On the day squandered I appeared from under a bridge. I’d spent last night’s bloody drunken rest there, and was unsurprised by my stiff neck and throbbing brain. Checking that I had all my things, I headed to the river to wash the caked reminder of last night’s beating from my face.
I was careful to avoid wetting my jet black hair as I bent down to the frigid water. Now clean, I raised my hood to shield my aching eyes from the sun, and headed into the Shopper’s District. All my savings were lost in that beating, because I’d been drunk and stupid again. I was done though. I was done drinking now. I was done gambling now. I was done being an ass now. I would achieve my goals, and I would certainly end Drake.
But first, I needed breakfast.
Arriving in Shopper’s Square, I scanned the place as usual, recognizing three out of four guards as those I’d once delivered bribe money to myself. Not much to worry about there. No Fawns in the place either, as I’d hoped. I spotted some young rich girls, bursting with daddy’s money, and relieved them of some of it before reintroducing myself to the shadows. A modest pull, but 15 gold pieces and a pretty pink lacey purse.
Now, for some bangers!
Feeling quite satisfied with my breakfast of sausage and tomatoes, I thought it innocent enough to wash down with a shot of whiskey. Mmm. An excellent choice toward curing my hangover. Besides, I’ll stop drinking tomorrow. Luckily Maren doesn’t work until noon or I’d hear an earful. His daughter hadn’t heard that he’d kicked me out last night either. Apparently one too many gambling debts owed. Ah, Maren loves me anyway, we’ll figure it out later. I re-emerged from his Inn with a full belly and a bit of a buzzing ambition. I decided to try my luck at Shopper’s Square again. I’d soon rebuild my wealth and begin hiring and taking “jobs” with my employees at hand!
I reached the square again. Same four guards was satisfying to see, and no recognizable urchins on hand either. How pleasant. The Duke’s Huntsman and four of his finest trotted through the square. Oddly enough, the Duke was not with them. I wonder what they were hunting. Ah, the young Wine Pourer that I’d spotted at the Silvered Hoof the last few nights. Surely he’d be an easy pull, but I felt a little less than righteous about it. Ah well, I’ll just take this– oh? What’s this? My hand was held firm and fast. Ha, I laughed as I easily slipped out of his gras– Son of a bitch, he was strong too. He told me that I’m in trouble. What else is new? He held me close, not making a scene, but told me that some kids had just run off, and that guards were approaching. The guards I could care less about, but the kids horrified me. I moved to slip out again. The bastard was a bear trap. What in the hells? Things got tense and I promised loyalty if he’d just let me escape before The Fawns found me here. He did, only after taking my real name. I dart away just as Ginger, Macke, and Finn appear with their eyes scanning the crowds for my face. Thank gods I knew them better than their own mothers. All three of them blind as bats if you know their patterns.
Happy with having lucked out of another close call, I headed back to Maren’s. His place was one of my few safe houses left in the city. I was ready to talk out last night’s debt and regain his good graces. Stepping through the door, though, left me grappled doubly by a couple of toughs far larger than the Wine Pourer or even Macke. They commanded that I accompany them to meet their patron, Lady Gratzia, of whom I hadn’t heard. So far, this day was proving more interesting than most.
We passed through the city, and I kept up a guise of comfort and friendliness alongside my very grim hosts. I also took care to let my black hair and beard cover my face, especially as we passed through the Canal District. Despite my burly friends’ efforts to only refer to each other as “I” and “V”, I was able to discern that “V” was actually short for Volio. I made a point to use only this proper name for the rest of our encounter… much to his chagrin.
We traversed up the Merchant’s Walk (always more pleasant to descend than ascend with a headache like mine), to the Uppers, and finally arrived at the Keep. I’d only ever been inside these walls a handful of times, and never in the light of day. I smiled at the guard as Volio spoke, and spotted very few familiar faces. Volio grunted something to a maid about a bath, so I obliged. A lovely, albeit gruff, woman helped submerge my face and hair into a basin of near-frozen river water drawn from the locks. She didn’t flinch as my greasy locks changed to a burnt orange, and I acted no different either. I toweled dry on her aprons with a smile and a bow, and tied my mane with a leather thong.
Volio, “I”, and I proceeded inside to find Lady Gratzia in her guest chambers. I quickly learned that she was the rich daddy’s girl from the Square, and of a noble family in Idra. Whoops. To make a long story short, she threatened to take me to The Fawns unless I helped her. I promptly offered my services in order of expertise: cunnilingus, information gathering, and “resolving problematic relationships”. After a laugh (phew) she chose the latter, and named three men, including the Wine Pourer who’d let me escape the Square earlier in the day. She offered me three poisons. I pretended to know them well, and asked to take my leave. She reminded me that I had two days to accomplish the task, and would, after that, be unveiled to The Fawns should I be unsuccessful.
I took my leave and went to the Silvered Hoof to find and talk to the Wine Pourer. I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to kill him, but I did aim to gather information on why she would want him dead. Alas, he’d just resigned that afternoon and sought employment in the Keep for the Festival.