He walked down the dark, dank alley; hands in pockets, mask hiding his identity- or at least he though it did- though he must be an idiot to think that would be all it took to trick her.
The fast patter of footsteps along the rooftops above would be the only indication of his impending fate- that is, if they made any noise at all. Just before he left the cramped little passage, he may have heard a noise, like the pounce of a cat. Even then, he wouldn’t have had long enough to react before he hit the cold, hard cobbles with a quiet thump.
That made five.
Out of the ten criminals that had split up earlier, she had now caught her fifth. Time to tie him up, leave him in the dazed heap with the rest, and track down the last half. Clean and simple. That is, until she heard footsteps and a gasp.
Turning towards the direction of the noice, there stood a shocked treasure hoarder- target number 6. This offshoot group were small fry, but still, people are a lot easier to catch when they aren’t expecting it. As he started to run, with a roll of her eyes, she followed- already gaining half the distance in a few seconds. Terrified, panicked, he ran down another thin alley-
Only to run into a fist at the other end.
With an unceremonious thud, he landed unconscious on the floor- knocked clean out from running into the back of a tanned hand at far too fast a speed. And out of the pale light at the exit to this little passage, with a light chuckle, further trouble rounded the corner.
“Oh? It seems that we may be dealing with the same group. That makes my fifth, you know. How are you doing with them this fine night?”
“Well. We’ve got them all, so time to bring them to the knights HQ. Farewell.” Rosaria replied, a sharp edge to her voice, and her lack of amusement seeping through.
Every time she dealt with Kaeya, she was put on edge. She had investigated him, but found nothing. Too much nothing. It was like he appeared on the Ragvindr’s doorstep one day, and proceeded to leave the smallest trace until joining the knights, whereupon he somehow managed to cultivate enough connections to have half the criminals in the city in his pocket- and a few nights after that, in jail.
His efficiency, she admired. His rank, she respected. His methods, she understood. But him? He was a mystery- too much of a threat to not investigate, but enough of a help to leave to his own devices.
“Come now, the night is so much longer. No need to part so soon.” Kaeya purred, “Why don’t you accompany me? It’s far more pleasant to do such menial labour with another, after all.”
A roll of the eyes and a tired sigh is all the reply he got. But, nonetheless, she picked up two of the tied-up criminals from the pile of sleeping bodies, and dragged them away, kaeya doing the same next to her.
As they walked along the streets, painted a blue-black from the near-moonless night, he just couldn’t resist beginning a conversation
“So...” He started, signature, sly grin plastered across his face, only bringing Rosaria’s guard up further. “How have your investigations been treating you?”
She quickly cut him off, accelerating her pace up the stone steps so as to make this conversation blessedly briefer. “Small talk? Is this all you have to discuss?”
“Oh, not so. Surely the safety of Mondstadt is the largest matter there is, no?”
“Do you mean to condescend? I see no reason to discuss such matters with you.”
With an inaudible sigh, he responded. “I simply wish to know how your affairs are going. Is that so hard to believe?” A reply with surprising sincerity, for one such as him.
“It is, but fine. My last lead was that of the treasure hoarder splinter groups; out of the seven, this makes the sixth. Although the last group was reported to have retreated down to cape oath, so they aren’t as imminent a threat.
“How interesting...” Tossing with careful disregard the four bodies they were carrying onto a new pile in a cell; an underground cage even more dark and frigid than the cold night outside- the single meagre torch, despite its best efforts, not managing to do any more than sizzle as it hung limply in its brazier. Leaving the dank confines of the cells together, they went back to get the rest, walking in silence until Kaeya decided he had something to share.
“... Though I hear that these cape oath treasure hoarders managed to obtain a sizeable shard of the electro hypostasis. A cause for concern, is it not?”
A low murmur of annoyance escaped Rosaria’s lips before she formed her reply. “Yes... that is an issue.”
With Kaeya dragging three bodies at once, his dialogue decreased, while Rosaria too was struggling a little with so much weight- especially the bulky one with a hammer, who she probably should have disarmed before taking him with her. His weapon, tied to his hip, made a small racket as it bounced off the stones; a further deterrent to conversation- a good enough reason not to remove it.
While walking, she couldn’t help but think of his ulterior motives.
He was the shady sort- not villainous, sure, but no paragon. Then again, how was she any different, in that regard? Not that she would trust herself, and even then, it was the differences that concerned her more. She has plenty of methods- stalking, snooping, interrogation and the like. But Kaeya didn’t use such stealth- not nearly as much as he used his charm.
You would think that his shady nature, and clear track record would be enough to stop people from spilling their secrets to him- and yet, with a few drops of alcohol, a charming word and a smile, he found out all he needed to know. How could a handful of drunkards reveal such pertinent information, time and time again? She found it hard enough to extract coherent intel from sober criminals- so how he managed to get it from those fools with even less of a grip was beyond her.
Surely he was up to something. No matter if he was on the good side, such a heady mix of charisma and subterfuge was definitely a threat to Mondstadt.
However, there were ways of obtaining a better understanding of his methods- and of the reliability of this information. And luckily, she though of one.
Tossing the last few onto the pile, and locking the door, Rosaria gave him a reply.
“Two nights from now. Will you come with me to deal with these cape oath bandits?”
A genuine expression of surprise flashed over Kaeya’s face for a split second, before being replaced with a smile altogether too wide.
“Oh, I’d love to.”