The town was coming alive. Iamerge thrilled to it. There was the pulse of commerce here, a beat that Iamerge had learned to hear so well that he made himself rich by it over and over. The carters and the merchants were setting up in the square if they hadn’t been selling since dawn. Iamerge wandered, noting what was selling, and what was left.
When he got his money from Ua Birlinn he would need to make some purchases. A set of knives at least, perhaps a sword too, if he could find something not too cumbersome. He would need clothes, not too ostentatious, but of a quality to give the right impression, of solidity and stature, without revealing superciliousness or foolish pride.
There were many fine garments in the used items he was shuffling through. He glanced around the offerings he saw. The weapons caught his eye and he scanned them. He reached for an iron blade with a ebon handle and what looked to be a good balance.
“What would a man of the Christian God need with such a knife? That blade is not for cutting potatoes or buttering bread, its for cutting men.” The woman who spoke chuckled derisively before adding, “Or maybe its true what they say, that all you brothers are gelded. Still, if that is the case, there are better blades than that one for such purposes. Has your gelding blade gone dull monk?”
“You do not like the brothers, I hear it, I am sorry to trouble you.” Iamerge cursed himself for failing to be observant yet again. He wasn’t even sure where the voice was from. It had been far too long since he needed to live by his wits. He turned away from the weapons on the table and almost ran into the woman who had taunted him.
She was beautiful, despite her age, and despite the venomous look on her face. “You dress like one of those bell ringing eunuchs, but you aren’t one, are you?” She said, “What an odd thing, to gaze on these pretty things, but dress like one of those foolish scribblers. Who are you trying to fool?”
“I beg your pardon, I do not wish to give offense,” Iamerge tried to retreat, but the woman, tall and graceful, countered his attempts to disengage without making a scene of it. “I am not of the brotherhood, though I have been staying with them. . .” The woman countered each move he tried to win free.
Finally, the woman seized his habit and pulled the cowl off his head. “Well, if you are one of them or just among them it matters naught, what is your business here?”
“Please, I just wished to see the town. . .”
“You are a spy?”
“No no, not at all,” He stammered, then before he could stop himself from saying it he blurted, “I do have a small matter of business in town, but the man isn’t here. I thought I’d see what wares were for sale is all. I, I, I am sorry. . .”
“Well if that is all, why be sorry? This is a place where people buy and sell, generally people with coin or something to trade. I see no coin purse. . .”
“. . . Perhaps tomorrow, if I conclude my business.”
The woman looked at him oddly, “Well, when you have coin you aught not waste it on these cast offs and seconds. You will find far better there.” The woman pointed toward a shop front. “Ua Birlinn has this and better and all of it for less than this robber. Isn’t that so Jered?”
In his fixation on the things for sale he had not even seen the red faced owner of the little booth, Iamerge cursed his inattention again. The man fumed but only mumbled, “What ever you say, Mongfind.” Iamerge turned to look at the man and took the opportunity to step back from the table. The man was angry, but would say nothing more, though hatred burned behind his eyes.
“You see? Even the proveyor of Jered’s Junk is forced to acknowledge it. So, when you have the coin, come see me. I’ll make you a better deal than this felon or my name isn’t Mongfind Ua Birlinn. Isn’t that so Jered?”
Iamerge stepped back again, but his eyes met the woman’s and she held his gaze until Jered mumbled a sullen, “Whatever you say.”
The woman held Iamerge’s gaze a moment more before turning her contempt on the merchant and making him look away. She turned her back, dismissing them both with a shrug, but not another word and sauntered away toward Ua Birlinn’s.