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I glanced behind me, and saw many things. Delia looked desperate, Greg looked murderous, while the otherworlders looked determined. I met the gaze of Kenobi, then turned back to Hosasha.

“Return my maid and we will talk.” I tried to bargain.

Hosasha scoffed and shook her head. “And let go of the one thing keeping you from killing me? I didn’t know you took me for an idiot, Idraho.”

I scowled. “I take you for many things, Hosasha, but an idiot was never one of them.”

She chuckled, then narrowed her eyes at me. “Now, can we talk in peace or will I have to kill this lovely young human?”

I sighed, realizing the choice I would have to make.

“We can find another way.” Kenobi muttered, somehow knowing I would hear.

I shook my head minutely and met Hosasha’s eyes. “Release my maid and I will come with you. I will even leave my sword here.”

Hosasha gave a small grin. “I will give you a few minutes to convince your guests that following would be a bad idea.”

I nodded, turned and walked to the group.

“We can take her.” Skywalker rushed to say.

I shook my head. “Not at the cost of Alice and maybe Fives.”

“Is there no other way?” Delia wrung her hands, casting fearful glances towards my cousin.

I placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m afraid not, Delia. But do not fret, I can handle myself.”

“That’s not what I am concerned about.” Kenobi said softly. “Can you fight her and make it out alive?”

I stared at him for a moment. “I will not allow Hosasha to be the thing that kills me, Master Kenobi. She may have spent the past few centuries bounty hunting, but I have always been more skilled.”

“So we just trade Lady Idraho for Alice and Fives?” Commander Cody shook his head in disbelief. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

“Agreed.” Kenobi murmured.

I gazed at Kenobi, then looked at the rest of the group. “If you could give me a moment to speak with Master Kenobi in private?”

Delia nodded and herded the others a few feet away.

Once they were far enough away, I faced Kenobi. “Will you watch over my staff while I am gone?”

His eyes searched mine, but I couldn’t tell what they were looking for. “Only if you promise to return alive.”

I smiled softly. “I will do my best.” I took off my sword belt and held it out to Kenobi. “Hold onto this for me.”

He took it and nodded. “I will keep it until you return.”

I was about to turn when I paused and tilted my head at him. “I will see you again soon, Obi-Wan.”

He looked like he wanted to say something, then he stopped himself and nodded again. “I will look forward to then, Idraho.”

I turned and walked up to Hosasha. “I am ready.”

She smirked and nodded. “Good.” She pushed Alice away, and the human tripped over Fives unconscious body before running to Delia, who hugged the younger woman close. Hosasha huffed at the sight, then jerked her head towards the path to the village. “Walk with me cousin.”

I clenched my jaw and followed her.

Once we stepped onto the path, I could hear the sound of someone running to, then kneeling beside Fives.

We walked in silence for several minutes before Hosasha stopped and turned towards me.

After another minute of silence, I met her gaze. “What?”

She shook her head slightly. “I’m just trying to figure you out, Idraho.”

I frown slightly. “Oh? I never thought you were the one to try and think ahead.” I gazed at the trees around us.

Hosasha huffed, a small smile on her face. “You don’t think much of me, do you?”

I raised an eyebrow. “Should I?”

She clenched her jaw. “I have changed, Idraho, though you might not think so.”

“I know you have changed, Hosasha.” I cut her off. “But what you have changed into still remains to be seen.”

“What do you mean ‘what I have changed into’? I’m still your cousin.”

I shook my head, wandering around the path. “Are you? The Hosasha of the old city would never have killed children, that Hosasha had morals.”

“You don’t know what I’ve been through!” She growled, pointing a finger at me.

I whirled around to face her. “Exactly! I know next to nothing about you, except for the rumors that you are a blood-thirsty monster that humans think all dark elves are!”

She glared at me. “Then it is decided.”

I frowned, confused. “What is?”

She grabbed her bow from where it sat in her quiver. “If you will not give me a chance, I will have to take over the mansion by myself.”

I gaped at her. “The mansion’s magic will not allow you!”

She knocked an arrow on the bow, facing me. “But you have the power to change that.”

I took a step back, unsure of what she was planning. “No. I refuse.”

She drew back and aimed the arrow at me. “Very well.”

Time seemed to slow as she released the arrow. I watched the arrow soar towards me and I tried to move out of the way.

The arrow lodged itself into my shoulder, just below my collarbone. The force of it knocked me to the ground and I gasped as I hit the path. My vision swirled, it reminded me of the affects of taking a dizziness potion.

I heard footsteps and Hosasha’s face appeared, blocking out the leaves above me.

“Once I kill your staff and guests, you will change the magic of the mansion. Until then, I recommend you stay here.” She left my sight, and not long after, my hearing.

It could have been minutes, but it felt like hours before I could convince my body to work with my mind. I rolled onto my side, grimacing at the pain, and slowly crawled to the base of the nearest tree. I propped myself against the trunk and took a few breaths to steady myself. Then, I raised my right arm and grasped the arrow protruding from my shoulder. I closed my eyes, grit my teeth, and pulled.

A tear slipped from my eye as I tried to recover, the arrow slipping from my fingers to the ground. My eyes looked down the path towards the mansion, hoping to see anyone or anything.

After a few moments, I clenched my jaw and pulled my legs to my body. I used my bloodied right hand to push off from the tree and stand. I took some deep breaths and quickly bent down to pick up the arrow, grimacing at the sharp pain in my shoulder from the movements. But now I had a weapon.

I staggered back towards the mansion, hoping that I wouldn’t be too late. I sighed in relief when I came to the end of the path and nothing looked wrong. I swallowed and tried to move as quick as I could towards the door.

The silence around me grated on my nerves, signalling that not everything was right. I leaned heavily against the doorway and placed a hand on the wall, trying to sense the magic of the mansion.

The only thing I sensed was general unease from the mansion itself, which wasn’t too unusual. It was the same thing I always sensed when someone not living in the mansion got too close to the property.

“Lady Idraho!” Mary came rushing down the stairs from the second level. “You’re hurt!” she gasped, a hand covering her mouth in horror at the sight of my shoulder.

I shook my head. “Pay it little mind, Mary. Where is Delia?”

“The entire staff and all of the other worlders are in the map room. I was coming to get Hosasha’s file from your office.” She explained.

I grit my teeth and pushed off from the doorway. “It will tell you nothing that I don’t already know. Help me to the map room please, there is no time to waste.”

It took longer than I would have liked to get to the map room. The blood loss made my head spin and the pain only made it worse.

I could hear raised voices once we neared the map room. I braced myself for whatever I could think of happening next, then straightened and walked into the room as normally as I could.

“Lady Idraho!” Delia was the first to see me enter, and rushed to me.

I gave her a small smile. “It is always a pleasure, Delia, but we have no time for pleasantries.” I glanced up to the rest of the room staring at me. “In fact, I think we have little time for anything.”

“What do ya mean, Iddy?” Greg frowned.

I went to my throne-like chair and sat down, keeping my back straight and refusing to show my exhaustion and pain. “Hosasha intends to kill all of you in order to make me change the mansion’s protection magic. She wants to take the mansion for herself.”

Kenobi assumed his classic thinking position and stared at the map. “Are you the only one who can change the magic?”

I nodded, hiding a grimace at the motion. “Yes, as Mistress of the Mansion, I am the only one who can command it.”

“Alright, I know you said we have little time but you are injured.” Kix interrupted. “You can do little good in the state you’re in.”

I gazed at him. “I will be fine.”

He met my gaze and refused to back down. “I’m sure you will be, after you are healed.”

I scowled. “Fine.” I turned my head to look at Mary. “Could you go to the potion room and bring me a healing potion? Instant Health II.”

Mary nodded and rushed from the room. There was silence in the room and a couple of the people shuffled nervously.

I scanned the room, mentally checking on each guest and staff member. I was pleasantly surprised to find Fives and Alice standing next to each other.

Mary rushed back into the room and handed me the potion. I pulled the stopper and downed it in one drink, to the surprise of almost everyone in the room.

“Now, can we get back to planning?” I replaced the stopper and set the empty bottle on the edge of the giant table.

Kix narrowed his eyes but nodded.

“Good. I would suggest that our first move is to bring the livestock into the mansion.” I glance around the room. “Hosasha is not above killing anything that will hurt us in any way. I would also suggest that Greg moves inside as well.”

Greg huffed but nodded. Charlie glanced at the only other male member of my staff before speaking up. “I’ll set up a bed in my room.”

I nodded to the cook. “Thank you.”

“Which rooms will the animals be placed in?” Delia went to the nearby bookshelf and pulled out the layout of the mansion. She unrolled three pieces of paper and placed the one showing the ground floor on the table in front of me.

“The horses will be split between the two redstone cells, and the sheep can be put in the tree room.” I pointed out the three rooms as I said them.

“The chickens can be placed in bunk room two. The beds will be good for nesting.” Delia pointed out.

“That leaves the pigs and the cows.” I muttered, scanning the rooms.

“We could use the other cells?” Mary suggested.

I tilted my head, gazing at the rooms. “Yes, two per cell, maybe three in the larger ones.”

“I’ll go and get started then.” Greg rubbed his hands together.

I held up a hand. “Not yet, Greg. There is more to be discussed.” I looked around the room, meeting the eyes of each person. “There is more at risk here than any of you believe. And it is time that you know the details about what Hosasha has been doing for the last few centuries.”