Danvar is checking the man’s eyes, pulse, and other vitals, ensuring he is on the uptrend, but keeps an ear out for the conversation; as Learis is still waiting for an answer from Grau.
Aiyanna looks around the room, half expecting the thugs to return with reinforcements, and notices a dwarf with vibrant pink hair repeatedly meeting her gaze. The dwarf is nursing some manner of beverage with a collection of fruit wedges balanced on the rim.
Learis see the concern on her sister’s face. “Perhaps we should find a more private location”
“At least get our backs to the wall. Just in case,” Aiyanna replies, gesturing to the corner they had occupied, she sends Lexon to fetch more water, and helps Danvar move Grau to a more comfortable position. Grau groans weakly as they move him.
Aiyanna winces, the wounds are still fresh, and even magical healing can leave them tender.
Learis, realizing he is still dazed, waits impatiently for him to regain his senses.
Danvar begins to check the knife wound, poking and prodding at it. Aiyanna glances nervously at Learis, watching the dwarf work, while the other patrons of the Drunken Dame have gone back to their activities.
Noticing the blood seepage, he says another quick prayer, then squeezing the flaps of skin together, he channels positive healing energy into the wound. As the healing magic courses into his body, Grau takes a deep breath and starts to his feet. He winces and sits back down.
“Easy, now” Aiyanna soothes.
Learis helps gently guide into the booth. “Feeling better?”
“Yes, thank you. Much better.” He murmurs appreciatively
“What pray tell, was that all about?” Learis asks, “And why would you hope they’d let you die?”
“Holy gods of light!” Her starts to crawl to a nearby bench.
Aiyanna starts, casting concerned looks at Learis and mutters, “Not the reaction I was expecting.”
Beneath the tattered tunic is a uniform of the Korvosan Watch, but it is in such a state of disrepair, and he has other clothes on top, further obscuring the uniform. His bleeding has tapered off, but the wounds still look fresh
Learis shakes her head in confusion at her sisters look.
He is laying on the bench, with one arm over his eyes.
He sits up now. “You should know that there is nothing I can repay you. I have nothing. I am nothing. I have lost all.”
Learis looks at him, stunned. “I didn’t expect repayment”
“Then, I thank you.” He seems to sober up. “Tell me then, who are you people?”
Danvar looks at the others. “That’s a good question”.
“I know many people in our Fair City. You two I recognize. I have seen you at the Faire before.” he looks at Laeris and Aiyanna.
“My name is Aiyanna Reyne,” Aiyanna gestures to herself, then to her sister “and this is my sister Learis”
“Sisters?” He squints, “I don’t see the resemblance, apologies.
“But again, I can hardly see straight right now.”
Aiyanna quirks the corner of her mouth in a smile, but lets the comment pass.
The fiddling of the illusory devils makes everyone talk yet louder, and a crush of new bodies enters the tavern as the Faire starts to close down.
“That’s not surprising. I would have expected you to handle those ruffians easily given your reputation sir.”
“Ugh,” Aiyanna grunts, “Maybe we should relocate somewhere calmer. Are you good to walk on your own, Grau?”
He smiles knowingly. “Yes, I sure gave that first one a lesson. But my days at the Orisini Academy are long over. I tried.”
Danvar is sitting back, looking rather perplexed, not having a clue what they’re all talking about.
“Yes, I can walk. I am in your debt. Where shall we go? I stay for now with my sister in Midland, on Harborview. As you have aided me, I shall rise to trust you.”
“I think that would be fine,” Aiyanna scans the crowd again, “It’s getting crowded, and I don’t know if I want those thugs coming back.”
Danvar notices the barkeep looking expectantly at Grau as he rises to leave. "I agree,” mutters the injured warrior
“Yes, they might be back, and in greater numbers. I have many enemies in the underworld.”
Danvar walks over to the barkeep, hand’s him 5 gold. "Should cover the clean up, eh?” He then leans in closer, and whispers. “Listen, I’m new about these parts, you got any idea what I’m getting meself into?”
“What with Grau?” the bartender quickly scoops the coins up before anyone notices. He nods deeply in appreciation, “He’s washed up, but he was once well-liked and still respected in many parts.”
As they rise and leave. Learis will quickly explain to Danvar about Grau Soldado the famous swordsman and Son of Korvosa.
Aiyanna nods appreciatively at Danvar, wondering why the dwarf in the corner keeps staring at him.
Danvar bites the inside of his cheek while contemplating things, then heads back towards the group.
The streets are dark, but there are still people there and well-placed spell lanterns light the way enough. You soon arrive at the Soldado homestead. It is only a block from the leeward part of the island, and the smells of the docks are thick to the out of towners.
The house is dark and brooding, but clean, and the wooden railings have been cut and painted in cheerful Varisian patterns.
The top floor has a single candle in the window. The bottom floor is boarded up, what it may have been before is unknown. And you also see a set of stairs leading downwards in a very narrow alley.
“Wait here.” He starts to sprint up the steps, but slows down right quick, taking two steps per stair. He enters and you hear him talking with a woman in the window.
The woman closes the window, has some sharp words, glances out at you ruffians.
Learis is watching around her as much as she can, attempting not to eavesdrop, as Aiyanna absently traces the painted outlines on the railing, trying not to be obtrusive. She’s always been a fan of the Varisian language, particularly some of their rune scripts.
A group of street urchins runs by, headed to the docks. The urchins are in ragged clothes. You see bruise marks on one little girl’s face. She is maybe six. The largest of them is counting coins out of a purse as he trots along.
Learis watches them cautiously while waiting for Grau to finish talking to his sister. A crash and a muttered curse break the fog-shrouded silence as a dwarven woman stumbles into view.
After a moment, Learis leans close to Aiyanna. “Do you think Grau might be of assistance to our plight?”
“Huh?” Aiyanna starts, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. Did you see that little girl run by? The blonde one, with the bruises?”
Learis nods, choking back a sudden lump in her throat. “I suspect they are heading to him now.”
The urchins melt into the mist, and you hear the last of their little voices echoing down on the docks.
Aiyanna rests a hand on Learis’ arm.
Watching the less-than-stealthy dwarf approach from the way the urchin’s disappeared.
You see an olive skinned Varisian woman’s face appear in the window, framed by curly black hair. Her glower is less than hospitable.
The candle snuffs out. A dejected Grau makes his way down the stairs. “We have to go to the basement. Follow me.”
Learis nods and is just about to follow when her sister’s arm stops her.
Looking where her sister indicates, Learis hisses to the others and her hand slide toward her sword.
“Um, hi, sorry. Danvar, is that you? I thought I recognized you. Where are we? Who is that? What are you guys up to?” She sounds chipper and maybe a little overexcited.
Learis looks at Danvar. “Do you know her?”
Aiyanna glances between the dwarves, “And you are?” she asks the newcomer.
“Hi! I’m Lil. This place looks interesting and kind of spooky. I like it!”
“Are you following us?” Learis asks.
Danvar looks at her curiously a moment, trying to place her, “uh, Lil?” he asks.
“I mean you guys seemed super interesting and like you were up to something exciting, so I thought I’d see for myself. In case you need protecting or something!” Lil grins.
“Quiet you lot.” He says the the chattering humans. “You a cousin o’ mine?” He asks the newcomer, ignoring the wry look Learis is giving.
“Yeah! I think our grandmothers were sisters or something.
“Because all dwarves are related,” Aiyanna snickers under her breath.
Danvar snorts. “Aye, I think I recognize ya. Surprised you recognize me. What brings ya about here?”
Lil hears Aiyanna’s remark, “Pretty much!” she interjects affably.
“Oh!” she exclaims slightly louder at Lil’s response; the faint crimson flush of embarrassment creeping up her cheeks.
“Oh, I live here now.” Lil continues, returning her attention to Danvar, “In Korvosa, I mean. Not HERE here. I’ve never been right here before.”
He looks at her as if she’d lost her mind. “Well… since yer here, ya can help the family out. Another o’ our cousins died here some time ago. I’m searchin for his murderer.”
“Oh! Well count me in, then. I’m a good fighter.” She grins again.
“Right, well, come along then. No sense standin out here drawin’ more attention.”
“That just happened,” Aiyanna states to no one in particular as the dwarves move towards Grau.
Learis looks at her sister and shrugs before following them down to the basement.
Lil proudly and happily walks ahead.
Before heading down to the basement, Aiyanna linger for a moment takes another quick look at the paintings on the rail, curious if there are any runes hidden in the paintings. Smiling in satisfaction when she notices a symbol for a Harrow Reader worked into the pattern. It means a matron-trained reader lives here.
The basement is the home of a defeated man; alone.
Grau’s basement, also his spartan living quarters is more like the dusty garage of a smithy— a dirt floor and the thick smell of rust, oil, wood, and discarded tools.
In the corner is a military cot, but a complete mess replete with dirty dishes.
Lexon is downstairs. He is looking at the tools with great interest. “This was once my brother-in-law’s workshop.” says Grau, “My sister lives with her three children upstairs. I’m fairly worthless and just lucky to get some scraps down here. Like a dog in a kennel.” he doesn’t seem to be pitying himself, more like making a true statement.
“Maybe you could use a job. My cousin and I here are looking to find who killed our other cousin.” Ever the helpful one, Lil is.
“That seems like an odd mentality for a Son of Korvosa with your reputation. I am curious how you have come to that conclusion?”
“I was hoping to offer you accommodations,” he says, deflecting Learis’ statement, “but there is no way that my sister is letting you guys in, so sorry for that. But as you can see there is plenty of room here, as long as you don’t mind the floor. I have tents, tarps, oilskins and blankets.”
“Please, if you wish to stay, then make yourselves a place. Or I will see you to an Inn. But if you stay, I will tell you my tale.”
Learis shrugs. “This is fine. I can understand your sister’s caution. Especially for someone with kids.”
Danvar interjects. “Look, I’m glad yer back on yer feet, and lookin’ to stay that way, but I’ve got troubles of me own to deal with.”
“I thought ye two did as well” He said, looking at the sisters.
“And so we do, but perhaps Master Grau can be of assistance in our goal. And I am curious about his tale also.”
“I am at your service, for whatever you wish, for you have saved my life this once.”
Aiyanna leans against the wall, “I’m interested in your tale, Grau. I have a feeling it might tie your issues and ours together.”
“Well, unless he can tell us about our quarry, I’m thinking we should come back later for his story.” Danvar replies.
Lil puts a hand on Danvar’s shoulder. “Now, now, danvar, we can hear a story at least.” She sits down on the floor and makes herself comfy.
“Then I will tell it. As you know, the great Vencarlo Orisini, pride of Korvosa, hand picks his students, and even then only ever so rarely. And they have the privilege of going up to the Academy”
“About the time that Vencarlo took me, a nobody with no family or means to speak of, under his wing; he selected another pupil, Sabina Merrin.”
“I was in love with Sabina, and our romance blossomed on the east hills, in the days of Spring. But Vencarlo also had an eye for her, and bent his charm to win her over. It as all swordplay for him— move and countermove. But I truly had a future with her, and she seemed at least for a while to reciprocate. But one day things came to a head in the sparring room. Whether he was attacking us true, or only as a test, I was unable to tell…”
Danvar sighs, as he leans against the wall, none of this meaning a thing to him. Lil smiles at Danvar and pats the spot next to her on the floor, grinning and goes back to listening to the story, completely ignoring Danvar’s scowl at her.
“Between the both of us, we were hardly able to defend ourselves, and he pulled his punches as she moved to interpose herself. But she left him without two of his fingers, and me with this.” He motions to a scar that goes up his neck and jawline.
“Vencarlo expelled the both of us. But the wheel of fate turns and ground me into the dust, but elevated Sabina to the Queen’s personal guard. The queen has an eye for beauty, and I suspect that they are also lovers, though it would be blasphemy to say as such of the whore queen.”
“Everything, that has come to me, has been taken away. One thing at a time. It is vanity. All is vanity.”
“Now that my tiresome tale is over, how may I serve you?”
Learis feels pity for him, but anger simmers underneath, “Truth be told, we…” she gestures towards Danvar and Lexon. “have only just met tonight. We all seem to be looking for the same person.”
“I’m sorry to hear about that, Grau. You have my sympathies,” Aiyanna offers, somewhat awkwardly.
“We have all had our shares of misfortune, it would seem,” she continues.
Lil stands up and then pats Grau on the arm consolingly.
“If you ever need a hug.”
While Grau was telling his story, Lexon has repaired some tools and has started laying them out in order on a work bench.
Grau smiles and you see him immediately and pathetically just break down on Lil’s shoulder, sobbing in great waves. She hugs him tightly in return, crying a little too. It is over nearly as quickly as it began and as he uses an oily rag to clean his face, he regains his composure and sits up straighter than before.
Learis takes a deep breath and exhales. “We are all looking for Gaedren Lamm. He has wounded each of us greatly.”
Danvar sits back, making no effort to disguise his disdain, no longer wondering why a supposedly great swordsman lives in his sister’s basement.
Grau massages his beard as if taking note of how thick it is, seemingly only just then realizing how long it has been since he’d shaved, “Gaedren Lamm, now there’s an infamous name. When I was Watch Sergeant at the citadel—it almost seems like another lifetime—there was quite a to-do about him for a while. The Scarecrow King we called him. It was quite impossible to pin him down. I believe that you will only be able to find him by supernatural means. Do you have any leads?”
“Only his ties to his urchin thieves.” Learis answered coolly, “My sister and I were able to confront him once, but being greatly outnumbered, we fled.”
Lexon give a grunt of recognition as he hoists up a blacksmith’s tongs.
“He’s good at fleeing. Every time we thought we had him, there was only signs of a hasty retreat.”
“So you have no leads, none at all?”
“Scarecrow King?” Aiyanna interjects, “Wait…” She taps her finger against her lip, “Wasn’t there a guy on the docks? Had a pumpkin?”
“No, scarecrow!” Aiyanna gets excited, her enthusiasm bubbling over.
Danvar starts to seem interested in the conversation, but has nothing to add.
Learis looks at her sister, slightly confused. She almost remembers something like that.
“In a backpack!” Aiyanna continues excitedly, “Learis, do you think that man was Lamm?” she looks around expectantly, hoping someone can confirm her speculation, or offer another idea.
Sudden recognition dawns on Learis’ face. “the card you found at the tavern! of course! And the old man Lexon was trying to help when Danvar passed out at our feet. He had a scarecrow in a backpack.”
“Right!” Aiyanna says, glad that someone is following her line of thought.
“I forgot about all that since I was trying to forget about our encounter with Verik.”
Aiyanna snickers, “Right, but if they are related, perhaps the person who snuck us the card knows where Lamm is going to be, and we can get there before him! Instead of following him around.”
“What did it say, get to where? Lancet street? Lets see the card” Learis says, gathering excitedly next to her sister.
Aiyanna hands you the card; hand penned on the back — “I know what Gaedren has done to you. He has wronged me as well. I know where he dwells, yet cannot strike at him. Come to my home at 3 Lancet Street before sunrise. Others like you will be there. Gaedren must face his fate, and justice must be done.”
“Can we get there in time?” Learis asks rhetorically, “it’s only an hour after midnight. Sunrise is in six hours.
“We should,” Aiyanna nods
Danvar looks at the two, angry. “Ye two had this on you the whole time, and we’ve been sitting here listening to this?!”
Lexon nods in agreement with Danvar.
“Unfortunately. I forgot about it when those thugs attacked Grau,” Learis replies, attempting to mollify the irate dwarf, “we had just realized it was there when the fight started.”
“Sitting on?” Aiyanna steps from the wall indignantly, “Sitting on!?! If your drunken ass had been even dimly aware of your surroundings, you would have noted it when I mentioned it the first time!”
Lexon nods in agreement with Aiyanna.
“Well the important part is we know now.” Learis offers, trying to soothe her sisters irritation.
Learis is taken aback at the anger in her sister’s voice. “Well we have remembered it. Let’s get going, shall we? And you Grau? What is your intention?”
Danvar snorts. “Aye, my drunken arse. What was yer excuse for not knowin’ what the hell was going on in front of yer face?”
“We were dealing with you. Perhaps we should have left you passed out in the streets for Gaedren’s urchins to strip you clean?”
There is a profound snoring noise. Grau has passed out on the cot, and not even all the way on. His arms are at his sides and his face is buried in rumpled bedding.
Learis closes her eyes for a second to calm down. “It is done. Let’s not waste more time arguing over it. Let’s go.”
Aiyanna looks like she’s about to say something, and glowers at the dwarf.
Lexon says “We should rest up a bit don’t you think? Besides, we can’t very well come calling in the middle of the night.”
“Except it specifically states before sunrise—” Learis replies,
“We need to be there before dawn—” Aiyanna counters, speaking over Learis. She pauses a moment before continuing, “If we’re going to follow this lead. We can rest for a couple hours, but…” she lets it trail off.
“True that. Let’s not risk it. I’m ready.” he hoists his pack.
Danvar starts for the stairs. “We’ve wasted enough time here. We can check on him in the mornin’ if yer all still worried about this sad lump then.”
Aiyanna nods to Lexon, and gives a tight-lipped smile of concern to Learis.
The city is dark and the fog covers your movements. With the exception of a few street-goers, all in pairs or more, you see no one, and there is no one that doesn’t steer clear of you. It is easy to find 3 Lancet street with King Eodred’s marking system, one of many improvements his reign has brought. The address is south along the docks.
You find it easily enough, but it’s not really a home, just a fortune teller’s shop wedged between two darkened buildings. There is a candle alight in the window.
There are all manner of mystical odds and ends hanging from the wooden awning.
Wind chimes ding gently in a placid movement of air. The fog is still thick and rolling over the city.
The door is ajar.
Learis knocks on the door. Peering through the opening as she does, waiting to see if anyone comes to the door.
The place is a cozy chamber, filled with the fragrant haze of flower and strong spices. There are several sticks of incense smouldering in wall-mounted burners. The walls, in garish fortune-telling fashion, are thick with hangings, brocaded tapestries with mystical figures on them. In the center there is a thickly covered round table, and a small note set up against a candelabra. Nearby is a basket with bread and wine.
No one comes to the door, it seems like the room is empty.
Aiyanna walks in, “I’ll wager a crown that note is for us.”
After a moment, Learis enters as well. “Hello? Is anyone home.”
“Thought there were to be others here?” Danvar asks to anyone who may be listening.
Learis nod to Aiyanna. Her hand on her sword, she cautiously approaches the note to read it.
A smiling Varisian woman, with an elegant (if not horse-like) nose enters the room. her thick brown hair is held in with a scarf, “Please come in. It is late, but I haven’t slept for a while, just waiting perchance for your arrival.”
She takes up the note “This was in case I missed you.”
“Please make yourselves comfortable,” she sweeps her arm across various high-backed chairs, cushioned benches and divans.
Learis stops. “You left us that card? It said others would be here. DId we miss them?”
“I think you are the others. Fate has brought you together. No one else has come.”
Aiyanna nods, the words to a cantrip passing unspoken with the woman’s arrival, as she arranges herself in a chair.
Learis slowly takes the nearest seat the woman gestured towards.
“Please excuse my unconventional means of contacting you. I walk the king’s road, and it is short. I have reason to remain hidden, as a terrible man would certainly do me harm. I have reached out to you (she looks at Laeris) in hopes you would help me. I speak, of course, of Gaedren Lamm, a man whose cruelty is matched only by his ability to avoid reprisal.”
“Oh, where are my manners. I am Zellara, daughter of Zontarra,” She sits at the head of the table.
Danver walks in and takes a seat. “Danvar” he grunts out in greeting.
“Forgive us for being late, were became sidetracked and almost forgot about the card. I am Learis, this is my sister Aiyanna.”
Aiyanna waits politely for Zellara to continue.
“When Gaedren’s thieves stole my Harrow deck, my livelihood and a potent heirloom, my son went to get it back, and was murdered. The Guard of course are of no help, and so I have turned to you.”
“But now I know where he is, and very close as well, hardly more than a stone’s throw from here. If you will help me, I will tell you where to find him.”
Aiyanna notices the predatory gleam in Learis’ eyes, and turns to the woman, “I think Gaedren is in for a terrible day.”
“I am surprised you turned to us. But I believe we can help.”
“I want only for this tumor to be cut out of the City. I sense much good in you.”
“So you will aid me?”
“I cannot speak for the others. But I will agree.” Learis responds, with steel in her voice.
“Lass, you tell me where this man is, and you can rest assured his head will be at yer doorstep.”
“Of course,” Aiyanna replies.
Zellara smiles, “then you can find him, only three blocks north of here, at West Pier 17”
For the piers, the number comes after the name.
“How do you know where he is? And do you know what he is doing there?”
“It is an old fishery. He operates there with his thugs and child-thieves. It is a hide-out, one of many buildings in the city that are boarded up until they can be auctioned publicly.”
“I do not know where Gaedren is at this moment, only that this is his current base of operations.”
“We can certainly keep an eye on it. See if we can catch him coming or going.” Aiyanna muses, “but we shouldn’t wait too long, or he might slip from our fingers.”
“How do you know this. Forgive my suspicion, but you can understand my caution? The man we all seem to be looking for just happens to be close by?” Learis asks.
“The cards tell all.” Zellara replies.
Learis give her sister a questioning look before Zellara continues, “And I have also spent many weeks spying this out.” Aiyanna smirks at the last added part, uncertain if it’s true, or if the fortune teller just offered it to ease our skepticism.
“So you’ve seen him going in and out o’ there?” Danvar asked.
“I have only seen him enter, but not how he leaves. Yes, I have seen it, I know that he is there. Don’t delay.”
“Curiouser and curiouser,” Aiyanna muses.
Learis looks at the others. “Shall we go check it out?”
Danvar looks at the others. “Don’t know about you folks, but I’m going to be gettin’ some rest before I storm some rogues’ complex. We’ve been up all night, and I’ve used most of me magic already as well.”
Lexon nods in agreement with Danvar.
Learis chuckles silently to herself. “Yes of course. That makes sense.”
Danvar rises from the chair. “Lass, there a decent inn right here?” He asks the fortune teller.
“Go south to Field Marshal Way and then almost to the castle,” Zellara offers, “there is an Inn called the Golden Lion.”
“Perhaps,” Aiyanna counters, "but if we go during the day, we might tip our hand. Gaedren and his thugs know what we look like.
“At least, Learis and I,” she continues.
“Well I intend to observe it first. Perhaps we can find a less direct way in.”
It is easy to find accommodations, especially the night of the Faire, and you even see some nervous apprentices making their way down the streets. The fog has lifted now. Zellara bids you good luck.
“I’ve got an idea folks, a cover that could let us observe the facility, if ya want.” Danvar says to the assembled group.
“Im open to suggestions” Learis replies.
“We’ll be sittin down by the docks, right? A group of folks just hanging out there, not doin’ nothing but looking at a building will draw attention. So we gotta be doing something, right?”
“Yes?” Learis answers, “I imagined us split up a bit while we observe, but doing something would help us blend in better.”
“Well, we got a lot of poorer folks out that way. We set up a cover that I’m there providin’ some healin, and yer assisting me. I can work at helping some of the lesser maladies, and we can get some good done fer a few hours while you guys look for our quarry.”
“well i won’t be any help with healing, but i can be protection.”
“That— That is a good idea.” Aiyanna concedes, “I think that using magic would draw attention to us though. Especially once word gets out.”
“I’m not having much magic to use, but I been trained in basic medical techniques as well”
“Even without magic,” she continues, "It might still draw a crowd.
“There aren’t many that are too poor and downtrodden by the docks. The longshoremen usually chase them off, or they linger in the slums”
“Aye, but there should be no shortage of sailors needing cuts stitched, or rashes looked after.”
Aiyanna looks disgusted, “I don’t want to look at any sailors’ rashes,” she whines.
Danvar chuckles. “Wantin’ to spill a man’s gust on the floor, but squeamish about a rash.
“Anyways, that be my best idea. Let me know if ya got something better.”
Aiyanna lowers her voice conspiratorially so Learis doesn’t hear, "Gaedren deserves justice, and if that is to be found at the edge of a sword, so be it. But I won’t take any pleasure in causing any extra suffering.
“We could pretend to be inspectors hired by the deceased owner’s children,” Learis suggests, “there to inspect the property while they fight amongst themselves?”
“Inspectors would require papers,” Aiyanna suggests, her voice returning to normal volume, “I might be able to … come up with some, but I’d rather we aimed at something a bit more basic. Something that they would be expecting to see, if not necessarily wanting to see. Customs and Tax agents, perhaps?”
Learis considers for a moment. “I would have to agree. Custom agents would make a lot of sense.”
The cry of gulls echos over the harbor. Over the narrow strait you can see the rolling hills of Varisia— a patchwork of thickets and farmland.