234 The Test of Trust*
*Eldovian Year 1713, 27th day of the 7th month*
Ebony hadn't been able to believe it. She hadn't believed it when she'd seen the line disappear, but she'd had over two years to get used to that reality. The three days since she'd seen that same line re-establish were not nearly enough. She was afraid to touch the charm again. Afraid to activate it and realise that it had all been a dream.
Because if Rassa was alive, where had he been all this time? Why hadn't he come?
A part of her hoped that he'd been indisposed. That he was incapable of coming. That the flickering line meant he was somewhere between life and death. Another part, the part that was still covered in shame and was living the life of a slave, thought otherwise. Rassa was immortal after all. He would live for eternity, maybe he'd finally stopped to think as the Inktress was drowning him and decided he was better off without the dead weight of mortality for company.
But until she saw him, until she had a reason, whether that took a few more hours or a few more years, she decided not to judge him. To not condemn him.
Instead, Ebony turned her thoughts to their escape plan. She was due to see Aegin again today, and she every intention of speaking to him of their escape. Still, in what she'd thought for herself in the past few days, it had become all too clear to her that they were in way over their heads. They didn't have the resources nor the manpower to escape on their own, let alone the time. They needed help, and after hearing the Madame's story, help had practically sat itself down on their doorstep.
So when the time came to see him, Ebony barely waited until the door was closed before she spoke.
"I found us an ally," she said.
Aegin's eyes widened, "Who?"
Aegin's eyes narrowed again, "Seriously?"
Ebony nodded, "She's bored".
Aegin rolled his eyes, "Ebony, that's not a reason that someone would become an ally. At least not a reliable one. What happens when she gets bored with our escape plan? She's going to back out just as quickly".
Ebony sighed, "It's not like that".
"Oh, and how do you know?" asked Aegin.
"Look, she's not here by choice either," Ebony said, "There are things she told me that...well they're about as believable as...as Rassa's story".
Aegin frowned, "What are you trying to say? That she's like Rassa? He was pretty sure that was impossible".
"No, I mean," Ebony sighed, struggling to find the words, "I mean there are other things out that like Rassa, but not like Rassa. Darker powers that...well they seem to have a fair amount of influence on Herguard if what she was saying is true".
"So she told you a story, you believed it, and now you think she should be our ally?" asked Aegin, "Ebony, I don't mean to sound negative, but are you sure this place hasn't knocked a screw loose?"
Ebony frowned, offended by even the thought of it, "Look, I know I didn't handle the latest development in our already shitty situation all that well, but I hardly think that's grounds for you to accuse me of insanity just because I found an ally in somebody unlikely".
"Unlikely?" asked Aegin, then lowering his voice to a hiss when he heard movement outside the cell, "Ebony, she's just as nameless as the Slave Master, they're two peas in a pod on this island. If we let one know about our plans, the other will too".
"We're going to need an ally, Aegin, you and the Reapers are strong but you're not strong enough to fight off an entire Island worth of low lives without a little help, let alone get off the Island," Ebony reasoned, "She's a way that we can achieve both. Likely the only way we can achieve both and still come out on the other side alive".
"So she's got a way to deal with the poison spears?" asked Aegin.
"I didn't propose the escape plan to her," Ebony scoffed, "I just got the feeling that she really would rather be anywhere else given the chance".
"Oh, excuse me," Aegin held up his hands in mock surrender, "Let's lay our entire plan on the fact that you got a halfway decent 'feeling' from the woman who made sure you were brushed up on your 'how to please the clients' course".
Ebony flinched at the jab. Aegin, who had been glaring at her in contempt for her plan, frowned as if regretting what he'd said, "I..."
Ebony waved him off, "Sorry for thinking to contribute to our escape plan seeing as I'm the only one that can move around this place relatively freely".
Aegin moved towards her and despite how she fought to keep him away from her he hugged her close to him, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that...I just don't feel comfortable trusting outsiders. Not here. Not in a place that's done its damned best to make itself a game of survival and turn us all against one another. I didn't mean to turn against you. I'm sorry".
Ebony sucked in a breath as she let him hold her, then she closed her eyes to gather herself before pulling away.
"I don't trust her, Aegin," Ebony said, "Not like I trust you. Never like I trust you. But I do trust that she wants off this Island just as much as we do, if not more. We trust her enough to get us off this Island, after that we can go our separate ways and we'll never have to worry about her again".
Aegin turned away, seeming to contemplate it before finally nodding, "If the plan you can come up with isn't suicidal, then fine. The only way I think we can get out of here is if we're in the Arena when we break out. Being down here in the underground, the tunnels are too confusing for those of us who have only been to four or five rooms the entire time we've been here. We need to be above ground when we fight our way out. And I really don't think we'll get off the Island any other way".
Ebony nodded, "I'll see what she can come up with".