“What do you plan on doing with Loki, if you do in-fact catch him?”
"If he will join in our campaign, then we will have him," Trysta smiled, "if he proves unhelpful, then he will be removed." The female weasel looked to the entrance of the tent as a sudden burst of noise started up from outside. There were a exclamations of surprise, expletives, laughs, and talking coming from all around the main camp area.
"What in the name of Asmodeus is going on out there?" Trysta said in an exasperated tone, "Aldrick, watch the mouse while I go check it out. If she's gone when I get back, let's just say you better be too."
"Y-yes ma'am, I won't fail you," Aldrick said with a sharp salute, "you can count on me!" Trysta gave him a small wave of her paw and ducked out of the tent flap. Aldrick found himself alone with Kiara still half tied up. "Well, um, finish eating there miss," Aldrick mumbled, "then I'll have to tie you back up."
"What is going on here?" Trysta snapped at Valdis when she located him in the center of the Redclaw camp. He turned and gave her a cold glare before answering.
"A rat scout came in almost dead. His patrol was slaughtered by the fox, who claims to have Loki," Valdis said in a flat tone, "he has a price on the mouse, and he wants to meet Zarek at night."
"Does Zarek know about this?" Trysta asked.
Valdis nodded, "aye, and he has all intention of being there, but not without Ciera."
"Where has that dratted vixen gotten off to anyway?" Trysta said while looking around the crowd, "now do you see why bringing that fox into the camp was a bad idea?"
"No, for the mouse will be ours, and if the fox tries anything, he'll be dead," Valdis said with a smirk. He then turned to the various troops around the camp center and barked out the order, "guard platoon one, form up!" At his command, two score of the heavily armed and armored "guard" formed into a well ordered squad. The tips of their halberds gleamed in the dying sunlight.
The center tent of the camp was suddenly thrown open and the hulking wildcat, Zarek Redclaw, emerged from it at last. He was dressed in his full battle gear of chain mail, and his scimitar was at his belt. "Is Ciera present?" he asked in his deep, guttural voice.
"No sir, there has been no sign of the vixen since the captive was taken," Valdis explained.
"We do not need her then," Zarek growled, "let us go."
Vladis nodded and turned to the guard platoon. "Defensive format now!" Vladis shouted. The guard formed a circle two beasts deep around Zarek, their halberd poles and shields blocking him from view.
"Valdis, you will remain in command while I am gone," Zarek told his guard captain. This drew a few glances from Trysta and Emmett, but they did not say anything to oppose the order..
"Move," Zarek growled at his guard. They marched off in the direction the dying rat had come from.
"I am sorry to leave so quickly, but I should be getting back to the camp now," Ciera explained, "though I am solitary they may still miss me after some time." Without another word she ducked off into the brush and disappeared in the direction of the Redclaw camp. She was feeling very good about herself. If Dester's plan worked, then power would be hers. If it looked like it wouldn't succeed, she could jump in to stop him at the last minute. Then she could lay claim to having uncovered the plot and Zarek's favor would be with her.
As she was thinking about this, she nearly walked right into the side of the guard platoon as it was passing through the woods. "Halt!" Zarek's loud voice called. The platoon came to sudden stop in front of the fox assassin. Zarek pushed a few of the guard aside to speak to the vixen. They were quick to get out of his way.
"Ciera, I am glad you decided to return," Zarek said quickly, "your services are required."
"Why, where are you going Lord Zarek?" Ciera asked.
"To meet the fox, he claims to have the thief in his possession," Zarek answered.
"He lies," Ciera hissed. She had seen Loki quite free just a little while back. However, she could not give Zarek this proof as it would show her connections with them.
"Come and walk with me vixen," Zarek said, "you shall be my safeguard against his treachery." Ciera hesitantly approached the wildcat in the center of the guard unit and stood next him. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders in a surprisingly gentle manner and pulled her close to him. "I know not where the intentions of Vladis's fox lie, but I have always trusted you, Ciera," Zarek whispered in her ear, "if Valdis has failed me, then it is you I shall take under my wing as my only daughter." The wildcat let go of Ciera and stood straight as the unit began its march again.
The vixen's head was full of confused thoughts. Ciera never would have guessed how high she was in Zarek's trust. That he would doubt his adopted son, Valdis, before her. She had Sijra to thank for that. That would make it all the more easy to betray Zarek, or gain his favor. What path Ciera would take was still a mystery to her. But she knew that she wanted Sijra dead.
Loki, pleasantly oblivious the political battle that was taking place on so many fronts, approached Dester with a spring in his step. "Well, it seems we have fightin' chance now," Loki grinned, "we got a enemy assassin on our side, as well as a master thief! Savin' Kiara will be easy as pie!"
He looked at Belarus with a wry grin. "But I really don't think you'll be much in that matter," Loki chuckled, "you'd stand out like a candle in the night with that white fur o' yours."