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They arrived in the capital without further incidents. Laiva helped
Niry set up his market stand and went into the city; she’d come back
later to fetch her belongings and say goodbye. Mynor was accompanying
her; although hardly a week had passed, he had completely recovered;
it was a really a miracle. The capital was much bigger, yet Laiva
wasn’t impressed at all; it was only a big city with some additional
buildings. She had better things to do and there was no time to lose;
the trials had already started.
In a dark and silent alleyway a bag changed owners.
‘Pretty heavy, is it…’
‘Fifty in gold.’
‘Ah, good. And all I have to do for it…’
‘…yes, her and the dog. And make sure the bodies are cared
of, only a clean city is a working city.’
‘Of course, my Lord.’
The trial had begun in the past week and now was about to end. Every
year hundreds of boys came and every year most of them were
disappointed; not more than a dozen of them passed the tests, if any
at all, and usually three quarters of the novices gave up in the years
to follow. Laiva went straight to the entrance of the school and
entered the huge building; Mynor stayed outside. With the help of the
signs, hanging all over place, she managed to find the application
desk. The room was empty, since nearly everyone registered before the
trials even started; Laiva would surely be the last one, but in her
opinion that wasn’t a bad thing at all. On the desk there was a pile
of small cards and Laiva took the one at the top. She was number
twelve, in three days.
‘Come, be a good dog. Look what a fine sausage I have for you.’
Mynor followed the man, or rather the smell of the sausage,
into a narrow and dark street. It was far too much gold for such an
easy task, but who was he to complain? The man dropped the sausage in
front of him. Mynor carefully snuffled and then ate it. Easily earned
money; you just had to know how to do it. The man dropped another
sausage. Hastily Mynor ate this one as well. This was just too easy,
it had already dropped any caution. The man dropped a third one,
smelling slightly of bitter almonds. Mynor ate this one as well. The
man looked at the wolf. Mynor looked back. The man started to run.
Mynor was faster.
Niry was already waiting for her when Laiva arrived at his stand.
‘Either you have some weighty friends or weighty enemies. A
man asked for you. I have no idea how he found me. Looked like a
noble, if you ask me… Where’s your dog, by the way?’
‘He went off on his own, it seems, but I’m sure he’ll be back
‘Well, he’s your’s, you have to know… Ah, here it is.’
He gave Laiva a slip of paper.
‘”To Laiva Azanee. You might want to stay in the Red Dragon,
the room is paid for. A friend.”
Sounds fishy. A noble you said?’
‘I guess so; who else would wear a cloak of black silk? I’m
pretty sure he would have the money to buy an assassin. That golden
clasp alone must have cost a fortune.’
‘There’s only one way to find out weather it is a trap or
According to Niry the ‘Red Dragon’ was one of the better inns in town,
clean rooms, yet reasonable prices. As she was about to enter, Mynor
joined her. It was useless to wonder how he managed to show up in
time, although Laiva could have sworn that was no coincidence. She
opened the door and entered the house. The hall was full of people,
drinking and chatting, so she had to search a bit until she found the
‘Erm, sorry, but I…’
‘You are Miss Azanee?’
‘Yes, I’m Laiva…’
‘Follow me, I’ll show you your room. Oh, and he wanted me to
give this to you; a terrible hand, but he said you’d be able to read
it. Good luck.’
He handed Laiva a small book bound in red leather.
‘Erm, this might sound a little bit silly, but who is “he”?’
‘You don’t know? Said his name wasn’t any of my business. A
tall man, black hair, black eyes, black cloak, silver ring?’
‘I hoped you knew his name; he only said he was a friend…’
‘Well, you can never have enough friends, can you?’
Laiva dropped onto the bed and opened the book. Indeed, the book had
been written by hand. However, the letters were clear and regular, but
that wasn’t the reason the landlord hadn’t been able to read it; it
was elvish. Laiva read the title: ‘A Brief Guide To History’. Odd, she
knew the title, it was one of the elvish standard works, if she
remembered correctly; she had never gotten around to reading it,
though. Where do you get a book like that in a place like this? And
who knew she could read it? Then she noticed the words below the
title; added by someone else.
‘Dear Laiva,’ she read, ‘take some time to recover from the
exertions of your journey and to prepare for the tests. Please read
this book as well, it should contain everything you absolutely have to
know about the recent and not so recent past. The school is said to be
quite keen on history. Do not worry about the room, it is paid for a
week and the inn should be safe. A friend.’
Very odd, indeed. However, the advice was good, and there was
nothing else for her to do anyway.