It was around the time when Granatus started his story-telling that a very successful spy named Sheila made yet another report to her employer.
As always, said report was delivered in her employer's very own office inside the capital's castle, home to not only the king with his family, but also several high-ranking nobles. This place might have sounded weird for a meeting between spy and spymaster, but said spymaster simply had a face too famous to go outside without catching attention, making the spy come to her the better choice.
“... And this leads me to believe that Eric the Crusher is headed to the city of Gnuldnahrev. It appears that the guild is becoming aware of the order's existence.”
The spymaster, also known as Archduchess Farissa von Rekned, didn't move a muscle at this revelation. Not because she had nothing to say about this news. It was more a matter of being conscious enough to not reveal her reaction to the person in front of her.
“Thanks for your work. You may go back now.” Farissa finally uttered. Sheila silently bowed and exited the room, but Farissa didn't even bother to spend her any more attention. After all, she still had a huge mountain of daily paperwork piling up on her desk. This was another reason why she barely showed her face outside of the castle.
A few seconds later, she was already deeply engrossed in her work, which was not limited to rulings of her own domains and lands: Known as one of the smartest persons in Xerox, other nobles paid her to do the paperwork they deemed too annoying to do themselves but still too important to be left to a commoner. And while this might have sounded like a prime opportunity for gaining intel, Farissa had never used the secrets she found out through her side-job against her clients. After all, the trust she gained was far more worth.
Despite her hard mental work, she did not miss the opening of her door. Nor did she miss how the intruder sat down in front of her without saying a single word.
Two minutes passed in which the intruder silently sat in front of her while Farissa kept scanning the new regulations for tax evasion offenses that Count Lekund had send her for grammatical errors. She felt no fear. There were many who wanted to see her dead, but no one would send assassins so incompetent they would walk right into her office. And since there were no noises of footsteps or alarms being rung, the intruder had to be powerful enough to make it to her without being detected. If someone so strong would have intended harm, she would already be dead.
Ultimately, Farissa finished proof-reading the draft law (which had two glaring loopholes which surely were not an accident) and looked up to see who had rudely interrupted her at work.
It was a young but quite tall woman who had probably barely reached the age of fifteen, which was the age of adulthood by the standards of Xerox. She wore a mage's robe that did little to hide the short red hair and the almost sculpture-like face. At first glance this girl was a stranger, but there was a familiar look in her eyes that Farissa recognized.
“Where does the flying duck enter?” The girl asked.
“Otherwise it would be murder.” Farissa honored the nonsensical question with a nonsensical answer.
“The late worm gets eaten last.” The girl replied, ending the procedure to identify herself.
Farissa tensed up inwardly. No it was clear who this thing in front of her was. Knowing that the 'girl' did not care a single bit about human greetings, she went straight to the point.
“I had expected your next visit to be next year. Is there a urgency for this meeting?”
“Affirmative.” The girl said. “This time, I entered your world involuntarily.” She presented her right arm to Farissa, who could see a bunch of magically engraved numbers. “It appears I got caught up in one of your people's summoning rituals.”
This revelation made Farissa go pale. “Please excuse this blunder.” She said while standing up and giving a bow as deep as her honor allowed. “I will instantly prepare your return to earth.”
“Negative. Because as a result of this unprecedented anomaly, I made contact with the vessel, which was also summoned.”
Farissa acted surprised. She already knew that the vessel had arrived in Xerox thanks to Sheila's report, after all. But the being didn't need to know everything. “You found her?”
“Affirmative. She was one of the three people I got summoned with. To be honest, this was pretty surprising. The possibility of encountering the vessel by being summoned together seemed so small that I never considered it. We might have to make slight improvisations on our plan.”
“Then tell me the situation of the vessel.” Farissa demanded. While they were technically equal partners, she felt the need to at least claim some authority.
“Her name is Mary Sue. She currently working as an adventurer in this very city together with me and two others. Sadly, one of the others turned out to be affiliated with the PID. She quickly revealed herself to us and keeps a close eye on Mary Sue. Since the PID has no exact information about the origin and function of the vessel, it is save to say that she does not know about us. However, she is a danger because of her abilities, so taking the vessel into custody before our plan is in the final phase is ill-advised. Furthermore, she keeps a close eye on me and on the fourth member of our group, so my movement is heavily restricted. I can not let her know that I am no stranger to this world.”
“Then how is this meeting happening right now?” It wasn't that Farissa doubted the words of the being, but she knew of the importance of information.
“I have the ability to feel the presence of being that are similar to my race. Thanks to that, I realized that a so-called 'dragon' would soon awake at a specific spot close to us. I arranged it that the dragon and my companions would clash, giving me a window of maybe one hour in which no one should notice my absence. This too was a real lucky convenience, since dragons seem to be the only race in your world that are similar enough to be sensed by me.
“But according to my calculations, the sudden awakening of the dragon could very well be a side-effect of the vessel's arrival in this world.
“My further actions will be to stick to the vessel and look for a opportunity to get rid of the PID's watchdog and the fourth member who I classify as a possible disturbance without making the vessel aware of our plan. How are the preparations on your end developing?”
Farissa answered bluntly. “We still need six more months at best and two more years at worst. Since we had no clue when the vessel would appear, we couldn't risk putting too much effort into the preparations for something that might take years to pay off. Bu there is another problem.”
The being in front of here seemed intrigued. “That would be?”
“There is another group looking for the vessel. They are lurking in the shadows.“They apparently call themselves the 'order of tiehierf'.”
“The order of tiehierf? What danger do they pose to us?”
“This is something I don't know yet. While I have one spy in their midst, we still don't know enough about them to risk a direct confrontation. We also don't know how they could find out about the vessel or how much they know.”
Both were silent for a few moments. Farissa couldn't tell if the being was contemplating the new information or simply waiting for her to say something. Finally the being broke the silence.
“I assume you realize it yourself, but my companions must not know about our connection. If we should meet, treat me as a stranger. However, if need be I might ask for your aid. The name of my current cover is Lisa Okuta, so I will use this name when making non-personal contact with you.”
“Understood. If this is all, I suggest we part ways for now. I will see it that the preparations on my end will speed up.”
“Good.” With that, the being named Lisa Okuta stood up from her chair and went back the way she had entered. It was time for her to see what had happened to the others.