Larcy had strictly instructed her to stay out-of-sight and hidden. And now Shadow knew why.
Last night, she had slid her knife inside her dress. Then she’d leaned out Larcy’s window, searching for soldiers. Finally, she climbed down the rope net underneath Larcy’s window that served as décor.
The inside of the bar reverberated with the laughter and banter of drunken soldiers. Shadow sniffed. Soldiers-who-were-not-soldiers. What a mystery. Why pretend to be common folk? From what she heard of them, they acted as if they were soldiers, and made demands upon the waitstaff and innkeepers.
Shadow lingered in the darkness up against the wall of The Laughing Pelican until she was sure it safe to step away. No soldiers.
She threw the cowl of her gray cloak over herself and stole through the shadows of the town, keeping to the darkness.
As she passed one couple on the street, she heard them say,
“Back again, obnoxious shits. They should stay in their own country.”
“Huh. Wherever that is.”
Shadow listened to another couple while she hid outside their window in the bushes.
“Why Port Stanton? This used to be a decent town. Now we all just stay indoors when they come ’round,” grumped the husband.
“Too bad they don’t stop at Ferrisport, or Chesterport instead. They’ve got docks size enough for that boat.”
“Allie, I keep tellin’ you, it’s not a boat, it’s a ship. An’ a wicked big one, too. Besides, Ferrisport and Chesterport are the same, same as we are, locked up tight. That’s what I heard on the docks, anyways.”
“It ain’t right. It ain’t right. I mean, what if Della wants to visit?” Allie fumed.
“Then she’ll be walkin’, same as everyone else now.”
Shadow stepped silently away from the home, watching up and down the narrow street for just the soldiers Allie and her husband were complaining about. Obviously, if everyone knew they were soldiers, they shouldn’t bother covering up anymore, Shadow snickered to herself.
But shipful after shipful after shipful, each week? And in the ports just south of Port Stanton as well?
How did King Reaghann not know of this? Or did he know and was turning a blind eye?
No. She could not believe that King Reaghann would allow his ports and his country to be overrun by strange soldiers from an unknown country.
Shadow spent the next hour looking for a clerk’s quarters. Perhaps the scribe there had not sent word to King Reaghann at all, and only said he would. How simple would it be to install a clerk, or pay him, to send no word at all to the King about the incoming soldiers?
It took Shadow half the evening, and a long time spent hiding in the bushes from passersby, but she finally found a small clerk’s office, where she saw pigeons asleep under a roof.
Well, it meant breaking in, and for that, Shadow could be jailed, hung even, if she was caught. Perhaps she could get in through the pigeon keep.
Success met her and a number of pigeons fluttered their wings at her or cooed as Shadow held her lantern up inside their pigeon keep. Well, waking up pigeons was the last thing Shadow was worried about….
Did this pigeon keep even send pigeons to Romeny?