City of a Thousand Deaths

The Sleeping Serpent

Beer cleans up so much easier than blood, Alaerd mused. The innkeeper sighed, and stared despondently at the spot on the table where Berran Ironhouse died. The assassin’s blade had passed cleanly through the back of the man’s neck. Likely the man was dead before his head hit the table, drenching it – and the chairs, and the floor – with blood.

The next thirty seconds had been terrifying. The dead man’s bodyguards had reacted violently, and although the assassin hadn’t come alone, he’d underestimated that motley crew. Even disoriented by flash bombs and alchemist’s fire, the wizard had the assassin unconscious before he made it out the back door. At least, that’s what Keypip said. The poor girl had been caught between the assassin and the dwarf charging after him. She was sure the man would escape, but he just stumbled and fell to the floor, like something heavy had hit him. Only, nothing had, as far as she could see. Until the dwarf’s hammer smashed the man’s head all over the back alley.
Something else that needed to be cleaned up. That, and the bar, which had been sprayed with acid, drenched in ice, and scorched with fire in the space of half a minute. A carpenter was doing what he could with it.

At least the inn was better off than the Fishgut Cleaner’s digs up the street. The whole Ward was abuzz with that inferno. It was somehow connected with the attack in his inn, although the gods’ knew how. All he knew is that the sell-swords had pursued the surviving assassins right into the gang that was burning the place down, and the gang wasn’t none too happy to see them. THAT was a fight he was glad happened outside. Keypip said Merrick the ropemaker’s apprentice had gotten a firsthand look at the whole thing, and told her what happened.

What happened was her fiancé had gotten himself set on fire and thrown out a second story window by some man, dragon, wizard thing, while a gang of thugs burned the whole place down. Rogue dragonborn, everybody’s saying, although Sergeant Fremon swears it wasn’t. Too short, he said. Man sized. But Sergeant Fremon’s dragonborn himself, and Patrolman Kep said they were getting different accounts from different witnesses, so the verdict’s still out, there. Shame about the place. It was a front for thieves, and all, but the Fishgut Cleaners weren’t a bad bunch, as gangs of thieves go.

If that attack was a turf grab by a rival gang, Alaerd thought, his new neighbors were going to be less sociable.

Alaerd thought about that a moment. Them sell-swords were still living upstairs. With a violent new crew around, that might be a bad thing. But if that crew comes hunting them…. Well. That could be bad for business.

First things first, Alaerd thought. Fix the bar. Clean the blood up. Get a stand in for Keypip while she mourned. One way or another, the Sleeping Snake was staying open for business.


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