Old Town was exactly as the name described it. It had been a picturesque enclave in the days of King Revel, and because it had been built by the artisans, the stone masons and the itinerate workers come to work on Castle Ursaulis, the buildings hadn’t been built to last, but they did.
Long narrow buildings of indeterminate stories with outside stairs that broke off midway or steps led to open air weren’t uncommon. When drunk or bored, the artisans had grown fanciful.
All the houses were a hairsbreadth apart, which only emphasized the shabbiness of the present.Some were freshly painted with long, sturdy shutters that opened to reveal a tempting shop. Most were dilapidated. Houses of children and rats occupying the same house and fighting over a dead cat. A few yards were tidy, most were filled with refuse. Body parts sometimes rested in the streets with no sign of the body.
Elymas had gone alone, wishing for the first time in his life he could trust someone. Strout and Root, brothers, were his allies in his personal ventures, and though he depended on Strout more, he was, unfortunately, intelligent. Intelligent people talked. On more than one occasion, Elymas had considered removing his tongue. That would make Root surly, and then he’d have to kill Root as well and so he’d gone to Old Town alone, dressed in a brown robe and a broad peasant hat over his head. He’d placed a fake mole the size of a coin in the center of his forehead, a third eye, and added a beard.
The fact that he hadn’t recognized himself had given him courage.
He’d ridden a donkey which hadn’t responded to the whip so it had been a slow journey. The sun was high in the sky when he come to the Apothocary Shop, but once there, the speed of the transaction had been almost magical.
The fat man had lifted him from the donkey, and the winsome youth had opened the shuttered doors, then closed them quickly once he was inside.
Dr. Sugallus had produced the Lud Sellum before he’d asked, and at a price that caused his fake mole to drop on the counter. Sugallus had boomed with laughter and the boy had giggled, but he’d endured their humor because he had questions. Each answer had cost him (unjust!) but he’d dug in his pockets to produce the coin.
Yes, he’d been pushed through the exchange at a pace not his own, and to exacerbate his humiliation was the youth. Every time he’d looked up, the boy had been smirking. Once he’d given Elymas an insolent wink and the Skyll, provoked, had offered to buy him.
Let him spend a night in my secret chamber.
Suga had erupted in a rage that threatened to blow apart the room. After he’d picked himself up off the floor, Elymas begged his pardon. The huge man wouldn’t accept his apology and had answered the rest of his questions only after prompting from the boy.
He’d been forced to pay double.
He’s paid a king’s ransom for details.