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Early Morning Meeting
Thu Oct 26, 2006 19:03
74.140.252.113 (XFF: 192.168.1.3)

Present Day


The air smelt of salt, fish, and cold. The landscape was stark with the grey that the season of winter implied. Few clouds streaked the skies over the city of Ebou Dar giving the very atmosphere of the docks a feeling of starkness as if she were one of the few people left alive in a place that had in the past, been crawling like ants over the ground. The sound of a gull close to her head caused her to turn her eyes from the gentle waves of the sea to the air, and then the wooden landscape that made up each boat dock in search of the source. The dirty birds usually only had something to speak about when it meant food, or the possibility of it, was in the air. Wiley had been under the impression that she was the only one standing on this particular section of shoreline. Anyone in this area of town so early in the morning was either beginning to find the end of his troubles left from the night before, or was seeking to begin some with the sunrise. She had been after neither, and was only seeking a bit of solitude from the people whom called her friend.

“I thought I’d find you here,” A familiar figure was walking toward her at a casual pace, a half-empty bottle—ale, no doubt—hanging from his dirty hand before he brought it to his lips. Wiley felt a pang of disappointment rush through her before she pushed away the useless emotion. Countless times she had felt that sudden rush through her veins and the feeling that her heart was clenching in anticipation. Each time it was a waste of adrenaline—her friend would not be returning.

Resigning herself to the knowledge that this particular visitor would not be leaving her soon, she removed her heal from the wooden slat that it had been resting on while she leaned against the post watching the birds from over her shoulder and keeping an eye on the position of the sun in the east. She had no intention of staying there for long, and had hoped to meet her informant by noon. “What is it you want, Walter? Besides a whore and another bottle of liquor, that is.” Tossing her hair over one shoulder, she straightened and adjusted the ill-fitting cape around her shoulders. The man that it had originally belonged to had been of broader shoulders than she. Even though it enveloped her completely, she was always careful to keep it closed lest anyone see the items that she was carrying on her person and decide that they wanted to relieve her of that inventory. Her brief stay in the city had been enough to give her an education on her competition. Her craft was highly specialized, and was looked down upon by many important people in the city. She knew full well what would happen to her if she were to get caught by any of them.

Her skin had been branded once already, she did not wish to give the mark a brother.

“Want? Nothing. Only to inquire about your health and happiness in this fine city, my lady.” The filthy man bent a leg to her, spreading his arms wide so that the moth-eaten piece of cloth around his shoulders pretending to be a cloak fanned out around him. Seeing his unwashed body were it was unprotected by clothing was enough to make Wiley glad that she was standing no closer to him and that the wind was still today. “Though, if you did have a few coins to spare, I’d be much obliged…” He took another draw off the glass bottle, and gave a hard swallow. The length of his forearm acted as a handkerchief when his mouth failed to hold what had been left inside. It was just another stain to add to his sleeve, and the blaggard didn’t mind.

When Wiley didn’t raise a hand to offer him any coin, he spat a curse and tossed the bottle across the wood of the pier making it give off a tinkling sound until it found the edge and fell into the water. “I hardly think that sea water was the refill you were looking for, Walter, though it may do a great amount of good to sober you up. Would you like me to fish it out of the sea for you? I’ll expect a tip.” She half-turned as if she were planning on doing just that, but stopped and gave him a small grin instead. She had always been pleased with her sarcastic wit and lingual capabilities—even when some people didn’t seem to understand, or at least didn’t find them funny. This man was usually part of both groups.

“If you’d stop flapp’n your gums, girl, I’d tell you what I came here to tell you.” He frowned hard at her and came a few steps closer with the slow and stumbling footsteps that were his usual gate. He half turned to look behind himself to ensure they were still the only people on the docks. The sun was still low in the sky, but it would not be much longer before the earliest risers of the city had began to leave their homes. Wiley gave a sigh, pushing off the pillar for the last time that morning. Her time of solitude was over. Seeing that the cloak was closed again, she then put her hands to the hat on her head. Its brim was wide, hiding most of her hair, but it was different enough that she was recognizable to people who ran in the same circles as she. Once it was straightened, she closed the space between the filthy man and herself. Whatever it was he had to say would need to be kept between the two of them, not the rest of Ebou Dar.

“Alright then. What is it?” She rested one hand on her hip. “I guess you were lying when you said this was merely a friendly visit.”

“There is a rumor that a man is coming here, and the rumor also says that he is looking for someone. He’s put a price on their head large enough that all his friends will be enemies before sunset tonight. I just thought you might want to know about that.”

She gave a frown and glanced at the grey sky again, noticing that smoke was coming from most of the chimneys close to the sea’s edge. Dark smoke could only mean that women were out of bed, making breakfast for their husbands or for their masters. Morning meal meant that people would be out and about soon. Wiley was getting eager to be moving on. “And why do I care that someone is looking for someone else? I gave up bounty hunting some time ago, you know that, Walter. I’m not particularly interested in reentering the game right now, no matter what the sum of coin to be earned from it. Hunting people is a messy and dangerous past time.”

The old drunk gave a laugh like a mule braying, the sound was full of air and rasping causing her to quirk one eyebrow. “I didn’t say it to be funny, you know.” Apparently though, he was amused by her and continued to laugh until the braying turned to coughing and spitting.

“You don’t know anything do you? Ha! Real thief you are, don’t even know the street chatter about your own self.”

“Excuse me?” Her patience was beginning to run out. “Spit it out, old man.”

He turned his milky hazel eyes to her that had probably once been captivating in his youth. Now age and illness had turned his eyes, like the rest of his body, into another outward symptom of the sickness that was within. “What I mean to say, girl, is that this man is looking for you. There’s such a prize on your head that I’m of half a mind to turn you in myself. If you have half the wit in your head that you pretend to have, you’ll turn tail and get out of Ebou Dar tonight.”

Wiley gave a frown and took a step back. “Oh.”

~Wiley~

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