Chapter 1: Secrets Unmasked
Chapter 1: Secrets Unmasked
‘’Hey Remlen... Wake up will ya’’ Remlen peeled open his eyes, he could feel the sweat soaked smallclothes stuck to his skin as he turned to lie on his back. His immediate vision was filled by the face of an excitable young kid. He covered his eyes with his hand, a thumb and finger stretched to apply pressure on each side of his temple.
‘’Pha’ Lindzt, what is this madness? I should have you skinned for waking me so damn early’’ Remlen groaned and the boy shot him a fearful look but still had his ever present mischievous grin and a light in his eyes. Remlen smiled warmly, He certainly couldn’t take it out on Lindzt, the boy was like a kid brother.
‘’I have a message from Kieldan’’ Lindzt may be chirpy as always this morning but Remlen already had an idea what Kieldan would want to see him for and he wasn’t looking forward to it.
‘’Oh yeah?, and what does his ‘highness’ require?’’ Remlen groaned again, Lindzt let out a loud sharp laugh that startled Remlen.
‘’He said to get your grimy butt over to the hideout, pronto’’ Remlen gave him a warning glance and Lindzt put his hands up defensively and took a step back ‘’His words Remlen, not mine.’’
‘’Ok, message received Lindzt’’ he let out a beleaguered sigh ‘’Here’s your payment for delivery’’ Remlen reached his hand under his pillow where he kept his stash, keeping a bitbag on show in the slums was a quick way to end up penniless, he proffered a few copper bits to Lindzt. ‘’ A few extra too... For your troubles’’ Lindzt’s face lit up his smile splitting his face from ear to ear, he took them and stuffed them in his pocket as if he thought Remlen might change his mind about the tip.
He was a notorious character was Lindzt, mostly around the wet quarter - which got its name from its proximity to the docks and occasional flash flooding in the wet seasons. - He was a member of a guild formed for orphan kids knows as ‘The Runners’ and he did most of his work for the Swifthand Movement. Most kids in the slums on the outskirts of Aranica end up working in the mills on the river or on the docks as deck hands, but those who show an exceptional skill for staying hidden and getting around effectively usually end up with a place in The Runners guild house, the kids there spend their days delivering messages and sometimes high value packages for the various factions that occupy the slums.
Remlen sat up and rubbed in his eyes with the heel of his palms then rose from his bed and let out the long stretch that was straining to get out, he walked wearily to the washbasin in the corner of the room, a pale hue of green metal showing signs of rust set on a stand. Remlen took a glance at Lindzt who was still standing at the foot of the bed.
‘’What’s up kid? I know there’s still something on your mind...’’ Remlen edged his face towards the still lukewarm water awaiting an answer. Lindzt hesitated a moment then glanced at Remlen before continuing.
‘’I heard you were on a job last even...’’ The boy looked at Remlen expectantly ‘’How’d it go?’’ Remlen came to stop mid-wash and muttered a few obscenities to his self. Lindzt shouldn’t know about that, the only people who did know was Chara, himself and of course Kieldan.
‘’Curious lil fella aint ya?’’ he gave Lindzt a sideways glance. ‘’And how did you manage to find out about this ‘job’ kiddo’’ Lindzt was beaming now, he knew Remlen was surprised he got the info.
‘’I was on my way to see Kieldan and I heard him talking to Chara.’’ The boy gave Remlen a wry smile. ‘’He definitely didn’t sound too happy about it’ Remlen was about to rain on his parade.
‘’Yeah and I guess he wouldn’t be too happy to find out that his favourite little ‘Runner’ has been eavesdropping on him now would he boy.’’ Lindzt’s smile dissipated from his face and his complexion took on a pale tinge, Kieldan could be harsh when he was crossed, Lindzt had good reason to fear his secret getting out. ‘’Don’t worry kiddo, I won’t tell’’ Remlen chuckled and the kid perked up instantly.
‘’So I take it the ‘retrieval’ didn’t go as planned.’’ Remlen shook his head. Kieldan would not a happy man after last evens debacle... ’If this was how good a watch Blackmire kept on its secret information then this was going to be easy pickings. Chara dropped down inside the walls next to Remlen, hardly making a sound and they took cover in the shadows against the high walls, she shot him a satisfied smile. Yeah, either she was thinking the same thing or that she had made less noise and somehow managed to scale the wall better than him. Kieldans orders for the job had been a touch specific, a manuscript said to pertain very useful information was to be liberated from Hamet House and no other item, which was a strange request in itself as one of the perks of a job was any valuables taken from the property was a profit for the person putting in the labour, after the faction had its cut. Remlen was one to keep his eyes and ears open. - You don’t get a reputation in this business without being cautious. - Hamet was under Blackmire protection, and they were not the kind of prey for a small outfit like Swifthand, he trusted Kieldans judgement but he hoped this scrap of paper was worth it.
Chara was already scouting ahead keeping an eye open for any movement, a small iron dagger held in a tight grip told Remlen she was at least a little afraid and that was unsettling, Chara was so cocksure of her skills she was never frightened by the prospect of capture. Remlen was dragging up the rear, backing up silently when he almost tripped, he turned to find Chara standing there looking down a dark flight of stone steps, they couldn’t see what was at the bottom
‘’This wasn’t in the plans.’’ She gave off a vexed expression. ‘’There’s possibly a door down there, be easier than announcing ourselves at the front.’’ Chara set off down the steps not even waiting for an opinion. Remlen had killed before out of necessity and wasn’t the squeamish type but he also wasn’t prepared for the sight that awaited him when he walked through the door. The first thing he noticed was the splashes of blood on the stone walls, most of it a dry, dark crimson colour and there was the watery spatter that was more recent, the floor was surprisingly clean though Remlen thought the owners wouldn’t want bloodstains walked over they’re expensive rugs. The room could have been where the house servants butchered the livestock brought here from the market but then his eyes fell on the apparatus lining the walls of the square room and the cells in the far corner. The chains hanging from one of the walls was a dead giveaway too. Remlen peeled his eyes away from the walls before he emptied his stomach but the combination of smell in old blood and decay were enough to keep him swallowing down bile. He glanced in Chara’s direction. She was fixated on one of the cells and was making her way towards it.
‘’Chara, what are you doing? Let’s find this script and get outta here, I don’t fancy being poked with pointy sticks if we get caught in here.’’ She turned to face him, the effort at not seeing what was around her plainly visible; she was probably as disturbed as he was, though she didn’t show it.
‘’Looks likes there’s still someone in one of those cells Remlen.’’ The urgency in her voice portrayed on her face.
‘’He’s not our problem Chara.’’
‘’I know, but he may have info on our prize, and maybe what in relm goes on in here.’’ She walked over to the cell not going to be put off by Remlen but he supposed she had a point.
‘’Hey... Hey buddy, can we ask you some questions?’’ Whoever was in the cage raised they’re head, took a few moments to realize he was being spoken to then crawled over to cower in the far corner of his cell. He looked beleaguered and was full of welts and cuts recently received and scars that looked like they had healed for some time. How long had the poor sod been trapped in there? Chara put on her best soothing voice.
‘’Hey were not here to hurt you okay, we just want to talk’’ The man was looking at her suspiciously obviously afraid she was going to do something terrible to him. ‘’What’s your name friend?’’ The man’s suspicion eased a little at the tone of her voice.
‘’You... You’re, you’re not with Blackmire are you?’’