Adventures of Carsomus Limus, Mint Surety, V. I


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I. The Man

I was in The Sack, a tavern so poor it had to steal its sign from a merchant’s shop, trying to nurse my drink as long as possible. It was a cold winter in Cyrodiil, so cold there was even snow on the ground, and few still living could remember the last time it snowed in the capital. My fortunes had not so much come and gone as vanished and fled. The Sack didn’t have a fireplace, but you got there from a narrow stairway into another house’s basement, and the walls kept the worst of the cold out. I’d found three septims in the gutter, and was hoping I’d have a better night than the last, even if it meant staying awake and drinking what tasted like spoiled beer mixed with dishwater.

The rest of the clientele were of a like mind. The bartender grumbled and kept going from table to table asking if anyone wanted another drink. He’d glare at each of us in turn as we declined, but he knew we’d have to finish eventually, so he didn’t kick anyone out.

The few new arrivals opened the door as little as possible and came in quietly, so we were all surprised when the door slammed open. There in the doorway stood a man, an Imperial, wearing a banker’s vest, fingerless leather gloves, and huge goggles. A few people spoke up, most of the saying something like, “Hey, close the—”

The stranger scanned the room slowly, settling on my table. He shut the door and strode toward me. “You! What’re you!”

I thought he must be asking who I was. “I’m Rascien, a Breton who—”

“Beggar?” he asked, loudly, pointing his bare fingertip at me. “Thief? Outcast?”

“No, no, I’m a writer. A failed writer. You see, I was fired from the paper. I’d only taken the job because my publisher in Rihad hadn’t sent any royalties for months, and while I was waiting for—”

“Perfect!” He turned, spinning on his heel all the way around and then some until was facing the door. “Follow!”

How could I not follow him? And so I did, right out into the cold and the snow.

“Who are you? And what do you need me for?” I asked. I wasn’t sure whether to expect an answer.

“Carsomus Limus,” the man said, “Mint Surety. My Witness died, and I need another. You’re an honest man, are you not? If not, it will go badly for you.”

“As a writer,” I said, “I am naturally a liar. But I’m as honest as most men in other affairs.”

Carsomus spun again, all the way around and then some, the tails of his jacket flying out almost horizontally. He appraised me. “I hope you last the night, at least.” And he spun around again and kept marching.

I asked him where we were going and what a Mint Surety was, but he dismissed all my questions with a wave of his fingerless glove. I was freezing, hugging myself with my hands in my armpits. Carsomus seemed unaffected by the cold. I began to worry. With the way he was dressed, he could be the Mad God, leading me to some terrible, unbearable revelation.

We came to a large, featureless building and Carsomus walked up to a door. Or rather, a depression in the otherwise featureless wall. There was no door handle and no obvious lock. I couldn’t quite see what Carsomus was doing, but there was now a dark opening in the wall, and he stepped inside and vanished.

What could I do, but follow?

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