The ongoing saga of Ragnar Grimfang, exile, twiceborn, blade-breaker.
Blade Breaker 1.1 (the first)
Blade Breaker 1.7 (previous)
One of the nice things about having one foot out of the grave is that while I bleed like a mortal man, the bleeding generally stops of its own accord. I have heard tell that some of us twiceborn have even survived having their throats cut or major vessels opened. I cannot say that I am eager to see if I am made of the same mettle. Still, I was happy that I was no longer bleeding by the time I called on Gregor the Grey.
Buildings in Myrrhn seem to be built in a jumble of architectural styles, mostly because the city is both old and fad driven. While most of the newer buildings that sprout from the city’s thirteen islands follow a style called Thraxian Coppertop, they are forced to share the streets with Ancient Archaen, Neo-Archaen, Haute Myrhnese, Loragonian Pastoral, Dragmarian Uber, Westmarch Faux Pastoral, as well as many styles that are less well known or perhaps just individual tastes. Gregor the Grey’s shop was likely one of the later, a tall slab of grey stone that rose like a ship-breaker out of the pall of fog and smoke.
The street nearby was crowded with the human debris of misery and addiction, along with a shady looking tavern that no doubt appealed to the worst kind of customer. Several of the later watched me from just outside the tavern’s exterior, eyes measuring me before they glanced quickly away. Gregor’s shop-face was clean and accorded respect, which was noteworthy in a place like this.
The entrance to the shop was more like the entrance to a fortress, complete with a portcullis on the inside and two rather massive guards. The leg-breakers were well equipped and well paid, with that very-friendly-but-very-ready attitude that I learned to adopt when I was a doorman at whorehouses. They did not ask to take my weapons, even the obvious ones. Gregor the Grey was not a nervous man. I nodded my respect to both men, acknowledging my appreciation of their professionalism. It rarely hurts to be polite to men with swords, I find.
The alchemist manned his own shop, a rarity — especially for someone so wealthy. He was tall but nondescript except for a shock of long grey hair done up in a pony tail, at odds with a young looking complexion and dark, steady eyes. He regarded me with definite interest, which I took to be sexual at first, but quickly realized was him recognizing another ascendant. Twiceborn, Paragons, Legends, and all the other various paths to ascendancy can recognize each other. It is an odd sensation, like a piece of a puzzle falling into place, only you aren’t putting a puzzle together and aren’t quite sure what to do with the knowledge. It is often the catalyst for violence or intense posturing.
“Gregor the Grey, I presume?”
“I am Ragnar Ironfang, Exile from Clan Shadow Wolf,” I said. “I am investigating a crime that involved a particularly specialized form of poison. It paralyzes the victim, keeping them fully conscious and able to feel at the same time.”
“And what makes you think I would help you twiceborn?” asked Gregor, a note of curiosity in his sonorous voice.
“This poison was sold to an assassin,” I said, keeping my tone conversational. At times like this I like to pace slowly with my hands clasped behind my back, imitating some long forgotten bard from my youth, no doubt.
“I’m not sure how that piece of knowledge is meant to dislodge my tongue,” said Gregor. “The nightblades are the last group that a cautious man would want to alienate.”
“True, they do run this town after a fashion,” I said. “However, this particular assassin has made some errors which might cost him. Firstly, he murdered his lover and one of her ‘friends’ in a crime of passion. Probably took a contract out on her to keep within guild rules, but I expect they are not going to be happy with the results. The woman he murdered was a favourite of madame Glorianna, the man was one of my people — someone important.”
The second bit of information was a guess. For one, a place like the pink pearl was too expensive for just any Sea Wolf on shore leave. I used to dream about a night in such a place in the early days of my exile. How time changes our tastes… Secondly, he was a big, strong lad with some giant blood in him, which among a people who respect physical prowess would earn him a name. If he wasn’t important himself, one of his relatives would be. An easy gamble.
“I see,” said Gregor, frowning. My people are not well understood in this part of the world — our reputation in Myrrhn is that we are unpredictable and warlike, which is probably partly because we have attacked it a few times over various disputes. Madame Glorianna was also a powerful figure in the city. I could see Gregor weighing hsi options. “I won’t tell you who, but I did sell a poison like that to someone who I suspect of being affiliated with the guild.”
“What did you charge for the poison?”
“Given the potency and the rushed nature of the job, I asked for a trade bar,”
I whistled, that was a fair amount of money, even for an exotic poison. A gold trade bar could keep a man in good ale and a fine bed for a year in Myrrhn, more elsewhere. The fact that my quarry did not flinch at this price spoke volumes of both Gregor’s reliability and my enemy’s affluence.
Incidentally, this meant that the attack outside Git’s was unrelated. That assassin who had bloodied me with her knife was after me for an entirely different reason, it seemed.