Once he reached the top, he turned onto a wide thoroughfare and headed towards the markets. If he remembered correctly, there was a shortcut through an alley that ran behind a row of shops. As he drew close, he saw that it was out of the sun, which would be a welcome relief.
Stop right there!” A voice called out as a hand grabbed him by the shoulder before he turned into the alley.
The hand spun him around and brought him face to face with a man in city watch uniform.
Just my luck! It was the guard captain he had eluded on his last trip!
“Thought I recognized that hair,” the man said. “I got you this time! Not getting away so easily.”
Kirrin glanced over the man’s shoulder at the four men circling around him.
Instinctively, Kirrin glanced back and noted that there was no one in the alley. Then he laughed to himself.
“Get your hand off of me,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
The tone of authority caught the man by surprise but it only took him a moment to recover. “You’re coming with me,” he said, “down to headquarters. We have questions for you.”
Kirrin shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said, removing the guards hand from his arm. “First of all, I haven’t done anything wrong–”
“Yeah, well, we’ll decide that, down at headquarters.”
“Secondly,” Kirrin continued, drawing out his words, “you’re boss really won’t like that.”
The guard captain snorted, taking Kirrin by the arm and turning him around. “You can tell him that when you see him.”
“Oh, I will,” Kirrin said, enjoying this little game, about to spring his trap. “But it’s not the boss you’re thinking of.”
The guard captain paused, eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Kirrin saw the look of doubt on the man’s face as he licked his lips and glanced at his patrolmen.
That’s right, you know that tone of voice, don’t you? Kirrin had heard it used countless times, by patrons at his mother’s inn and among the so’har in Tatak Rhe. It was the aura of being untouchable. He almost felt sorry for the man. Almost.
The captain let go of Kirrin and took a cautious step backwards, taking in Kirrin’s clothes now.
“I am a guest of So’har Maz’lak,” Kirrin said, “and I will be heading back there shortly. Would you care to accompany me and explain to him why you are accosting an envoy from the north?”
“My apologies,” the man said, bowing slightly. “I had no idea–”
“Nor would you,” Kirrin said, his words sharp now. “Does the so’har generally share his business with the city watch?” Kirrin watched as the man took a step back and the patrolmen’s posture shifted from one of intimidation to shuffling uncertainty.
Without saying anything more, they stepped back, clearing the way for Kirrin to leave, which he did.
Despite his ominous warning, Kirrin wasn’t in a hurry to get back to Maz’lak’s estate. He had originally planned to rent a room for a few weeks but Zuriat put an end to that. Evidently, it was expected that they would be hosted at the so’har’s estate while they were in the south. At first, Kirrin had felt flattered and he enjoyed being treated as an esteemed guest. After a few days though, he began to miss the freedom of being in his own space. With nothing to do, he spent his time exploring the city and playing cards with the locals.
He looked back over his shoulder for a moment but the city watch had disappeared immediately after releasing him. He shook his head and laughed, imagining the captain’s expression if Kirrin sauntered past him again.