Plesz, the Grand Navigators…
“No, no, when he says there are no rooms, he is quite serious,” said Ruili to Y’lanna’s insistence she would be satisfied with any old bed in an inn. “I’d forgotten about the Feast of the Triumvirate. It is one of our most important festivals. People come from all over the world to celebrate it here, which is fortunate in that it will allow you to absorb all of the many faces and voices and colors of the people of Aeldreth. A distillation of all that we are about.” Ruili was beginning to wax theatrical, leaning on the office counter, gesturing grandly with his free hand (though once or twice, he winced slightly when swinging his arm wide).
“But though the imagery of transience and uncertainty you describe does carry a certain dramatic narrative appeal…” he thought about it, he really did, before shaking his head, “no, milady, while I am responsible for you, I cannot simply deposit you into a shared bunk with some bumpkin snail-monger or a traveling leather goods wholesaler.”
He drummed his fingers on the counter a few times. “Ah, of course. I say!”
“My lord?” The clerk looked up from the great books he’d been searching through.
“Never mind looking things up. Just put her name on the waiting list. I know just where she can stay as a household guest in the meantime.”
Relieved, the clerk grabbed a sheet of paper and a quill pen to take down the information.
“Until further notice,” said Ruili, “Mistress Y’lanna Sparti of the Cerebral Moon shall be the guest of His Serene Highness, the Prince of the Grand Navigators, Merchantman House, Cherryrose Lane, Plesz.”
If the clerk expressed surprise at that, he hid it by lowering his face over his writing. “Very good, my lord. We shall seek the lady there when we have a place to show her. Until then, let her inform the Land Lords if she changes her location or needs.”
“Certainly, certainly. Fair seas to you, sir.”
“Thank, my lord, and a following wind to you.”
“Come, Mistress Sparti.” Ruili ushered Y’lanna out of the office, saying, “This is the ideal solution. It is my brother’s house, and he’s not even there.”
From among the guards stationed around the courtyard, Ruili sent one ahead to arrange a goat carriage which would carry them from the Citadel of Grippio, high above the shimmering city on sheer white cliffs, through the steep and winding streets of Plesz, right through the heart of the bustling commercial port, and up the other side of the harbor to the posh, sea-facing townhouses along the aptly named Cherryrose Lane.
“You’ll like it at the Merchantman House, milady,” Ruili promised. “Wonderful clean ocean air, convenient to all the best parts of town, plenty of room — you’ll have a chamber all to yourself. I’m sure one can be put together in but a moment. And you’ll get along swimmingly with Mistress Bodling. Why, you’ll be the daughter she never had.” He regarded Y’lanna yet again. “Quite literally.”
The noble elf beamed with pleasure at his resolution of the problem as they began their journey across the capital city.
— — —
Meanwhile, in an alley in Sesus…
“Planning a swim?” said one of the Sesan toughs.
“Don’t be foolish,” said the other to Beau, as he backed up towards the water end of the alley between the two embassies. “Every step you take to gain maneuvering room in front, steals the land from behind you. You have nowhere to go. Be kind to your life, friend, pay the toll and have done.”
Indeed, as Beau retreated, they advanced, so that the eorman only saw the alley shrinking under him. The brigands’ knives were already out, their blades pale and cold in the shadows. Thunder rolled over the harbor.
“Ho! Who goes there?” The shout reverberated through the narrow alley — a seemingly distant figure at the street-side mouth of the alley, raising an arm. “You can’t be in there. Come out, now.”
“Shit.” The masked gangsters dropped their blades into the muck of the alley floor and turned to the approaching guardian.
“Oh, sir, thank the gods! This ruffian was attempting to rob us!” The pointing at Beau, the sudden fainting against the walls — a trick they’d played before?
Whatever the case, before Beau lay the prospect of a guardian and a false accusation, while behind him…
Among the many boats making their way into the lesser canals of Sesus, a long, thin, black town-boat slid past the alley opening just at that moment, carrying four masked persons, one of whom was Beau’s own captain. And it was moving fairly fast.