Daedraug

A Proper Introduction or The Bloody Boot

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I found myself looking toward the night sky, focused on a wonderfully yellow moon just short of full framed by tendrils of gray clouds. I put forth no false pretenses that the sight moon often sets my mind to romantic or nostalgic tangents, but I consider it an understandable indulgence given the circumstances. My revelry was short, however, as I was snapped back to more mundane matters by a voice inquiring as to my identity.

"Mr. Grey?"

The voice was a woman's, sheepish, though pure in tone. I must admit that the heart-shaped face from which it sprang was quite lovely in the wavering lamplight, though the rest of her form was concealed by door to the squat stone shop which she hid behind, in case my answer was not the one she sought.

"Quite," I replied, because I was indeed the Mr. Grey she was expecting, barring any infinitesimally unlikely coincidence. "Villem Grey, Investigative Services in the Areas of Difficult or Unusual Happenings and Predicaments."

She gave a curt nod and opened the door fully. "You came highly recommended by Sgt-"

I cut her off with a raised hand and subtle clearing of my throat. "I think we're all quite familiar with the identity of our mutual friend, madam. No reason to dwell on details beyond that." The interruption furrowed her brow, but the number of passers-by and porters on the shop row made it quite necessary.

I stepped through the threshold, removing my hat and resting it on the head of my cane. It was quite warm inside, a mark of a lady living alone with no masculine voice to complain of the heat, so I tried to loosen my tie in as careless a fashion as possible, so as not to add any distress to this woman who, if she was the very Mrs. Lannister who had requested my services, had already endured much.

"Mrs. Lannister, I presume?", I asked her, for I am exceedingly impatient when it comes to confirming my suppositions. She nodded, motioning toward a table in the dining area lit by a small lamp. I stood next to a chair as she gathered a small number of what appeared to be parcels and a well-worn brown journal of some sort from the mantle above the crackling fireplace. As she set them on the table and gently took her seat, I retired to my chair in-kind.

Introductions to new clients often involve one of two strategies. In the first, your credentials are of ill comfort to the client or your skills in need of demonstration. In the second, the client is more desperate, and you are seen as the last hope for achieving their ends. I surmised Mrs. Lannister to be an example of the latter, and so waited for her to explain to me what the materials were exactly, despite the fact that I could with all certainty have put forth their purposes - a strange letter addressed to her or another loved one indicating that her husband new he was in trouble, a request from some mysterious stranger or business associate, and a ledger of some sort, likely detailing the individuals her husband - a cobbler working out of this very structure - had met with, provided services for, and the like. As she reiterated the information aloud which had already been cataloged in my mind, I thanked the stars that my skills were sharp as ever. I also gave silent thanks to the aforementioned mutual friend, who had briefed me on the pertinent evidence. I took a few moments to examine the specifics of each offering.

"So, Mrs. Lannister," I began, "If I am correct, you believe that your husband was engaged in some business of a custom nature with this 'Mr. Fin," and, shortly after delivering, was killed by this customer despite an apparent lack of motive."

"Yes, Mr. Grey. The agreed-upon price was still in his cash box, and I saw with my very eyes the cursed boots for which he was contracted."

I withdrew my notepad and a sketching pencil from the inner pocket of my jacket, careful not to reveal the blade concealed on my person and instigate discomfort in poor, frail Mrs. Lannister. "Perhaps we should start there, if we could. Could you describe the exact nature of these boots?"

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