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Chapter 1: Edge of Anarchy
Korvosa is troubled.
All cities are. They are curious creatures, with bodies of wood, masonry, and cobblestones, breath that smells of sweat, middens, and fish markets, and blood made of people. You can't have people for blood without developing a bit of anxiety; they are full of stress.
Korvosa's people are especially stressed right now. Unease crackles between them like electricity, making every interaction a bit more agitated. Merchants haggling with their suppliers come to blows when once they settled their affairs over a friendly drink. Marital disagreements become domestic disputes. The city's population of pesky imps hides in the eaves and drains, as if ever their sinister offers were more likely to earn them a thrown mug or boot to the head, it's now.
You could say Korvosa's blood pressure is on the rise.
King Eodred Arabasti II is ill. This is not shocking at his age, but what is disturbing is that he has been ill so long. For several weeks he has not been seen, and rumors fly that clerics from all over Varisia have been summoned, only to leave shaking their heads in confusion. The king's seneschal is said to have vanished, and people mutter about foul play. Queen Iliosa, a beautiful woman a third the king's age, has been taking a more active role in governance, and people mutter about that too; that she is naive and foolish, and no doubt being manipulated by treacherous advisors who caused the king's disease. But most of all they mutter about the Curse of the Crimson Throne.
Since it's inception, the monarchy of Korvosa has never had a ruler who died of natural causes, or left an heir. Revenge, say some, of the Shoanti whose land the city stands upon, and whose spirits will not rest until it is returned. Angry gods, say others, fighting over whose followers should rule. Coincidence, say people who are promptly ignored, because what kind of story would that make?
Regardless of the cause, the Curse seems ready to claim another victim.
But politics couldn't be further from the minds of the five who now gather at 3 Lancet Street, at sunset on a cool autumn evening in the year 4711. One by one they come, some strangers, others acquaintances, but all connected by the appearance of a strange card that bid them to meet here and now, and by their shared hatred of a man who had ruined their lives and so many others.
The interior of this small, humble home consists of a single cozy chamber filled with a fragrant haze of flowers and strong spice. The aroma comes from several sticks of incense smoldering in wall-mounted burners that look like butterfly-winged elves. The smoke gives the room a dreamy feel. The walls are draped with brocaded tapestries, one showing a black-skulled beast juggling human hearts, and another showing a pair of angels dancing atop a snow-blasted mountain. A third tapestry on the far wall depicts a tall, hooded figure shrouded in mist, holding a flaming sword in a skeletal hand. Several brightly colored rugs cover the floor, but the room’s only furnishings are a wooden table covered by a bright red throw cloth and several elegant, tall-backed chairs.
A basket covered by blue cloth sits under the table. Next to it lays a note:
"Thank you for coming. I had to step out for a bit, but shall return shortly. Please, have a seat while you wait. The basket under the table contains bread and drink for you."
Begrudgingly gathering a few meager pinch's and a card. Someone left me "The Cricket". Turing the card over and grinning. Pulling the strings tying the poncho, that hung over her while she played, down and wrapping her violin in the poncho. Quickly gathering her things before rushing back home to dry off before meeting a stranger about a peach!
Getting to her building and once inside the door shaking off her poncho and wringing out her hair as best she can. Giving her violin a once over and then rushing off her place. Freezing at her own door before shaking her head and throwing the door open. Pulling off her wet cloak and laying it and the poncho out to dry.
Changing out the articles of clothing that had gotten wet and grabbing her backpack. Protecting her violin as best she can with the poncho before putting it in the backpack. Tugging the still not comfortable chain shirt on and throwing a vest over it. I hate this damn thing.
Attaching the sword to her belt then grabbing a dry green cloak and pulling it over herself before hurrying out the door. "Damn rain, blocking the sun like this."
What starts out as a swift walk turns into a sustained job. This shift in movement matches the shift in emotions. When nervous joy changes into a rage fulled giddiness the closer she gets. Twisting to avoid people in her run towards fate.
Once she makes it to Lancet Street she slows down and to stop. Leaning on a building to gulp in air. Yep still not a distance running. I might not be late but I may arrive dead!
Still a little out of breath Emma starts down Lancet Street looking for number three. Finding it and knocking on the door. Hearing no response Emma growls and kicks the door. "They better be on their way back."
No note outside as I understand it. She is not gonna open a door that is not her's but she will wait.
Nicholas felt a chill as the name he had sought for over a year appears on the mysterious Harrow card; a peacock, though the picture meant nothing to him in particular. He hadn't made his constant questioning about Gaedren secret, but could be a clever trap?
Nicholas grinned. Trap or no, he wasn't going to pass on his first lead to get at Gaedren. It was time to act.
Finishing up for the night, Nicholas informs Hollard, the innkeeper, that he won't be working for a few days to deal with something. Surprised, Hollard simply agrees, but with a joke that if he didn't come back soon, he'd be replaced.
Nicholas slipped on what gear he had managed to buy and took a deep breath. It's time, he thought, as he headed out to the docks.
The trip down to the docks from Old Korvosa was a long one, and miserable in the rain, but Nicholas' only thought was of the note.
Going down the street, he found a woman standing outside the house in traditional Varisian garb.
"Are you the one?" Nicholas asks, holding up his note.
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The tension in Korvosa's air is nothing new to Aerel - as someone who remembered the first king of the city-state's coronation, he'd lived through much the same tension every few decades, as the city's unstable monarchy twisted and turned in the tides of history. Nevertheless, the recent tragedies give his usually light, graceful steps a weightiness that is only compounded by the underlying edge that this new anxiety brings to the city.
"I know you've lived here longer than I've been alive, beloved, but you don't know it the way I do." Khara had smiled warmly at him. "The people here are good folk-" The thought cut off, and he freezes as the image of her broken body flashes before his mind's eye. He scowls inwardly. "Good people?" Maybe. Maybe the good ones are so oppressed by fear and law that they let you die… The elf snorts inwardly. No, they did nothing wrong, and you know it. It was - He cuts the thought off, resuming his walk towards Lancet Street.
The elf turns a corner, his resolve growing with every step as he focuses his attention on the more recent past. The Joke… I do not recall its significance, but the message is dangerous. He quietly checks his weapons, flexing his fingers and feeling the power burning in his mind. Hopefully the joke is not on me…
At this point, a soft clatter and an angry growl catches his attention. "Isn't that…?" His steps quicken, and Aerel practically flows towards the noise.
At the sight of the young Varisian woman engaged in conversation with an equally young human man, he stops, examining the pair for a few long moments. She is… Emma? I suppose she could be… I don't know the boy, though. He steps forwards, tilting his head and smiling slowly. "Good evening. If I may ask, are you Emma?" His smile grows wry as he reflects on how, even after all these years, he still cannot be quite certain about how humans matured and changed. Well, at least not certain enough to be potentially discourteous.
He glances to the building that she was kicking before she can fully answer, taking in its number, before looking back at her speculatively. "Fancy meeting you here. I was summoned here with the promise of information about a certain difficulty. I don't suppose either of you were the one to do so?"
Marvel looks out the window. "Right, and hour till sunset, I better get going." He has been polishing his chain shirt the past two hours or so, ever since getting back from his training.
He looks at the harrow card of The Dance for a moment, turns it over, and reads the message for the 50th time. "Gaedren must face his fate, and justice must be done." Gaedren will meet his fate. Preferably a painful one. And Marvel - he will finally hold his daughter again.
Euipping the chain shirt Marvel laughs to himself. What on earth would his clients think or - just imagine if one of the judges saw him. Him. The socially awkward lawyer, in a chain shirt, with his bow, intent on killing a crime lord the guard is too busy to take care of and rescuing his daughter. Would they be too surprised to laugh?
Having gathered his things Marvel takes one last look around the room. It is too empty. Too damned empty. Everything is tidy and his wife owned most of the decorative items. A table, some chairs, som books in a shelf. About it. How could he ever have been annoyed about the mess the children made? Hopefully by the morning Alana - and the rest of his family - would be there to fill that void again.
Darting out the door, looking straight at his feet while trying not to bump into anyone, Marvel sets off.
Half an hour later or so Marvel is outside 3 Lance Street - is he early? Too intent on finally finding Alana Marvel simply opens the door and steps in, before he remembers that he probably should have knocked - "I'm sorry, I got this ca..."
Looking around Marvel is astonished. Is this how a witch's house looks? The tapestries are amazing - could it be a Varisian living here? Totally lost by the sights in the room, Marvel momentarily forgets why he is there. When someone knocks on the door he hardly registers it, faintly thinking the owner probably will open the door. Once the kicks set in Marvel barely manages to swallow a high pitched scream as he is brought back from his wonderings.
"Yes yes - alright, I'm coming!"
Opening the door Marvel simply stares at the trio dumbstruck.
Looking up at the voice and sighing, "Nope I am a guest left on the pouch." Hearing another voice and looking over at Aerel and smiling, "You sure know how to make a girl feel special Aerel. Yes it is me."
Dropping her head back on the door with a thunk and then whirling around at the voice. "No one was responding a few minuets ago."
Aerel smiles faintly at Emma's comment, and though there is perhaps a hint of self-mockery in the expression, it fades quickly. "It is good to see you again..." He says, his ears twitching slightly. "You remember that girl who I was talking with yesterday? Well, her name is Emma, and apparently, she's a lot like you." Khara had said of Emma, once. And again, the image of her, dead, cold, empty of the life that he had known and loved.
After a moment, the elf smiles again, somewhat wryly. "Apologies, but you grow up so fast, so I am rarely certain about identities - well, after one instance of greeting a young man as though he was his grandfather, I have learned to ask."
He looks to the door, and after a moment, arches a brow. "Master... Manyshot, was it? You worked with-" A pause, and he closes his violet eyes, swallowing as memories of Khara swell up within him. When he speaks again, it is rather softly. "You worked with my wife, once, did you not?" After a moment, he takes a breath, and continues. "Were you perhaps the one who knows where Lamm is hiding?"
Raising an eyebrow at the elf, "We have not known each other that long Aerel. Just a few months is all."
Manyshot? That is a name. Hmm and human to boot. Wei.. Staring at Aerel with wide eyes. I have not seen either of them in a while. Blinking away tears and looking down at the ground while waiting for a response.
"So you are all here for Gaedren as well?" Nicholas asked, finally finding something he knew about.
"Crazy Varisians, and their stupid future telling cards, she thought. "What a silly way to send messages," She was pretty much dressed in her best, but guessing the direction this might be headed, she decided to bring both of her whips. She wrapped them lovingly before attaching them to her waist, and then stuck the card Into the neckline of her breastplate. "I overfill this thing as it is, luckily the card is pretty thin."
She recited a litany to the Favored Sting, and added her own private wish for vengeance. She stepped out into the street. It was more than an hour to sunset, so she took a long route to get there.
When she finally arrived, she recognized no one. Several of them seemed to know each other already, but none of them were the host.
She had missed afternoon tea, and luncheon had long since left her stomach aching for more. Her nose led her to the basket of bread and drink. "It beats grog and hardtack," she thought, as she tried the bread, and sopped it in a glass of wine. She was used to being unseen, or ignored, by the talls. At least when she wasn't out whoring, which sh wasn't. So she decided to keep a low profile and fill her belly while waiting to find out what was going on.
Watching the short woman walk past them and not even both saying anything with a raised eyebrow. Looking her up and down before shaking her head. Leaning back against the wall near the door, "I am not going in until the owner is home. I know at least that much."
Crossing her arms and getting comfortable again, "Oh silent Halfling woman is there a reason you are not saying anything? Is this your lovely home?"
Nicholas noticed a small figure slip past them into the home. Though probably not the owner, the newest stranger had the right idea.
"Look, I don't know anything about peaches, but I'm not going to stand in the rain to discuss it," Nicholas says, moving into the house.
The inside was certainly strange. Seemed almost Varisian in style. Seeing a note on the table as he bats off the worst of the water onto the eccentric rugs, Nicholas picks it up to read it, albeit slowly.
"So they're confident enough to leave the door open with food out, huh?" Nicholas mutters. Probably best not to touch any of said food.
Then Nicholas notices the halfling already digging into the food beside him. I guess I'll know that soon enough, though, Nicholas thought wryly.
Impatient and uncomfortable with all the unknowns of the situation, Nicholas moved to the wall in front of the tapestry with the flaming sword to have something solid at his back at least. Drawing his rapier, Nicholas begins to clean it and make sure the blade was still sharp, though he keeps a keen ear on the others' conversation. Yet another habit from Gaedren, Nicholas realized, clenching his fist.
Shaeda looked up at the voice. It appeared to come through the open door from the Varisian woman on the porch. She swallowed down the bread she was enjoying, and tossed a bit of the wine in to wash it down.
She gave the woman a hard stare, sizing her up before replying. "Did yer silly guessing cards tell ya that? Have ye been knocked aside the head with a belayin' pin ya lubber? Can ye not see that there chairseat comes up to me teets? It don't take the bosun to tell starboard from larboard, and only an unobservant ignorant fool would think that a lass the size o' me would have chairs and couches right sized for one such as you." She shook her head in disgust, "Now, get yer superstitious self in here, and eat something. Yer a waif. Ye'll ne'er catch a man with no meat on yer bones. At least not such a one as is worth catchin'"
Well she is certainly a wordy little thing! Both Emma's eyes widen as the halfling starts her rant and then narrow into a glare by the time she is done. "I asked because you just walked right in. There is no reason to be so damned rude about it. If I were setting this up I would not use my own home so I am not asking because I am an 'unobservant ignorant fool'." Giving a poor attempt at mimicking the halflings accent.
Taking a step to the door but stopping herself again, "And I eat plenty you rude little imp. Nor am I a waif." Taking her place back against the wall and calling out into the room again, "And do not insult harrowing little imp!"
Nicholas lets a snicker out a snicker at the harrased woman before he can stop himself, unused to such bickering. Gaedren would simply have the fooled stabbed if insulted. At least he wouldn't be bored at this rate.
Deciding to at least be courteous, Nicholas spoke up. "There is a note in here telling us to have a seat. I don't think this host would have wanted you all standing out there in the rain."
Aerel watches quietly as Emma and the newly arrived youth begin to bicker, and he places a hand lightly on the bridge of his nose. After a moment, he takes a breath, and looks at the door. "Well, you are right in one thing, sir. I shall be joining you within, on the assumption our host will not mind overmuch."
He gracefully slips past Nicholas, taking the room in with a glance. Hm, a Varisian's home? The elf tucks an errant strand of hair behind his ear. Harrowing cards... I suspect that whomever reached out to us is perhaps engaged in the Harrowing...
"Before we continue, I should like to introduce myself to those who do not know me, and perhaps ask the name of the two I do not know.. I already know Emma," he indicates the young Varisian woman with a nod, "and Master Manyshot," he inclines his head at the archer, "but I am called Aerel Thelon, and to answer your earlier question, sir, I, at least, am hunting the man known as Gaedren Lamm, such that he might not do any further harm to those living before his demise."
I promise you, love, that he will not harm another as he has us.
An involuntary grin spreads on Nicholas' face as he hears the elf give his reason. "Then we can be but comrades. I am Nicholas 'Sparrow'. My last name was given to me for my fighting style with my rapier. My blade is yours as long as we fight this monster."
"Ah, you seek to end him, too? Interesting." Aerel smiles back at Nicholas. Well, if he's after Lamm, as well, that makes this less likely to be a trap... unless they decide to torch the place.
He speaks again. "Ah, I ought to introduce the two that I do know. Master Marvel Manyshot is an able student of the complex mess that Korvosa calls 'law,' and the lovely young human is called Emma Holt, a talented performer." After a moment, the elf twitches an ear, smiling faintly. "As for myself, well, I suppose I might also be called a performer, though I also have a few other talents."
"Oy, you be a feisty one you skinny card lover ain't ye? Well, insults between strangers may oft lead to strife, and blows, and death. Rather that, I extend my hand of friendship to ye lass, and mebbe to the rest." She glanced around, "Shaeda, is me. Stormborn, I am, and at times, mebbe it shows in me temper."
Yeah, so I might float a little between the piratey Welsh accent and more of an Irish or Scottish brogue. Shall we suspend disbelief and assume Shaeda is consistent in her particular idiom? I will use it as I can, spiced up with nautical terms here and there.
Looking at those gathering Marvel moves aside, attempts a smile and a nod in Aerel's direction, breaths in to answer Aerel's question "I'm not... " and stops at the sight of Nicholas.
I... haven't I seen him somewhere before?
Lost in his thoughts again Marvel hardly notices the general conversation. Everything is just so... strange. Where is his daughter?
At the mention of Gaedren Lamm Marvel comes to again.
"Yes - as Aerel says I am Marvel Manyshot and I'm a lawyer by trade". As he speaks Marvel continously looks somewhere just above Aerel's right shoulder, shifting focuse to Nicholas's feet now and then "I'm here... I'm here to find my daughter. He - Lamm took her. I just want her back. I just want my family back - and this is the first lead I've had in. Well. Since she disappeared." Marvel briefly seems to be speaking to Emma's nose, before rapidly shifting his focus to the point above Aerel's right shoulder again.
"I got a card like the rest of you seem to have gotten, and, well, I'm here now. I... Aerel, I worked with his wife a short time. Nicholas... have I seen you in a Tavern sometime? But, I assume the rest of you have lost to Lamm as well?"
Insults between friends instead of strangers. It is almost like home Stepping inside finally and walking over to Shaeda to sit down. Talking as she moves, "I am more than willing to accept the offer. And I apologize. My temper has been getting the better of my recently."
Listening to Marvel begging to ramble with sorrow filled eyes That poor man. Nodding, "The peach that I am looking after is Lamm." Laying the card on the table. "It means travel and the peach is the reward..." Gently tapping the peach on the card, "That mans blood is my reward."
Shaeda accepted Emma's hand, noting that unlike many humans, men mostly, Emma's hand did not seem quite as huge next to her own. "Might I suggest these baguettes, with the red. I thought I saw some oil and spices to go with it, just there. And the red wine doesn't suck either."
Looking to the two women and their steady and calm discussion, Marvel seems to gather his composure somewhat more.
I'm sorry - I, sometimes I tend to lose myself and speak more than I mean to. Turning to Emma Marvel continues, while speaking to her left ear You are of Varisian origin? I know less of your culture than I should, do you - do you know what this card means? Marvel holds up The Dance, while eyeing the baguettes and red wine.
"What was yer first clue sailor? Was it her headscarf? Her olive skin? Perhaps her smallish breasts and boyish figure? She is pretty enough, is she not? Despite their waifishness, the ladies of Varisia are known for their fire and passion. I see that Emma here be an exquisite example of her type, don't you? As for the card, what does it matter? Superstitious silliness says me."
Mouth open in horror Marvel stares, his eyes growing bigger and bigger as Shaeda speaks.
"I... she is pretty yes, but, I mean" Marvel grows bright red, speaking directly to the baguette "... I'm not a sailor, I'm a lawyer, and, well, I've heard friends who have had their fortune told, they, it can be uncanny the way that..."
Aerel watches the exchange in silence, considering the house around him as he does so. Well, at least they are not going to go for one another's throats.
At Marvel's somewhat confused introduction, he nods slightly. Oh. I'd forgotten he did that. Poor fellow. His mildly amused pity, however, vanishes as Marvel mentions his missing daughter. Ah.
He shoves aside the anger welling within him, though, as he looks about the table. Quietly, he takes a piece of bread, breaking it, and offering part to Nicholas, and gestures to indicate he ought to pass it on after taking his fill.
When he gets the chance, the magus shifts in his chair, clearing his throat. "It would appear that all of us," Aerel says softly, "are seeking to end Lamm, and most of us were given Harrow cards to bring us here, though whether we put any faith in their meaning," Aerel nods at Shaeda, "is a different question. Nevertheless, at one time, the cards had a very demonstrable meaning, and it is those meanings that interest me, for clearly, whomever sent them to us is conversant in them. I would imagine that there is a message in the meaning, as well as one written on the back."
He leans back against the chair. "Perhaps, then, we ought to ask where the one who invited us is?" With that, he withdraws his own card, The Joke.
Glancing over at Marvel, "Thank you Marvel."
Turning her gaze back at Sheada with a glare, "You remind me of a little girl I met once. My family though to stop in a small hamlet. There was a little girl who was vicious little thing. I do not know what has made you into such an unpleasant creature who can only exist to rip others apart but I am finding that I do not care."
Leaning back in her chair while crossing her arms, "I might be waifish but you look like a human child. I guess that gets in the way of your working."
Looking from Emma to Shaeda, Shaeda to Emma, Marvel looks as though he would like to be anywhere but here, setting his eyes firmly on Aerel, clearing his throat as well to say in a rather more high pitched voice "Yes, I agree, who invited us would be a good subject and your card is very interesting, yes.
"I invited you."
As if on cue, a woman enters the house. As her choice of decor suggested, she is indeed Varisian, and has chosen her garb to reflect that fact as strongly as possible.
In her hands she holds a deck of Harrow cars, which she deftly shuffles, making them flow and dance through her fingers.
"Please, everyone have a seat. I am Zellara Esmeranda, and I apologize for calling you here in such a dramatic fashion, but I fear for my life, and was worried about being seen if I approached you directly. I had to take a roundabout route back here for the same reason, hence my tardiness. As you've had some time to chat, you've probably figured out what all of you, and myself, have in common."
Exhaling loudly and visibly relaxing Marvel quickly sits down, still clutching his harrow card, staring almost hypnotized at the way Zellara shuffles her cards.
Speaking in Varisian, Marvel simply says "Thank you" switching to common "I hope we can assist each other"
Aerel looks at Emma, arching a brow slightly, before turning his head to face Shaeda more fully (experience having taught him that non-elves could not read glances from elves the way his own folk could). A child...? No, she is rather more curvy than most human children I've seen. Mind, one imagines that they're often undernourished... He clamps down on the thought, knowing it will only make him annoyed.
At the woman's entrance, he glances up, startled, then frowns at himself. I thought I was paying more attention than that. Perhaps I was distracted by the discussion?
Perception (Did Aerel hear her come in?): 10 + 3 = 13
Taking 10 to see whether he heard her footsteps coming in at all.
As Zellara speaks, Aerel's ear twitches slightly, dismissing the thought. Well, it seems that the joke was not on me. He smiles faintly as he looks at the Harrow deck, reminded of the first time that he'd seen the cards - back before their consistency fell to near-uselessness.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Madame Esmaranda." The elf rises, bowing his head slightly. "I assume you already know us, of course." His lips quirk in an expression that is just shy of impish, before it fades again as he sits back, waiting patiently for her to continue.
Aerel did not hear Zellara come in. Of course, people were talking, and the woman said she was trying to be stealthy.
"I know of you. I know you have all been wronged, as have so many others, by Gaedren Lamm. I know you all would like to find him. And I know each of you, and myself, would fail if we sought our vendettas privately. But together we may have a chance."
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"Madam Zellara, you will have to excuse me while I stick me tongue out at my new friends," which she does, "Could I trouble you for a tomb of some thickness? Being no more than a human child is it Emma? Yes, well, being such, your chairs are too big for the likes of me. Perhaps Emma would suggest one of your human 'high chairs' for me, with its own little platform for eating, and straps to hold me from falling out as well? Oy, and a bib, we children need bibs too. Although I dinnae how I will make one work with me two girls here." She glances down at her breasts as she hoists them with her hands at the same time.
Aerel flicks his ears in exasperation, sighing inwardly. Honestly, it's like I'm dealing with children! ... More than usual.
He quietly offers his hand to Marvel, his ears twitching again. "Shaeda, peace, please. I, for one, do not doubt that you are fully an adult." Though you could perhaps be demonstrating that adulthood a bit more... He offers her a smile despite his thoughts. "I think that we are all on edge here, because we are in a strange place, preparing to end one who has caused us all great harm." He shrugs slightly. "There are many such endeavors that fall apart, not to their enemies, but to themselves."
I'm imagining the ear thing to be equivalent to an eye roll, which wouldn't really be obvious with an elf's monochromatic eyes.
Marvel takes Aerel's hand and gets up onto the chair again "Thanks, I'm not quite used to this chain shirt, it increases friction, I..." Marvel trails off, realising how weak the excuse sounds "But again, I agree with Aerel. We should save the fighting for Lamm".
And the ear twitching works quite well :-)
"Very well. Several times you have all mentioned this Lamm fellow, and vengeance. You have my total attention. It may not be apparent, being as cute as I am and all, but I be a priestess of the Sacred Sting, she who aids those needing vengeance. How can I assist you all in your efforts?"
Aerel inclines his head minutely at Marvel, before looking back at Shaeda. "Thank you, Shaeda. I appreciate it." He pauses, then considers for a few moments. "Well, a priestess of Calistria is certainly welcome in matters of vengeance." And that explains quite a lot, I'm sure. But... hm. Curious that she would be here without a personal need for vengeance.
"I suspect that Madame Esmeranda will be a better answer to that question, Shaeda, than any of us." He looks to their hostess, the implied question in his gaze.
Edited to make him more courteous - he wouldn't have forgotten to thank her, even if I did.
Zellara seems amused by the goings on, but tries to hide it.
"Who I am is nothing more than a humble fortune teller, who made her way in the world giving others a glimpse of their futures, but who never foresaw the tragedy that dwelt in hers."
She holds up the Harrow deck.
"This was how I made my living, and a modest one it was, but it allowed me to raise a son. A year ago this deck was stolen from me. It is an heirloom, in my family for a dozen generations, and quite important to me. My son Eran got it back, but it was no mere street gang or band of urchins he angered in doing so. A week later he was beaten in an alleyway by thugs in the employ of Gaedren Lamm, and died before help could arrive."
The levity on her face is long gone, now she bites her lip and stares at nothing.
"I sought help from the Korvosan Guard, but they turned me away. And so I asked around. I paid bribes. I consulted my harrow deck for advice. And recently, I was rewarded—I found out where Gaedren dwells. He can be found in an old fishery north of here, at Westpier 17, where he trains abducted children to be pickpockets and counts his stolen treasures."
"But I need your help. I cannot hope to face this man on my own, and the Guard moves so slowly that if they were willing to help, Gaedren would certainly know of their coming well in advance. And even if they arrested him, what guarantee would I have he would be punished? This criminal has evaded the law for decades. But you know of these frustrations as well, for word on the street has it that Gaedren has wronged each of you, too. So there we are. It is time for him to pay."
Glaring when Sheada sticks her tongue out and outright laughing when Sheada lifts up her breasts though if it is at Sheada's outburst or Marvel's failure to keep his seat it is not clear. Most likely a combination. Biting her tongue when Aerel chimes in and trying to control what would become hysterical laughter.It takes her a few minuets to control her breathing.
Completely sobering up when Zellara starts talking. Blinking away tears at her tale and staring at her card on the table, "The Guard is no help in this. They are either afraid to go after him or he has to many trapped with coin or blackmail... But I will help you in this."
Looking up at Zellara, "Thank you."
Aerel remains still as Zellara speaks, violet eyes slightly narrowed. His expression is hard as she describes her son's death, and pushes back the images that it inspires. Khara... He refocuses on the present, still an unmoving statue.
When Zellara reveals where Gaedren is, Aerel's lips quirk upwards in a smile that might be best described as hungry. I have you, Lamm. You will do no further harm, ever, when I arrive. He shifts slightly, remaining silent for several long moments, before speaking in the same, soft, even voice as ever, though there is a notable edge to it this time. "Lamm killed my wife, and has done greater harm to others yet. He is not long for this world, whether or not he is slain, but to allow him to live for another few years would only increase the suffering he causes. He must be ended soon."
After a moment's thought, he adds. "What do you know of the location he is residing at, Madame Esmeranda? Other than where it is, I mean."
So he still has his Lambs, Nicholas thinks. He stays silent, suddenly confused as some feeling wells in him, though he can't quite figure out what.
"I wish I could find out more about it, but I dare not investigate it in person, lest I be spotted. Lamm has left a long trail of mourners in his wake, he keeps the place secure, and almost never leaves. The place is still operating; he takes the less desirable catches of fishermen and sells the offal by the bucket as bait or as food for the desperate."
"During the day you might enter as customers, but there may be witnesses about. At night you could sneak in, but there are surely patrols."
Zellara heaves a sigh.
"I realize it's not much to go on. I've exhausted nearly all my resources finding the place, and I fear Lamm may move on if action isn't taken quickly. He surely has boltholes all over the city, and flees at the first sign of trouble."
"That's why I need you. I have no skill in a fight, and were I to accompany you, I would only endanger us all."
"I may however be able to provide some small amount of supernatural assistance, if you will have it."
With that she draws nine cards from the deck in her hands and extends them toward the group.
"Will you let me take a glimpse at your futures?"
Anyone who wants to take a card, simply announce you are doing so. I'll explain the mechanical benefits in the Discussion thread.
Quick is right. He'll slip away faster than an eel if not,Nicholas thought.
"If this will help catch Gaedren, I guess so," Nicholas says, taking a card at random.
"Ah." Aerel nods, thoughtful. "It might be best to at least look at it by night, though." He gestures mildly at the door, indicating the twilight outside. "Though if we do, we will want to be subtle. To alert him would be to lose him."
At her question, he smiles faintly, his mind going to his first Harrowing. "I shall participate, certainly. It can do little harm to receive prophecies, even in this Age of Lost Omens. To rely on them, however, is foolishness." He speaks, not only for the benefit of the others, but to remind himself.