Fic - Martin in Anahearth
The duck weighed heavily on my hip.
I’d dealt with drug dealers, smugglers, and users in my past, but until now I had refrained from going into the drug trade. I could if I ever really needed the money, and I’d be damn good at it, too. I certainly never thought I’d be doing it for the good will of a business associate, but maybe Kay was becoming more than that. She’d asked if she was his apprentice… Something to consider.
Drugs though… they clouded the mind. They removed the user’s ability to truly claim responsibility for their actions. Of course, using was still their choice. Their use went against my strongest principle.
Yet, here I was in line for a Glorium checkpoint with (presumably) eight hundred silver worth of drugs in a duck carcass.
“Why did I agree to this?” I mumbled. Kragyn looked over to me at the words, eyebrow raised. I didn’t bother to clarify.
My mask felt stuffy, but not in the reassuring way like when I would handle chemicals. It felt as smothering as a room full of fumes. I took it off and felt the early tinges of cold winter ,air on my face. What if they were looking for me? It had been years since I’d been in Anahearth leaving on a rumour that scionists were coming to town. Surely they were there for me, what else was there for the Glorium in this backwater?
I’d need a disguise, though I doubted I could do much to blend in. Just look like a Wilder, can’t be that hard.
The duck weighed heavily on my hip.
It was a good start, it looked like I carried an uncured carcass tied to myself. Adding some of the pelts Kragyn, Ayla, and Petey had gathered to my shoulders added to the effect.
“Hmmm, maybe more dirt…" Kragyn looked at me trying to figure out what I had muttered. Working in the lab alone, I seemed to have developed the habit of thinking out loud. I’ll have to watch for that in the future.
I stared back at Kragyn. No, there’s enough dirt between the two of us. Plus Ayla would be with us as well when we went through the gate.
Thonius though… I hoped that (what was the insult?)… gaffer wasn’t getting us all into trouble. It seemed all he ever did was get roughed up, it’s like he seeks out beatings. Ayla and Kragyn were far more reasonable.
Ayla and Kragyn had run into the burning building.
I stared at the burning building. At least they’d listened to my suggestion of wetting themselves against the flames. Despite the explosion, the fire was nothing special, perfectly normal flames. Regardless of their precautions, I’d begun to remember my lessons (and own experiences) in treating burns; more likely than not, I would be needed. In the confusion of smoke and screaming, I let my thoughts run unchecked. What might have caused the explosion though? Two kids deciding to run into a burning building was a decision those kids would have to live with. The sound had reminded me of a still I’d once heard explode. It wasn’t our job to pull them out of the fire. A pressure explosion, which would explain the shattered door and limited flame. “Our” job. This would probably burn itself out with little consequence. The three of them a group. Why are Kragyn and Ayla distracting me so much from observing the fire? Here comes one of those two idiots now. Looks like the fire’s dying down.
I poked through the rubble of the house. The fire had indeed died down, but something had triggered a secondary explosion. A homemade still would explode once, two explosions indicated something worth investigating. I wasn’t having much luck until I felt a tugging at my sleeve.
One of Ayla’s rats.
Sighing heavily, I tried to ignore it while sifting through more rock. It got the idea and moved away. Then it came back and started tugging again.
I turned my head slowly intending to use my well honed glare to cow the rodent into leaving me alone. In its clutches, though, was something curious. I plucked it from the rat’s grasp and it scurried off again.
What is this…? This looks… reminds me of…
It was definitely a detonator, one that followed the same ideas as my recent Thesis notes. Troubling for many reasons. This combined with the contents of the rubble confirmed that there were definitely scionists (or scionage trained individuals) in Anahearth. Were they here looking for me? Did they have my old notes? Was SHE in town?
More tugging on my sleeve.
I looked at the rat less contemptuously this time. My reward was an urn that it seemed to have dragged over to me. Pocketing the detonator, I picked up the urn.
Inside was a paste of some sort. Falling back on my chemist’s training I analyzed the contents to the best of my ability.
Hyacinth, some kind of refined version. Signs point to a cure for the plague in the city. Once more the work of the mystery scions. What in the Table are they doing in Anahearth? The rat chirped at me.
And what the hell is up with this rat?
The rat queen and the wilder cleaned up well. Get rid of the grimy clothes, the dirty faces, add a little perfume and a tailored shirt, and you get two presentable figures. Considering how I’d looked in the tailor’s mirror, that would be three presentable figures.
Of course we all still looked like what we are. No hiding the rat, the boar, and whatever I was.
A stick bug perhaps.
What kind of a beast might Meryl be? One of taste and wealth apparently. So I speak to him in his context. Just because we were a motley crew doesn’t mean I can’t create an air of respect.
Watching Meryl deal with the young woman was enlightening. I couldn’t get a good enough look to see the quality of her trinket, but the mannerisms of the proprietor told me the man was going to be a challenge. Though he wasn’t as crafty as he thought he was; I could see his chemicals precipitating. Like copper wire into a nitrate, Meryl was clearly drawing forth silver.
This would be a challenge.
I remembered why I hated dealing with legitimate businessmen. The challenge of the deal probably showed on my face despite my best efforts to emulate my mask. Criminals dealing with me generally had a nervous twitch from trying to buy something they didn’t fully understand. Plus I got to wear my mask in those deals.
Meryl was a man who was his own master (except for maybe his unseen but not unheard wife). A man worthy of respect. Not unlike Gram, whom I owed one of my gold coins to.
Gram worried me. He postured like Matrell, all spoken and unspoken threats, but he moved like a dog that knows its master holds the leash because it lets him. To be indebted to this man made me uncomfortable, but the coin would be paid shortly. Being attached to Thonius made me far more nervous. Who knows what trouble that fool is currently getting me involved with.
Next thing I know, I’m going to be involved in a murder plot.