Chapter One: FlightIt was too quiet. Not even the normal din of the rats and bats greeted him today. Dropping into the shadows, Bolgia slowly descended the stairs of the sepulcher he had called home these last five weeks, leaving his bag of spoils hidden amongst some rocks at its entrance. As he crept down the steps, he began to hear hushed voices.
“He must have been down here for months.” The first voice was male; deep and gravelly, possibly a dwarf. “How did you find this again?”
A second voice, this one also male but not quite as deep; possibly human, definitely not anyone Bolgia knew. “We were digging the new crypt for the Von Kircks, and one of our walls collapsed. We followed the tunnel behind it and here we are.”
Bolgia slinked forward farther, in an attempt to get a look at who was in his home, and trying to remember what of value was left there. He had spent the last four days with different smiths melting down most of the precious metals he had acquired and having all of the gems appraised before selling it all, feeling it was time for him to move on. Now, illuminated in the torchlight, were three shapes: one, definitely a dwarf, and the other two, much taller - humans, or possibly elves; which were confirming that feeling.
“We need to catch whoever it is. This hammer was buried with my father a week ago,” Yes, definitely a dwarf.
At this, Bolgia turned and began his ascent of the stairs, quickly and almost quietly. Four steps from the top, he slipped on some loose rocks, and sent them clattering down the stairs. He heard a yell from below and took off running, pausing only to grab his bag from the rocks where he had hidden it. He had not quite made it to the graveyards gate before he heard more shouting behind him. It was still early in the evening, and the normal revelers were in the streets, making the run all the more difficult.
Bolgia began weaving in and out of the crowd, bumping into many of them, causing more of a sir than he would have liked, before heading into the alley beside the bakery. He only had one chance, he thought to himself. As he approached the back of the bakery, he risked a look back, only to see a group of four figures, including two watchmen, and two elves, presumably the two taller shapes from the sepulcher, coming up the alley towards him. Bolgia rounded the corner, hoping to get to one of the inns off the square, The Shut Eye, the back entrance of which led into the sewers, before they caught up.
He dashed on, coming out of the alley on to Copper Lane, at the edge of the smith’s district. He could still feel the pursuers, but looking over his shoulder, noted that while one of the watchmen appeared a little closer, the other one and the elves seemed to have fallen a few steps farther behind. Crossing the street, Bolgia began up the back of one of the smithies, and dumped a barrel of water over as he ran by. Luckily, this had the desired effect of distracting the leading watchman long enough for Bolgia to round the smithy’s back corner and put on a burst of speed. As he approached the front, he snuck a look over his shoulder and, noting that no one seemed to have turned the last corner yet, rounded the front of the building, heading back in the direction he had come before. Quickly crossing the street, Bolgia ducked into the nearest smithy, only to find himself face to face with Grevvin, one of the dwarves he had done business with recently.
“Samael, what are you doing here again?” Gruff, and forceful, the dwarf knew something was odd, and only wanted anything to do with it if it there was money involved. Bolgia reached into the pouch he had grabbed from the rocks, pulled out a fair sized ruby and handed it to Grevvin. “Yours if you tell the watch I am not here and let me hide in the back.”
Grevvin nodded, the fire from the forge reflecting off the gem and gleaming in the dwarf’s eyes. Mesmerized, it took until Bolgia’s hand covered the gem before Grevvin remembered to breathe, and doing so, opened the door to the coal shed for Bolgia to hide.
It wasn’t five minutes later before Bolgia heard Grevvin talking to someone, and although muffled, he could make out most of the conversation.
“What can I do for you, Sir?” he heard Grevvin ask.
“Did anyone come in here, or did you see anyone run by?” The voice was high pitched and haughty - definitely belonged to an elf. This town only had a few elves on the Watch. He would need to figure out which one this was, but that would have to come later. Bolgia held his breath; he was either free to get to The Shut Eye, or Grevvin was going to turn him in. With this thought, he began to look at his surroundings, and in the light coming through the cracks around the door, noticed a ladder leading down into an opening.
“No Aelerynn, I haven’t seen anyone, unfortunately, I haven’t seen anyone at all today.”
That answered that question.
“Thanks Grevvin, it’ll pick up.”
The door shut, and a few minutes later Grevvin opened the coal shed, informed Bolgia he was free to go, and that it was a pleasure doing business with him.
Bolgia removed the ruby from the pouch, and held it out, but before releasing it to Grevvin’s waiting hand he asked, “Where does that go?” pointing to the ladder.
“Oh, nowhere,” replied the dwarf, snatching the ruby and pushing him towards the front door.
“It’s been a pleasure Grevvin,” Bolgia said, and took his leave. His trip back to The Shut Eye was uneventful and he was able to slip in without anyone, save the bartender, Grouss, even looking at him.
It didn’t take long before Grouss came over and offered him some soup. “Sure, and bring me some ale as well,” requested Bolgia, as he finally let his guard down and pulled back the hood of the gray cloak he wore. His blonde hair tumbled out, falling to his shoulders, barely covering his pointed ears, the only physical reminder of his elven father. His piercing blue eyes followed Grouss back to the fire, where he poured a bowl of soup and called for one of the barmaids to bring some ale over to Bolgia’s table.
“I knew I’d find you here, Samael.” Grevvin’s chin looked as if it could rest on the table without having to hunch down, and probably could have, as long as the dwarf had boots on. Grevvin was short, even for a dwarf, but made up for it with a nose for adventure, and a spark for combat; or so the stories went.
“What can I do for you Grevvin?”
First, you can order me an ale. Least you can do for me saving your life earlier. Then we’ll talk.” The beard made Grevvin’s smile show through all the brighter. Flaming red hair that was braided down the back, and a blue-dyed beard, which was also braided, made the dwarf stand out even more.
Bolgia raised his hand, caught the barmaid’s attention, and another ale was brought. And quickly consumed.
“So, what was that all about?” demanded Grevvin, laying it all on the table.
“Let me say this Grevvin. I am glad I got all of my stuff out when I did. Everything is pretty much converted down and portable now.” Bolgia was trying to say as little as possible, for he was afraid to let the dwarf know too much.
“But what about the place here?”
Bolgia’s mouth opened a little before he caught himself. How did Grevvin know about his room? There was that smile again.
“I have my friends, or possibly, you have your enemies. All I will say is, be careful, and I will see you again, soon.” With that, Grevvin got up and left. The table, and the mood, felt a lot emptier without the boisterous dwarf’s presence.
Shortly after the Grevvin left, Bolgia finished his soup, and the hunk of bread that had come with it. He decided that he would turn in for the night, headed upstairs, and unlocked the door to the room that Grevvin was not supposed to know about. Who else knew about this place? He thought to himself. Opening the door, he discovered a man sitting on his bed, playing with a bag of gems that had been hidden on the underside of the mattress. Instantly, his hands fell to the short sword on his left hip, and the whip on his right, but something stayed his hands. It took a minute, but finally the face of the intruder registered
“Bolgia. Or would you prefer Samael?” The man’s smile was perfect, and gleamed in the candle light against his dark skin. “As Lord of this town, I make it a point to know what happens here, even if I have to pay for that information. No, I see it in your eyes, Grevvin didn’t give you up, THAT dwarf is almost in the same boat that you are.”