Docks of Ardent's Fall
While the streets of Ardent’s Fall had been nearly barren the docks were filled with weary travelers seeking passage from the city. There was, after all, a murderer afoot. There was a pungent odor that seeped its way through the large swaths of people as almost none of the foreigners had gotten a chance to shower or sleep. Accompanying the smells of salt from sea and body were the sounds of grumbling, intense chatter, and fights breaking out throughout the port.
From what Lorelei could see there were lightly armored guards attending to the crowds, and questioning a number of would-be-passengers. The sting of summer sun did little to quell the anxiety and frustration permeating the crowd.
A wince came from her, a delicate hand lifting to brush the locks that cascaded down her back in waves similar to that of the sea when it was calm. The smell was.. Certainly extraordinary. She had recently heard of the murder, and how the murderer was still running amuck without an end in sight. She couldn’t help but be curious as to what exactly had happened.Eyes, pupils slightly dilated due to the approaching sun, would scan the surrounding area as she stepped through the crowd, trying to push her way opposite to the motion of the travelers who wanted to leave Ardent’s Fall. She, however, wanted to stay, and venture into the barren alleyways of the city.
Finally breaking through the crowd, she moved to step onto the cobblestone road when she was stopped by a guard, who glanced her over. She must’ve looked at least slightly suspicious; A beautiful woman intending to go into the city instead of leaving it. She was dressed normally, a common dress for women to wear of the time.
“There seem to be a problem?” She hummed, a sweet smile gracing her lips as her multi-colored gaze lifted to that of the guard, her arms moving behind her as her head tilted to the side.
“Aren’t you supposed to be leaving?” He’d gruff in her direction, his eyes lazily making their way over her body, causing her to lightly shift backwards out of slight discomfort. “The alleys aren’t safe, especially for a little lady like you.”
She couldn’t help but give a slight laugh, a hand coming up to lightly mask the appearance of her mouth. “You think I’m afraid of some lil guy with a knife?” She easily side stepped, flashing that charming smile of hers again. It seemed to have an effect, for the guard would blink slightly and straighten, giving a nod.
“My apologies.” He’d simply say before turning away from her to tend to other citizens, questioning them and their actions instead, and leaving her alone. WIth a cheeky grin, she lazily strolled into the city, only a pack on her back carrying her belongings. Interesting.
The city was filled now mostly with only workers. Most sensible denizens were under lock and key. It wasn’t everyday an official of the crown was murdered. There was little worth noting in the alleyways of the Ardent. The only noises to be heard was the trickling of rainwater from last night running its way down cobblestone. Drops of the stuff found their way from the buildings of wood and brick.
The air was full of a thick musk scented like pine and river-water.The only other noises to accompany the ambiance of a city gripped in fear were the shambling and bustling of the homeless making their way about the alleys. Eyes studied the woman as she made her way through the back roads of the city. From the route she’d taken, shanties and shacks lined the alleyways. A hodgepodge of makeshift shops used cloth tents to protect the wares within from water damage.
Her simple maiden’s heels lightly clicked against the moistened cobblestone, her gaze flitting about as she ventured further and further into the city. Instead of taking the main road, she’d take a route that went through the back alleys, taking a look at all the makeshift shops that lined the edges, using whatever materials they could find in order to make their businesses somewhat presentable. It almost gave her a creepy vibe, due to the fact that she wasn’t used to such.. Poverty. It made her feel entitled, to have never experienced such things.
She felt eyes on her, and briefly felt worried. She’d grow tense, her hand going to the fashionable belt that was slung around curved hips, to the hilted blade that sat against the left hip bone. She kept her hand still for a little while longer, starting to come to the conclusion that this may have been a bad idea to take the back roads. Sticking to the main roads would’ve been.. Safer. Smarter, even.
“Not many-an-elf are brave enough to wander Dark Water, dearie.” A voice like ash and soot squealed out from the behind the siren. An older woman slumped over from age and labor eyed Lorelei. Weary eyes studied her foreign features. “Specially not with missing noble boys and dead Viceroy’s still warm to touch.”
She nearly jumped out of her damn skin when a voice that sounded like a burnt out fire itself would rasp behind her. She gripped the hilt of her dagger, but willed her hand to let go and release a low breath, expelling the fear that had briefly been thrown upon her. She turned around and gave a slight smile, a hand coming up and lightly brushing some of her hair back as she put on the charm.
“Is that where I am? Huh, I thought I was on the main road!” She played dumb rather well. “Missing boys and a murder? That sounds awful!” She feigned a gasp, a hand going to her mouth. “Is that why everyone is so insistent on leaving?”
“Me thinks you know the answer to that, pretty one. Never seen an elf with ears like yours.” The woman’s hands coveted the girls hair. Feeling through the wisps she took a breath, as if relieved, before lifting heavy lids. Her pupils were a hallowed grey as she studied the woman. Before Lorelei could reasonably respond the woman’s hand rested firmly over hers, and in turn the dagger she possessed. The woman whispered to the siren in hushed tones. “Don’t make a scene, girlie. I ain’t ye enemy.” She motioned Lorelei towards a sunken little crevice in the dilapidated marketplace.
She hesitated when the woman’s wrinkled and withered hands came out and touched her hair, causing her to stiffen as the elderly woman seemed to be searching for something. She didn’t even know what to say in that moment, for the elder was quite adamantly searching for something, yet seemed to be relieved when she found nothing. She felt her rough and boney hand touch hers that was gripping the hilt of her blade, and hush her to not be afraid, before being directed to a crevice.
She paused, not seeming like it was the greatest idea to go forth to such a sketchy place, but willed herself to be compliant. Giving a low sigh, she’d give a faint nod before stepping forward, towards the crevice. She glanced back for a moment before holding her breath and stepping through.
The elder woman looked about the wretched market. She reached into a chest full of leathers and cloths. Pulling out a thin black hooded cape from within she unfurled the fabric before making her way behind Lorelei. She threw the cape onto her. “Cape up,” she chided before making her way deeper into the marketplace. The cape itself smelled like it’d been locked away for ages, and the cape was thick with the smell of soil.
The staring that had just followed Lorelei were not as bountiful now. The two walked the beaten alleyways of the Dark Water District.
“What has ye wandering about our fair district elfey?” The woman’s gaze remained forward as the two marched on past the wailing of the sick and hungry.
Lorelei would blink in surprise as the stale-smelling fabric was thrown over her shoulders, the woman making sure it covered her before chiding her, much like a woman would do to their child, to put her hood up. Giving a faint frown, she did as she was told, bringing the hood of the worn cape up to rest on the top of head, concealing her features.
As they began to walk, she was somewhat relieved that the staring wasn’t so prominent now. The feeling of it had made her shiver, an icy feeling settling over her. Thank goodness for this.. Odd woman she just happened to run into.
“Originally? Because of the murder. I wanted to see if it was true, and I have a nasty habit of getting myself into things. I was going to try and help solve it,” She spoke in a hushed tone, her gaze turning towards the elderly woman’s. “Also, I’m no elf. Believe it or not, I’m a Siren.” She often got the confusion more often than she thought she would since leaving her home city, but it was alright. She did appear to look very similar to the elves that roamed the lands. She seemed a bit ahead of herself, Lorelei. Coming to a city she had never been to before to help aid in a murder that had nothing to do with her. It was the hunger for the information, mostly. The reasoning for the murder and the missing reports could prove valuable to nobles back at home.
“All the better that ye keep on that cape then, deerie. Me second cousin would skin those ears from your head if he knew.” There was a familiar sorrow in the elder’s voice upon hearing that Lorelei was a siren. Shaking the thought she turned to the girl giving a warm smile of gums and twisted -rancid- teeth.
“Ye can call me Grannie Smithers.” Smithers stopped in her tracks before extending her short and stubby arms out from beneath her cloak. Stretched out she looked back to Lorelei again.
Now, out of the sick stink of Dark Water, the only thing in view were the myriad of houses running down the street. Beyond that one could see the temple of Cristo that stood proudly in the marketplace. The swell of business as usual was accompanied by the squawking of birds, and sounds of hooves against cobblestone.
“Welcome, to Ardent’s Fall, dearie.”