18 Cornered Silver
Zoey made her way off the roof and back to the main street. She did her best to blend in with the crowd as she walked, but she was still not used to being around his many people. Her attempts at blending in were not very good, as you could imagine. She made her way to one of the shops along the street closer to the warehouse district. Since it was evening time, the heavier traffic had slowed down. Most of the people she saw were the adventuring type, coming back to the city after a day out on the hunt. Most could be seen entering and exiting the weapon and armor shops along the street, no doubt getting their gear serviced.
The shop Zoey entered was not too crowded as she had looked for one that was not the most popular. The sign above the door had simply said "Winkle's Arms and Armor" Walking in the door she could see racks of weapons on display of every design, and the smell of leather, oil and metal was in the air. She made her way to one of the shop's employees skimming her eyes over the equipment she could see. If they ended up buying her short sword, it could pass as one of the top quality weapons on display here.
"Can I help you?" The employee that greeted her was a younger human male, with brown hair and eyes, and had a gentle smile.
Zoey presented her sword from beneath her cloak and spoke a single word from behind her new mask. "Sell."
Once she presented the blade, the young man's demeanor changed. His eyes practically glowed as he took the blade and with practiced ease produced his tools to inspect the sword. Only a few moments later her looked up with appreciation, and spoke.
"This is a well made sword! For the quality alone I can offer you 25 silver. If we knew who the smith was, the price could be even higher, but there are no markings on this blade." He shook his head in disappointment.
Zoey nodded her agreement to the price, declining to comment on the origin of the blade. She couldn't exactly claim herself as the blade's maker without drawing more unwanted attention. She collected her silver pieces and placed them in a pouch on her belt. Now that she had some money to her name, it was one less thing to worry about.
Leaving the shop she was about to head towards the city gate she had entered from when she spotted trouble. Between her and the exit there was a group of what could only be a noble and his entourage clearly looking for someone. The leader was a tall man with golden hair, red eyes and a sharp jaw. He wore a silver breastplate that was emblazoned with a red crest that seemed to be the symbol of his house. Back on Gaia this man would have been considered one of the better looking, and would have had an easy life as a vid show idol or model before Gaia fell.
Following him was a thin man dressed in black leather. His eyes were narrow giving him a sly look, and his black hair was tied loosely into a ponytail. Zoey felt that this man was the dangerous one. She could feel her instincts warning her when she looked at him. The two big shots were accompanied by a Vekt that seemed to be the one guiding them.
Behind the three there was a number of foot soldiers that also had the red crest on their armor. They were fanned out across the street, quite obviously looking for someone, and Zoey had a bad feeling that someone was her. Rather that put that to the test she turned and headed back up the street the other way. Only moments later she realized that there was another group of foot soldiers coming from that direction as well!
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Zoey considered trying to slip through, but they were inspectiong everyone that passed through their line, so she would be instantly spotted. Just as she spotted a nearby alleyway she could enter, she heard a shout behind her. Not stopping to look back she quickly entered the alley. She broke into a run and reached the end of the alley, only to realize that it was a dead end!
Turning around, she groaned internally. The noble and his men had already sealed up the alley, and the blonde leader and his two cronies were stopped in front facing her. Beneath her poncho, Zoey unsheathed her combat knife. She did not like this situation.
It was obvious that they had been looking for her, but Zoey remained calm. She was on high alert, with her body ready to react in an instant. The year she spent training herself in the virtual space had been precisely for moments like this.
She made eye contact with the blonde noble. He had a confident smirk on his face and his red eyes had a superior look in them. She could see only arrogance in the way he stood, like he was the emperor of the city. For all Zoey knew he might have been the emperor, but she absolutely did not like the way he looked at her... Like she was something he already owned, some toy that had disobeyed its owner.
Next to him the leather clothed man showed no emotions, only a quiet pressure came from him. Zoey could tell his narrow eyes were watching every move she made, and she was thankful for the concealing poncho she had. His gaze felt like a predator watching his prey. Behind them the Vekt clicked his four arms together nervously, while the foot soldiers stood awkwardly, not sure if they should be on guard against the small trapped girl or not.
The standoff continued for a few minutes as Zoey was not about to initiate any conversation with her aggressor. Finally the blonde stepped forward with his arrogant smile, looking down his nose at her the whole time.
He had something to say, but Zoey was not sure she wanted to listen.