Krogenar: Sawdust and Spirits - Part 1

[ 79] Krogenar: Sawdust and Spirits - Part 1   
Sat Dec  6 19:43:52 2014
To: all
The baby stared apprehensively at the woman who bore him. She swaddled
him, and fitted something to her fingertip. Dipping her free hand into
the muck that fouled the edges of Westbridge's winding streets, she streaked
her face theatrically, checking her reflection in a pool of stagnant
water.

She studied her face in the pool.

'Too much, ' she muttered.

Dashing her hands into the puddle, she washed some grime off her face,
admired herself -- A figure, on the rooftop behind her!

She whirled, but it was gone.

The baby cried out, and she scanned the rooflines surrounding the alleyway,
backing towards the bustle of Coffin Street, and the soft glow of a local
tavern. There was nothing there anyway, just a shadow. The baby cried
again, louder this time.

She withdrew a small, rusty shiv from beneath her ragged costume and
pointed it at the rooftops. The thimble on her forefinger fell away in
the movement, tinkling down onto the cobblestones.

'I got nothin'! Night's not e'en started! '

No response. No 'jackers - just her head, and too much grog.

The babe's wailing continued and she rustled it. 'Shu' up, you! '

Putting away her knife, she grabbed at the thimble, and replaced it on
her forefinger. It bore a tiny needle sloppily soldered to the edge.

...

Behind the brick chimney, the half-orc listened to the woman depart.
His face was hazy with grey stubble, spiderwebs of fine, sun-soaked wrinkles
lined his cheeks. Her scent, a mixture of cheap grog and desperation,
departed. He looked across the rooftops, and saw her enter Death Street,
adopting a limping stride, beseeching a nobleman on the street for help.
Showtime.

He thought of the baby, then - an unwilling actor in the beggar woman's
theatrics. Pricked at the proper time to wail, and pull on the heartstrings
of passersby, its backside would be riddled with pin pricks by night's
end, and hoarse from screaming. The half-orc's long, calloused fingers
tapped the pommel of his sword, still sheathed. He flexed his fingers,
stilled them. He'd done all that before, to no use.

He could not even bear to hate her - she would have scars of her own.

Pain, misery and cruelty swirled on the air, to his nose. A rape, a beating,
a robbery, his nose and ears could detect them all. The rooftops made
his nausea lessen to some degree. Here, the air was cleaner, and fresher.
And he could see the plains beyond the city.
 
One more day, and he could be gone. But waiting was thirsty work.