Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Day 27

The manager of the Red Sunset, Cookson, was not a huge amount of help. His guest, Jasper, had had the dagger, in its presentation box, stored in the small, and sturdy, safe-room behind the bar, where the expensive wines and spirits were kept. Only he, the manager, had the key, but the thief had been able to gain access to the next store-room along, and had used an axe, or a sword, or something like that, to make a hole in the wall between. The thumping, shortly after lunch, had been so obvious that everyone had assumed that some work was being done - until Cookson needed a fresh bottle of brandy, an hour or so later.

Well, I talked to the cook, and his two helpers, and one of Chase's security types whose job it was to stop any trouble before it started... he might have investigated the noise, but he wasn't on the premises then, his job being more of an evening and night thing. The barman was no help at all, and his assistants hadn't come on until later...

Memree and I looked at the hole more carefully - it looked like axe-work to me, the wood was splintered in that sort of way, after the layer of plaster had been knocked away. The hole had been big enough for a man to lean in with one hand, and grab, well, the box, as the most expensive thing there, and two bottles of spirits. Not the best ones, the light probably hadn't been good enough for label-reading, just a little bonus that would fit easily in a workman's bag.

I'd also have liked to speak to the box's rightful owner, but Jasper wasn't around. Maybe it would be better if I could at least tell him I'd been making enquiries, when I did see him! During the day the tavern is actually in a fairly quiet part of town, so Memree and I just strolled around, looking for anyone to talk to.

Our best prospect was a girl of about ten, sitting on her front doorstep eating a rather large piece of bread. Nice clean blonde hair and a pleasant enough face, a clean dress too, though rather faded and a little small for her... no shoes, and rather dusty feet. Memree approached her, smiling. "Mind if I sit down?"

"Go right ahead", the girl said with her mouth still half-full. "You looking for my dad?"

"Only if he works at the Red Sunset, across the road." Memree sat down next to the girl.

"That'd be good, he could come home for lunch - but he works at the stables, the other side of town."

Memree leaned forward. "Did you hear that thumping noise at the tavern, a couple of days back, after mid-day?"

The girl stopped eating, and grinned. "Someone robbed the place! Fancy making all that noise, and nobody doing a thing about it. Old Cookson's not the brightest of campfires, my dad says!"

I crouched down to join in the conversation. "Well there's a reward for getting the stolen stuff back - we want to claim it, and if you can help us at all, we can cut you in...sorry, I don't know your name...?"

She looked at me dubiously for a long moment, before reaching a decision and holding out a slightly greasy hand. "My name's Ruby, and that sounds good to me. I'm guessing that you're Charol, which makes blondie here Memree, right?"

As I've said before, news travels fast around town, and it travels wide, too. I took the hand, and shook it. "That's us, Ruby. You get us any useful information, and we'll treat you fairly, I promise." I took a couple few copper coins, and one small silver, from my purse, and passed it to her. "This is for expenses - but you be careful, don't do anything risky, there are some nasty people around."

She smiled reassuringly. "My elder brother will do any risky stuff - no, not risky, really, we'll take good care of ourselves, don't worry."

We promised to return tomorrow, and she told us she knew where we lived and would send a message if anything urgent got turned up. I was rapidly getting the suspicion that she was taking charge of the investigation now, and we'd just be doing some of the legwork for her. But if it got results, that wasn't a problem.

Anyway, we decided to leave the immediate area of the tavern to Ruby, and went off to talk to my contacts around town, see if anyone was offering any special daggers for sale, with or without presentation cases. Nobody knew anything, of course, but promised to let me know if any news did come in.

And that about wrapped it up for today. We did enough to show we were taking it seriously, but without any leads to follow, that was really all we could do. It wasn't something to knock ourselves out over, anyway, just a nice gently change of pace and an excuse for some exercise.

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