The Guard Post
The arrival of the train onto the platform in the Royal City was a blur for everyone. Since the train was late by a couple of hours, the officials at the station had already been preparing to scramble a ranger group to follow the tracks back and figure out what had happened to the train. The Queen Kateryn approached the station at full speed with a full compliment of Royal Army Grenadiers and Rangers standing in the Great Hall. In the meantime, the group inside the train had not thought about their arrival onto the station at all and barely had time to pull on the breaks as they saw the massive brass dome on the side of the mountain that houses the imperial city quickly approaching them. As the train stopped, the full complement of grenadiers got on board, seeing the damage from the barricade run. The group was quickly apprehended and dragged off, separated before they got to say two words to each other. Their weapons were taken off them as they were escorted towards the guard posts. Engineers and soldiers moving in to secure every part of the train.
Zahrah had been sleeping next to the still sedated Daiyu when Thaddeus pulled the breaks on the locomotive. Unable to move much, when the door was suddenly forced open and soldiers stormed in, she was taken next to the girl with the broken leg. The pair were gruffly pushed out of the train and over to the Grand hall of the station, weapons trained on them in spite of their cooperation, but at least one of the men carried Daiyu instead of dragging her through the station. The women noticed dozens of prying eyes look at them as they walked into the great hall, surrounded by the soldiers. In the confusion, they lost their companions. They walked to the station and came to a room with a couple of rows of cells, where they managed to take a glimpse at Paki's massive frame being taken further down the hall. The women were placed in one of the cells and the door locked, to wait for their turn with the inspectors.
Being locked in a cell was not the way that Zahrah
wanted to reappear in the city. At least she had caught more than one admiring eye for her unflinching nerve in front of a gun. That would be useful. Granted, her nervousness was more about the press of male bodies that surrounded her rather than the bullets that would cause significantly less mental terror. Standing in the cell and fighting a shiver that ran down her spine, the escort pulled her head veil up and made sure that her perfectly falling hair was still in place. She somehow managed to look simultaneously above it all and cooperative. Her eyes did go to her cellmate, but she knew the woman was judgmental regardless, so she turned back to stare at the door.
Even with the rough awakening Daiyu
was barely conscious of what was happening around her. Her mind was dulled by the drugs and she had to struggle against the fog and force herself to pay attention, though it was mostly a lost cause. She couldn't quite seem to remember how she'd arrived in this cell but she did recognize her cell mate. In spite of her dislike for the woman she had questions that needed answers, "What happened?" She asked as she attempted to straighten herself out but only managed to shift her leg enough to send a sharp stab of pain through her drug dulled body.
Before Zahrah could answer, the two women heard voices echoing down the hall from the cells, out of their line of sight. It sounded like Rill and Dakai, from the train. Slowly, the voices got quieter and then they heard quick, yet powerful and disciplined steps coming towards them. They saw a tall man in flawless police uniform approaching, he had long black hair which was slicked back and alabaster skin. He had a long and sharp face with the typical look of a Shah. "Constable Koh." he said simply as a greeting, introducing himself. With a glance at Daiyu, he cleared his throat and added, "Koh Jiyang." with a short, curt nod. "Can you walk?" he asked the Shah woman as he opened the door to the cell. "We would like to have a word with the two of you about the events that transpired on the Queen Kateryn on your way to the city."
turned her gaze over to the newcomer for an arrogant moment before realizing that he was a Shah. She struggled to clear her mind for a moment before dropping her gaze and folding her hands primly in her lap. "I cannot. The bone is broken." She said carefully. She'd long been taught that she must serve the men in her life and for a moment she slipped into old habits but she had come here to get away from that fate. She had that in mind as she tilted her face upwards a tad defiant, in her own way, and gestured at her mangled clothing. "As you can see... The trip did not go well."
let Daiyu answer the question before she turned and looked at the constable, a concerned look on her face. "What exactly did
happen, constable?" she asked, putting on her most demure and feminine tone. She didn't know what the others had said, but everything that she was about to say was the truth. Or the truth according to Zahrah. "There was so much going on, I could not tell you what occurred." She turned to Daiyu and frowned again. "Is there a medic or healer who can tend to her?"
Koh politely nodded and leaned down, offering his arm to help Daiyu make it to the interrogation room. "That's what we're trying to find out ma'am. We've already deemed that whatever happened, you two probably didn't have much to do with it. Miss Han is too injured and we don't believe you could've killed the others in the train, not to mention you don't show any signs of battle. We still need to ask you some questions." said the Shah. As he escorted the two to the interrogation room, he added, "We've asked for some crutches for you, but unfortunately it's hard to get a doctor up here. I suggest you try your luck in the lower city, there's good doctors in the Shunlao down in the Majai Hath. They'll be good there to a gaosheng (highborn)." finally, the trio walked into the interrogation room, where an older Daguerrian man, sharply dressed and with a bulbous nose and a pair of small reading glasses. He seemed to be going over several pages of notes. As the women walked in, he looked up and smiled though a bushy mustache. "Ladies." before fixing up his glasses a bit. "This one is cute, I guess it's a welcome change of pace." he added, sitting up on his chair a bit with a small grunt. "We just want to ask you a few questions and then you'll be on your way... we have our main suspects already." he added.
nodded as the constable talked but she wasn't really listening. His voice seemed to fade in and out and she grinned in a rather goofy manner. "Thank you." She said as she smiled and took his arm. Her moment of clarity did not last long and she looked up at him for several long moments, "You are very good looking." She murmured unabashedly as she was helped to the room. Even having to drag her leg she could barely feel the pain and when she settled down in front of the Daguerrian interrogator she managed to look dismayed.
Following along and keeping one eye on Daiyu, Zahrah
didn't say anything more until they were in the interrogation room. She did give a small smile to the Daguerrian, her face softening as she pulled every feminine wile she had at her disposal. Not that it was really needed. "Main suspects? Whatever was the crime?" she asked, feigning ignorance. It wasn't difficult, mainly because she had no clue what was being investigated. All she knew was that she was annoyed by the actions that caused her train ride to be disturbed.
"An amiri and a kkala aboard the train, ma'am. One is a mage, to boot, we even found what we believe to be a magical focus among his belongings." replied the older Daguerrian man. "The name is Van Leeuwen, Detective Val Leeuwen. I'm sure you've met constable Koh." said the Daguerrian, restraining his laughter after Daiyu complimented Koh. The Shah simply bowed respectfully at Daiyu and sat down, glaring at the detective for a minute. "The crime is.. well it's quite a list. We have the probably murders of three royal grenadiers and four royal engineers, as well as two men currently contracted by the school. Breaking into a locomotive without the right permits and miss-handling sanctioned machinery." said the detective almost mechanically, reading off a long list on his pad. "Now, the Royal School wanted the two of you charged too, but considering your condition, we argued against it." he added with a small smile as he cleaned his glasses. It seemed no man was completely immune to Zahrah's charms. "I'm obligated to tell you that might change in the course of the investigation, but I seriously doubt it." he added. "Now, what brought you two to the city originally and what do you know of your companions on the train?"
really wasn't paying much attention until he mentioned breaking into the train. She waved her hand dismissively, "We had to break into the train. The dead snowmen would've killed us like they did everyone else." She even had the gall to smile, looking as if she'd managed to solve their entire investigation with a sentence. She blinked when he asked why they had arrived and for a moment looked ashamed. "I refused to marry the cowardly mouse of a man my father picked out." She said and then leaned forward to whisper loudly to constable Koh, "Do not inform my father about the attractive Engineer." Speaking about Dakai, of course, "I swear we didn't do to much." She finished scandalously. Had she been in her right mind she never would've dared utter the words, especially being a High Shah... and considering nothing had actually happened. As it was she settled back in her chair, satisfied the other Shah would keep the secret.
could respond, Daiyu chimed up with what sounded like the most drugged up answer that could have been devised. She blinked and stared at the girl with confusion before letting out a breath and looking at the man again. "My apologies for her, although I do not feel they would be adequate. I am afraid I know very little about the others on the train. I am here in hopes to find gainful employment." She gave a small smile again and a shrug. "There is not much need for dancers in the other cities."
"I... see.. we will not inform your father, Miss.. uhm.. Han.. Daiyu?" replied simply Van Leeuwen, checking his passenger manifesto for Daiyu's name and still managed to butchered the pronunciation. "I understand. I figure the Royal City is the best place for an entertainer to be." continued the old Engineer. "Now, we're heard reports from the other passengers of strange creatures that attacked the train." said the detective, "One of your companions also carried an ancient Shah blade, back from when Shah was a true empire." interrupted Koh, as if he was hoping Daiyu would be able to tell them something of the mysterious broken sword Rill had picked up. "You shouldn't be referring to engineers as 'attractive' either, miss." added the constable too. "We prefer dashing." added Van Leeuwen, much to the chagrin of the lower ranked officer. "Anyhow, we've heard of these creatures, anything you can tell me about them?"
noticeably frowned as she listened to her beautiful language being butchered and drew herself up to deliver a glare that would've been absolutely withering... had she been able to maintain it for more than 5 seconds... and hadn't started giggling. She even managed to look annoyed as she listened to Constable Koh correct her and waved her hand dismissively. "He is a strange Engineer. Not as much of a barbarian as the others." She said with a proud grin as if that made everything ok and she wasn't insulting the other people in the room. "I didn't see a sword. Especially not a one belonging to my people...." She looked a bit crestfallen for a moment before she perked up, "I did shoot a gun though! I missed the snowman though."
"I did see...something from the windows," Zahrah said, shaking her head and letting the confused expression settle once more. "I cannot say for certain what I saw, I was much too frightened and hid as soon as I spotted it." She let a shiver run down her arms and back as she recalled the incident. Really, had Rill and Thaddeus not been there, Zahrah would have been completely lost. She looked at the men with an apologetic smile. "I am sorry I cannot be much more help. I am simply without the knowledge required to know what was actually happening."
"I see..." continued Van Leeuwen ,as if that was his go-to phrase. One of the women hadn't seen much of anything and the other one was under the effects of heavy opiates, though they were bound to wear off soon. "Some of your fellow travelers were telling some rather outlandish stories.... makes me wonder what really happened on that train." he added, stroking his chin. "The pair behind you mentioned a woman who was not in the manifesto, Lena Rose. Did either of you happen to meet her?"
"I met her." Daiyu spoke up after a short moment. "She was quiet and looked terrified." She finished in a rare moment of coherent thought. She could remember the woman, she'd been pathetically scared of almost everything that had moved, though that seemed to be normal for Daquerrians.
"Lena Rose?" Zahrah asked with a frown. "No, I do not believe I was acquainted with her. Was she...a stowaway?" The only other passengers Zahrah could think of were the two men from her car, and she hadn't seen them since she took to the engines. Had they not escaped either? There was no way she was going to ask about them at the moment, mainly because she didn't want to bring up more bad news.
"We're not sure, really... She might have been." said simply Van Leeuwen with a shrug, he had hoped the girls had a bit more information on this mysterious person. Regardless, he had his suspects and had gotten a couple of crazy versions of the events on the train. At this point he was pretty sure he could let the two women go, after all, one seemed to not have seen anything and the other one was drugged. The Shah seemed to have some inkling as to who this woman was though. "Terrified?" he asked, leaning forward and hoping the drugged majai could retain her lucidity. "Any inkling as to what had terrified her?" he added. "The others have spoken of creatures coming from the snow... could it have been this or was she scared before the creatures?"
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