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Beneath the Decks

Tags: Louse,  Scampre,  Torgan

Short Summary: Down in Esgaroth's Underdecks, Gutter Lane is the scene of an unlikely meeting - well, two, actually. An exchange is made, as is an appointment.
Date (real-life): 2011-06-07
Scene Location: Esgaroth: Gutter's Lane
Date (in-game): February 3053
 Gutter's Lane

You stand within a ramshackle street that looks severely run-down for the most part, but yet has signs of life. It is wider than most alleyways in the Underdecks, and seems to consist of a series of precariously carpented sections joined by boards; each prone to shudder and shiver when a great weight is set upon them. Flanking either side of this series of hanging platforms are a hodge-podge of buildings, pressed tightly together to run into one long, mismatching frieze of windows, doors and faded signs.

Every now and again a lantern can be seen spilling dirty light down onto the Lane, usually to highlight a shop of sorts, and various little side-alleys run off from this thoroughfare to points unknown. At the northern end of the lane a rickety walkway appears to lead to less cramped comditions, while one shady alley in particular wends westward from the southern end.

Obvious exits:
Shady Alleyway and Rickety Walkway

=-=-=-= Dale-Lands Time and Weather Service =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Real Time: Tue Jun 07 15:06:52 2011 MST

Dale-Lands Time:
Sunday, midday on a clear winter's day, February 13 of 3053
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Dale-Lands Time and Weather Service =-=-=-=

Up in the world above winter may be passing, but down here belowdecks the air is damp and chill, with a nasty bite to it. Scarce wonder there's little sign of the Underdeck's inhabitants ... or maybe that has something to do with the tale of a body found earlier. The news has gone through Esgaroth's shadowy slums like wildfire and while surely /someone/ knows what's been going on, noone wants to be first to be hauled in for questioning. So the gloom beneath the town is unwontedly quiet.

Until, that is, the silence is broken by the patter of young feet. Louse runs along the rickety walkway lightly as a squirrel, pausing at the far end as something lithe and dark emerges from beneath a piece of rotting sacking to twine round the youngest Greenshirt's scrawny legs. "Oughtn't t'be here, Scab," the child murmurs, reaching down to pet a mangy cat with obvious affection. "S'posed t'be lookin' fer clues."

The cat is not the only creature abroad in the shadows, as becomes clear when from another dark side-alley steps the figure of Scampre. His face is awash with concern as he looks down upon Louse, and his eyes are somewhat distracted as he peers up and down the Lane.

"There you are," he says quietly in greeting. "Have any trouble on your way?"

Scab lets out a soft miaow and leaps off into the shadows.

Louse tenses, little fist balled up as though ready for a fight - and then relaxes as the voice is identified. "Ain't nothin' as can bother me," the youngster boasts proudly, thin chest lifting, then scowls. "But Serge yelled at us somethin' fierce. Said we was a bunch o' good-fer-nothin' layabouts as didn't know an arse from an elbow, an' as 'e wasn't payin' good money fer nowt." The child's voice is quite subdued; then suddenly the angular face lights up in a grin. "'E oughtn't t'have said that. Put rosehip-seeds down 'is armour while 'e was away on break."

A soft cackle leaves Scampre's lips as Louse relays the tale, and his hand comes out to ruffle her cap, unless she moves away. "That's me girl," he says privately, his voice low and hushes, even in this (seemingly) empty street, ere he sniffs and raises his voice anew.

"But I'm glad. What with Old Todger getting gutted, I don't know what's going on. The Widow is furious -- someone's been slicing folks up without the permission of Them."

Louse doesn't move away. The cap falls to the ground, revealing a stringy mass of tow-coloured hair, but in this mirk who's to see? "Dunno what they're makin' such a fuss about," the child remarks mulishly. "Folk's always gettin' kilt." This is followed up with a scowl. "'N is it true 'e was gutted like a fish? Or is that just Rig havin' me on? Looked all funny, Rig did when 'e came in. Wouldn't let me see th'body, neither."

[Lorthrain(#23381)] Scampre's smile turns grim then, and he nods. "Yeah," he says soberly. "They ripped him from bladder to sternum. Nasty way to go, Louse; I'm glad Rig didn't let yer see. But that's just it, isn't it? Folks don't just get sliced, not no more, not since Them's been in charge. And Old Todger? He did errands for Them too, on the side, though he kept it quiet..."

He sniffs, once more sending his gaze up and down the Lane. "Whoever dunnit, didn't ask for permission, and there's gonna be a Dragon's Fate to pay for it, mark my words."

Louse's mouth forms a round 'o' as she tries to imagine the scene Scampre is describing. The youngster listens to Scampre's words in quiet. When he's done, Louse reaches forward to pat the man's arm awkwardly. "Ye ain't - I mean, noone's gonna do anythin' t'you?" There is no mistaking the fear in the soft, slightly lisping words.

Swallowing hard, the young denizen of the Underdecks takes a deep breath and tries to be more constructive. "Who d'you reckon done it? Some o' them toffs from Up Above? Or one o' them folks from that Firmerer?"

Smiling down at the child, Scampre shakes his head and comes down to one knee; eye to eye with Louse. "Don't you go worrying about me, kid. I've got a few tricks up me sleeves, and I've also got the Widow on my side. If the blue-cloaks couldn't get me, then I don't reckon no-one down here has even a shot at it. But, all the same, it's one more reason to keep quiet about, well, you know..."

His own hands comes out to squeeze her tiny shoulder, and he nods meaningfully. "Don't wnat you being a target, if something big is starting."

Louse's worried look does not change. "Said that afore," the youngter replies, "an' ye was gone fer /months/." She sniffs, swiping her free arm across her face and leaving new marks on an already grubby sleeve. Something small crawls out of her hair and across Scampre's hand where he grips her other shoulder.

Louse is made of stern stuff, though. Drawing herself up, she announces scornfully "Tol' ye. Ain't noone as can mess with me." The youngster scratches thoughtfully at the base of her neck, then asks, "Anythin' ye want me t'find? Or not find? Or ... I dunno." Alas, the adult world of sleuthing is a little beyond her ken.

Sucking his gums thoughtfully, and bulging his cheek with his tongue, Scampre nods. "Aye, if you can find out anything at all about who might have had a grudge against Old Todger, that'd be grand. I've heard nothing, and you know how good I am at finding things out. But, perhaps there some things folks'd let slip around you than that would if I was in earshot."

He sniffs then, and reaches into his scruffy clothing, bringing forth a slender knife. The blade is short, as is the hand;e and while it looks tiny in his hands, it might just be ideal for the girl in front of him.

"Here," says he. "Take this, just in case. And don't tell no-one you've got it. If they never know beforehand, they'll never prepare for it."^T

Louse looks doubtful at that. "I ain't as good at that stuff as you," the youngster confesses, letting her hand drop back to her side. "'Sides, reckon folk won't say nothin' t'Greenshirts. I c'n make somethin' up?" Her bright gaze is eager.

And then the little knife is produced. Louse stares at it dumbly. "Fer me?" the Youngest Greenshirt manages at last, reaching out one finger to touch the flat of the blade. And then, eyes narrowing in semi-suspicion, "Why?"

[Torgan(#20533)] A shop's door a several doors down creaks on its hinges as it opens. A man's hollow laughter echoes from within and follows two blue-cloaked men out onto the street; another man wearing a blue coat and pristine, white breeches turns on his way out and pauses just beyond the doorway. "The offer stands," he says "though you treat it so abysmally." The man is Torgan. His finery looks out of place here. "Just a name, someone to get in touch with."

More hollow laughter follows and some slurred language as a third blue cloaked figure disembarks the shop. The door slams shut behind him, leaving four men in the street and the lantern over the door swaying. Torgan adjusts the lengths of his sleeves around his palms and looks down the street with a disgusted look.

"Just to be safe, Louse," says Scampre, an almost pleading look in his eye. "If anyone tries to mess with yer, I want you to give it to 'em so bad they don't never touch you again." But as the shop's door slams shut, he glances up, and hurriedly prsses the little blade into her hands.

He rises then, brushing himself down, and says aloud: "And that's what I think of you and yer bloody Greenshirts. That noble Barlin's got a right cheek having you lot spying on us down here..."

Louse nods, dumbly, swallowing hard, then gives Scampre a proud grin. "I c'n do-"

And then the shop-door slams, and her head comes up suddenly, deer-like. The little knife is hastily stuck through the rope belt, concealed in a fold of the too-large shirt, and she drops to her knees to grope for the dropped cap, which is crammed back on her head all askew (no doubt dislodging a few of the resident denizens). "You do that again, Mister, an' I'll kick ye where it hurts," the youngster shrills. "S'our job t'ask questions." The child's chin comes up stubbornly as a sharp gaze is turned on Torgan and his companions too. "What y'doin' down here, Mister?" The tone is somewhat modified, but the urchin is not good at 'gentle'.

[Torgan(#20533)] Torgan grunts as he stares down the street at the voices. "Business," one of his retainers answers tersely. "Be on your way!"

"No, I have one last place to check," Torgan briskly answers some question from another of his three retainers, not deigning to more than watch the youngster. He turns back to the door in front of him. "Damn inconvenience following up on ...'s lending practices." After another break he adds, "Yes, I suppose it is, but there is no--" he cuts off sharply with another glance down the street.

Torgan gives a nod toward Louse and Scampre's direction. "This way," he mumbles. "Let us be about it."

As the Arathmor party make their way closer, Scampre's eyes narrow, and he spares a glance to Louse ere he steps forward. "It was a simple enough question," he grunts. "I'd like to know too. Not often we see someone wearing yer colours down here. You looking for someone?"

Louse is perhaps a little whiter than before, though it may just be that the youngster is coming forward into the lamplight. "Orders is I've t'ask everyone," comes the reiteration. "Lord Barlin's men says so." The childs own steps place her a little closer to the rickety walkway. It's never a bad idea to have a clear escape route ...

[Torgan(#20533)] "Lord Barlin," Torgan mumbles. "Yes," he says, cutting off one of his retainers with his voice hard. He's turned his discontent gaze on Scampre though instead of Louse. He looks between them then. "Let me discover this: are you two just gathering information or are you offering some in return? Anyone can claim a Lord's orders, and I have no time for prying."

Scampre watches the Arathmor then with a curious gaze, ere he sniffs thoughtfully. "Seems to like you're the one prying, m'lord, though fair's fair. Sure, I can share a little gossip with yer, if you share some of yer famous Arathmor silver into my hand..."

The middle-aged rogue holds out his palm and grins. "After all, yer on our turf here, wouldn't you say?"^T

"I'm just askin' everyone th'same," Louse returns. "That's what I was tole." The young Greenshirt glances from one man to the other and mumbles, "Got ta get goin'." With that the child marches off, seemingly toward the steps leading to the Wharf.

Louse, however, was born and bred in the Decks. Soon she has swung off the walkway and is inching back to listen.

[Torgan(#20533)] Torgan grins at Scampre's comments, or is it a sneer. "I have no concern for 'turf'," he says, watching Louse go briefly. His grin becomes more sincere, "only the well-being of certain affairs here. But yes, I will afford you that boast, your turf. This is not a place I'm well suited for." He procures a silver coin. "I'm looking for someone who knows things, and can speak for many. And don't cross me by sending me to some shop keeper's wife." There's a particular miffed tightness to these last words from Torgan.

Like a stinging viper Scampre's hand reaches out to snatch the silver coin, and the old pickpocket stows it away deftly into some unseen pocket, ere he rubs his palms together. "Oh, you've come to the right place, m'lord. You see, aint NO-ONE in town who knows more'n me about what's going on, so, there's yer first answer."

He takes a bow. "Mister Scampre, at yer service. Shall we, er, find some place quieter to chat?"

Hidden beneath the decking (she's lucky that there hasn't been too much rain this winter, or it would be a very uncomfortable spot indeed), Louse pulls a face. Her lips move, shaping though not sounding the words, "Slippery ole weasel."

[Torgan(#20533)] Torgan watches Scampre with a gleam to his own eyes, though no other pleasure is to be seen upon his expressionless face. "Excellent. I must delay this briefly, however," he says, "you understand." He pauses long enough to add emphasis to his next statement, perhaps unintentionally, "I have a slightly more pressing matter to attend to." Torgan's eyes suddenly turn to a glare and he gestures at the retainer to his left.

[Torgan(#20533)] The retainer leans close to Scampre and whispers in his ear. Torgan adds, "I'll see you then and there. Be punctual."

A wolfish smile spreads across the old rogue's lips at this, and he nods. "You can count on it. Safe travels back up top; there's dangerous folk about."

One particular 'dangerous folk' (if one counts ankle-biting) lies still and uncomfortable, waiting for the inevitable passage of booted feet to be done.

[Torgan(#20533)] "Thank you," Torgan adds with a caustic glance around. He grimaces. "Let us delay no further," he mumbles, and moves on with a quick gait. The whirl of capes suddenly dragged into movement and the clap-clut-scuff of four men and their boots follows them off.

Date added: 2011-06-09 16:07:59    Hits: 90
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