Hello! this is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.
You can find the first post in the series here.
Last week’s post is here.
Kenneth escorted us from the Gemarkand estate. The letter that Lily Gemarkand had sealed in green wax and given to me to deliver to The Twins was safe in Murith’s satchel.
“Are you certain you don’t need more men to escort us, Kenneth?”
Hi ignored my jibe.
“Are you going to walk us all the way home?”
Kenneth’s square jaw flexed as he ground his teeth together. I could tell he wanted to fight me; I thought it best to get under his skin early, just in case Lily decided to send him against me. In the North, this kind of jesting is settled quickly with fist or insult, but here in Myrrhn, among more civilized people who frowned upon such ‘barbaric displays of dominance’ it often festered, becoming a gateway to true hatred.
Our trip across Myrrhn was uneventful. Murith and I bought lunch, spiced crab cakes and Kaemoulian lizard kababs and ate them as we walked. Myrrhn has an endless variety of foods from Archaean haute cuisine that costs more per dish than most men make in a year to the wonderful esterman eel stew served dockside to poor sailors.
“By Garm, I hope these kababs don’t become too popular. Do you remember when Lobster was cheap?”
“I’d pray to Nordan gods too, if they could control trends in Myrrhn. You know Lobster hasn’t been cheap in fifteen years, right Ragnar?”
“I can remember fifteen years ago, Murith.”
“Besides your girlfriends are rich, get them to buy you some.”
“You know I hate it when you call them my girlfriends, Murith.”
“I do. Don’t worry I won’t tell Git. Why does it bother you so much, what are they if not your girlfriends?”
I had no answer to that. My relationship with Eiskra and Vethri entwined comradery, pleasure, and shared history. “It’s complicated.”
I often wondered if, for my part, I did not want to commit to defining our relationship because they were creatures of Myrrhn and I hoped one day to overcome my exile.
Eiskra threw the letter on the dark wooden desk in the study where The Twins attended their bookkeeping, looking at it as if it might grow fangs and bite her.
“Easy, dear,” said Vethri.
“No, no, no,” said Eiskra, flushing crimson. “Fuck that rancid highborn cunt. Her offer is an insult. She thinks we are traitors.”
“Dare I ask?”
“She offered us a mithril trade bar each if we threw our support behind Diamond Silvermane,” said Vethri. “We also get ‘control’ of the Redsilks brothels when the Union is dissolved.”
“That is a decent amount of money.”
“She also threatened to ‘tarnish our reputations until they become as dust’ if we oppose her,” said Eiskra. “If she were here right now I’d tarnish her face with my boot-heel.”
“I think it would be the boots that would be tarnished, if even half of what we know about her dealings are true,” said Vethri. “But while I can see the offer making sense, the threat is odd. Lily Gemarkand is not someone who should need to make threats. She is head of one of the seven families…”
“She’ll be a head on a plate when I am done,” said Eiskra, though her colour was no longer that of a maid of Furis about to berserk.
“Do you think she means to goad us into rash action, Ragnar?”
I considered this. Lily was not the type that made threats, at least not in this manner. She was powerful and ruthless, and everyone in the city knew this. It did seem odd that she would threaten The Twins directly. Was she hoping to intimidate them? That seemed unlikely: The Twins were Twiceborn, like me, and considered fearless. Goading them into rash action was a better tactic, but she had to know that Vathri was not nearly as tempestuous as Eiskra.
“No… I think it is something else. I cannot fathom what she hoped to gain with that threat though.”
“Maybe something had her riled,” said Murith, looking up from where she was polishing her arbalest.
“Perhaps, but what?”