Sometime around three in the morning Tor, huffing and puffing, finally arrived at the brothel. He leaned against the old, crumbling wall and fought to catch his breath. His pale hands trembled against the haft of his axe, but he refused to sling it across his back. Looking over the broken cobbles of the street, he recognized Zuke standing quietly by the door, his cloak pulled tight against the bitter, morning chill, his hood drawn low over his face.
“Ho there, human. Is it safe?”
Without turning, the invoker replied, “Were you followed?”
“Had a bit of a scare, but no, drove the bastard off,” returned the dwarf.
“Then we are safe,”
Tor nodded and waved at the shadows. Two figures cautiously crept out. The Baron and his chamberlain rushed the brothel and shut themselves inside.
“Well that’s over then,” said Tor, scratching at the spittle frozen to his beard.
“Quite a night,” agreed Zuke, still looking away, down the street.
“You hear that? Squeaking or something…”
“I’m sure it’s nothing,”
The dwarf finally slung his axe, “Hope none of them rats are around. Little beasts give me shivers, always going on about sugar and such,”
Zuke said nothing. The wind picked up for a moment, ruffling his cloak.
The dwarf continued, “Long night, anyway. Crazy party,” he mused while kicking some of the clotted mud from his boots, “Not even sure what happened. D’you know if the orc went off and did what the halfling asked?”
Tor exhaled, grinding his teeth anxiously, “Dark business there,” he hesitated with a question, not particularly wanting to know the answer, “So the, uhh, whole family then?”
“Gutted and left to burn,”
“Ach,” Tor winced. He dug through his pockets for a strip of blackroot to chew. There was something comforting about the old, bitter taste of blackroot between the teeth. The dwarf wiped at his runny nose and thought for a moment, “How did the priest take the news?”
“Not well,” was Zuke’s simple reply.
“Not well, eh? What does that mean? Where is he now?” the dwarf prodded.
Zuke said nothing.
“Yeah. I can see that. Dark business it was. Dark,” the words did little to ease his troubled mind, but the silence made Tor just as uncomfortable. He spoke up again, “So what about you then, anything happen after the party?”
“It’s been a busy night. I’ve been busy down in the tunnels,”
“Oh yeah? Have fun with the rats?”
“I’ve seen quite a many strange things tonight. About myself. About the world,”
“Ha! You’re getting all cryptic. You’ve been hanging out with that Smile fellow?”
Zuke turned to his companion, “Tonight, Zuke the man has died. In his flesh now rises Zuke the god,”
The cowl falls away, and the dwarf looks into the empty cave where eyes should lie. Tor staggers away and fumbles his weapon into his hands. “By Moradin’s steady hand, your eyes!”
“I no longer need them. I see things farther and faster. I see the true face of this city,” he speaks calmly, almost lyrically, “The nights will grow even darker, my friend, and we’ll be busy indeed,”