The tea in front of her is getting cold.
Thunder rumbles in the distance, and the pouring rain blurs the people on the street into grey shadows. Liliana sits by the window on the second floor of the inn, watching water drip through the roof outside, while eavesdropping on the conversations in the rooms.
“…and the price of everything went up, ah.”
“…So that’s what happened. I mean, what was he thinking?”
“…I hate rain, it never rains where I come from.”
Liliana has come here hoping to receive some information about a mysterious woman that’s been appearing in town, yet all she gets are these trivialities. She takes a sip of the bitter tea.
A few days ago, agents of the Imperial Army told Liliana that the town’s residents are frequently visited by a green-haired woman. Since the woman began appearing, the number of missing persons has increased—not to a great degree, yet enough to raise the people’s alarm. What prompted Liliana to come here herself, though, was not the missing persons, but the rumors—rumors saying that some have seen this woman during the Second Darkness Invasion.
Rumors says that this woman—with her hideous, eerie-looking pet—has slaughtered thousands of soldiers from the Temple of Light. It almost seems as if she is targeting Ilumia’s army.
Although Liliana works for Thane, not Ilumia, once something piques her interest, she will do anything to uncover the truth, whether that means wandering through crowds in a market, or shuttling between inns and pubs.
After all, nothing is more alluring to Liliana than knowledge and intelligence.
The next thunder clap blasts above the building, frightening many of those who were enjoying their meals. Unflustered, Liliana pays for the tea and puts on her cloak. At the inn’s doorstep, she pulls down her hood, unveiling the fox ears that were hidden by magic.
“Now this feels better.” She takes a deep breath in the rain before noticing a young beggar sitting below the roof across the street, staring right at her. Ragged cloth hangs on his bony shoulders, and his pants are completely wet because of the splashing rain.
If she was still the same creature created by the Vatorí—if she had never met the Nine-tailed Fox—perhaps she would not have walked towards the boy and given him her cloak.
There is a tremble in his voice—Liliana can’t tell if it’s because of the freezing wind, or because he noticed her ears and tails a moment ago. Creatures like her are rarely seen in the kingdom.
“Where’s your mom and dad?” Liliana asks.
The little boy does not answer, but instead huddles up tighter, facing the front door of the inn. There is only the sound of thunder and rain shattering the silence between them. Liliana waits patiently.
“I don’t know,” he finally says. “They were just… gone one day.”
Interesting, Liliana thinks, parents that abandon their child. “Was there anything strange about what happened to them?”
“No, I don’t think so.” He tries to look for traces in his memory… “Although, there might be something—my friend said the day before they left, he saw Dad talking to a stranger in an alley near our home.”
“What did the stranger look like?” Liliana’s instinct prompts her to go on.
“Green hair. That’s all he could remember.”
Far away, the thunder continues to roar.