Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Day 28

I really didn't take to Jasper, the man whose presentation dagger, plus wooden box, had been stolen from the Red Sunset tavern. He was polite enough, and looked at my face more than most men do, he just gave the impression, to me, that only he mattered. I don't mind thieves or robbers, but he just wasn't involved with other people in the way that most of us are. It was creepy, and it got me to wondering what, if anything, was special about this particular dagger.

Memree went off to visit Joli - I got the impression that there had been some sort of deal that Memree would have some part in her slavegirl training. So I wandered back over to the Red Sunset after lunch - and was approached by a tall, red-headed man of probably about 18 to 20, before I actually got there.

"Hi there, I'm Perry - you met my little sister, Ruby...?" He grinned. "You really impressed her, I think she's decided to be an adventurer when she grows up!"

"I hope you didn't mind us talking to her - but she was the only local person who looked as if they might have seen something, when the tavern's store was raided."

"She's the best one of us to talk to - the brains of our family", he replied. "And to prove it, she's come up with a possible address you ought to check out."

He handed over a scrap of paper, with a sketched map on it - it was of a section of town that didn't have road names or house numbers, where even the muggers went about in pairs for safety. It wasn't easy to make out, but luckily there were a couple of tavern signs I recognised.

Well I thanked Perry, and went off to see if Torner was on duty or off. He was on duty, which made him easy to find - he got another guard to stand in for him for the rest of his watch, and went with me as I tracked down the address Ruby had sketched. Hey, there was no good reason for me to go there alone, and the sight of a large castle guard in full uniform ought to keep any but the drunkest robbers quiet.

We found the place, and immediately the hairs on the back of my neck began to rise. Somehow, flies never make the same sort of buzzing noise when there isn't a corpse involved. The smell hardly stood out in that part of town, but - it was bad. I looked at Torner, and, without trying the handle, he kicked the door in. Suddenly the smell was a lot worse.

The man couldn't have been dead more than two days, though from the state of him, you'd have guessed a week or more, at least. He was lying on his back, and it looked to me as if a knife had gone into his stomach, then ripped up through his chest almost to his neck, slicing through his ribs like butter. There was a lot of blood about, all dry and flaking. What there wasn't any sign of was his heart.

There was one clean rectangle on the floor, which could well have been where the dagger's box had been put down; there were two bottles of brandy on a chair, one half-empty, almost certainly what had been taken from the tavern along with the dagger. There was no sign of the dagger itself, of course - unless it had been responsible for that ripped-open torso, of course!

We headed for a better area of town, found a decent, quiet inn, and I wrote out a report on what I'd found, twice, then paid a potboy a few coppers to have one delivered to the one-thumbed barman at Coker's entrance-tavern, for passing on to Man Coker himself, and the other delivered to Chance, who would no doubt be pleased to hear that the thief had come to regret his transgression, at least briefly. I gave Torner a medium-strength kiss, I don't think either of us were really in the mood for anything more after our discovery, and headed back here.

So the thief is dead, but the dagger is still on the loose. I think tomorrow I'll check in with Man Coker, and also with young Ruby, because, beyond that, I have no idea what to do next...

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