The shadows were long by the time they left the meeting. At the end of the block, a lamplighter was finishing up his job on the street. It was going to be another warm late spring night.
As Tomas made his way to the bank, he passed few people on the streets. Most were home, eating dinner, cleaning away the day or getting ready for the next. A guard patrol went past in the other direction, four guards with spears and a sergeant, obviously not expecting any trouble in this district. Tomas’ military instincts grumbled nonetheless.
The bank was a plain stone building, single story, with a weathered sign showing a few stacks of gold coins. The windows had metal bars on them, and the door was thick hard wood with metal bands. One obvious guard in Vittorini colors leaned against the wall next to the door, seeming relaxed to a casual observer, but alert to a trained eye. The guard watched Tomas curiously as he moved up the street.
Tomas walked up to the guard directly. “Excuse me, but by chance is Mistress Vittorini still here? The bank is clearly closed, so I guess not, but I thought I might ask.” Tomas was polite, but he noted the casual stance of the guard.
It occurred to him that appearances might be deceiving, but generally guard duty was one of the least desirable tasks for a soldier. Particularly when whatever was being guarded had a low likelihood of being targeted. It was generally just that sort of lax attitude and assumption that made it possible for clever thieves to take advantage. He recalled the fate of the Falcan soldiers that had displayed this sort of ennui, in the woods. In made his face tighten with disgust and anger, but outwardly it was little more than small frown. It was certainly not his place to dress this man down.
The guard took quick glances up and down the street as Tomas approached him, then stood upright, arms loose. At Tomas’ question, he shook his head, “Naw, she’s home for the night. Be back hour or so after sunrise.”
Tomas nodded, and thanked the man, then walked off toward the nearest tavern. His belly was rumbling, and he needed to think about what he would do tomorrow.
The nearest tavern had a simple sign with a picture of a tankard on it. Inside, smoke from a fire and several pipes hung lazily in the air. Several long table and short tables crowded the floor and a long bar with stools by it sat against the right wall. Many of the tables had game boards on them – Stones, Draughts, Chess. The place was barely half-full, and few eyes turned towards Tomas as he entered, but went back to their own business after a moment.
From behind the bar, a rail thin man offered, “Welcome to Flat Tankard. Take a seat anywhere.”
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