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I spend the afternoon drinking a few beers, thinking things over, and swapping tales with a mercenary from the far north. He passed through Nioj on his way to Turai and from his account it sounds as if the Niojans are preparing for war.
"They say they heard some rumours that some Orcs were marauding on the borders."
It could be true. Or it could be a story put about to deceive our King into thinking they weren't about to attack us. It's bound to happen some time, and they still have the excuse of their murdered diplomat. Cities have fallen on flimsier excuses than that.
Could the Church have murdered him? Would Bishop Gzekius go that far? Maybe. I have no other candidates in mind.
Makri returns from her lunchtime logic class. She does appear to have been pacified by the flowers.
Apparently no one ever gave her flowers before. Smart idea from Tanrose, I must admit, though Makri is embarrassed at bursting into tears and instructs myself and Tanrose never to mention it to anyone.
Makri reports that things are pretty grim outside. She had to fight her way through three street brawls on the way to the Guild College.
"I have a lecture in mathematics this afternoon," she says. "I'd better sharpen my axe before I go. Incidentally, Sarin the Merciless didn't seem quite so useless as you made her out to be."
"She got lucky. She's learned how to use a crossbow. Big deal. Just wait till I meet her again. I suppose I will, now the Consul wants me to find her. But it's going to have to wait because I'm going looking for the Red Elvish Cloth. Which is just as well maybe, because I've no idea where Sarin is. If Tas of the Eastern Lightning can't find her, how do they expect me to? I wonder if Rittius is really planning to take away my licence. Cicerius might just be saying that to scare me. You know it's rumoured Rittius is going to introduce a bill banning the Association of Gentlewomen?"
Makri nods. She attended an A.G. meeting last night and as a consequence has now gathered further knowledge of Turanian politics.
"It's confusing," she admits. "Some powerful women in the city are already campaigning behind the scenes against Rittius because he's against the Association. But a lot of the Association of Gentlewomen still support the Populares because they'd like to see some reform. The meeting ended with everyone arguing."
"I'm not surprised. No one in Turai can ever agree about politics. I'd like to take a holiday till it's all over."
"Anywhere I'm not wanted by the law. Which does limit the choice, now I think about it. I've violated statutes in every neighbouring state. Maybe I could travel to the furthest west and see what Kamara is like."
"It's not like you to admit defeat, Thraxas."
"I know. But I really can't think how to find Sarin. If Tas can't find her, then no magic of mine or even Astrath's is going to be any good. And I've got no influence in the north of the City. If she's with the Society, I'll never reach her."
A messenger arrives for me, bearing a brief note: "Come alone to the Stadium Superbius at midnight if you want to bid for the letter," it says. It's signed by Sarin the Merciless.
"I suppose that simplifies things," I admit. "Might end up a good day after all. Burgle Derlex's church tonight and pick up the Cloth, then move on and buy the letter from Sarin. With any luck I'll be paying off the Brotherhood tomorrow."