Sariah slipped out of the shop early, feeling apprehensive. She had worked for King Georde many times, but she always had used Tomais as her fixer, her go between. That allowed the king a bit of protection should things go bad. It also benefitted Sariah since she did not have her face associated with the king. That was what really bothered her so much about the attack last night. She didn’t want to worry Kegan, but very few people really knew what she did. She had some public scraps, but they could be attributed to her fighting skill. The more people who knew her directly, the more problems she would have.
That brought back the picture of her house fully engulfed in flames. That is why Sariah usually used a fixer. Now she had nothing to hide. If someone killed her they would be putting her out of her misery. Until that time she was going to make sure she handed that misery out with a generous extra helping of mayhem.
Space was at a premium in Ferngreen, so very little of it was wasted. Because of this small shops backed up to the castle on three sides, leaving the south side that faced the lake free for kingly views. Sariah walked past that view and headed to the east wall. There she ducked into a small cobbler shop that seemed a bit down on its luck. The bell tinkled as the door opened. Sariah was almost blinded coming into the shop. The amount of light coming from the multitude of gas lamps left no shadows at all.
Sariah nodded at the mountain of a man cobbler. The man was working on a dainty boot with his huge hands, but his dexterity was amazing. Small taps from his hammer placed the tacks perfectly as he shaped the boot. Sariah loved seeing such craftsmanship. She picked up a pair of light military boots. The bottoms were supple, but had a real toughness to them. She brought them over to the cobbler and waited while he finished attaching the sole of the boot he was working on.
Once the man was done, Sariah showed him the boots she was holding. “How much for these in my size?” she asked as she lifted her foot.
The cobbler glanced down at her foot then looked at the boots. “Eighty-five lumbics,” he replied. “It will take me five weeks at least. You show up on week four for a fitting. Sixty lumbics now, twenty five on delivery.”
Sariah put the boots down and pulled out her sack from underneath her tunic. She fished inside for a moment before pulling out her mark. The cobbler’s eyes widened a bit, then went cold. “Why did you waste my time then?” he asked her.
“I still want the boots,” she said pulling out the full eighty-five lumbics. “I wanted you to know why I am giving you the money up front.” Sariah left the money and the boots next to the cobbler as she moved past him toward the back room. “Hopefully I’ll be back in four weeks for my fitting.”
“If not they will look great on your corpse,” the cobbler replied. That brought back the grim smile to Sariah’s face.
The door to the backroom was a tight squeeze, forcing Sariah to move almost sidewise to get through. The backroom was darker than the front making Sariah pause for a moment to let her eyes adjust. The backroom was a bit crowded with boots and four armed guards with crossbows pointed at Sariah. They were spread around the outside wall, no one in the shooting path of another, and no way to take them all out at once. They did take their back door security seriously here in Ferngreen. She noticed that the bolts all had a discoloration on the tips. “Watch were you point those things. Someone might get killed,” said Sariah, displaying in her hands in a non-threatening way, making sure her mark could be seen by the four guards.
A fifth guard came from behind a stack of boots to Sariah’s right. She noted two more places there could be people hiding. Yep, they took security very seriously.
The newly revealed guard took the mark and did something to hit. The mark glowed for a moment then dimmed down. “She can pass,” said the guard holding the mark. “Follow me.” He gave Sariah back the mark and proceeded to lead her to the back of the shop. The four crossbow wielding guards never took their aim off of her. The guard leading her paused in front of the two doors at the back of the room. The guard opened the left door revealing a closet. “All weapons are to be left here. You will be checked thoroughly before proceeding.”
Sariah took off her sword and pulled out various knives hidden on her body and placed them in the closet. “Do I get dinner after you are done?” she asked when she was done.
The guard did not answer, but he closed the left door and opened the right door. Something small flew out from behind the door, but Sariah didn’t worry about that because a monster of a dog came leaping out at her. She dropped into a fighting stance, but the dog pulled up short. “What was that?” she asked, then she felt the prickle of a touch of magic from behind her. It was a gift and something she told no one about. She turned slowly and saw that the small flying thing was a mayna bird. They were a semi-intelligent bird that had a talent for magically detecting hunting implements. The mayna flew back into the corridor and the dog grinned and followed it. Sariah swore and looked at her escort. “Are we done playing games?” she asked.
“I am, but I am sure you are not,” he said and he entered the door.