The curiosity shop is in the Old Quarter on Truce, and it’s very, very old. Dates back four thousand years, according to its owner. How he came into possession of it is something no one can agree on. I heard from a Riv that it had been won in a game of triangle two-hundred years ago, but Lyan told me the owner had bought it for two drinks and an imaginary spaceship three-hundred years ago. If you asked the owner, he would just smile knowingly, and wink.
I entered to the clear ring of a bell. The shop was cluttered, with little figurines and blinking devices covering every inch of the shelves and posters plastered all over the walls, but it seemed deserted.
Suddenly there was a nasally voice from the back of the shop, where I couldn’t see. “Forgive me Kraz na Karan. I’ll be with you in a moment.”
No one knows much about him. Only that he’s a Sillak, that he’s short and fat with fur made white by age, that he’s owned a curiosity shop for as long anyone can remember, and that he knows things.
He opened his arms in greeting. “Kala my dear, I haven’t seen you since that unfortunate business at Octars.”
I didn’t embrace him, of course. “It’s been too long Greenstone. I need to find someone.”
His face, and arms, fell. “No one ever seems to want to just talk,” he said as he bustled over to close the shutters, “Everyone is always looking for this person or that person, but it’s never Greenstone they’re looking for.” He turned the shop sign from to ‘closed’. “Now, who do you want?”
“Laaros Reeowin,” I said, before adding “The slaver.”
“Wouldn’t want to fly in on Laaros Reeowin, the Knight from Green Groves, would we now?” he said as he approached a poster of some ancient politician, “Though our good friend the former slaver is a Knight as well, these days.”
What the fuck was this? “Former slaver? Knight? How in the name of the King does that happen?”
Greenstone pulled the poster aside and began entering numbers to the lock of the safe behind. “Our man found himself good friends with the new baron of New Age, who magnanimously knighted him and gave him a letter of marque.”
“What did they bond over? Torture and murder?” This changed nothing.
“Triangle,” he said, pulling a data chip from the rows of hundreds inside the safe, then slamming it shut. “Sir Laaros is now a respectable privateer, raiding shipping over Neo Zion for the profit and glory of New Age, and their benefactors in Greeosta-Leeona of course.”
I gestured towards the data chip. “Flight records, right? How much?”
After some haggling, I paid him ten-thousand silear, and made to leave, data chip secured in my pocket.
“You know, you’re not the first person to come asking about Laaros Reeowin these two months,” said Greenstone as I put my hand on the door knob.
I slowly pulled my arm back. “Who?” I asked, reaching for my wallet.
“No, no,” he said with a false bow, “This is for our friendship. Six weeks ago, I was visited by a Canthin who asked about Sir Laaros. He wouldn’t say who he worked but…” he grinned and tapped the side of his head, “I have my ways.” The smile disappeared and he looked straight at me. His eyes were very old and I could tell he was very serious. “The Silver Swords want him Kala. They’ve rebuilt their numbers to over four-thousand hulls, and something tells me Fury Kreeoa would take a Kraz’s head over a deserter’s.”
I laughed. “He calls himself ‘Fury?’ I wonder if he really thinks it’s intimidating. Did you give this Mella the records?”
Greenstone shrugged. “He had coin. The Silver Swords will be flying straight for him.”
I took a pace forwards, and looked his dead in the eye. “I doesn’t matter. At Octars his father had ten-thousand hulls and twice the tactical brain, and he still lost a fifth of his fleet and his own head. “
Now Greenstone gave a low, rasping laugh. “Do you really think that a battle thirty years ago will help your fifty ships defeat four-thousand?”
I stopped. “Kreeoa won’t send his entire fleet for the sake of a hundred deserter vessels.”
“Won’t he? My sources say that he is a very angry young man, as the name suggests. In fact,” Greenstone moved across to the shop counter, “There’s a slave I think you would be very interested in.”
“We don’t do slaves,” I snapped.
“Of course not. I misspoke.” He opened the till and put the cash in. “A former slave. Quirus Lain, a Zionite, who fled from the Swords at Krees Whole about a year ago. He was the personal slave of old Teerow Kreeoa for about thirty years before Octars, and has been the same for Fury since then.” He looked at me earnestly. “You’ll find him with Ral of the House of N'thrak on Raw Ot Dne at the edge of the system. Speak to Quirus, Kala. Speak to him and go back to Kraznus. I have no wish to see you dead.”
“I’ll think about it,” I said, then left the shop.
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