Chapter 3 Part 2
Follwing a Tracker
“Thanks, Ma’am,” I said, smiling down at an older woman I had been getting directions from, “I’m sure the captain will be happy to get his badge back, and no mistake. I hope I can still catch up.” The woman gave a confused sort of wave, and we were off again.
“We’re getting close, fellows; I can feel it.” I turned around to face Joe and Mordecai, who were coming up behind me. “The air is getting a touch ripe, wouldn’t you say?”
“Hey, we can’t all…” Joe snapped.
“No, Friday- he’s right. Take a deep breath.” Said Mordecai, stopping Joe.
Joe looked at Mordecai dubiously. “Deep?”
“Fine, shallow, and gasping like normal then, whatever. Dale’s right, there’s a different sort of smell here.”
Joe sniffed the air a couple times and recoiled. “Yeah, that’s the packing plant.” He paused, pulled a gear medallion from his vest, and snuffled along the leather thong it was hanging on. “In fact, I think you’re on to something; here.” He passed me the gear.
“Well, it’s leather. Where did you think leather came from?” I returned, wanting to get my own little snarks in.
He sighed, frustrated, and returned “Hur, hur. Where do I think leather comes from… It’s more the particular assortment of…” he grimaced again, “aromas that are carried on this thing.”
I took a sniff, and had to agree. Whoever had this thing had spent a lot of time near, or at least some time very near this place.
“Right. Then I think that this is where we have to look.” I pointed at the thirty-foot wall, and re-enforced gates that made up the access to the Hormstedder packing district. “We followed your man’s trail right to here, and this medallion, or at least its perfume, shows us the next step.”
Everyone nodded, and Joe said “Looks like we’ll have to watch the place. Where’s there a good lookout?”
The wall of the compound ran down the street, in both directions, for some way before it met up with the edges of a natural pocket of the caverns. No real way of sneaking around back. Only the one gate, and there were guards. A double-wide street ran in front of the wall, presumably for deliveries, or the like. On the other side of the street from the plant, run down shops and apartment buildings of the old type stood; each rough wall raised by long-dead mages who sought to protect the first of humanity that came here.
Even the centuries can be unkind to magecraft, but in this case, gave a softer look to what once would have been featureless stone cubes.
“What about from there,” Mordecai pointed out the third floor in an apartment building, “it’s got a good view of the street in both directions, and it’s right by the gate there.”
“Let’s see if we can make a vacancy,” grinned Joe, as he stalked towards the block.
“We’ll check around back,” Mordecai said, and waved me along.
“How’s Joe going to get in?” I said, leaving Joe and catching up with Mordecai, “I mean, most of these places have some kind of security, right?”
“Joe will…” Mordecai paused at the mouth of the alley, looking into the dark corners, “Joe will probably ask someone nicely.” He put his hand on his weapon, and stalked down the shadowed space between the buildings, glaring at the ruffians dicing in a corner.
The back door was locked. Obviously so. Mordecai was a little startled, pulled at the lock on it’s hasp, and looked almost betrayed.
“I guess we’ll have to go around and…” I started, before Mordecai heaved back on the lock, and hurled himself through the door, splitting it neatly in half.
“Hmm?” He said, while carefully picking splinters from his cape.
“Nothing, I guess.” I passed through the door, stepping over the drunkenly listing half, which was still hanging from the lock. “So what are we going to do about this?” I said, pointing at the open portal, and the ruffians, who were taking an unhealthy interest to the free access to the building.
“Huh? Oh.” He grunted, looking around for something to fix the situation.
“It’s a good thing we’re friends,” I chuckled, turning back to the gamblers in the alley, and picking up the pieces of the door.
“Sorry, lads! Nothing today!” I called to them, and while they were looking puzzled, pushed the halves together and made it whole again.
Mordecai chuckled, and clapped me on the shoulder. “Right you are- now where’s Friday?”
“Up here, Morty.” Joe called, sitting on the stairs most of the way up. “That was fun, but we need to get a move on.”
“So, if there’s no building manager, how do we find out about vacancies?” Dale asked.
Morty and I exchanged looks.
“Well, it doesn’t always work that way down here.” I listened for the sound of family, or rather the lack thereof, and continued “We’re just going to ask someone to move out.”
“That’s delightfully informal!” He said, looking pleased. “I had to wait for weeks to get into the bachelor’s quarters, in House.”
I found a likely door, and started banging on it. “Yeah, I bet. Who’s got some money on them? We may need to pay this…”
“Yeah, what?!” Came a yell through the door.
“Hey, I want your place.” I called back.
“To Xoriat with you, it’s mine!”
“Hey, hey, now- don’t be like that.” I mimed getting money from the guys, and suggested in an undertone that they hurry it up. “I can pay.”
There was a period of silence after that. What do you know- you can work magic with gold.
“Three silvers.” The voice called, “push ‘em under the door.”
Morty rolled his eyes, and payed up.
Having negotiated the use of the apartment, the owner now gone for better pastures, we sat on the busted up furniture that remained, and watched the patrols in front of the packing district. It wasn’t until morning, and Dale had to leave for work, that I got an idea.
“Alright, thanks Dale. It’s been good working with you.” I told him, as he was on his way out.
“Sure! If you fellows figure out what’s going on, I think I’d like to get in on it. Awfully strange, I must say.”
“We need to get some new clothes.” Remarked Joe, suddenly, not long after Dale had left.
“I didn’t know you cared.” I said, smirking. “When is our appointment with the famous Clebdecher?”
“Wrong end of the scale, man. We’re going to work.”