Fangs for Robert

In the years that Vaush writes about thus far the crown shows approximately 417 men with the first name of Robert living in or around the Hartwich township. This includes the nearby fortress of Harthold as well. In reference to the Robert that served as an enforcer at Pleasure Palace of Eve many of this number may be eliminated by age or known profession. It does not seem reasonable that Vaush’s Robert would have any significant amount of time to pursue another career. This alone reduces the prospective number down to about 78 men. However narrowing the number any further is not possible without the use of a surname; which Vaush either never knew or was never provided. There are two other possibilities. The first is that Robert is not the man’s true name; which raises the question does Vaush wish to keep the man’s identity secret or he never had knowledge of the man’s name. Second Robert may be an amalgamation of several individuals; a practice which was common in the literature of the time.
- G.M. Frasier Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University of Cadris

My life has always been a layered enigma. Secrets within secrets; symbols and codes. It was not until much later that I realized the my childhood was not utterly normal. Of all of this, Robert was no different. His cool professionalism was presented to me as an aloofness. To call him a father figure is a lie. Robert was treacherous. His interactions with Veronica were more then mere professionalism. There was a mutual influence there that at the age of seven I was unable to fully comprehend. It was an influence however that made me wonder at Veronica’s loyalties. In truth I never believed that Robert had any real carnal relations with her; the man was to much of a cold fish.
Yes, yes, I shall continue with the banal trivialities of my childhood. These sordid tales are only of consequence if taken in the totality of my life thus far and it has been an extremely long life that has yet to deprive me of my vigor.
It was soon after the events that I have already described that Robert began my education in a more a manner of more belligerence. I was escorted out of the great building and into one of the many smaller out-buildings that surrounded the Eve’s Palace. It was a low one story affair fitted with wide and shaded windows. Inside it appeared to be a dance salons. Large mirrors adorned three of the four walls. The floor was made of hardwood. It was here that I began my education with the knife.
Robert preferred the straight blade. He kept two pockets sewn directly into his trousers that acted as sheathes for his blades. As we began it was calisthenics that we performed. Despite my abhorrence for exercise for exercise’s sake; I reveled in it. Up and down; left and right; forward, lunge, back, riposte. These were the first lessons on how to kill and I learned them with dreadful focus. While we were in the deep thick of it all Robert became heated enough to warrant the removal his shirt. This he did with the equal grace that he did everything else. Coiled about his spine and wrapping about his shoulders were a pair of snakes. I realized that they were painted upon his skin, tattoos. Twin snake heads about each shoulder eventually traced their way to upper arms where they bit deep into his upper arms. I said nothing, knowing that if Robert wanted to provide an explanation, he would.
These rituals of eventual murder, were repeated daily for three hours. My muscles ached and I was soar to the soul, but with the determination that only a seven year old can bring to bear I continued.
It was some days after this all began that Robert announced it was time to retrieve the candles that he had purchased. So with due diligence we returned to the dockside shoppe. When we arrived Sarah was there alone. Even for that time it was odd to leave a child of seven alone to tend the counter without supervision. Despite this oddity Robert immediately began dealing with her and she handled herself quite well. Robert’s demeanor and repose usually puts others off, but Sarah stood her ground. Robert took one of the tapers and lit it, observing it for a moment. True to their word, the candle burned bright and neither smoked nor had any detectable odor. Robert was satisfied. Meanwhile I continued to watch and it became apparent that Sarah was more then she appeared. It was an effort for her; a trembling at the corner of the mouth a tilt of the head and a habit of glancing up to the left. She was much smarter then your average seven year old. Perhaps smarter then Robert.
While I was distracted by piecing together Sarah’s psyche, Robert had noticed, what I had initially taken for a lace table cloth. Once my gaze fell upon it, I became aware of the fact, like so many other things in this tiny High Street shoppe, it was more than it appeared. Robert inquired as to who had made such a wonderful piece of art. There was that inevitable pause again. The sign of creative thought or the contemplation of truth or deceit. Sarah, once again proving wisdom beyond her years chose truth. Robert was not a good man to lie to. As it turned, Sarah had made the intricate lace piece to which Robert had become anamured with.
Robert decided that he would have the thing and as it turned out, Sarah was not going to simply let go because the scary man wanted it. She weaseled the man for seven and half gold! I couldn’t believe it. Seven and half gold if you please! And Robert for all of his calm and intimidating mannerisms took it for the price she demanded. I swear to this day he was either taken aback by Sarah’s obvious intelligence or he was off his game. Perhaps both.
Afterwards he bade me to take to my mother as a gift. I found her in one of the many salons hidden deep with Eve’s clucking with the other hens. When she opened the gift they were all taken aback. When they inquired as to who had made this fabulous piece; I told, with uncharacteristic candor, the truth. I was met with disbelief.
Veronica and I, on the same day, went to see the Locke’s where she told the Lord of the Manor that the piece that had been created by Sarah had been obtained from some far off land. She mentioned the name, but I neither cared nor listened. It was a lie.

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