Chapter 8

Nezrin got up from the cot and paced about the room. “Two days?? They expect us to wait here for two days? For what, a contact who MAY help us to find this Rat King? I feel as cooped-up as a Dwarf in a barrel, sitting up here waiting. I say we hit the taverns, find a little gossip, and learn what we can about the city, the Shadow’s hold on it, and see what local brews the tavern’s have for entertainment. Besides- don’t we have to get Parmar’s items to this ‘Arbter’ fellow? The sooner we relieve ourselves of any incriminating contraband, the safer we are in the town. Devin- what say you? Shall we head out? I will of course defer to your judgement on this, but I’m crawling out of my skin just sitting around up here. At least we ought to find a house of ill repute for some good fun….”

Sharra looked up and scowled at Nezrin. The mid-morning sun was filtering through the grey clouds that dotted the sky and the call of the seagulls was constant in the air.

“Houses of ill-repute?!” she said with complete disdain. “The only houses of ill-repute you’ll probably find are the houses of the legates themselves. “You know as well as I do that every city in Eredane is run by the Shadow’s forces and I don’t see why this one would be any different. Besides you heard the gnome, he said we should sit tight. The locals here are not likely to be the friendly type and so most of the gossip will probably be about us. That may draw more attention to our presence which is something that I would prefer we didn’t get.”

Sharra’s tone was hard but she did feel some concern for Nezrin who was still in need of some healing.

“You need the rest anyway, those Fell back at Duren’s Cove took a lot out of you and you’re not even fully healed,” she was now standing only coming up to about the shoulders of her larger companion. “We’ve come this far, don’t do something with that thick skull of yours to mess it up. Our main purpose for getting to Baden’s Bluff was to find the Rat King so we could get the message to him. We have an opportunity to get another step closer by meeting with this Radovin and you want to jeopardize it? Go on Devin, tell him he’s crazy to want to get out and roam the town,” she sneered.

Devin momentarily ignored what Nezrin and Sharra had said. This part of the city had quieted down from the early morning bustle of the fisherman getting to their boats. Still the city was alive and had a feel to it that was somewhat normal. It was in large contrast to Perrinhold. The difficulty of getting into his home town was done mainly through tunnels and disguise. The gates of Perrinhold were guarded and no one got in or out without being inspected. So far, Baden’s Bluff proved to be intriguing because of the ease in which they sailed in.

Glancing around to his right through the window, Devin could see the city rise up the cliff side through a snarl of shanty hovels that looked nearly impassable. An impossibly steep road backtracked its way up until it seemed to level off and disappear on higher ground. The spires at the heart of the city must have been truly grand in happier times but now they looked like thick dark spears driven into the cliff with the intention to kill.

The Levenworths had once been apart of the royal families that held great stature in Baden’s Bluff. This was many, many generations ago. Devin had only heard faint stories of this. His family had made a small fortune in baking bread and eventually became a merchant house that gained some renown throughout the Sea of Pelluria region. For a short time House Levenworth was a political player but as the shadow grew in the north the Levenworth’s were “given” some land outside of Baden’s Bluff to rule over. This land was the town of Perrinhold. When the shadow crushed the dorns in the northlands, and was beginning its conquest, the call came from the Baden’s for the royal families to disperse and blend with the commoners. The Levenworth’s took the Baden’s call seriously for the reports were that city of Erenhead to the east had been completely sacked and all the royals who resisted had been slaughtered; men, woman and children. Some Levenworths resisted but they would not even make it to the battlefield as the family had been infiltrated by insidious shadow agents and betrayers.

Devin grew up in hardship living on the fringes of Perrinhold in a small village. Here he learned the ways of the wild and more than once he and his father spent weeks living among the swordgrass. As Devin grew older, they spent more time away from the village and only kept contact with a few trusted friends which included a former servant family. This family was eventually taken from the village to Perrinhold but still remained a great resource for the Levenworths. Khurran in particular became a savvy informant within the town.

The question still bothered Devin … who was it that betrayed the Levenworth resistance in Perrinhold? Was it from within or did the legate who ruled the town, Vashan Kull, discover something that allowed him to purge the family and their supporters? Devin, released the thoughts from his head, these were questions for another time, he had to stay in the here and now.

“We will stay put for now and wait for Radovin,” Devin was still staring out the window to the city. “Sharra is right, you still need to heal Nezrin and the city is dangerous. We cannot randomly wander the city. The Rat King is our first priority and getting the materials to the warehouse master Arbter is our other task. Caution dictates that we make friends first and enemies second. It would be all too easy to fall prey to any number of pitfalls here. With an unfriendly population we will have to take what comes to us as opposed to going after things ourselves.” Turning back towards his companions, Devin looked and sounded like a leader of men. His pureblood heritage truly came through in his eyes and he needed those who were with him to know that he had things in control and that in this city their footsteps must tread lightly.

He absently caressed the handle of the masterwork sword he gained from their trip through Duren’s Cove as he made his way over to Khurran. It was a comfort and a worry to have a fine sword at his side. The sword will serve him well in combat but is likely to draw attention from both potential friends and foes unless it is hidden well.

Khurran was buried in his books taking in the information like it was sustenance. Devin would rely on him to make sure that Radovin is not some agent of the shadow or some independent agent likely to turn against them. The sarcosan was a good judge of people and their intentions and this would be an important time for Khurran to be right. Devin caught Khurran’s attention and proceeded to gain his counsel and stress that he ascertain as best he could if Radovin was laying a trap.

Chapter 8

The Edge of Twilight Naszir