Publisher: Black Dog Gamebooks
The suns are just dropping down over the horizon of the Scarlet Ocean and you know that in a few minutes it will be almost totally dark in the port area in the large, sprawling city of Laeveni. The city is the largest in the empire of the One True God, and contains the holy seat of power. Behind you, as dusk falls, the bells chime from the tall elegant spires of Amaldi City. Amaldi is the central Holy City that resides as an almost separate state inside its own walls in the centre of Laeveni, high on the hillsides. This separate inner city is surrounded by marble walls 50 feet high, and just as thick, and nigh on impregnable. And it is guarded by 5000 warrior monks and priest knights.
The bells chime to call the many priests, monks and acolytes to service in the many hundreds of churches inside the Amaldi walls. The light of the twin suns reflects from the tall marble walls, making the inner city almost seem to gleam. But you are miles away from such grandeur. You hope you will never see inside the walls of the Amaldi City again, as last time you barely escaped alive.
However, you ignore the bells and focus. This is still your favourite time of the day – when the whole night is in front of you. You carefully suppress the excitement you feel for tonight’s job, as excitement leads to haste. You are again perched on top of the grain warehouse at the edge of the docks, watching your current prey. You have been watching for the last three nights, knowing that the merchant finishes work at sundown, and then meets fellow merchants in a wine shop for a couple of hours before returning home.
You see merchant Malombr as he leaves his office and warehouse opposite your vantage point on Dockside Way. Malombr’s warehouse looks just like a ramshackle place on Harbour View near the main wharf. He takes time and care to secure his premises. Malombr is a precise man who is never careless. In his time in the town, he has never been robbed despite his wealth being well known. On one has even tried, apart from that one incident a year ago. However, he is also a man of routine – which means he is also predictable.
The wharf is getting increasingly lively and rowdy, with sailors in port drinking alongside soldiers, brigands, dwarves and many other creatures in the many dives along the docks. Greasy smoke from the numerous fireplaces and torches lighting the roads drifts up to your vantage point, and mixes with the other smells of a seaport: salt, rotting fish, rubbish, excrement and the stench of unwashed bodies. Some things never change, you think to yourself wryly, but also appreciating that the city remains unchanged. The docks on a winters evening are not for those with weak stomachs – and that’s before you even try the swill most of the taverns pass off as beer.
He then makes his way away up Harbour View across onto the Street of Blues. He could easily afford to take a coach, but you know he enjoys walking through the filth ridden streets of the wharf. This is partly because he likes to see where he started off as a street urchin, and secondly as he is always on the lookout for a business opportunity and he finds walking gives him the best chance of noting them. He’s not worried about run-ins with less desirables, as he’s not alone.
As always he’s accompanied by his two bodyguards, who are as always half a step behind him, flanking him. These man-mountains look at least half-orc. They are fearsomely muscled and heavily armed with serrated bastard swords sheathed at their hips, along with a number of smaller weapons. You know that a direct confrontation with them would lead to a quick, painful and messy death – for you. Brawn was not an option. As so often in the life of a thief, guile is required.
You follow Malombr and his guards on cat feet, running effortlessly across the rooftops and across streets. You are well-named as you pass like a shadow in the night. Then Malombr turned left onto Willow Street, and follows the road round into Pawnbrokers Avenue. He crosses the square to The One Eyed Rat wine house, leaving his bodyguards outside as the Rat is one of the few places that he doesn’t need them. It’s also a tavern used by the Thieves Guild.
You wait on the rooftops opposite on the junction with Main Street. You wait in the same position for two hours whilst the merchant eats, drinks and brags with his friends and rivals.
Even the refined area of the more residential areas still carries the stench of the port – although the wine in the Rat is infinitely better than that from the harbour side dives. Then Malombr leaves the Rat, walking quickly and with purpose back home. You get up to follow across the rooftops.
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