The Curse of 13: A 12 Prices Re-telling part 11

Part 11:

Felicie was used to being surrounded by people; she had grown-up in a castle afterall, but the bustling of thousands of strangers in a crowded port was something else entirely. The noise was overwhelming: ship yard managers shouting instructions, merchants and sailors haggling over prices, sailors singing about the sea, and gulls calling above the lapping water. It was almost too much to take. 

“I feel like everyone is looking at me.” Felicie whispered to her brothers as they flocked around her like ill omens. 

“I think you’re attracting too much attention. I won’t be able to get any information this way. We should split up.”

Several of her brothers let our squaks of protest at the thought of leaving their baby sister alone in a dangerous and crowded port, but the curious and suspicious stares from passersby were too intense to ignore. 

“Please? One or two of you can stay close by and follow me from above. The rest of you can fly around and see if you overhear anything useful.”  Reluctantly, the crows nodded their agreement and split up in all directions, with Johannes and Emil choosing to follow their sister from a safe, but less attention-grabbing distance. 

All afternoon Felicie, calling herself “Fabian”as part of her boyish disguise, inquired about the sorcerer. The responses she received ranged from suspicion, pity, and giddy intrigue of her motives. The one thing they all had in common was that the information she received was useless. Her avian brothers had similar luck.  

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I had hoped we would at least hear something new. It’s as if Raol simply disappeared.” Felicie confided in her brothers as they sought shelter for the night in the stable of an Inn on the edge of the city. 

She was tired and disappointed by their lack of immediate success, but Felicie wasn’t easily deterred from her goal, especially when it came to freeing her brothers. 

“We will try again in the morning. This time, I’ll go deeper into the city. I only stayed on the edge today. I’m far more likely to hear something nearer to the docks. I won’t give up!” She said, as much to herself as to her brothers, who were taking turns standing guard for the night. 

The next morning Felicie set off again, only to return to the stable empty-handed again. And so went the next day, and the next. Before dawn’s break on the fourth she was awakened by warning caws as the Inn Keeper’s wife entered the barn. The young girl barely had time to pull her cap over her sheared head before the women came in.

“So here’s the scamp that’s been hiding in the stables!” Her voice was loud, as if years of running a noisy end had left her unable to speak without shouting. 

“I told my Tom I thought I saw someone sneaking out yester-morning, and he told me he saw someone sneaking in last night.” She was a large woman, wearing a faded green dress and a thin shaw over her broad shoulders.  

“Come down from the loft, boy. Let me take a look at you!” 

Felicie trembled with nerves, but she climbed down the ladder with her shaking legs and stood before the woman with her head bowed. Most of her brothers had stayed out for the night to spy, or even stowed away on ships in their search for information on Raol. Only Johannes and Benjamin remained, poised to fly at the woman’s freckled face to attack if needed. 

“I’m sorry, ma’am..” Felcie began in a small voice, but the woman lifted her face by the chin with her calloused fingers-

“I said I wanted to take a look at ya.” She said evaluating Felicie’s face with deep brown eyes. “Just as I thought-” She said, dropping her hand from Felicie’s face and turned sharply to the door. “Come on, we haven’t got all morning!” She called over her shoulder.

Felicie and her brothers followed the gruff woman into the cool, gray dawn.

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