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Catch Me If You Can


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"I appreciate your expeditious response, Master Deathwatch, and-"


Mehrin held up a hand to the woman seated behind the desk. "Please, it's Mehrin Mahrvon. Deathwatch is dead and buried; leave him out of it."


The woman nodded curtly, then rose to walk around the library where they were currently sequestered. During the break in the conversation, while the noblewoman was obviously trying to reframe her proposal for bringing Mehrin to Cairhien, Mehrin took a quick look around the room. It was a decent-sized library, with nearly two hundred books on the shelves, interspersed with various trophies or items of probable sentimental value. A broken dagger caught Mehrin's eye; it looked to be the darkened steel that Aielmen used for their long knives. Interesting, Mehrin thought.


It was a matter of only a second for the noblewoman to regather her thoughts. A typical response time, given how nobles, especially Cairhienin nobles, loved the sound of their own voices so much. "Nonetheless, you are still a living legend, and I have a paying job for you." Not to mention a desire to be seen as having me bought and paid for by your colleagues, I'm sure. With a start, the noble suddenly looked apologetic and said, "Oh, dear. Please forgive my lack of manners. I am Lady Eleanor Morwin." Shrugging dismissively, Mehrin waved a hand. In all honesty, he could not actually say that he cared about her name. Nobles had a tendency to put a great store by names. It was probably the reason why his insistence on his true surname had briefly derailed her. "A couple weeks ago, as I was making my move into Cairhien proper, my carriage was beset by thieves. From the reports I've gathered, there were at least three. One was injured quite badly when the guards arrived on-scene, in rapid fashion." This was said with some pride, though Mehrin felt no such thing. It was most likely that an informant for the city watch had sent word to the watch captain. Otherwise, there would have been no timely arrival, from the sound of things.


Continuing to speak, Lady Eleanor led Mehrin from the library into a small ballroom. As Mehrin passed through the door, a flicker of motion in his peripheral vision caused him to react before what he saw even registered in his mind. Four men stood by the wall, two of whom had just closed the doors behind him and the noblewoman. In a quick double-motion, the broad black hat that he wore was spinning through the air in one direction, flung from his left hand, while his right hand seized the hilt of his sword. It took only a light tug for Mehrin to draw the flamberge, though the weapon was a massive, sinister-looking weapon. The sight of the weapon caused the men, all of whom held long swords and shields, to glance, almost unnoticed, at Lady Eleanor. Mehrin didn't see her response, but the men- likely house guards- advanced on him.


After taking a moment to examine the four men, Mehrin turned to the noblewoman, exposing his back to the four men. "Lady, you're cruel. That poor boy on the far left is still young. I expect that he shows great zeal in training, probably fighting two men at once. He usually wins, too. However, he likely fights hard and fast, which means he's the first to die." The sound of a man stumbling came from behind Mehrin, followed by rapid footsteps, and a whispered, "No, don't!" Spinning on his heel, Mehrin raised his flamberge in an arcing spin, slapping aside the young man's downward chop, then he grabbed the man's shield and jerked it violently at the man's face. It caught him on the chin, and he crumpled.


With a bored look, Mehrin returned his attention to the noblewoman. "Now, may we get back to business, or will you not rest until I have caused some sort of damage to each of these half-trained louts?"


With a look of outrage, Lady Eleanor rose to her full height- still laughably short- and haughtily said, "I'll have you know that these are the best men in my personal guard!"


"Then you should have had ten of them in here, and it still wouldn't have made a difference. Now, are we here to discuss your poorly-trained toy soldiers, or are we here to discuss these thieves?"


Mehrin could feel the heat of the woman's anger, but she kept a firm grip on it. "You're right, of course. Now, one of the thieves was captured, and I was so looking forward to his execution, but his allies knocked out some guards, as well as the executioner, and spirited him away. He's the one I want. If you can find him, you'll no doubt find my belongings. My maid, Alina, will have the full inventory of what was taken for you."


"Very well," Mehrin replied. "Now, here are my terms. I require funds for lodgings and food; it will not be extravagant, as I will probably be in the less respectable parts of the city. I will not make daily reports to you, nor am I at your beck and call. I need to stay away from you for the course of this investigation. If I need to communicate with you, I will deliver messages in such a way that you will most definitely receive them. Last, but not least, if I so much as sniff any hint of this being some sort of politically-motivated endeavor, I will come back here, dismantle his manor around you, and leave it a smoking ruin. I don't get involved in Cairhienin politics."


"... Very well," Lady Eleanor replied, her manner stiff and affronted.




Several hours had passed since that meeting, and Mehrin was comfortably seated in the common room of an inn far from the nobles and their- who was he kidding? There was little doubt in Mehrin's mind that the nobles would still be at work here. But so was the criminal element that he sought. So far, three cutpurses has taken his purse. Each one had found it to be loaded with lead, for that specific reason. Retrieving the wallet was as simple as finding the source of the loud curses in the alleys. Even now, as he sat with a cup of water and a plate of roasted meat and potatoes, someone was reaching for his purse yet again.


Leaning back in his chair, his eyes closed, Mehrin stretched his arms, then seized the man by the back of his shirt and lifted him bodily from the floor. The innkeeper was staring at Mehrin agog, as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing. The strongarm, on the other hand, was smiling the smile of triumph. When Mehrin had informed them of his plan, the innkeeper had claimed that it would never work, that nobody would ever try such a thing in his establishment. The strongarm had immediately bet the man two gold marks that it would work. Striding past both of them, Mehrin tossed the man bodily into the private dining room that he had set aside for this very purpose, and closed the door.


The man was still in shock at his rapid transit from one room to the next. The former Commander of the Band liked that. It would hopefully keep him off-balance, and an off-balanced enemy is one who makes mistakes. "Please, allow me to introduce myself. I'm a man of wealth and taste." Pulling a chair up to the man, still sprawled on the floor, Mehrin added, "Actually, I'm a bounty hunter, and I'm looking for somebody who operates in your particular sphere of expertise. I was hoping that you could give me information." Gesturing to another chair in the room, Mehrin said, "Go ahead and take a seat whenever you feel like it. I'll have food and drink brought in, should you need something. However, this is not a game. My name is Mehrin Mahrvon, and if you play me false, I will hunt you down without mercy."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Eltar was relaxing in one of the many inns of Foregate when Akairril walked in and sat down opposite him. He ordered a mug of ale, and waited for it to arrive before speaking. " The Lady who was moving to the city, the one we robbed? She's hired someone to come to Cairhien and take us in," he told Eltar, who sipped from his drink before responding. "Who is it?" Eltar asked. "My contacts aren't sure of his name, but I got a description that is believed to be accurate." Akairril handed over a piece of paper with the details of their hunter on it, and drained the rest of his mug. "I'll find you later," he said, and stood up. Eltar raised a hand in farewell, and Akairril left as quickly as he came, no doubt wanting to go out and find out who this man was.




It was nearly evening when Eltar found the man he was looking for. He stood just taller than Eltar himself, though the man had dusty sun coloured hair, rather than black like himself. The man carried no weapons that he could see, although his cloak could be hiding them. Ambitious cutpurses stole the man's purse while Eltar was tailing him, but he managed to follow them and retrieve it. It was a curious act, why would he display himself as an easy target, only to retrieve the purse?


The third time the man's purse had been taken, Eltar waited at the end of the alley and peered in, his hood and cloak rendering him almost invisible in the near darkness. The hired man managed to get his money back with ease, and Eltar stepped back into a recessed doorway as the man exited the alley. He waited for the man to get a decent distance away before following him, weaving through the crowd and looking into closed shopfronts before realising that the man had disappeared. He had followed him into a run down district of the city, almost as bad as Foregate itself. There were inns and gambling dens at almost every corner, and Eltar decided to check the gambling dens first, as the man seemed almost obsessed with his money.


Half an hour later, Eltar stood outside of the last inn that he hadn't checked. The gambling dens had proven fruitless, and so he had moved onto the inns. He circled the inn once, and saw only the back door and the front door, as well as countless windows, as means of escape. Eltar entered through the front door, and saw the man he had been following was sitting at a table calmly eating, with his back to Eltar. He was eager to see what the man would do if he found his purse missing a fourth time. Eltar walked past the few patrons and crouched slightly to reach the man's belt. His touch was light, and the purse left the belt with barely any notice, yet the man still reacted far faster than Eltar expected. He suddenly found himself in the air, with the purse still in his hands. As the man moved, Eltar twisted slightly, and when he found himself being thrown, he moved some more, managing to land on his back, rather than his face. The landing still knocked the breath out of his lungs, and he just lay on the ground, trying to regain it, when the man stepped in and closed the door.


Eltar watched the man pull a chair over and sit down calmly, and as the man introduced himself, Eltar worked himself into a sitting position. The man offered him a seat, and Eltar got up slowly, rubbing his lower back. As he sat down, the man announced who he was. Mehrin Mahrvon, the legendary fighter. Eltar felt a shiver run down his spine. What was this man doing here hunting him and his little band? It seemed that Mehrin didn't realise that the person he was hunting was right in front of him, and Eltar was thankful for that. He knew that if it came down to a fight, he would get beaten very badly.


"I'm Jasin. Who exactly are you looking for, and what information would you like? I know everything that goes on in this city, whether it's in the noble Houses or the commoners," Eltar said, staring the legend down.


~ Eltar Cordwyn

Pretending to be someone else

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Jasin, is it? I'll keep that in mind. And I'll make sure to ask about it. No doubt everybody on the wrong side of the law operates under their real names, so it should check out." Mehrin gave "Jasin" a moment to reflect on that statement, then continued. "Don't bother giving me your real name. I'm sure I can find you again if I must." Mehrin paused for a moment as a knock sounded at the door. Standing to answer it, Mehrin gave "Jasin" a glance that promised all sorts of new and interesting forms of pain, should he consider trying to flee, then he cracked the door open. One of the tavern servers was waiting with a platter full of food, as well as two pitchers of water. Opening the door all the way, Mehrin gestured for the woman to leave the food on the table, then gave her a silver mark for her trouble. As soon as the door closed, Mehrin said, "Go ahead and eat. Despite my earlier... greeting, I am actually interested in working with you."


Without waiting to see if "Jasin" chose to eat or drink anything, Mehrin poured himself a mug of water and took one of the bowls on the tray. It appeared to be some sort of stew, and if it smelled bland, well, times were hard everywhere. Besides, it was sure to be better than anything he had ever been fed from the Band's chow line. Between bites, Mehrin continued. "I am looking for a man who has several characteristics in common with you, look-wise. He, along with at least three others, robbed a caravan bearing Lady Morwin and her belongings into the city. One of the crew was killed at the site of the theft, and he was captured. He later escaped execution, aided by several unknown persons. I will take information that you may have, or that you may find, on any of these individuals, but Lady Morwin specifically asked for the man they captured. Apparently, she is of the opinion that he is some sort of ringleader."


Mehrin paused for breath and a drink. The water was cool, refreshing, and did wonders for the taste of the stew; after a few good drinks, Mehrin could hardly taste the stuff anymore. In the Band, they had hanged cooks for better than this. At least the bread was done well. Maybe the cook was more a baker than a cook. Forgivable, for a first-time offender.


"Now, then," Mehrin said, "we come to the matter itself. Any further business will be discussed elsewhere. At each meeting, I will tell you where the next meeting will be. Please also know that any tomfoolery on your part- bringing in partners to try to pull one over on me, for instance- will be treated as an act of aggression on your part, and I will carve my way through the entire Cairhienin underground to find you. On the other hand, good information will pay well, and if it is corroborated by the people I have in the city, then payment for said information will be more." Sitting forward, Mehrin folded his hands in front of him, elbows leaning on the table. "I once helped to save this city, so I have plenty of favors that I'm calling in. Any information that may help you learn more will be given to you. As a bonus..." Mehrin took his purse from his belt and dropped it on the table in front of "Jasin." The purse opened, and some of the lead ingots came bouncing out across the table. Mehrin blinked once, then muttered, "Wrong purse." Unbuttoning the cuff of his left sleeve, Mehrin undid a clasp holding a thin leather pouch to his forearm. "I have to entertain myself somehow. Anyway, here's a gold mark, Andoran weight. Whether or not you help me, that's yours for the trouble. Do you have any questions? If not, our next meeting will be in the central square."

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