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Chapter 2

Maelstrom was one of those cities that has a spirit and energy all of its own. A city with character. The tall tower of the Beacon at Lake Everfrost was a warm pulse in the chill night air. The log built buildings around town were filled with rich amber light. A few miles outside town, mount Icehorn, shone in the light of the setting sun.

The City sang as the Icy winds howled through her streets. She was alive, an arctic creature reveling in this near permanent winter. Lying on one of the islands that sit on the outer rim of the spiral, Maelstrom was prone to blizzards and heavy snowfall. But, in spite of the bitter cold, the citizens were, for the most part, reasonably at peace with the world. They were always happy to see traders, at any rate.

“Hail, Brother Drake.” Came a voice from the tower. The captain looked up from where he was mooring his ship to one of the docks on the towerside.

“Hail, Sister Thorne. How goes things with the Chief?”

“Ach, that man… I swear, I do more of the town business than him. I'll kill him one of these days”

“Ah well, I’m sure he means well…”

“That,” she muttered, “is half the bloody problem. He’s got all these wonderful intentions, it’s just he’s is a tad too incompetent to pull them off.”

Drake chuckled softly “Ah well… Anyway, I have this shipment of cloth from Souldeep. Where is Sven living these days?”

Thorne simply pointed to one of huts down by the lake below. “He moved out to the lakefront a few months ago. He says the league ships are finally coming out to our little corner of the spiral. Says he wants to be as close to the potential customers as possible.”

Drake’s blood ran cold. Leaguesmen? Here on the outer rim? Why? What was out here that was so valuable to the league?

You know exactly why they’re here, Drake. A soft, silky voice whispered.

Nope. Not listening, that’s just paranoia, I can’t hear you.

Just because you’re Paranoid, that doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you… Be on your guard.

Sven's new shop was practically identical to the past seven incarnations of Arkstone and Son's, Fabric Emporium. That is to say, rather more snug than is strictly necessary. Calling it cosy would give the impression being there was necessarily a pleasant experience. Every spare inch of shelving was crammed with cloths, furs, silks and leathers, bearing down upon any customer . This was a business that had survived 73 years, two regicides, a great fire, three plagues and the wrath of a few minor deities. The Arkstone dynasty of Tailors, Haberdashers and Cloth Merchants was a force to be reckoned with. That did not, however mean their customer service was any good.
In fact, if it weren't for the fact that Sven now owed him at least a half decent repair on his overcoat, Drake would have told the youngest son of Arkstone precisely where he could shove that fancy haberdasher's shop. Heck, after this job he should have enough left over to get that damn sailcloth replaced. It had been costing him valuable seconds.

And with the league ships drawing in, he needed all the speed he could get.
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