Cries of battle had been heard throughout the night. From the safety of the new boarding house, it was hard to tell whether either side had won.
Ziedon inspected his possessions, and found that everything was accounted for, except one dagger, presumably the one he'd thrown at the priest. “I don't need to worry about the priest coming after me again,” he said to Kreemon and Korisca. “I bet them and broke their spell. I need to study for a little while, and then need to make contact with Forgolon. Did he say where we could meet him?”
Kreemon replied, “I think he said we could set up a meeting at the same tavern.”
“Do you think you could set a meeting up today before the weather starts getting all crazy?”
“Yeah, I could stop by there and see if I can arrange something.”
“Oh, Kreemon can I borrow that scepter?”
“Sure, here you go.”
“Did you find any jewelers?”
“I found a few.” Kreemon told Ziedon about them, how they were all on main streets, but there were a couple that at least weren't within sight of a guardhouse. “I'll go set up the meeting and let you know by the blue ribbon when it is.”
“That'd be great. Thanks.”
Kreemon got to his feet and headed to the door. “I'll also see what's going on with the invading army.”
“Kreemon, ever heard of a Death Omen?”
“Sounds like what it describes, an omen of an approaching death.”
Kreemon closed the door behind him and headed for Grabble's. He took a detour by one of the walls to see the aftermath of yesterday's battle, and found that he couldn't get close. Hundreds of guards in Maelbourg uniform, most of whom had clearly been at their jobs no longer than a few hours, kept anyone from stepping within thirty yards of the walls. They'd probably had to kick people out of their homes, but there were no angry residents about. If anyone was upset by the outcome of last night's battle, they kept their opinions to themselves.
Kreemon also noticed that the large number of priests who had been lurking everywhere for the past few days were gone. He spotted one or two trying to be discreet lookouts, but no more. Either they genuinely believed they had killed Ziedon, or they wanted to make everyone think they had. Based on the final words of the golden priest the day before, it was probably the later.
Grabble's Inn was near the town wall, but not quite close enough to have been evacuated. Kreemon stepped in and saw that more than half of the patrons were in uniform, slipping away from their new posts for a quick drink. Kreemon stepped up to the bar and quietly asked the innkeeper about getting a message to Forgolon.
“He hasn't been by for a couple days – strange, that – but he always comes around sooner or later. What do you want me to tell him?”
“If you could get a message to him. His tutor is feeling better and can resume lessons, and would like the next lesson to be tomorrow around noon. Do you know where I might find him in the meantime?”
“I don't keep tabs on my performers, least of all Forgolon. Can't see that man needing a tutor in anything though.”
“What is going on with all of the guards? Does it have anything to do with the sorcerer's threat to shake the earth?”
Grabble laughed, holding his belly will both hands. “Have you been locked in a cage the last day? The sorcerer's dead, and some fellow named Balban tried to take the town by force. Crazy times, but I think we'll make it out okay.”
Kreemon left the tavern and looked for the nearest group of people. With an attempt at mingling, he said in a quiet voice, “Did you hear? The priests failed to get the sorcerer; that's why they increased the guard. The sorcerer threatened to cause the earth to quake tomorrow night in retaliation.” He moved through every crowd he saw, conveying the same message, helping the rumor to spread. Most people ignored him or laughed at him – after all, it was obvious why the guard had been increased – but he turned a few heads. Kreemon was careful not to draw too much attention to himself, just passing a little here and a little there. Once he thought the rumors had taken hold, he took a careful route back.
When he got back to his room, Kreemon told Korisca, “Looks like Balban was behind the army trying to take the city, but the city held on.”
“That's good. Ardith never seemed to like him much when she talked about him. She kept talking about how he'd said he was going to tax Maelbourg harshly.”
“That doesn't mean he and his army went away though. It also will be very difficult for us to leave the city if we need to now too.”
“Do we need to?”
“No, nothing like that, but it is always good to have options.” Kreemon prepared a lunch for the two of them as they talked, opening the shutters to the window as he moved around the room. “Do you know if there are any merchants in town who trade in animals? Birds, beasts, exotic, and the like?”
“I know where you can get some good mouse-catchers – cats, I mean, and horses and mules are always easy enough to find. I've heard that the townsmen sometimes keep birds, but I don't know where they get them. Oh, and snakes. Some really religious people have snakes.”
“What kind of snakes? Do you know if there is a merchant that sells them? Or if there is one that sells hawks?”
“You know, I never really wanted to know much about the people who sell snakes. They turn up somehow, little garden snakes up to some big ones people keep to show how devoted they are to Morenth. Pretty crazy if you ask me. I don't know about selling hawks. You might have to wait until the next Huerten fair for that.”
“When is the next fair?”
“Summer. No, wait, there's the one tomorrow, but we've already been to that one. Aah! I can't wait until a few more days from now, when we can forget all this craziness.”
They continued to talk while they ate lunch. When they were wiping the last crumbs of bread from the table, Kreemon asked if Korisca would take a walk around town with him to look for animal merchants. With nothing better to do, they let that task take up the rest of the day. There was no central place where a variety of animals could be found, so they had to follow a trail made by word of mouth. A shopkeeper who had a few cats to spare directed them to a textiles journeyman who raised dogs, and the owner of the dogs had a cousin who could offer them a good deal on a mare, and so on. Horses and cats, while expensive, were readily available. Dogs could also be had, and there was some demand for them. Goats were certainly available, but once Kreemon learned that they were generally reserved for the priests, he didn't bother to ask. They learned that one person kept bluebirds, but held them very dear and didn't generally sell them. Another person raised snakes, but they were told that he was very particular about where the snakes went – he would only sell them to the most devout Morenthians.
Kreemon asked a few of these people about animals in the woods and farms outside the town, using his obviously foreign look to play the role of a merchant who wanted to be prepared for any dangerous wildlife. He was surprised at how few people could give him any sort of answer; Maelbourg was even more insular than he'd believed. Nevertheless, he did eventually learn that, besides farm animals, travelers had to be wary of wolves and snakes. This time of year, wolves would be the only worry, along with the occasional brown bear who hadn't yet gone into hibernation. This was nothing Kreemon couldn't have guessed on his own.
Kreemon also kept an eye on the priests and guards. With the number of hired guards, it was clear that the town was ready for war, but the abilities of the new hires had to be questioned. While Kreemon had given up his sword, he still remembered his training in Elgony, and some of these people looked like they'd have trouble holding a sword upright. On the other hand, every thug and brawler had a weapon in his hand, and that could prove a formidable force. The priests were in evidence, but only in small numbers, as if they didn't want to be noticed.
As he surveyed the chaotic rows of untrained guards, he decided to get some more information. “Excuse me,” he asked a tough-looking guard who looked like he'd been recruited off the street. “I've noticed the expansion of the guard force. Are they still hiring?”
The burly man looked like he could pick Kreemon up by the ankles and throw him across a room, but damage to the mouth of his sheath showed that he was still learning how to sheathe a sword. “Hiring? They're practically begging! Twelve diyars a day if you signed on before noon, eleven now.”
Kreemon grinned back. “Really? Wow! How long is the job for?”
“Who knows? Who cares? It's work.”
“Who did you hire with? I'll see if I can get you a recruitment bonus.”
The man laughed. “Recruitment bonus? Who do you think I am, the Captain of the Guard? Just go to any guard house, and they'll hire you.”
Kreemon laughed back. “Its that easy? What are you supposed to do? Watch for more invading soldiers?”
“Sure. Watch them, and kill the bastards when they show up. Andrithans think they can take over? Let them try.”
Kreemon frowned. “I wonder if they are also hiring because of the earthquake.”
“Earthquake? What are you talking about?”
“Haven't you heard? The House tried to kill the Sorcerer after he tried to parlay but they failed, and he has vowed to shake the earth in retaliation. Tomorrow night,” Kreemon shrugged his shoulders, “If you believe that sort of thing, but since he made the proclamation, everyone has been hiring guards. At least that is what I hear.”
“Nonsense,” the man said, but he looked unsure of himself. “They killed the Sorcerer, right?. Tons of people saw it. Don't you remember that flying golden man? They say he was sent by Morenth himself!”
Kreemon looked around and lowered his voice. “I saw the golden man fly away, like he was running from something. But I never saw the sorcerer's body.”
The guard hesitated, then puffed up his chest. “Now listen here. The priests say he's dead, so he's dead. You have a problem with that, you take it up with the priests, and kiss goodbye to the afterlife. Morenth doesn't forgive.” Despite the man's confident words, his shifting eyes gave him away. Kreemon had gotten his point across.
Kreemon held up his hands. “Hey, I'm not arguing with you. Just telling you what I saw.” Kreemon leaned in a little closer and said in a lower voice, “You may want to make sure your family and friends are safe tomorrow night though, around midnight. That is when the Sorcerer said the quake would be.” Kreemon then wandered off and headed to a guard house to see how the recruiting was going.
There were only two men waiting outside the guardhouse, and neither looked particularly worthy of joining the town guard. The long lines of the morning were long gone.
Kreemon said to Korisca, “Please wait here for a minute. I am going to check into this and see if I can find anything important out.” Kreemon then got in line, chatting up the guy ahead of him, using the same points he talked about with the other guard to spread the seed of Sorcerer propaganda a little further.
Each person only spent a few minutes in the guardhouse, so Kreemon's turn came quickly. He was escorted to a dirty table, where a man in uniform sat. “Name?” the man said.
“Any fighting experience?”
Kreemon tucked his fingers into his belt and puffed out his chest. “I've bruised my knuckles before.”
“You know how to take orders?”
“Sure you just do what I am told.”
“Good. Anything anyone tells you to do, you do. You're the lowest in the chain.”
“Why is everyone hiring? Not that I am arguing, but seems like everyone who is strong enough to carry a sword is out on the streets. This anything to do with the Sorcerer? Or Balban's Army?”
“The army, obviously. Now listen. You do what you're told, stay sober, stay out of fights unless you're ordered to be in them. Do that, and you'll get ten diyars a day until we decide you're not worth keeping anymore. You're at the north wall, section three. That's the smiths district. You're serving under Nalen. He can't vouch you were there, you don't get paid. You're lucky. Day shift. That means you start at dawn and finish at dusk. Anyone comes through the walls, you join in the fight, on _our_ side. You start right now. Next!”
The guard at Kreemon's elbow motioned him outside.
Kreemon held his ground and asked, “When do I get paid? How often, and where do I go to get it?”
The man looked up, annoyed. “You get paid here, ten diyars, every morning before you report for the previous day. Any more questions, you ask Nalen.”
Whether Kreemon had gained any useful information from the interview was questionable, but at least he'd gotten a good look at the inside of the guardhouse. The building was small and one story high, large enough for three or four rooms. The room where he'd interviewed had one door, but two exits – the way Kreemon had come in was open to a short hall. Probably, there were one or two other offices like that one, and a larger room where members of the guard started and ended their shifts.
When he was out of the guard house, Kreemon returned to Korisca. “They really are hiring anyone,” he said. “Balban's army must really have them worried. I hope the quake doesn't effect things much here, because there will be a lot of people standing around outside when it hits. Let's take a little walk around while we have a chance.” Kreemon and Korisca toured around the city, mainly to look at the walls. The gates were extremely well guarded, even the sealed north gate, where many of Balban's soldiers had come from. Damage to the gates was minimal. For the most part, the army had just climbed over.
When it started to get dark, the pair returned to their boarding house, but Kreemon decided to make a couple more stops at bars, to ask after Forgolon with the claim that he wanted to hire the minstrel for a party. Surprisingly, the well-known performer was nowhere to be found. No one had seen him in days.
Ziedon set the scepter on the ground in front of him and opened his book to look over the new spells, written without his knowledge in his own handwriting. There was so much there, and it came to him so easily, knowledge that mere months earlier would have been impossible to master. Finally, he put the book down and renewed his protective spell. There were things to do today, and the new knowledge would help. The first thing was to learn more about the scepter. He placed it carefully on the floor and made it the focus of his concentration, as he cast a spell.
The scepter sang, clear notes in the same musical style as the Song of Destruction. It was unnerving to hear after so many days under the Song's influence, but this time Ziedon was in control. He separated the notes in his mind and analyzed them. The scepter was imbued with a magic of change. That could mean any number of things, but most likely, it meant a weapon that had been strengthened magically, and enhanced so that it would strike true when a normal swing would miss. However, it had been used as part of far more powerful magic. It had to be a focus for the songs of Morenthian priests.
Ziedon chatted with Tah'iera while dressing himself like a common servant. He left the scepter behind, gathered some coin and departed the boarding house. Outside, he stayed with the crowds, however small they were with the large number of recently hired watchmen about. He avoided the priests with as much subtlety as possible, and visited the gem merchants Kreemon had told him about. Tah'iera flew overhead and examined the buildings from above, while checking for unlocked windows on the upper floors.
None of the gem merchants would be particularly easy to infiltrate. All had at least one guard outside and one inside, but one place was at least limited to just those two guards. It was also out of sight of the House, and there didn't seem to be any priests nearby. There were, however, other guards outside nearby buildings. This was a part of town where there was a lot to be stolen.
The merchant worked downstairs and lived upstairs, it seemed. The windows were all shuttered against the rain and boarded against the snow. One board on the second floor had been installed poorly, and now hung loose, waiting to be repaired.
This one seemed to be Ziedon's best bet. He entered the store to talk about onyxes, stones he knew to have a mystical link to the dead. While chatting with the merchant, he looked around the house, getting a feel for the layout. The room where the merchant sold his wares was large and well-furnished. Samples of gemstones and jewelry were on display, set into the padded surface of a long counter which doubled as a secure case. At night or when the merchant was away, the heavy, metal-banded lid would be pulled over, closed and locked. The back of the counter had a large number of drawers, some of which were locked securely and others which were not.
A back door opened into the rest of the house. Ziedon only got a brief glance into the back room, when the merchant's wife, a woman of thirty, at least twenty years younger than her husband, came out to show him a bowl of silver fittings that would be used as mounts for stones. While the merchant picked out a few he disapproved of, Ziedon saw a staircase that no doubt led to the merchant's living quarters, and tools for cutting and setting gemstones.
The door to the shop could be locked from the outside, and barred from the inside with a thick piece of wood which must have weighed at least thirty pounds. The inside door was harder to see, but Ziedon couldn't see any way to lock it from his side.
Ziedon looked for a place where a guard might sleep at night, but it was hard to tell. There were soft couches and chairs for customers which a guard might use.
Ziedon asked to see the onyxes. The merchant showed him two that were on display, both already set into rings, and then unlocked a drawer and took out four unset stones of various sizes. The smallest two would be sufficient for Ziedon's weaker spells to animate dead animals, and the larger for a powerful spell he had just come to understand recently. The largest was actually bigger than he needed.
To keep it from looking like he was only interested in onyxes, Ziedon asked about opals and sapphires. The merchant had several small sapphires, but no opal. When asked, the merchant told Ziedon that he could acquire additional stones, but that he would have to be paid much of the value in advance. He was understandably evasive about where he would get the stones.
Ziedon politely remarked about the merchant's wife and casually inquired about children, of which the merchant had three, two grown and one living with him, and then continued with small talk, finding out about the merchant's take on the events of the past few days and the general “pulse” of the town.
The merchant didn't seem concerned about what was happening. All the stories going on about the sorcerer were just nonsense, and the “little skirmish at the walls” was nothing Maelbourg couldn't handle. Pretty soon, everything would be back to how it had been for hundreds of years.
Ziedon purchased one of the smaller onyxes and continued to chat with the merchant. By the time he left, he had learned a few more things. The merchant kept each kind of stone in its own drawer, with one or two of each in the large display area on top, but his key ring only had four keys. It looked like groups of four or five drawers could be secured with a single lock and a metal bar, and it seemed likely that each key fit multiple locks. The merchant kept his money in a pouch tied around his waist. The guard kept a close eye on Ziedon, and could have noticed his glances at the locks, doors and money pouch. So he was observant at least.
Once finished with the gem merchant, Ziedon headed outside and wandered around a little, avoiding the priests but getting an idea of what was going on with the city before returning to the room. He didn't learn much more than Kreemon had. The town was too quiet for what had happened yesterday. Guards were everywhere, priests were scarce but watchful, and people went about their business as quickly as possible, trying to keep notice away from themselves.
The day passed quietly. Why was a mystery. The army could still have been outside the gates, the House had to know Ziedon was alive, Galgewe's holdings were still in question, and Silnquost, Forgolon and the other powers of Maelbourg had to be doing something, but everything remained quiet. Even the weather was calm and watchful, still but for a chill breeze now and again that hinted at winter.
Ziedon waited in the boarding room until midnight. He then changed his dress slightly and headed out. Tah'iera flew overhead to scout for empty streets, and they made their way back to the gem merchant's house. Once there, Ziedon had Tah'iera circle around the house to make sure he was alone. He then drew a dagger and chanted quietly. His body and Tah'iera's faded away as he chanted, until they were nothing but mist. Sliding up the slide of the building, Ziedon slipped through the broken shutter and entered the house. Slowly and silently, he made his way from room to room. The only people he found in the darkness were the merchant and his wife, asleep in their bed. The merchant shuddered when the strange mist passed over him, but remained asleep.
Ziedon searched the house as thoroughly as he could in the near pitch dark, and eventually made his way under the barred and possibly locked door into the shop. All of the cases in the well-lit room were locked, and a single guard, a bit drowsy but awake, sat in one of the comfortable chairs, his sword resting on his knees. The night guard was a different man from the one Ziedon had seen before.
Ziedon smiled, or would have if he'd had any body part capable of the action. The show room had thick doors and walls to prevent break-ins. That same security would serve as a buffer, keeping any sounds inside the house from escaping into the night and raising alarm.
Done with his exploration, Ziedon went back upstairs and changed into his human form at the head of the bed, on the wife's side. Leaning over her, he slit the throat of the merchant, trying to sever his jugular vein and trachea with one smooth cut. His other hand clamped down on the wife's mouth before he realized the knife hadn't penetrated deep enough.
The merchant cried out in pain as his wife screamed in terror, and batted away almost blindly to force his attacker away. Ziedon's weight kept the merchant down, but the wife was able to roll out from under Ziedon's hand before she got tangled in the thick down blankets.
With a silent curse, Ziedon tossed a pinch of multi-colored sand in the air, causing a cascade of colors to spring forward and engulf the merchant and his wife. Their looks of shock vanished as they fell instantly unconscious. The blankets sagged as the wife's inert body dragged them to the floor. Ziedon slit the merchant's throat correctly this time. It took him a little longer to pull the wife free and slit her throat as well, but the deed was done in under half a minute.
Stepping back to avoid getting any bloodier than he already was, Ziedon listened dispassionately as the two twitched in the bed before finally going still. This hadn't been anything like the clean kill he'd planned. Ziedon had imagined himself slicing two throats almost with a single stroke, but what he had instead was a bloody, tangled mess. Well, maybe this would play into his plan just as well. He lit the candle on the nightstand to search for the merchant's keys.
It took him a while to find them. They'd fallen off the night stand and were under the merchant's wife. The lock box where the merchant kept his money was nowhere to be seen, but, feeling his way around the room, Ziedon did find a few little glass figurines that were probably worth something, and the candlestick was silver.
After far longer a delay than he'd hoped, Ziedon looked over the scene again. He pinched the index finger of the merchant's right hand and severed it. Using the man's own blood as paint and his finger as a brush, Ziedon drew a large circle on the bedroom wall, and a smaller circle in the middle. Inside of that, he painted a large letter 'B'. Kreemon hadn't described any particular standard used by Balban's army, but this would no doubt get the point across.
Finished, Ziedon tossed the finger back on the bed and headed out into the hallway, Tah'iera on his shoulder. As he walked, he explained, “There is a guard downstairs that we need to remove. I am going to cast spells on your talons like before, the difference is that this time, I will also cast a spell that will allow us to pass through the door downstairs. Once in the room, the guard will be to your left. Go for his eyes and use your claws to put him down.” Ziedon cast his spells, making each of Tah'iera's talons glow with a sickly blue light. When they got to the barred door, he cast another spell to make the two of them invisible, and then a third spell he had learned from his dream. Had they been visible, they would have been seen blinking in and out of sight. With a feral grin on his face, and a dagger in his hand, Ziedon stepped through the reinforced wood of the door into the blinding brightness of lantern light.
The front door stood open, but the alert guard was still inside, trying to find a way to open the inner door. The invisible Tah'iera flew to the left as Ziedon had instructed, and had to land on a counter, turn and take off again. The guard had been ready for something, but had not been prepared to see a bird materialize out of nothing and scratch him in the back of the neck. The scratch itself would have been all but harmless, were it not for the chill it sent down his spine, sapping his strength and bringing back memories of a wagon caravan stuck in a blizzard. He absently wished he could huddle against the horses for warmth.
By this point, the guard's training kicked in, and almost without thinking, he dodged out of the way of the dagger-wielding man who had appeared just as mysteriously as the bird. Seeing the man as the bigger threat, he drew and swung his sword, but Ziedon was able to duck out of the way.
Ziedon raised his dagger as if he was going to attack, but backed away from the guard, disappearing on one side of the counter and reappearing on the other. The guard tried to follow and banged into the counter. Tah'iera swiped at the guard again, sapping even more strength away, but the guard was a tough one. He swung at Ziedon's midsection, and was shocked to find that Ziedon winked out just long enough for the sword to pass harmlessly through empty space. He took a step back, starting to panic, and began to sing a song to Morenth.
Alarmed, Ziedon launched the dagger at the guard's chest as he moved away, but the disorientation of blinking in and out made him throw it a few inches too far to the left. Tah'iera struck again with a draining attack. The guard was tough, but the magic was wearing him down.
As the guard stumbled around the edge of the room to get away from Tah'iera and closer to Ziedon, Ziedon heard a distant banging on the back door of the house, and saw flickering lantern light through the shutters that faced the street. Someone was coming close. The distraction gave the guard the opening to slash hard across Ziedon's chest, opening a long, bleeding wound.
Ziedon stepped back through the counter and out of the guard's reach, as he chanted a spell and pointed a finger at the wide-eyed guard. A coruscating ray sprung forward from Ziedon's finger to envelop the guard, draining so much of his strength that he almost dropped his sword. “You rose from the dead like the priests said you might, but I'm going to put you back down where you belong!” the guard cried out, and ran back around the counter with determination set in his eyes. With a great act of will, he swung the now much heavier sword, and it passed harmlessly through the space where Ziedon had stood before and stood again after. Then two men in the uniform of the town guard appeared in the doorway, staring wide-eyed at the scene before them, but still with the presence of mind to draw their swords.
Ziedon blinked out again, reappearing at the far end of the the counter, near the guard's chair. He immediately began chanting a complex spell. Tah'iera jabbed at the guard again, making him stagger from yet another drain on his strength. “Kill this damn bird!” the guard yelled. While he surely didn't have the authority to command the town watch, one did obey, and he almost succeeded. Tah'iera emitted a demonic squawk which made the guard step back in fear, but the bird was severely injured, almost unable to fly. The other watchman charged at Ziedon, stabbing him right through the shoulder. If it hadn't been for the magical armor and blinking in and out of reality, Ziedon may have lost the use of his arm permanently. As it was, it was all he could do to maintain concentration on the spell he was casting.
A puff smoke appeared in the room in front of the two watchmen, and suddenly, the room was crowded with beetles of enormous size. Three of them, six feet long apiece, filled almost all the remaining space. One of the chairs cracked under the weight of a beetle, and a counter would have tipped over had it not been firmly secured to the floor. “Kill them,” Ziedon told the monstrous insects. One beetle snapped at the knees of the guard, just after he leaped out of the way. The other two spread their mandibles and sprayed a greenish fluid at the watchmen. One shook it off, but the other shouted in pain as it burned into his skin. “I'd run if I were you,” Ziedon said, and laughed an evil laugh.
“Fly away!” Ziedon called to Tah'iera, and then, as far as the men in the room were concerned, he disappeared. On the other side of the door, Ziedon caught his breath, then rushed up the stairs and feverishly searched for the merchant's hidden money box, checking under the bed, the floorboards, and the walls, in drawers and behind pictures on the wall. The battle raged on downstairs, and, from the sound of things, made its way outside. Within half a minute, Ziedon heard the excited victory of the guards. After another thirty seconds, he heard cries of alarm as the dead beetles vanished.
Finally, Ziedon found what he was looking for. Under the bed, there was a loose floorboard. Using the light of the candle, he took out a small iron-bound box and tried three keys before he found the right one. Inside was a double handful of gold.
Ziedon scooped up the gold and put it in his pouch. He then locked the box, re-set the floorboard and returned the the keys to where he'd found them. Since the guards saw him and would be able to bear witness, Ziedon picked up the merchant's finger and wrote on the wall next to the symbol he had already drawn, “The Quake Cometh!”
Ziedon then cast another of his new spells, slipping through a rift in the air to appear hundreds of yards away in a deserted alley that he had scouted out earlier. Hunching his shoulders in, he made his way quietly back to the boarding house. He opened the door carefully, and crept into his private room without being noticed. There, he dressed Tah'iera's wounds and then his own. Using the light of a candle, he counted out two hundred seventeen attles and silver worth five more. Added to the silver candlestick and the glass figurines, he had a significant amount of money.
Things had not gone as planned, but Ziedon was satisfied with the result nonetheless. He lay down and went to sleep.