It was late.
Al'Ahsor walked the hallways and twisting corridors of the inner castle, sometimes stopping people to ask for directions and avoiding the guards. The Priest had thought it best to wait until late before he crept inside the castle - Al'Ahsor did not want any more incidents with the guards at the gate, he would simply slip past when they weren't looking - so he had helped the people of the city for the rest of the afternoon, generally doing good deeds in the grace of Mul'Tee. He had stumbled into the baker's boy Harvey once more before his dangerous trip, and the boy did really seem quite intent on seeing the Priest as a godly figure, as nobody had really done before. He cherished advice and being in the presence of Al'Ahsor, so Al'Ahsor decided he would try and speak with Harvey every day to try and give him self confidence and enhance his innocence through the power, as he saw the boy as a wise and pure source of Mul'Tee that would be a benefit to the people of Majdal around him.
It turned out slipping into the castle was not so easily said than done. Even with Al'Ahsor's sleek robes and soft footed sandals the guard had panicked and spotted the Priest, on high alert. It was almost as if he was expecting something or someone and was listening out for the slightest sound, eyes scouring the area intently.
Al'Ahsor very quickly straightened up and pretended to be walking just past the gate, but couldn't help making eye contact with the guard and attempting to nod an evening 'hello' before walking away. A second past, two seconds. Al'Ahsor recognized the guard's face. A red splatter still lay untouched on the ground.
Tears of blood. The guard's eyes widened and Al'Ahsor knew he was about to give away his position, in fear or maybe in anger.
Without thinking the Priest drew up close and felt the power flow through the air.
"Silence. I am sorry for what happened to you, and Mul'Tee knows I did not mean for it to happen. You shall let me past and speak nothing of it." Whispered Al'Ahsor calmly and quietly, forever keeping eye contact with the guard, for breaking it would interrupt the gift. Electric blue reflected from the dark brown iris of the guard and he quickly looked away, gulping down what had just happened and returning to guard duty. While he passed Al'Ahsor could see the guard desperately trying to fight or scream out, but he just couldn't work his voice to call.
My power is growing. I need to be more careful in future, Al'Ahsor thought as he briskly strode through the gate and beyond into unknown territory.
Al'Ahsor had not wore his white cloak that blended with his robes that night, the one with the hidden pouch that contained a dagger made of mountain steel and a small purse of gold for troubled times. Nor did he bring the white elm walking staff that was not uncommon to be in the hand of a Priest of the Middle - Al'Ahsor was far from old yet, but it was a tradition of their order that had rarely left the hand of Malaghar and from watching the older Priest Al'Ahsor had rather grown used to relying on it in some cases. Al'Ahsor carried no weapons, as he always did, for he was not a man looking for trouble, just looking for the whereabouts of a young page who went by the name of Nathaniel.
But even so, before a half hour had passed the guards were after him. The spell on the gate guard would have broken off shortly after it was initiated, as Al'Ahsor knew, and he suspected he would alert others of his doings. Al'Ahsor had expected to be out by then, alas, but finding the boy in a maze of hallways overlooking lush gardens with small lakes or bustling markets home to stray dogs and merchants was tougher than it seemed.
Al'Ahsor was in one such market, blending in between an old woman and a noble aristocrat waiting for his friend, when a trio of the City Watch came marching through, glancing around at the people, they would have found Al'Ahsor if he had not stepped away from the bench with an quite impressive reaction time and into a dark alcove the Priest had looked for as soon as he had entered.
From then on the going was slow and it was unnerving when Al'Ahsor had nowhere to slip into or behind quietly and quickly to avoid being seen. The good thing was that the people of the castle were not troubled to look for the Priest (the City Watch and royal guards took it upon themselves to find him discreetly without causing a panic) so he had plenty of chances to ask for the whereabouts of the page Nathaniel, most of which he took. Sometimes he posed as a scholar from Andaluja, or Nathaniel's foreign father, of even Excidius Arel himself which required tapping into the gift of Mul'Tee for added 'persuasion'.
However, Al'Ahsor had had no such luck with the people; even though most knew the boy and his doings but none could tell him of his whereabouts presently.
It was not until a middle-aged, exquisite lady came into the presence of Al'Ahsor that a clue was revealed.
"Sorry to trouble you, my lady. Could I borrow a moment of your time?" Asked Al'Ahsor through his long but neat beard.
"No, not at all. Are you here on business?" Replied the woman, a little unwarmly but not rude.
"I am the father of a page in the castle, one who goes by Nathaniel, commonly seen with the elf Excidius Arel. Do you perhaps know of his whereabouts at this time?" Said Al'Ahsor as he had done several times that night, in a polite tone.
The woman raised her eyebrows and her face suddenly turned dark and unkindly. She took a deep breath and shot daggers into his eyes with her glare.
"Listen, you. I don't know who you are or what sick game you are playing, or why you require Nathaniel. But I do know where he is, in fact."
Al'Ahsor had no idea how she had seen through his ruse, which meant it obviously wasn't a good one. He simply nodded neutrally and replied, "Oh?"
She continued, "I am, or at least the last time I checked, Nathaniel's aunt - and unless the foolish old woman has remarried in the last few days - you are not Nathaniel's father," at this Al'Ahsor exhaled deeply and realised he should have expected this, "I can give you the boy's location, but only if you mean him no harm and you do something for me first."
Relief and doubt filled Al'Ahsor's mind. Simply because she agreed slyly to cooperate with him meant she was a trickster and one that liked to play some sort of game. She had something that needed doing, and it was probably something that was not going to be pleasant. The desperation of the request made Al'Ahsor all the more wary of this woman, and the request itself the Priest was not kindly looking forward to hearing about.
She looked like she was expecting a confirmation so Al'Ahsor coughed quietly and gestured, "By all means, continue."
"It just so happens, Nathaniel's mother owes me and if the news of me giving locations to a boy on his own to a queerly dressed stranger is considered a crime, she can keep it to herself. Now, if you really want to know, here is what I want first."
Al'Ahsor nodded and listened intently. He was not leaving the castle without something being gained for he had waited a while for this night, but now he had found something the Priest briefly reconsidered. He just hoped he wasn't getting into anything terrible, and hopefully it wouldn't get him locked up by the guards.