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Closing a Chapter

 

Bianca woke, the nightmare fresh in her mind and climbed from bed. Seeing Underby was already about his business for the day, she yawned and stretched before rising. Deciding after washing her face to check into The Bucket as it should be empty enough for her to enjoy a drink and some light paperwork. Dressing was not an option.

 

Reed sat in the corner enjoying the coffee within his mug before looking up to see Bianca rubbing her face as she enterd. He noticed as she groans almost too loudly.

 

Reed smirked, “And look, another early riser this morning.” he then eyes her attire and continues, “Must be right out of bed even, did not even bother to get dressed” Bianca jumped with a start and looked from Reed and then to Charise, “What on earth are the two of you doing here?”-she then looked to herself and crosses her arms closing her robe, “As for my attire… I will dress when I wish…”

 

Reed muttered like an old ship-worn sailor as he lowered the mug from his lips, “She complains when I am here, and when I am not, typical woman I suppose, I like to enjoy this bar when there is usually no one in it”. Charise flashed a grin at Reed as she tries to keep from laughing and shrugs.

 

Bianca’s attribute suggested she was not in the mood, her lips already lose from the argument she had the night before with Underby she retored, “I complain when you are not here? Who has spoken such lies to you?”

 

“Don’t kid yourself, you wish me here when I am not, you just do not wish to say I,” Reed said in his matter of fact tone only to be followed by Charises reply “So confident.”

But Reed continued as Bianca poured herself a drink partially listening per usual with the man, “You on the other hand do complain when I am not here”

Finished with preparing her drink, she sighed lifting it, “Do not think my actions of conveying the Cogfathers wishes are anything more than thus…besides. I’m sure there are other women whose signals you could be picking up…If you could see past that hat of yours.”

 

“Attempting to be so clever with words, amusing at such an hour” took a drink of his his coffee from his metal cup “Ever decide to carry coffee here yet?”

 

“Success with words are a matter of opinion Mr. Darkfold, and with everyone knowing opinions are like asses, I am not suprised to hear yours sounding off so often…” she knocks back the small shoot and puckers her lips. “I thought you where bringing your own form now on?”

 

“I am if you were not too busy thinking of a certain body part to notice this cup I bring in my hand” he muttered before looking up as a woman in strange attire entered the bar. Mildly aggitated he sits up and scoffs “How many women are going to interrupt my coffee today”

 

The woman walked in her footsteps taking her to the counter nervously as her eyes roam around the bar, her gaze resting squarely on Bianca. She just stares, looking hesitant.

 

Looking to Reed quizzing Bianca then followed his gaze as the loud shatter of glass hitting the floor was all that could be heard for noticeable minutes. Reed adjusted himself and sits back knowing that type of look and gets set as if to watch fireworks as Charise turned quickly to Bianca’s reaction and

 

The woman spoke, “Good to see you, too.” Jarring Bianca back to the reality that she was truly standing before her. Bianca with suddenly parched lips spoke softly, “ Mah allah….Reina…” she then took a step close as if approaching a phantom. Reina cleared her throat slightly and glances to the two to her left and back to Bianca, as if to ask if prying ears are alright. “I’ve not come to cause any trouble, Bianca.”

Bianca gathered her composer quickly, “No. Of course not…our people have experienced enough…come.” she said beckoning her closer, “Can I get you something to drink? By the divines…I thought you dead…” Bianca then stopped for a moment and stood straight as if not prepared mentally to ask, what she was about too. “Maslin…did not escape with you?”

 

 

Reina started to move forward and pauses, missing a step at the last question. She avoided eye contact and took a seat as she waves off the offer of a drink. “I came… I came to tell you of my escape.” She only lifts her eyes to Bianca’s as she spoke, and it’s obvious something is not right.

 

Biancas eyes lowered in pity, she boldly placed a hand on Reinas and spoke softly in their Mondragon tongue, “Speak to me my friend, what harm comes to you and what horrors have you endured?”

Reina glanced at Bianca’s hand uncomfortably and shifts slightly on the stool. She follows suit and replies in the same tongue, looking distraught as she glances up at Bianca, “The Marikish, they… they seemed to think I was involved in something. I know I certainly had the reputation, but what had I truly done to you and your kingdom? I still…” she shakes her head, “I still don’t understand what happened that day.”

 

“What?” Bianca said in English. “What does the Marikishian Empire wish now? Mondrago is rubble…they should be pleased with that….though…” she stopped, her mind wandering to her dream as she lets go of the woman’s hand. “More importantly, how did you get here and who did you ask to find me?”

 

Reina pulled her hand back quickly and that all-familiar glare returned, “What does it matter how I found you? And I speak of the past… not present.” Her glare narrows as her voice intensifies, “Unless the present is all you care about…”

“It is when your life is what is before me Reina.”Bianca said firmly back, her eyes looking into hers like a cat into the eyes of a mouse. “The Marakishian Empire I hope to be a ghost for everyone. Is that clear? You avoided answering me about my brother…so I am guessing pain is heavy on your heart too. You are important Reina…because even though our own past was different…that meant nothing to those people…when they attacked us ALL that day.”

 

Reed motioned to Charise with his hands like he is making cat claws and smirks and Charise grinned a bit before smacking him in the arm, returning to her position and listening intently. This woman knew Bianca, and Bianca in turn new them, though she could admit it herself, there was some slight tension.

 

Reina just looked at Bianca, unblinking for several moments until tears start to form in her eyes, her voice cracking as she spoke. “We were trying to escape – they would not believe I knew nothing of value! Maslin… he, he killed one, and told me to run, and I did. I looked back only twice, the first moment to see a blade swinging towards him, and the next he was on the ground, motionless.” Charise rose a brow at Reed and mouths, “A brother?” but Reed only shrugged in return.

 

Bianca’s silence cut into her like a blade smoldering into her soul. Her hand placed upon the counter she stared into it and gulped back the possible onslaught of her own tears. She could not think of what Reina was going through…after all she had her brothers time more than she did herself. But she knew the fear and pain being somewhere new and walked around the counter, placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder, and held her closely. A side of compassion many would not get to see. “When you can swallow the barb of pain, I wish you to tell me what you remember, the eve of your escape…but not any sooner than when you are ready.” Reina noded and quickly wiped the tears from her eyes as she sat upright and tried to appear calm and collected. She returns back to their native language, “What was it they were truly after? Their men, they kept shouting at me, questioning me – ‘Where is Ashief you desert whore?'” She sighs, “Maybe if I could have answered their questions, Maslin would be…”

 

“Hush habibi,” Bianca said calmly, but her eyes stared distantly as she continued holding the woman. Her eyes rocked like a stormy sea and she could feel her body clinch as she fought back her memories. “Ashief was a thief…I’m guessing they presumed him within Mondrago, but to be honest…I doubt the Marikishian Empire needed much excuse to attack given history…” she lied sorely. Reina glanced up at Bianca again and slowly nods, “I cared for him, you know. I – I always wished him to be happy.”

Bianca whispered softly, “I believe you habibi…”she then smiled wiping a tear mark from the woman’s face. “I know you cared for my brother dearly….even if we did not see eye to eye, we both wished him well. Did we not?”

 

Reina smiled slightly and noded, “Yes.” She then starts to actually look around the room, glancing at the walls and decor as if they’re completely out of place. “This… this is where you work?

Bianca walked a few steps, her eyes looking around as if putting together a jigsaw puzzle in the belly of her mind. She felt something within her snap, she looked at Reina as she looked around with the same empathy one would give to a beast wounded greatly and about to die. Bianca remembered the harassment of Reina, the block she was from bringing her brother home, and though she knew the truth within herself, she blamed Reina for his death. She nodded and smiled slightly,

 

“Yes, I…I work here…” she took a few more steps drawing her robe tightly looking to Reed. “And this is where you rest Reina…give my brother my love…and may you feel no more sorrows.”

 

The silence was heavy in the room before Bianca’s footsteps took her farther from the woman who watched her movements before alarm suddenly crosseed her face. The woman stood up and took a few steps back. “Bianca… what are you doing… What has the Marikish done to your heart!?” she stammered as the man in black rose and walked over towards her. His voice low, he asked “What is it you regret most in this life?”

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