Etude in the Sun

Part three of the series.
Part One: A Song of Glory
Part Two: A Choir of Intrigue

Having enlisted Olivia’s aid in investigating my employer, I am left stranded beneath the crushing burden of time. This late in the day shadows have grown long but the light continues to prevails. By my employer’s information the Baronet Thierris makes his estate along the banks of river Sol inside The Day. The Day being the privileged districts within the confines of The Twilight Wall. Pedestrian access to The Day is far more restricted than in Night Town. In order to pass the wall a law abiding citizen is required to provide a writ of travel. In my line of work, without a patron, such a writ does not exist. Fortunately for me, I am no law abiding citizen.
There are are secret paths which allow one passage from district to district if one has the coin, the contacts or the skill. A skilled artisan, like myself, has access to all three. Were I less invested in achieving my mission, I would have tested my daring scaling one of the unmanned sections. For now such a risk would endanger my chance to unravel the mystery, so instead I shall call a favour from darling Amelia.

The sun in Caelestis shines ever bright and cheerful, for centuries the city has been boasted the most pre-eminent bastion of civilisation in the known world. Caelestis has many faces and I have seen a great many of them. For now, hers is a sweet and nurturing face. The harvests were plentiful this season, and war is far off in the marches. Wherever you look the people are fat and happy.
The people of Night Town account for the vast majority of people who live in the city and we are never far from witnessing mother Caelestis’ sterner expression. It will not be long until winter returns and the bounty of the harvest will grow scarce in Night Town mother Caelestis’ children will grow hungry. When winter comes to Night Town, they say, the shadow’s rule.
But for now light prevails.

My darling Amelia has come such a long way since we had had flown from Olivia’s nest. A cultured woman these days, is my darling Amelia. Educated even. Unlike her wicked elder brother, she has made so good of herself. While I took to the shadows, she married a gentleman. Sergeant Elijah Jones. When he is busy defending the empire, Amelia has gainfully employment as the nanny for the children of one of the knights who reside in The Day.
Presently, Sergeant Jones, is on the Queen’s campaign in the far marches. As my adopted brother-in-law, I have no doubt in his willingness to aid in my professional endeavours by lending me his writ. Sadly it seems my darling Amelia is not at home when I arrive, a shame, but I had expected she would be working still at her employers estate for a number of hours yet. I leave her a note in place of the writ, explaining that I had borrowed it and that I hoped to see her in the evening. Making my way back onto the street I note the time by the sun, giving myself roughly two hours to familiarise myself to the area in the light of day.

With writ in hand the last remaining danger is the possibility of an overeager guard processing my writ. Professionals know to remember which guard will take a coin to look the other way. Misers and clever amateurs often attempt to fast-talk their way through the busier routes.
The wall has six pedestrian checkpoints and Captain Aiden Williams mans the second gate. Significantly quieter than the other entrances excepting the early morning deliveries, Captain Williams is a dedicated gate watchman. I’d met Captain Williams a number of years ago, before I’d taken to the shadows, and due to some poor fortune his father had come to owe a good deal of money to an impatient lender. I was still one of Olivia’s nest-eggs, and word came in that a gate watchman and a shark had taken odds. Such news was exciting for eggs already, but for me the news was worth gold. It was an exceptionally difficult job, but I squared the debt without Williams’ father coming to injury and in exchange, so long as I have a writ, Aiden lets me pass.

Beneath the shade of the mountain, the second gate stands open to an empty road. Behind the barrier I spy Aiden working the keys of the register. An arcane device, the register allows the guards to curate the pedestrian traffic entering The Day. I cannot say how it works, but I am confident that it does so. Rumour has it that the Dawn Wall guard have more effective registers, that even the most capable and connected shadows cannot fool.
Having no desire to pass the Dawn wall, however, I greet Aiden warmly, “Blessed Harvest to you Captain Williams”

“Well, I’ll be, good to see you Lucas!” he steps out from his post, pulling me in for a mighty hug, “How’s the family?”

“Olivia tends her choir of angels, Presto should be her name.” I reply, playfully rotating my shoulder to jape at the strength of the embrace, “My heart sings a lament for my darling Amelia and her dashing husband, as I’ve not seen them had the pleasure of their company for a measure of weeks.”

Aiden nods sympathetically, “Still talking that fool poetic lingo of yours, I see. I assume you’re here for the benefits of my station rather than the pleasure of my company?”

“You wound me fair Captain!” I cry in pained sorrow, handing him the writ with a wink, “But you have me right, old friend”

Aiden engages me in small talk as the register records Elijah’s writ, I’m ashamed that I don’t give the conversation the whole of my focus but my mind has already departed on its mission. A baronet ranks hardly above a knight in the aristocracy, while not a true member of the peerage their home will be afforded certain securities which may prove dangerous if I underestimate them.
I bid Aiden farewell before making my way towards the river. Excitement building with every step further into danger.

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