There are two more parts after this, then that’s all I have written. I may continue this, or I might start on other things. If you have a preference, please let me know.
Previous: part two
Next: part four
The merchant didn’t know what had hit him. A simple stumble, a quickly placed hand and Reyst was off through the crowd with a newly acquired pouch of coins. She counted it casually as she went – a few silvers, enough for breakfast and a few supplies, at any rate – before tucking the loot into the belt that held up her trousers. It would have given the woman a kick to go back and buy her breakfast from the very merchant whose coin she had pilfered but she had left him far behind in the early morning crowd of the markets and his wares were probably not of the edible variety. Instead, she settled for some cured meat, a few pieces of fruit and a remedy that a rather talkative herbalist claimed would ease her pounding headache. Reyst was at least thankful that she could remember the entire night.
As the aches began to wear away, she cursed her luck. Of course the moment she decided to return to the duchy and seek information on the elusive Caevrin was the very moment politics involving the wayward lord had turned nasty. The gods were clearly not on her side this moon but she hardly expected them to smile upon someone who made her living through theft and trickery. Perhaps if they’d set out a more noble path for me I would not have turned out this way, she mused, picking at a loose thread in her jerkin.
And what if she actually found the gods-forsaken man? Would she simply have to hope he remembered her face and fell truly and madly in love with her? She was far too much of a pessimist to believe that. All she really wanted was to make sure he was alive and well. To see his face again, and then… And then Vince would have to inform him that he needed to take the throne from his stepmother. What a romantic reunion, Reyst thought with a roll of her eyes.
By the time she had padded her way back to the inn, the sun was up, warming the chill from the autumn air. Vince was sound asleep, stretched out on the bed and it took Reyst a good few shoves to rouse her cousin.
He groaned, covered his head and told her to go away in a language better heard on the streets. She gained his attention by thrusting him from the bed and, when he had managed to sit himself up on the floor, Resyt handed him the rest of the tonic.
“We need to gather supplies and leave town. I’m sick of this place,” said Reyst with a yawn as she sat on the bed before a glaring Vince. “I think we should head south, see if the towns there have anything else to add. We just have to hope the news of this… political scandal hasn’t stretched that far yet. And will you stop glaring at me? How is it that I can handle the afterday of revelries better than you can?”
“You’re an evil, evil woman. Stop using fancy words… doesn’t matter if you were schooled properly by the lady of the house, you’re a commoner.” Came the grumbles as Vince extracted the last few drops from the vial Reyst had given to him.
“I do when I’m on the streets and that’s all that matters,” she shrugged, standing to pick up her gear. “C’mon.”
It took until they had reached the markets for Vince to start acting like his usual self. The pair took their time browsing a stall full of many-coloured liquids, mostly healing concoctions, potions to increase speed and awaken the mind, and remedies for simple ills.
“So,” Vince began, sidling up to Reyst as she admired a particularly noxious-looking blue liquid, “you’re in love with this, uh… lad then?”
Not bothering to look at him, she shrugged. “S’not important. Besides, I’m two years younger than you and he’s even less. Hardly a ‘lad’, Vin.”
“Oh, stop changing the subject. How’d you meet? If you tell me, maybe I’ll let you come along.” That got him a glare.
“I’m already comin’ along. But if you must know, I met him when we were younger, near the palace, though I’d seen him in the duchy once or twice.”
“And what? That’s all you get.” Turning away from the stall, Reyst began to move towards a small, squat building.
Vince sighed dramatically, “Fine, cousin. But you will tell me eventually. Don’t reckon there’s any way to convince you that I want to do this alone, is there?”
“You’ll need the company. I’m useful. ‘Nough said.”
There was silence between them, Vince returning to nursing his hangover as they browsed the swords and daggers on show at the blacksmith. The smith wasn’t overly impressed with the fact that a woman wanted his wares but it was common enough in these parts for him not to make a fuss. It was clear that he didn’t think insulting her was worth the risk, at any rate.
It was only when the cousins had left that the man let his smile fade. They’d cheaped him out of his steel, too, driven a hard bargain. He moved out back to gesture to his partner once the red-haired man and his female companion had left the store.
“Kill them if ya have t’,” the smithy told his partner, shrugging idly, “think the lad was even a guard, get ya revenge and a nice sum of cash t’ boot.”
tl;dr – Never trust blacksmiths.