Kathleen wished she could stay and investigate that cave all night. She was sure there was more they were missing that could help them with their current mission and she was even more sure there was things deep in those tunneling halls worth her further study. The structure itself was interesting and the various marking and treasures would prove informative too. She regretted how little attention she had paid to the subtleties of the place when they been there. She had been singly focused and had hurried through. When Elessar had called her back having found the box she had wanted to hesitate in returning so she could explore more. She of course had come as swiftly as she could at his call - he could have been in danger, thought she didn’t hear it in his voice or feel it in the bond. He had called for her and she would not leave him waiting when she didn’t have something more pressing to attend to than her own curiosities. When she returned to him she had focused in on the poem – if something so vile could ever be called poetry – and they had looked around the caves after that only long enough to determine that they weren’t missing something obvious. They had been concerned that others may return at any moment and they didn’t have any good reason for being there, so they thought it prudent to leave. It was decided that they could always return to the location now that they knew of it if their other leads turned cold.
They determined that their best, and perhaps only other lead was still with the High Lady Lyndelle , so after careful debate it was decided that they would pay her another visit. It was clear they were being watched just as much as they were watching others. The difference was that the enemy knew who they were looking for. They were giving the darkfriends far too much too information and time to plan. They knew that the Warder and Aes Sedai were alone, they knew where they were staying, and they were beginning to fall into a routine with where they went and what they did, and they were bringing to run out of places where they could go to avoid looking too predictable. By now the darkfriends would have to at least suspect that they were found out, and if Kathleen and Elessar were seen at that cave word would have spread. They had a few run ins – the captive, the thrown knives, other more subtle attempts – it was only a matter of time before a bigger trap would be set and they would be in it. She had hoped they would be further along at this point, but hoping didn’t get you very far. The only idea with any real legs to move them forward was a bold move, but they had been in the city for some time now and they would have to make a move soon or move on. They hadn’t bothered to put much work into a cover story and even the people in the city who weren’t part of the darkfriend cell would soon become uncomfortable with the presence of the Green and her Warder without any clear reasoning for their being there.
That is how Kathleen found herself creeping through the shadows as she approached the noble house in the dead of night. It wasn’t an ideal option, but after some discussion with Elessar it had seemed their best option. They had discussed re-capturing their friend from days before, but he would have gone into hiding – he would have shared his experience by now and they others would either have given him tips on how to keep him mouth shut (cutting out his tongue or threatening his family no doubt) or they would have cut him loose completely and his information may no longer be any good. There was no guarantees he had information he hadn’t already shared.
So, somehow Kathleen found herself sneaking along the grounds of the noble house she had recently strode confidently through, willing the woman of the house to be out for the night. She couldn’t convince herself the whole manner would be empty, try as she might for the sake of her nerves. Staff would always be there. In the back of her mind the thought did cross that breaking into someone’s house in the dead of night may be leaning a little in the wrong direction for someone who follows the light, but she dismissed that thought easily. There was always justification and reason and they could make any action honourable if it was done for the right reasons. What she did she did in the light always, and when it was to oppose a darkfriend or the Dark One himself she would happily do whatever must be done, be it sneak into a house, stab a sword through the throat of a trolloc, or call lighting down to dry forest to start a fire no man could contain. That fact that she would do it all didn’t make the doing it any less dangerous and it certainly didn’t make any of it smart. There were no guaranteed outcomes. She paused a moment in the dark reaching for the growing familiarity that was her bond with Elessar and appreciated finding it there. She knew from experience that it could sometimes seem like a responsibility to have to someone always tied to her, always by her side and always following – or usually leading – her into all kinds of situations. This time there was a comfort. She was not alone. If she had to run fool’s errand, at least she had someone willing to run it with her.
Elessar had gotten them in to the Great Hall with ease and Kathleen felt like perhaps this wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Its not like there was an Aes Sedai adviser in this little noble house who’s wards Kathleen would have to try to over come. And she was Aes Sedai after all, she could talk her way of this if she was caught. She would come up with some important message she had to deliver to the Lady and pretend like she saw no curiosity in the hour. She could claim that she snuck in so as not to wake the whole house hold. That much was true. She would make it work, and when she couldn’t say anything more convincing she hoped Elessar would pick up the cue to carry on the tale where her oaths held her back, and if that didn’t work – she would blow the whole house to bits. It would be a shame to lose the lovely art work though.
When the sudden passing of a guard shifting the light in front her brought her out of her thoughts she instinctively opened herself to the true source, but she restrained herself from allowing it pour into her when she realised they weren’t caught. She was jumpy. That wouldn’t be impressive to her knew warder. She turned her gaze to the back of his head a few feet in front of her and intently thought that it was not important for her to impress him, the only thing that mattered tonight was that she didn’t get him killed and she didn’t let herself die while under his protection. He could be as unimpressed with her as he wanted, as long they were both alive for him to be able to be disappointed with her. She was NOT here to impress him, she was here to dismantle a darkfriend plot and hopefully the whole cell at once if she could end that fully too. That would be a bonus.
They made their way through the Great Hall to the small study with ease. Kathleen wasn’t sure if it was good luck or bad. No trouble was good, but was it too good? She stood lookout while Elessar picked the lock to the small study that she had met the High Lady in before. If she did use this room to plot her dark deeds, Kathleen wondered if the woman had been proud of her achievement of having a Sister of the White Tower so close her secrets and not be caught. Kathleen assumed that the woman wouldn’t have left anything to noticeably about, no matter how confident she was. Lyndelle had invited her there after all, she would have had plenty of time to remove her traces from view before the Aes Sedai arrived. Kathleen had met others like her and was hoping she would have the same sense of necessity in having the power, the upper hand, that would mean that she may hide her secrets, but she would hide them close. She could have moved them anywhere in the manor but having the secret knowledge that she had invited the Aes Sedai into the room with the very proof of her allegiance against the Sister, sitting all the time so close yet going unnoticed – that surely would give most a sense of security and pleasure and reinforce Lynelle’s own genius in her own mind. She would see it as a small victory – a marking that she was more capable, more smart, than her enemy. Kathleen was hoping the woman would feel that way and that she would have left all they needed to find her out right under the Green’s nose.
The pair began searching the room in the pre-determined order they had discussed, trying to cover as much ground as possible, as quickly as possible, without causing noise or both looking in the same place. It was mostly inks, unused papers and trinkets one would usually find in a study. When they came upon the locked drawer Kathleen and Elessar paused to acknowledge it together silently. Only important things were locked away.
Kathleen paused again before reaching for the unsealed envelope that was found in that locked drawer. Her first thought was that she was caught. That this was all a plot to get her here and that the Lady was really one step ahead of her and had allowed her to sneak in here. She feared it was a warning stating that a full fleet of guards had assembled outside of the door and they would have to fight their way out.
Kathleen let out an audible breath she had been holding when she read the words scrolled elegantly across the page. She was not caught, but with this letter she had the proof she had come for.
“How is your memory, Elessar?” she asked in a whisper as she handed the note from Nyriana, High Lady of House Vandahr to the warder. “I’d prefer not to have to take this when we leave, but we will need the information later if we are to fully decipher the message. Let’s move along quickly now, we still have to get back through the whole bloody building and outer grounds when we finish in this study.”
As Elessar scanned over the letter Kathleen began to ponder the depth of the plot. There was another noble involved. It made sense in a way, they would run in the same circles and not seem suspicious to be found talking. It would increase the resources available to them. She began to mull over what she thought this all meant. Would their sister who failed be another noble? Kathleen tried to think of any recently deceased nobles that these two would have known but no names came to her. Perhaps their ‘sister’ was simply another female in their cell and not of noble blood at all. More importantly, who was the Black Rose to be sacrificed he warned of? Was the Friend who informed that the sacrifice was ordered the same person as the one who ordered it, or is he just an informer? Was the ‘princely’ gift a clue that the Royal Family were in danger, or worse, involved? Or was it simply flowery wording? There was no date on the letter, but she was sure that she and Elessar were the ‘guests’ they mentioned. That gave a little bit of a timeline and let Kathleen have some faith that these events still had not happened - there would be time to stop it if they could figure out the clues in a useful manner. Should they follow the emeralds and hope that leads them to the Black Rose? A sacrifice was rarely the morally right choice, and if that is what the darkfriends wanted it certainly wasn’t the outcome she intended on allowing. Should they get closer to the Royal family – send a warning they may be in danger? That seemed premature. She would think all this and more over as they made their way back to the inn and then go over it more thoroughly with Elessar when they had more safety to speak.