198. Pieces in Place
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Pieces in Place

Middanhal

Theobald looked up as the door to his study opened. The guard standing on post stuck his head inside. “There’s a man from Theodstan here.”

The captain of the city guard nodded. “Fine. Let him in.”

With a wink to the guard, Geberic walked inside. “My thanks, captain, for seeing me.”

“Theodoric is my kinsman, albeit distant. You’re his thane, aren’t you? I recognise you.”

“I was, once upon a time,” replied the other man. Seeing Theobald frown, Geberic hurried to continue. “The jarl released me from his service. I serve another now, whom you once fought with. Whom you helped before under dire circumstances. He has sent me to ask for your aid once again.”

The captain’s frown deepened, but he did not dismiss his visitor. “Who?”

~~~~

Three men walked along the Arnsweg just beyond the southern gate. Two of them carried longbows, while the third had only a short sword by his side. “Up there,” Glaukos said, “and up there.” He pointed first at one building, then another across the road while traffic moved around them.

“That should be fine,” Nicholas remarked. “We’ll be ready.”

“Not sure how I’m supposed to get into that house and onto the roof,” Quentin complained.

“You’re a warrior,” Glaukos chastised him. “If you can’t barge your way through, I’ll lose what little respect I might have had for you.”

“Fine, I’ll be ready.” Quentin stamped his bow staff into the ground, looking dour as ever.

“What if there’s no fighting tomorrow?” asked the other archer.

“Then you join us,” Glaukos explained.

“And if there’s fighting? We’ll run out of arrows eventually,” Quentin pointed out.

“Then you’ll have done what you could. Make your escape and go where your heart takes you.” Glaukos threw up the hood on his cloak and left the bowmen.

~~~~

Every day, a mass of people entered the great Temple of Middanhal. While the city had countless shrines scattered throughout, this was the holiest place in all of Adalmearc, and people came from all the Seven Realms to offer the gods gratitude or beseech them for help. Because of this, the Temple square overflowed with people all the way up the stairs and into the Hall of Holies.

Naturally, the Temple had many smaller doors, allowing the priesthoods to enter and leave the complex with ease. As the sun rose in the sky, a small handful of whiterobes made their way through one such entrance. Their ekename seemed a vestige rather than an accurate description; their clothes were coloured by dirt from long travels. None of the priests or priestesses, acolytes, or novices remarked on this, either out of courtesy for their faith or respect for the great war hammers each whiterobe carried over the shoulder.

Even if done in silence, the resident robes watched the newcomers with great interest and wonder. The priests of the Bear typically found in the Temple wielded quills rather than hammers, being responsible for the library in the complex; even they looked at their brothers from Heohlond with trepidation, reverence, or a mixture of both.

Caradoc Whitesark, quietly accepted as the leader of the group, gladly returned the looks with a broad smile. “Let’s get some food and a wash, brothers,” he told the others. “Then, we’ll talk to our brethren. Time is short.”

~~~~

Several women sat in the chambers where Arndis and Eleanor resided, all of them young. They were daughters of the nobility or handmaidens, sometimes both. Lively discussion took place concerning all events at court, helped along by barely diluted wine.

A quiet knock on the door went unheeded among the choir of voices until repeated louder. Finally, Arndis’ handmaiden opened the door. Finding a warrior outside, she took a step back before composing herself, inquiring as to the nature of the visit. Once she had received a reply, Jenny walked over to whisper into her mistress’ ear.

With a doubtful expression, Arndis rose and walked over to the door. Seeing Geberic in the doorway, she flinched. Casting a look inside the room, she decided to step outside and close the door behind her.

“What news?” she asked hoarsely.

Geberic looked down the hallway in either direction. “This isn’t the best place to talk.”

“Follow me.” Arndis went down the corridor and chose a room to enter. “The current occupant is in my chamber at present. We can speak in here.”

Geberic followed her, casting glances before stepping inside. “Your brother has sent me.”

“I figured as much. Where is he?”

“Outside the city. I’m to bring you to him. And take all the coin you can. You may not get a second chance.”

“What’s he planning?” asked Arndis.

“He’ll want to explain it himself, milady. He gave me simple orders. Bring you to him without drawing attention, and bring all your coin with you.”

The young woman looked at the door. “Whatever is happening, I cannot leave Eleanor behind. Not if there is danger afoot.”

“I suppose whether the carriage has one or two passengers make little difference.”

“You have a carriage?”

Geberic gave a wry smile. “That’s one of the things we need the coin for. I spent my last silver getting into the city.”

~~~~

“You summoned me, my lord.” The captain of the Red Hawks stood in the dragonlord’s study, watching Konstans expectantly.

“I have a task for you of a different nature than typical. Seeing as your men are idle in the city, I have use of them.”

“We are ready to serve, my lord.”

“Do you know of Adalbrand of House Arnling?”

“I have heard of his reputation and that he is an exile.”

Konstans nodded. “Indeed. He has many who are loyal to him. Brigands and the like. I have been told some of his men have been seen in the city.”

The mercenary stepped closer. “You wish for us to apprehend him?”

“I do.” The dragonlord pushed a small bag over the desk. “This will help pay for information.”

“You do not wish the Order to handle this?”

“I do not consider them trustworthy in this matter.”

The captain picked up the bag. “It shall be done.”

Konstans narrowed his eyes. “Where are you from, captain?”

“I hail from Alcázar, my lord, same as most of the men in my company.”

“Good. You will not have problems with this next part.”

“Which is?”

“When you find any of Adalbrand’s men, you ensure they lead you to the villain himself. Return to me with proof of his demise, and another bag of equal worth will be yours.”

The mercenary gave a grim smile. “Consider it done.”

“Use discretion, captain. I do not wish for any to learn of his fate or how he met it.”

“As you command, my lord.” The Red Hawk bowed his head and left to gather his men.

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