The Street Rat woke up in a start.
Sarah looked around and saw no one. The room around her was expensive and heavily furnished, the Chancellor had taken care of her has she expected when she made the decision to faint. So now she had a way to both learn how Amara was going, but most importantly, to try and manipulate him.
She was angry because that decision had been much too impulse. It hadn’t taken into consideration the other priorities.
I really get too wrapped up in the part, sometimes. Damn it.
She pulled the covers off of her, she needed to find out how long she had stayed unconscious. She lifted her leg to kick the door open out of frustration but froze with it half-way up.
She noticed her clothes had been changed, she was wearing some kind of night clothes, which were a bit too thin for comfort and way too lacking in legwear. Her top extended down to her knees, attempting to hide the fact she just had panties on. Jamie cursed in her mind and reflexively checked herself.
Chest, butt and genitals, nothing was sore or smelled odd. Breath was normal, too.
Okay, yeah, she thought a bit relieved though no less upset at herself, this’s another reason never to pass out like a stupid idio–
She landed eyes on a closet. Jamie opened it and found clothes inside. Why they had clothes their size was another matter – no less suspicious – but never look a gift horse in the teeth, went the saying. Whatever it meant.
She figured it meant she was more grateful than anything else. She pulled the flimsy nightdress off of her and thankfully put on a pair of shorts and shirt that, albeit a bit baggy, were more comfortable and reassuring. Afraid she wouldn’t be recognized, though, she checked herself in the mirror really quick, there was one of course. She quickly noticed she needed her hair to be styled like before. In frustration, she opened the cabinet beneath the mirror, looking for hair things.
Freakin’ can’t even get outta the room’thout a lifetime o’ freakin’ maintenance. She thought, annoyed, as she attempted to comb her hair back into place. C’mon you little…
If there were a certainty she’d be even slightly recognizable, she wouldn’t bother, but she couldn’t leave the room looking like the Street Rat and acting like Jamie. Sarah had to leave the room, and not faint again like a little—
A knock sounded out on the door. She looked back in confusion, why would they know if I’m unconscious?
“Lady Sarah? Are you awake?”
The voice sounded familiar but in the midst of the hurry, she didn’t process that fact. She assumed it was the hired help.
“Who’s that?” She sounded scared and like she was still in bed and pulling the covers protectively. “Where am I?”
In truth, she was very near biting off a particular pack of locks which were being severely uncooperative. She heard the door open at about the same moment the back of her mind alerted her to the fact she recognized the voice.
Jordan looked handsome in the dinner servant outfit he was wearing. He was tall enough to pull off a believable apprentice to someone, she assumed that’s what he was doing.
“Whoah,” he reacted, his eyes too honest for her liking.
“What’re you doin’ here?” She looked away, back at the mirror, and grabbed a pair of scissors, her frustration with those locks hitting a limit.
“Checking up on you. We were worried, what’s going on?”
Checking up on Jamie? Had Andy sold Sarah out to him? That was annoying.
She killed off the uncooperative strands of hair, “you’ll ruin everything, get outta here.”
“That doesn’t sound like a Sarah…but you do look like a Sarah,” he complimented.
She frowned in anger and slammed the scissors on the table.
“You want to hear Sarah, is that it? You want your pretty little noble girl?”
“Uh,” he immediately realized his mistake, “no I didn’t mean it like tha–”
“HELP! SOMEONE!” He balked at how loud she screamed. “SOME STRANGER’S HERE!! WHERE AM I?”
She then screeched a terrified yell, which was really a first for her.
“You’re a maniac, Jamie,” he told her in-between mild laughter.
She glared as he ran away. Sulking, she stepped back into the bed. After a minute, a guard showed up accompanied by a woman who looked to have been born to take care of children. You know the type.
“Oh,” she reacted in the realization that she was in the care of the Chancellor. “I am terribly…” she blushed and lightly massaged her legs. “I think that might have been a servant trying to bring me food…I am sorry. I think I scared him away.”
“Which way did he go? I’ll make sure.”
She hesitantly pointed, and the guard marched off.
“I am so sorry to impose on you so,” she apologized to the woman who felt an immediate need to act like a caring mother.
“No, child, you don’t impose at all.” She walked in and slowly closed the door. “You fainted, dear.”
“I fain—” memory seemed to trigger Sarah’s mind. “Lady Amara! She’s hurt!”
“I’m afraid so, my dear.”
“Oh no, no! Is she okay?”
“Not as of yet.”
“But she will be, right? She’s the Lady of Light, she’s Light made into body and—”
“There there,” the woman hugged her tenderly and respectfully, “I’m sure she will be just fine, don’t worry.”
Sarah wept for a few seconds and then relaxed in the woman’s comfort. She sniffed.
“May I…may I see her?”
“The Chancellor asked you to remain in your room, dear. Until he visits.”
They both looked towards the door to find the Chancellor. He was still dressed in his suit, but the tie was off, and the shirt was disheveled, if a bit bloody. He looked very tired.
“Lord,” Sarah reflexively and nervously bowed.
“Leave us, Mary.”
She walked off and closed the door behind her. There was something off about that situation, about the way he was looking at her. His stance, his demeanor, and expression.
Every instinct the Street Rat had were converging on only one possible interpretation.
He knew about her.
Chancellor Francis Cronenberg eyed the Street Rat with the kind of look someone has when they’re wrestling with whether to drown you or set you on fire. Sarah stared back appropriately intimidated, with the kind of look someone has when they’re not really sure of anything except for the fact they don’t really want to drown or be set on fire.
“What’s your name?”
“Sa…Sarah, sir. Sarah Fisch?”
“This is not the time for lies, girl,” he snarled, and she winced in reaction. A few tears crept down her cheeks.
“I don’t…please, Lord Chancellor, I don’t understand what’s going on…”
“I SAID STOP IT!” He stomped on the ground in an unexpected yell that made Sarah shiver and lose strength in her legs out of fear.
“Please, sir, you’re scaring me.”
He gave her a mute response. In all honesty, the Street Rat had never had much respect for the Chancellor. He always seemed a pawn, either of Amara or to the many entities he had to please in order to retain his position. Flimsy and with no conviction, emotional to a fault.
I guess this is the emotion.
“She told me you would come, after the attack on your precious borough. To convince her to convince me to go to war with those damn things.”
Sarah looked very confused but no less scared.
“Okay,” she said in fear of upsetting him and, finally, Jamie saw it have an effect. A sliver of doubt made it to his stance.
She was still feeling stupid, why else would the Chancellor keep her in his home? The expected behavior would be to return her. She should have escaped with Jordan. She should have at least gotten from him how long it had been since she passed out.
“She had already decided to convince me. But she likes you, she likes playing this manipulation game with you. She said she’d only go ahead if you did a good job.”
It was very rare for Jamie to want to kill someone, but what the Chancellor had just said might as well be the greatest blow to the ego of the Street Rat that Jamie had ever faced.
“Hm hm,” Sarah nodded, frightened, “okay?”
So the Lady of Light had been on to Jamie? She had been playing her all along?
No, this is some…there has to be some explanation.
That the Street Rat had failed to manipulate someone wasn’t the real issue. That Jamie had failed to notice the Lady of Light knew all along, and had been played, that was the issue.
“Stop it already, we know about you. Honestly, it was stupid of you to think you could manipulate her. She’s the best there is at it, trust me, I would know.”
“Sir, I’m sorry but…I just dunno what to say.” She attempted to leave the bed, only to trip over her own feet, clumsily and kind of violently falling to the ground.
That triggered a crying fit. Sarah was just a girl, involved in something she didn’t understand, scared and confused, and now physically hurt.
She whimpered onto the floor as she pushed herself up, talking in-between childish sobs.
“What’s going on? Why is this happening?” She looked up at the Chancellor even though she was already standing. “The Light was supposed to protect her, why would she die?”
Finally, he looked utterly uncertain.
“And why are you mad at me? I don’t—I know you must be angry, but I had nothing to do with the attack on your Lady, you have to believe me, Sir.”
“If you hadn’t–” he coughed and cleared his throat, attempting to rally, “I mean. If you had not convinced her to speak out against the beasts. She would not have been attacked.”
“The beasts?” That was a poorly laid trap. “Do you mean the dark ones? I didn’t…I mean, my father is deeply concerned about them, he thinks they will come and destroy our land soon. I asked her for advice, she’s the Lady of Light, after all, she can stop the dark ones. She can save my father.”
“I said stop it! We know about you, Scavenger, stop playing this part.”
“What? I don’t know what that is,” she cried in fear and frustration, “please just let me…my father must be worried, have you contacted him?”
“I don’t need to, Lord Fisch doesn’t really care about someone who’s not really his daughter,” he pressed further, though his voice was more inquisitive than accusing.
“What’s…what’s that supposed to mean?! Am I adopted?”
“I’m a bastard,” she hiccupped, her nervous system completely in disarray, “oh my Light, I can’t believe…why would daddy lie to me?”
“No, listen–” he lifted his hands, almost pleading for the situation to get back under his control. “I mean…what?”
But it really was out of his control. They were running on the Street Rat’s script now.
Jamie might have been unable to manipulate the Chancellor into starting a war, but convincing him Sarah was real was another thing altogether.
Maybe Amara meant someone else. Perhaps, she was wrong about whoever she meant, about Sarah. There was no way Sarah could be faking it.
No one could fake a faint, no one could fake the sort of clumsiness and pure confused fear that Sarah was displaying. Amara was phenomenally skilled, but they were married, he had witnessed her being wrong before. He must have.
An amateur like the Chancellor never expected someone to hold true to their cover through the whole time, it didn’t make sense to him to blatantly mislead and lie long after you had been caught.
The fact Amara had known about the Street Rat all along had only encouraged Jamie to be Sarah like she had never been before. Jamie’s thoughts and plans took a far deep backseat inside her mind, she would figure out the next step after she was done putting up that show.
The show, so to speak, ended with the Chancellor patting Sarah on the head and trying to comfort and calm her down.
He apologized for his behavior and promised her a good meal before sending her back. And then he left to be with Amara. It seemed the Holy Lady would survive.
Once he left the room, the Street Rat’s thoughts emerged back again, about as fast as Jamie’s shoulders slumped and her stance relaxed.
It was only a matter of time before Amara convinced him again that Sarah was not who he thought she was. If she woke up in time, Jamie might be in trouble.
Or maybe not. Even if Amara knew who Sarah was, and she probably didn’t, she just knew or heavily suspected, what she was. Despite it all, her appreciation for Jamie seemed to be genuine.
The most important fact was that she had already decided to convince him against the Dark Ones. She had already given her speech, and if she were alive, she would keep the man to purpose.
A knock came at the door.
“Yeah, arright,” she shot back at Jordan. “Sorry ‘bout before and crap, let’s get the heck outta ‘ere.”
The smug look on his face when she opened the door really made her feel like punching him.