Friday, 24 August 2012

A Hive of Activity: Watchers in the Dark

Malmir's eyes narrowed as he studied the curious scene. A group of men, their clothes torn and matted with filth, bent over coarse barrels and roughly hewn boxes, dragging the obviously weighty containers into the darkness. In a shabby corner, the flinty gaze of a foreman watched the men work, occasionally stooping to add his strength to a box or barrel. Something was wrong here, Malmir thought. He'd known his fair share of warehouses, dockyards and workmen's shanties during his roaming days with Orfeo, and there was something about the haste in which these men worked that struck an uneven cord with the elf. These were not men working to a time limit, eager for pay and the opportunities the clink of coinage brings, but men working under great strain.
     The nervous twitch in the eye of the foreman betrayed the pressure he was working under, almost like he knew something that his workforce did not. Malmir's eyes scanned the uneven flooring; old boards, many of them split with the abuse of years, cast over dark, loamy soil.
     Was that blood? The elf looked again, eyes narrowing further... It certainly could be. A trail? The gruesome drippings of their one armed friend's arm or a staunched wound from the violence whose sequel they had been witness too? Or just footprints in the murk? Clearly, something had happened here.
     Kirsten pressed forwards. Her body close to Malmir's own. Such female proximity would normally have been a subtle delight, but the circumstances proved otherwise. Still, he found her company reassuring, doubly  so after what he'd seen of her abilities with a blade. She peered into the gloom, making her own appraisal of the ill lit scene.
     Having seen enough Malmir slinked backwards, back to the cramped room with the shockingly still bodies and their silent, anxious companions. He could sense Kirsten's soft, padding footsteps behind him. Slowly, he emerged back into the half light just in time to see his companions look up anxiously, half formed questions already on their lips.
     "There is some kind of haste of movement," Malmir said before any of the others could speak, "nor more than six men I'd say, probably less, shifting storage containers around. Their preoccupied with something. They look tired and a few of the them are limping with injuries... we could easily take them if an aggressive approach was necessary, though we could certainly attempt a bluff as they look desperate for aid." He turned to Kirsten, a new found respect for her in his eyes, "what's your view Kirsten?"

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