02-1: The Impossible Job

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There was a loud rapping at the door, followed quickly by another. Someone was being very impatient.

Kyrnrie opened the door cautiously, allowing the creaking of the old hinges to show his visitor just how little his impatient knocking was worth. There was a man standing outside, waiting in the drizzle.

"Mr Kyrnrie?" he enquired.

"It's just Kyrnrie."

He made no effort to allow the man to step in out of the rain.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Ms Arynlock has requested your attendance at your earliest convenience."

"Arynlock?"

"Yes, sir. At your earliest convenience."

The man wasn't moving.

"Who is Arynlock?" asked Kyrnrie.

"My employer," said the messenger. "She is very wealthy. She assured me that would be all you needed to know."

A job then. Kyrnrie was always eager to find new jobs. Especially for wealthy clients.

"And..." said Kyrnrie, "I presume you are still standing there as now would be a particularly convenient time for me to attend her?"

"Precisely," said the messenger, gesturing to a horse carriage on the street behind him. "Most convenient."

Kyrnrie considered making him wait, but really he had nothing better to do. He closed the door behind him and trotted straight to the carriage and climbed in. It was empty, until the messenger entered behind him. Clearly an employee of some value.

"And you are?" asked Kyrnrie.

"Discreet, sir."

He sat quietly, and gazed out the window. Kyrnrie followed suit.

It was a miserable day. Low cloud hung over Helen's Bay, and the drizzle had been relentless since before dawn. It wasn't uncommon; living on an island had its drawbacks. Not that anyone had a choice any more. They had lost the mainland a few decades back, and had more or less given up searching for it.

They left the edge of town, and followed the only road in Helen that was particularly well guarded. It led to a rise where several mansions were built, high enough to be above the stench of the fish markets, sewers, and scum that lived close to the water's edge. High enough also to look down on the rest of the citizens of Renryre Island.

They approached a large gateway, and several guards made way to allow them through. Kyrnrie wondered how many other guards there were on the property. Were there more along the perimeter? Patrolling the gardens? Watching from the roof? It was a habit garnered in the years working his profession; he always took note of security, just in case it would come in handy later on.

The carriage soon stopped, and Kyrnrie was led to the main residence. It was large enough to sleep hundreds of people. It probably did. A hundred domestic servants for one rich family.

Upstairs he was left to wait in a room decorated with large portraits of men and women who must have done something interesting enough to be painted. He didn't recognise any of them. The portraits probably weren't worth much, and even the artefacts that lay below each painting looked more symbolic than valuable. There was, however, one dagger presented in a transparent box underneath a portrait of a young man with fierce eyes that followed him across the room.

The dagger's haft was covered in shining jewels, while the blade decorated with fine engravings. Given its position underneath the portrait, Kyrnrie assumed the painting to portray the dagger's owner, but there was no name accompanying them.

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