Kane stopped just outside the gate, there was a mark on the red brick wall of the keep. He moved closer to the outside wall, ignoring the questioning glance of the soldier on watch at the gate. Curious eh? I should light up his feet like a cat on a stove and see how curious he is, he thought to himself. Still, better to remain unremarkable. Unseen. He made a show of brushing dust off his cloak and looked closer. Yes, there in the shadow of the overhanging brick someone had inscribed a message that only those versed in arcane lore might see. The message was a simple one, a single name, “Ghat”. That single name however was enough to know that whoever made the mark was a mage, and that they were looking for others. He pretended to rub some shit off his boot, and then hurried to catch up with the others.
On returning to the inn, if it could be called such, Kane sent the mendicant off to fetch him some mulled wine and to rid himself of the man while he gathered his thoughts. The idiot went off quickly enough, but not before some glimmer of resistance appeared around his eyes. Something would have to be done about that as well. He removed his cloak and leaned into the fire. It was getting colder, soon there would be snow even in these forsaken lands. The thought took him back to his life in Kingstown, his time at the academy, and then to Hollaway. Hollaway who followed after him always and constantly, and who got in the way and who was always bothering him and his companions. Hollaway who cried when he left for the academy and then embarrassed him utterly by again crying when he joined him two years later. Hollaway who was always so full of excitement and interest and so full of life. Hollaway who was dead in a dirty hole somewhere a few days ride from here. He tossed his boots against the hearth and looked down at his worn stockings, where was that bastard with the wine?
Ghat was probably not the wizard’s name, it was however the name he’d be using in town and the name Kane should ask for. It wouldn’t do to be overly curious either, no use pissing off the man he was looking for, that would make the next bit even more unpleasant than it was already going to be. The idiot returned with the wine and now was standing over him annoyingly.
“Here’s your wine.” he said in his slow dull voice. Kane reached for the wine and otherwise ignored him. Off on the other side of the common room an already raised voice broke out into a shout.
“I want the best ale you can manage, not this swill! Do you want my coin or not? I have plenty of it. You! Lackwit! Come drink with me!” Kane didn’t know if he should be annoyed or relieved when the man stopped standing over him, hesitated for only a minute, and then joined the shouting man and his companions. This was his hired man and Henril was treating him like a travelling companion. That was trouble. He considered their confrontation in the monastery ruins and how the whole party had undermined him, letting the idiot keep that valuable dagger and even a share in the treasure. He would have expected it from the priest, and that traveler waif probably knew nothing beyond the cook pots and tinker forges of her youth, but Butterbridge was a civilized place and people from there understood a contract.
A local boy Kane had seen before came into the inn. He ignored Kane and ran up to the rowdy bunch sitting on the other side of the room. That lad is a sharp one, thought the mage, he knows exactly when Henril is in his cups and when to part him with his silver. He listened through closed lids as Henril shouted a greeting and then after a short minute ordered the lad to fetch him some apples. As the boy ran past Kane raised his hand to intercept, a silver penny shining between his fingers.
“Here now lad, do you know a man named Ghat? He’s an old friend of mine and I’d like to pay my respects.” The boy looked him in the eye but said nothing. Kane moved his finger to expose another silver penny but still the boy said nothing. Swearing to himself, the mage reached into his purse, pulled out three more silver coins, pressed all five coins into the lads hand and glared at him.
“Ghat lives down in the forest near the brickworks, but sometimes he comes for supplies. It’s a morning's walk to get there but the road is safe, the patrol passes there twice daily. They know of him down there but not well. You already know your friend doesn't take kindly to strangers poking into his business.” The lad smiled and ran off, then turned in the doorway and shouted back, "Oh, and he’s a woman."