“Look, I told you. Manor’s shut. The master isn’t taking visitors.” The oselan was dressed curiously, for a butler. Most weren’t clad in leather.
“Mm. They really aren’t, are they?” The leader of the men barged in the door and past the halfling, his three black-clad lackeys in tow. “Love what you’ve done with the place,” he said, proceeding further into the house. “We were ever so sorry to hear about Count Rosewind’s passing, though I’m sure the new owner will be a much…better fit for the city.” He flashed a smile. “What was it? Third cousin four times removed?”
“Look, my master ain’t pay me to let people barge in here unannounced, alright? You four best be on your way before I…call the guards.” The words felt dirty in Lyle’s mouth.
“Oh, no trouble. You call the guards. I’m sure they’d be very interested to find out what’s going on here, no?”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t be fucking coy with me, kid.” The leader bent down to Lyle’s eye level. “We know who you are. Bust into the Snakes, didn’t you?”
“Look I don’t know what the fuck you’re on about, I’m the fucking butler, alright? Master’s not taking guests.”
The leader smiled. “Oh, but he will. The Ashen Man wants an audience. You’ve got till Halfmoon 1st, and maybe then we can work out an agreement. Otherwise, we slit your throats while you sleep. Clear?”
Lyle clenched his fists, his small mouth tight. “Fuck off.”
The men chuckled. “Temper on this one, eh? Listen, stunt, we run this town. Ain’t shit happens here without our say-so, and even less without us knowing. We know who you are—bust into that warehouse, returned Windweaver’s stock. You’re capable, we—”
“Can I help you, sirs?” An eloquent voice came from the staircase, where a well-dressed gentleman stood. Blonde haired and blue eyed, adorned in finery, with a rapier dangling jauntily from his hip. The Ashers wheeled round to face the newcomer.
“I’m the honourable Lord Silas Rosewind, keeper of this manor – and you?” The man descended the stairs, almost dancing his way down them, before smiling and bowing. The intruders looked at one another, visibly confused.
“We’ve got a message from the Ashen Man, he wants an audience.”
“The Ashen Man….Ashen Man…” Lord Rosewind stroked his chin. “I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with such an individual. But he’ll have his audience, if he so desires. I’ll be in touch.”
The men looked at one another. “No, that’s not how it w—he’ll be in touch with you.”
The lord of the manor flashed a quick smile. “Yes, well, I’ll be in touch. Thank you for dropping by, I trust it won’t happen again, now. Safe travels.” Lord Rosewind ushered the four black-clad ruffians towards the door and out into the streets of the city, the men seemingly too taken aback to offer much resistance. Lyle turned to Rosewind as he shut the door behind them.
“Can you stop fucking doing that? She won’t go for it.”
The tiefling turned and smiled, pointed teeth grinning at the halfling. He shrugged.