Friday, December 14, 2012

We Deal In Lead, Friend

"Welcome to the Brewery folks,” came the well-oiled greeting known only by a practiced professional; “can I get you two fine travelers something to drink, a pint of graff or mayhap a stein of Herdsmen Ale?” In the background, sounds of constant shuffling as well as the deep drum of voices in blurred congress filled the silence between this verbal exchange.

“How much is a bottle of Blacksmith whiskey Sai? The Firehammer label.” asked a coarse but fair male voice in response. Somewhere a whip cracked and a hoarse bawled in protest just as a nearby woman laughed, squalling like a loon.

“That depends,” came the first solicitous voice. “On what kind of metal are we talking about?” A pause, then a metallic smack cut through the din of collateral activity.

“We deal in lead, friend” purred a woman’s voice, her familiar accent deeply laced with a warrior’s determination sharp edged and deadly.

Elsewhere the slurred voice of a man yelled, “ok, how ‘bout in the rain toots?!” This prompted a lengthy round of raucous laughter and banging commotion, but as the noise dimmed there arose a brief sound of flowing liquid, like water through a gulley then two dull thumps.

“I learned of your arrival last night… though I admit I was beginning to think no one would come north out of Waterdeep until after Wide Earth, things have changed around here and not for the better,” said the first cordial voice. “Mayhap you have even seen evidence of this yourself…” the man asked but his bitter tone sounded more like confirmation than an actual question.

“Aye we have, but that is not why we are here say sorry. We have come looking for an individual, a dangerous spy who has come into the possession of a tome that if unlocked, could identify every Harper in the North,” said the bottomless voice of the second man, putting an obvious verbal emphasis on the danger this poses. From beyond an invisible door opens and then slams shut followed by a wood on wood grating sound and the rush of wind.
                                                                       
“Do you say so? By the gods!” the groomed voice of the first man gasped.

“This is why we have come here Sai—to you to make use of the local Union. It is believed he hides somewhere near and there are those in Waterdeep that think the Union can help,” drawled the second man.  

“Do you have a description of this scoundrel? With Tymora’s luck I’ll have something helpful for you by sundown tomorrow—mayhap sooner by the gods. To whom does this rogue work for?” In the background many of the voices lowered as if wanting to hear the answer themselves.

The voice that arose to answer the question was the warm familiar voice of the woman. “We are looking for a man beyond thirty in years probably human, of average height but a stone or two on the heavy side; he has an acid scarred face hidden by a crude iron mask, and a voice—shrill like a bull-hag. The man often goes by the name Oran and though this man seems easy to identify Oran is the most elusive Zhentarium agent north of Secomber.”

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