Ch. 139. Clouds Gather

At the Sword And Club…

The rain hadn’t started yet, but the afternoon had taken on the yellowish pall of heavy weather.  Thunder rolled over the tavern, pulling a few glances up towards the ceiling.

The hooded man in the back, however, showed no interest in the weather.  He had eyes only for his tankard of ale and for the customers coming and going.  He straightened up from his slump at the sight of one all in black.  The newcomer slid through the crowded room, black cloak wrapped over the shoulders, black tricorn and black mask covering head and face.  A black-gloved hand rested on the hilt of a sword, the only detail visible through the parting of the cloak.

This dark person approached the hooded man directly and pulled up a wooden stool to face him over the worn table.  The noise of the tavern covered their words as the cloaks and masks covered their persons.

“I worried my message never reached you,” the hooded man said.

“It did, as you see,” the one in black replied.  “What do you want?”

“I want you to take back your goods.”

“How now?  Why is this?”

“Why?  Haven’t you seen the papers?”  He moved his tankard, revealing a headline about the investigation into what the ink-swillers had dubbed The Mad Ghosts.

“Old news.”  The dark figure flicked a hand over the paper as if shooing a fly.  “It’s got nothing to do with you.”

“What about this one?”  He turned over another paper, opened to the gossip pages.  His finger jabbed at a piece near the top.

“Master Jeneyeru Nightwise of the Grand Navigators was sighted in Sesus early yesterday morning, setting off a ripple of bristling in the High Court and racing among the best salons to organize parties as quickly as possible.  This correspondent will keep our readers apprised as to who lands the Lord of Shadows and Fashion first.”

The dark figure, eyes invisible behind the black mask, gave no sign of reading the piece.  “What of it?  The city is lousy with wizards.”

“Do you take me for a fool?  This is the one who–”

“Have a care.”

The hooded man sat back with an air of satisfaction.

“Mere coincidence,” said the one in black.

“So say you.  I say I’ll not be burned for your sake.  I’ve had to quit my usual spots.  My business is sinking because of this, and during the Feast yet.”  He shook his head resolutely.  “I am out of it.  I have the remainder and your gold for you.”

The figure cast a quick look around the tavern.  “Not here.”

The hooded man hesitated, then nodded.  The two rose together and made their way out to the darkening streets.

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