Upon reaching the cave, Aeris found it to be quite empty, small, and uninteresting. Forlorn, she sat on a big rock at the cave’s entrance and tried to think past her disappointment to what she should do next. It took all day to reach this cave, and the nearest city was back the way she came. She couldn’t go back, wouldn’t, but the closest city besides Corwick was a couple of days away. She had little food left.
Blast it all! Why did the rumors, so convincing, have to prove untrue!
As she sat there thinking thusly, the dusk turned to night. She remained sitting, unconcerned, for she had discovered early on that darkness did not disturb her in the slightest. In fact, her eyes only irritated her less, her vision changing to tones of gray that easily picked up details even 20 yards away.
“Lovely night, hmm?”
Aeris jumped and scrambled off the rock to face the voice. A hooded figure leaned next to the rock, dressed in leather armor with daggers strapped to every limb. He looked completely at ease as he regarded her. She suddenly realized how foolish she was, leaving on her own with naught but a walking stick to defend herself.
The man laughed and held his hand out in peace. “Jumpy little thing, aren’t you. I mean you no harm. I would like to know, however, what you are doing outside our door.”
Aeris looked behind him uncertainly and noticed a gap in the cave’s wall exposing a before hidden tunnel. Out of this entry way walked three more figures, similarly equipped. She quietly gasped and felt excitement and cautious hope begin to bloom.
“Are you them?” she blurted.
“Them?” the man asked with an arched eyebrow and a quirked half smile.
“The band of miscreants, rogues, thieves, mercenaries?”
“Miscreants?” He sounded amused.
“Please! I heard rumors that there lived some band here that lives by their own law, one that questions not people’s lives, a group that I might join.”
“Hmph, well, you heard incorrectly,” a new deep voice joined in. One of the other figures approached them. “We certainly question people’s lives, and I’m not so sure you’re up to the task of joining.”
“Commander, you should have seen the way she sprang when startled, and the darkness does not trouble her.”
“We have no time for this right now. . . Hm, well, in any case, we can’t have her running around exposing us. We will also need to know where she heard those rumors. . . Very well, take her inside and give her a mat. And don’t let her. . . wander.”