Saturday, December 10, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 33

Nathan walked through the streets, food in the satchel he'd gotten at the crepe place.  He hoped he was keeping things in order.  He'd hate having the noodles spill over the crepe, but then, he was in a hurry.  He glanced over his shoulder and suppressed a curse.  He was almost certain the man was following him.  A short man, with a peg leg.  That struck him as worrisome.

Turning down a side street, he paused at it, set down his food, and then stood flat against the wall. He pulled the life-preserver he carried with him.  The heavy weight of the cudgel felt comforting in his hand.  The heavy clump of the man's footsteps, complete with the tap of the peg leg, echoed in the air. 

"Sir," came a wheedling voice, "sir, I was wondering if you could give me some..."

Nathan lashed out with the club.  The interloper gave a yelp, a dagger in his hand clattering to the ground as he blocked the hit with his arm.   "I... Directions!" the man screamed, wobbling unsteadily.

"Why are you following me?" asked Nathan.

"Directions!" said the man.  "Directions!" He turned and began to move quickly.  "My mistake!  A thousand pardons!  Be... be on my way!"

Nathan stared as the man raced away, or more exactly did so as best he could on a peg leg.  After a moment, he picked up his food and hurried on his way.  He kept looking behind him, every so often.

Somehow that didn't calm him.  But then, perhaps that was the point of doing that, when you got down to it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 32

"Yeah, it's not a great job, really," said the prisoner.  "But you know, it pays... okayish, so it is what it is."

"I knew a guy who had something like it across the river," said Sacripant with a nod.  "So, I understand."

"Really?" said the prisoner, intrigued.  "Well, that makes sense. I mean, it's a service everybody needs, at times."

"That's one way of looking at it," said Sacripant.

The prisoner coughed and looked around the room.  "So... what happened to...?" he began.

"I killed him," answered Sacripant.

"Ahh."  The prisoner nodded to himself.  "Yes, I should have expected that.  You are an impressively lethal-seeming fellow."

Sacripant chuckled. "You should see my fiancee."

"You're engaged?" said the prisoner.  "Well, congratulations!  Assuming you survive all this, happy times at your wedding!  And if not consolation to your lady."

"Thank you for your kindness," said Sacripant.  He looked at the door again.  "He better come back with the food soon."

"Oh, I know!  I'm starving," said the prisoner. "Man, every time I meet one of your Nightfolk, I wind up..."

"What was that?" said Sacripant, turning suddenly.

"I wind up hungry every time I meet a Nightfolk," said the prisoner.  "Just weird, really."

"And when was the last time you met one of us?" asked Sacripant.  "After all, we aren't exactly common here."

The prisoner blinked.  "Ahh.  Could you forget I said that, perhaps?"  He smiled hopefully.  "Please?"

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 31

Alice stirred the pot and threw in a dash of pepper.  Good noodles took proper seasoning, and if Alice did anything well, it was make good noodles.  And it showed--she was making good money these days, especially with the price of pepper coming down.

"Hey, Alice," came a familiar voice.  "Two bowls of noodles."

Alice smiled to herself, and turned to see her old friend standing there.  "Why, Nathan.  A delight as always.  How's Monica?  And the children?"

"Good as gold," said Nathan distractedly.  "And how about little Mortimer?"

"Oh, happy as a lark," said Alice, ladling out the noodles.  "So... two bowls.  Big appetite."

Nathan looked around unhappily. "Yes," he said flatly.  "Very."

"Have you heard about the scuffle outside the Sextons?" she said.  "People said somebody tried to kill someone else."

"That... seems vague," noted Nathan. 

Alice glanced up and down the street and leaned towards the Lamplighter confidentially.  "Well, I hear it was one of the Guild of Seamstresses against one of the other Guild of Seamstresses."

Nathan nodded.  "Ahh.  Yes."

"But I also hear it might have been the one of the Gatekeepers against one of the Gamblers," she continued.

"Well, that also seems probable," noted Nathan.

"But the best part is, they say that an Erl took part in the fight!" said Alice cheerily.

Nathan nodded.  "I'd... like the bowls now, if you don't mind."

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 30

"So you can tell us nothing?" said Sacripant, rolling his eyes.

"You say that like it surprises you," noted Nathan.  He gestured to the prisoner, who continued to grin broadly.  "I mean... look at him."

"I know," said the Erl, wincing.  "But you hope that something stuck in there."

The prisoner blinked.  "Hey, that sounds like you're insulting me.  For something that is not my fault.  The Guild works to minimize risk for its clients.  We do not get contacted by those who hire us--they contact our bosses, who contact their people, who contact us.  Layers upon layers.  Like a cake."  He smiled.  "Hey, you don't happen to have..."

"We have no food whatsoever," stated Nathan.

"Ohh."  The prisoner looked at his feet, disappointed.  "I see.  Maybe... maybe you could go get some food?  Maybe?"

Nathan and Sacripant stared at each other for a moment.  Finally, the Lamplighter sighed.  "You want some more noodles?" he asked.

"Yeah, those things are great," said Sacripant.

"I'm... more in the mood for a crepe," said the prisoner.  "Don't know why.  Just am."  He grinned at Nathan.  "You know, that stall in the Blue Plaza makes the best..."

"You want those, you're paying for them," said Nathan.

"Sure, sure," said the prisoner.  "I've got the money in my coin purse.  If you'll untie me..."

The pair simply stared at them.  The prisoner looked back.  "So... no, then?"  They continued to stare.  "Just for a moment?"  He smiled.  "I'll let you tie me up again, lickety-split. I promise!"

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 29

The short man with a pegleg took a deep breath as he leaned against the wall.   "Did the best I could," he repeated to himself.  "Damned good that I didn't get myself caught like that fool."  He nodded fervently, then glanced around.  After a long moment, he took a relieved breath.

"Camber," said the silky voice.  "I notice your partner isn't with you."

Camber gulped.  "Ahh.  Yes.  Regrettable, but... you know the risks..."  His eyes darted around, trying to pry out the speaker's location. 

"The risks for all of us," said the Grand Master, stepping out of the dark.  "He might have been captured."

Camber gulped.  "He knows nothing of value," he said.

The Grand Master raised an eyebrow. "A member of our guild in good-standing knows nothing of value?" he noted, playing idly with a a long thin knife that he was suddenly holding, to Camber's surprise and worry.

"Well, nothing he would tell," snapped Camber nervously.  "He... is a member of good standing.  Not some novice.  He would never reveal a true secret of our order."

The Grand Master stepped forward, and leaned towards Camber's ear.  "For your sake, you had better be sure of that."  He backed away.  "And I am giving you a chance.  But only one, Camber. Only one."  He turned away.  "And only for a while.  If you are not certain by tomorrow evening that he will not talk... well, then I'll first make certain you don't.  Is this clear?"

Camber nodded, then realized that the Grand Master couldn't see him, or... probably couldn't.  "Perfectly, sir," he noted, his hand going to his jacket.

"Good," said the Grand Master.  "Now, move your hand away from that knife, or I will shorten your chances immediately."

Camber pulled his hand back, staring at the Grand Master in wonder.  "How...?"

"There's a reason I outrank you," he said, as he vanished into the dark.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Light the Lamp So Bright--Part 28

"So, comfortable chair?" asked Sacripant. 

"Very," said the tall man.  "The ropes are comfortable too!  I'd give you a thumb's up, but you know, my arms are tied.  Also very well!"  He flashed a cheery smile.  "Oh, and great job on binding my wound.  This is really just a top notch hostage experience."

Nathan blinked.  "You have much experience with that?"

"Both as a hostage and a hostage taker!" said the tall man cheerily.  "The second is generally the better deal, but you know, the first is less stressful, I find."

Sacripant glanced at the man in dull wonder.  "How's that?"

"Everything is out of your hands," answered the tall man.  "Life, death, all of it--not your concern.  Oh, you can worry about it, but it won't do any good.  So, best thing to do is sit back, and enjoy the ride.  After all, they probably won't kill you, and if they do, well, not much you can do about it."

There was silence for awhile.  "You have an odd view of life for a professional killer," said the Marsh Erl at last.

"It keeps me going, in a very difficult profession," replied the tall man.  "And really, isn't that all any of us can ask for?"

The pair stared at him for a moment.  Sacripant sighed and turned to Nathan.  "So, you sure this is a secure place?"

"Old Lamplighter safehouse," said Nathan.

The Erl seemed surprise.  "You guys need them?"

"If you haven't noticed, this is a dangerous city," replied Nathan with a shrug.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Pages From the Cthonique Library: Paper With Strange Writing In Red Ink On It

An odd curio, believed to date back from before the Holy Empire, a bit of paper written in a strange tongue, in red ink.  This would imply it was important, whatever it was, though it must be noted it is not in any known dialect of the Dark Tongue.  Some suspect a hoax, though records do suggest great age in this case.