Date Posted: 20th July 2019
It was dark; Taril had stayed late at the Infirmary with Humari. She’d finally fallen asleep and he’d stayed then, too, watching her breathe and telling himself not to wake her up again. Trusting that she would come back to him on her own. He drew his oilskin coat around himself a little tighter. Captain Garik was his next stop. The Lady Agate was berthed at Sunstone for the sevenday at least-- enough time to fill her belly with citrus from the Hold and a few extras in the galley’s nooks and crannies. Garik usually kept to his cabin while his men were on shore leave.
The docks swarmed with life, even now, long after the stars were out and the moons were up. Sailors called to each other and swore, women flirted and laughed and a few made bargains, children scampered between them as they ran home for dinner or ran out to find something to eat. Torches flickered in brackets beneath the eaves of the stone buildings, creating pools of warm light and shadow along the road.
One moment Taril was walking, the next a heavy weight crashed into his side and pain screamed along his arm. He crashed into the cobbles and lashed out with his good leg. Someone yelped-- high. A woman. “Vinalee?!”
“This is your fault!” Tears streamed down her cheeks. Something bright flashed in her hand-- a knife. She stepped forward and Taril kicked at her again. She staggered back. “This is _all_ your fault!”
“This woman is crazy!” Taril shouted. “GUARDS!”
The cry was taken up down the street; a pair of sailors rushed forward and grabbed Vinalee by the arms. She struggled in their grip as a screaming brown flit appeared from /between/ and dived at her face. Taril scrambled to his feet and called Dodger to him. He tested his prosthetic; still firmly attached.
Dodger circled once, then landed, hissing, on his shoulder. His eyes whirled with an angry red.
“This is all because of you-- you ruin _everything_!” Vinalee wailed. Her careworn face was pale in the torchlight. “It’s your fault!”
Taril stepped forward. Dodger snapped at her face as he gripped her wrist until she dropped the knife. He kicked it away and it spun into the shadows and was lost. “What got into you, woman?!”
“I’ve lost everything…” Her knees buckled and the two sailors holding her up cursed as she slipped from their grasp. She lay sobbing on the cobbles.
“You got strange taste in a missus,” one of the sailors said. He glanced up at Taril. “You all right there, mate?”
“Fine.” Taril crouched beside the crying woman. Dodger wrapped his tail around his neck for balance. Beneath the flit’s angry hissing Taril could hear the thud of running boots; the guards, for once, seemed to be doing their jobs. “Are you fecking drunk, Vinalee? What do you think you were doing?!”
“This is all because of _you_,” she said again. She lifted a tear-stained face to his. Vinalee had likely only seen thirty Turns but life had never been kind to her. Her skin was creased and freckled from the sun and her brown hair dull and dry. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”
“Hey! What’s this all about!?” The Hold guards came to a stop in front of Taril. “Did you do something to her?!”
“_She_ jumped _him_,” one of the sailors put in. “I saw it myself. And she had a knife!”
The guard frowned as he hauled Vinalee to her feet. “Where’s the knife?”
“I kicked it over there somewhere.” Taril slowly stood as well and nodded toward a shadowed gap between two buildings. “I’m sure it’s still there if you bother to look.”
“Did you really get attacked by a woman?” The second guard was smirking. “Taril, you cocksman! Your wife is half-dead in the Infirmary and you’re banging whatever trash you can find that’ll look at your ugly face down here!” He laughed, and the other guardsman joined him. The two sailors exchanged a glance, and one of them grinned.
“I was attacked and there are witnesses. Do your jobs if you can,” he snarled, then turned to the two sailors. “What are your names, fellows?”
“Relar, he’s Brison,” the first sailor said. “We’re with the Markhauler, on shore leave for the night.”
“Then get yourselves to my tavern. Drink’s on me, boys.” Taril tipped an imaginary hat to the pair of them, then turned on his heel and left. Pain spiked through his left arm; he grimaced and looked down. There was a tear in his sleeve. The thick oilskin coat had taken most of the damage from Vinalee’s knife but he could feel blood trickling down his arm. **Stupid wench.** He flexed his hand; it hurt, but not enough to do anything about.
Vinalee wasn’t stupid. She owed him plenty marks, both to make her rent for the cot she and her brats shared and to support her drinking habit. She knew better than to bite the hand that fed her.
Except tonight she’d tried to kill him. Ineptly, but she’d tried. Maybe she was the woman that Mulich had seen lingering around his office when Humari was hurt? Dodger crooned in his ear as he scowled. Perhaps he wasn’t the only hand that guided Vinalee anymore. Whoever had his black ledger of debts had decided to use it.
Taril changed course. Captain Garik could wait. The night was young, and he wanted answers.
Last updated on the August 13th 2019