Kalyrra (prime)/2021-10-06 Practice Makes Perception

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"...I think that covers everything. Don't forget...once we begin, you may not communicate with each other until your task is complete and you've returned here. If you have any questions, be sure to ask now."


When the garden remained quiet, Kalyrra lined up the members of this newly-formed stealth training group. One by one, she gave the adolescents their individual instructions and sent them on their way. As she reached the last one, she noticed the trainee seemed incredibly nervous. "Concerned about your task?" The girl shook her head quickly, trying to deny any problem. Kalyrra grinned and leaned down just a bit to whisper something only the girl could hear. Wide-eyed, the girl blinked a couple times before nodding and walking through the gate.


Once she had the garden to herself, Kalyrra took a deep breath. For now, all she could do was wait for the trainees to return. Their task was simple in theory, but difficult in execution: sneak into town, then into their assigned shop, grab a specified item, and sneak back to the garden. They were to remain undetected for as much of the run as possible. Exhaling slowly, she chuckled a bit at the confused reactions she received when first describing the training exercise to the team.


"We-we're just gonna take something from a store?"


"Yes."


"And we aren't supposed to say anything about it?"


"That is correct."


"But--"


"Oh, and whatever you do...don't get caught. You have to be sneaky."


"..."


She presented the task this way to see how they would react. It was a test, of sorts. Not all of them took issue with it, which concerned her a bit. She would eventually have to determine why. It was possible they were simply wrapped up in the excitement of having something new to do, but she would need to keep an eye on the situation.


About half an hour passed before the first trainee slowly crept back into the garden. When the rest of the team had returned, she asked each of them how they thought their runs went. As the last summary was completed, Medijine spoke up, "What are you going to do with the things we took from the shops?" Kalyrra chuckled. "I was wondering if any of you would ask. I'll be delivering the items you picked up to the correct destinations later this evening. We will continue to use these delivery services to assist the shop owners while also helping improve your stealth skills." Almost all of them looked confused.


"So, we didn't actually steal anything?" Kalyrra glanced at the elven boy, noting his irritated tone. "No. I never said you would be stealing. Why do you sound disappointed by this?" Having attracted the attention of the rest of the team, who seemed a bit relieved at the news, the boy flushed just a bit before abruptly turning to leave. "Forget it." The boy trudged out of the garden, glancing over his shoulder just once to eye his sister. She mumbled something, and then went to catch up with him.


As they left, Kalyrra watched the boy carefully. While she couldn't be certain of his motivations just yet, his reaction was still worrying. The last time she encountered a similar attitude towards stealing was a memory best left in the past. Resolving to think more on it later, she dismissed the three who remained, gathering her things as they left.


Now that she was alone, she went to deliver the items to the correct locations. Once the deliveries were completed, it was time to speak with the shop owners. The information they gave her turned out to be very helpful. She made note of their observations, asked that they let her know if any of the kids acted suspiciously in their shops when a training game was not scheduled, and thanked them again. Stepping out of the final shop, Kalyrra studied her surroundings briefly before turning to walk back toward the garden. She was being watched.


Just as she made it through the gate, she spun around with a cheeky grin. Slipping out of the shadows, her old contact chuckled. "Well, it seems you've improved." Kalyrra snorted. "I hope so! It's been far too long since I last saw you for that not to be the case." Adopting an agreeable expression, the contact began detailing how each trainee had done as they tried to sneak through town. Carefully making note of every detail, she nodded appreciatively when he was finished. "Thank you for your help. Now, it is I who owes you." The contact smiled mischievously, and then simply vanished. As she rolled her eyes with a chuckle, a voice called out, "Hey, I saw that!"


Kalyrra shook her head with a grin as she closed her notebook and walked back into town. Wandering toward the west, she went over the initial information she had gathered. It seemed all the trainees had been detected at least once, but they each seemed to show a bit of promise. The group had potential, which is all she could really hope for at this point.


The two who had been most successful in remaining hidden had both lost their parents in one of the earlier Krolvin invasions. Kalyrra was familiar with the look in their eyes. Sure, they had those who would look out for them and provide for their basic needs. But that could change. In her experience, it almost always did. Better to be prepared and capable of taking care of yourself when the time comes. At least the two seemed to get along well. Maybe they could learn to rely on each other a bit. Just like--


Her smile slipped as she frantically pushed the thought away with a twitch of her wings. "Not now," she muttered to herself. Realizing she was already approaching Greth's, she shook her head to clear her thoughts. Just as she reached the swinging doors leading inside, the feeling of being watched returned. Glancing around the area, she was able to detect someone hiding nearby. Unlike before, the presence was not immediately identifiable. Carefully listening to her surroundings, she peered into the bar and frowned. Most of the stealthy types she knew were already inside enjoying drinks and conversation.


Barely catching a soft sound of movement behind her, she quickly decided the safest place to be at that moment was among familiar faces. As she pushed through the doors, she greeted her friends and ordered a drink. Perching on the stool at the far end of the bar, she turned so her back was to the wall with the doors constantly in sight. She just hoped no one noticed how her hands were shaking.