I turned up the collar of my jacket, then shoved my hands in my pockets and shouldered my way through the crowd and onto the rough, slick sidewalk. I’d left my umbrella back at the office, although the snub-nosed .32 was sitting comfortably in my left pocket. The rain barely cut the smell from the tanning factories, much less the chemical plant and the fishing docks.
Dangerous neighborhood this, lots of nasty blokes and smelly workers. Well-dressed folks don’t do very well around these parts — the smart ones count themselves lucky when the worst is walking out with slightly less-nice finery. Not that it keeps them from having business down this way. Some legal, some not; some moral, some not; some ethical, some not. I’ve seen every combination down here, usually walking in my shadow. It’s most of my business after all, escorting the tony set down here and back home again. When I’m not running messages and packages for them instead.
Have to admit, I prefer the legal and ethical runs — most of the wealth set in this town came with the invaders and their new theology. Haven’t quite untangled it yet myself. I was making progress, escorting that speaker, priest, no missionary they called themselves — at least up until they thought they understood the neighborhood well enough to walk and talk down here by themselves.
I step out of the rain, into the stone outpost the lawkeeper’s arms work out of down here. The trainee staffing the desk fetches the deathspeaker for me and further down into the basement we go. She pulls open the drawer closest to the entrance for me and I lean over the corpse.
Throat sliced open from ear to ear and a tongue missing, but the face is untouched. Makes my job easier. I show the deathspeaker‘s my papers appointing me as the monied church’s speaker and sign her paperwork. The missionary will make it back to their sacred ground for burial. Wasteful practice the way they do it — ought to return to the earth direct or feed the local wildlife, in my opinion.
The new religion isn’t much liked around here.