The Commercial Circle
All right, now it's starting to sound a little bloody ominous.
Hearing something once or twice, a man dismisses it pretty easily. Coincidences do happen, after all, even when one lived in a world seemingly constructed out of labyrinthine plots, schemes within schemes, ever-shifting loyalties, and soulless self-interest above anything else. But turns of phrase were more easily discounted... until you heard the exact same one, attached to the exact same person, three times in a row.
What did you expect, talking about a mage-killer?
Those were the words Vorund had used when Kasoria had inquired about the woman. The crime boss had been put back enough that he'd stopped his scrawling and turned to peer at his pet assassin over his eyes glasses. Even Ilos had paused his second accounting of the books to scowl confusedly at him. But the old man knew his killer had a run-in of the magical sort: a meeting of minds, as it were, only the other mind was in the body of a thing that needed a shit-ton of tattoos and spells to not become a mass of murderous shadow.
Although Raellen was pretty damned murderous no matter how you sliced it, and without his new trinket, Kasoria would have been butchered, stripped, and forgotten in short order.
But he wasn't. He was alive and her precious fucking "Gift" was useless against him. All because of the thing he carried in his pocket at that moment in the Circle. Shadowy and indistinct, even in clear sunlight. Faintly throbbing with some nameless, indistinct wrongness that Kasoria did not know of and could not explain.
Vorund had given him a name, one he'd heard before. Not just her name, but another fellow who could... narrow things down.
"Ah, that ol' trout Gupta? North side, third wall on the inside, third or... nah, fifth lot, I think." The paunchy Blackjack had belched as if to punctuate his sentence. Mopped up beer and sausage from his beard. Kasoria silently bemoaned the state of the constabulary in the Arc Seven-One-Eight. Never would have flown, when he was in the Academy. "Good luck, wee man."
So, yes, Kasoria had frowned a little, to hear the dirty Blackjack say those words to him. As if he were some neophyte wandering blindly into the wyrm's hole. As far as he'd heard - and he'd heard plenty over the last decade or so - the old woman was... well, much like him, apparently. Only she was a legitimate version, and she used magic, and she was a woman. Fine, three big differences. But whenever she was mentioned, dead mages were always close behind her name. She was the Council's pet assassin, too, only she worked her will for Vuda, and against the magically-enabled of Etzos who wouldn't toe his line.
Kasoria was not worried about that part. He wasn't on the job, nor did he have a gripe with her. He sought only answers.
"Errrr... yeah, sure, up the road and left, mate," the street vendor said to him as he got closer to his goal, pointing with a hand holding some soggy bread roll with soggier meat wrapped in it. Sweltering heat and this wanker was out here selling hot food. "G'luck wiv' Ol' Lady Sima."
Kasoria was flat-out scowling as he marched away from the man. What did he look like, for fuck's sake?! But he forced his mind away from such useless grumbling and settled on the woman he was about to see. A sword, a dagger, he knew these things, and even if he did not know how to craft them, he knew what they were. What comprised them and how they were wrought. How to maintain and even enhance their use. Because they stayed the same. Because such things were known and understood, like the Common tongue and the value of gold.
But this was the wyrd his mother talked to him about. This was power, raw and elemental, being carried around in his back pocket. He knew the value of it, had seen first-hand how it had stymied that hell-bitch's Great Fucking Gift like it was a puff of wind hurled against a hurricane... but he still had to know how, and why. Answers were all he wanted, so he would know that the wrong walk down the street or muttered words or random incantation might turn his talisman of protection into an instrument of his doom.
And... here we are.
Or so he hoped, as he turned down the final street and found the lot he was looking for. Clean, respectable folk bustled about and didn't pay the shuffling figure much attention. Which was what the whole Stinky Beggar Look was for, of course. He passed under the radar here just as he did in the Oh'Pee. He'd rather not be wearing a chainmail vest and cloak with this fucking heat, but... you never knew.
That and it's been three times they've said that. Too bloody ominous.
Kasoria stopped in front of the door and tapped the vague bulge of the talisman under his cloak. Time for answers.