The alarm was the loudest sound that Sri had ever heard- a deafening
banshee scream, without the deadly side effects. Faintly, she could hear the
guards below yelling and thundering up the stairs, and Wraith cursing Jules
for not realising that there was someone on the roof, listening in on their
conversation. Silence was no longer a useful or prudent ally. Sri clutched at
her ringing ears, jumped onto a neighbouring rooftop and sprinted for
freedom, leaping gaps between roofs with her heart thundering like a drum.
Sri thanked the gods that she had been doing early morning sprints over the
rooftops each day to the marketplace to bag the best territory. As her eyes
darted around wildly, searching for a possible escape route, she spotted an
open skylight in a nearby roof. Sri altered her course and dashed towards it, before
jumping through it, right onto a table in the middle of a crowd of chatting old ladies, all
sewing clothes. "Sorry!" panted Sri as she dodged past a pair of stunned old maids, ran
out of the room and down the staircase of the building.
Still panting from her desperate sprint, Sri grabbed a long, ripped shawl from a hook
near the doorway, leaving a moneybag of silver coins to pay the owner back ten times the
worth of the shawl that she otherwise wouldn't have dreamed of taking. Rapidly, she
wrapped the shawl around her head then, bowing her back and taking an old plank from
the wall to use as an improvised walking stick, Sri calmly shuffled towards the nearest
secret tunnel entrance, dodging laughing and singing groups of people, still celebrating
the festival, as the trolls pounded past, ignoring what they thought was an old woman
As soon as they were gone, Sri dived into the small hovel that hid the tunnel
entrance and rushed to Jorimah Hand's place. " Jori! Open up!" she yelled.
"What, back from your mission so soon?" he asked in surprise as he pushed
back the planks he had in place of a door.
"Jori, you've gotta help me." Briefly she outlined what she had heard on the
rooftop. Jori swore, then asked her, "Are you sure that this is exactly what
you heard? You're not having me on or something?"
"When have I ever lied to you about something like this?"
"You have a good point there, although there was that thing about the magic
"Forget that. That was on Trickster Day and you told me that fib about the
fountain birds at midnight the year before. This is urgent. You've gotta get me outta
here. I need to leave the city as soon as possible, preferably without being seen, and
you're the only person I trust in this cesspit of a place."
"Really? What did you steal this time?"
"It's not what I stole, it's what I heard. I'll tell you about it as soon as we get to my
Jori looked at Sri's agitated face, then threw a few things into a sack and said, "We'll
drop by your place and pick up some o' your stuff, then we'll haul our carcasses outta
"Thanks Jori. If you get me out of this mess then I will owe you big
Without another word, they left Jori's place and made their way to Sri's tunnel,
instinctively taking a winding route that would lose any tracking spells that might be
following them. On and on the pair ran through ankle deep sludge, ducking the pipes
that came from the bathhouse, dodging odd bits of dilapidated and broken furniture, and
"I won't be sorry to leave here," Sri noted to herself with slight surprise as she held her
breath whilst going through a noxious looking cloud of yellow gas coming from a broken
pipe that jutted from the wall.
Finally, they reached Sri's home. Immediately once they were inside, Sri started
jamming stuff into an old sack. Mostly it was ordinary stuff like blankets, food, and
clothes, but as Jori watched her, he raised his eyebrows at a few of the odd contraptions
that she packed.
"What on earth is that stuff for?" he asked when a particularly bizarre-looking
spiny thing was put in the sack.
"Can't you see it?" asked Sri, puzzled.
"The magic. All of this stuff I'm packing has a different sort of way to protect
"Did I know that you could see magic?"
"Why? Can't you?"
Jori just gaped at her, then seemed to recover and asked, "By the way,
umm… where do you plan on going?"
"Tissacdad, Hrangtya. If I'm going to find my long-lost brother, then I'd be
best to start looking where I was born."
"I thought that you didn't know where you came from, and that you ended up
here because you stowed away by accident on a ship when you were small."
"Where else would I'd've ended up with this tattoo? All native Sirisians are
given these at birth. It's the custom, as well as killing any foreigner with a
tribal tattoo," Sri informed him with an ironic look on her face as she lifted
her sleeve to display the dragon. "Who told you I stowed away on a ship?"
"Can't remember, I think it was that gossip from the main square, umm,
Gunya, that's him."
"Never trust a gossip. I ended up here because some nice, scatterbrained, old
lady on holiday found me wandering the streets and decided then and there
to adopt me and take me home with her. Unfortunately, the Death god
decided that her time was up not long after she voyaged with me back to her
home. I've been on these streets ever since."
"So how do you think you're getting out of here?"
Sri hesitated, and thought for a bit, while Jori watched her closely.
"You know what? I hadn't thought about that."
"Well I have an answer to all of our problems. All that you have to do is trust
me enough to tell me your real name is."
Sri was instantly on her guard. "What are you talking about?"
Jori snorted, "C'mon no-one but no-one is called Embyr Byrneo. If you don't
give me your real name, then I can't convince my brother to sneak us onto
his ship. He needs your real name; otherwise he won't trust you or help you
get on his ship. Besides, the captain would probably recognise your nickname
from tavern gossip. You did say before that you trusted me."
"I never knew you had a brother?"
"You never asked."
Sri considered him for a moment, and then said quietly, "Sriana Janna Embyr
For the second time that day, Jori's jaw dropped. "I beg your pardon?"
"Do I have to spell it out to you? My name is Sriana Janna Embyr Krystané."
"Wow, I never knew that you trusted me that much. So that's where you get
your nickname from."
"I might as well start trusting you that much, particularly since you're
planning on helping me. If you've ever wondered why so few people know
what my real name is, it's 'cause I give them an alias. It's so much simpler
that way. Just call me Sri Krystané."
"Pretty name, Sri Krystané." Jori chortled.
"Tell a soul from this town who I am and I will hunt you down and make sure
you die slow, understand?" Sri said with a glare that seemed to make sparks
shoot from her smouldering-ember eyes, "sure, it's a pretty name, but if I find
any name-curses following me around then I'll know who couldn't keep his
mouth shut. Shall we?" Seeing that she was serious, Jori abruptly stopped laughing,
then just shrugged and led the way.