SotF: The Little Things - Part Two

  • Everything was as if nothing had happened in the morning. The soup kitchen ran as it would the day before and as it would the day after except this time they had a Vigilant of the South help feed the poor. As if nothing had happened, the kitchen closed its doors on the eve of nightfall and the attendants cleaned the pots, pans, and bowls before leaving for their homes.


                    Matthias wordlessly had dinner with Makram and his son – a bowl of porridge as if nothing had happened. Makram kissed his son goodnight as if nothing had happened. The two faithful enjoyed supper and a good discussion on theology, as if nothing had happened.


    …but that was a lie. Something had happened and Matthias had let that thought fester, like a splinter under his nail.


                    ‘Look Matthias,’ Makram finally said. ‘If you’re to say something the just say it.’


                    The Vigilant slammed his hand on the table and pointed. ‘How could you let them do this to you? You’re a priest of Mara, does that not mean anything to them?’


                    Makram said nothing but his silence was in itself Matthias’ answer: No. It didn’t mean a damn thing.


                    ‘How long?’


                    The priest sighed. ‘It all begin four months ago. We’ve been operating for the better part of the year and no one bothered us and I mean no one, not even the Thieves’ Guild – methinks they have better things to do than harass a soup kitchen.’ He shook his head. ‘But on a day as any other while we were giving out the food, Hoggvir and his crew came. We thought they’d be hungry travellers or sellswords down on their luck; so we fed em’, no questions asked. Then they came back the next day and then the next day – we kept feeding them because we oath to never turn down those in need.’


                    ‘And you never found this suspicious? That hungry wolves were waiting at your doorstep?’


                    ‘I don’t like violence but don’t take me for a fool, Vigilant! Of course I was suspicious but suspicion alone isn’t excuse alone to not help them… then one day Hoggvir asked for coin. I gave him a share of our donations but he came back again asking for more.’


                    ‘And you gave him more money?’


                    Makram shook his head. ‘I’d like to think that the Guild is a little clever on how they do their business – never make a scene for instance. Hoggvir isn’t part of the Guild.’


                    ‘And so it begins.’


                    ‘And so it begins,’ Makram whispered. ‘You don’t have to do anything, Matthias. I know men like you, I can see it in your eyes; I know what you’re thinking about and I say: Everything is under control. Don’t you go meddling in other people’s problems, you hear?’


                    ‘Transparently.’ Matthias drummed his fingers on the table for a moment before rising. ‘I’m going for a walk.’


                    ‘Wait! Matthias, where are you going? I’ve already told you-‘


                    Matthias raised a hand and smiled. ‘I told you, I’m just going for a walk: get the fresh air, clear my mind for a bit. That’s not so bad now, isn’t it?’


                    By day, Riften was… a city. A corrupt cesspool for true but a city nonetheless brimming with life and activity, and all the trappings and comforts of civilisation.


                    By night however, Riften something else entirely. The tall buildings now loomed over the streets, like trees snuffing out the moonlight. With the days done, few have little reason to walk outside giving the city an eerie silence akin to being watched at times. In the dark, Riften was no longer a city; it was a great forest, no different from the one the walls were meant to keep out.


                    Matthias strolled about the neighbourhood, in deep thought. A deer or a wolf was he? He carried no weapons, the guards need not an excuse to jail him yet he seek to enter the den of his prey.


                    On the corner of his eye Matthias spotted a cadre of children playing in an alleyway. When the Vigilant walked into their corner of the world, they, like rabbits stopped glared at the stranger.


                    A boy walked up to him, skin dirty and wearing clothes far too big for him. He spat a glob of red at Matthias’ feet – the remains of sourleaf, a popular unregulated narcotic among the downtrodden. He looked at Matthias wearily, head cocked and arms to his side.


                    ‘I’m looking for someone,’ Matthias said.


                    The boy raised an eyebrow.


                    ‘A man with a blonde ponytail and a tattoo.’


                    The boy turned to his companions, all hair cut short and scraggly like him before turning his back to the Vigilant.


                    ‘Don’t know anyone by that look.’


                    ‘I’m sure you do,’ Matthias said, rolling a Septim on his fingers. The boy eyed the coin before stopping himself.


                    ‘Dangerous thing to do, flashing money like that. You’re not from around here, are you?’


                    ‘What gave me away?’


                    ‘The pyjamas.’


                    Matthias chuckled. ‘These are my uniform. I am a Vigilant of Stendarr, slayer of Daedras and other horrors.’ With that Matthias could see he was getting more looks from the other children. Not a glare of suspicion as before but of curiosity.


                    ‘And what does Hoggvir have to do with any of this? He’s not a Daedra.’


                    ‘So you do know him.’ The boy blushed and Matthias shrugged. ‘No, he’s not a Daedra. All I want to do is to have a chat with him. Business if you will.’


                    The boy crossed his arms. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’


                    ‘Oh?’ Matthias flipped the coin and caught it. He could tell that the boy’s eyes continued to hungrily track it.


                    ‘Told you: Didn’t see him. Don’t know him.’       


                    Matthias shrugged and walked away. A code from the gutter but at least it was worth a try, he told himself. The Vigilant slipped the coin back into his pouch and hummed a soft tune.


                    ‘Whoredotte, stay away from him!’


                    The Vigilant spun around and saw one of the urchins running towards him; it was that hazel-eyed pickpocket from the market. Whoredotte? Matthias thought. So not a boy then but a girl. Still. ‘Whoredotte’? Children do have the cruellest imaginations. He bent a knee and looked at the child at her level.


                    ‘You’re the one from the market, aren’t you?’


                    The hazel-eyed girl nodded.


                    ‘Do you know where Hoggvir is?’


                    ‘Whoredotte!’ The boy moved toward them, his steps forceful. ‘We don’t talk to his kind.’


                    Matthias rose and smiled. ‘Now, don’t be rude.’ The Vigilant snapped his fingers and sparks flew. ‘You’d had your turn and now it’s the lady’s turn for a talk. Be a gentleman and wait.’


                    The boy stumbled back. Magic was uncommon to most. Even rarer was the knowledge on what magic can do – he has heard of wives tales of mages turning princes into amphibians or some other manner of nonsense and it seemed the boy believed it. Good, Matthias thought. Don’t want anyone doing something stupid, now do we?


                    The Vigilant turned his attention back to the girl. ‘Do you know where Hoggvir is? Do you know where he and his gang sleeps?


                    The girl nodded again.


                    ‘Can you take me to him?’


                    The girl looked at her friends who shot her a disapproving expression. She looked Matthias in the eye and nodded.


                    ‘Lead the way.’



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