He broke his fast on kippers and poached quail eggs, with breads, the last of the winterberry jam, and more Jantirian coffee. Spring was coming to Thonrecht, yet the cool breezes from the sea, still kept the days and nights quite cold.
He thought of visiting some shops, to acquire appropriate attire for the evening's dinner, but Melitus' servants had ushered him toward a walk-in closet filled with various fashions. Everything he could have desired to purchase was offered him instead.
Wrapping his cloak about him, Aerex ventured into the city proper, eventually, eager for a brisk walk. Thonrecht was the size of a single district in Jantir, yet majestic, and truth be told, fearsome in appearence, were Thonrecht's cliff-carved walls. Two great pillars of jagged basalt, each six hundred or more feet high, and sretching far afield, formed a natural impregnable barrier for the city. Aerex could see the great cleft of stone when he had first approached the Hellschwert harbor by ship, and now, strolling along the narrow avenues, a sense of claustraphobia could be felt, whenever he would look up at the shadow-castng moniliths, squeezing the harbor and half of the city in its stone embrace.
Melitus had told him, that he had once heard, that the Hellschwerts would immolate their own dead in something they called 'cold-fires' and smeared the ashes of their anscesters into the very walls of Thonrecht, keeping the stone impregnable and everlasting. Melitus doubted the veracity of these tales he related, claiming the Hellschwerts probably spread these rumors themselves, to foster dread in their subjects.
Aerex now found himself wandering near the peer again for a time. As he walked the dreary streets, he thought about other ‘unfortunate events’ transpiring in this ‘wretched’ place, as explained earlier to him by Melitus. For the past eight months in Thonrecht apparently, an elusive assassin, dubbed “Nightjar” by the populace, had been busy assassinating nobles for no rhyme or reason. Aerex peered around corners, his old investigative senses peaking, as he walked, imagining himself hunting down such a criminal, block by block, clue by clue.
It took some getting used to, but Aerex managed to find his way around the narrow, labyrinthine streets, and some time after mid-day, found himself watching a falconry exhibition atop one of the stony hills outside the town proper. The elevation allowed for a breath-taking visual, a sweeping panorama of sea and stone. The falcons were trained to hunt puffins. Aerex watched and reflected upon his own thoughts, as the falcons swooped and soared to knock the fast-flying, determined puffins from the sky, where nets awaited them.
He could see a few of his fellows, rangers by the looks of them, directing the falcons, for a small gathered crowd. Now, unlike in the city streets, his yearnings for nature and for some worthy cause, overtook him, he was a warden of the wilds now, he smiled to himself, and he needed some worthy cause. He needed purpose. Was his fate intertwined with that of Talia? He could not be sure.
Besides the falconers and their audience, Aerex could now spy a small group of to the side of the hillock. A tall woman, shorn bald, draped in sea-green, lacquered armor, and leaning on a long sword, noticed Aerex looking and eyed him back. Next to her, a dwarf dressed in an ochre-colored robe, clutched a n oaken staff studded with a spike-burst at one end. His yellow beard split down the middle, creating the effect of two golden horns, straddling his chin. The third figure, a man, this one also robed, but in plain white, with a single red sash across his waist, was glumly staring out to sea. He stood weaponless, his arms folded into the sleeves of his robes. A bushy beard hid his meaty face, and multiple braids of ebon hair snaked down past his shoulders. The fourth figure was an obvious warrior, currently donning a baroque suit of field-plate, complete with a wolf’s head helm. Both axe and sword leaned against a rock beside him.
The group looked particularly interesting to Aerex, as he waited for time to pass, and little else, truth be told, had caught his attention this day so far. The group seemed anxious yet resolute, as if preparing for either battle or some great hunt.