I sighed and leaned back and away from the papers on the table. Jasmine smirked as she adjusted our sons clothing. I glared, “you had to make me agree to this. This is a lot of work and most is nonsense.”
She gave me a curtsy, “yes your grace.”
I growled as Melody and Ash giggled and Jewel patted my shoulder. I sighed and bent to finish the court papers from my new duchy. I looked up when Tami knocked and opened the door. She grinned, “morning your grace.”
Jasmine laughed as she pulled and pushed the children towards the front of the house and her waiting mother. I looked at Tami, “what do you want?”
Daniel had recently married a lovely merchant woman so Tami was on her own. She smiled as she crossed to look at what I was doing, “I have a job and thought you might want to help.”
I sat back, “why me?”
She grinned, “it is that crooked merchant ship captain.”
I smiled, “now you have my attention. He just sold plague clothes to one of the king’s shelters.”
She nodded, “and doesn’t have a warehouse or office.”
I nodded, “he stays on one of his ships so he doesn’t have to pay the custom tax.”
She leaned against the table, “I heard he only has a few deck hands on the ship he is living on.”
I glanced out the kitchen window, “you thinking of trying to steal his money while he is aboard and asleep?”
She grinned, “I got a pound of sleeping maggies and ground them into a fine powder.”
I grinned and looked at the papers on the table before pushing back and standing, “lets go take a look.”
I glanced at the drakes as they flew into the room and Tami grinned and caught one. The rest went out the kitchen window and up into the air. I walked around the house and nodded to all the neighbors as the children splashed and played in the basins. Just a couple of days before a strange summer storm had appeared to only rain on the statues and fill the basins.
Tami kept looking at me and petting the drake she held while walking. I sighed, “ask.”
She grinned, “when are you moving out to your duchy?”
I growled, “I like my house.”
She laughed and bumped my shoulder, “you know the city thieves have began to come by? They drop a coin in each basin before asking your blessing on whatever job they are planning.”
I looked at her and snorted, “that is silly.”
She smiled and lifted the drake to her shoulder, “but true. They are saying you are our patron saint.”
I shook my head and snorted again and she laughed. When we reached the docks I leaned against a building and looked out onto a pier. At the end was the ship with merchant Dickings. I grinned and glanced around before looking at Tami, “go to the left and out to the end of the other pier. Take the skiff to the back of the merchant’s ship.”
She looked at me with wide eyes and I grinned and nodded to his ship, “he is on deck with his guards and a few merchants. Slip in and sprinkle the sleeping maggie powder on his pillow and bed and leave.”
She grinned and turned to slip into a crowd of sailors and vanished. I didn’t see her until she was almost to the end of the other pier and the skiff. The drakes shadowed her and hid while she took the skiff and quietly rowed across to the back of the large ship. I watched the group on deck while she slipped in and then she was back and rowing away.
She grinned as she swagger towards me and I chuckled, “lets go eat and find someplace to wait.”
I sent one of the drakes home with a note for Jasmine and grinned when I got it back with another note that only said, “I’m pregnant.”
Tami laughed and bumped my shoulder as I tucked the note away, “it will be another girl.”
I stuck my tongue out, “careful or you will be cursed to only have girls.”
She grinned and we walked back to the docks. Once it grew dark we slipped out onto the pier with the skiff. We sat and watched the ship with a lantern lighting the merchant’s room. Finally the lantern went out and we waited another half hour before rowing to the back of the ship. Tami stood and peeked in the window before silently slipping in.
She appeared a few moments later and whispered, “the chest is to heavy.”
I sighed, “find something to use as bags or pouches.”
She nodded and disappeared while I looked at the railing for the deck. She was back a couple of minutes later and handed out two heavy silk bags. I set the bags in the bottom of the skiff and she was back a moment later with more. After a dozen she climbed out and we rowed away and back to the other pier.
I helped her carry the bags away as we went to the Grinning Cat. We set the bags on the table and she grinned, “want your share?”
I smiled as I opened a bag and looked at the silver coins, “what are you going to do with the rest?”
She laughed as she gestured to Teresa, “I have a few people coming.”
I looked at her before sitting to wait, “what people?”
She grinned and pet the drake as it landed on her and chirped. I looked at the hand and mine snapped out and grabbed her wrist. She hissed as I turned her hand and pulled it closer to look at it. I let it go and gestured, “let me see the other one.”
She held it out and I growled as I stood, “time to go visit doctor Malcom.”
He was a new doctor in the city but everyone said he was very good. Tami stood, “why?”
I began collecting the silk bags, “because the coins were coated with a poison.”
By the time we reached the doctor’s house her hands were blistered and she was shaking. He pulled her to a basin and used a clear alcohol to wash her hands and arms before stripping her and putting her in a bed. It wasn’t long before she was constantly shaking and had a high fever. I set the pouches beside the bed and walked out.
I headed back to the dock and used the skiff to cross to the merchant’s ship. He was still asleep when I climbed in the window. I had covered my mouth and nose and looked in the chest the silver coins had been in. I began a careful search and was looking above the bed when I found the jars labeled with plagues.
I unlocked his door and slipped out to search the ship. I only found two guards and both were asleep. I sprinkled sleeping maggie powder on both before returning to Dickings. I lit a lantern and tied his feet and then his hands before I pulled him out of bed. I used his wash basin and dunked his face several times before he woke.
I slapped his face as I squatted beside him, “what are you doing with poisons and plagues?”
He cursed me and I pulled my dagger and caught his hands. I put them flat on the floor and used the pommel to strike the fingers and break the bones. I stopped and let him go, “what are you doing with the plagues?”
He was crying and shook his head so I reached for his hands. He struggled, “the Ashgar paid me to start a plague here!”
I looked at him, “you wouldn’t unless you had the cure. Where is it?”
He shook his head and I flipped the dagger and brought it down and into his leg. He screamed and twisted, “under the bed!”
I yanked the dagger out and moved to the bed and checked it carefully. I saw the needle trap and glanced at him before picking the lock and bypassing the trap. I shifted and moved to one end of the bed before lifting it. The viper inside hissed as it coiled and I smiled before flipping my dagger and then throwing.
It pinned the serpent to the bottom and I held the bed up. Besides several vials of a clear liquid there were a half dozen small pouches. I opened one to see large cut rubies, another had large cut emeralds and I looked at the rest before taking them. I checked the cures and moved back to Dickings, “which is for the poison on the silver coins?”
He glared and I smiled and pulled another dagger and sliced open his shoulder. He screamed and jerked back before telling me what I wanted to know. I struck before he knew it was coming and twisted the blade before I yanked the dagger out of his heart. I walked out and to the hold before using an lamp oil and starting the ship on fire.
I went on deck and removed the mooring ropes before returning to the cabin and smashing the lantern. I grabbed the jars of powder and pulled the dagger out of the viper before leaving and using the skiff to cross to the other pier. I moved quickly as I trotted through the streets and back to doctor Malcom’s.
I looked at Tami and gave the small vial to the doctor. After he gave her what he considered a dose I continue to wait and put the small pouches of gems with the bags of silver. He finally shook me and sent me away. I was thinking of the Ashgar as I headed towards the nobles estates, they were a belligerent people to the south of the empire.
The emissary’s estate wasn’t even guarded and the few magic strands only covered windows. The drakes flew around as Jewel chirped and pointed towards the servants entrance. I walked to the gate and checked the latch and pulled a dagger. In the faint light from the moon I saw a smear on the edge of the blade when I scraped the latch.
I used the blade to open the latch and pushed the gate open. I closed it silently before heading across to the side door. I checked it before picking the lock and opening the door. As I moved through the building I heard men snoring in the entrance hall. I climbed the servant stairs to the second floor and glanced down the hall at the two guards.
They were both sitting in chairs on each side of the master suite door but asleep. I walked down the hall and sprinkled the last of the sleeping maggie powder on each. I waited before checking the door and then picking the lock. I started to open the door and stopped at the tiny hint of something against the door.
I looked at Jewel as she dropped to the floor and squeezed through and into the room. A couple of moments and she peeked out and nodded. I pushed again and the door opened quietly and when I looked behind it I found the tiny bells against the wall. I grinned and looked towards the bed and the sleeping emissary.
A woman was asleep beside him but she had bruises and didn’t look to good. I moved to the bed and looked at the man before pulling out the jars of powder. I checked the bed before taking his dagger and reaching for the man’s jaw. I grabbed him and he jerked but I had his mouth open and began pouring the powder into his mouth.
I kept it up while he struggled and gagged and tried to yell. When the jar was empty I opened another and started pouring it. After the last one I slapped him and ignored the woman sitting up and clutching the blankets, “I hate cowards.”
I pulled his dagger and plunged it into his chest. I walked around the bed as he spasmed and pulled the woman off. I wrapped the blanket around her and she kept looking at me as if I were going to kill her. I lifted her to my shoulder and went to open the window. I spilled the lamp oil on the bed before using a match to light it.
I carried the woman out with me the way I had come in. The sun was just beginning to rise when I reached the doctor. He took one look at the woman before directing me to another room and bed. I made sure he had the cures before going to check Tami. She smiled at me weakly when I sat beside the bed, “if it isn’t saint Sinclair.”
I growled, “I wasn’t such good luck for you.”
She glanced at the door, “I don’t know, the doctor looks real cute.”
I glanced back and grinned before I stood, “boil the bags and pouches before you try to touch your loot.”