Gaian was sitting watching his wife Ereniel work late into the night on some piece of delicate elven embroidery when he heard shouts in the distance and the sound of heavily booted feet running past in the street. Unable to see anything through the shuttered windows, he was halfway to the door before he caught himself and returned to his seat on the floor.
He smiled wryly to himself as he considered his actions; what had he been thinking? For a moment there he had been going to run outside toward the commotion, overwhelmed by a desire to see what was happening. Whatever it was, it was nothing to do with him, and certainly nothing he would want to embroil himself in. Most likely it was the Dottari chasing down some miscreant, such a thing was not unusual in Redroof at night, and he was generally happy to hear the sounds of them going about their duties. He usually paid it no heed, but for some reason tonight it felt different.
As he relaxed, he considered that it had been an unusual week. The arrival of Lord Barzillai Thrune and his retinue had certainly put a few people in Kintargo on edge, which had not been helped by rumours of the Mayor fleeing. And seeing the Order of the Rack drag away Raiia’s teacher had brought home that they were going to stamp their authority on the city. Still, he knew it was more likely his own encounter with the Asmodean Inquisitor that Gaian’s interest piqued. Truth be told he had quite enjoyed speaking to the Inquisitor, his need to mislead the man about Pavo’s involvement with the missing books giving him far more of a thrill than his usual day-to-day efforts of creating false stories to appease his tourists. At least that was who he supposed the Inquisitor was after information about, given that he wouldn’t name the associate of Gaian’s who was supposedly linked to this missing shipment , and that Pavo had so recently come into possession of several questionable tomes.
Gaian smiled and shook his head as he thought about Pavo and his books. He didn’t believe for a moment the bard had some mysterious patron to whom he was supposed to deliver the books given Pavo’s own interest in such things. And while he would have been curious to know how he came by them, he wasn’t going to push the young man to reveal his secrets. No doubt the young man and his like-minded friends thought themselves very daring and clever, embracing the opportunity to rebel in this small way against their authoritarian rulership. What had surprised Gaian far more was that there seemed to be so much effort put into recovering the tomes, between the Inquisitor and whoever that Tombus fellow had been representing. Sure, the books were probably all outlawed (certainly he knew that Calistria’s tome was), but so what? Likely there were many such things floating around the city, and they had never caused any issue before.
In truth, Gaian felt a little envious of Pavo. How nice it must be to have such youthful enthusiasm for a cause. There was a time when he had been eager for just such a thing, awaiting only a hint at the Savoured Sting’s plans that he might leap into action to help in restoring her worship here in Kintargo. But no such thing had ever eventuated, and despite the momentary thrills he had experienced this past week, he was too sensible to embrace such a thing now.
The whisper of a voice in the back of his mind was accusatory. For Gaian knew deep down that he had done little to engage himself with any cause. He looked again at his wife, the elf looking barely any older than she had down 20 years ago. It had of course been lust that had drawn him to her back then. The marriage had only occurred when he realised that dedicating himself to her would get him off the street for good, and of course also gave him the perfect cover for when his time to serve Calistria did finally come, for who would suspect the happily married man to be a servant of the decadent and erratic goddess? This was not to say that he did not care deeply for Ereniel, and he adored his children. But he could not remember when his ruse had in fact become his life.
Ah well, perhaps it was time to reignite some excitement in his life. From among the chests full of elven clothing he pulled forward a small box, this one containing the only valuable possessions he had from before meeting her. He kept them among his wife’s work as they were more easily explained away here should anyone come looking. Opening the box he drew forth a suit of leather armour. It appeared black in the torchlight (he never could quite get his head around how Ereniel was able to see clearly enough to work in it!), though he knew it was in fact darkest blue, and the bronze studs reflected the orange light. The armour was exquisitely made, the leather pliable enough and fitting well enough that it did nothing to hinder his movements. At least that had been the case when he had last worn it many years ago. He laid this carefully aside and drew forth the other item.
The dark red leather was tied in a tight coil, and as Gaian unfurled it he was pleased to see that it had not gone too hard from neglect. The whip was the favoured weapon of his deity, and its use had come to him easily back in his previous life. He had no need for such a thing now, but he and Ereniel had enjoyed using it from time to time before the children were born. Hopefull she was still keen, he thought as he moved purposefully toward her, smiling as he thought again how wonderfully the elves maintained their youth.
“Dad!” came the cry from behind. Ereniel turned in the chair, taking in the scene of her husband with the whip with a raised eyebrow, before Gaian dropped it to the floor and turned to his daughter’s voice.
“What is it Raiia? You should be asleep.”
“There’s a fire. Upstairs.”
Gaian quickly ran upstairs to the bedrooms in momentary panic, but saw nothing. Raiia led him through her room to the window on the far side.
Gaian looked out the north-facing window. There was indeed an orange glow and what looked like smoke not too far away, likely just across the river, though he could not see it directly due to the buildings across the road. As he watched, he noticed another point of light higher up in the distance. The Greens?
Not the excitement he had hoped for, he reflected as he tucked the girl back into bed, but likely there would be some interesting stories about come morning.