[Story] Asking Questions

Captain Dawnstrike didn’t even look up from his papers, so Imralion wasn’t sure if he’d even heard his request.

“Sir,” he asked again, shifting in his armor. “I said I’d like permission to investigate the murders.”

This time, the Captain had heard him. He laid his quill down across the top of the paper he was writing on, and looked at Imralion. “What are you talking about?”

“In Murder Row,” explained Imralion. “I was told–”

“There’s a reason it is called that,” the Captain sneered. “Do you think you can guess why that might be?”

He was already beginning to regret his promise. “Yeah — yes, sir. I know. It’s just it was brought to my attention that we never send any patrols to–”

The Captain looked at Imralion sharply. “I’m not sending my knights down there. Listen, you can do whatever you like off-duty. I don’t need to hear about it. But it’s a stupid idea and you’re going to get yourself robbed, or killed, or worse.” He took his scabbard from where it had rested, leaning against the wall, and ensured that it was tied on. “If you’ll excuse me.” He brushed past Imralion and headed out into the street.

Reluctantly, Imralion checked that his own weapon was still handy. Aeramin told him not to wear his usual armor, that it would mark him too much and he would stand out too easily. So he’d borrowed some old recruits’ pieces from the armory, looking for the most dented and rusty pieces. They didn’t fit him quite right, either, so it wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it would do for a short while. Even so, he felt the curious stares as he approached the darkened street, and one an arcane patroller paused to scan over him.

He hadn’t really any idea where to start, he thought to just look for someone who might be willing to talk, and begin asking questions. The Captain was right, murders weren’t unusual, but there had been many more of late, and whoever was responsible was targeting the workers specifically. It upset Julan, the dancer — new ranger, Imralion reminded himself — and by extension, Aeramin. There was some history there, it seemed, as there often was. Imralion supposed it was natural, given that he’d once lived and worked here, but why did Aeramin seem to know every guy in the city?

Imralion wrinkled his nose as he walked along the street. He could smell urine and garbage, and who knows what else. The surrounding buildings towered over, throwing the street into dim shadows, even now in the bright evening sunshine. He thought he saw movement in the darker shadows, whether they were elves or something else he couldn’t be certain. But he most certainly felt that he was being watched.

It didn’t take long for an enterprising resident to approach, however. The boy looked fairly young, but it was difficult to be sure. He wore a pair of green shorts, and nothing else, not even shoes. Imralion had expected that he would be propositioned, but he hadn’t expected that they would be quite so persistent. Nor did the guy even seem to have any idea what Imralion was asking about. Sure there are murders, he said, every day. Was Julan making the whole thing up? Was it all some twisted prank of Aeramin’s to trick him into coming down here? The guy suggested that he talk to a nearby girl, who lingered around a nearby pillar. They finally described a man with dark hair, who wore robes — but they didn’t know what color — who sometimes frequented the area. Just great, Imralion thought, frustrated. The most vague and useless description imaginable. Had he hired the victims? They didn’t know, but it was likely given that their bodies were found inside their own homes. Would they recognize him if they saw him again? They didn’t know. Here he was, trying his best to help them, but they couldn’t tell him anything. And then the girl had the nerve to charge him gold, “for her time”, she said. Annoyed, Imralion fished out five gold pieces and gave them to her. He would have given her a lot more if she’d actually said something useful. Perhaps sensing this, she frowned and took only two of them. Imralion gave the other two to the guy.

He wrote his address onto two scraps of paper, and gave one to each of them. He instructed them to write if they saw or heard anything else, or knew someone who might. If they couldn’t do that, they could always come to the office and ask for him. They both looked skeptical, but perhaps they’d be more willing to talk if he wasn’t standing right there and causing a scene. By this point, eyes were beginning to show around corners and in windows. They didn’t trust him, and why should they? No one else had bothered before. Imralion was trying. He wanted to help them, wanted to make a difference. But it all seemed so difficult.

It was best to leave before the sun set completely, Imralion thought. Best not to press what luck he’d had so far. He would have to tell Aeramin what he’d discovered — all of nothing, so far.

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