Chapter 83: Reconnaissance
In WhichÂ Jozra Begins To Make Up For Lost Time.
Yazeth: The rest of the day passes slowly. Soon after breakfast, Zander leaves the hovel to begin the daily search for food while Jozra and Soquan begin their bid to keep from going stir-crazy. Finally the day drags to a close and the three finish eating their meager dinner in near full darkness. Jozra stretches and helps clean up a little before voicing her proposal. â€œI think I’ll go for a walk.â€
Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan’s head snaps towards the ferret. â€œThey’ll see you! What if you’re captured?â€
Yazeth: The ferret shakes her head. â€œI’ll be careful, Soq. It’s dark and late. I’ll hear them coming long before they know I’m there.â€
Arrin Woodgreen: The otter frets a moment. â€œYou stay safe then. Nothing stupid.â€
Yazeth: Jozra nods in a serious manner. â€œI promise, Soq. Besides, maybe I’ll find something for breakfast tomorrow.â€
Zander wants to insert some reassuring words to the conversation but hesitates. Saying something might make him have to explain how he knows that Jozra is very good at sneaking around in the dark.
Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan manages a grin though his worry. â€œSee you later tonight then.â€
Yazeth: The ferret bobs her head again. â€œDon’t wait up.â€ Without any light, the three tended to go to sleep as soon as it became too difficult to see to do things. She suspects Soquan will wait up until she does come in, though.
Yazeth: Jozra’s outing is successful, for several reasons. The first being that she finally has a chance at some fresh air.
After leaving through the door she’s able to find another route to the roofs of the slums and from there she skulks over to the city proper. Here and there she finds better food than what they had been scavenging for the past week in the slums, mostly thrown out by the more affluent beasts.
And for the first time she’s able to get close to the mayor’s house. The ease with which she’s able to approach it without detection helps to reassure her that she isn’t as inept as she feared she might be. And in a way it confirms to her what she already decided after she suffered a beating at the paws of the guard hares.
She returns to the hovel long after midnight and begins to make her nightly ‘walks’ a habit.
Soquan keeps most of his concerns to himself after she returns from that first night but he continues to worry, often waiting up for the ferret. As predicted, the commander never knocks on the door to the hovel and soon even the otter is taking a few short strolls outside at dusk just to keep the cabin fever away.
Jozra’s supplements to their ‘groceries’ gives Zander time to look for other things too, and one morning during their stretches, the woodrat shows Jozra where he’s hidden what might be mistaken as a thin sheet. The length of cloth is thin and mended, sometimes pieced together and above all dyed in dark colors.
It’s very similar to an object all Scorpions in the desert use for a multitude of purposes.
After fitting, stitching and modifying the ‘sheet,’ Jozra takes it on a test run a few nights later. The dark colors and lack of a defined shape let her get closer to the palace than before, allowing her to check out guard positions and once to even check a duty roster.
One evening is spent specifically checking out the building where the hares keep everything they confiscate. Just by looking through the window — by hanging upside down from the ledge of the roof — Jozra’s able to spot stacks of paintings, shelves of fine crockery and racks full of weapons, including a hook that holds Holstadt’s chain.
By the time Jozra finally feels prepared to do what she has to do, it has been just over a month since she, Soquan and Holst arrived in Afrin. Every night she sees what this horrible city has done to innocent beasts and curses herself for delaying in the first place. And yet she delays some more.
Somewhere there must be a stream as she’s noticed several nights with ground fog and soon the moon will be little more than a sliver. She’s chosen her date, but now her fears and self-doubt rise up again.
The evening of the night she’s chosen finds her sitting quietly apart from Zander and Soquan, thinking through things and trying to quash her doubts.
Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan looks up from an old and tattered book he had â€˜liberatedâ€™ from the trash a while back. He spots the ferret sitting off to the side and after a quick glance out the window at the increasing darkness he closes the book. â€œNo walk tonight Joz?â€
Yazeth: The otter’s voice rouses Jozra from her mood. She smiles a little and shakes her head. â€œWe have food for nearly three days now. And I was back late last night.â€
Arrin Woodgreen: He nods. â€œYou’ve been looking awful all day. Get enough sleep last night?â€
Yazeth: Jozra tries to think up some excuse to make it seem like she’s alright but she can’t bring herself to lie even more to the otter. Zander shoots her a brief, knowing look as he starts preparing the room for sleeping in.
Arrin Woodgreen: He grins at her at he rises to aid Zander. â€œJust have a nice lie-in tomorrow if you can, catch up on some sleep.â€
Yazeth: The ferret smiles at Soquan, trying to keep the bitterness out of it. It’s not that this was her first ‘job’. It was more memories of Ostoria hanging over her head and the lack of clear orders. And Soquan.
Arrin Woodgreen:Â He grins right back at her and takes down the sleep-mats, tossing one towards Jozra while settles down his own.
Yazeth: Jozra folds her own mattress out of Zander’s hanging wall and sets it in her usual place.
Arrin Woodgreen: The three move through the setup quickly, and soon, Soquan yawns slightly as he prepares to bed down for the night.
Yazeth: Jozra settles back in her own bed and tries to get some sleep, knowing she’ll need to be rested. She’s too tense, though, and the moment she dozes off she jerks awake again.
Arrin Woodgreen: While Jozra has trouble sleeping, it’s apparent that the other two beasts don’t and slow, even breathing can be heard from two corners of the room.
Yazeth: Jozra’s sleep, when she does get to sleep, is fitful. Edges of nightmares haze in her mind but never come through fully to torment her.
Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan happens to be awake during one of these nightmarish dreams and notices the ferret’s tossing. Quietly, as to not disturb the woodrat, Soquan rises from his bed and pads over to her. He crouches beside her and places a paw on her shoulder, shaking her gently. â€œJoz…â€
Yazeth: Jozra stirs and awakens fully, ready to leave but the night is still too early. â€œHrm?â€
Arrin Woodgreen: The otter looks concerned. â€œYou were tossing around. Everything alright?â€
Yazeth: Jozra looks into Soquan’s eyes for a moment and then looks away. â€œJust having trouble sleeping.â€
Arrin Woodgreen: He rubs her shoulder gently. â€œDo you want me to stay here? Or will you be okay?â€
Yazeth: The ferret smiles, though hesitantly. â€œI’ll be okay in a moment.â€
Arrin Woodgreen: He sighs and shifts slightly to wrap an arm around her shoulder. â€œYou sure? I don’t mind, really.â€
Yazeth: Jozra rests for a moment with Soquan’s arm around her and after a bit she does feel better. She nods. â€œI’ll be fine. Thank you, Soq.â€
Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods at her statement. â€œAlright then.â€ He motions towards his pallet. â€œYou know where I am if you need me.â€ He pecks her cheek lightly and rises, making his way back to bed. â€œSweet dreams Joz.â€
Yazeth: She smiles a little and settles back down to sleep. Somehow Soquan’s ministrations allow her to get several hours of restful sleep.