Probe

posted Dec 30, 2019, 8:07 PM by Stephen Pliska-Matyshak   [ updated Jan 2, 2020, 10:23 AM by Paul Chavez ]

Nonotina 7th, Year One of the Reign of High King Ran

Fennimore is slinking pass the Castle Ward watch post when he hears a couple of watchmen through the barracks window whispering.

"...got us into a lot of trouble," whispers a watchman. "The damned noble. He is covering up for the Borgosians at The Rogue Spoon. I am going to find proof and ruin him."

Fennimore stops to listen. You never know what juicy information he might sell later.

"It is going to be hard to pin him down, and he is going to be extra careful after what happened today," says another watchmen. "We could never tell when he was going to show up anyway or what he would look like."

"Psst, guards," whispers the halfling. "It sounds like you need some help."

"Huh?" says the watchman. "Who is that?"

"Nevermind who, do you want help or not?"

The footfalls of one individual fade, and a door creaks open.

Fennimore looks about for the door, but in this back alley, there are no doors in sight.

"You should not be eavesdropping at a watch post," says the watchman.

"Hard to miss when I'm just walking by minding my own business," the halfling says.

"You should keep minding your own business," the watchman retorts.

"Well," says the halfling. "Be a little more careful with your gabbing next time, and I won't be dropping from any eaves on you."

Fennimore hears footsteps entering the alley from the main street. He huddles in between a pillar and a crate to try and hide.

A watchman approaches in the alley peering around in the dim light. Fennimore gets a good look at him, but the watchman does not see the halfling.

"Hey, Chet," calls the watchman from the alley. "He must have buggered off."

Fennimore keeps still and quiet, waiting for the watchman to grow bored with his search.

"I told him off," says the watchman through the window. "He better have."

The watchman wanders back the way he came and disappears.

Hmm, this could be good for some fun, if nothing else.

Fennimore waits a few minutes after the watchman leaves, then sneak out of the alley and turn away from the guard post. As soon as he can, he melds into the traffic on a busy street. Fennimore leaves the vicinity of the watch post without attracting any more attention.

He searches his memory for what I can remember of The Rogue Spoon and recalls that The Rogue Spoon is not far away in the northern part of Star Plaza just off the North Market.

Well, the North Market. It looks like I'm due for a visit.

He starts heading that way and watching for the watchman he saw or another one named Chet. Just after he crosses the main road the passes through Star Plaza on his way to North Market, he hears a voice he recognizes in your head.

Hey, Fenn.

Looking around, Fennimore spots his contact, Dee, sitting on a crate just inside the alley he is passing. He stops and leans up against the wall outside the alley and watches the crowd go by to see if anybody is paying attention to him. The human masses pass by in either direction paying him no heed. He slips into the alley.

"Hey, yourself," he says to the cute halfling girl.

"So," she says. "Where are you off to?"

"Just going out for a bite to eat at The Rogue Spoon," Fennimore replies. "Want to join me?"

"A bite to eat...at The Rogue Spoon?" Dee snickers. "Ya, right."

"What?"

"Really?" says Dee. "I suppose their food is alright."

"You prefer things they don't have on the menu?" says Fenn.

"Most folks do," she says with a wink.

"Blue things?"

"Ya, it is a brothel."

"Well," he says. "It will be my first visit there."

"Say hello to Claricia for me," she says.

"Will do."

"So why are you really going to The Rogue Spoon?" Dee asks.

"A big birdy told me there are some strange doings there," says Fenn. "I thought I might see if I could turn up something worthwhile."

"Be careful," warns the girl. "There was an incident with a bunch of scripture-pounders there this morning. All protesting and whatever, breaking windows. Some knight convinced them to bugger off."

"Interesting," he says. "I'm not sure where that fits, but I'll be sure to steer clear of knights and pounders alike. You know the big folk, they usually overlook us anyway."

"Or trample us underfoot," she says. "Though, they might just trip over you."

"Ha, ha!" he laughs. "You're just envious."

"I like them plump as well as skinny like me."

"I like to hear that, sweety."

Dee smirks.

"I might be looking for you in a day or two," Fenn says. "Any idea where you are gonna be?"

"Around," she says. "You know how to reach me."

"But you usually see me first."

"Usually," says Dee. "When I am looking for you. Today was just a coincidence."

"Well, maybe we can make it a habit."

"Don't get too fresh," she teases.

"Your loss."

"Off you go and stay out of trouble, will you."

"I'll try."

Fennimore makes his way back into the street and keeps walking towards The Rogue Spoon. He enters the North Market and heads across to the brothel, spotting a suspicious figure staying to the shadows before they enter the brothel themselves.

I guess I'm not the only one curious about this brothel.

The human is clearly trying to keep a low profile but is obviously well-to-do even though he is trying to appear less affluent.

The vicinity around The Rogue Spoon is occupied by a counting-house, a warehouse, and a couple of clothing shops. All the buildings touch, but Fennimore is aware that there is an alley running behind them. He makes his way around to the alley in the back and tries to guess which storefront is which. Looking for any signs that might indicate The Rogue Spoon, Fennimore easily distinguishes the back alley doors of each shop. He keeps looking around in the alley for a place to hide out and watch the back door unnoticed for a day or three. He finds several nooks and crannies that are options in which to hide out. He then makes his way back to The Rogue Spoon's front door and enters. The Rogue Spoon can be described as sort of rambunctious. On this occasion, there are a dozen other people in the inn. A dancer entrances some of them on the stage. A few of the patrons are playing some kind of guessing game, while others are sharing tales of past adventures--successes and failures. He looks around, taking it in, and then gets an idea. He finds an empty table and calls for the serving maid. The bartender is a human woman who is quite attractive. She is remarkably friendly in disposition. Her skin is brown, and she has amber hair, kept in a long, wavy style. Physically, she is fit. She saunters over from around the bar.

"Sorry," says the bartender. "I am a bit short-staffed tonight. Extra Johns tonight and all."

"I thought you looked a little harried, and I just happen to be looking for work and a meal," says the halfling. "Any chance we could help each other out? "

"Work?" she smirks. "You offering? Let me get you some food first and then get the proprietor."

"Sounds delicious."

"You look like a full-course kind of guy, but aren't all halfings," she says. "I can set you up for a gold and a half."

"A gold and a half for just a meal?" says Fennimore, a bit alarmed. "I wasn't expecting the private room treatment tonight."

"Losing weight?" she says snidely. "OK, the light meal for eight silver."

"I can afford that," he sighs, carefully counting out the coins for her.

While he waits, Fennimore looks over the dining room more carefully to see if the suspicious human is lurking about. He sees, from his vantage point, a cloak rack with the suspicious human's overcoat hanging there, among others.

The bartender saunters back off behind the bar and starts working on the food. She also rings a bell in the process. After a while, an even more beautiful human woman in a periwinkle gown approaches the bar and begins to speak with the bartender. They converse for a bit, and then they both approach the table, the bartender delivering his meal: a pint of ale, a bowl of ham soup, and a plate of fried potato wedges. The other woman sits down at the table with him.

"Hello?" he greets the lady. "Do you mind if I eat while we talk?"

"Welcome to The Rogue Spoon," she says. I am Claricia Robert, the proprietor."

"Claricia?" he says in recognition. "My friend Dee said to say hello for her."

"Dee?" says Claricia with a smile. "She has not graced us with her presence in a while."

"So, she told me."

"I am sure she is very busy with the Rakes...or the Knives...I can never keep track," she says absent-mindedly.

I let that pass.

"Enough about Dee," says Fenn. "Your bartender tells me you are short-handed tonight, and I happen to be looking for work."

"Long-term or short-term?"

"Short-term for now," he says. "Until we see if we like each other."

Claricia smiles.

"A friend of mine mentioned I should hire some more help around here to keep this place safe," she says. "You would not, by chance, be good at guarding things?"

"Depends on what needs guarding and who I might be guarding it against?" says the halfling. "If push came to shove, I could stand up to a drunk or two. But, if you have a bigger problem, it might be bigger than me."

"You are a friend of Dee's," she says. "So, I imagine you have your pulse on the ways of this city, no?"

"I hear a few things that others overlook."

"I am sure I can spare some coin for information about the doings of the Watch and those scripture-pounders," the madame says. "So, we can be prepared if they bother us again."

"I heard you had some trouble with the pounders this morning until a tall, handsome knight helped you out," Fennimore relates.

"Yes," she says. "The friend I mentioned. He took quite a risk with what he did."

"I could see what else I can learn about them," suggests the halfling.

"Having some advanced knowledge of those pounders' activities would be helpful," says the woman. "But, the Watch concerns me more."

"I can help with both," he states. "It might help me learn more if I have a reason to be seen around here."

"Being seen around here is usually not healthy on many levels," she says. "But spying on the Watch may be most helpful."

"How about I help the bartender deliver ales, meals and bus tables," he says. "In exchange, you pay me with room and board. Do you have a spare bed? Then, I'll let you know what I learn about Watchmen and scripture-pounders in exchange for what you think it is worth. The Watch does seem to have an interest in you. If they see me coming and going for no good reason, they may find an interest in me. I'd rather avoid that complication."

"I can definitely use the help, so I will agree to the arrangement. You can have the spare bed in the room at the end of the hall on the right."

"Excellent," cheers the halfling. "I can give you your first bit of news immediately. But, it would help if you told me whose cloak is on the rack over there, the nice one that looks like its been dragged through the dust too little for someone living on the streets."

"Tailing Egnatius, are we?" she says, surprised. "Whatever for?"

"I saw him enter a short while before me," says the halfling. "He seemed not to want others to notice his presence."

"That makes sense. He is married."

"Anyway," he says. "I overheard two watchmen this afternoon discussing a nobleman who enjoys your hospitality. They seemed most put out by it and want some revenge. I got a good look at one of them, and the other is named Chet."

The owner of the cloak appears in the hallway beyond the cloak rack and grabs the cover mentioned by Fennimore.

Fennimore gets a good look at him.

I doubt Egnatius is the Watch's target, but that is a problematic bit of news for the friend I mentioned.

Lord Egnatius Gnaeus approaches the table with his attention on Claricia.

"Well, lucky for you and him that you are more interested in my services than they were," says Fennimore.

"Who was?" asks the noble.

"It is nothing," Claricia says with a wave of her hand.

Fennimore drinks his soup.

"Your hospitality is wonderful as usual, Madame Robert," Lord Gnaeus compliments.

"Thank you, Egnatius," she says. "You will want to leave out the back tonight after the happenings earlier today."

"Oh, yes. Quite right. Goodnight."

He leaves out the backway.

"Will he be a problem?" Fennimore asks.

"No," the madame says. "He is discrete and well connected. He is more a target of the Deep Bend Rakes than the Watch."

"Well, I try not to get between rakes and their marks," says the halfling. "It can make for poor business."

"The one I am concerned with is my friend that helped me out with the pounders this morning," says the woman.

"So tell me more about your friend?" says Fenn.

"Let us just say he is a knight of the realm," she begins. "However, knights do not actually have any law enforcement powers in "The City." The Watch did not disperse the crowd and let them believe he had the authority to investigate my establishment. I know Chet. He was one of the watchmen that was at the incident this morning."

"Interesting," the halfling ponders. "It seems I might need to get closer to the Watch."

"Invisibly close, I would suggest."

"Good thing about being short," Fennimore says. "You're darn near invisible to the big folk. The knight did his work this morning, but the zealots won't be scared away for long. I'll deal with them later if I can."

"This is true."

"Well, I've finished my soup," says the halfling. "I think it's time I earn my bed tonight."

He drains the last of his ale.

"Most definitely," says the proprietor. "Off you go. I have clients to attend to."

Fennimore gathers his dishes and jumps down to visit the bartender.

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