The Nighttime Visitor No. 7 – Plans Change

Rakel would have liked to take the next day off, too, and let her new collection of bruises turn slightly less interesting shades of yellow and purple, but in her estimation she couldn’t afford it. She was, after all, putting together a resume of sorts, and lack of determination was not a quality she wanted on it.

And so it was that the morning after the incident, Rakel woke to the sound of Two bouncing pebbles off her window. Before she could have any second thoughts, she climbed out of bed, and immediately felt the pain blossom from a dull ache to a piercing throb. She let out a hissing breath. After a bit she managed to compose herself, and resigned herself to a tenday or so of misery.

She briefly debated whether or not to see about finding the nearest public bath, and decided she’d rather not have to explain the bruises. The debate over whether or not to wear armor today raged a bit longer. On the one hand, the fact that she’d left it behind had probably saved her from a more savage beating yesterday; they might have just taken it off her, but she doubted they would have needed much of an excuse to break bones without any worry from whatever scraps of conscience they had left. On the other hand, she was certainly angling to be more subtle today, and as she was it wouldn’t take much more than a poke to the stomach to send her to the floor. She waffled for a moment more, and finally decided to wear it.

She buckled the leather plates on and wend down to the inn’s common area. She had a cup of tea and a lighter breakfast than usual, paid for another night, and set out for the day’s business.

The first item was Two. It pained her to have to take the into-the-wall toss out of its set of active instructions—that particular maneuver had cost her dozens of hours and a fortune in live pigs to get just so—but she comforted herself with the thought that she could always have Two bring it out on some special occasion. It took her half an hour or so to make the necessary changes, and when she finished, Two would loom, initimidate, and interpose itself as threats against Rakel escalated. It would take something very dire, or more probably a word from Rakel, to set him loose.

The second item was also Two, or at least related to it. As constructs went it was certainly imposing, but if it was to actually scare people it would need something more. After a bit of searching, she found a weaponsmith who had exactly what she wanted. It was relatively common among the city’s craftsmen to devote some time to making an example of their craft that was impressive but impractical; such an example tended to draw in the eye, and by extension the customer. This particular smith had a massive double-headed broadaxe hanging over the door. Rakel hefted it—it was nearly as tall as she was—and gave it an experimental swing. She had to drop it midway through; the balance was atrocious. She put a finger to the edge to test it, only to find that the axe didn’t have one.

The smith was baffled when she turned down his offer to sharpen it, but glad enough to take her money. For her part, she was glad to have a weapon for Two that neither looked like a toy in its hands, nor could accidentally kill someone stupid enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which wasn’t the same thing, she thought as Two took the weapon, as being unable to kill someone wilfully. She harbored no doubts about Two’s capacity to crack skulls if he got a decent windup.

The final item on Rakel’s list was a bit more complicated than the rest. Although the adventures of the day before had been fruitful in one way, they had utterly failed in another—she didn’t know anything about the gangs, their territories, or their relationships she hadn’t known before. With an eye toward changing that, she spent the rest of the day and all of the next, as well, in various bars, gambling dens, and racetracks, throwing money around and asking incautious questions.

By the end of the second day she had, by her reckoning, accomplished two things. First, she had a better idea of the current state of things between the gangs. It seemed to be as tenuous a web of alliances as she had ever seen, and given what she knew of Guild politics that was saying something. Second, she’d almost certainly attracted the notice of the gangs whose notice the casino incident hadn’t already grabbed.

Of course, she thought with a smile, just being noticed wasn’t enough. She settled into her usual chair in the inn’s common room. It was time to ruffle some feathers, and a plan was coming together to do just that.

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