard the locks and obstacles being removed.

So I was kinda just standing there thinking if there was an end to the paranoia (yes, even though I am supposed to be used to it) when the door flew open and a hand with red nails yanked me through the opening and shut the gate back up.

Yes, she yanked me. I felt a little degraded. And then she swung around and pointed a long fingernail at me accusingly, "Where the hell have you been Calla? We were startin' ter think you'd been sent off to the peaceful realms. Let me assure you that Cameron was quite disappointed that you should even consider wasting all the patch up jobs he's done on you!"

I got a sheepish look on my face and stepped back from Deana's accusatory finger. Let me tell you that the women of the rogue are certainly under control when the Queen's around. I think she could make even the young ones shudder in their skin.

"Ok that seems like maximum rage. Calm it down abit there Deana, it actually wasn't my fault that I haven't gotten here sooner."

My clearly logical and totally truthful explanation was cut short by her snort of disbelief.

Sigh. No one believes me, ever. I held up my hands in a gesture of 'don't-kill-me-im-tellin-the-truth' and ploughed on with my explanation, "I really mean it this time, it wasn't my fault! No one even bothered to inform me that something had happened! I only came here acos of the fact that there was a literal pool of blood on Jak's bed. Would you mind telling me why it is that Cam thought I was dead?"

Deana chewed on her thumbnail thoughtfully, as if contemplating if they had actually forgotten to inform me. Yes, she actually had to think about if she had forgotten me – apparently it was just so much of a far-out idea that it was almost unbelievable.

Normally, one would feel happy that no one ever forgot you, but the story of my life is that no one ever forgets me for the wrong reasons. They seem to believe that they need to keep tabs on me against my doing something stupid. I am indignant on this point. I have never done anything stupid. I can write that down in complete honesty. I will, however, admit to doing some things that are highly entertaining, and that some people seem to have misconstrued those things as stupid. But they weren't.

Deana's eyes widened as she realised that she had, in fact, forgotten to inform me. She seemed to dismiss this just as quickly, with the added bonus of her eyes softening their anger and a small grin forming on her face. "Lucky for us you're fast, Calla. Else wise we would of thought you were dead."

I sighed loudly and rolled my eyes. She chuckled at this and then got to business. "Ok, so this morning some rushers broke into Jak's room and caught him in less-than-good condition-" her eyes revealed that she held me at least part ways responsible for this… gods, she must have ears in the walls if she found out that I'd had to reject him again – "and they got him in the belly. Fortunately Harrison was watching him and he managed to keep them from actually killing him. It was touch and go there for a moment, but he managed to stop the bleeding and got Zara to help him get Jak back here. Cam worked his magic and he's sleepin right now."

I nodded silently. There was no need to inform her for the millionth time that it wasn't my fault that Jak was so cracknobbed that he would continue to pursue me – it would just end up in an argument that we both knew the steps to. I figured that in this particular situation, we could just skip the actual verbalisation of it and mulishly disagree to agree to disagreeing and agreeing. I swear that makes sense, in a weird way.

After that, I followed Deana to an upstairs room in which a very pale Jak with a large collection of cloth wrapped around his belly was lying unconscious. This was actually fortunate for him, as Cam was pacing around the room, his hands never staying in one place, his feet never breaking the loop. Cam (or Cameron) was our very own healer – admittedly not as well trained as those bigheads at the palace, but he gets us by just fine. Only problem is, he is actually more paranoid that Jak - and let me tell you that that is a very hard level of paranoia to obtain, and he doesn't even really have a reason for it.

Cam's got a lanky build with dark blue eyes and chaotic black hair, and I swear that in all the time I've spent with him, he hasn't been still for more than ten minutes at a time. Admittedly they were under high stress situations – those injuries that Deana alluded to - and other shifty Rogue business that required a bolt hole with help on hand. But still, I know pigeons that can be calmer than him.

All of a sudden he turned around and saw us standing in the doorway, and upon seeing me, heaved a sigh of relief, "Calla! Thank Mithros that you don't need patching up, I don't think I coulda managed it after Jak here. Why didn't you get here before? Are you sure no one followed you? Are –"

I rolled my eyes and cut him off, knowing that he'd keep up the questions if I didn't stop them fast, "Deana here can explain exactly why I wasn't here sooner. But I guess some of the blame would go to the stringent rules about getting in here. Which is coincidentally why I am absolutely certain that no one saw me coming here."

Cam opened his mouth to refute my accusations when a loud groan came from the bed. We all whipped around and saw Jak's glims slip open, but he just stared disconcertingly at me for a moment then closed them again, his face smoothing out. Goddess help me, even in a semi-conscious state he's after me.

Deana looked at me pointedly, and I ignored it. She had been trying to get me back with Jak ever since we broke it off. She just likes to meddle. And yes, that does seem like a very un-Rogue Queen type of hobby, but it surprisingly helps her a lot. With the ordering around thing, that is. She gets to fine-tune her bossy-ness for when it really counts. And I get to give my stubbornness a workout.

I pursed my lips at her, but instead of fighting with her I managed to convince her to let me go get something for lunch.

.xXXx.

Now, I'm keeping this part brief acos of the fact that someone is starting to tease me about writing in this thing – threaten me actually – with stealing it while I sleep. The nerve of some people.

Basically, while I was out I was set upon by some rushers that obviously gave not a whit for the Rogue. I'd bet that they were working for that melodramatic cove who dismembered my poor bed.

Point is, I was in this side street and I will say absolutely truthfully that I stood no chance. None at all. Zip. Nada. Non existent. I was being beaten to a pulp when some others of Jak's inner circle happened upon us.

How much would you bet that Deana contrived to get them to keep a lookout for me? After learning about my 'attack' in the morning – I maintain that she has ears in the walls... hey, it is possible, there's nothing else in them – and I sure didn't tell her.

Anyways all I remember is pain – a lot of pain. It felt like I was drowning in it and the street was blurring. Only later did I discover who came to my 'rescue.' I was out for a few days even with Cam's help – he was still drained from Jak's healing, and he could only prod me along. I had to suffer bruises the size of Corus – and lucky me will probably still be suffering them in a month's time.

And that is basically the reason why I ended up being coddled in bed… It's quite sad actually, and very annoying cos now I can't escape Jak's smug attitude (yes, he is awake) and it's driving me insane. Oh, and the cherry on top is that Deana has me kitted up on a mat on the floor of his room, supposedly because it would be better for Cam's sanity – him not having to pace from room-to-room.

So now that I'm all caught up in my journal I can rest easy. Well, as easy as I can rest in a house full of people who are teasing me about being cornered – "Oh Calla, what kind of shadow are ya?"… "Calla, that's a mighty big bruise ya got there"… "Calla, you are such a looby"… so yes, the taunting continues. Unfortunately whenever I get grounded (i.e. beaten to a pulp and forced to stay still) they all have a laugh at me, cos we all know that in other circumstances they would be at the tail end of alota trouble.

Did I mention I hate being coddled? I have to suffer through bruises to my ego as well as my body. Where's the fun in that?

.xXXx.

Well, I hope you guys liked that. Please review :) Skyflyte12

P.S. Yippee I finally wrote another chapter!!