Follow up to " On my Way "
Early morning shown in through the window of the apartment above the small general good shop, and Paddy Brincon woke gently from a pleasant night sleep. Last night had been strange, he had watched a nobleman willing shed his riches and do his best to become a low class nobody. Even more amazing than that is the stranger had briefly become his long dead son and had said his final goodbyes and had made paddy a promise. That promise was to find paddy's wife whose ship had been declared lost without trace. All of this had happened when he had given the boy his son's Sword breaker that the guard captain had given to paddy as a remembrance He remembered dreaming last night that the fellow had boarded a ship as unskilled labor and sailed off. He still had this odd feeling that the young nobleman turned wanderer had somehow become a surrogate son in that moment and that was somehow right and proper. He got up slowly feeling the aches of age come back to him. He had his end of an unspoken for bargain to care care of. He Dressed in his best clothes, nothing extravagant as he lived humbly. He went down the stairs and collected the neat parcel of expensive clothing, sword, dagger and extravagant pistol the nobleman had left him with a note to return with them to his house. He put the weapons in a long box he behind the counter after wrapping them in cloth. He likewise wrapped the neatly folded clothing in plain cloth so he would not robbed as he walked unaccompanied to the address. He gathered the parcels up and opened the door to leave on his errand.
upon opening the door he was met with a white flabby face and a pair of eyes that could only be described as icy despite their yellow color.
" I knew you would try to leave early" The enormous figure, leaning forward to bring those yellow eyes and flabby face down to paddy's level, so he could peer the old Sionact in the face as he reproached him. Normal that face would be high over Paddy's head Because the young Hesken was extremely tall even for his species.
Paddy knew his parents as they ran the shop Across the street from his humble establishment. Their sturdy shop built of stone and concrete marked it as being one of the newer buildings while paddy's shop was old and respectable wood. The Hvjelbrot establishment sold any type of weapon you could imagine and so its sturdy build deterred thieves, not that many people in this part of town did much thieving, despite being right off the water front and teaming with sailors and outsiders this part of the town remained crime free. Part of this was the reason Paddy had felt safe leaving early without his large escort who had promised to accompany him last night after warning about the dangerous nature of the house he would be visiting. The Second reason was because paddy didn't much care if he lived or died anymore, he had nothing but the shop left and when he was gone the shop would be. Now that he got Closure from the ghost of his son or whatever it was last night paddy was more then ever ready to be done with. So he had planned to sneak out at 6 after the boy had said he would come at 7.
" Well then lets get on with it, t'will no do trying to guess how you figured it out" Paddy says and accepts the massive Bvertom Hvjelbrot had predicted his actions.
" Didn't take magic if that is what you are thinking." Bvertom says as he stands to his full height " It just takes a father knowing how stubborn you can be." The massive figure says and jerks his head toward a window on the high floor of the Hvjelbrot shop where the owner's apartment would be. In i he saw a sturdy light brown face with a knowing smile and a pipe stuck in it broad muzzle. When he saw he had been noticed he takes the pipe out of his mouth and waves it at paddy as an admonishment.
With a shrug they set off up the hill toward the upper city. Paddy slightly worries if his clothes will be suitable for the more well to do upper-city. He is wearing a plain faded blue woolen duffle coat grey woolen pants and his best boots. He very much looked like was from a poor sailor neighborhood. His Large companion was dressed in obviously finer fabrics even if the cut and style were somewhat outlandish, Bvertom's massive body was covered in a short sleeved tunic almost like a modern shirt but with draw strings at the neck instead of buttons, the neck also had no collor but was embroidered with patterns in red and green that showed up well against the medium blue of the fabric. The neckline plunged came tightly together but plunged past the pectoral muscles and end just after the swell of his large belly, the embroidery continued along this seem and it was drawn closed with a red cord. The garment was long and hung to his knees but was drawn at the hips by the same bright red sash he had been wearing last night that must have been hiding a leather belt because at his right hip was a very large knife that it seemed all hesken carried with them. There also seemed to little bottles in holders in places the sash sagged. He was wearing tight leather pants that did their best to hold his massive legs but also looked like they might be thickened and reinforced in some places so they might be closer to armor than leather pants. These leather pants disappeared into some sturdy looking black boots. Paddy always wondered about hesken foot wear as they seemed to prefer to be barefoot most of the time like most creatures but when they made or wore shoes they allways looked like they were built for war. They tended to be thick and sturdy with metal bits over the toes and at the back of the heels running in small plates up the back, like they were designed to protect the hamstrings. He had always heard hesken had a warlike and violent history despite being one of the friendlier races by nature. There was even to this day a slight standoffish attitude between Hesken and Valperet that never seemed to extend to the Sionact. Paddy knew the Valperet had a history of empire building then were driven out of many lands all around 900 years ago.
Since he was walking with a companion Paddy decided he may as well talk to him even if he had found him intimidating when they boy was growing up.
" So Bver ber..." paddy stammered he still had trouble saying some Hesken names.
" You can call me Tom, a lot of people stumble over my name." Bvertom
" So Tom, What kind of things you learn at that school?"
" I was under the impression you didn't like magic stuff, and besides my talents are considered grim even by other wizards." Tom answers.
" Oh no, i mean the one that is open to all the youngins, i remeber you going there as a little boy but, it opened after me boy was already in the guard."
" Oh history, math, science, science is a feild of study in which you try to figure out how the world works when it is not being interfered with by magic."
Paddy's ears pricked up. He had no idea there was such a thing but it seemed obvious now, magic changed the way things normal worked but they worked some way on the same. He Thought a little about it. when most people walked into a wall they just stopped with a thump, but last night he had seen Bvertom fade and pass through his wall. He had seen a lutrondae making big balls of water rise up from the ocean at the docks one day, fish still swimming inside it, but the water usually obeyed the swell of the tide. Things seemed to function on their own in a regular way until you did something to change it wiith magic.... Or tools he suddenly thought.
" So why do... well tell me more about this Science ." Paddy asked.
" Well you know how things are always on the ground unless you pick them up somehow?" Tom says as they walk up the mostly empty streets.
" Well the force that keeps them there is called gravity. and it is why things weigh differently, and i know you are thinking of making a joke about my mother's cooking doing that to me but that is not what i mean. You know how a lump of coal weighs less then a lump of iron even if they are the same size? That is because the things that make iron, iron are themselves heavier, the force of gravity is pretty much constant but some things get pulled on more because they are more 'dense' is the word used. Figure it this way, say you had one pound of iron and one pound of feathers, you would need a lot biigger of a pile of feathers to be a pound then you would a lump of iron to be a pound, so the feathers are less dense. "
" This all makes perfect sense. Most people know this" Paddy says
" Yes they do but Science lets you put that knowledge to use. You know when people try to pay you with counterfeit coins. how you can sometimes tell they are fake because they are too light? Or too heavy? that is common knowledge but science will let you find out why the fake coin is lighter."
By now they had gotten to a tram that would take them up the steep winding road to the upper city. It was crowded with workers going up to the factories while they lived in the cheaper lower district. The little Shop keeper and the oddly dress 7 foot behemoth arrive and stood in silence as the workers of the various races stood in their working attire waiting for the tram. Their uniforms where somewhat the same but paddy noticed as always that all Hesken regardless of working attire or gender all had knives. Paddy had never figured out why they had them.
" Well fuck me, that is the biggest hesken i have ever seen. " One of the workers, a human exclaimed after catching sight of Bvertom. Everyone else looked over at the pair, Paddy carrying his parcels and Bvertom just standing there in his odd clothing and massive size.
" Was that just an exclamation, or was that a request?" Bvertom responds nonchalantly to the out burst. The human and most of the people standing around him just burst out laughing at the retort. One of the hesken a male of sturdy build but what would be considered small by hesken standards, He was still way bigger than paddy though so he felt apprehensive, when he sidled over to them. Instead of doing anything alarming he smiles and starts speaking Djarlendt the hesken language and looking up at Bvertom. Bvertom responds causally. Paddy has no idea what they are saying but the chatting man suddenly backs away swiftly after he catches sight of the large ring on Tom's plump fingered left hand.
" What was that about?" Paddy asks looking up at Tom.
" Oh he was complimenting me on my rather tranditional clothing and suggesting i meet him at his place, then he saw the rune on my ring and got scared off" Tom says rather unconcerned. " Most people who know what it means are scared off"
Paddy looks at the ring with it's broad face and prominently displayed symbol. It looked like a lot of hesken runes, lots of straight lines meeting at various angles. in the middle of the symbol was a black spot. Having no real ability to read Hesken runes, they usually just wrote in the Phonetic script of the trade language that was brought by humans some 500 years ago, paddy had no idea what it was supposed to mean and why it would be scary. He did admit to himself that Hesken runes when written certain ways did look intimidating even when they were as simple as a compass. He had been traded what he thought was a magical item made of gold and silver once, he had been afraid to touch the thing. Then a Hesken sea captain had come to buy some rope and a new Jacket and had delightedly bought the thing for a few gold pieces. It turned out to be an ornate compass that needed a new needle and the 8 pointed symbol that had made him vaguely uneasy where just the points indicating directions. He could have sold it for a lot more given the craftsmanship. His Puzzlment must have been showing cause a voice came from the crowd.
" It means he hunts things that walk in dark places" Paddy looked up to see a Lontracant, the river dwelling cousin species to the sea dwelling Lutrondae, was adressing Paddy and his puzzled look. " Not sure what it exactly says, but that is the closest translation i think. Me daughter has a book wit' that on it" The Lontracant says. One of the other Hesken nods.
" I've helped to translate parts of that book, grim stuff, but if it helps the hunters keep them things at bay few bad dreams is a small price to pay." The Beefy hesken who had been nodding explained, he was mostly dark grey but covered in white patches. A rare trait but not unheard of in all species.
The revelation that one of their number had something to do with a book that had something to do with Tom's ring seemed to cause a minor stir among the group with there being a slight discomforted edge creeping into the murmuring of the workers. One figure detactecd itself from the crowd, it was an old Sionact, bent with age and walking with a cane she made her way toward paddy an tom each liife and drop of the cane left a loud clack, as it hit the platform they all waited on. She was heading toward them with a determined gleam in her old eyes. She hobbled up Tom's massive form then reached out and grabbed his ham like hands with her frail paws.
She began shaking his hand. with both of hers wrapped around his massive mit she feebly shook his hand and began murmuring in Ogharm.
" Thank you shadow hunter, your kind brought my daughter peace" Was the part Paddy caught.
Instead of just standing there Tom's massive form sqauted down so he could his mouth closer to her ears. He murmered back so his words were only meant for her. In horrid Ogharm, the sounds too guttural and halting to be fluent Tom said
" Glad give peace, all sleep in light now." he tried to whisper only for her but Bvertom's voices was deep enough that half the platform must have heard him rumbling out the words. Then he used his other massive arm and hugged her as she quietly wept out her thanks. This stopped the uneasy murmuring among the workers. they all stood and watched, so much so that when the train pulled up people didn't immediately get on the tram until the conductor called out to them, then they all gathered into the cars. Since Paddy and tom were last to arrive they got into the last car but helped the only Sionact into the car with them. The last car was the most empty. The workers the did get in the car with them were mostly hesken, including the one that had breifly flirted with Tom. In the middle of the compartment was a bar meant to be held when ridders stood on these trams, leaning against it was a young skitritch rolling a knife across his knuckles. He stopped and held the knife in close as the other passengers loaded on and filled up one side of the tram. He resumed the idle knife tricks once they were passed him. This didn't seem to take up as much space as you would think from a species as large as hesken, they all seemed huddled together rather closely. Paddy had often half observed large groups of hesken, even strangers never seemed to mind getting almost intimately close together, while not doing the same to other species.
" You have that questioning look again Mr.Brincon. " Tom says from where he is sitting, taking up a massive amount of bench space. With Paddy sitting daintily next to him taking up almost no space.
" Was wonderin..."
" Put that knife away boy, yer likely ta hurt yeself, ya tryin to frighten us?" comes an angry chasizement from a middle aged Lutrondae woman.
" Just an idle haddit mar'rm, something i picked up from me mum." the skitritch says but still expertly sheaths the blade in a swift motion.
" Now don't you sass.." the Old Lutrondae woman starts.
" I know his mum, she does do that, all the time. Rather annoyin really" A skitritch workmen replies and gets a scowl from the otter woman.
"And just how do you know his mum then?" she sneers at the skitritch.
" Cause that's me dad." The young skitritch says bemusedly.
" Tis, true, by some odd coincidence, i know me wife." the worker responds to her sneer with a smirk. Any further unpleasent words were cut off when the skitritch youth pulls out a ball of crystal clear material and begins rolling it in his palm. Soon the youth is balancing it on the back of his hand then quickly flipping it into his palm. Some of the workers look at this amused while some like the Lutrondae woman look as if he had just brought out a grenade.
" Do all orb users fidget with them like that, My master does and so do his daughters" Tom speaks up pointing toward the Ratlike boy fiddling with the sphere. The Boy looks over at him.
" Don't know mate, not many people use orbs in this town, i just figured it cause i picked up the fidgets from me mother. i'm the only wizard in me family." He says balancing it on his pinky fingertip.
Paddy stared at the performance a little longer then shook his head and came back to his original question.
" Tom, why do hesken always seem to pack so close together, I have seen them do it all my life but never knew why." Paddy finally asks.
" Well i suppose it is a cultural holdover from when we lived in colder climates, huddles conserve body heat and it is a way of indicating you are welcome in the group. Not every group of hesken will huddle immediately, some have to get used to each other, that is why non of them are getting too close to me, i am a stranger to this group and it would take my continued presence for them to include me, plus i didn't try to huddle with them and it is up to the individual usually to join a group. There are a bunch of body language cues as well, some who want their personal space will hold their head and ears differently. It is hard to explain you kinda just know who is willing to share their personal space and those that don't. Since this is mostly a hesken practice we don't usually try to snuggle up to other species since they tend to want personal more space. Also Hesken have a word for wanting non sexual physical affection and i am not sure what the trade language term for it is if they have it. It is just this desire to be touched affectionately but not wanting sex or romance."
The Skitritch that is now causing the orb to float above his palm seems to be listening in on this explanation and when Tom trailers off he puts in
" I fink the term is Cuddle buddy but like, it is only for one person, As fer the emotion itself, in Chir'kikkimissi it is irt'srt'nth which mean 'i just want a hug' but like it is one word." the youth explains. One of the workers that is right behind the youth with his butt firmly pressed against another man's hip in what to paddy looked like a rather intimate gesture Starts trying to say the skitritch word for ' i just want a hug' but can't seem to reproduce the high squeak of it. A few people look at him and guffaw at his efforts.
" Guess why we have English ain't it" he says gruffly.
" What's English?" paddy asks tom. That word made him feel funny.
" That is the name of the trade language. That is what it was called when the humans came to our world long ago, They brought many languages and they were all recorded and archived but most of them spoke this English so it is the one we started learning to communicate with them. Turns out everyone one of the species can speak it so we started talking to each other with it too, that is why you can go anywhere in the know world and people will know the trade language."
Paddy felt multiple eyes on him, He looked over and the factory were listening in on the explanation and nodding along as if this was new information that totally filled in a gap in something they had always wondered. Well most of them were. All of the Hesken and some of the skitchritch but the Luntrondae and 2 sionact didn't seem to be paying any attention. That is something else about hesken that stuck paddy suddenly. They were always Curious and rather educated or wanted to be educated. Paddy had heard even the poorest hesken could read and write and now that he thought about it the mage guild run schools that taught all children for free were well loved by Hesken in general. Kids of all races went to them but hesken parents never seemed to complain that their kids weren't doing other things.
The bell rang for the first stop, or the first stop since Paddy and Tom had gotten on. The door oppened and the young Skitritch wizard playing with the orb stepped out hauling his full looking satchel that seemed to have grass sticking out of it.
" My boy i asked you to find me a little Tide grass and you bring me a bag full, that will last me months." Came a pleased female voice. then the doors shut.
" Your son works for the Dr?" one of the other factory workers asked the sitting skitritch workmen.
" Yeah, she haz im get all kinds of thing for medicines, he even makes some medicines himself at home. Stinks up the place a bit and i have no idea what he makes. He tells me an the wife no to touch em, some of the stuff is poison when not mixed wit anything. Wife is in the Guard so sometimes she reads his books when she thinks someone been killed wit poison or drugged. She read the books but won't touch his vials. Wish he lock em up in something stronger then a cabinet. Fraid the house'l explode. "
" Some Alchemist like to blow stuff up." The stout factory worker that had been trying to repeat the skitritch word said.
" What makes you say that my good man." Tom asks with a look as if he was going to have to defend magic and its practice.
" I'm an Alchemist, and i certainly like to blow stuff up." The Stout workman smiles. " Never got the hang of medicine, But if you want something burned, melted or blown up i can do it.i can also keep a furnace running hot. That is what i do with this lot." He says pointing back at the factory workers.
Paddy actually found himself enjoying the city. He usually stayed in his little shop and sold stuff to sailor or their families. Something he had saw earlier today came into his mind.
" Tom, you had all these little bottles on your belt under your sash, do you do Alchemy?" Paddy asks unthinkingly.
Tom gives him a bit of a look but answers " yes i use and practice some alchemy"
" The boring or the exploding kind?" the Alchemist says with actual interest.
" The kill other worldly monsters kind" Tom says and taps his ring again.
the excited alchemist's face falls.
" Right, well about that, is there a cure for shadow viper venom?" The alchemist asks suddenly in deep earnest.
" Yes there is, Do you or anyone you love need some now?"
The large alchemist shakes his head no. but continues
" They have been sited in the woods and in the middle city streets."
Tom lifts his massive stomach that is resting in his lap and digs around a moment. he pulls out 3 small vials with red powder in them.
" Give one of these to the hospital, the guard and any schools in the areas you see them. A pinch of this in water will cure anyone bitten and make them immune to the venom for 7 hours. It will make you feel light headed though so be careful with the dosage." He says all this while he hauls his bulk up and hands it to the Alchemist workman.
" It should also be available in any guild tower" Tom says as he lowers his ponderous bulk back to the seat. The Workman all just silently nod their thanks. A minute later the tram stopped and all the factory workers got off. This left the compartment with only 3 occupants, Paddy, Bvertom, and a previously unseen figure of a Human man. He was dressed well with a jacket and waistcoat with a gold tie on a green silk tie. Paddy had trouble guessing Human ages but he was guessing middling age which in for humans was 50 or 60 if he was correct. Though it could have been 30-40, human's lived shorter than the other species on the planet and that was about all he knew.
This possibly middle aged man had trimed facial hair that was black and grey. Humans seem to delight in styling their facial hair which only the males got. ( Or was it women who had facial hair? ) So the neat edges and glossy appearance Must mean he was a man of means. He was also on the larger end of the human spectrum, ample in the abdomen in a way common for the wealthy or the average Hesken. When he sees Paddy and Tom he nods a greeting.
" How do you do gentlemen?" He asks politely.
Paddy dips his head respectfully, He didn't know how to respond when someone with better more expensive clothing spoke to him as and equal. No wait, Tom spoke to him as an equal and he was wear what must be fine clothing even if the cut and style was rather unlike that of the area, the materials were fine and perfectly dyed and well embroidered. But maybe that was different, he had know since he was a little boy when his parent's bought and built their shop across from his. Maybe then status didn't count. It seemed to social status Counted for less with the Hesken anyway.
" We fare well, how do you do this morning." Tom returned politely. "May i observe that you were accepted as part of the huddle despite Your difference of species, can i inquire about that?" It seemed tom was being very Formal with this man, or woman, Paddy still had trouble with telling humans apart. Most species where used to telling by smell as well as physical characteristics but human smell was not something he was used to. What did human men and women smell like? This individual seemed to be wearing a cologne or perfume and humans wore much stronger scent's than any other of the species. It stung his nostrils slightly now that the scents of the workmen were fading.
" I am very well and yes i often engage in the huddle with Hesken, they are far more accepting of humans generally even in urbane areas such as this, so i have learned their customs more readily, Plus as a species your kind seem to care less about class so i can find safety from miscreants among most any group of hesken." he explained but Paddy thought there was a little gleam in his eye when he said it that spoke of that only being the partial truth.
" I see as far as blades go you prefer The Bowie Knife instead of more traditional Patterns, may i ask about that?" the human Returns, he has drawn closer to the pair and paddy unconsciously Grips the parcels he is bearing more tightly. He wasn't sure why. The figure was only coming into more conversational distance.
" Yes, I find the Bowie knife style of blade better for fighting, I like the hand guards often absent from traditional hesken pattern knives which are made to be tools first and weapons only if need be. Plus i can fully sharpen the back edge of the clip point giving me another cutting surface while leaving plenty of flat spine, The Bowie pattern makes for a knife more suited to combat but it sacrifices non of it's usefulness as a tool." Bvertom explained
" I see, makes perfect sense, the Bowie knife is a human invention you know? " The human puts in, talking only to tom seemingly forgetting Paddy's presence. Paddy was tempted to look at Tom's huge knife to see what they were talking about but it was on Tom's right hip while Paddy sat on Tom's left side. Peering across Tom's lap would have done nothing as his ponderous stomach blocked all view from this angle.
They are about to continue this conversion when the tram stops with a ding that seems to startle the human before he tips his cap and leaves the tram. No one gets on so Paddy and Tom are left alone in the tram car. Through the window to the next car they can see a skitritch woman dressed as a maid or nanny holding a baby Valparet the Baby stares at Tom, not in any meaningful way though like any baby that stares at something. Paddy supposed it was because Tom was big, and colorful in his blue tunic and snowy white fur. The Nanny turned to look and gave tom a casual but active looking over before turning back to look out the window. Most likely also because he was big and colorful. Paddy thought. Paddy wondered if that is why the human had decided to chat with Tom as well. But there was that gleam. He may as well ask.
" That human there... he uhh seemed...." Paddy stammered
" Yes he was Flirting with me." Tom says bluntly. Paddy jumped a little at that.
" You didn't seem surprised when the Factory worker flirted with me" Tom says looking over .
" But ye were both Hesken."
" I hate to break it to you Mr.Brincon, but cross species flirting and marriages happen." Tom said casually. " Captain. Chivirny that used to come to your shop all the time Married a Lutrondae sailor and moved to Half-port bay."
Flustered by this paddy exclaims "But mr.Chivrny is Skitritch, they hate the Lutrondae."
" Typically yes, Skitritch and Lutrondae don't like each other but that doesn't mean every one of the species feel the same." Tom says lightly.
Paddy sits there in flustered silence as he thinks about the social order he thought existed was not as it should be. The Tram comes to a stop and the doors open and they get off the tram. Outside Tom gets some glances and stares but their walk along the sidewalks is uninterrupted But also in to public a location for conversation. After a block or 2 they come to the Adress written on the letter. It is a large Townhouse style building that may at one time been several large townhouses converted into one. There was a small lawn and short walkway through lined part way by hedges. The Building also had a fence atop a small stone wall with the hedges growing high, giving anyone in the small lawn extensive privacy.
Tom having his hands free as Paddy insisted on carrying the parcels, Reached up and rang the bell. A gate guard appeared from the side of the gate, possibly from a small building hidden behind the hedges.
" State your business" he speaks sharply.
" I was asked to deliver this letter and these parcels to this address," Paddy says and holds forth the letter. He had been unable to read the name on it because of the swift fancy flow of the writing. It was in Valparet cursive but the address was written more commonly. The guard looked at the letter and command
" Wait here." Then he hurried up to the house and disappeared inside. In moments the Gaurd came hurring back out and said " This way if you please gentlemen."
And showed them up into the house proper, he stayed outside holding the door for them and as soon as Paddy and Tom entered closed the door behind them. Paddy knew from the look of the men inside that coming alone would have been a very bad idea.
Standing tall and rigid was a well dressed valperet that bore a heavy resemblance to the young noblemen that had set him on this endeavor, his lips and ears pulled back taught with barely contained fury, next to him was a well dressed but rough looking Valaparet who had a look of barely restrained cruelty lurking behind his eyes. Behind this pair was a youngman who must have been the brother of the noblemen that had stopped in his shop. Something out the calm he projected made him seem like he was potentially more dangerous than the 2 men in front of him. This last nobleman had a pair of menservants about his age, one looked collected and passive the other was on edge.
" Hand my son the parcels and me the letter." The older expensively dressed nobleman barked out. Paddy complied timidly and despite this mornings thought of not caring if he lived or died he was glad Tom was along because now he had the feeling that he would rather die in any other way than those these men would provide him. The letter was snatched from his hand by the elder nobleman and the parcels taken easily, gently in fact politely by the other Nobleman. The parcel holding the clothing was handed to one of the menservants to check and he efficiently if nervously did so. The other parcel containing the sword, dagger and exquisite lightning pistol. This was opened and all were unwrapped to make sure they were there. The young nobleman the one paddy thought the most dangerous despite his lack of outward hostility, picked the elegant small-sword out of the case and idly examined it.
While all of this was going on the Valparet with cruelty behind his eyes was looking Tom's large form up and down as if accessing the best way to dispatch him. By the way his finger played over the knife at his belt that is exactly what he was doing. Tom from his massive height was looking down on the man with no concern at all. There was a feeling in the air that the a single move by anyone would set off a reaction that would level the building.
The Elder nobleman was reading the note with a growing silent snarl. Whatever he was reading was filling him with a furry that caused he to visibly tremble. Than a feeling pricked paddy's mind and he looked away from and up a flight of stairs. There standing looking down was the most gorgeous and terrifying woman he had ever seen. She was Valparet but night black with piercing icy grey eyes. There was a hint to them, something like Tom's yellow eyes but wholly different in color as it was the same in character, a cold distance. She was dressed all in black with dark transparent gossamer as if she wore an open mourning veil. Diamonds glistened at her throat in a fine silver necklace creating an effect that was as if he was staring at some cold distant stars high in the heaven on a frosty night. Next to her was a housemaid who had one eye swollen shut and looked cowed and terrified. She was trembling slightly.
" Kill them and send your men to search the docks! Brim him back here!" The Elder Valperet snarled out to the man beside him in a trembling rage. while looking at Paddy with a seething hatred that no man should ever see let alone be capable of expressing. " I want- Hrrkrkr" the man was in the middle of snarling out another command when is eyes went wide and his jaw dropped slack. Through his open mouth the elegant needle pointed diamond shaped blade of the elegant small-sword protruded. With astonishing speed and grace the young nobleman standing behind the angry lord had withdrawn the sword from its scabbard and driven it through the back of the snarling man's head. He was still in the elegant extended thrust posture as the man's body began twitching in its death throws, his off hand held high in perfect fencer's form was slightly clentched and surrounded by a shimmering distortion as if heated air were flowing in toward his palm.
The man the Elder Nobleman had been giving orders to was clutching at his throat as he was held slightly off the ground by an unseen force, his eyes bulging and bloodshot his mouth was open as if he was trying to gasp for breath but no sound came from him. That is until a sharp crack cause his to go limp and his hand dropped from his throat. a moment later his body dropped to the ground in a crumpled heap. At the same time the young nobleman swiftly withdrew the blade from the back of the other mans head leaving him to also crumple to the ground. Paddy expected a pool of blood to start forming but it didn't. He also noticed the elegant blade was clean and unstained by blood as well. It had all happend so fast that only now did paddy think to do anything he took a step back and raised his hands. Bvertom Didn't move at all he just stood there staring in a wide confident stance. The manservant that held the box with the weapons was calm as ever, the manservant that held the parcel of clothing was staring in goggle eye surprise. The silence was broken not by a gasp or a scream. but a whimpered
" Thank you." Paddy looked up at the maid who had obviously been beaten and she was holding back tears of joy and had a sad smile on her face. The terrifying and gorgeous woman all dressed in black was no longer look ominous but had one elegant night black hand on the maid's shoulder in what looked to be a gesture of reassurance. The maid then ran down the steps and spit onto the body of the rough looking man that had been eyeing tom. This caused paddy to jump a little but he held his composure. He didn't need an explanation. The cruel eyed man had done something terrible to the maid and she had been given revenge in her witnessing the his end.
" I am rather impressed by your barrier." The noble said sheathing the blade and returning it to the box. "A pity my brother could not take this along, he did so love this weapon and he was so skilled at using it." The Young man now took his free hands and pressed them toward paddy and Tom. They stopped as they seem to meet a red transparent substance that formed a little disc around his hand.
" I barley detected you construct it." he says looking at the red glow that followed his hand as he ran his fingers across it. " You may leave it if you feel safer, but no danger awaits either of you." He says as he stops pushing the barrier and picks up the letter. He begins reading it. The confident cold smugness slips with his face as he does. Now he looks like an ordinary man.
" Dearest father and brother, by the time you read this i will bear my name no longer, i have become aware of the dark deeds our family performs to maitain our status and want non of it so i shall become someone else and set sail and live my life by my wits and skill alone. I do know how you value these trappings of wealth i now must shed so i will send them back to you, do repay the carrier with gold and thanks and not wrath, this is my last request signed...." He stops reading aloud. " He has shed that name so it will not pass my lips in regard to my brother. You supplied him well i hope my good man, because i know he would not set foot in the establishment owned by Mr.Kvjelbrot's parents, they would have blown his head off i fear. " He ends this by looking toward Paddy expectantly.
" Uh i gave him suitable clothes, a satchel some food for about a week and some rope." Paddy says holding his hat in his hands timidly.
" And what of armaments, i do hope you gave him replacement weapons to defend himself."
" oh see... i don't do weapons, the Hjelbrots do all that so... all es got is me son's old sword breaker from when he was in the guard."
" Your son won't miss it?" the noble man asks
" Me son's been dead for 16 years now..."
" Oh, my condolences." the nobleman says sounding completely sincere.
" There wass... was there.... Somthging weird happened when yer brother touched it, yer obviously magic did yer brother have a ghost thing?"
The nobleman look confused " A ghost thing?"
" I may be able to answer that." Said Bvertom finally speaking. " There was a connection made between your brother Mr. Brincon and the vestiges of Guardsman Teleric Brincon, Mr Brincon's late son. He had been trying to shed his identity when he took the weapon and was supplied with the memories and mannerism of a Sionact guardsman who fell in battle with that object, so in a way, he is now a blend of your brother" he said pointing to the nobleman "and your son." He gestured to Paddy. Both men looked at Tom then at each other. A look passed between them that said that the mysterious stranger was now family to both of them and they accepted it.
During this explanation the woman dressed in black had come down the stairs in ghost like silence, she was bearing a large book with many ribbons acting as bookmarks. She stopped infront of where Tom's Barrier still stood. Without a gesture or blink Bvertom dismissed the barrier and let her approach him.
" This family has dealt with dark otherworldly things for their power, i have discovered some of their plots and how they use Emergence events to gain power and influence. One such event has been trigger and will occur in the middle city in 6 days. In this envelope is a check for your parent's wide White shadow for them to supply the guard with as many phosphorus and black iron rounds as they can. This book should be taken to the hunter's hall and examined. i am sure the information would be useful. Also as you both are heading back that way please take this maid to the Doctor on your way down, she requires aid and rest. " then aside to the Maid with the swollen eye " Don't worry, she can help you" The Sable woman then handed Tom the book and turned to leave. As she turned Paddy saw that her broach bore the same symbol as Tom ring. She must have been a hunter as well.
" Tell me, how far has that nickname spread?" Tom says slightly aghast. The Woman clad all in black stops for a moment and without turning around.
"Everyone. Everyone calls you that." she says in amused tone. Then she silently leaves the room.
" I also have a request, since my brother is gone we no longer need his services Do you perhaps need an assistant for your shop? He works hard lives in the middle city but has seen somethings that have strained his nerves so he would be best suited in a calmer place."
" uh sure." Paddy says.
" One questions before i take the job, will there be any secret rituals or encounters with slavering beings from the outer realms"
" no, i don't deal in that kind of thing. mostly shirts. Are shirt ok?" paddy responds
" right i'll take it then." The nervous servant says. Then puts the clothing parcels down and stands next to Paddy.
" I will clean up this mess, have a good day gentlemen" the Non Nervous servant says then begins to bundle up the bodies like he had done it before. He most likely had.
"uh... ok." paddy says and turns to open the door. as he looks back to make sure Tom, the Maid, and his new assitant were following he catches sight of the young noble. He is looking at the signet ring that was among the things returned to the household. In that instant he didn't look dangerous, rich or smug and in control. He looked like a man who missed his brother. For the moment that is all he was.
They pulled the door open and the little troop headed out of the house.
" Hey stop!" the Gate guard that did not expect to see them leave alive protest.
" Oh fuck off." the maid with the swollen eye and slight limp says as she pushes him out of her way. He stumbles and falls prostrate in the path. The group walk over him, Tom pausing for a moment to look down at him. What ever the guard saw in the flabby white face stopped him from getting up to pursue them. The opened the gate and marched toward the tram stop. Paddy walked in the middle of the group and wondered about all he had seen.
" So that lady was a hunter like you tom?" Paddy asks.
" Yes." Tom answers
" And Wide white Shadow is like a nickname you have in there"
Tom sighs " yes, My master's youngest Daughter started calling me that as a joke once and the other hunters in the hall started using it seriously. Some of them know i don't like it but think it is funny so they still use it, others think it is a respectful title, some hunter have nicknames like 'the bloodsoaked' or 'the mad' and even ' Laughs while Slaughters'. One Hunter is just called 'The fat' because he is well fat, there is even a girl called Skinny Steve, her name is Lucy and Steve is a male name. So i guess it could be worse."
"Somehow i thought the hunter of things that walk in shadow would be more...grim. but here you are with silly names and dressed like you are going to the summer fair." The Limping maid says as they arrive in time for the downward tram. They get in and this time it is a little more crowded. Tom stands so others can sit. Well he more stoops since he is so tall. Paddy is somehow delighted to see that when a well dressed hesken with a top-hat, monocle, and fine gold watch chain boards that he huddles in toward Tom instead of avoiding him like the Factory workers did this morning. Instead pressing the side of his belly against Tom's soft bulk. They started up a pleasant sounding conversion Paddy having no idea what they were saying as it was in Djarlendt, the hesken language. They might have been talking about knives for all paddy knew because the rich looking man had a heavy bladed knife strapped across his back above his curly tail, the handle sticking out only a little bit passed his side. Paddy and the manservant riding quietly while the injured maid answered concerned questions from a young lad sionact lad of maybe 10. She gave easy answers about some people being bad but she isn't worried because her employer dealt with him.
As paddy sat there and thought about the day he felt like he wasn't the same somehow. He went through his mind and examined why. First Tom had told him about things about how the world works on its own even when no magic is involved and it had made sense, Tom had also told him about why some species had certain practices like Hesken huddling and it had made sense, he had learned about interspecies romances and that hadn't made sense but when he thought about why he realized he had no reason for it to not make sense.Some People married but had no kids, people of the same sex married and didn't produce kids but often adopted or cared for orphans, so why not 2 different species? His answer before was ' it just isn't done' but he had no reason other than tradition and there were traditions that made little sense to him so why should his be more considered? He had also realized when met with men that would have murdered him that he didn't really want to die so why think that. He now had an assistant for his shop. Maybe even someone to leave the shop to when he passed. One final thing entered his mind.
There was a young man out on the sea that may as well be his son who had made him a promise. They got off at the right stop and saw the maid off to the doctor's office where they left her to be cared for. As he walked back to the tram stop to go home he realized he didn't feel any younger but he felt less old. He looked out to sea as, Tom and the now more relaxed looking manservant turned shop assistant Paddy looked out to sea and thought something.
It is a might big world and it was not too late to start growing into it.