This may be the first time Sal has seen Lea in ages. Whenever Sal would wake up, Lea’s mat was already folded in and she’d sleep long after Sal would. The woman’s gone too busy.

Now, Lea lay sleeping on her side on the mat. She bent her knees to fit, appearing similar to how Oleon looked like back then. It was strange to see how small she seemed. 

Sal placed the tattered note Sgra. Edihna had given to her by Lea’s side. 

“Please don’t tell on me. I left you what Signora gave me. You will find the heirloom there.” 

She’d find nothing in that address, isn’t it?Talking by yourself seemed strange. Somehow, it was easier to face the moon and talk to it instead. 

“I can’t accompany you. You will not need my help. I am just a short, weak and fragile girl. I’m sorry.” 

A rustle sounded from behind her, so she was awake. 

“You’re still up? You’re doing a number on me. You go pray that the benefactor’s house has better beds for your delicate skin.” 

Sal turned her head back, hesitating before whispering back to face the moon again. 

“Does your benefactor know you are in this house?” 

Ren had told her again and again, lie low. Stay quiet. Don’t speak too much. 

“I guess you should give him a note. We can’t use a courier we’ll be dead. Ro can do, better use of his time than being a glorified slave.” 

How could Sal face Ren right now? She buried her face in her knees, cringing at all the times she’s exposed herself to the outside, at how she’d settled in a stranger’s house. 

“Ro told me you went out on your own. Lucky you, it was him and not some other constable who found you.”

Sal plopped on to the bed and grabbed a pillow to block all sound that she could hear to just fall asleep and forget. She closed her eyes but she could see constables gathering around her,that steel-barred room, and a disapproving face. 

“The goldsmith, if only I got there earlier.” Sal remarked to herself. 

“It must be scary for you.” 

Sal loosened her grip on the pillows around her head. 

“I’m sorry,” she answered. 

Lea scoffed, “Oh, brother! Stop apologizing for every damn thing.” She continued. “Just remind me tomorrow to tell Ro of a note to deliver so you can finally get out of this damned place.” 

Sal sat flat on her back as she turned to face Lea who lay there. “Don’t look at me like that That’s creepy.” 

Lea turned her back at her. “I can manage getting the heirloom on my own now. You’ve done more than what I expected. Don’t worry, I won’t tell on you.” 

Maybe she just wanted to be punished. Maybe, she hated having what she asked for. There was no smile in Sal’s face. The high- pitched, steely voice that spoke was quiet and gloomy. 

She almost forgot. Lea can’t even read the address.


Another person must have lived in Sal’s body and held her hostage for her to venture out into Calare. She kept her arms on her lap the entire trip. The light whirr of the carriage and the slight rustle of the curtains punctuated by cricket cries. Listen, focus. Don’t think.

It finally stopped as she turned to the Casa. It looked the same when she went there with Ren, bare empty, a black shadow in the unlit streets. Overgrown weeds and vines covered the gate and the yard. The house, it looked taller, blacker, as if with claws raised against her, whispering, “ Don’t come in any further.” 

“I’m sorry. I will be back in a minute,” Sal said to the tall servant. 

Sal produced the small stick she grabbed from Signora Edihna’s place. Where to start? As Sal walked around the place, weeds, on her feet, shivering from the cold. 

She crouched down and proceeded to dig. She searched other areas, again. She certainly looked stupid. Minutes turning to an hour. No sword in sight nor a chest. The tall man would be angry. Time is wasted by. 

Then, a broken window gleamed against the moonlight. There, a hole poked through the glass window on the ground floor. Sal turned to the ground and continued to dig. After minutes of fruitless search, Sal turned at the door. 

The door creaked slightly open.The black gap stared back at her. The carvings embellished with mocking faces from the dim light. Perhaps she only has to stare at it long enough. Just a stupid door. Yet, at Sal’s first two steps, Sal fell to the ground. 

Stop whining like a child. Move! 

“It’s big.” 

Of course it is .It was just a stupid door. Only takes a few steps to go inside. 

“What will I see inside?” 

Nothing you have not seen. 

“It will see me. I can’t look.”

“Are you alright?” Voices. Two of them. One of them shook her by the shoulder. A woman with a long braid and a big man stood over her. 

“ It’s way past midnight! What are you doing here? Besides-” 

Sal pointed a shaky finer at the Casa. “The sword. The deal. It was… a big door….your brother. I didn’t reach the …goldsmith….Sorry…They will see me.” 

Sal found herself encased in someone’s arms. Warm. Strange, but warm. 

“Okay, so what happened is you found where the heirloom sword can be. It is in this house, yet you are scared. Am I correct?” 

Sal nodded, no matter how sill y the idea was that she’s afraid of her own house. 

“Perhaps, it will be around here in the grounds. You can’t come inside easily when you are in a hurry. So, to the grounds we dig?” 

Sal nodded. Maybe she was mistaken. She should be mistaken. There was no way it is inside. 

The two searched among the weeds and the gates of the Casa. A fruitless search. Sal glanced at the broken pane. 

She pointed a trembling finger at the broken pane. Lea glanced at her. No anger or annoyance in her face. She rushed to Sal and crouched to see at her eye level. 

“What’s in there?” 

“The sword?” 

“No, what’s IN there?”

The Signor’s office. The ring she gave back. The empty library. “It’s dark there.” Sal remarked. 

“We could have two lamp lights going in. Here, hold my hand. I will go first.” 

Sal gazed at Lea’s calloused hand. 

Ro sat on the grass.”You need a lookout. This place is not exactly abandoned if you know what I mean.” 

Sal gave a long look at the man before averting her gaze. 

“Hear this,” Ro made a bird whistle. “Just hide when you hear that. I’ll come for you.” 

Sal didn’t quite like the idea he raised of another person coming to the Casa but she can’t deny that at the moment, she was weak, fragile. Sal willed her feet to move as she slowly paced inside the house, holding tight on Lea’s arm, letting her talk. 

Sal led Lea through the ground floor of the house as their lamplight led the way to a room where the broken pane surely was. 

The room was no less recognizable than any Sal has seen. It was a mess, a jumble of old wardrobes, abandoned chairs and all sorts of rotting furniture and belongings, the Signor’s belongings. 

Lea immediately got to work and dug the place like how she would in the ground. She placed one lamplight on the floor as she overturned chairs and scratched at woodboards. No sign of the box or the sword. 

Sal stared long at the scratch marks on the floor morphing into patterns and shapes, morphing into letters. The ink that got into her arm the week before. She realized. They were words in reverse. 

Deliver…to you…This week…Reward…

A short, high-pitched bird whistle rang in the air. Lea immediately pulled Sal between the space of the wall and a wardrobe. She peeked by the window at her side. On alert, watching. The bird whistle rang again. It stopped mid-note. 

In the darkness, the room gained faces. Suddenly Sal was not holding Lea’s hand anymore. In front of Sal, loomed a large shadow, taller than Lea, large as he blocked the whole window. 

By the lamplight, Lea’s green eyes stared at her. Voice muffled by a hand in her mouth. The arms of the figure seemed to swallow Lea completely. 

Something pulled down on Sal’s head. It went black.

SamCarreon Creator

A mission gone wrong