The street beyond the tavern door was silent, the only sounds radiating from the tavern behind her and the occasional scufflings from the shadows. Dureena walked swiftly with purpose down the streets and alleyways without a sound. She quietly mused to herself along the way.
Very interesting that he would desire an audience with the lizard lady. Although, she does seem a bit too reckless for a secret incursion. She'd give us away before we even made it to the meeting... No, he seems to have other plans for her. A fortunate decision for the rest of us.
Dureena smiled to herself as she walked along pondering the day's events. She was following a path she had marked in her mind at the instant she had read the contract. Soon the buildings began to spread out, growing smaller in size. The city tapered out until she found herself in a small starlit clearing before the edge of a dark forest. She slowed her pace to a slink and disappeared into the forest without a sound.
The din in the Copper Pot was raucous; a perfect place to avoid being overheard or easily recognized. The tavern room itself was large yet always seemed packed and noisy. It was also full of tiny nicks and crannies and dark corners where those wishing not to be seen could easily disappear. Once an old store with upper floor storage, the building had long since been converted. The tavern and owner's residence made up the first floor while the second and third floors consisted of rooms for travelers. Despite the fact that the Copper Pot was far hidden in the back allies of Marn it still drew many patrons, especially those who wished to avoid the more public places. It was for this reason Dureena had scoped out the place. Craving more information of those they planned on infiltrating she took it upon herself to perhaps make some connections if possible this night.
At a table toward the back and out of the way two travelers could be seen. Leaning back her chair Dureena had her feet up on the table crossed at the ankles and her hands behind her head. Tanor sat in a chair to her right, hunched over his hand encircled mug staring broodingly into it. Their coats were flung abandoned on a third chair at their table. They had ordered a few refills already from the barmaid that made her rounds at the tables having decided that they would play the part of out-of-towner's laying low and getting the feel of the place.
Dureena observed her companion curiously from her comfy perch. Stretching and putting her feet down she slid her chair up to the table and leaned on her elbows. "What's wrong?" she asked thoughtfully concerned.
Tanor looked up at her frowning slightly before leaning in slightly and responding in a low voice. "What do you think of the government round these parts?" He gave her a meaningful look.
Good, she though, following the script... She smiled internally as a frown crossed her face. "I can hardly believe that they would make magic illegal when it is clear so many of the citizens of this city-" she gestured with her hands, "are descendents of magically inclined races."
Tanor leaned closer, as if in the act of grabbing the pitcher left on their table, and lowered his voice even more. "You know that's not quite what I meant." He passed her the pitcher.
Taking it she filled her cup with a thoughtful yet concerned look on her face. Leaning to put it back she answered quietly, "I know but if I hadn't inherited that property-" The look on his face would have made any normal person stop and switch tactics slightly which she imitated expertly. "Alright, alright. I'll sell it as soon as possible. It's just such a shame to have to leave the place so soon. My family was so devoted to this place. In the mean time I'll just have to lay low. No more mag-"
Tanor's hand shot out to shush her and she stopped. Internally she was impressed. Granted she was mentally suggesting things but he added a bit extra to his role, making it more convincing than she could have expected. She sat slowly back into her chair, faking a pensive frown. Her ears picked up and separated the sounds in the room. As expected, the table quite near to them had long since fallen silent, eavesdropping on them. She sensed their sympathy at her story as scraps of their revived conversation began to drift into the other sound of the tavern.
Upon entering an hour or so before she had sensed some latent magic on the air, as if someone had recently been using it. She suspected that mages would send out a more powerful sense of magic than the other citizens as they tend to be more powerful and use it more. It seemed her suspicions had been correct. Dureena had seated them as close as possible to the two men she suspected as being the source and had diligently pretended with Tanor to be minding her own business. While they sat a third entered the tavern and drifted over to the table. As he passed she felt a shiver as the magic in the disturbed air sent her senses on alert.
Time passed as she concentrated on her senses and hearing picking up as many scraps of conversation as possible. Their conversation had quieted at their arrival but soon picked back up again much quieter than before. She had picked up the words 'meeting' and other subtle hints of the meeting for which she sought information. However, the people at the table were not but careful. In an attempt to gain their attention she had started her conversation with Tanor. She now sat waiting to see if they would take the bait. Unfortunately, they did not seem to. Slowly, the three took turns in departing.
Well, I must say I’m not surprised. It would take days to infiltrate and I simply do not have the time she mused. Not wanting to raise suspicions the two waited awhile. Soon, however, feeling that little had been accomplished Dureena began to grow bored and impatient. Sighing she stood up grabbing their coats.
"Well, it's getting late and we aught to be getting back" she said to Tanor tossing his cloak to him. He stood and donned it, following Dureena's example. Tossing a few coins on the table, Dureena lead the way, weaving through the tables full of other tavern patrons. Well, she thought though this one isn't as bad as the Drunken Rat, it's still disgusting. I shall be glad to be free of all this. Although, she had some delight despite her disgust. In the tavern she had sensed, and picked up upon, many double dealings and secret meetings. It was definitely the place for her. However, the now drunken horde that resided there did not appeal to her amusement, let alone her sense of smell.
On their way down a side alley she put her hands in her pocket and stopped abruptly. Her right hand withdrew from one of her pockets, running along the cloth of her coat. Part of the conversation she had heard rose to the surface of her mind.
"So, how's that wife of yours?"
"Oh, fine! Quite determined for me to go and get some fabric tomorrow. She fancies making a new cloak for me. Absolutely, insists that mine has suffered far too long. I can't tell how she plans on me finding any since the old place we used to go to has been closed down for years. Got it at the source you know as it's so much cheaper and safer for that matter. You see what you get..."
At the time she had dismissed it as normal conversation but now she was not so sure. There were slight stresses that she had noticed but in her haste had overlooked. Closing her eyes she recalled the moment; every sight, every sense, every sound. It seemed to her that much deceit and meaning went into that conversation.
What would be the significance of 'wife' and 'suffers' she thought curiously. She carefully thought over the conversation again. None of those men seemed in dire need of a new cloak.... she hummed thoughtfully to herself thinking and piecing together. All of a sudden it clicked, all the emotions and words fitting into one another. Aha! So many codes so little time! she thought gleefully. 'Wife' must have been the trigger word which means the rest of the conversation was the message. It gives the sensation of a place, a location. The location perhaps?
She began to walk again muttering under her breath, Tanor looking curiously at her.
"Fabric ... old place closed down ... the source .... the source is safer ... the source is safer? ..." She drew in a quick breath and smiled, her eyes growing round and glittery with mischievous revelation. "The source is safer! That's it!" She turned suddenly to Tanor and asked him silkily. Tell me my dear Tanor, what is the source of fabric?"
He looked down at her with a raised eyebrow and answered, doubtful of her odd behavior. "The mill my lady?"
"Correct" She said slyly, her air of superiority surfacing again. "The textile mill. Well now, that is interesting!"
"What is?" He asked but Dureena never answered. She strutted off at a brisk pace, Tanor hurrying to catch up.