How it began
Posted on Sun Jan 1st, 2012 @ 8:14pm by Snot Rag Chops McGinty
Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
Location: Springton, Victor Colony, Brittish Kanata
Timeline: Three weeks ago
The hooded figure moved self-consciously through the crowded streets. Half of the people were military, and the last thing Daenelia Bradley wanted was to be recognised. She was careful to keep to the shadows on this brightly lit day. If only she could spot the alley she was looking for...
Between the new buildings were the old. Daenelia could spot both Espanic and Merovingian archecture, signs that the colony had changed ownership over the years. These cobbled streets had been secured with gallons of blood, and no amount of restoration could hide that. The old quarter had changed a lot since she last visited but Daenelia was sure she was in the right street. The west clock tower had survived the Brittish occupation and as soon as she heard the bell toll Daenelia was able to orient herself. Behind a wagon filled with cabbages she found the alley, and behind a stack of crates she found the battered old door. The key was behind the loose brick just like the note had said. She had reached the city in time.
The windows of the building were boarded up and walls and the floor were almost bare. Daenelia was worried this was a trap until a familiar face stepped out of the shadows. "Close the door, will you?" asked Chester Blackwell. Daenelia did what he was told, and then Chester lit a candle on the small table to push away the darkness. The man looked exactly like Daenelia remembered from the old days. A shock of grey hair, yet otherwise his features and voice were youthful. His coat was long and had many pockets. "I knew you'd come" smiled Chester, his hands in two of them. "You were never one to let anything stop you going after hidden treasure. Even after what happened to your crew..." "I still have a crew!" snapped Daenelia. "A lookout, a cook, and an engineer!" Chester rose one eyebrow at this, observing Daenelia's serious expression. "McGinty!" they both shouted at the same time, and burst out laughing. "You know you'll need a new crew if you're going to do this, Daenelia". "I'll get one" stated Daenelia with confidence, "It's my next stop."
"Very well" sighed Chester. "Do you have the stuff?" Daenelia nodded and held out a small pouch. Chester produced a loaded set of scales from somewhere and gestured for Daenelia to drop the pouch in. Reluctantly, she obeyed, and they both watched the scales tip to the left. Chester's face fell, and Daenelia saw a glimpse of his true age. "This is only half of what I asked for." "Yes, I know, but it's all I could get at short notice. You know how hard is to get hold of stuff this pure." A silence hung between them, and the two old acquaintances read each other's expressions. If Chester didn't give Daenelia the map, she would be forced to take it from him. She had tried to best to meet her end of the bargain because she truly valued Chester as a contact. But if he had the map? She'd walk out with it one way or another.
What Daenelia didn't know is that Chester had anticipated this turn of events. A deal is a deal, and half a deal is half a deal, his father always said. He had acquired the map in two pieces, and so Daenelia Bradley would be getting what she deserved.
"Here's the map, Daenelia" Chester grinned, one of the two halves suddenly in the palm of his hand. "Take it and leave. Put the key back where you found it."
"Thankyou Chester" nodded Daenelia, releasing the grip of her sword and carefully taking the parchment from Chester. She had no idea that she'd need both halves to find the treasure, but that that point Daenelia was truly relieved. As she headed along the street Daenelia felt the drive take hold of her. She'd find a new crew for the Steamhawke, decipher the map, and then... and then Daenelia bumped into someone.
The grunt. The sweet fragrance. The imposing posture. All familar. It was Jack Stallion, and although they were both wearing hooded cloaks they recognised each other immediately.
"How many times do I have to kill you?" the man asked slowly, with a different threat in every word.
"Always one more time, Jack."
He grunted again. "I have a loaded gun under my cloak, pointed at your heart. All I have to do is pull the trigger."
"And I have two pointed at yours. Are you stupid enough to try it right now?" There were hundreds of people in the street and dozens of them were soldiers. "Do you think you could fight your way back to wherever you came from?" Daenelia actually gave good odds to Jack getting out of this alive. They had both been survived plenty of scrapes, some of them together.
Another long silence between two old friends, but this time surrounded by people who were starting to notice the two hooded figures in the middle of the street.
"We'll meet again" one of them said. And then they went their separate ways.
The key was behind the loose brick just like the note had said. Jack had reached the city in time.
"The price has halved, Jack" smiled Chester. A deal is a deal, and half a deal is half a deal, his father always said.