Short Story- A Day's Journey To Foundation

Zever the Lightweight is a sailor between ships, and a frequenter of the many bars that dot the O’Neil clan’s biggest trading port. Among the mix of business and bars, he earned a reputation for knowing everyone while remaining drunk constantly. Plenty of men, good and bad, come to him looking for the word on the street though most lie unaware that he is pulling more secrets from them than the other way round. He’s spends the night drunk in the wee hours, and on the walk home he slips into an alley, downs a bottle of alchemists kindness and changes from grotty sailor wear into grotty farmhand wear.

When he joins with the market caravan heading on the short road trip to Foundation, then he is Shackled to the Job. As a labour worker, though one that mildly resents his lot in life, is he hard working and dedicated and usually grumbling about something. Catching a ride atop a cart filled with vegetables, greeted by a similar gruff looking farmer and her husband. Within seconds they were airing grievances and sharing gossip with Shackled. They laughed and talked until a farmer drew attention about a shady looking kitsune travelling with the market vendors.

Shackled spotted the fox man hidden amongst the crow in threadbare robes, and recognised him by Dare, even under the hood that face was mirrored in a mental wanted poster for five counts of assassination. When they reached the gates of Foundation, the kitsune was gone and Shackled disappeared along with him.
Vulpin Dare was a skilled killer, he had already noticed the jack booted thug that spotted him amongst the caravan. Losing him was a simple job, but to think that he had spotted even before he was through the gate his employer had sorely underestimated the skills of Melantiri church. However Dare had outwitted Shadow Clan guards, and he knew the mages here didn’t have any ninjas.

There was only the rush of air as Dare was stabbed; his assailant appeared a second later blinking out of nowhere. Dare clenched his teeth before he pulled his own sword on the ninja, a female wearing black robes with no identifying mark and a mask that obscured her face. Only a pronged tail poking out from behind, revealed her as tiefling.

“Pathetic parlour tricks,” he snarled. “Whoever you are, you must be ballsy and stupid indeed to think a single ninja can take me on.”

The ninja said nothing, leaving Dare to just notice the swoosh of a sword through air, before his hamstrings were cut. He crumpled like a dead spider as he fell to the ground.

“Thanks for the speedy assist,” said the tengu who stood over Dare. “Razza trains you guys well.” The birdman barely caught a scroll in his chest, thrown without warning by the ninja who hid her irritation as her master’s name being used casually by this one. “And you brought a party favour, you shouldn’t have.”

He stood in the opportune place to loom over Dare, the tip of his long blade stabbed into the kitsune’s sword arm. Having some difficulty unravelling the tightly bound scroll with one claw.

“What do you have there thug, some of your clan’s parlour tricks to make me talk.” Even in this situation Dare spoke with the angry sneer. The tengu gave a slight smile with his eyes, his race not being able to shown the emotions others do with their mouths. While his hands and voice formed magic gestures and words.

“I have my own palour tricks; tell me Dare do you know how the spell Confess works?” The tengu spoke, for some reason, in Draconic. Though Dare didn’t enough know enough of the language to recognise it.

“What did you say?” He managed in Xi Xian, before being wracked with pain, his bloody wounds spurting much of his vital life energy before the assassin died.

The tengu removed his sword, there being no point in pinning down a dead man unless a necromancer was about, which freed a claw to unravel the scroll he held. “Well that was fun, but back to work. Scroll of Speak With Dead let’s get some answers out of this one.”
It was night, and the Ascended Thoughts Clan held host to a party for the powerful men and women all over Foundation. Without any real nobility to call their own, these individuals were masters of industry, magic, martial arts, military or any combination of these and others. The owl faced tengu who walked through the front door, invitation held in one claw and cane in the other, was Clad In Silk a smooth speaker and figure in the merchant navy, he was a champion of introducing the style of foreign wear and was recognisable as being dressed in an light suit and over coat among robes and kimonos. Though in effect a walking advertisement he did encourage talk about trade, and Xi Xia’s relationships with other countries when he was seen at such gatherings.

Unlike most nights he slipped through the crowds, greeting prominent figures in the Clans as he passed but not stopping until he was out in the towers back halls where was a hidden an out of the way bar for regular guests. Though the only other one there was a gnome, argued with the barkeep over what constituted drinking age for a gnome.

“Greeting barkeep, I would like a bottle of one hundred and fifty year old rice wine if you may.” The bartender, pleased with a more obvious request, mentally pushed aside the gnome to serve the tengu. Though he was forced to step away from the bar, when he remembered they kept things that old out back in the vaults, leaving the two customers alone.

The gnome Gretchen spoke first, in the tengu tongue. “Hello Kalix. Back from another daytrip to the docks, who need to scrub more to get the smell of grog out.”
Kalix clicked his tongue, before replying in the same language. “Disgusting stuff, don’t know why I keep making personas that drink so heavily. Irrelevant though, I found a wanted assassin passing into the city… one who wasn’t ours I mean.”

“Not a tourist then, if he was sneaking. Who was he targeting? Who was he working for?”
“Your parents, I doubt either would have found much difficulty taking him down, still I dealt with him. No need to bother the old folks.”

Gretchen ignored his joke, and again stressed who?

“That old warhawk Will of the Solider, I checked his house before arrived tonight to confirm the Vulpin Dare’s… confession. Last week he visited the nearest Blood from Sheath city where he dined with a kitsune. His ledgers also show a considerable amount of money disappearing, which he had his last book-keeper killed for, more likely the assassin’s blood money. It would appear Willy Boy still resents the strong foreign influence in his country.”

“He’s free to resent all he wants; by taking action he’s sealed his own fate. I’ll handle dealing with Will of the Solider.”

“Then I’ll assist, Mistress.” Kalix stretched out the pronunciation on master until it was taught enough to break, but this was nothing new.

“I can call on the Librarians or the other members of the Cult if I need assistance. For now I have a gift for you.”

The tengu reached down to accept an envelope form the small gnome’s outstretched hand, hearing it tingle as he took it. Contained within he found a silver framed monocle, with the hinting of magic and a spell held within the lens. “An Inquisitor’s Monocle, fitting choice though I can’t imagine why.”

“Just something so that, perhaps, your first plan to extract information from a target won’t be killing the bastard, and using necromancy based magic to interrogate to his soul. Just keep it in mind.” The sternness from the small gnome made Kalix feel like he was seven again, when he had just met her. Then she smiled and he was reminded of his training under the church, which was more worrying. “Besides it goes with your dress attire.”

Gretchen spotted the bartending returning with the Clad In Silk’s order, while the tengu removed the letter contained within the envelope. “If you don’t like it, I also have a special job for you.”

“Please tell me your kidding, pretty please. Mistress?” Kalix grimaced as he quickly absorbed the details. Not bothering to prolong the mistress this time.

Gretchen rolled her eyes and took the one hundred and fifty year old sake bottle from a surprised bartender, pouring a class for herself and her right hand owl-man. “I’m sure you can handle it Guttersnipe.”

Kalix reached for his cane, but this was the only one who could get away with calling him Guttersnipe without risking the tengu’s violent side. He affixed the silver monocle, which did go with his well-cut but deceptively durable wear, before taking the offered glass of sake. Returning his speech to the Xi Xian language, “To new adventures and for the record you are the worst boss I’ve ever been life indebted to.”

“Not my fault my brother creeps you out, maybe you two will be able to work that issue out.”

“You’re just lucky he doesn’t know my face, at least, not this one."

Short Story- A Day's Journey To Foundation

Dark sun that isn't actually dark sun. regan_donovan