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I'll Be Watching

Writers: Estelle
Date Posted: 10th December 2022

Characters: Jorghan, Tarani
Description: Jorghan considers his next move and gets an offer of employment
Location: Sunstone Seahold
Date: month 12, day 10 of Turn 10
Notes: Mentioned: Lorican, Lusilk, Bryvin

Hardly knowing where he was going, Jorghan stumbled back towards the
main halls of the Hold. He could hardly believe that after all this
time, he'd seen the woman who'd killed Lisna face to face, heard her
voice. Felt the point of her knife at his throat.

As he tried to recover his composure, he almost ran into a drudge
carrying an armful of laundry. The woman's lips parted in surprise and
she backed off a pace, and he endeavoured to calm himself, realising he
must look rather wild.

"Excuse me - I'm a stranger here. Would you know where to find a
healer?" he asked. "Master Lorican, the smith - his wife, I think...she
might need a midwife."

"Oh! I see." Understanding dawned in the drudge's face. "I'll fetch a
healer at once, Guardsman. Don't you worry." She smiled. "I'm afraid
your business with the master will have to wait."

"It's no trouble, in the circumstances. Thank you." Jorghan watched her
turn and hurry away, then followed, making turns almost at random until
he found himself at the Hold's main entrance. He walked out into the
warm sunlight and kept going, taking the path down towards the sea.

When he heard the sounds of creaking and sawing, crackling fires and
hammers on metal, he took a side path and found himself among the
crafters' workshops. The smithy wasn't hard to identify, and he stopped
at a distance to watch through the open door. Despite the master's
absence, the smithy was busy. A journeyman stood outside with slate and
chalk, taking notes while an apprentice unloaded sacks of coal from a
cart, while inside another young man worked at the anvil. He caught a
glimpse of the small boy who'd been with Lusilk earlier, sitting on a
bench and looking disconsolately down at his feet. Her son, or the
smith's? He had more of a look of the woman, but he'd never heard of her
having a child.

Jorghan didn't approach any further; if the boy raised the alarm there
might be more complications and he needed to think. He turned on his
heel and left the crafters' area behind, heading for the docks. There,
he chose the least disreputable-looking of the taverns, went in and
ordered a drink.

**I found her.**

That was something. But he'd failed to capture her. He'd rushed in
without thinking it through, and he'd ended up at her mercy. Jorghan had
seen the look in her eyes, the one her husband hadn't understood. If she
hadn't felt the birth pangs just then...

He'd come very close to death, closer than he had in all his turns as a
guard. His hand shook, and he had to set down the glass he held, force
himself to breathe.

Now she knew he was here, he'd lost the element of surprise. He could go
to the captain of the Hold Guard, or to Lord Bryvin, and make an
accusation against her, but he'd need evidence. His best hope was the
guards at Beryl Peak. They ought to recognise her, but... Would they see
Lord Rorrigraf's killer in a respectable holder woman, a Mastersmith's
wife, if doing so would be to admit that they'd been tricked, and let
her escape?

His thoughts turned to the husband. The man had to know something - no
ordinary craftsman would stand by and watch his wife wielding a dagger
without so much as batting an eyelid - but he wasn't certain how much.
She might have told him some story of hardship, leaving out how she'd
killed for hire. Perhaps he was the kind of man who thought he could
save her.

No matter what, he'd clearly be fighting an uphill battle to convince
the man that the mother of his child was a dangerous killer. Jorghan
rubbed his eyelids wearily. He regretted bitterly now that he'd
confronted her - that had been a mistake. He needed more evidence.

He had to make a choice: stay or go.

If he left today and returned to Garnet Valley, he could ask for his old
job back. He'd be punished, demoted perhaps for leaving his post without
warning, but he'd given good service over the Turns, and there might be
some leniency, account taken of his loss. He had a place there. He
didn't know this Hold, and he didn't like it. He could almost feel the
shady dealings like an itch at the back of his neck, the drunkenness and
the fights, the cheating and the swindling. The sheer lack of order of
the place set his nerves on edge.

But then his jaw tightened, and he remembered Lisna's face. Smiling,
excited to be setting out into the world. Only eighteen.

Jorghan swallowed the rest of his beer, then returned to the bar. He
ordered another, and pushed a generous number of his remaining marks
across the counter in exchange. "Keep the change."

"Thank you, guardsman." The serving man looked across at him, with the
speculative expression of one who'd made such exchanges before. The
marks slid out of sight into the pocket of his apron. "Is there
something else I can do for you, perhaps?"

"I'm looking for a new position." There must be work in a place like
this. Guarding trade goods and warehouses, protecting rich merchants
from thieves and rivals, keeping order in the taverns. Work he despised,
but he needed something and the Hold guard might ask too many questions.
"I have more than twenty Turns' experience, in the guards at Garnet Valley."

"I see." He thought for a moment. "I could ask around. Most around here
prefer a man they know, and you're a long way from home."

"I have a good record," Jorghan said, stiffly. "I'm not fleeing
anything. I came here on family business."

"Hmm. Well - there is one position I've heard of." There was the very
faintest mocking lift of the man's lip. "How do you feel about working
for a lady?"


The lady was very young, with red curls and a modest forest-green gown
that was, despite its simple cut, finely tailored to her slender figure,
with intricate embroidery at the neck. She wore no jewels, though he
noticed the discreet glitter of small gold hoops at her ears. Her
manner, though, when she swept in and slipped off her cloak to hand to
the barkeep, was confident beyond her Turns. She might have been walking
into her own parlour. and not a dingy back room behind the bar that
smelled of old beer.

Jorghan stood at once. "M'lady?"

"Guardsman. How do you do? I'm Lady Tarani of Flint Hills,
lady-in-waiting to the Lady Holder." She offered a small, gloved hand.

He took it gingerly. "Jorghan, guardsman, formerly of Garnet Valley."
When he let go, she swept her skirts around her and sat down gracefully
in the empty chair across from his.

"I understand you're seeking employment." She got to the point at once,
which was less typical of one of her rank. "And I may be in need of a
man with your skills. I expect you're wondering why?"

"I must confess, I was surprised. The Hold is well guarded," Jorghan
said. "I can't see why one of its ladies would have need of my services."

"It is indeed, and I have no concerns for my safety. My problem is that
I can't ask those guards to escort me down here, to the docks and
taverns." She caught his doubtful look before he could suppress it, and
smiled. "Let me explain. It's not a taste for the rougher side of
seahold life that brings me here. I invest, in a small way, in trade
goods, and not all of my business partners can be entertained at the Hold."

Jorghan managed to keep his expression impassive with an effort. She
couldn't be any older than Lisna...had been. A Lady, blood family of a
Lord Holder, taking part in trading in person? It was extraordinary.

Though no more than a woman killing a Lord Holder, he thought. And she
didn't sound like she was covering for anything...less respectable.

"I see. You need protection?" he asked.

"Yes, but it's not so much your skills as a fighter that interest me,
though I expect they will be useful from time to time. Rather, it's your
experience as an investigator." Tarani brushed aside any thought of her
own safety with the carelessness of youth and rank. "There are places I
can't go, conversations I can't have. I need to know who can be trusted,
and how far. Who has the funds or the goods they claim, and who's only
bluffing. I do have a contact who has served me well this far, but I'm
not foolish enough to rely on one man's word alone, particularly when he
might one day be a rival."

"I'm not a trader, m'lady."

"You won't need to be. I'll handle that side of it. My uncle taught me
that the most successful side in any deal is the best informed." She
smiled. "I'd be paying you to make sure that's me."

Jorghan met her gaze. Bright green eyes, fiercely intelligent, and that
note of frustration in her voice at the limitations of her position in
life. Although she was a high-born lady, with the manner and education
of one born to her rank, yet she still reminded him so much of Lisna.
They were both fearless.


"I could do that," he said, cautiously. It was as honest work as he
could expect around here, and if she was actually paying him to ask
questions, he'd be able to find out more about that woman, if he was
careful. And perhaps...he could protect her from the kind of men he knew
lurked in the depths of this Hold, as he'd not been able to with his own

"Good. I can give you a month's trial," Tarani said, as if she'd
expected no other answer. "After that, we'll see. I'll tell them at the
Hold my uncle sent you as his agent to the traders here, so we'll have
reason to meet. You'll be a guardsman of Flint Hills now. Keep a record
of your expenses, I'll cover any that can be justified. You'll have to
find your own lodging, but I can give you a letter confirming your
employment which should help with that."

That would be best, Jorghan thought. He didn't know if he could live
under the same roof and eat from the same table as the killer of his
adopted daughter. "Thank you, m'lady."

"I'll send a messenger to you here within the hour." Tarani rose, and
Jorghan quickly did the same, hurrying to the peg by the door to fetch
her cloak. "He'll have the letter, and a few names. Find out what you
can. We'll talk again in a sevenday - will that be sufficient time?"

Jorghan bowed his head in assent. "Ah - do you want me to accompany you
back to the Hold?"

"No need. This area is safe enough," she replied, amused. "You'll have
to go further downhill while you work for me."

Then she was gone, leaving the guardsman staring after her, wondering
what he'd just agreed to. What kind of a Hold was this, where no one
knew their place?

After a minute or two, he followed her outside, caught a glimpse of her
cloaked figure walking briskly up the steep road that led to the Hold.
Somewhere in there, that other woman, Lusilk, would be labouring to bear
her child.

**You think you've escaped, but you haven't,** he told her silently,
watching those towers and high stone walls. **I'll be watching. Always.
I'll bring you to justice, no matter what it takes. No matter how far
downhill I have to go.**

Last updated on the February 19th 2023

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