#13 Fiasco in the Beggar’s District
by Gabor Lux
The dun battlements of the City rose above the horizon. The boat sailed into a crescent bay, where, just in sight of the walls, a cluster of dismal huts perched on high poles rising from the sea, forming a dense multi-level village connected by wooden walkways and stairs that seemed to be close to collapse. Someone suggested it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stop and ask about the recent news, just in case the Warriors of the Tiger were still looking for dangerous fugitives. They moored their vessel on a pier, and turned to an old, ragged man sitting on a pile of boxes, hinting of a small tip. Bawragh, the ancient beggar, immediately looked interested. Beckoning to the group, he lead them up a few flights of rickety stairs, explaining that he’d prefer to be further from the group of half-naked urchins who were even now hurling insults at him.
“Don’t trust the old man!” one cried.
“What is this?”
“They are ruining my life with their constant taunts and thievery. They are all little miscreants and thieves. Let’s go to my hut, where we can talk safely.”
“That is not a very good idea. Those kids are looking too fondly at our boat.”
“Be it as you wish. But please wait just a minute, I have to have a bit of my cough medicine before I can speak well.”
Bawragh shuffled off in the direction of a large hut, Marasura and Vifranavaz looked around, catching sight of a small group of tall young punks smoking something in the shadow of another dirty shack looking close to collapse.
“Hey! Care to talk?”
“I have got these green bars from Arfel. The first one is always free.”
“Thassomethink! Cool! I’m Midjar, and this is my best pal Zhorf. Have some of this grey square, it’s fucking great stuff!”
“I know we would understand each other. I would like to know more about your settlement.”
“I thought you’d want to know my sister.”
“Let’s not rush to conclusions. Where has Bawragh gone off to?”
“Probably to call the red-eyes. They live over there in that big hut.”
“Red-eyes? That doesn’t sound promising. We might have to be going sooner than we thought. Do you know any interesting news from the City? We are sailing there, and wouldn’t want to… well, it’s better to know the recent stuff.”
It turned out there were interesting news from the City all right. There was much talk of a recent murder that had taken place recently: a respectable stargazer, Chandir Lakh, had been found killed in his own quarters. Much sorrow, it is said, had also fallen on the house of Khojar Mirza, although here the news were unclear about the nature of these calamities.
“Well, there comes Bawragh again.”
“Isn’t that kid down there looking at our boat?”
“I think we will be going now.”
“A pleasure talking to you guys. Can we count on you if we have… business in the City?”
“You bring the bars, we bring the hands, you know the way.”
“I think we understand each other perfectly. Nice talking to you, boys.”
Bawragh was back, much less morose than before. He suggested that the characters seek out the large hut in the centre of the pier village, where they would find satisfactory answers to all their pressing questions.
“We really have to be going.” Burzasp answered, pushing a silver piece into the dirty palm of the disappointed beggar.