Riches and More
Darren Ashe, William Jerusalem and Ziggerton Etherbril
He snuck up the stairs, clutching his loot tightly to his chest and his ears open listening to the slightest creak in the woodwork. His eyes darted down each corridor for threats and then back to his path towards sanctuary. Darren's arm reached out lightly and touched the door, sliding it open just enough for him to crawl through the gap. The lock on the door clicked almost silently as he moved backwards to his place on the floor.
The satchel was opened when he was sitting. The pale moonlight flooding in through the window was matched elegantly with a twinge of sunlight as it would soon peak the horizon to welcome forth a new-coming day. The light bounced off the dingy coins, the scratched jewelry, and the occasional figurine that Darren thought looked nice. "William will be proud," Darren said under his breath, hoisting a coin up close to his eye, "Very pleased indeed."
Another long meeting with another contact, William thought bitterly. At least this one had yeilded something vaguely useful. There was a hint of the elusive and strange Ziggerton. That was definitely good, since he was the only real way William knew of to get off this forsaken rock and heading toward Argellius. Pushing open the door, he didn't even see the lad in his corner until he slumped down on the bed. "Sleeping light?" he asked absently.
"I was out," Darren asked hesitantly, still unsure if William would react badly to his being out by himself. "I was trying some of the things you taught me."
"Get seen?" William asked automatically.
"Good," he grunted. "What d'you find, my young friend? Making us rich already?"
Darren's eyes again went to his bounty, but he realized in that instant that it was far more for his benefit than it would ever be for William. "Just things I thought looked nice, or shiny, or that I thought would have value. Couple of coins I've never seen and a figurine of a pretty lady." He motioned to the ground in front of him. "I don't think we're rich yet."
"Good," William repeated with a bright sparkle in his eyes. "I've no need to be rich, just irritate those who deserve it." Creaking down onto his knees, he crawled forward a little. "Let's have a looksie then." He picked up one of the coins and bit down on it. With he flick, he tossed it back, not wanting to tell the boy it was a fake. But a lot of it looked real enough. "You're doing well lad," he beamed.
There was a brief moment where Darren questioned the contents of the bag, but quickly suppressed any physical reaction to it. "William," he asked tentatively, as if bracing to be struck, "When do get going? I like it here, don't get me wrong, but there's got to be more out there."
"I'm waiting on an old contact if mine to get in touch, he should sneak up on us soon," William said with a grunt. "I'd pack, if I were you, Darren. Once he arrives, he'll want us to go sharp-like."
His grin came back, lit up like a trinary star system. "I'm already to go, William!" Darren pointed to the small satchel in the corner that probably contained less than what was on the floor to begin with. "When will we know? Soon?"
"Whenever Zig turns up," William shrugged. "He's a strange one, could be anywhere or anyone or really anything. He likes to see people's reactions. So we wait for something strange to happen and that'll be Zig."
Darren looked up, "Why don't we just go and find him? I mean, if we have to wait, why don't we just find him. Seems easy enough." It did. If Darren had ever wanted to speak with a Kranit - which was hardly ever to begin with - all he had to do was find one.
"We could try," William said with another shrug. "But he's not the easiest of men to locate. To be honest, we're better off staying here until he finds us."
"I just would rather leave this place, William," Darren said, crestfallen. The thoughts of all his dead friends were still lingering. The brutality etched in every remembrance. What hurt more, however, was the fact that Kiera wasn't among them. Where was she? Was she safe? He truly didn't know.
"I know, lad," the older man sighed. "Stagnation comes from staying in one place for too long."
A small snort came from somewhere nearby, followed by the whistle of the innocent, or was it an attempt at bird song.
Darren's head lashed to the left quickly, "What was that?" He remembered in that instant that he had stolen things from people. "I-I'll give their stuff back, William, I will. I was just doing what you taught me."
"Ahem..." came an embarrassed cough from behind the young man. "You'll have to excuse me, I suppose I'm not so good at spying at the moment." Grinning widely, a four-legged lizard about three foot in length and sporting a fine array of teeth scuttled into the centre of the room.
Darren's eyes widened, his throat went dry, and he scampered back behind William in sheer terror. His lip quivered as he watched the reptilian-like body eye him closely. "W-what..." he couldn't finish the sentence.
He sniffed at the boy then raised fluffy white eyebrows at William. "Interesting taste in apprentices."
"Zig," William grunted. "Stop pissing about. Are we leaving or what?"
"Well that all depends on if your little friend stops hiding from me. Do tell him I won't bite, would you?" The lizard peered around William and laughed in what came out as a soft hiss. "Poor thing, he looks scared half to death."
"Does it surprise you? How many Lungii d'you think he's ever met? Don't help you picked one of the carniverous ones, does it? Change into something less dramatic," William said, a soft chuckle in his voice.
"Oh well," the small creature sighed dramatically, "if you insist." In a swirl of light, his body shifted upwards and coagulated into that of a man about William's age but of clearly Asian decent. A long plait of black hair flopped down his back and silk robes in red swirled around him. Offering his hand to Darren, he said, "Ziggerton Etherbril at your service. My sincerest apologies for scaring you, my young friend."
Darren looked at him for a moment, the fear still etched in his features, "Uh, I'm Darren." He reached out hesitantly and grasped the man's hand, shaking it softly before retracting it. "How'd you do that?"
"Do what?" Zig asked, staring around as oblivious to his morph. "Did something amazing happen and I missed it? Oh how I hate the moment's fuzziness while in the midst of a change." With a twinkling eye, he winked at the young man.
"He's an Allasomorph," William said with a groan. "Actually he looks like a big ball of plasma, it's just his species prefers to look like something more substantial so they can change shape to be whatever they like."
"Cool, huh!?" Zig beamed.
"Can you teach me that?" Darren asked, a slight smile playing across his face.
"Oh sweet boy!" Giving William a considered look, the strange being grinned, flashing a set of perfect white teeth. "I'm afraid not. It's a species thing. You're either born to do it or you're not. What I can teach you is how to appear as anything you want," spreading his hands wide, he added, "blend into the crowd as it were."
William snorted at just the thought of the most flamboyant man he knew trying to blend with anything.
He eased out from behind William, realizing that he'd hidden from the man long enough. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir," Darren said formally, nodding his respect. "I apologize for my fear. I hope that it wasn't as disrespect as I'm thinking it was."
"Not at all," he fluttered his hands, "think on it no longer. So, are you both ready? My shuttle awaits and I'm eager for something other than the dour company of my body guards."
Raising his brows, William shook his head. "You have body guards?"
"A man can't be too careful," Zig replied, tapping the side of his nose.
"Can we go, William?" Darren asked hopefully, like a little kid wanting to go to an amusement park.
"No, we're staying here for the rest of our lives," smirked the old man even as he grabbed his duffle bag from its place on the floor. "Come on then, lad, if you're coming."
Darren his own satchel and tossed it over his shoulder, "I'm coming!"