Simply Encredible

In a time where technology was widely believed to be a type of witchcraft, in an age where Ronisgald stood in fear of invasion from the mysterious elves of Ircandesta, the strange beast-men of Longshore, and the enigmatic inhabitants of Rimstak, a lone heroine with a tragic past rose from obscurity to restore Truth and Justice to a country in desperate need.

Wielding the tools of her trade, she fought the corruption of the church, stood fast against those who would harm the innocent, and defiantly faced the darkest of forces to protect those lucky enough to be her friends.

This is the tale of Excelsia Encredible.


3. A Chance Meeting

Flit awoke the next morning to find Sky already awake, tracing something on the ground with her finger.

"Mornin' Sky." Flit said, easing herself from her bed; the straw added a little cushioning, but she still felt stiff from her evening sleep.

Sky continued working on whatever she was tracing glowing lines in the air as though she hadn't heard her friend.

Flit observed Sky for a few minutes before asking, "Whatcha workin' on?"

Sky was startled at the sound of Flit's voice.  The glowing lines shot in all directions, spinning wildly through the air.  Fortunately, the warehouse was completely enclosed.  The light may have flown around like a group of agitated fairies, but it made no noise whatsoever.

"Sky, you know you have to be careful with that!" She scolded her silent friend once the last of the lights finally died."A priest sees that, and they'll grab you up before you could say Coddswallop."

Sky bowed her head, her face filled with sadness.  Flit let out a sigh; she didn't mean to snap at her friend, but she would be lying if she said that she was completely comfortable with Sky's eldritch talents.

Sighing again, Flit sat beside Sky and told her, "Hey, y'know I ain't bugged by it.  Not really, anyway.  I'm just worried what might happen if someone else sees you working magic.  You remember what they did to Old Lady Maystance, and they only thought she was a witch.  You're one of us."

Sky touched a finger to the center of her chest then did the same to Flit.

"That's right." Flit said, nodding.  "We're friends.  Better than friends; we're family, and I gotta look out for my little sister, right?"

Sky smiled shyly at Flit and nodded in reply.

"Right then.  Let's wake up the boys and get the day started."  Flit twisted around and gave Janis a kick in his shin.

"Ow!" Janis peered blearily at Flit as he clutched his leg.  "What the heck was that for?"

"It was either you or Dren, and you were closer." She tossed one of his shoes at him.  "Get up!  We've got a lot to do today."

"Like what?" He asked, still looking a little sullen over her kick.

Flit opened her mouth to reply, but was interrupted when Dren said, "Like making more dosh.  What Flit got yesterday gives us a little breathing room, but we'll need more for food and clothes and ..."

Sky wrapped her hands around her shoulders and shuddered visibly.

"Don't worry, Sky; we'll get a blanket for you."  Glancing around their hastily made shelter, he added, "We'll all need blankets with winter coming on, if last year's any sign."

Turning to Flit, Dren said, "We'll leave the market be today so they don't get wise.  Janis and I'll see if we can't get a few shards from the stallkeepers.  Heck, maybe we'll even get some regular work from one of 'em."

"What'll we do?" Flit asked, eyes narrowing.  "If you think I'm gonna go find a street corner and beg, I'll ..."

Dren put up his hands to stop her, saying assuringly, "I know, I know.  No begging, I promise.  You and Sky go case the town; see if we can't get a proper layout.  Wouldn't hurt to know where rich folk live, would it?"

He pulled a wrapped parcel from under his makeshift bed and handed it to her.  "Besides, I know how much Sky loves to draw.”

Sky beamed as she took the parcel and tore it open to reveal a small ream of parchment, a corked glass bottle of ink, and a strange metal rod.  She held the rod up, a puzzled look on her face.

"Yeah, check this out." Dren took the rod and twisted it.  A needle-like point emerged from one end.  

He dipped the tip in the ink, saying, "Vender called it a 'pen'.  She said it can hold a bunch of ink at once."

Sky took the pen and traced a few lines on the paper.  The needle left a thin trail of black ink in its wake much to Sky's delight.

"Looks expensive." Janis commented softly as Sky began to draw. 

"Not really; she had tons of the things at the stall.  Buncha other cool stuff there too, but nothing we'd need."

They watched Sky as she continued tracing, her eyes alight.  After a few moments, Dren said, "Well, me and Janis are heading out.  Everyone meet back here before sunset, and try to stay out of trouble; I kinda like this town, and it'd be nice if we could not get thrown out for a month or two."

As they left, Flit glanced over Flit's shoulder; she had already drawn a fairly detailed map of the areas surrounding the warehouse, including a miniature portrait of each member of their little gang beside the shelter.

"I look like that?" Sky asked curiously.  The picture was small, but she was sure she didn't have so many freckles.

Sky smiled at her, the pen still busy tracing out the industrial section.  Flit watched on, wandering once again about Sky's past.  They had found her while 'liberating' a noble's treasure for a crooked antiques dealer in one of the town their gang had occupied.  Expecting a fabulous treasure behind the most guarded door, they were surprised to find her instead, chained to the wall.  Once they were away from the noble's house, they pelted her with questions, only to find she couldn't talk.  When they asked her where she was from, she always pointed to the sky and smiled as though she knew they wouldn't understand.

"Still wonder why he stuck you in there." Flit murmured as Sky put the finishing touches on the Marketplace.

Sky glanced at her curiously, to which Flit just shook her head.  "It's not important.  So, you ready to explore the rest of the town?"

Gesturing to the areas beyond the marketplace, Sky nodded enthusiastically. 

Flit stood up, saying, "I'll go make sure the entrance is clear.  Don't take too long, okay?"

Seeing Sky nod, Flit hopped over the stacked crates and crept towards the entrance.  Much to her annoyance, the secret panel was cracked slightly.

"Dren." She muttered as she walked toward the entrance.  Cracking the door slightly more open, she glanced at a shard of mirror glass Janis had hidden in the stone wall.

"We're clear." Flit said, standing up.  She glanced back at their shelter only to see a glowing light emanating from the area, only to fade a few seconds later.  She started to walk back to the shelter, but stopped when Sky carefully climbed over the barricade.

As Sky stepped down to the ground, Flit asked, "What were you doing?"

Sky gave Flit her usual shy smile and held a finger to her lips.

Shrugging, Flit asked, "Ready to go?"

Sky nodded, so the two girls moved the panel and left the warehouse.

It was a nice day for a walk through the city.  Winter was still a ways off, which meant the leaves of the trees were still the most wondrous hues of red and gold.  Despite its problems, Greiarch was a prosperous city, and the clean streets and well-maintained trees were a testament of that.

Still, there was something about the place that bothered Flit.  It wasn't anything she could really pin down, but there was an odd air about the city that bothered her.

"Sky, you think this place is on the up and up?"

Sky shrugged noncommittally.  She was looking around, her keen eyes taking in the sights as they walked past a Church of Celestial Light.

"I dunno.  Maybe it's just me.  I haven't been in a city this big since ..." Flit stopped suddenly, memories coming uncomfortably close to her frame of thought.  Pushing them back, she said, "So many people.  Guess I'll get used to it, though."

Sky nodded, though by that point Flit knew she wasn't listening.  It didn't bother her, though; she wanted to sound out her thoughts more than she wanted an actual response.

Running her hand along a short stone wall just outside a modest home, Flit continued, "Y'know, we might get lucky.  I mean, if we find some work, we might be able to save some shards.  We might even be able to get our own place!  The warehouse is nice, but it'd be even better to not have to worry about getting caught.  Creator knows what the owner would think if he saw us in there.  Maybe we could even get you some real paint!  It might all just be wishful thinkin, but still ... I think I'd like that.  The four of us with a roof over our heads, not having to steal anything to get by.”

She chuckled, adding, “Unless I need the practice, of course.  Gotta keep the fingers nimble.  Still ... it would be nice."

To her surprise, she noticed that Sky was now looking at her intently.

Blushing, Flit said, "Sorry; didn't mean to keep gabbing off like that."

Sky reached out a pale hand and rubbed Flit's cheek.  Seeing her reassuring smile made Flit feel a little less embarrassed.

They were in the mainstay living quarters now.  The houses were rather nice as compared to what Flit was accustomed to seeing in castle towns; they even had shale roofs, something Flit had only seen on churches and the homes of nobles.  Here, even the humblest home had the benefit of a roof that wouldn't accidentally catch fire. 

Sky grabbed Flit's hand and pointed at a peculiar house that seemed oddly separated from the rest.  Whoever had designed the house had apparently been in a whimsical mood, as the building was an almost perfect dome.  It seemed to be built partially in the ground, as the roof was covered with grass, and even had a small oak tree growing from the very top.  The oval-shaped door in the front of the house had been painted a dark blue that was subtle, yet oddly eye-catching.

"Oh, wow." Flit said, stifling a giggle.  "Look at that crazy place.  Wonder who lives there?"

Almost as though she had been waiting for Flit's cue, the door of the house opened to reveal a short lady wearing strange clothing; unlike the skirts and dresses that were the standard fashion, the woman was wearing a short shirt that ended above her mid-rift, and a pair of leather trousers that ended just below her knees.  She wore a heavy leather apron over it all, on which were hung all manner of strange tools.  What caught Flit's eye the most was the woman's strong musculature; despite her small size, she looked more than capable of holding her own in a fight.

The woman looked up through thick glasses and waved cheerily at the girls before heading towards the marketplace with a pack nearly as big as her entire body slung over one shoulder. As she walked away, Flit couldn't help but shake her head.

"Ever see a woman like that?" She told Sky. "Cor, I bet she doesn't take guff from anyone."

Sky gave Flit a questioning glance and pointed at the woman.

"Should we follow?  Hmm.  What do you think?"

Sky shrugged in response.  She didn’t care much for meeting new people, though given where they had found her, Flit could hardly blame her.

Flit thought about it for a few moments before nodding. "Yeah, I wanna talk to her.  Hey, maybe she can give us some work."

An incredulous look on her face, Sky closed one hand into a fist and hit the flat of her other palm several times.

"Yeah, why not?  I mean, Da said my gran was a blacksmith.  Of course, even mom said gran was a tough old bat.  If she did it, why shouldn't I?"

Sky still didn't look convinced.  Sighing, Flit said, "It'll just be a minute."

Sky pointed at a nearby bench and mimed drawing on her palm.

"I can't just ditch you, Sky." Flit said, twisting her hands.

To Flit's surprise, Sky hugged her.  Stepping back, she pointed at the retreating back of the strange woman.

"You sure?" Flit asked.

Seeing Sky nod at her in reply, Flit sighed and said, "Okay ... but I'm gonna be back in a minute.  Don't go anywhere, okay?"

Sky made a shooing motion with her hands as she sat down on the bench.

Flit ran after the woman.  She still didn't feel good leaving Sky, but she just had to talk to the woman.

She caught up with her just outside the Market.  After taking a moment to catch her breath, she called out, 'Miss! Pardon me, Miss!"

The woman turned around, a bemused expression on her face.  "Not many in town would be calling me Miss, little friend.  Still, I am guessing you wish to speak with me?"

"Yeah ... I mean, yes ma'am." Flit said, fighting back her initial nervousness.  "I was wondering, are you a blacksmith?"

"A blacksmith?" The woman repeated, a bemused expression on her face.  "I suppose that is being close to what I am.  What of it?"

"Well, I was wondering if maybe you needed someone to help out.  For deliveries, or cleaning stuff up or ... "

"Or apprenticeship?" The woman asked, her smile widening.  "You would not be wanting to apprentice to a blacksmith, surely."

"But I do!" Flit replied.  "It sounds interesting, and my family needs the money.  I can work real hard, miss!"

The woman scratched her chin thoughtfully.  "Hmm.  May I be seeing your hands?"

Obediantly, Flit held out her hands for the woman to inspect.  To her surprise, the woman immediately began to feel the tips of her fingers.

"Small, but quite loose.  Tell me child; you have skill with your fingers, don't you?"

When Flit didn't answer immediately, the woman said, "I am not asking as to the nature of said skill, but as to the presence of it."

"Oh.  Yes, ma'am."

"Hmm.  You are being young, but perhaps ..." She suddenly shook her head, saying, "No, I'm afraid it does not matter.  I am unfortunately to be leaving Greiarch in the near future."

A wave of disappointment swept over Finn.  "Aww, but why?"

"There is not being much business, I am afraid to say.  My goods are specialty items, and despite their usefulness, I have only been able to sell the smallest of my wares.  No, I'm afraid that I must refuse your offer child; your place is with your family, as mine is in another town."

Flit let out a dejected sigh.

The woman rubbed Flit's red hair, saying consolingly, "Do not worry, my young friend.  I am certain you will find your way without my presence."

As the woman walked away, Flit asked, "What's your name?"

The woman replied, "Most call me Enya."

"Enya." Flit repeated.  Bowing politely, she said, "I hope they appreciate your work more wherever you end up going next."

"Thank you, my young friend." The woman started to turn away when a thought seemed to strike her.  Turning back around, she said, "Let me give you a gift as way of apology.  It is a small thing, but maybe you will be finding a use for it, eh?"

She tossed Flit a small rod.  Flit caught it deftly; only then did she realize that it was another pen of the same make Dren had bought.

"Did you make this?" She looked up, only to find the woman was already caught in the throngs of the marketplace.

Flit looked at the pen for a long moment before it occurred to her that she should get back to Sky.  She ran back to the residency area, only to find the bench where Sky had been sitting was empty.

"Noct!" She swore loudly enough to draw a reprimanding glance from a passing woman.  "Sky!  Sky!"

She looked around the park, concern building up inside her.  She finally spotted her friend walking slowly towards am alleyway across from the square.

"Sky!  Hey, Sky! Over here!" She called out, waving one hand wildly.

Sky turned, but dark hands grabbed her and pulled her into the alley.

"SKY!" Flit legged it towards the alleyway as fast as her legs could carry her, nearly bowling over three women and man carrying a small crate in the process.  As she neared the alley, she was able to make out two shady figures, one holding a knife to Sky.


Both of the men turned and were startled to see Flit leaping towards them.  She plucked the dagger from the surprised thug and kicked the other square in the crotch.  As the injured thug fell to his knees, the other shouted, "Hey!"

He reached for Sky, but Flit yanked her away and held out the knife.  "Back off!"

"Or what?  You'll stab me?" The thug grinned and advanced.  "You ain't got the gall, girl."

When he stepped forward to grab her, she swung instantly.  The thug let out a cry and quickly stepped back, a trickle of blood trailing down the long cut he now had in his arm.

"That was a big mistake, lass." He growled.  His gaze suddenly shifted above the two girls, his expression quickly going pale.  "Guard Morrison."

Flit glanced back to see the young guard she had met the previous day standing behind them.  Before she could say a word, the thug said, "S'good you came by.  This little wench just tried to mug me!"

"Mug you?  You were robbing my sister!" She said, outraged.

Morrison put his hand on her shoulder, saying in a firm tone, "Give me the knife, young lady."

"But we didn't-"

"The knife, if you please."

Sighing, she handed over the knife hilt first.

Nodding, the guard tucked the knife in his belt.  "Thank you."

Looking up at the thugs, Guard Morrison said, "This is, what … seven times now?  How many times do I have to run you in before you lot learn your lesson?  Or is it going to take something more severe for you lot to take the law seriously?"

"Come off it." The thug said, his friend still recovering from the blow to his unmentionables.  "You know you ain't touchin a hair on our heads without Mister Grimm hearin' about it."

"Who says he has to hear about it?" The guard said, his hand moving to the hilt of his sword.

The thug held up his hands, saying, "No need for that; me and Gus'll move off."

The thug turned to help his friend, but not before giving Flit a menacing look.  Sky shrank behind Flit, clutching her hand tightly.

Once the thugs had shuffled off, Flit said, "Thank you, sir."

"Not a problem.  I say, would you and your friend like to have a little walk with me?"

"Sister." Flit said instantly.  "She's my sister."

The guard bowed his head.  "Of course.  This way, if you please."

He led them out of the alley into the street.  He pointed out some of the areas nearby before gesturing towards the gate on the far side of the common residential area.  "Let's go to Maybury park."

The guard kept a firm hand on both of their shoulders as he led them through the streets.  A few passersby took notice of the group, some shaking their heads as they continued on their way. 

Flit's mind was already racing; she knew better than to hit the guard, but the moment he released his grip on her, she knew she could escape.  She didn't think Sky could move as quickly as her, however, and Flit didn't want to put her in the situation where she might use magic.  Witches were not dealt with kindly, as Flit well knew.

The park was a nice enough area; the grass was well-kept, and the trees provided a lot of shade for the three as they continued walking.  They continued down a crushed stone path until they reached a quaint bridge that crossed the river running through the town.  It was a place for people to relax, as evidenced by the benches facing the river.

The guard led them to the center of the bridge before letting them go.  He pulled off his helmet to reveal his sandy-brown hair.

"You aren't really from the orphanage, are you?" He said, staring down at the water.

Flit felt her cheeks burn.  She started to speak, but he held up a hand to stop her.

"It's okay.  I know it's not a very nice place for kids.  Ironic."

"Ironic?" She asked, relaxing a little now that it seemed clear they weren't in trouble.

"The orphanage was made for people like you.  Kids who have lost their families.  I grew up there myself after my parents died.  Inquisition."

"Mine too." Flit said, her voice quiet. 

Morrison bowed his head in respect.  "I'm sorry to hear that.  Perhaps you'll think me foolish, but I had begun believing we were past such things as a people.  It's truly sad to see what we do to ourselves."

He glanced at Flit, the barest trace of a smile on his face.  "Just this morning, I had three people claim that they had lost some shards while in the Marketplace.  The total amount was paltry, but they thought someone might have reported it."

"You don't say." Flit replied, doing her best to keep her voice level.

Morrison chuckled, saying, "Don't worry, miss; I remember what it's like to be hungry.  Still, if I were to catch you in the marketplace, I would be forced to take you in, and the late king's mandates regarding theft are rather strict."

Flit didn't know what to say to that.  Fortunately, Morrison didn't seem to expect a response.

"This is a nice town.  Lots of work for someone looking for it." He shot her a sidelong glance.  "I saw you slip the knife away from Conner.  That kick you gave ol' Gus even made me wince.  The guard's always looking for new recruits … men and women alike."

"I've never seen a woman guard." Flit told him.

"Prince Driscoll has proven to be a very open-minded.  While nothing is official yet, when he takes the throne, he will bring about many changes to this country.  Unlike his late father, he feels that people should be treated as equals no matter what standing they have in life.  Some of my superiors aren't too happy about that."

"Can't imagine the fat nobles care too much for it either." Flit said, chuckling.

He laughed with her.  "True enough.  Still, if you and your friend are looking to make some shards, I'm sure I could secure you positions.  Pay's not great, but we can get a state-sanctioned small home for you all."

"Me and Sky?" She asked cautiously.

"And your two friends." He gave her a knowing smile.

He put his helmet back on and said, "If you or any of your friends are interested, stop by the Guard Station tomorrow at noon … and please, no more pickpocketing."

Flit gave him a salute, which he returned with a smile.  "Dismissed!"

As he walked away, Sky tugged at Flit's hand. 

"Hmm?" Flit shook off her daydreams of being a champion of justice long enough to see her friend looking worried.  She followed Sky's frightened gaze to see a small procession of sedan chairs heading their way.

"C'mon; let's backtrack." Flit told her.  She turned around, only to see three men in red robes crossing the bridge.  Instantly, her blood went cold.

Sky tightened her grip on Flit, the pale girl's eyes pleading.

"I ain't gonna do nuthin'." Flit told her, though it took every ounce of willpower to force her anger down.  "Let's just go sit in a bench until they're all gone."

They stepped off of the path and started to jog away from the procession, but almost immediately Sky broke away.  She patted her pockets, looking alarmed.

"What's wrong?  Did you lose something?"

Sky suddenly stooped down and picked up the pen, which must've falling to the ground as they hurried away.

Before she could bring the pen to her pocket, someone shouted, "Hold there, girl!"

Much to Flit's annoyance, the priests were moving over to them.  One grabbed Sky's arm and jerked the pen from her grasp.

"Hey!" Flit said angrily.  "Give it back!"

"See, brothers?  A metal wand of some kind.  I told you I felt darkness in the city today." 

One of the other priests nodded as though this were the most obvious thing in the world.  "Such a world, when even the young are corrupted."

"It's a pen, you moron!" Flit made a grab for it, but the third priest shoved her away.

"Do you not want to be saved, child?" The first priest asked Sky.  "To have the darkness purged from your body?"

Clearly terrified, Sky shook her head and tried to pull away from the priest's grasp.

"That is sad.  Still, the Grand Cardinal will be pleased that we've rooted out another seed of evil from this city."  The first priest nodded to the second, who removed two large silver bracelets from the depths of his robe and started to move towards Sky.

Taking a deep breath, Flit shouted, "THIEF!"

The procession stopped instantly.  The priests were caught completely by surprise by this turn of events.

"Be silent child!" The leader hissed, raising a hand to strike Flit.


The lead priest froze as a group of servants carried one of the more lavish sedan chairs forward.  The ornate cabin was made of dark stained wood with gold trimmings and delicate silk curtains hiding the noble riding within.

"Lady Tresca." The priest said, his cheeks red as he forced a bow.  "I was merely ..."

"Be silent.  Little girl, is what you say true?" The noble woman's voice barely more than a breath, yet Flit could hear every word clearly, as though it had been whispered in her ear.

Flit glanced at one of the guards, unsure if she was to speak.  Seeing him nod, she said, "Yes milady.  He stole my friend's pen, and now he's trying to bring her up for sorcery."

"May I see this ... pen?"

The priest seemed reluctant.  "It is evidence of her corruption, and property of the church.  Even the nobles ..."

"I have one too!" Flit fished out the pen Enya had given her and handed it to the guard, who passed it to whoever was within the cabin.

"Ah, yes." the woman said moments later.  "You recieved this from the Tinker Enya, did you not?"

"I did, ma'am." Flit replied, inwardly breathing a sigh of relief.

Flit saw her pale hand for the briefest of moments as the woman passed the pen to her guard, who gave it back to Flit.  "It is not sorcery.  I recently purchased a few myself.  A useful device for those who wish to write or draw, but it is mechanical in nature."

"Milady-" The priest began, quite flustered at that point.

"Unless you intend to accuse me of witchcraft as well, you will return the device to the young woman and be on your way."

Several of the woman's guards stepped forward.  They were large, burly men who were well armed and clearly willing to fight if need be. 

After giving the noblewoman a stiff bow, the lead priest held the pen out to Sky.  Sky reached for it tenatively, but before she could grab it, the priest caught her by the hand, reached into the tattered pocket of her cloak, and pulled out a sheet of parchment.  Glowing lines traced across the paper as they watched, filling out the map Sky had been drawing.

"And is this the work of mechanisms?  This is devilry, clear and simple!"

"Oh, Sky!" Flit whispered, horrified. 

The woman was silent for a long moment.  When she finally spoke, her voice had a faint but definite edge to it. "You are willing to murder a child?"

"It is not murder!  We are saving her from corruption." The priest, emboldened with his proof, now had a haughty air about him.  "It is our duty to bring people to the light."

"Those who walk with their eyes on the light will eventually stumble on a pothole." The noblewoman paused for a moment before continuing, "The prince knows of your hypocracy.  He knows your kind have long murdered those who stood in your way.  It is only a matter of time before he ends the your immoral crusade."

"The Prince has no authority over the church!" The priest sneered.

"Perhaps not." Lady Tresca replied.  "But after he becomes kind, he will have an army and a nation tired of witch hunts and false trials.  One way or the other, your end is coming."

"That may be." The priest said evenly, "But that end has yet to come.  If you try to obstruct us in the course of carrying out the Creator's work, I will not hesitate to have you arrested as well."

Flit didn't understand the specifics of the situation; the tension of the air stunk of what her father often had referred to as the mirror court.  When it came down to it, she didn't care; she wasn't about to let the priests hurt Sky, even if it meant doing something drastic.

She slowly moved her hand into her cloak pocket, where she had slipped the knife after lifting it from the guard again.  Her intention was to use it to cut up stew, but a more pressing issue had emerged.  As she started to pull the knife out, however, her entire body went completely stiff.  Try as she might, she couldn't move.

"Those who serve darkness must pay for their sins." The priest said, pulling Sky away.

"Yes, they will be punished.” The woman replied.  "Remember that well."

The priest blanched slightly, as though hit with an unseen dart.  He was too proud to let it show for more than a moment, however.  "Come, brothers.  We must prepare her for the cleansing."

Sky looked pleadingly at Flit, who fought with all her mental strength in vain; something was holding her in place.

One of the noblewoman's guards put a hand on her shoulder, but remained silent.  Flit was forced to watch as Sky was dragged away, her eyes locked on Flit's to the last.

Once the priests were well out of sight, Flit felt her body relax once again.  She started to run after them, but the guard held her fast. 

"Lady Fresca wishes to speak with you."

"Well, let Lady Fresca go hang!" Flit snapped, looking angrily at the guard and the sedan chair.  "Sky's gonna die if I don't get her outta there!"

"Do you know where the church is?" The lady asked, her voice strangely soothing.  "Even if you did, would you be able to get past the guards with naught but that knife?"

Flit stared into the silk veils for a moment, stunned.  "How did you know-"

"That is of no importance; your friend needs your help."

"Then why didn't you have your guys beat them up?" Flit demanded.  “You could have stopped them!  You could have kept them from taking Sky!”

The woman let out a long, sad sigh.  "There are rules that we all must follow.  Boundaries that even a king would not dare to cross."

"Then what can we do?" Flit asked despondently. 

"If one cannot cross a boundary, one must find another way past it." The woman told her.  "You have two more friends, yes?  Come to the cathedral after the sun has set and wait at the west side.  A woman in a blue cloak will ask you the time, and you must reply, 'Even the darkest night is broken by the coming dawn’."

Nervous, but more than willing to do anything to save Sky, Flit repeated, "Even the darkest night is broken by the coming dawn."

"That’s right.  Your friend should be safe until tomorrow morning; the 'purification' process involves nothing more than being locked in a room to ‘contemplate one’s sins’.” Lady Fresca’s lip curled unpleasantly for a moment.  “Still, I urge you to prepare in whatever way you can."

"I will." Feeling awkward, Flit gave the woman a curtsey, "Thank you for helping us, miss."

"Think nothing of it, child.  I lost one of my brothers to the the church’s machinations; if I can do anything to keep more needless deaths from happening, I am only too glad to help.  Now run along, child.  We both have much to do to prepare."

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