“In the tavern?” said Peino. “I rather doubt it. Mistress O’Tulvar and I gathered that the dealer did his work at the fish-griller’s stand.”
The selkie passed by his usual mead to pull the stopper on a bottle of stone-fruit liquor, distilled from the seeds of peaches and plums. He poured two small glasses of the clear liquid and handed one to his brother.
“My word, Captain, how dashing you look in that navy coat. Thank you kindly, brother,” said Jeneyeru, taking a minute sip and granting Lafitte an extra little smile. “You are both correct, as it happens. According to the enchanter with whom I visited, the gang that oversees that lane is led by a half-hobgoblin called Ashcat. She did not know his true name, but if he keeps to the traditions of his kind, then he won’t have gone far off it. We may be able to trace him, should the need arise. This Mr. Ashcat runs his affairs from the tavern, but the dealer ran his from the fish-griller’s tables. And the dealer belonged to the gang.”
Peino knocked back his glassful of the fiery liquor and poured another as its heat spread through his blood. He raised the bottle to offer to pour for anyone who might want some as well.
“What Lord Farseer tells us would certainly account for the nervous reception we received,” he said. “The two we fought had taken us for guardians or guardian-lackeys. They were on the look-out for anyone asking questions.”
He reached for a fish bone cracker which he dipped into an olive tapenade. “As for attacking us — on the contrary, Captain Lafitte, they were sent to attack you. Some boy ran up, whispered something, and they straightway left off harassing us to go slice your ribs loose for you. I have no doubt they did so on the word of their master, this Ashcat, but up to that point, I do not think they knew we were a group. with luck, our escape was confused enough that they still don’t know it. What of this enchanter, Jeney? Will she hold her tongue?”
The wizard shrugged. “I sensed that she is not over-fond of Mr. Ashcat and she strenuously disapproved of him agreeing to traffic the cards, but who can tell? Sesans and their gangs. Of course, she only knows about me. I do wonder, though, if they know yet that their cohort is dead and not just absent.”
“And I wonder if they know who killed him,” said Peino.
The brothers paused a moment, sharing a knowing look and each taking a drink, as the rain lashed the windows and the possibilities began to take shape.