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Inigo Carivelli – Turn 4

COLD, INCREDULOUS FURY was building up within Inigo. As Darkev finished speaking he held the older man's gaze for a long moment.

'Sir, I have no hold over Master Severin but that which a Superior Fancy, aided by the gifts of skill and knowledge, have gained me in his appreciation. I did not poach the project from you; you failed to merit it.' Darkev's face was now as white as Inigo's own, and his eyes burned. 'That I am content to let posterity and the citizens of Sahela judge. But your imputation that I am a murderer in flight is infamous! Were you not a Brother Mason and an Initiate I would expunge the slur in blood, upon the field of honour, as I did with young Jarvis.'

'Enough of your yapping, whelp!' Darkev's voice had suddenly swelled, powerful and deep, to fill the entire Chancel. 'Posterity may indeed show which of us is the better architect, but I can show you here and now which is the better man, by administering the sound thrashing you so richly deserve! But that would be slighting the dignity of this place of reverence. I accept your challenge, sir, and I name the rapier as weapon. Please be good enough to have your second call on mine - Master Kresh Lubbers - in the morning, to arrange time and place. And I warn you, lad, you may have got the better of a merchant's son with some flashy manoeuvre, but I shall give you cause to rue the day you impugned Darkev!' With that, he spun on his heel and left the chamber, which at once bubbled up into mutter and murmur.

Inigo turned to Martin Zord. 'Master Zord, can I ask you to act as my second in this matter?'

Zord was almost in tears. 'Oh, lad, lad, what a bad business! What can have provoked him so? Well done for defending your honour, and of course I will help in any way I can. But what a tragedy - that you are to be cut down and wounded, perhaps fatally, in such a way!'

'Master Zord! I would not look for my second to have such a defeatist attitude! I know how to handle a rapier, I assure you!'

'Oh, yes, Inigo, I'm sure you can, but - Darkev! Why, he's reputed one of the finest swordsmen in the city!'

INIGO LEFT THE Chancel after obtaining Zord's agreement to sponsor him to the Fourth Circle {'should you live'}. He was aware that everyone there would be talking about him. No doubt they were all cowed by Darkev's reputation, and put up with all manner of slights from him. Not he! If he were to grovel before this man on first arriving in the city, what hope would there be for the future? No, he had to stand up and take the consequences. Besides, Darkev may have been a fine swordsman in his time, or in the salle, but Inigo would lay odds it was a while since he'd handled a blade in deadly earnest. That feeling, the unearthly translucency, the heightened sense, was still fresh in Inigo's mind.

By the time he reached Snake Street {so named, he presumed, for its sinuous, winding form} he was feeling somewhat flat and dull. He stopped in at the Bull's Breath, on the corner with Juxon Street, for a quart of wine - how Master Zord would have loved to choose it for him! - and a bumper to quaff at the bar. The tavern was none too busy, a dozen-and-a-half drinkers gathered in small knots chattering away merrily. In sooth, it was a congenial enough atmosphere. The landlord was tall, with a long greying black beard and the usual stained apron tied around his ample girth. Inigo hailed him and introduced himself.

'Ah, you're lodging at Master Percale's then?' A faint shadow seemed to pass briefly across the man's face. 'I'm Tobias Rogut, proprietor. Welcome to Snake Street!' He proffered a large meaty hand.

'Yes, a nice enough room, but...' Inigo leant conspiratorially close, 'I've not had much opportunity to speak with the neighbours yet.'

Rogut frowned. 'Ah, well, Master Carivelli, you want to perhaps be a little careful there, a young man like yourself. I won't say a word against them, mind, particularly not Master Betterwyne, who's a good customer, and Master Percale himself is a fine man of course. But Master Foxx... he's perhaps what back where I come from they used to call "gifted", which is to say a little simple - only not simple in a simple way, simple in a rather complicated way - d'you catch my meaning?'

'No, not really,' Inigo admitted frankly.

'Well, just be careful, that's all. He doesn't mean any harm, but when he's provoked, which can be at the slightest thing, like a shadow moving across the window in a way he doesn't like, or an odd smell, he just doesn't care what he does, not like a normal person at all.' He sighed. 'To be honest with you, I've barred him from here more than once, which was a pity, for he does so enjoy the fire and all.'

'What does he work at?'

'He makes children's toys, as it happens. He has a little workshop down on Iffley Road, him and an apprentice. Beautifully crafted, his pieces: I've got some of them for little Marta, marionettes and such like.'

Over the next half-hour the conversation moved slowly over a range of topics, interrupted by Rogut's occasional serving duties. Inigo learnt that the Guild Council was divided into two factions, the Exchequer and the Ungrave, and that Martin Pike was the leader of the more conservative Exchequer, who were currently in power. Peter was his only son, with little to say about him but that he was active on the city's social scene. As fro the attacks on young ladies, these had all happened in the higher part of town, the richer part, and all six girls attacked {mid-to-late teens} were from well-to-do families. In each case it was thought the bat had entered their rooms at night.

Eventually Inigo sighed and made his farewells. He had not learnt anything of very great interest, but no doubt a neighbourhood tavern such as the Bull's Breath was not the best place for gossip about the city's great and good: that would be found in the wine bars of the centre.

Fortunately there were no noises from either side as he climbed to his room, although as he looked back down the stairwell he saw Master Percale's pale, nightcapped features peering owlishly up at him from the hallway.

Inigo fell to work, sketching swiftly, interrupted only by a brief and distracted foray over to the bookcase prompted by thoughts of his neighbours. He had brought with him a volume of Batrachio's Tales of the Fonescan Woods, that disturbing volume that was responsible for so much troubled sleep among the youth of the Wheel, which as a child he had devoured avidly. The stories of beast-men, man-beasts, women-men, giant insects, brain eaters, lamp-efts, shoemaking wights and so forth had chased each other through his mind in fantastic menagerie. And each tale was recounted as though purest factual report, without embellishment or Fancy - or so he had thought at first, only later realising that Batrachio's Fancy was in the appearance of absence of Fancy. There was the blacksmith Heinrich, who ate half the brain of each unfortunate who came to have his horse shod, and filled the space with beeswax before sending him home all unknowing. There was Marshal Tremeno, who had made bedsheets from the skins of bats and who drank only bile. And the wolf-men of Camperdilly Corners, who ran with the pack on all fours and howled at the moon. All had come to a sticky end, and rightly so, according to Batrachio, who placed a moral epigraph at the end of each tale.

Dawn found Inigo slumped over the drawing-board, his eyes crusted over. He jerked awake as the first sunbeam brushed his face. No time to waste! Yawning, he doused his head in cold water from the ewer, then looked anxiously at the heaps of paper that surrounded him. Yes, it was all there, and all good work. But there was still much to do...

There was a knock at the door, and Inigo ineffectually patted his wild hair into a semblance of reason before calling 'Enter!'

Master Percale poked his head around the door. 'Master Carivelli?' He almost flinched as his eyes met Inigo's. 'Sir, are you quite well? Would you wish the attentions of a healer?'

'No, no, I'm quite well, thank you, Master Percale - just working, you see!'

'Ah.' The landlord sounded disappointed. 'Well, if you should fall ill, or need help, do not hesitate to ask, for I myself have no little skill in the healing arts.'

'You're a physician?'

'No, no, none of that nonsense. Whoever would believe that cutting people open and dosing them with chemicals could make them better! No, I am an ergopath, I heal by manipulating the flux of energy that flows over the body.' He made vague waving motions with his hands, one of which, Inigo noticed, was holding a letter.

'Is that...?' Inigo pointed.

'Oh! Yes, do forgive me, this came for you.' He handed it over. It was fine parchment, and sealed with Davril Trimble's device of a ship at sea amid dolphins. Inigo tore it open eagerly.


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