B-J sat in the corner of her room, fuming. If what the stupid-looking ginger man had said was true, then she was being used. Even worse, she was being used against the Grand Mage. Worse still, she had the biggest crush on Erskine Ravel and was doing her best to get closer. He had been letting her closer, and this knew knowledge she wrote to him might ruin everything. She stopped, chewing on her pen for a moment and wrote about her personal discovery of the Grotesquery. She warned him not to put anything personal in his letters again and instead of giving them to one of the porters, she sneaked out to deliver it herself, by hand, hoping she wouldn't get caught.
She hadn't been to the Sanctuary for ages. The last time she had been there, she had been held at gun point by the skeleton detective and then made a complete fool of herself in front of Grand Mage Ravel. She was bound to do it again, but she could at the very least hand over the note to Tipstaff. The administrator asked her business and she showed the note. She didn't give it to him. "I'm sorry, I'm having a few trust issues. You can supervise, but I need to speak to the Grand Mage. He knows me. Miss Maleficent?"
She waited as Tipstaff went to tell Ravel she was there. Suddenly she didn't want to be there anymore. She was just going to make an idiot of herself. Again.
Cadence was alone in the cell room with Austin. She was standing and he was sat cross-legged looking up at her. "I'm sorry I got caught." His voice sounded off. Hoarse, he was probably thirsty. She was trying not to look at the blood on his shirt. "You don't have to apologise. You just have to hope I never get a chance to pay Twist and Shadow back for this, because even you would feel sick if you saw what I had in store for them."
"You actually going to take on this Vex guy?"
"He's sort of better than me, so I'm a bit wary...but if I don't..."
"If you do, you could end up dead instead! If you come back without him, they'll kill me anyway!"
"So what do you propose I do?"
"I don't. I'm saying it's not worth it. Don't do it. Run while you can. Someone else will save me."
"What if they don't? This is the most certain chance we have of getting you out and safe!...Bel's gone, you're the only family I have left..."
"Wait...Bel's gone?" He shook his head and tried his best pleading face, something that would have worked back when he could still pass for a child. "You know the Dead Men legends. You're going after Dexter Vex! You'll have the rest of them on your case forever!"
"I'll go back to the French sanctuary. I work for them, that's why I'm here. They'll help me." She reached through the bars, crouching to cup her little brother's head in her hand and kissed his forehead. "I will do anything to keep you alive, Austin. You have to keep your family close when there's no-one else...apart from Orage, but I won't go into that right now..."
"You have a boyfriend?" She nodded. "At the French Sanctuary." Another nod. "When you don't know the first thing about the language." She giggled, blew him a kiss and began to walk for the doors, shadows curling up from her clunking heels to shadow-walk her to whatever mode of transport had been arranged. That was when he realised that Vex was supposedly in the desert. For all they knew, this was Mevolent's attempt to assassinate Cadence, and in the desert for its hopelessness and harshness. He called for her to stop, screamed for his sister to come back, but she was already gone.
B-J was making a fool of herself, just as she thought she would. She stood before the three elders, telling them what Gale had told them about her letters and the spying. She told them what she knew about the plans from more trustworthy sources, from Gale and Cadence and from her own personal snooping. The only problem was she was stammering and blushing. She decided to blame the blushing on the room being too hot, unlikely in the Roarhaven sanctuary, but it was the only explanation she could think of that didn't involve embarrassing herself further. Finally, they stopped her. "The Grotesquery?" Elder Bespoke repeated uncertainly. B-J nodded and busied herself staring at her feet. "You're absolutely sure? Because I'm not entirely sure that makes sense..."
"I-I-I'm positive, Elder Bespoke...I saw it myself. It was definitely..."
"How did they get hold of it?"
"I don't know...I'm not part of it, I'm not meant to know. I saw it, though, and my brother was working on it. He would refuse to work on a decoy, and he'd be able to tell. As much as I hate to admit it, he's smart, he would be able to."
Ravel sighed. "Wonderful. Any idea what they plan to do with it?"
She shook her head. "Whatever it is, they need it repaired, and I'll try and find out more...if this Gale guy is trustworthy-"
"Gale Blaze? Annoying cocky ginger guy who flirts with everyone?"
She paused for a moment. "Maybe..."
"He's with us. You can trust him."
She nodded and turned to leave, but she remembered one last piece of information. "Oh, and Dexter Vex. Try and contact him. Gale thinks they're making a move against him sooner rather than later." She hurried out, trying to hide the blush on her cheeks. She could talk to most men, it was the seat of power that threw her. She always felt so intimidated by people who sat on thrones, you know?
The man was crouched over in the distance, examining the sand or something. Her heels didn't clunk here. They sunk in silence. She walked over until she was certain the man, almost certainly Vex, had sensed her presence. Slowly, he rose to his feet and turned. She put on her best and most innocent smile. "Vexter-uh...I mean, Dexter Vex?"
He gave a slight nod and she smiled wider. "Thank God. I work for the French Sanctuary-I know, I'm not French, I can't even speak French, like, at all. They're using me as an infiltrator right now, and I have to tell you something important." He gave a slight smile.
"Well...Mevolent. He's returned." She watched the smile drop. "That's who I'm infiltrating the security of. Me and some Irish agents."
He nodded. "Is this a watch my back warning or a call-up?"
"Neither." Cadence kept her eyes fixed firmly to Vex's. "It's an I'm so sorry." His eyebrow arched and she reached behind her. "He's captured my brother, see? And if I don't do as I'm told, he's going to be killed." He readied himself for a head-on attack, but instead she twisted her foot slightly and the shadows she had had coiling behind his back raked down across his arm and shoulders. He cried out and swore, pushing at the air. She was thrown off her feet, spinning against the sand as it shot up in a choking, blinding cloud. He cleared the sand a safe distance from him and stepped towards her. She curled over, coughing. How could he not tell it was fake? She took her shadows away from her mouth and nose as he came into view and shot them at his leg, but he shot himself up and out of the way. She got up and began to run as he threw a fireball, but she slipped and ended up sprawling and having her robes catch fire. She considered pulling them off to stamp them out, but she was just wearing a small vest top beneath and her underwear, and she was not flashing to her opponent, as distracting as it might be. Instead she smothered them with one set of shadows, which wasn't as effective as she'd have hoped, and sent another tendril to ruin his landing, twisting his ankle and sending him sprawling. In a spur of the moment, she kicked off her heels and charged at him as he got up again. He raised his arms to push at the air, but she dodged round most of the wall, sent into a slight spin as it struck her good shoulder, and still collided with him, only backwards. Something hard hit her head very hard. It drew blood somewhere amongst her hair and she tried to turn so that she had an advantage. It was difficult with them both struggling, but she was bigger than him and so heavier, already giving her an upper hand without her just happening to be digging into a sensitive area with her foot. Once she was on her front, he seemed a little out of breath. She laughed, not giving him a chance to recover. She pushed as much of her weight as possible on his chest to constrict his breathing and began clawing at his face with recently filed nails. The retaliation took her by surprise and she rolled off so that he was on top now. He had punched her, she would be left with a nasty black eye and something had split the skin just above. He might have been wearing a ring. He began to rain down punches and she blocked up with her arms. Her magic was stored in the heels she had kicked off earlier, so she was suddenly feeling pretty defenceless. "Stop! Please, stop! I surrender! I'm sorry!" He stopped hitting and slowly got to his feet, still ready to attack if she made any sudden moves. She sat up and felt tears spill down her face. "I'm so sorry...I just want my brother to be okay...he's the only family I have left..."
"You don't have to take me there. I can get you help. Trading me for him wouldn't work anyway. You can't trust someone like Mevolent." She nodded and stood.
"It won't be fast enough. They're watching me..."
Dexter looked around, but he couldn't see anyone watching them. He continued to look suspiciously in the direction Cadence had come from until she spoke again. "They said 'Cadence', that's me, 'you have to bring back Vextor Dex alive, or we're killing Alvin...Austin...what did you do to my head?!" She covered her face and began to sob. He looked at the patch of hair staining red and felt a little guilty, but it had been in self-defence. "C-c-can I have my shoes back? Th-the sand is r-really hot..." He tossed them over and she slipped them on with a grateful smile. "Th-thanks..." She wiped her eyes, but the tears kept coming. "I can't let them hurt my brother any more...p-please..."
"He'll be fine. If you work for the French Sanctuary, you can ask them for help, and I can get some friends of mine."
"P-p-please...please forgive me..."
"What?" He was about to turn, but she twisted her foot and the shadows behind him closed down, one load smacking against his jaw, the others crushing his throat. She made them lay him down softly and she made her way over to him warily, shadows curling around her defensively. She had done it. She had taken him down. She lifted him and shadow-walked to the car waiting for her.