35: A Bold Venture
“What I want,” said Emily, ignorant to the threat, “is to know what they’re after and why. If that means I have to knock on this Sultan’s door and ask him myself, that’s what I’ll do.”
“We,” said Chris. “You want in that place, you’ll need to use the back door, and I just so happen to have the means to get you through.” He sat back and took out his cellular. “Although it might take a few hours to get things sorted.”
Dante chanced a look outside. The uniformed men were facing a deluge of jeers from the White Rabbit’s unimpressed patrons.
“’A few hours’ is too long,” said Emily. She turned to Dante, “What’s going on out there?”
“Security,” he muttered. They were moving from booth to booth, prising curtains aside with the hilts of their sabres. “It looks like—”
He turned back to find Emily vanished and Chris was dealing cards to Lance.
“Are you playing or not?” asked the Malkuthian. Dante sat down at the table and accepted a hand of cards. Next to him, Lance furrowed his brow and sat back with a groan. His was a bad hand, not that Dante would know what a bad hand was, or even what they were playing.
The curtains opened. The men swung their eyes across the booth. Chris smiled. “Fancy a game, gentlemen?” he asked.
They ignored him and left the booth in peace.
After a moment’s pause, Emily dropped her cloak and crept over to the curtains. “They’re not after me,” she said. “They’re—”
There was a loud crash and a cry of angry voices. Dante jumped up as Emily pulled the curtains aside, just in time to see a man in a ragged suit tumble across the room and into the middle of a heated card game. As cards scattered and goblets spilled their contents, the two men in khaki uniforms strode over to their victim and hoisted him aloft.
“You didn’t think you could pull one over on us, did you?” said one, as the other pulled out a sabre and levelled it at the man’s throat.
“This little rat thought he could cross the Sultan,” he said, casting his glare across the room as if to tell its occupants that, if they tried to intervene, they would be next.
The man in the ragged suit, perhaps no taller than Dante was, and with little muscle to fight back, clawed at his captor’s grip. “You won’t get away with this, you know? As soon as Lady Jadveega learns what the Sultan has planned, he’ll wish he’d never been born.”
The first man laughed. “But who’s gonna tell her if you ain’t got no tongue?”
He gave a nod to his companion, but before his blade could strike, a loud, determined voice called across the room.
“I will,” said Emily.
Chapter 35 End
If you’re wondering, ‘Jadveega’ is actually ‘Jadwiga’ (which Dante would likely pronounce ‘Jad-wie-ga’ if he saw it in writing). It’s Polish in origin and should technically be pronounced with a ‘ya’, rather than a ‘ja’. These things happen, however; just as Aliza and her relations all have Al- names, the Oracle here and all her children use Ja- ones.