Aeramin Firewind kept his head down as he walked through the darkened streets of Murder Row. He wore a deep cowl, and was grateful that even in afternoon, shadows blanketed the narrow streets here with the tall buildings looming above. The last thing he needed right now was to be recognized.
– Master knows lots of people here, yes?
– You could say that.
He frowned as he turned the corner down another dark alley. He had chosen to bring the imp today for its useful abilities. He had a powerful bind on it with a very strong link to him. What Aeramin saw, the imp, Rupyap, could also see, if Aeramin allowed him to. Aeramin could hear the imp in his mind, even over great distances. He’d gotten better at controlling the imp over the past months. He believed it would be the best for this job.
The second reason was he had been working with the imp over the past week on shape-shifting into a new form. Some mages were able to pull off disguises, and Aeramin saw no reason that the imp shouldn’t be able to. It hadn’t gone well at first but for the past two days, Rupyap had been able to shift into a new form. Aeramin had suggested a rat, or a snake. The imp had trouble with both, but eventually ended up somewhere in between. Rupyap’s furry, serpentine form was now curled up in Aeramin’s satchel. His short hind legs and longer forelegs were nothing like a rat’s at all, and the ears on the snake’s head definitely belonged to an imp. Despite his odd appearance, he was fast, faster than he was normally. Aeramin hoped that would work to his benefit now.
– You remember what to do?
– Find important papers, Master. Black Harvest paper. Summoner paper. I will look for them good. You will see.
– No Rupyap. No one sees. Find the important papers, but don’t get caught.
– Not get caught, yes. Find everything and bring to Master.
– Just important things. We’re here. Don’t make me wish I had brought Sarwyn.
He had considered it. The succubus could have copied Aeramin’s look in much less time that it took the imp to figure out how to turn into a snake rat with imp ears. It would have definitely been able to distract the other elf long enough for Aeramin to search for what he wanted on his own, but he really did not want anyone to believe he had gone back to prostitution. Not to mention, a lot of the plan would have have to rely on luck. The succubus would have to get the elf into another room and distract him. The front door would have to be left unlocked, and then if that all worked out well, Aeramin would have to get out before being discovered. No, bringing the imp was less risky and simpler.
He knocked on the door. It opened a crack as the other elf peered out at him. Aeramin pushed back his cowl just enough for his face to show. “It’s been a week.”
The door opened further. “Come in. Sit.”
Aeramin took that as an encouraging sign that the other elf had found something to share. He knew he would withhold some information which would only be available at a higher price. Kestrae had given him some, but that was to keep the apartment. He had wisely brought only a couple of gold pieces with him. He sat at the table as the other elf went to another room.
– Money, Master?
Aeramin kicked his satchel slightly as he put it on the floor next to the chair.
– Pay attention. You need to go to the room he’s in now to look, after he comes back.
– Black Harvest. Summoners. Yes, Master.
The other elf returned now with an envelope. He sat, and while reaching in to take out the papers, he said, “I was able to find out a bit on the name you gave me. Not a lot. I don’t like dealing much with the undead.”
“Undead?” Aeramin felt the imp brush by his leg as the creature slipped out of the satchel.
The man nodded. “She was human before. She lived in Undercity until fairly recently. The last record of her is in Shadowmoon Valley in Outland.” He pushed the papers towards Aeramin.
Aeramin glanced through them quickly. Copies of records of travel and stays at inns. Another name appeared with hers on the most recent documents. “Did you find out anything about what she does? Who is her traveling companion?”
“They’re both summoners.” The elf’s ear twitched as he held out his hand, “I know a bit about the second one.”
“I’ve already paid you.”
The other elf frowned impatiently.
“I have nothing left to give you.”
“Then I have nothing else to say.” he said, pulling his hand back, and folding his arms.
“I gave you all of my rent money, and then some. I hope you have more to share about the Black Harvest.” Aeramin said.
The other elf frowned and sighed lightly. “I have a little. Wait here.”
– He’s coming back. Hide, but pay attention to where he goes. You might find what I want there.
There was no answer back from the imp as the elf disappeared into the other room. A moment later, the older elf returned with another envelope. “I know a little about them. I think you’re in over your head. You’d have been better off sticking to working the streets.”
“I’m not interested in your opinion.”
“Fair enough, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. The Black Harvest is a group of powerful summoners. They’ve met from time to time, and take meeting notes, though I’ve been unable to get my hands on any copies. People like them are very difficult to get any information on at all. However, word is, they’ve split into smaller research groups. The one you had me look up was sent to Outland.”
– He lies, Master. I find copies of notes.
Aeramin smiled slightly, containing his excitement in front of the other elf. “Any idea what they’re looking for?”
“I told you. Information is hard to come by for these types of people. If you want more, you need to pay more. I risk my life snooping around these types.”
– Keep looking, Rupyap. Hide if you hear him coming. I’ll summon you shortly.
“In that case, I guess we’re done. I hope, for the amount I paid, I can keep these copies?”
The man nodded. Aeramin picked up the envelopes, and put them in his satchel. He showed himself to the door, as the man watched. Just as he was about to leave the man called to him. “Firewind.”
“There’s another way you could pay. You’re still pretty, even with that scar.”
Aeramin paused in the doorway for a brief moment before turning and shaking his head. “I’m not for sale.” He closed the door behind him, and quickly made his way down the street. He ducked around a corner and cast his teleport spell to Shadowmoon Valley.
He appeared a short distance behind the inn, out of sight over a hill, but still close enough that if he yelled, he’d be heard. He quickly drew the imp summoning circle on the ground, and cast the spell to summon Rupyap to Shadowmoon Valley. The snake rat imp creature appeared, and shifted into his regular imp form. He held a variety of envelopes, and a bag.
“Master, I find it all!”
Aeramin took the envelopes and started looking through the papers inside. Copies of meeting notes, a journal– the bag had gold in it. Some of the envelopes seemed to have useless information in them.
“You weren’t supposed to take the gold.”
“But Master needed it!”
“And what is this? Why do I need information on this daughter of a tailor on the outskirts of the city?”
“The drawing of her is pretty, Master. I thought you would want it.”
Aeramin raised a brow at the imp before looking back at the important things Rupyap had managed to find.
“You did a good job, Rupyap, but do try to focus a little better next time.”
The imp grinned, “Yes, Master. Focus. I will!”