Hurrying back to my apartment, I noticed that my commotion had alerted some nearby guards. They didn’t seem entirely interested in what was going on, just mildly curious. Whatever the case, I used the fact that they seemed distracted to get away. Nothing fancy here, just a power walk over the terrace and into my home. Upon entering my residence, I noticed a letter that had been slipped under the door. I pick it up and place it on my dresser for now and began to remove some of my clothing that had been torn because of that beast. The potion was beginning to wear off and the wound was starting to better, but the pain was still there whenever I walked. I couldn’t do anything myself, but Delilah could. What would I tell her?
I made my way to Lilah’s home. She opened the door, albeit confused, but immediately concerned.
“What happened?! Come in.” She motioned me inside and immediately began to work. I barely had a moment to sit down.
“I was attacked by a monster, hellish looking thing.” I replied.
“Goodness, Dante. So, you were able to kill it?”
“I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been able to. That thing was out for blood. I’ve never seen one so vicious before. Ah!” Lilah had put something on my wound that made it sting.
“It’s to avoid it becoming worst. Wounds like this love to fester if you don’t treat it properly the first time.” Ignoring my wincing, she went on to explain that if she hadn’t done it, I’d probably lose my leg.
“Well thanks. I knew I could count on you.”
Delilah began to put up the supplies she had procured to bandage my injury, but there was something different about here. There seemed to be less concern than usual.
“You were able to fight off a monster by yourself, Dante,” she began to speak, “with only a minor leg wound to show for it. Maybe you should consider Gamble’s offer.”
“I was thinking the same thing. I owe him anyway and he seems invested.”
“I just worry about you, is all.”
“You don’t need to worry about me.”
Delilah’s always been my rock. Her gorgeous, black hair and her piercing blue eyes captivated me the moment I met her. When her eyes met mine, I was hooked, and ever since we’ve been inseparable. I’ve kept thievery from her this whole time, but a part of me thinks that deep down, she already knows, or at least suspects I’m into something nefarious. She did seem rather eager to see me off to these expeditions, and that did come as a bit surprising. Considering the things I keep from her; I find it fair that I let her dwell on whatever she’s got on her mind. I hate to pry. Not because I don’t care, but because I just never know what to say.
“If you lose your apartment, what would you do then, go back to the Vales?” She asked, with a bit of hesitancy in her voice.
“Well I could do that, or maybe consider being homeless for a while. Wouldn’t be so bad.” I knew what she wanted me to say, but I don’t know. I just felt that maybe it’s too soon for us to be living together.
“Or you could just move in here. I’ve got spare bedrooms.”
“Hah. Spare bedrooms?”
“You might need your own space, I don’t know.”
I moved next to her and embraced her. It had been a long day.
I awoke the next morning to what sounded like someone making breakfast. I hope I hadn’t slept in too late. I immediately noticed how much better my leg was doing, which was a relief. Delilah probably wants me to eat breakfast with her, but I really should go meet Gamble before he has a change of heart. I proceed to get dressed and make my way down the hallway toward the kitchen.
“Oh you’re awake. Good, because your snoring kept me up most of the night.” Delilah said in a teasing voice.
“Weren’t you the one who said you had spare bedrooms? I wasn’t holding you hostage in bed.” I laughed. This was a great start to my morning, and I could get use to this.
“Are you hungry? I can make you a plate.”
“No. I’ll skip breakfast, thank you.” I said, “I have to go find Gamble. I think he might be over at the docks this early in the morning.”
“He came by earlier actually. He said he’ll be at Fiona’s most of the morning. I told him you had news for him.”
It’s unusual for Gamble to not be by the fishing docks, especially with the amount of travel Isledon and Southport have been receiving. Gamble sells things I steal for me, and we split the profit. Foreigners will buy anything, and since they don’t live in Isledon, no one suspects a thing. It’s a great racket, but lately things haven’t been as lucrative, mostly because I’m having a hard time finding new marks. The mess up with Roger last night is going to set me back a couple of weeks, so I needed this expedition thing to take off.
“Hey Fiona, is Gamble here?” I notice Fiona at the bar, and she motions to her right.
“Dante! You HAVE to see these Oredaen dancers!” I heard Gamble yelling at me from across the tavern.
“Can you keep it down? It’s still too early for your nonsense.” I say jokingly.
“So you were at Delilah’s last night? Lucky man.”
“You could always seek the comfort of these dancers. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind your company.”
“Hah! Anyway, what are we doing? We going’?” Gamble was eager for my answer.
“Yeah. We need to get permission from Castegar first, right?”
“Speaking of, that’s why I came to find you this morning. Castegar’s looking for you.”
It’s never a good thing when a High Lord is looking for you, especially when it’s Castegar. I wonder if it had to do with what happened last night. If Castegar suspects me of anything, it’d be off with my head, and he’d be delighted to play the executioner.
“He wouldn’t say, nor am I stupid enough to ask him to elaborate.” Gamble said.
“Okay, guess I’ll head that way. You are coming with?”
“Oh absolutely. I want to see you get your ass kicked.”
“What makes you so certain I’d get my ass kicked?”
“Have you seen the way you fight?”
Gamble paid his tab, and we were on our way back to the North End, where Castegar’s residence was located. The walk there wasn’t too bad, especially since my leg was starting to feel a lot better. We make it in one piece, and the soldier standing guard at the front immediately stops us.
“This better be good.” He mentions coldly.
“Having a bad day? This is Dante. Castegar’s looking for him.”
“Wait right here.” The soldier ignores Gamble’s snide remark and disappears into the gate.
“I’m not the one getting my ass kicked today, Gamble.” I start laughing, and Gamble just shakes his head.
“Alright. Follow me, Mr. Solias.”
“He called you mister Solias. Should I kneel at your feet, ser.”
“Stop it.” It was odd being referred by my surname, but I thought nothing of it. We continued into the archway behind the gate that acts as a fortification in case Isledon was ever attacked by Sifia, and it seems that paranoia is still alive and well. At least one would think with as many soldiers currently stationed in Isledon.
The residence itself was massive and was awe-inspiring. Castegar had a wife that was much younger than him who had brought in two of his children into this world. I don’t know too much about the family aside from the little that anyone else knows, but we’ve never seen eye to eye. The truth is I want to one day break into this mansion, but the likelihood of that happening any time soon is quite slim. We make it into the main hall, where Castegar is conversing with the lady I had met the previous day at Thom’s.
“I hope we have an understanding.” I heard her say to Castegar. She turned to me, smiled, and walked out of the room.
“Dante. Gamble, thank you for bringing him here.” Castegar spoke in a deep voice that reverberated from the walls, making him sound louder than he was.
“What’s this about?” I wanted to get straight to the point.
“Why were you in Roger’s home last night, Dante?”
My heart stopped, but I didn’t miss a beat. “I was going out for a casual stroll last night before seeing my girlfriend. When I started heading back home, I was attacked by a monster. It was unfortunate that I had to run into a stranger’s home, but I wasn’t thinking clearly.” I came up with a story, and it felt convincing.
“Roger’s making a big fuss over it claiming you broke in trying to steal something, but we saw the corpse of the monster and figured that had something to do with it.”
Gamble looked at me and we made eye contact. We were both shocked. Castegar never takes my side on anything. He’d usually be tossing me across the main hall by now.
“Listen gentleman the reason I wanted to actually speak to the both of you is because we need able bodied men to head down south. I’m sure you’ve heard of these expeditions that are taking place.”
“Yes. Yes, we have.” Gamble said.
“The pay, as you’ve also heard, is decent, but I’ll double it for the two of you if you decide to go.” I couldn’t believe it.
“We aren’t sure, but we have been thinking about it.” I spoke. Gamble looks back over at me, basically hinting not to mess this up for him, as it was something he wanted to do but now at twice the pay.
“Well think on it. I need an answer by the end of the day. We have ships headed down there tomorrow. This offer is only good until sundown.”
“Alright, we can do that.” Gamble said.
“We’ll be in touch.” And with that, we left. I couldn’t wrap my head around what had just happened, but that didn’t seem like Castegar back there. His entire demeanor was different. I wonder if something had happened, or if maybe pressures from the crown were starting to get to him. These expeditions couldn’t be cheap and having to manage all this inventory is probably taking a toll on him. Also, it seems he’s been asking people around Isledon for most of the day to join the expeditions, at double the price we were being offered. I think I understood. Castegar was desperate, and in his desperation, he’s given me an opportunity to potentially break even for the month. We leave Castegar’s and head back down to Fiona’s, but this time to celebrate.