Chapter Nine

I awoke to the sound of Hadassah moving around the apartment. For a moment I wondered if the night before had been some sort of dream. I moved myself forward in the bed, and looked around; no, the bag of gold was lying there on the floor. It had actually happened. Hadassah saw that I was awake.

"Ah, you're awake, my love!" she said, then came over to sit on the bed next to me, putting her arms around me.

"Yes, and what a beautiful sight to wake up to." I returned. I really didn't know what to say, being so new at this whole thing.

"I've been doing some thinking. As nice as Lord Tahnit has been to us, I think you might want to ask him if you may pick up the rest of that gold you stole." she said, hesitantly.

"Why? He's a rich man, and he's kept his word so far."

"That's true, but just about all the gold you can carry is still a lot of money and he could have his own uses for it. He is in a couple of binds, you know. I'd just feel better, for your sake, knowing that you could take the money promised to you at any time you wish."

I thought about this for a moment.

"Where would I put that much gold anyway? Certainly not here." I said.

"You could store it with us, the B'Nai. It would be safe there."

"But I don't know the B'Nai outside of you and Chavat, and I know both of you less than Lord Tahnit."

"That doesn't mean you should trust him more than us." I could barely hear her whisper.

"What did you say?"

"Alright, don't take the money. Just ask for it. Just tell him you want to make sure he'll keep his promise; that's all."

"What was that you said about trusting him?"

At this she looked at me. I could see the emotion in her eyes, swelling with tears. There was so much behind those eyes that she wouldn't explain. After she stared like this for some time, she squinted her eyes shut, furrowing her brow as she rested her head on my chest.

"There's so much I wish I could tell you, Mishkal. So much that you really ought to know, that you will know, just... not... now."

"Tell me anyway." I said, softly. At this she began to sob.

"I can't. I only hope you will be able to understand all of this later. That you won't blame me."

"Is this about our 'forbidden love'?"

She pulled her head off of my chest and wiped away her tears, sniffling. "Not just that. It's more than that." she said, looking away at the rest of the room. "Look, please, just ask him. That's all... please."

I was getting annoyed at everyone knowing what was going on except for me. At first I wanted to shake whatever I could out of her, just to have the damn secrets and be done with it. As I looked at her, however, I understood that she was as much of a pawn in this game as I was. She knew something though. Whatever it was, she wouldn't tell me directly, but I started to think that this innocuous request for my money would expose at least part of what she wished she could say. The thought occurred to me that she couldn't care less about the money, but wanted me to see something for myself.

"Alright, I'll ask him. Tonight though. I don't need to be coming out of his manor with a sack of gold in broad daylight, or arguing about it with him while there are servants about."

"Yes, good." she said. "You're learning very well how to be discreet in these matters."

I then got up and we ate silently. Thoughts kept going through my mind both during and after our meal. I then decided to break the silence.

"You are in a precarious position, no?" I asked.

"What do you mean?"

"You may not be able to tell me, but at least let me guess. Your people told Lord Tahnit some time ago that they were leaving. He got pissed and threatened to turn the Hammers, if not the city, against them if they didn't tell him everything they knew about their merchant craft. They countered by threatening to take him down with them, or even exposing him themselves. So now your people and him stand like duelers with knives at each others throats; each trying to find a way to part peacefully, but wary of a false move. As the migration day draws nearer though, Lord Tahnit grows an advantage in that he's not going anywhere, but your people will have to leave very, very soon.

"Then there's me. I am, in essence, his servant. At the same time, however, I sleep each night with you; one of the B'nai. You want me to help you and your people, but are afraid that persuading me to do so could be the false move that does your people more harm than good. At the same time, if you don't, he might turn me against you; use your affection for me to get me close enough to do some real damage to your tribe's leadership. Well? Am I right or am I wrong?"

She looked silently, thoughtfully at the table. "There's more." she whispered, and then winced. As if even saying that much pained her to the very core.

At that point, I had my fill of this display and drama, deciding to leave and wander the streets until a proper time came to visit Lord Tahnit. Hadassah didn't even look up as I got up from the table, gathered my things and walked out the door. I was desperately in love with her, but at the same time so frustrated that there was so much eating her up inside that she wouldn't tell me. For a time, as I walked, I started musing on other places that I could sleep that night when I came home, but also realized that, if all went well, I could have a large bag of gold on my hands, and her apartment was a better place than a room in an inn for keeping it. Besides, if what she was alluding to about Lord Tahnit was true, she could be the only person left in this city who cared about me. I couldn't, after all, return to my parents and let them know what I had become.

I stopped my thinking when I thought I saw someone ahead of me, in the shadows. As I looked harder I could no longer see anything, but I knew that someone was there. I kept walking, wondering who it could be. Eventually, the only possibility dawned on me; a Keeper. I remember thinking something about how today of all days, where secrets kept taunting me forward like a carrot to a mule, would be the first day I see a Keeper in person. In my anger, I mused on turning around and just walking the other way, ignoring him. Something, some inner sense told me that Keepers don't come out and about for a pint of milk; he had something important going on. I eventually concluded that I had nothing else better to do with my afternoon, so I followed him. After some distance, I realized that I wasn't really so much following him as being led by him. This bothered me as well as everything else going on so far that day. I was tempted to just yell to him to either come out of the shadows or leave me the hell alone. I was tired of being led around by secrets. Regardless, I still followed him. Then I saw where we were going.

Up ahead, I saw something rather curious. A fence surrounded a yard, in which was a large circular structure with entrances standing out like cogs in a gear. I stood there just looking at it from outside. I thought about how to get inside, and tried to feel where this Keeper was going, but I had lost him. I wasn't sure if he had just led me to here and then vanished or if he was somewhere inside. I approached the gate to the fence. It bore the title "The Circle of Stone and Shadow"; a rather strange and dramatic name for a strange and dramatic place. The gate opened quietly when I tested it. I found this to be as odd as this place. Who would make such a large, gorgeous structure, and then leave it with the gate unlocked and unguarded?

I noticed that there appeared to be eight "spokes" to this wheel. Rather than walk around and verify this, I tested the first door in front of me, which also opened. This was indeed too strange. Anyone could just waltz in here. A cold chill went down my spine as the thought occurred to me that it might be trapped, but I didn't feel any danger here. I went ahead inside to have a look around. The inside was arranged in a circle as well, with what seemed to be three floors; the structure making up the first and second floors with a basement below. I headed east and took the first door that struck my interest. Behind it was what appeared to be a library, with many shelves, though most of them were empty. Regardless, there were still many books and such lying around, though rather unorganized. I was starting to debate looking through what I could find, still unsure if I was welcome, when a man in very rich, dark clothes and a curious, flat top hat came in. He took notice of me at first, and that was all; turning his attention instead to a pad and pen as he walked around the shelves. I assumed he was the owner of this place, it seemed as eccentric as he was, and with such fine clothes he most probably could afford it. I decided to approach him.

"Ummmm... excuse me, sir?"

"May I help you?" said the man, as he looked up at me. I was a bit uncomfortable, but apparently he didn't seem bothered either by my presence or my approaching him, so I continued.

"Yes, ummm... what is this place? I followed someone here... well... I thought I did... shouldn't the doors be locked or something?"

He then blinked for a moment at my response. I felt I was making some kind of fool out of myself, but maybe he had some answers. It was worth trying.

"You're new in this part of town?" he eventually asked.

"Well, yes and no. I've been in this part of town for some time, I live not very far from here, but..."

"Ah, mm... You are in the Circle of Stone and Shadow, a museum. You are in the east wing, the library..."

The thought then occurred to me that I might as well ask him about this Garrett character. He might know something, he might not, but I was sure I wasn't going to be any worse for asking. "I see you have a lot of books and papers here. Would you happen to know anything about some thief named Garrett?"

He then paused, thinking for a moment. "It's not really good business to hand out information on people... if you understand what I mean..."

I was both relieved and disappointed at this. If he was setting up a museum here, then he must know quite a bit about this place, and could probably help me. His reluctance about Garrett started to strike me as just another person hording secrets. He had a valid point though.

" mentor told me I should know about him. I'm not out looking for him or anything, just that... there's some sort of history of his that I should know about." I didn't want to tell him straight out that I was a hired thief for Lord Tahnit. I wasn't sure what he knew, and it could have put me in his disfavor, which was the last thing that I wanted. "I really don't know... I just hear about him and I'm curious; who is he?"

"It is really up to him as to what is known and what is secret. How much do you already know?"

"Just that my mentor said it was really him that saved The City from the Trickster. How?" It was starting to sink in that I was approaching yet another secret that would remain hidden; like yet another lock that won't be picked. "Please sir, I've been taunted this way and that by secrets all day, for months in fact. Isn't there something in this place that one can actually know?"

He nodded at this.

"Garrett did do that, it's true... with the help of the Hammerites... or, as they would prefer, they did it with his help. This library doesn't contain any information regarding Garrett... but this circle does contain the information you need... in a less public place."

"My mentor said it was the Keeper's doing. At least that's what he suspects." I said. Perhaps I could get some information about them. I was grabbing at straws for anything that might tell me what was going on.

"Hmmm...." He pondered thoughtfully, eyeing me over as he considered his response. He seemed rather young, but there was much in his eyes, something that spoke of faraway places and wonders I had never even dreamt of. "Well every point of view is different, as you may know."

"Are you one of them? It was one of them who led me here... at least I think so." Instinctively, I knew he wasn't a Keeper, especially once the question came out of me, but I wanted to bring them up; see if I could even bring a comment from him that might shed some light on them. "I see them in my dreams sometimes as well."

"No, I am not." he said, firmly. I still wasn't sure how to take that. "Garrett is not the type of person who enjoys the idea of having books written about him, and I honor that wish of his... if you want to find out about him, you need to contact him directly, which may be hard, since he went into an early retirement. But as I said, the means to do so are here. I could let him know that you seek him... if he contacts you or not is up to him..."

I was a bit squeamish at the thought. I was already being a confused, perhaps annoying, naive boy with this gentleman. I didn't know how well a hardened thief would take to my prattling.

"I don't know... I'd just like some answers for once. I'd like to talk to anyone who is frank and to the point."

"He excels at that."

"Finally! Yes, please, message him. Tell him.... tell him I'm a student of Tahnit's. It could work as much against me as for me, but... it's the truth anyway."

"I shall let him know, no promises, of course, and as always, not a word of this to anyone."

"Yes, of course. Thank you. Oh, my name's Mishkal. And you are...?"

"Nightfall." he said, after a slight pause.

"Thank you so much, sir. May I look around? This place seems rather new... or would you rather I leave?"

"Look around, please! If it's not locked, go on in!" he said and then smiled. That this place was a museum, open for all to see, I was aware of, but his enthusiasm struck me as rather odd. I suppose I was just so used to having to deal with locked doors and such. At any rate, I was curious to have a look around, as this Nightfall obviously had work to do.

"Thank you again, sir. Good day, Master Nightfall, sir." I said, and then bowed slightly and respectfully.

He returned my bow and said, "Good day...", then paused and blinked as if I caught him off guard somehow, then smiled again. "I'll be in my office, the north wing, if you need anything else. Good luck to you."

I nodded, and then turned to have another look around. Nightfall apparently did whatever he had come for and left, probably back to his office, muttering something about "Master Nightfall... hmmmm..."

I wandered in and out of several chambers, most of them seemed to be built towards either galleries or bulletins or potential archives of some sort. It seems he was collecting things on different levels. On the one hand there were spaces for various items. What was available at the time seemed along the lines of rare, valuable, and/or magical items. It seemed odd that as The City progressed towards trade and industry there was someone running around setting up a museum of this sort. On the other hand, he was also collecting information, both past and present. Lastly, it seemed he was also interested in collecting people. The entire upper floor appeared to be dedicated to some sort of gathering area; perhaps a thieve's guild of sorts. I don't know why exactly I made that supposition, but with him being in contact with Garrett, his interest in exotic, expensive items and such, I didn't think that he would set up a gathering place for the local constabulary.

I suppose I was hoping for either one of two things to happen there. First, I was hoping that I could get some kind of answers regarding what was going on around me. Second, for something to take my mind off of the concerns and questions until it was time to pay Lord Tahnit another visit. I found neither, yet at the same time I found something else. Although the Circle and Nightfall were as much of mysteries as anything else I had encountered, they seemed the least threatening, and in fact rather homely. I left there a few hours after I had entered, and out of sheer boredom went back to the apartment to take a nap. Hadassah had left already, which I was rather relieved about. I don't know if I would have stayed had she still been there.

When I went to sleep, I had another unusual dream. I was on a boat somewhere, somehow blinded, but I could feel that I was in Hadassah's arms, and I could hear her sobbing. I thought that she thought I was dead, so I weakly tried to raise my hand and managed to moan softly. She quickly pulled my arm back down and whispered, "Shhh... don't stir. I know." through her sobs. As I lapsed back into unconsciousness, I could hear the quiet, soothing voices of some men talking to her, though I couldn't understand what they were saying. The gentle rocking of the boat and of her body as she nodded to whatever they were saying to her were the last things I could remember.

I awoke and rolled out of bed. Figuring it was some time of night, though I wasn't sure exactly when, I put on whatever I had taken off for my nap and went outside. It was indeed dark, but there was some sort of additional foreboding in the air. It felt as if someone was watching me, and all of the shadows were alive. Out of all the nights that I had been around this area, I had never felt anything like it to this degree. Regardless, I made my way over to Lord Tahnit's.

After I had hopped the fance and went inside, I felt the hairs standing up on the back of my neck and the definite realization that something was very wrong. Rather than head into Tahnit's quarters directly, I decided to take a walk around. The halls were exceptionally quiet; much too much so. I proceeded carefully through the shadows, stopping in one of the halls. I felt that there was someone ahead of me, so I moved carefully in that direction.

I followed whoever it was for some time, until it seemed I had led him to the roof of one of the wings. Slowly, I approached the entrance which was the only place he could have gone. As I came into the doorway, I saw who it was for the first time.

He was obviously a thief. All I could really see of him was a pair of leather bracelets on his forearms, black leather gloves, some light armor, a long black cloak, and the silohuette of his head. As I sat there, I could see something of his features. He had a very short haircut of some sort of sandy, light brown hair, and very sharp, hardened features. He was leaning forward against the half-wall that ran along the roof, looking off into the night. I couldn't make sense of why I should have been able to chase someone here, and then have him stand in plain sight. Perhaps he was cornered? I didn't know. What I knew even less, however, what what to do at this point. He scared me half out of my wits when he solved that problem for me.

"Mishkal, I presume?" he said. I felt a cold sweat come over me as I heard him speak to me directly. Figuring it was best to give up the ruse, I came out of the shadow of the doorway and walked out onto the roof myself.

"Who are you?" I asked. I think I knew the answer to my question already, but I was still rather spooked.

"Don't you remember? You had Nightfall message me. Something about you wanting to talk?"

"I'm sorry. I was led by someone to the Circle of Stone and Shadow... someone strange, I think a Keeper." At this, Garrett turned away from the wall and looked directly at me. I could see that there was something unusual about his right eye, and his piercing gaze was enough to make anyone self-conscious. "All I really know is that Lord Tahnit said that I should know about you, your history. I thought that, being there... maybe he might know something. Instead he offered to send for you. I don't know why I even agreed, except I'm willing to chase down any damn lead I can, because everywhere I go there are secrets and more secrets, and more things to do or go by without knowing why. I just... I guess I just thought that since you weren't directly involved in what's going on here that you might shed some kind of light without compromising something." I said, practically without pausing for breath. Quite a bit of silence ensued, and I knew that somewhere in his mind he was either exceedingly angry with me for wasting his time with my nonsense, or else thinking of something to tell me. He eyed me over for more time than I care to think about. He then turned back to where he was, overlooking the courtyard.

"What, exactly, are you not so sure on? Do you know who, or what, your master is?"

I exhaled in frustration at this. "Yes and no. I know he's a crime boss, and I know that he tells me he's trying to get out from the underground, but... I buy that less and less each day, and..." I was interrupted by Garrett's laughter.

"You poor boy, no you don't know who Tahnit is."

"So who is going to tell me?" I said, angrily.

"No need to get hostile. He'll tell you."

"What do you mean?"

"Has it ever occurred to you that Tahnit is a nut for keeping records? Have you ever taken a look at all the books behind his desk? All the writing he does?"

"Yes, I have. I haven't read any of it."

"Start there. If Tahnit is as thorough in keeping track of his own crimes as I think he is, you'll have everything you need to know there. Probably more than I or Nightfall could tell you."

I felt like about the largest idiot in the world at that point. I had been rude to Hadassah, imposed upon Nightfall, and brought this supposedly legendary thief to seek me out all so I could learn that everything I had ever needed to know was right under my nose for years.

"Mister Garrett, I'm... I'm so, so sorry for... troubling you." I said, rather shakily.

He then turned to me again and said, "Now, it's my turn. Let's see... you seem rather intelligent, polite, if a little thick and naive at times... this doesn't make sense for one of Tahnit's boys. Despite this, you're good, I'll give you that. That and this Keeper business with you... this is what interests me and is why you ever saw me. So tell me, how did you come into Tahnit's service?"

"My dad works for him as a servant. Lord Tahnit caught me in the library teaching myself how to read. He took an interest in me and took me in as a scholar. I delivered a message for him to a thief, who later wound up dead, but I kept him from the Hammers, and saved the message from getting into the wrong hands. Then Lord Tahnit persuaded me to become a sort of thief and spy for him. I just did my first job for him at Bafford's lastnight."

"...and the Keepers?"

"I... I just see them in my dreams sometimes. At least I'm assuming it's them. I see a lot of men in dark cloaks, some of them see me, others don't. A lot of them are at tables, scribbling away. Is that them I see?"


"Well, the only time I actually saw one was earlier today. Actually, I didn't even really see him, I just felt him. Why? What is it that so interests you?"

"I'll offer you a couple words of advice; get out."

"Get out? Get out of what? Here?"

"If you have half the brain it seems like you do, you'll throw off that cloak and gear, go find yourself an honest job and stay as far away from Tahnit and the Keepers as you possibly can."

"I don't understand."

"Listen, boy. You've been had. You're being used, and will continue to be used until you put an end to it. You have a rare... talent; the same as I do. You're good at seeing what's in shadows and hiding in them yourself. Tahnit wants to use these gifts of yours to his own ends, and so far he has. The Keepers as well seem to have an interest in you, and they probably want to use you too. That is more dangerous right there than ten Tahnits. Once every other crook in The City finds out, they'll seek you out as well. It's nice being in demand and all, but they'll steal your life from you and work everything you do to suit their purpose. Just walk away now while you can. I'm telling you this only because I see that you don't deserve to go through this. You want the secrets, the hiding, and the lies to end? That's the way to do it. Walk away. Now."

I stood there blinking in silence. Leave? How would Lord Tahnit allow it? How would I escape him? What would happen to Hadassah? These and a myriad of other questions went through my mind until my head started to spin so badly that I had to sit down.

"Well, I see you have a lot to sort out. Goodnight." Garrett said, and then left. I didn't even really notice.

Although I had a bit more information, and a sure clue as to where to find more, I felt even more trapped than ever. It almost made digging up Lord Tahnit's dirt feel worthless. Even if I knew everything, what could I change, and how would I ever get out of it? I don't remember how long I sat there in my stupor. Surely long enough that Garrett was nowhere nearby. I eventually got up and went into Lord Tahnit's quarters, figuring that I would just sit down and read until I heard him stir, and then sneak out. I sat down in the chair at his desk and rubbed my face trying to think of where to even begin.

I started going through the papers on his desk; more of the same. There were a lot of various letters, receipts and such, nothing really noteworthy. I started to get frustrated, and with everything that I had been through, a bit panicky. I looked over at the shelf to the left of his desk, and noticed a pair of rather stashed away books; I could just barely see them from where I was. They looked rather worn, which to me was a telltale sign of either a very good read or a diary. I opened the more worn of the two. Finally, I had what I was looking for. It was a diary that started where the one I had read left off. Not too far into it, I found an entry that interested me greatly:

I heard a rumor today that a boy, son of one of Lord Walish's servants has a fever, and is saying wild things about the return of the Trickster. Normally, I would simply laugh at such things and half-heartedly wish the boy well, but having seen my first Keeper just a couple of days beforehand, I thought better of it. I set out to investigate, and see exactly what this boy was seeing.

The family lived in the usual squalor, but I had to admire it for it's rather homely feel. The parents greeted me warmly, not knowing why such a rich merchant had come to visit them. They seemed even more confused when I said I was interested in what the boy was saying. At any rate, they at least let me in to see him. He was indeed very ill. I promised to keep changing the wet rag on his forehead if we could have a few minutes alone, which they agreed to.

Putting together his ramblings into something coherent was difficult, and respecting the fact that he was a sick boy tested all of my patience to no end. Eventually, however, I got a rather good picture of what was going to happen. The Trickster would return, wreak a day or two of havoc, seek to take back his power as a god, but be destroyed in the midst of the ritual... by none other than Garrett. This is why he's out and about. This is why the Keeper's let him go. Very interesting. As I left, the parents asked me what I thought of what their Mishkal had said. I told them that he could very well be right, and they should prepare themselves. They then asked if I could be so kind as to help pay for his medicine, without which he'd surely die. I almost laughed at them at first, but then thought that, if I play my cards right, and this Mishkal keeps having these visions, he could be very useful. So I tossed them some coins, and told them that no one was to know either what the boy said or that I was there. If he didn't remember, they weren't to remind him. They poured the usual sobs and thank-you's at me, and promised that they would not tell anyone else.

I'm going to contact the B'nai as soon as possible. A day or two of havoc is quite a bit of destruction, and I'm sure that The City will need to rebuild once it's over. This could be the kind of break that I'm looking for. I might even be able to push out Ramirez! But it's way too hasty to go headlong into such musings. The Trickster hasn't been here yet, and the B'nai don't even know he's coming. All in good time.

I didn't even remember this illness. As I sat there though, the memory started coming back to me. Even though I couldn't remember exactly what had happened, I knew that what he wrote was true. So I read on.

Damn the B'nai! I went to talk to them about what this Mishkal had forseen, and they told me they had already heard of it and had sent the appropriate ships underway. They said, 'Of course you can always reimburse our costs now and take over the shipments when they arrive...' The usual lines. I'm sick of them. There has to be a way for me to get rich in this town without having to deal with them and their all-knowing, beady eyes. At least it's been done. The Trickster will come and go, and I'll have everything The City needs to pick up the pieces. What more could I ask for?

After that came many records of shipments and transactions and such. Later he proclaimed that I was right and that everything was going to plan. Then he said something about Lord Walish meeting an "untimely, or perhaps extraordinarily timely, demise", and the Baron needing someone to take his place. I guess he did the appropriate lip service and got the position.

What a glorious day! All is completed! The boy's prophecy has moved me from being a strong merchant to nothing short of lordship! The B'nai were not pleased, saying that my greed would be the end of me. Bah! Like they aren't greedy little bastards themselves! They also said that the death of Lord Walish was unnecessary, and that I'd attract too much attention. Them and their paranoia about being persecuted! It's enough to make one scream, trying to work with them. At any rate, I've decided to take this boy's father into my immediate employ, and encouraged him to bring his son with him. After all, I do owe him a lot, and wouldn't want to be ungrateful or anything.

I read on. Garrett was right, I'd been had. All this time, I had thought that he was the nicest person who had just stumbled across me and everything I had done. Even the time in the library when I had met him was planned. He had already heard that I was spending time in the library, and some of the servants had heard me in there trying to sound out words. So he purposely "stumbled" across me to introduce himself and make it seem like I was just some wonder he had discovered under his nose. His constant interest in me had much more to do with him wanting to know just how useful I could become than about any sort of interest in my education.

As far as the thieving... He was growing tired of Renik. So he decided that he was going to push him a bit here and there and keep me around him until something happened. Fortunately for him, it happened the first night, and was ecstatic that everything had worked for him beyond his wildest dreams. He didn't plan on me getting so ill, and Hadassah was rather unplanned as well. I was right though. He was leery about us getting so close because he wanted to keep me under his fold, and not go around getting attached to a potential enemy. At the start of the second book, I found this:

Mishkal has completed enough training to be a first-class thief. He's always been able to hide and sneak, but now it's a bit more refined, and his acrobatics, tumbling, and swordplay are to be admired. He's still sopping wet behind the ears though, so I put him out on the streets so that they might beat that sweet innocent boy out of him.

Then later:

Ah, what infernal news! He's out on the streets for a couple of weeks, then the word comes to me that he should run into Hadassah of all people. Now it appears that they are living together! I summoned and spoke to Hadassah though. I informed her that I have invested much in Mishkal, and if she should do anything to threaten his place with me, I'd inform her elders of this little love affair she was having with him. She didn't like hearing about this, but she listened, like a good girl. I'll try to dissuade Mishkal about keeping this relationship, but I doubt he'll listen.

Then there was the last entry of relvance that I read:

Mishkal came as summoned, though he seemed rather removed. Something is going wrong. The streets are growing on him, yes, and he's much less of a boy, but he seems to be growing away from me. I'll have to work on this. Gold should do the trick. It works wonders even with the most innocent of people. At any rate he did what I had asked of him, and the B'nai were impressed with the demonstration. Even though I had to all but drag Chavat into working for me as Mishkal's teacher, I could catch a glimpse of pride in his eyes as Mishkal dispatched the guards one by one. Afterwards though, Mishkal talked some sort of nonsense about wanting to be asked rather than told what to do. Who does he think he is? This is not what I had in mind at all. The display I put on to patronize him makes my bile rise even now. At any rate, he's complacent again, and when he's done robbing Bafford, I'll have plenty of gold to taunt him with. If that should ever stop doing the trick, I'm only hoping it will come at a time when he's placed me irrevocably among the top of this city's nobility, and he's no longer useful. It will be sad to see him go though. Business, however, is business, and the day will eventually come. So be it.

I only recounted the passages that dealt with me, and with what has been told so far. There were many others about his price and gang wars, mostly with Ramirez, who seemed to be his main enemy at the time. The struggle that he was involved with was in keeping the money coming in smoothly as the B'nai left without a whisper so that he could continue his struggle against Ramirez. He was hoping to gather enough resources to put him out of commission. Once he had seized enough power from Ramirez to keep anyone else from taking his place, he was planning on having me assassinate him.

I guess one can say that I was raving pissed when I finished reading. His whole plan was to make potloads of money, overtake Ramirez, have me kill him, and then kill me when I was no longer useful. Until then, he would lead me by whatever carrot would work; his "cause", gold, perhaps eventually extortion, so that I would continue to do his dirty work. I was about to read on about what he had to say regarding the Bafford job I had done, when I heard him go into the chamber between his office and bedroom. I thought of finding someplace to hide, but I was perhaps stupid in my anger and decided that I wanted him to see exactly where I was.

"Lights are on? What the..." I heard him say as he quickly walked to the door and opened it. "Mishkal!" he said as he saw me. "What are you doing here?! What are you doing behind my desk?!"


Chapter Ten