Proven part VII
I tried to look as if I was enjoying myself, but it was difficult to do in my ever growing frustration. Jasper kept our team mentally linked so that we could communicate even when separated. I payed attention to every detail of the guests: their movements, their conversations, their body language. It was a tedious task with so many people there. Nearly 200 I believe.
'Is it possible that the Key isn't here?' Jasper asked after nearly two hours of no leads.
'Not likely, Ruse,' Nic assured, 'my sources are rock solid. They couldn't have gotten something like this wrong.'
'The party's half over,' Alek reminded us, sounding as frustrated as myself.
'I need some air,' I dismissed myself. The others acknowledged my leave, but thankfully didn't insist on coming with me.
I reached the superiore, in alto of the staircase and made my way down one of the many halls. One led past a brigade of closed doors to a balcony. I stepped into the open air, breathing its freshness. A breeze blew threw the night, brushing my bare arms.
Cocking my head, I was able to catch the chatter from the ball room. I inhaled a long breath, allowing the night air to calm my nerves. I turned to go, but stopped when I heard voices that did not blend with the chatter of the guests.
Stepping closer to the arch that led back into the hallway. The murmers became clear enough for me to hear.
"...and te wouldn't believe how hard it was to get my hands on this." Following the light tone, I crept down the dark hall.
"I appreciate it. Now for our prize." A different voice, this one was monotonous, almost commanding. It sent a shiver down my spine.
"My payment?" I poked my head around the corner and identified two figures hidden in the shadows.
"Being deposited to your account as we speak."
"Excellent." It occured to me that the speaker was a woman. She handed something to the man and he pocketed the item. Without another word the woman headed in the opposite direction, away from my view and into the shadows. The man come toward me and I ducked behind a vase of fiori on a side table.
Holding my breath, I watched the man pass me, not a breath away from my hiding spot. A slice of moon light reflected off the oro lining of his oily black mask. He walked off in the direction of the ballroom and I finally stood. I looked both ways down the corridors before turning to follow.
I nearly stumbled into a vase when I faced a very old, very wrinkled butler. Despite his age though, his eyes held an apprehensive gleam, as if he had seen the very secrets of the universe itself.
"Pardon me," he detto in a surprisingly clear voice, "I did not mean to startle you."
"Oh, no," I said, "that's alright. I had gotten Lost finding my way back from the restroom. This magnificent residence is quite a labyrinth."
"That it is," he said. I was almost sure he knew I was lying. "The auditorium is right down the hall and to your left. Simply follow the music."
"Thank you, sir," I said. He nodded and I walked steadily back to the ballroom, forcing myself not to look back, though I could feel the butler's eyes burning into my back.
Once back under the light of the shining chandelier, I touched the Angel pendent around my neck, acquiring the small comfort it always gave me. Descending the staircase, I remembered my purpose here and contacted my "brothers" mentally. 'Thirteen, Blaze, Ruse, I know who has the Key.'