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The Price of Loyalty

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"Treachery grows like a weed when loyalty is forgotten. And like a weed... 


It was a dismal grey morning in Mezluthan when the letter came. The messenger arrived early. The world was still grey and damp when they were allowed into the inn and knocked on the door of the room that Hamlin and Quintia Tomtpon resided in. Their grey leathers were soggy and rainwater pooled uncomfortably in the bottom of their shoes. There was no time to dry off though. They had experience dealing with Madame Tompton and they knew that any delay in delivery would be a permanent one. They held on to the bag at their side like it was worth more than gold. For all that they knew, it could be. 

A female voice called out from in the room after a minute. "Come in."

The messenger swallowed with difficulty and pushed open the door, finding it unlocked. 

Hamlin Tompton was sitting at the small table in the room. Her spectacles were pushed up on top of her head and a cup of steaming coffee sat next to an open folder of paperwork in front of her. She was dressed less formally than usual. A purple morning robe was pulled around her and the sleeves were pushed back far enough that her tattoos peeked out from under the fabric. The massive wings of the intricate bird tattoo on her back wrapped around on to her upper arms. The longest of the primary feathers touched the crease of her arm. Her hair, while still pulled back, was frizzy and unkempt. Due to her stature, her feet swung a foot above the floor. She looked far less powerful when not in her usual office chair. Her usual aura of intimidation was further undermined when Quintia shifted in the bed behind her and buried her face into the pillows.

The messenger supposed they were lucky to witness the two leaders in a position of relative vulnerability. It was a hard thing to earn- the trust of a Tompton.

Hamlin closed the folder as the messenger walked in. "Ah, good morning, Ithim," She said. "Thank you for coming so quickly. How are you? How is Helena?"

"We are both well," Ithim signed. "Helena is waiting for me at the port. We brought your response as quickly as possible." They carefully pulled a crisp, sealed envelope from their bag and placed it on the table in front of Hamlin. "I will wait outside." They bowed and left the room, making sure the door clicked shut behind them.

Hamlin opened the letter and read it silently for a moment. Then she stood, crossed to the bed, and and pressed a kiss to her wife's cheek. "Darling, I'm afraid I'm going to be away on a business trip for a few days. You'll have to cover the deal here. I'll be leaving soon."

Quintia sighed and rolled over to face Hamlin. "We're already on a "business trip" though. Is it an emergency?"

"It could be."

"Alright." Quintia sat up and stretched. She watched with half-lidded eyes as Hamlin meticulously dressed and groomed herself. "Be safe. Where are you going?"

"Jigoku." Hamlin grabbed her coat from the back of a chair. She felt the familiar tingle of magic activating as she pulled in on. The subtly embroidered sigils in the cloth flashed as they came online. "It seems our airship branch there has met some unexpected resistance."

Hamlin shut the door behind her and met Ithim outside in the hallway. They bowed again upon seeing her. "I will accompany you back to Jigoku," she said. "Your assistance in this matter will be rewarded."


...it must be uprooted."

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"-I heard that it was the Lagrimosa police force."

"No way. They don't even know how to spell Jigoku in Lagrimosa. It was a rival dealer. Part of the Sato family."

"What? You believe the Sato family has enough firepower to damage a ship?"

"It's a better theory than your mysterious Lagrimosa police."

Ithim and Helena signed back and forth to each other from their seats in the birth of the airship. The light was dim below decks, but that didn't stop the two friends from having an involved debate while Hamilin watched with a bemused expression from the sidelines. There were a few other people mulling about, but they kept to themselves. Early morning cargo flights tended to be sparse on passengers. Even if they were close enough and happened to understand this particular dialect of Genesarin sign, Ithim and Helena babbled faster than they eye could follow. Hamlin could feel a headache coming on as she tried to keep up. 

It had been easy enough to catch the airship going north. A few coins in the hand of the first mate and they were welcomed aboard without any fuss. It would be several hours and they would have to stop along the way, but they would eventually arrive in Jigoku. The letter was sparse on details. Hamlin didn't know what to expect once she arrived. With the company split between an important deal and matters overseas, resources were stretched thin. Their sphere of influence operated on the faith that should dissent begin, it would be squashed before it could fester. It was an easy policy to enforce five years ago when all the members of the Grey Feathers could fit in one room. Now, with the company beginning to spread its wings across the country, it was hard to enforce such absolute loyalty at all times. She would need a plan of action. 

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