Arriving within Strecner was surprisingly simple. I had anticipated Sadow setting up some degree of security in order to prevent another attack. Instead, we travelled for two nights and part of a morning without incident.
We made our way to Callie’s manor. It would certainly make for a suitable base of operations while we gathered intelligence on Sadow’s movements.
We gathered in Callie’s sitting room to discuss our strategy.
“The first step will be gathering information,” I stated. “We will have to approach Sadow’s mansion carefully to avoid detection.”
“Aiko and I will go tonight,” Callie volunteered. “We’re probably the best equipped for sneaking around.”
“Then I’ll take Illyana and ask around the city,” Lynai stated. “If he’s done anything major, there’ll be rumours about it.”
I was going to volunteer to join Callie and Aiko when Gabriel chimed in. “Tynan and I will guard the draconian here,” he said. “Just in case.”
“I am capable of gathering information,” I stated.
“Yes but you shouldn’t,” Illyana argued. “At least not in this case. Sadow will have his people looking for a draconian. If you go out and rumours start spreading, it’ll give us away.”
“I did conceal my identity quite effectively for years,” I reminded her.
“Yes, but no one was looking for a draconian then,” she pointed out. “Now, they are.”
“Please don’t do anything careless,” Aiko pleaded. “We all want your chances to be the best possible.”
“You make a strong point,” I conceded. “Very well, I will remain here. Please, be careful out there.”
Aiko and Callie made their way to Sadow’s mansion. It was more like a miniature castle complete with fortified walls and small, servants’ quarters. Callie studied the parapets. “Ghouls, skeletons and flesh golems, looks like.”
“Such a lovely group,” Aiko muttered. “I wonder why he doesn’t have any vampires.”
“Because we don’t work as mercenaries,” Callie stated. “At least not usually. And those few who do, do it for thrills. They probably don’t see guarding a magi as a thrilling job.”
“Makes sense,” Aiko said. “Wait, I hear something.”
Callie stayed quiet, relying on the vixen’s superior senses.
“They say the boss is really taking this seriously,” Aiko relayed. “He’s complaining about looking after that dragon.”
“So, they have a dragon,” Callie muttered. “Let’s circle around. See if we can get a good estimate of their numbers. Then we’ll return.”
“Where do you propose we go to find information?” I asked.
“Callie suggested that we hang out at the pub,” Lynai answered. “Supposedly, they like to talk. We just have to sit back and listen, maybe bring up Sadow to get the conversation rolling.”
“I trust she told you where to find one?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Lynai said. “Take my hand. I’ll show you the way.”
Lynai’s hand was warm. She guided me over uneven terrain into a place that smelled strongly of liqueur, overly spicy foods and urine.
It was very loud too. So much so that I could barely hear myself think. It was going to be difficult to make out individual conversations. At least, without help it was. I hurriedly cast a directed listening spell to help me eavesdrop on individual conversations.
Lynai led us to a table made of rugged, uneven wood.
“Keep your ears peeled,” she said.
“I know,” I said. “I’m using some magic to help me focus on one conversation at a time.”
We ordered some food, ate it slowly and waited for over an hour. The food was lousy and the conversations were mostly boring gossip. No one mentioned Sadow.
I decided to take matters into my own hands.
“You know,” I spoke as loudly as I could manage. “I met Sadow when he visited Wicadia. He was an interesting man.”
Lynai picked up on what I was doing. “Really?” she almost sounded genuinely interested.
I made small talk about Sadow’s visit. I was careful not to divulge anything important.
I listened to the room around me, catching snippets of conversation.
“Do you suppose she’s going to be staying with him as well?”
“She doesn’t look like any magi I’ve heard of.”
“He knows more than magi, you know.”
That was bad news for certain. The implication I was getting was that Sadow had a mage guest. And not just any mage guest, a possible Magi.
“Lynai, let’s go,” I whispered. “I think we’ve heard enough.”