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Rumors and Shades

Writers: Yvonne
Date Posted: 12th October 2019

Characters: Taril, Leophric
Description: A rumor washes up in Taril's tavern
Location: Sunstone Seahold
Date: month 11, day 5 of Turn 9
Notes: Mentioned: Humari, Yriadha, Bryvin
Notes: Follows 'Unfixable'. Late because this has been a challenge to write. :)

The next day dawned bright and clear. Taril woke up as the sun streamed in the windows set high in the wall of his office, tucked safely beneath the eaves of the slate roof. He sat up and yawned, then stretched. He hurt all over.

After a while hunger drove him to leave his desk and start the long journey up to the Hold for breakfast. He walked slowly, the pain from his leg making the walk feel longer than it ought to. Half way he stopped on a bench and sat to look over the bay. The morning was obscenely beautiful. He wished he could share the view with Humari.

After breakfast he paused at his rooms long enough to slather numbweed on the blisters on his stump and the cut on his arm. It was too quiet there. Between each breath he thought he could hear Humari and Tumaril, and the next he was faced again with their absence. It drove him quickly to the docks, where he merged with the swirl of humanity that ebbed with the tide. Sailors, fishermen, women gutting and packing fish in salt or hanging fillets over fires to dry.

His ledger. If he had that, Humari and Tumaril could come home. Be safe. Vinalee was the key. She had to be.

It was barely noon when Taril entered the tavern and gestured for a bottle. Lephric came over to Taril’s table with a corked bottle of the finest Southern red, which he opened for Taril. “You look rough.”

Taril debated keeping his mouth shut, but everyone would know by nightfall anway… “Humari’s left Sunstone Seahold.”

Lephric winced. “Sorry, boss.”

Taril eyed the glass as his bartender poured. “You’ll hear soon enough. She was attacked yesterday, so I sent her to my cothold.”

The bartender’s hands stilled. “She was _attacked_?!” When Taril said nothing, Lephric whistled long and low. “Thread and char, that’s obscene. She was in the Infirmary, and they couldn’t protect her?”

“She was lucky.” Taril reached for the glass and pulled it toward him. It filled him with rage that someone had dared touch Humari to get to him, and it was embarrassing that someone _had_. It was embarrassing for the Hold, too. Or would be. No matter that the Guard Captain was a favourite of Yriadha’s and looked on favourably by the Lord Holder, Taril was no longer in the mood to overlook his incompetence. Even if that incompetence had made doing business in the port Hold much simpler than it could have been.

The bartender slowly put away the bottle. “I have some better news for you. Someone thought they saw Dhravi down by the docks last night.”

“Who?” Taril asked sharply.

Lephric shrugged. “A friend. Someone who used to know him, who might need a few marks… anyway, he approached this man and greeted him, but the man swore he didn’t know who Dhravi was. Hurried off toward the ships in port pretty quick after that, but my friend lost him before finding out where he was going.”

“What time?”

“Late, well past closing time,” Leophric said.

“Where on the docks?”

“Near the fish factory. But it was well past dark by then, and as I said, my friend needs marks…” The bartender trailed off.

The implication was clear. Leophric’s informant wasn’t a reliable witness, but Taril couldn’t shake the feeling that the man had seen Dhravi. Dhravi led to Vinalee. Vinalee led to him. And if the Dhravi-double had been down by the docks so late, he could have been hurrying back from the Hold… Taril’s hand tightened around the glass. “If this pans out, your friend will get his marks,” the merchant said.

“If he gets his marks, you know it’ll come right back to us,” Leophric replied. “Let me know if there’s more that I can do. And-- I’m sorry about Humari,” he said.

Taril nodded and waited until Leophric walked back to the bar to continue serving the other sad-faced sailors and men too old to work. Rumors and shades, that was all he had to work with. But Thread take it, it would do.

Last updated on the October 26th 2019

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