Farthow pushed himself up against an edge of an old stone building and peered out. Behind him, Market Street had emptied, and he knew Vindrel would be leading his elite, along with the men the count had allowed attached to him under the token supervision of Colby, down toward the normally packed entertainment center. The Old Keep way was filling now with curious onlookers, wandering out of their boarding houses and apartments with lit lamps, curious now as to what the gun fire had been about, several minutes having now past from the shots and shouts. A few men that Farthow assumed were solders were milling about near the end of the street, but they were hard to make out in the partially obscured moonlight. The marine layer had swept inland and now blotted out the stars.
A slight movement to his right alerted Farthow. He saw a flash of hand signals from a man obscured beside a door landing.
Several men knew the highland hand signals Farthow had taught, but he knew only either Dem or Colby were out in the night and near at hand. Neither of them knew how to sign their name yet, so answering was a gamble. He had chosen to keep Colby out of the know for good reasons. Bringing him in on things at this stage would be riskier than if he had disclosed his plans from the outset.
“Nothing for it,” he said quietly to himself.
He stepped out and signed, Status – safe. Target – hidden. Behind. Meet me at the far side. He pointed down the meandering avenue that was the cluster of inns around Market Street. A figure stepped out of the shadows holding a crossbow and jogged up the lane.
Dreamer, thanks for that, Farthow thought. It was Dem. He turned and ran back the other direction to meet him.
A few minutes later they were meeting outside a bar with its door tightly shut but the exterior lamp left lit. A boisterous sound came from within.
“Where’s Gareth?” Dem asked.
“With Colby, I hope,” Farthow said. “He took a blow to the head and I had to leave him behind. I think our mark is inside of Poppy’s,” Farthow said.
“Not at all. You know where the larder door is?”
“Of course. I get out from time to time, you know.”
“See if you can get in that way. There’s a guardhouse a block up. I’m going to commandeer a horse and intercept Vindrel and Colby.”
“What do you want me to do with her if I find her?”
“Take her back to your place.”
“Yes. There’s that alley with the sewer behind Sott’s. Should take you east enough to hit the Long Circle.”
Dem chewed his cheek. “Shit.”
“That’s generally what collects in sewers. What’s your point?”
Dem shook his head and shouldered his crossbow. “I don’t figure they’ll listen to me, boss.”
“Nonsense. You can be very persuasive if well-motivated. Just turn on that country charm, and they’ll come around. I’m going to buy you some time and flush some people out. You’ll be fine.”