Too Late…

‘Late, bloody late’ he wheezed out as he precariously skipped down the steps and across the rain slicked cobbles, the lamp light dimly showing the way. Kurt knew he would be in for it tonight, turning up late to check inventory, at best a rollicking; and worse, potentially getting the eye if something is amiss or lost. The closer he got to the waterfront the slicker the street got, mostly from the rain, but a fair bit from the patrons of the local drinking holes. He put aside that thought and carried on running, planting his feet firmly so as not to slip.

Despite his best efforts he managed to take a tumble straight into a puddle of something unpleasant near the warehouse, from the smell a mix of midden run off, fish guts and something sickly sweet. He couldn’t place that last part, and frankly, he didn’t want to know. One lesson he had learned working for the guild, sometimes it’s best not to ask. He composed himself, brushed off the worst and headed over to the warehouse. 

The lamps were lit and the doors unlocked, but Morres the watchman meant to be on guard duty wasn’t at the entrance, and he couldn’t see Durrant or Pieter patrolling, ‘Probably inside with Morres having a drink and drying off’ he thought, they weren’t exactly the most dutiful of watchmen and if Durge ever found out they left their posts, by Sigmars balls there would be hell to pay. He made his way inside, but the lads weren’t to be seen. Maybe they were checking on Willam and Gharth, probably harassing them about where he was and generally making a nuisance of themselves, they did love annoying folk during inventory checks and poking around where they weren’t wanted. He set off into the maze of crates and goods, with seals from far and wide burnt into the wood, and scrolls tied to the plethora of items that lined the paths. Items from places he’s only heard of in tales as a child, and from sailors while drinking in the local taverns and dives after his shifts.  

The lamp light slowly dimmed the further he got towards the center, thankfully he was well prepared pulling a small lantern from his bag, lighting the candle with his flints. Risky using flints in the stacks, but still safer than wandering in the near pitch dark. He wasn’t far from the center  where he, Willam and Gharth set up their desks the night before. He hurried along hoping to catch them off guard and give them a good scare, a bit of prank might make him feel better after such a poor start to the night. So focussed on his little plan that he was oblivious to what was in front of him, nearly losing his footing again on something in the dark, something slick and unpleasant. Steadying himself he took a look at the second fetid puddle to interrupt his evening, lowering his lamp and reaching down to the black viscous mess . ‘Blood?!’ From one of the watchmen? Willam or Gharth maybe? Maybe someone took something to one of the infernal rats that keep infesting the damn place of late? 

He wiped the blood off on a rag, discarding it into the puddle. His lamp held just that little closer, using its soft warm glow to reassure himself. He fumbled in his bag, ‘Where is it, bloody hell!’ he muttered. He finally found it, his dagger. His first bit of advice from Willam, ‘If ya gonna walk the street of Fairhaven at night, best be armed with something solid. And in all honesty, you might want it during the day too’. He arrived at the center of the warehouse, lanterns lit and ready for work. 

But it was terribly wrong, inventory lists scattered across the place. There was crimson spatter and gore across the floor and up the crates and rugs that surrounded the area, he could smell all manner of bile and rankness in the air. From up high a drop found its way to his cheek, warm and sticky. He wiped it away without thought. Focussing on his fingers in the waning lamp light, terror gripping his mind. ’Blood! he exclaimed as he slowly craned his head upwards as another drop fell in his eye. He wiped it away and stared into the dark rafters of the warehouse, holding his lamp higher so as to see, despite his mind telling him to run. In the dim lamp light he saw them, all of them, strung up, Morres, Durrant and Pieter, their faces and chests torn to pieces, Willam and Gharth hanging from the next rafter along, slashes across their throats and wounds across their midriffs. He stood there for a moment, taking in the bloody site.

Warm piss joined the putrid filth staining his trousers, then his bowels joined his bladder in unburdening itself as he dropped his dagger. He ran faster than he had ever run before, smashing through the stacks with terrified abandon. Frenzied chittering rumbled from the darkness behind him and above, he swung his lamp in a flailing arc in a desperate attempt to fend off his pursuers. In doing so he shattered the lamp on a statue, snuffing out his light. Now he only had the dim hazy glow of the outer wall lamps to guide him to safety. Tears filled his eyes as the realisation of his plight fully formed in his mind. He was going to die, he was certain he was going to die.

Grasping claws grabbed at his clothes and razor sharp blades landed glancing cuts upon his flesh as he ran. The chittering was so close, maddening to the point he thought he could hear them talking in common, calling out to ‘Kill the man thing, yes yes’ ‘Stop the man thing’ as he stumbled and flailed through the stacks. He burst out of the stacks and fell to the floor, his eyes struggling to adjust to the light. He cried out in terror as shadows surrounded him, one vast one and many smaller ones staring inquisitively at him. Then the large figure blurted out ‘Where are da bloody guards and wheres da idiots!?’ another enquired ‘’Come on lad what happened?’. He knew the voices, Watch Commander Durge and Lieutenant Brosst. His eyes adjusted, Durge was intimidating as always, typically terrifying for an ogre. Brosst’s rough dour face crinkled up in frustration, ‘So, the commander and I want to know what bloody happened?’

He gave them a full, if rambling account of everything, including far too much detail as to why he stank like the waste runs near the butchers and fishmongers of the Altermarkt. He felt weak and utterly exhausted. Brosst and Durge stepped away, whispering to each other. Brosst stepped back and spoke, ‘You did well lad. We’ll take care of it now, don’t you worry. These lads will take you to be treated and get some rest’. He felt relieved, as they carried him out to a cart to be taken away to sanctuary.

Brosst leant in to speak with Durge. ‘You see the cuts?’ ‘Yeah, poison’ Durge replied. ‘He won’t last the next couple of hours commander, so he ain’t saying anything to anyone about this attack. If the goods are intact then we don’t need to bother the bosses or the clients with the details of this and the other attack. If anything is missing we’ll pass it along as thievery by these oiks and just say they got dealt with. Nice and tidy, and allows us time to find the real culprits’. Durge contemplated for a moment before nodding at Brosst. Brosst turned to relay orders to Kurts escorts when Durge grabbed his shoulder, leaning down to whisper in his ear. ‘When he goes, take ‘im to Harlow. No point in letting him go to waste’. Brosst nodded, before turning back to relay the amended orders……..

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