A Harvest of Broken Stars

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Chapter 43: Information

The next day Gilmir sat at the corner table waiting for Saendar. Life was steadily improving, he decided, pouring a glass of wine. It was a dark red. He swirled the wine around in the glass and lifted it to his nose. A bouquet of vanilla. He took a sip and closed his eyes. Jammy, silky and with a hint of dark cave. Gilmir did not consider himself overly concerned with wealth, but falling stars, it was great to be able to afford decent wine.

Someone was coming. Careful steps with a slight shuffling.

‘I owe you a glass of wine, Saendar.’ Gilmir opened his eyes.

‘You do,’ the old man said, pulling out a chair, ‘and I’ll try to be more grateful than you were.’

‘And I’ll try to serve better wine.’ Gilmir waved Chris over. ‘Do you have a glass for Saendar? I should probably not drink the whole bottle by myself.’

‘I sure do,’ Chris said, smiling to the old man. ‘Kind of you to take care of our lost elf here, Saendar.’ The young woman winked and turned for the bar.

They sat in silence until Chris returned with the glass. Gilmir poured and gave the glass to the old man. Saendar took a sip and smiled.

‘This is indeed better than the one we shared last time.’

‘I am glad you agree, it would be a shame to have to kill you now,’ Gilmir said and smiled.

‘I know too much about you to laugh at such a joke. What can I do for you, Gilmir?’

Gilmir’s smile fell away. ‘I need information.’

‘What sort of information?’

‘The sort that comes with a price. I’ll be going to get my swords back. As such, I need all the information I can get on Voan and his castle.’

‘I see.’

‘Well?’

‘I am considering it, elf. On one side, I don’t much like Voan. On the other hand, this is not just information that comes with a price. This is information that could kill.’ Saendar rubbed at the stump of his right arm.

‘You don’t strike me as a man who shies away from a little danger. But I’ll be more specific. I need to know where Voan keeps my swords and how to get there. Besides, I need to know if he has any weaknesses.’

‘All right, this is what I know.’ Saendar looked around the room before he continued. ‘Rumour has it that there are some display cases in his throne room. If the councilman has your swords, I guess he’ll keep them on display. The throne room is at the top of the castle. You know the giant glass windows you can see at the top of the building?’ Saendar took a mouthful of wine. ‘That would be my best guess. As to his weaknesses, by all reports, he is strong and fast, and quite handy with a blade. However, he has an injured hand, or at least he keeps the hand tucked away under his clothes.’ The old man paused and seemed to consider his next words. “And there is something else. He wears a mask covering his nose and mouth when he is out, and there is always some sort of priest with him. Finally, there are some rumours, but now we are down to the stuff that I consider the most unreliable facts.’

‘Let’s hear it.’

‘There are some rumours that he is some sort of hybrid. Part human, part reptile. Others say he is a demon or half a demon.’ Saendar took another sip of wine. ‘I doubt I’ll be able to gather more reliable information on this.’

‘Alright, thank you, that will do. Now, I just need one more thing.’

‘What’s that?’

‘A map or instructions on how to get from the dungeons to the throne room. Preferably the best such route in terms of not being seen.’

‘That will be harder.’

‘I know, and that’s why I’ll pay you.’

‘When do you need it?’

‘Tomorrow?’

‘I’ll see what I can do.’

‘Good, you know where to find me.’

Saendar stood, emptied the glass and nodded to Gilmir. ‘Thank you for the wine.’ After a few steps, he turned. ‘Are you sure this is what you want?’

Gilmir studied the old man. There was more to the question. A warning? It did not matter. He was indeed sure. ‘Yes,’ he said simply.

Saendar shrugged and started to turn.

‘One more thing,’ Gilmir said, ‘Have you heard something about two girls—one human and one half-elf?’

‘The witches?’

‘Possibly.’

‘They started a fire in the inn a few days ago. I don’t know the details, but I think they were taken in. Probably in the dungeons by now. Do you want me to look into it?’

‘No, it just means I have even less time.’

‘I’ll get on with my part!’ Saendar said and left for the door.

Gilmir shifted his gaze back to the glass in his hand. Blocking out the rest of the world, he swirled the wine and brought it to his nose. This wine really was decent.

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