There is very little known of Vaush’s purported mother, Veronica. It is doubtful that this was her actual name, however this is the only name used throughout the Vaush Papers. It is known, generally throughout primary sources that she was beautiful and Vaush’s language concerning her comeliness is repeated by several sources. By general description she may have come from the enigmatic Aranaad Empire to the south of Anglandia or less likely from Raviak to the east. In any case it is doubtful that scholars will ever have the full picture of Vaush’s lineage.
- G.M. Frasier Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University of Cadris
My abode was luxurious to a point of being absurd. Thick carpets and lush wall hangings were the nest that I fermented in. It was all a vainer that covered the corruption and rot that rested in the center of Lord Barthalamue Rush’s heart. It was a pervasive corruption that was not to be wiped away with a single cloth.
I was tired and my muscles ached with the work that Robert had impressed upon me. Learning to kill is not a armchair practice. Indeed there is a remarkable amount of physicality required to do it well. We shuffled and lunged; we struck, parried; we rolled and danced in a paradigm of murder and I was ready for sleep, but Morpheus was not to visit so early in the day.
There came from the anterooms below such a bellowing that it seemed to rumble through the floor boarding. It was not a sound that we were accustomed to hearing. The peace of the house was being disturbed and the last time I witnessed there was a death in the house. It had been a bloody affair full of pain and fire. At the time this occurred to me in only the most oblique fashion as I was tired from the training that Robert had put me through. I remember my arms and legs throbbing from the repeated lunges and squats. My muscles burned, but curiosity, as it so often has in my life, got the better of me.
The commotion was coming had moved through the House of Eve and rested in Robert’s office. There a man who can only be called a giant and come to baritone rest. He spoke to Robert in a manner that I had never seen. Perhaps Sarah had come the closest, but this was something more akin to belligerence than bartering. No this black haired giant was angry and Robert apparently either had the solution or was privy to how it could be obtained.
The giant was from Hartwich and in retrospect had all the bearing and signs of being a blacksmith. His skin was worn with grime. The deep set kind of black ash that only comes with a day to day exposure to forge, anvil and hammer.
John, as I later learned his name, was quite firm on two particular facts. The first was that his son was missing. He did not have knowledge of where the boy had gone, but he had been at the candle shoppe, and then he had disappeared. The second was that Robert either knew of the circumstances or had knowledge on how to retrieve the boy. It took but a moment. The boy, the candle shoppe. It could only be Quail that had gone missing.
Their conversation ended, John left in a manner that he had entered; gruff and bluster and not just a little belligerence. I don’t know why. I am not sure what prompted me. I owed Quail nothing. Sarah was interesting of this I was sure, but to what end would this venture profit me. There was no answer. But follow I did.
Robert found me at the entrance to the house, asking a rather pointed question. Where was I going. He seemed to pause and consider. Behind those dark eyes I knew he was weighing the options; the man never did anything rash. How unlike me he really was. This time however I felt a passion growing; I could feel the danger and the anticipation. At the corners of my eyes I felt that tonight there may be a kill. Even at seven I relished the thought. I had assisted Robert the night of blood and fire, but that was only an assist. No, tonight was perhaps an opportunity to blood myself. So, in a rash moment I told Robert what I was going to do and was he going to get out of my way or stop me. There was a half a pause and then he bid me go.
John had already rumbled his bulk into the open wagon he had arrived in. He was still grumbling and belly aching. I now know that he was worried. So concerned about the welfare of his son that he had no real chance of noticing as I slipped into the back of the wagon before it clambered off at an unreasonable speed.
The wagon was half way through Hartwich before I came to the disturbing realization that I had no weapons. I shuffled through the odd bits about the rear of the wagon. I found rods of steel. Unbent horseshoes. They were blunt but I figured that if used as knives could cause damage. I ran through my mind and was thankful for the hours of training. Yes, I could work with these.
We arrived and John rumbled his way. I don’t the man even realized just how loud he was. He could not accomplish, even the most minor of feats with out causing ruckess. There was now no anger in his voice; only the hot concern for his lost child. His wife and I presume Quail’s mother was in an equal state of frantic concern.
I slipped away unseen and unheard. The candle shoppe that was owned by Sarah’s parents was several blocks away and in the stealthiest manner I could manage I made my way there. Nightwatchmen scoured the streets. I could hear some of them calling for Quail. It was futile exercise. Even at seven I knew that if the boy wanted to be found or if he was able to respond, he would have, long before lady night had cast her shadow over Hartwich. I could hear Tymora’s eternal struggle against the shore and smell her aroma over the odors of pitch, fish and the hard work of more honest men.
I found the candle shoppe well lit. The irony of that escaped me. Sarah soon came outside, even I pulled deeper into the shadows. That was when the witch arrived. A grizzled old hag of a woman, all crinkled with age. She wore the of a beggar and spoke with sickening sweet tones of someone with motives of their own and uncaring if theirs matched yours. No, at seven I was not that cynical, but I had trust issues even then and was not inclined to step into view. That is until it became apparent that she already knew of my presence. At which point I did only could be done. I stepped out.
Sarah and I spoke briefly and then set out for the docks. We wove our way through the town to very edge of the dock region. It was there that Sarah once again displayed her most unusual of talents. She hummed a few bars of a nameless tune. Perhaps it was one of her own; something that she had created on the spot. I have no idea even today; but find no less disturbing; even if it was a talent that saved our lives upon numerous occasions.
In a moment we, no I should say Sarah, was having a conversation with what in my memory can only be called the very epidemy of the dim witted constables. Sarah led him down a poorly lit but well defined path towards the inspiration of Quail’s possible location. Bad things happen to children in these places between the sea and the land. Soon everyone who was searching was doing so at the docks. Again the ingrates were calling the boy’s name; knowing full well he was stashed away in the dark bilges of some frigate.
Humming again, Sarah’s eyes lighted on a small sloop that was making her way out of the baron’s harbor. It was Sarah that warned the adults of the time that it very well may be the departing vessel that may have the missing Quail aboard. John leaped into action. With booming voice and formidable presence that moved ships into action. Boats ranging from fishing vessels to the harbor master’s own ship moved to stop the fleeing vessel.
After much bawling and yowling the ship heaved to. I think that is the term; what ever the it is, the ship’s captain was less than happy. He yowled about complaining the baron and yowled about this not being the end of that. In my own mind I had no time for this and I scampered up one of the mooring lines and onto the fleeing sloop. Sarah must have seen me. She yelled for me to look down; the very bottom of the ship. And that is what I did. On my way I gandered through the belongings of the crew and found a crude, but stout blade with a rough handle and a sharp edge.
Now more comfortably armed I set to . Above I could hear others doing the same; systematically searching each room of the boat. For myself I delved down. Do you have any idea just how disgusting a bilge is? Have you ever crawled through the ancient slime and over the ballast at the bottom of a ship. I can tell you that I have; it is not recommended. Two ballasts I crawled through, but to no avail. At the front of the ship, whatever they call it and with the aid of another’s lantern there was board that did not fit with the others. It was in-congruent with those that surrounded it. I pried it open and sure enough a lamely hidden secret compartment, for smuggling I suppose was hidden beyond.
There I found Quail. He was bound, hand and foot. Cutting him free proved to be easier that actually getting him out. His legs and arms were cramped so bad that he could barely move. Pulling and huffing I finally moved him free and into the cargo hold proper. Half carrying and half dragging we moved to the decks above. John bellowed with relief and Sarah exhaled. Even then I think I found her beautiful. Not in the etherial way of my mother, but in a more earthy way that I found appealing for its difference.
Everyone moved back up from the docks and congregated at Sarah’s candle shoppe. Sure enough among the crowd I spotted Robert. John and Robert spoke a few words and I saw as Robert gave a subtle nod of greeting the old woman. I thought that Robert should be careful. His debt to John had not been fulfilled but rather John now owed me. I stashed this away and knew that someday it would come of use.
In the way that I expected Robert and I moved away. We rode on a single horse. Covered in bilge slime I can not imagine I was a pleasing passenger.
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