Bright stripes of evening light rose on the opposite side of the Death Chasm. Group was standing in a circle around Shinigami, she was fiddling a metal cube in her hands.
Just as Katrille reached out to grab the cube, Shinigami suddenly spun on her heel, threw her hands in the air and clapped.
“What? Wait, show it to me!”, Katrille protested.
“Show you what?”, Shinigami stuck out her tongue and demonstrated her empty hands.
Vedalken scholar rubbed her temples and was about to say something when Wataru stomped a waspcrab, it’s chitinous shell cracked under the weight of the heavy boot.
“We should go somewhere else, we did everything we came here for. And these parasites are coming back to reclaim the territory.”, Loxodon dragged his sole over the gravel, leaving a smudge of sickly yellow fluid mixed with sharp greyish chitin pieces.
“Man, you got a big one there. You are right, let’s move.”, Nai agreed. “We should report to Mr Lan and…”, she glanced at Shinigami and changed her mind about what she was going to say. “And have the rest of the evening off.”
Party started walking back towards the surface.
“Do you think others will die off as Linda said?”, Rozhe looked back at the remains of the barricade. Plant-like tendrils slowly extended from the darkness and a shivering mouth dripping greenish acid emerged. A blast of energy hit the head and the plant dropped lifelessly.
“This one will.”, Shinigami smiled and continued walking.
A boy, about the same age as John from the orphanage, waved at the group as they walked in the Tin Street.
“Please, John said you can be trusted, follow me, I need your help!”, the boy pleaded.
Nai turned after the boy, urging others to follow her.
The child guided them away from the main streets. He stopped in a narrow alley and turned around.
“Here!”, his finger pointed to one of the walls.
As the group entered the alley and gazed at the inconspicuous wall, a glyph materialized on it.
Nai felt like somebody swept the ground from under her, everything got dizzy. By the corner of her eye, she saw figures materializing from strands of mist that seeped in from tiny cracks on the ground. Nai fell on all four. Her head was spinning, she saw as Rozhe fell next to her.
“Boy, run!”, Nai exhaled through clenched teeth, trying to hold her consciousness.
As fast as the feeling started, it suddenly passed. Nai jumped back on her feet. Boy was gone. In front of her, she counted four humanoid shapes, one taller than others and one noticeably plum.
She turned back.
Wataru knelt on one knee, his hammers handle was lodged in his upper torso. His eyes were closed. Shinigami was in the grasp of a cloaked creature, her arms flailed helplessly as another figure pressed a long needle into her neck.
Nai was not able to think.
She saw an opening between the figures that surrounded them. Her legs moved on their own. She dodged a blow from one of the figures. Spun past the corner and bolted straight ahead.
When she turned back, she saw Katrille running behind her. Her blueish face was pale.
They stopped running only when there were people around them.
“What by the name of the Guildpact was that?”, Nai looked if anyone was following them.
“An ambush.”, Katrille said dryly. “Surprising one, I will give you that.”
“What about the boy?”
“It was an illusion. Should have noticed it sooner.”
Nai looked at Katrille with fear and a tint of shame in her eyes.
“We have to go back.”
“What? We are two against seven!”
“But our friends are there! I am going.”, with a deep sigh, Nai walked past dumbfounded Katrille. “Are you coming?”
“I don’t have a choice, do I?”
It has been only a minute or so, but the alley stood empty.
No sign of cloaked figures, or their friends.
The girls stood in silence. Long shadows crept in the alley from the setting sun.
“It’s like they disappeared into the ground.”, Nai said after walking around the alley.
Katrille pointed to a long fresh scratch in the dirt.
“Well, not all of them. I would say Wataru was dragged this way.”, Katrille pointed towards an opposite wall.
Nai walked up to the wall and touched it. She half expected the wall to be fake. But it was firm. And cold.
“Here is an entrance to a basement behind these boards.”, Katrille said while Nai was still touching the wall directly in front of her. “Are you alright? You seem a bit lost.”
“It’s just… I feel dizzy from before.”
“The magical trap hit you with full strength. Good thing I happened to be way off. It is a miracle you did not pass out from that.”
“Magical trap?”, Nai tried to remember what happened, “Oh, the large glyph on the wall?”
“Yes.”, Katrille moved the boards from the entrance. “Are you able to see in the dark?”
“No.”, Nai took out a torch. “Do you hear anything?”
“Mouse squeaks. Bug buzzing. Distant machinery.”
“Well, I guess we go in then.”, she lit the torch.
They entered what appeared to be a small underground storage chamber. The ground was dirty and had fresh footprints all over. Drag marks disappeared next to a crumbled wall with a large hole in it. Nai stuck the torch into the opening. A tunnel led downwards, a gust of warm air flickered the torch.
“Seems like this leads to maintenance tunnels.”, Nai looked at expressionless vedalken face, “Let’s try and find our friends.”, she said more to herself, than Katrille.
The girls descended the crumbling tunnel that was partly dug out and partly occupying segments of ancient buildings. Finally, they reached Izzet maintenance tunnels. The path forked left and right from where they stood. In the dim torchlight, Katrille found traces of fresh dirt extending to the right.
“Whoever took our friends, they did not bother to hide their tracks.”, Katrille contemplated, “Why do you think we were ambushed?”
“I don’t know, but I am going to that orphanage and I will nail that kid to the wall.”, Nai spurted out angrily.
“I said, the kid was just an illusion. Most probably he knows nothing about this.”
They chatted while following the maintenance tunnels up to a hub. Unfortunately, they lost any sign of tracks and had no idea where their friends were taken.
“I think we should retire for the night. We should search for them in the morning.”, Katrille finally suggested.
“Let’s crash at Neirius'.”
Shinigami opened her eyes. It was pitch black.
Wataru was lying face down on the ground, his trunk hissed heavily.
Rozhe was rubbing her temples in silence.
“Big boy, wake up!”, Rakdos flicked the end of the trunk. Achieving no result, she lifted his ear and loudly whispered: “Look an angel!”.
Loxodon stumbled onto his feet. Realising that moving this suddenly was a bad idea, he leaned heavily onto his hammer.
“Where are we?”, he tried to make out anything in his surroundings, but he could not see a damn thing.
“We are in a small room.”, Rozhe replied. “I can’t remember how we got here.”
“They poked me with some needles, and those were not drugs. At least not the fun kind.”, Shinigami rubbed her neck. “You all passed out from some magic.”
“Ambush.”, Boros legionary slowly began touching the walls around him.
“A bit to the left. Bit more. There you go, you found the door!”, Shinigami clapped as if this was some sort of a game to her.
“Silence!”, Wataru hushed her. He listened for a moment. “Looks like we are alone here. Anyone objects if I break this door down?”
“Show us what you got, thunder priest!”, half mockingly, half-seriously Shinigami bowed in the darkness.
Wataru spoke a prayer to his guardian, his hammer hummed and shined with electric light. With the little illumination he got, he ran towards the metallic door, slamming the weapon with great force.
Deafening thunderclap echoed in the small room.
“Ow ow ow ow”, Rozhe grasped her head.
Wataru stepped back from the door. The room returned to stale silence.
“Well, let’s see if that show was any good!”, Shinigami shrieked, jumping straight past and pulled the door handle. She felt the heavy door unhinge. “Whoops!”, she gracefully spun out of the way as the whole doorway slammed down into the room, letting in the dim light from the hallway behind.
“Let’s go.”, Wataru shoved Shinigami through the doorway, “Lead the way, devil.”
Rozhe followed with her bow at the ready.
Half an hour and two shadowy creatures later they emerged back on the streets of Ravnica. Sun was just creeping over the spires.
“How about we go somewhere safe, and after some rest, we find our friends?”, Wataru gestured towards Sunhome.
Shinigami and Rozhe just nodded and followed hulking loxodon.
“… and that is all we can remember,” Nai explained to Neirius what happened last night. “So do you have any way of locating our friends?”
“Certainly. If they are within Ravnica, that is.”, Neirius produced a scroll from one of the desk drawers. He read the words and closed his eyes. “They are in Sunhome. Sleeping.”
“Sunhome? Thank you.”, Nai grabbed her things and Katrille’s hand and left.
All five of them sat around a table in the mess hall of Sunhome.
“Any idea on what the hell that was?”, Rozhe asked with a bun in her mouth.
“One thing for certain, for Dimir agents, they were very sloppy. We are all alive after all.”, Nai’s retort got a few glares from the group.
“We should go back to mister Lan, for the very least, we did his task, after all.”, Rozhe washed down the pastry with a gulp of sweet water and stood up.
Group murmured in agreement and finished their food too.
“Well, I am surprised to see you here.”, Lan put down a bunch of papers as the group entered. “Do you even imagine what kind of mess you have made yesterday?”
“Mess? What are you talking about? We completed your assignment.”, Nai was confused and angry at the same time.
“You broke out Linda out of jail, the whole case is on review by the Chamber of the Guildpact!”, Lan stood up and grabbed his cane.
“Wait, wait, wait!”, Rozhe quickly stepped in between the two. “We did no such thing. Think, Mr Lan, if we would have done that, why would we be here now?”
“Because you are not really bright?”, Lan moved from behind his desk towards the window. “Or…”
“Or we were framed to serve some scheme.”, Rozhe finished.