Meredith and the other guard were looking at a child of around twelve covered in filth and wearing rags instead of clothes he had a dull look and filthy brown hair. The room was lit by a collection of candles a small wooden table in the centre that had a plate on it with the only the slightest of grease left from whatever had been on it and a bowl beside equally clean. He glanced at the two as they walked in.
“What’s your name?” Meredith asked as she weighed him up.
“Rat” he said in a squeeky voice.
“Where’d you get that?” She asked with a bored tone.
“T’other skags.” He replied nonchalently.
“I can’t argue that it suits you” Meredith shrugged.
Rat nodded. Though he seemed flumexed.
“What do you know about Mortimer, Reeves & co shipping?”
The boy looked confused for a moment “The skip jacks that dropped the bag.”
“Ah them fuckers, yeah I know where they main station be, got lotta wagons them do. All kind of bits and things comin’ day ‘n’ nights they are. Even know the toilet way in I do.” Rat looked as pleased with himself as someone covered in that filth could. Probably more so then he ever should. What few teeth the boy still had were black and the stink as he spoke was quite pungent.
“How’d you know about it?”
“We had a bag, sealed and all then they dropped it when I gave em the goods.”
“Who runs the place?”
“A gruff old bull called Waggler. Billy club in his hand and he’s eager to put it to good use I got more then a few wollops off the geezer.”
“You see anything else strange?”
“They got folks in and out all night and all day all sorts of strange goin’ on there love, all sorts. They bring in all the stuff from elsewhere and flog it out to the people here.” The boy blabbered.
“Have him show our people where it is.” Meredith walked out and the other man followed.
“Other plans?” The seargent asked.
“Yeah I’m going to find out about their actual office, you lot keep a low profile I’d ideally like to get a client list and have a look at what they have in their warehouse.” She tapped her foot looking deep in thought.
“I’ll get someone to show you the way. Is that all?” The seargent was leaning against the wall looking quite bored.
“No, send a runner when you’ve got the people ready at the warehouse. I’ll be waiting in the reception room.” She put her hands in her pockets for and stared for a moment and then headed to the reception. The room was blandly decorated for a building in the Queen’s district it had some drapes over the wall with the kingdoms crest and the crest of the royal army as well as a final crest of the Pantheon there were two guards stood against the door that she’d just left she looked them over a moment unlike her and those that she worked with these two were in ornate dress uniforms. There was a small seating area to the right with a low table and a sofa and a couple of chairs arranged neatly, she walked over and took a seat and looked up at the ceiling.
“Lietenant?” A girlish voice interrupted Meredith’s unexpected slumber, looking at the source, someone with short black hair a full face and a rough uniform.
“Who are you?”
“Amil, Seargent Barathoon told me to show you the way.”
“Excellent, don’t call me that again, Meredith will do.” Meredith stood up. Amil nodded and they set off into the city a dull sun hanging in the sky, the Queen’s district was sedate but as they moved into the merchants and guild districts the loud din of the city became formidable. Meredith could make out some of the rumours and fears with her sharp hearing, wondering if they should be burning their dead and rumours about the plagues.
“So where’s the office?” They were passing through a busy street weaving through oncoming walkers and those going too slowly in the same district.
“Clerks district.” Amil was keeping up though seemed to be a bit less apt when compared to Meredith.
“Anything odd about it?” Meredith clicked her tongue as a fat beast pushing their wares slowed her a moment.
“Not that I can tell, I’ve been watching them for the last couple of days” Amil slipped in behind Meredith.
“They know they’re being watched?” They turned onto another busy street heading towards the Tanner’s district.
“Nah, been doing it via a scry” Amil caught back up and slipped in beside her.
“That works?” Meredith looked a touch doubtful.
“Well it does for the outside of the building, I didn’t want to risk triping a ward by trying to penetrate the actual building.” Amil shrugged and they passed from traders disrict and into the Tanners.
“mm yeah I concur.” Meredith nodded.
Amil nodded, they moved through the tanners district the stink of the feaces used to prepare the leather was thick and streams of efluent flowed down open sewers into the Slags below grim looking people could be seen in small workshops working the material, the dippers and the racks most people had rags across their faces and a perfume sellers walked the streets pushing their wagons of goods. Occasionally someone would buy a small wrap and place it into the scarfs around their faces.
“As the months ware on and the area gets hotter it only gets less pleasent.” Amil said to Meredith who nodded in response.
“Yeah I know, I used to work these streets before I got.” She paused and thought a moment “Commisioned” she finally flashed a sly grin.
“aiye, commisioned” Amil said and glanced at the rings on Meredith’s fingers. “How long you been in the force?” Amil murmerd.
“About ten years.” Meredith said ponderously.
“How’d you join?” A spark of curiosity in Amils glittery eyes.
“Same way we all did, the Commander found me in a cell in the pit and offered me a way out and I took it.” Meredith reported with a matter of fact tone.
“What had you done?” Meredith flinched and looked at Amil.
“You know it’s not good practice to ask such things.” Meredith shot a wicked glance at Amil.
“Not like it matters, we’ll all be dead soon enough anyway.” Amil said with a shrug.
“What makes you say that?” Meredith tilted her head and furrowed her brow again.
“I’m no tard I can read reports, it’s the end of the world and the Commander knows it.” Said with a touch of bravado.
“If it’s as you say why hasn’t she just let us all go and enjoy the last few weeks? It’s not like she’s a renowned jobsworth.” Meredith took a moment to check her finger nails then looked up at Anil who wasn’t that much taller then herself which made a nice change she thought.
“Who knows, I’m not a mind reader.” Amil shrugged and puffed their the cheeks.
“That stands to reason, I dont’ think predicting the future is your strong suit. The commander must assume it’s worth one last roll of the dice and that there’s going to be something left.”
“I don’t know about that” Amil looked at Meredith with one eyebrow raised and her other eye squinting. Meredith returned the look and smiled.
From the tanners strip they turned into a road that led them past the paper makers and then they were in the clerks district. It seemed as though the area was placed ideally to avoid the stench of the earlier areas well to do looking gentlement in suits and boys and girls that looked clean bar ink smudges and welts from the lash ran back and forth delivering paper, envelopes and boxes. Amil led them off the main street and then into a tributary road and pointed at a building. Meredith looked at it intently for a few minutes, there seemed nothing particularly intersting about the road there was s throng of foot traffic going by and the road had the odd carriage going by and the building itself was jsut like all the others.
“Have I drawn a bust?” Meredith grumbled and scanned the generic looking building up and down.
“They normally have this one guest that always leaves around this time, drives my scry mad.” Amil said looking up at the suns, they lent back against a wall and waited. A pale man came out of the store, gaunt and sickly looking. Meredith let out a hic and covered her mouth, Amil looked at her in mute shock mouth agape eyes squinting to see what was the matter.
The man was begining to mingle into the crowd and Meredith snapped back to the current and quickly headed after him, she kept her distance and weaved effortlessly through the crowd Amil was lost somewhere behind them. A number of times Meredith thought she’d lost sight of him they moved through the smiths guild the loud claning of metal on metal and thick acrid smoke stung the eyes and nostrils but thanks to the lighter foot fall it was easier to keep up. Then the man weaved into an ally that led to the Slags and Meredith followed all the way to a black obolisque of a building, it was huge and imposing. Meredith felt a chill run through her as the man went inside it. She stared at it from the shadows her hand covering her mouth.
“Hey” Meredith spun around to see Amil talking to her. “What’s got into you?” Meredith stared and then looked back at the building.
“How long has that been here?” Meredith pointed.
“Oh, well. I’ve never seen it before.” Amil looked confused and put a finger to there chin and seemed to be thinking.
“It wasn’t on any of the reports.” Merediths heart was pounding so loudly she could hear it in her ears she felt faint and propped herself against the wall.
“No, no I’ve not heard about it, must pay good bribes I guess.” Amil shrugged. Meredith let in a sharp breath and looked back at the building, it was as black as an unlit room, every once and a while someone would help somebody inside.
“I think that may be an overly optimistic assumption. You need to go back and report this place.” Meredith stood up and brushed her self off and checked her weapons.
“What are you up to?” Amil looked at her like she was a spooked horse.
“I’m going to see what’s going on and then I’ll report back on it.”
“You don’t look up to it.” Amil looked her up and down again with a grim look.
“I don’t feel up to it. If I’m not back in an hour raid the merchant and this place.” Meredith sighed.
Amil nodded and headed off before pausing,
“If you get yourself killed I’ll take it that the dice roll failed right?”
“Sure, do what you like.” Meredith kept focused on the building.
“I always do.” With that Amil ran off into the smog.
“Here we go!” There was a roar of laughter.
Meredith looked at the people entering, most looked like any other person she took a breath and headed in.