Vigniti Tres : Part Three
Juri was leaning against the wall of her cell trying her best not to envision the feel of a noose about her neck. She sighed heavily as she began to get extremely angry with herself. How dare she get so enraptured by that girl? Never before had any of the beautiful women of the ivory city caused such a desire within her. Never before had she gone time and time again to simply watch the same woman from a distance just to take in the sight. Never before had she encountered a woman with eyes and hair the color of summer wine that exuded such… innocence.
Juri rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. She should have known they’d be looking for a chance to ambush her and what better place to do it then at a place they knew she’d frequented. The problem was… how did they know she had any interest in the violet-haired girl? She’d never talked to her, never even discovered her name. She just observed the girl when she traversed the skyline of the ivory city.
Arisugawa Juri, the merchant, had never an occasion to speak with the girl for she was kept within the inner city walls, a place she’d been expelled from when her family cast her out. Now, Arisugawa Juri, the Panther, frequented the inner city where the nobles and the upscale brothels awaited her passage and subsequent removal of things they felt precious.
The guard had always suspected that cool merchant was the fiery, flamboyant rogue, yet they never had enough evidence to simply drag her into custody. Even in this day and age, the ruler of Ohtori demanded noblesse oblige, though the only area where it was prevalent was in the workings of the justice system. It was almost like Dios had a direct hand in the dealings making sure honor was upheld.
Juri combed her fingers through her hair as she paced her cell. She’d always been well hidden, blanketed by the shadows. No one should have been able to see her. Not unless they were using magic. She narrowed her eyes and growled a little; she didn’t like most magic. Those that held it naturally were the only magic users she could bear to deal with. If it was learned through ancient texts and scholarly teachers, those much like her family - she had no patience for them.
Did that enchanting girl betray her? No, it couldn’t be possible. Juri was almost certain the one that drew her back time and again for no understandable reason had never spotted her. Yes, she was confident the girl didn’t know the Panther had an… interest in her. It had to have been someone else. Were they suddenly warding all the brothels within those walls?
Juri abandoned her thoughts as she sensed something going on outside the door to her cell. She cocked an eyebrow and cautiously approached the door, muscles tensed ready to attack if necessary. Unarmed though she may be, one should never underestimate her prowess.
Just before her door, there was a ripple in the air, a slight shimmering, and then there was an audible click as the lock disengaged. Juri grinned; she’d spent over an hour earlier trying to pick the damn thing to no avail. That being the case, here was the mage she’d suggested to Touga. It was wonderfully nice to know exactly how much she could manipulate her former betrothed.
As the cell door swung open, the air once more rippled and a lithe form flickered into sight. The slender man, easily mistaken for a boy, was dressed in a long cloak matching his cobalt hair and leather breeches. Various bits of gold and other gypsy trinkets adorned his clothing yet didn’t emit a single sound as he moved toward her, a thin blade at his side. Juri smiled warmly to him and, putting an arm about the man’s shoulders, hugged him briefly.
“You have no idea how happy I am to see you, Miki,” she said, honest relief in her voice.
“I am glad to help, Juri-san,” he replied and cast a glance back at the hall. “As much as I’d love to talk some more, it’s best we are going now.”
“Not without my personal effects,” Juri replied in a tone that left no room for argument. As much as she wanted out, she couldn’t leave without her sword.
Juri strode past Miki, her footsteps unheard, and she crept toward the guard’s desk. Hanging on the wall just around the corner was her Spanish rapier as well as her dark cloak and weapons belt made of finely tooled leather. Without the guard even noticing, she slipped the items off the nail and returned to where Miki stood waiting with an amazingly anxious look on his face.
She donned her belongings, the reassuring weight of her sword at her side and nodded to Miki. “Take me to the inner city wall, northeastern sector,” she said.
Miki’s eyes went wide. “No… Juri-san… I’m to take you back to the camp. Kozue’s expecting you. And besides, you really need to lay low with us until they think you’ve skipped town.”
Juri looked at him steadily. “And that is exactly why I must go. I have to se--,” she caught herself. “I have something I must do before I leave.” She saw the concerned and almost scared look on his face and Juri couldn’t help but see how little his face has changed over the years. Her voice softened. “I’ll be okay. As long as you put an illusion of my sleeping form in the cell I can take care of what I must before they realize I’m gone. I’ll meet you at the northern forest where we first met.”
After a moment of looking into her oddly stormy blue-green eyes, Miki consented by speaking the subtle words of magic and weaving an illusion spell into existence. Juri looked over the image of her sleeping form and nodded. “I promise,” she said quietly as she grasped the hilt of her sword, preparing herself for the spell that he would use to place her upon that wall.
“I’m holding you to it. If you aren’t there by dawn I’m digging up your buried treasure,” he said and then started casting the spell.
Juri chuckled a little at his response and then found herself on the northeastern wall surrounding the inner city. Drawing in a quick breath, she crouched low and slinked across the rooftops, careful to avoid being seen, her cloak’s hood pulled up to hide her telltale long auburn hair. It didn’t take her long to find the building she wanted.
Crouching down, Juri balanced on the roof tiles, her gaze upon a lit window where she could see that beautiful butterfly with hair of wine leaning out looking up at the clear night sky. A perfect night for stargazing, the moon absent from the heavens, Juri settled in to watch for a little bit, just enough that she could keep the memory of the one before her while she was in self-forced exile.
Unlike the times before, Juri was seriously contemplating approaching the girl. At least she’d like to know her name. She bet it was something that rolled wonderfully off the tongue, for such a creature could have no unwieldy name. As she balanced there contemplating her near future actions, a stiff gust of wind caught her hood and blew it back, her hair unfurled to wave freely in the wind without her really noticing.
For a brief moment it appeared that the girl looked her direction but then went back to gazing up at the sky. Her face was drawn into that of thoughtfulness and Juri wondered what could possibly weigh so heavily upon her mind. A little bit longer and the girl returned back inside, leaving the window cracked open.
Juri quirked an eyebrow for the girl never left her window open. The breeze compelled her and she silently crossed from her current position to the building across the way. She’d made up her mind; she was going to at least find out her name. It was risky, yes, but Juri was never as cautious as she should be once she’d decided she was going to do something.
Juri eased the window open further after making sure no one was watching and slipped inside. She would have this girl’s name. Hazel eyes steady with determination, she crept further inside. She grinned slightly; she was the ivory cities greatest thief. Perhaps she’d steal a kiss from the one hidden somewhere inside this room.