The trick to planning any kind of robbery on a boat was getting onto it unseen, getting off of it unseen and getting away with your haul without having it drag you under. Eisa could swim and contrary to many popular misconceptions, she loved it. It reminded her of her childhood in Vesper where she would spend days lounging about Lake Porhal watching the ducks-- and grabbing silver coins from the bottom of the wishing pools when no one was looking.
Her skills were those of convenience and practicality. Professional almost to a fault, they had served her quite well. At least she thought so, how else would she have made it as far as she had without getting shanked in a back alley or set up somewhere, stuck with some snobbish husband in a loveless marriage-- or worse yet, working for Daxton. No, she was the ultimate one woman show; all she needed was a banner that read 'flair and kleptomania' and maybe a tent to house it all. She was a professional.
Her hands were trembling against the pylon, maybe it was the fear of being caught by the Heperon or the idea that Daxton might have found her, she couldn't quite tell. Maybe, just maybe it was the thought of Michelle. . . How could she have been so selfish--
“Get a grip on yourself, that's how this business is. You look out for yourself and no one else. You know better!
Eisa dug her nails into the wood, fighting against the tears that moistened her eyes. She wouldn't cry. She was right. She should have known better than drop Michelle's name but it wasn't like Daxton would find her-- not now... Not ever.
She shoved off and dived into the cool water. It absorbed her like she imagined sleep absorbed the soul; so completely consumed, there was nothing left of the individual parts of her. There was only a her as a form in a massive void of suffocating darkness. She kicked out, following her mental image of where the boat had been docked. Water, like sleep, had a purifying quality to it, she imagined. It could wipe away her sins. . . All it took was time.
She broke the surface of the water in the shadow of the dock just as a woman and man disembarked. They were both wolves, cloaked in flowing cloth robes with gold trimmed hoods that served to accent their sharp, powerful features.
The woman's posture was slumped and dejected but for every step she took she seemed to try to get some semblance of dignity again. Her head would rise, her shoulders would square and then a few steps later the facade would crumble. The oddly shaped backpack she hauled over one shoulder looked big enough to carry a lifetime of possessions and yet on this woman's back, it looked as though maybe it carried something more valuable, almost sacred.
She walked along with a quiet step and the lithe gait of a dancer and yet to Eisa, the mysterious woman seemed as though she had no one in the world, as though even the shadows had forsaken her. They both stopped at the end of the dock and she turned to the male, lowering her head and speaking in a whisper. Eisa saw a silk bag tied to the pack that looked long enough to have had a sword in it. There was a certain reverence to the way it was packed, with a wide yellow ribbon tied around the top and center and then two more tying it to the pack itself.
This. This was something of real value.
Fishermen didn't carry swords and fishermen from the island nation of Heperon certainly didn't carry mundane swords. It was the only nation in the world where star iron could be found and in any quantities and somehow despite numerous attempts by as many kingdoms, no one had tamed the island. From everything Eisa had heard, no less than five hundred years of constant warring had left no one a clear victor and possessor to the most valuable metal ever known.
And here, right in front of her eyes, her meal ticket stood with a sword worth enough that she could disappear forever.
Eisa slid forward under the dock, forsaking the boat for the shadow of the docks. Carefully, she worked her way forward by pushing against the pillars holding up the docks and using slow strokes to keep from disturbing the water too much.
The woman's voice had a lyrical quality like rain pattering against rocks, and yet there was that undercurrent of huskiness inherent in all canines that made Eisa's ears prickle and her heart flutter a little. It was a sense of power intertwined with an element of danger, as though with one voice the terrors of the world could be explained intellectually and challenged ferociously. She was like Michelle in that regard. She had a mind and she had. . . something else.
Something very different.
Exotic, alluring. Eisa peeked up between the slats on the dock. The two were conversing in a foreign tongue she couldn't begin to make sense of. The male's inflections were calm and sympathetic, almost fatherly in his sweeping articulation of their tongue. He gestured back to the boat while looking at her, speaking slowly as though each word had specific meaning.
The woman scoffed at his words and looked away, muttering something in a low grumble.
For a moment Eisa wondered what could be bothering her.
But then she saw Daxton and three of his minions walking down the dry dock towards one of the warehouses at the very end of the long pier.
“That's odd.” She looked up at the wolf and then after Daxton. She knew she should run. Her mind screamed it so loud she was sure the wolves would hear it, and yet Eisa was curious. Daxton hated the docks and the salty air.
“What're you up to, old man?”