Arise, Last Preview

“Enzo,” Maravek chided.  “Would you be so kind as to skip the grotesque parts?”  He shook his head, though a smile was upon his face.  As his young friend went on about his fever dreams, Maravek perused the baubles that Wylas had collected.  Carved scrimshaw in the shapes of various fish and birds were among the deceased’s more precious items.  Spools of fishing line were hidden here and there too, but he couldn’t find a rod or reel anywhere.  By the time Enzo first mentioned meeting the dreamwalker, Maravek had moved beneath the surface, scrutinizing the insides of the dresser.

When he tugged on the bottom drawer, he found some resistance.  A few taps on the side liberated it though, and his eyes sparkled at the sights inside.  He sorted through the various items—a playing card that had a single red diamond upon it, as well as the name of an establishment within the city; a gently folded piece of parchment that Maravek read and replaced; and a carved pipe that had a powerful, acrid aroma.  The only thing the dreamwalker took was the playing card.  He pushed the drawer shut and stood, making his way around the rest of the room.

“Your father didn’t smoke tobacco, did he?” he interrupted the quiet conversation.

“Years ago when he was on the fishing boats.”

“Only there?”

“He never brought it home.  He didn’t want the house smelling like that for me.”

Maravek displayed a polite grin.  “That’s more considerable than what can be said for very many people.  Hmm… Miss Sarah, it seems he and you were very close.  You mentioned that you never knew your mother, but did your father have anyone else that he cared for?”

Sarah sniffed and swept a stray hair from her face.  “There was a woman years before I was born, but she died well before I would have met her.”

“And his friends?  Were they all the folks he would sail with?”

“Just about.  They were all old like him, and many of them had passed on before him.”  She sighed then.  “I guess he didn’t really have much of a life outside of here.  He either carved his little statuettes, or he would read on the settee in the other room.  I… I wish I could be more help.  I feel like I didn’t know him as well as I thought.”

“On the contrary.  You’ve been instrumental in helping me understand the most important parts about him.  He loved you, and that’s what mattered most.”  He tapped his friend on the shoulder then, and urged him to rise.  “Come Enzo.  I’d like to take you up on another drink.  There’s much to think about.”

The younger lad made eye contact with the grieving woman for the first time, and she offered a meager smile.  He hesitated for a moment before turning back to her.  “If you ever need to talk, I own the Rusty Key.  It’s… it’s not a place that’s really worthy of you, but if you come by during off hours, it wouldn’t be so bad.  My father recently passed away as well.  I could be a good shoulder to cry on.”

Maravek watched as Sarah nodded and his friend lingered.  “Enzo,” he repeated.  At once the lad spun about, quick to follow the dreamwalker.  “Miss Sarah, if you learn anything more, you know where to find my associate,” he teased.  “I’ll be sure to bring any newfound knowledge to you as well.”

He did not tarry long, drawing from the room and saying nothing to the stern-faced woman in the sitting room.  Enzo averted his gaze as well, and it was not until they emerged outside that he took in a deep breath.

“You’d think she was a dragon with the way you just tried to sneak past her in there,” Maravek joked once the door was shut.

“Even more frightening,” Enzo said.  “So, back to the bar for another whisky?”

“Afraid not, my friend.  I have a lead already.  But Sarah doesn’t need to know about that.  If it doesn’t pan out, it would only cause disappointment.”

“Where did you get a lead?”

Maravek flashed the ace of diamonds at his companion.  “Wylas had a tricky drawer in his dresser.  Have you heard of this place?”

“Sure.  That’s the Red Room.  It’s just a short walk from here, right up against the north wall of the city.”

“It wouldn’t happen to be an opiate den, would it?”

Enzo arched an eyebrow.  “How would you know that from the card?”

“I didn’t, but with that card, I found a pipe.  Wylas wouldn’t hide them both unless they correlated.  And I can’t imagine him hiding tobacco from his daughter.”

“So we go to the Red Room then?”

Maravek shook his head.  “I’ll head there on my own.  I can assure you, after going there, I’ll need dreams of my own.”

With a smirk on his face, Enzo nodded.  “I’ll have a room ready for you upon your return.  Do you need help finding the place?”

“I know what to look for,” the dreamwalker assured.  “I’ll see you soon.”

Enzo nodded and shook his friend’s hand, watching for a moment as the fellow faded between the alleyways.  He couldn’t shake that smile.  If anyone could deduce the mystery that unfolded in Versali-Virai, it was Maravek.

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Michael DeAngelo

Michael is the creator of the Tellest brand of fantasy novels and stories. He is actively seeking to expand the world of Tellest to be accessible to everyone.

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