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Tag: the_dodger

The Beginning: Retribution
“Aye, we’re ‘ome safe ‘n sure now. You go ‘ave a sit, I’ll be ‘avin’ a chat with Master Roodle so’s this nae be ‘appenin’ again.” Hokur had shoved Sottovelo’s kitchen entrance door open with his foot as he had one arm around Ismay’s shoulders and her basket of market purchases under the other. The maid was shaking now, her face pale under her freckles, as the shock of what she had just escaped set in. Hokur slid the basket onto the counter with his hip and sat the girl down on a stool before turning to Maeve where she was seated at the table. “I’d be supposin’ that since yer down ‘ere, the master is up and about?”

“In the office with Dido,” Maeve stated simply around a nibble of scone. She recognized the ill-omened look clouding the mercenary’s face and thought it best not to get in his way. Yet.

“What’s happened then?” Morna demanded, turning from the stove with the ever-present spoon still in her hand even as she placed both fists on her hips to glare at the man.

“Some foolishment that’d best nae be trouble again.” Hokur said as he left to find the master of the house.

**

Hokur knocked once on the office door, waiting for a reply before entering. It was never a good idea to barge in on a wizard, particularly one who could vaporize demonic glass beasts. He found Namen sitting across from Dido over the central desk she used for most of the business of Sottovello. “You’re up early, Hokur. I thought you were heading to the Street of Doves after last night? Didn’t expect to see you until mid-day at the earliest.”

“Aye, been there most of the night. I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I came across some mischief ye best be knowin’ ‘bout. You be needin’ a proper footman about th’ place.” Hokur moved to the sideboard and poured a cup of tea, taking an experimental sip, “Och, this is that Rider Red?” he made a face indicating he was not at all impressed with the brew, regardless of its exclusivity.

“There’s a bottle of Flumenti uncorked if you prefer, or the dwarven brandy.” Namen gestured with a negligent wave of his hand before settling back to regard his Captain. “Why do I need a footman?”

Hokur poured a finger of brandy into a glass and shot it back before continuing. “Ah, this’s something right fine ‘ere!” the Aral said as he raised the empty glass. “As I was sayin’, I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I ‘appens to come through the farmer’s market. So’s I was standin’ there, figurin’ out if I wanted t’ try some o’ th’ apple fritters or just grab a biscuit from th’ kitchen at Libromazzarco, whens I sees a red’ead goin’ about ‘er business what looked familiar. Right enough, it was our Ismay. I also sees a bunch o’ jack-napes sniffin’ ‘round ‘er skirts. O’ course, she was ‘avin’ none o’ that, shooin’ ‘em away and such.”

The big Aral whipped a chair around one-handed and sat astraddle to face Namen and Dido before continuing his tale. “Ah’n that’s when th’ mischief begin. Seems right apparent-like they were nae takin’ th’ ‘int that she was nae interested, an’ th’ lot of ‘em were set t’ force th’ issue. Now as I’m standin’ there – havin’ decidin’ on th’ fritter – those young pups set t’ ‘arryin’ yer maid there until she got maneuvered out of th’ ‘erd, so’s t’ say. Well, I was ‘avin’ none o’ that, not fer one o’ our own. Just as I’s startin’ t’ cross the square, they pounced an’ got her tucked in t’ an alley.”

The big Aral scratched his chin, “Now I’m nae sorry t’ say I mighta knocked a few people t’ground gettin’ there, so’s ye may be havin’ to make nice wit’ ‘em but I had t’ get a double move-on,” he explained. “An’ quick as I can, I’m ducking in t’ th’ alley, fritter in one hand an’ th’ other restin’ on th’ Dodger t’ see these five cocksures have lil’ Ismay pinned up aginn’ th’ wall a ways down th’ alley. Silent as th’ grave she was... but screamin’ won’t help when there’s five sets o’ hands t’ quiet yer mouth.”

Namen’s lips had tightened into a grim line and his brows drew down as Hokur related the tale. “And?” he said stiffly.

Hokur shrugged, “Och, th’ lass is fine now, down in th’ kitchen wit’ ‘er ma an’ Maeve. Alls I ‘ad t’ do was step up an’ inform th’ scuttleworms that their … assistance… was nae required. Theys took that hint fair quick once a few elbows got me sidled up next t’ Ismay. But I did ‘ear something about one red’eaded Aral bein’ as good as another as I was comin’ up on ‘em.” He pulled down is long moustaches. “Come t’ think on’t, there were a few red-dyed whores down yonder as well. So’s as I see it, you need a proper footman t’ make sure some such mischief nae be ‘appenin’ again.”

“I see.” Namen rose and moved to pour himself a glass of the Flumenti. “Ismay is unhurt and …intact, you said?”

“Aye. Mebbe a wee shook up but th’ jack-a-napes had lil’ chance t’ do ‘er any ‘arm afore I stepped in.”

“Good. And you could pick these fellows out if you saw them again?” Namen asked before raising the glass to his lips.

“Aye, I suppose I could at that.” Hokur raised one bushy eyebrow at the wizard. “Yer plannin’ on somethin’ I can tell. Ya got th’ same look Arcelli gets when ‘e comes ‘cross ‘ob tracks.” Hokur tilted his head, “Come on now, it were mischief, right ‘n true, but th–”

Namen cut him off before he could finish, “I’m planning a lesson, an abject lesson, in manners.” The shorthairs on the mercenary’s neck stirred as his employer spoke. “One should always teach the ill-mannered the error of their actions, and the sooner the better or it won’t stick, just like beating a dog the day after it pisses on the floor doesn’t work. They’ve forgotten that this wizard is to be feared,” he glowered. Namen paused and drew a long, calming breath. “But you are correct, Sottovelo does need a footman. I’ve been meaning to add one to the household but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. This just illustrates the need to make it more of a priority. Besides,” he glanced at Dido, “if Maeve is to be a proper Salpian wife, she’ll need to be escorted by a footman now.”

“Oh, getting that girl… young woman, to have some man trailing along with her whenever she goes out, that will be a fruitful conversation.” Dido murmured.

“Ha! Yes, but she’ll see the reason for it I’m sure.” Namen cocked his head to one side. “Perhaps if we got one of her brothers… Regardless, that conversation will happen soon enough.” He turned to the still-seated Aral. “My thanks to you for saving Ismay from those fools. Now, off to Libromazzarco with you, get some rest, and I’ll see you tonight. We’ll go hunting,” he finished with a predatory gleam in his eye.

Hokur nodded, “Aye then.” He stood and put the chair back in its rightful place. “The Dodger likes the dark.”
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Tags: Dark , fools , Plans , The Dodger
Epic!