The Loom and Spindle (Vozhdya)

Oak planks form the walls and floor of this shop in Vozhdya Square. Light streams from two windows on either side of the door, and from a single window on the east wall of the shop. Near the east wall window stands a short fat belly stove, two wooden chairs, and a wooden stool. Next to the stove, is the entrance to the shop's workroom.
The back wall is covered with wood shelves stacked with fabric samples and finished clothing. A long wood counter runs in front of the back wall, leaving just enough room for one person to pass between shelves and the counter. A wood stool stands behind the counter. The west wall is empty save for a door leading to a set of stairs and two additional rooms.

The shop door swings open, and in from the cold steps the cloaked form of Surrector Gell Mikin. He closes the door behind himself, allows his eyes to adjust to the light of the shop, and then peers around, quietly scanning the occupants.

Kadiara's face is mostly hidden by her hair as she sits facing the warmth of the fire, back to the door. When she hears the door open again, she hunches over her teacup once more and sips from it, making it harder to see her face as she did when Rinsha arrived. The woman acts bashful, but she's full of excitement from the news that Althea -just- had time to deliver before the new arrival.

At the sound of the door opening, Althea glances up and sees a familiar figure. Trembling slightly, she stands and bows deeply to the Surrector. "Good Eve, Excellency," she says. "You honor my shop. How may I help you this eve?" She steps towards the man, hands at her sides, a wariness in her green eyes.

"You may help me," the Surrector says calmly, evenly as he watches Althea approach, "by telling me the whereabouts of your colleagues from the Guild."

Kadiara peeks back over her shoulder, through a lock of dark hair. She has only time to glimpse the man's necklace and that is more than enough for her to realize his identity. She is suddenly very still, though she does turn her face back to her cup. And there she sits, like someone focused upon warming themselves at the fire and nothing more.

Althea's brow furrows. "My colleagues, Excellency?" she asks. "I have many. Are you looking for anyone in particular? Mistress Rand next door is the Guild Mistress." Althea's voice is rapid as if her nervousness has taken over her tongue in an attempt to be as helpful as possible.

Gell Mikin tilts his head, a faint smile touching his lips. "Ah. Yes. Coyness. Often used to buy time to fabricate denials and alibis." He leans closer, waggling a finger at Althea. "My time is not for sale. Do not waste it. Do not insult my intelligence. You know *precisely* who I mean. It has not gone unnoticed that you have dropped their names in every watering hole from here to Hawk's Aerie."

Kadiara takes another sip from her cooling tea, using both hands to cup it. She keeps her head bowed as if she's sleepy and her cloak does much to obscure her body.

Althea takes a step back from the Surrector. "You're looking for the Finethreads?" she says, incredulity lacing her voice. "I don't deny I've been looking for them for near four months now, Excellency. I have had precious little hope until recently. I'm willing to tell you what I know, though." She pauses, gathering her thoughts. "I received a worn letter indicating they visited Wedgecrest at one time, a barkeep in Lightholder said he'd seen them, and just recently a carpenter told me he repaired their wagon sometime at the beginning of Shadowreach." She shrugs. "I am puzzled though, that this is of great interest to you."

Gell Mikin narrows his eyes. "Carpenter? Where?"

"Why, in Silkfield, Excellency," Althea replies, shifting her stance to one hip and visibly relaxing. "I went to deliver an order of clothes there and happened across him. A very able carpenter actually." She gestures to the shelves and desk in the room. "He made these for me." Althea's eyes, once wary, have become placid and even a touch warm.

"A carpenter based in Silkfield?" the Surrector inquires, lacing his fingers together in front of himself. "Tell me this man's name and how he came to associate himself with the Finethreads."

Kadiara simply sits and listens. Or, perhaps, she's dozing. The woman has gone very still and silent, but there's a sense of peace from her rather than fear.

Althea shakes her head. "No, you misunderstand, Excellency," she replies. "Master Cobble was in Silkfield to do work for the Baron, much like myself. As to how he knew the Finethreads, he told me they had passed through Aegisport and asked him to fix their wagon. I was going to go to Aegisport myself to see if anyone else had seen them. I hope they have wintered there, as the roads have been treacherous and Jessa is quite advanced in her years."

"Cobble," Gell Mikin replies, nodding curtly. "In Aegisport. Yes, well, that would seem to fit." He inclines his head, brow knitting. "Had your carpenter friend not aided and abetted these Shadow-Touched creatures, they most certainly would have wintered in Aegisport, making the task of capturing them far easier. No matter. This carpenter will be questioned. Your friends will be found." He lifts his chin, the severed fingers on his necklace dancing lightly. "Thank you for your time."

Kadiara nibbles on her lower lip, but keeps her face turned away from the Surrector. She draws in a soft breath, but remains silent.

Althea takes a step back, hand to her chest. "Shadow Touched," she says. "What do you mean, Surrector?" Her breath quickens and a flash of anger moves across her face. "You have thrown that term quite a few times in my shop."

"Not without reason, as it turns out," Mikin says, smiling darkly. "The Finethreads were sighted emerging from Wildling Wood, along the Lightholder River near Silkfield. The punishment for entering that Shadow-tainted territory is death, Mistress Weaver. For months, they have been fleeing from the Church of True Light. They were chased by a Shadowscourge from Wedgecrest along the shore of the Fastheld River." His voice grows softer as he adds, "The women disappeared. He, on the other hand, was found impaled on a shardwood tree stump near the river, a few miles east of Aegisport."

Kadiara gives a little shudder at the fate of the Scourge.

Althea's hand goes to her mouth. "By the Light," she whispers. Her gaze become unfocused, her face grim. "This has become more serious." She shakes her head. "I cannot believe Jessa and Alana could be a part of this. But Master Cobble did say they had come along the River." When she looks up again at the Surrector, there is a mixture of concern and pain in her eyes.

"A strong man, Master Cobble?" the Surrector ponders, touching an index finger to his chin. "Willing, perhaps, to kill on behalf of the Finethreads?"

Kadiara slumps just a little further in her chair, her next breath just a tad uneven as if she's fighting tears or fear. Or both.

Althea's hand drops. "Do you see shadows where there may yet be Light?" she remarks, exasperation in her tone. "Aegisport is filled with a great many who would kill for no more than a bit of reputation. Master Cobble is a /gentle/ man as ever I had known. He simply repaired their wagon, and with great haste at they command, I understand. He was as puzzled as I was at their arrival and hasty departure." Althea puts a hand to her forehead, a tired expression on her face.

"No doubt he would have confided in you with such a damning confession as murder, Mistress Weaver, for your charms are undeniable," Gell Mikin deadpans. He then crinkles a smile. "A more thorough interrogation from someone less amiable may bear more fruit. You have been most informative. If I have further use for you, I will certainly be in touch." He turns, giving only the briefest of glances to Kadiara, and then approaches the door.

Althea belatedly bows to the Surrector. "Good travels, Excellency," she says. "And Light keep you..."

Kadiara does her best to keep up the bashful peasant routine, gaze locked to her teacup. She's stiff from lack of movement, but is too tense to relax just yet.

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