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Inigo Carivelli – Turn 3


INIGO STRODE THOUGHTFULLY down The Highway away from Severin's, his mind in a veritable turmoil of idea. Despite the multitude of subjects around which his thoughts sought to turn, ever thrusting them from the fore was the image of the great Emporium, its minarets, bays, elephants and tilework billowing boldly forth and sucking the will from his concerns about Darkev. And twisted in somehow with the building was the notion of Etta Severin, her beauty and its barely distinguishable at times. By thrusting this mighty erection up into the Sahelan skyline, he would truly be showing her his potency!

The bag of coin weighing heavy in his pocket, he boldly entered the premises of Runyard's letting agency. He had come here on first arriving in Sahela, but had been mortified to realise {much to the amusement of the clerk who had served him} that all the quarters available were well beyond his meagre budget. He had ended in Mistress Chezzle's flea-pit via a chance contact in a tavern, and was now keen to quit it as readily, for more suitable accommodation. It was remarkable how much difference the consciousness of {relative} wealth brought to the way a man was treated: now the clerk cheerfully pressed a handful of slips describing various sets of rooms into his hand, and offered him a seat while he perused them.

He was disappointed initially to find that his ideal studio - spacious, light drawing-room, commodious bedroom, parlour for entertaining visitors - was still well beyond his price range, at five hundred or more guilders a month. It seemed he would have to remain content with one room for the time being. Still, here was a fine-seeming one: a garret, but large, with its own fireplace, and windows all along one wall. It was in Snake Street, not far from the Bull's Breath tavern. The landlord was listed as a Master Percale. Well, there was no time for delay: he had a short enough space as it was to prepare such a large set of drawings. 'Clerk! I'll take this one!'


RUBBING HIS EYES that night, Inigo was well pleased with his new dwelling. The large window-space cast good light onto his new draughting-board, and the chatter from the tavern on the corner filtered up in a pleasingly muffled way: enough to stay in touch with the outside world, not enough to disturb. Master Percale was a curious chap: nervous in the extreme, he had done little more than wave Inigo hastily upwards to the third-floor doorway that was his. The lowest two floors were occupied by Percale himself, and the two second-floor chambers were held by 'two persons in business', according to Runyard's clerk. Neither had yet returned from their 'business', whatever it was.

How frustrating to have so short a time to realise his thoughts onto paper! And he would have to attend the Green Room on Monday, besides visiting the site. Ach! Press on!

An house or so later he was distracted by a curious, repetitive sequence of sounds from directly below him. It consisted of a slow, protracted rattling, as though dragging a long chain. This was followed by a pause, and then a swish-chop noise, itself followed by a bump. After a minute or so's silence, the sequence would start again. This was repeated a dozen times before Inigo shook himself and re-applied himself to his work. It must be his right-hand neighbour underneath.

Around midnight he descended, to take some fresh air and stretch his legs in the street. The night was clear and mild, and patrons of the Bull's Breath were standing around on its pavement. It was of the better class of hostelry, tied to the new Oldcastle brewery. As Inigo stood on the step of his lodging, breathing deeply and looking up into the stars, he was slapped lightly on the back.

'You're the new lad upstairs, eh?' It was a round-faced man in middle years, with a cheery smile and rather unpleasant rancid-smelling breath. He was clad in good enough clothes, much like Inigo's own. 'Come to join our little family, eh?'

Inigo blinked, and offered his hand. 'Inigo Carivelli, sir.'

'Gabriel Betterwyne, sir - and delighted to make your acquaintance! "Shall we be more as brothers than neighbours", eh, as the poet suggests?'

Inigo had no idea to which poet Betterwyne was referring, but smiled and nodded knowingly.

'I judge you an educated man, Master Carivelli, and a Samarindan by your accent - am I right? Our dear Master Percale tells me you are an architect by trade. I am Sahela born and raised, a humble civic functionary by day, on the staff of the Guild Council, but by night - ha! - "I smith fine gold from the dews of the night", eh? By which I mean I am a writer, of course.'

'Indeed? How... interesting. What do you write?' Inigo judged it best to show politeness at least to his amiable neighbour.

'Oh, pish, all sorts - poetry, plays, novels, that's me. And advertising copy.' He struck an attitude, one hand thrust forth in a declamatory fashion like an Ancient Lapangi senator. '"Margrave's Meats, for All your Eats!" That was mine.'

'Fascinating!'

'Can I tempt you to a swift bevvy, Master Carivelli?'

'Dear Master Betterwyne, I would love to, but my work is most pressing just at this moment... I really should return to it.'

'Ah well! Another time, perhaps.' As Inigo Mounted back into the house, Betterwyne shouted after him 'Oh, and don't worry about Foxx, my dear lad - your other neighbour, I mean - he's quite harmless! Try not to meet his eyes, that's all.'


THE NEXT MORNING Inigo rose early, ignoring the faint ache behind his eyes which suggested otherwise. It was important that he spy out the warehouse site in daylight before committing too much to appear: it would be most vexing to find that it was overlooked by some higher building, for example, or that the approach was too narrow to allow the flood of humanity he proposed to accommodate.

Sahela's docks were no distance at all from the city's centre, as befitted a people whose lifeblood was trade. Unlike Samarinda, where the fisheries held pride of place and the odour of raw fish made striding the waterfront less than pleasant on a warm day {though those were few enough, in truth, that much further North}, here those who farmed the sea were tucked away in the North Bay, and the Grand Docks were reserved for merchant venturers. Here were stabled the coursers of Trimble and of Severin, and of the countless other traders who drew wealth from around the Wheel into the city's heart.

Severin's great warehouse was to be raised on the site of the former naval yard, which was still undergoing demolition, although all its business had now been moved to the new yard outside the city at Rookroost. The huge cranes which the shipwrights used to swing mighty beams and masts into place were still in place, defying the ant-like workers who toiled around their feet to clear the site. Would they be taken apart from the top down, or felled like so many giant trees, wondered Inigo. He wasted little enough time admiring the view, but at once fell to measurement and sketch-pad.

Rachel Trube, the young woman whom Severin had assigned to guide him around the site, watched inquisitively over his shoulder for a while but soon wandered off to chat with the foreman of the demolition gang. She returned frowning.

'What is it, Rachel?' She was a fine-looking woman - no Etta Severin, but then who was? - but she wore her wedding ring, and had turned it prominently around her finger when Inigo had greeted her with his customary kiss of the hand.

'Oh, some sort of delay, apparently. These docks! It's all about greasing the right hands. Half the gang have been taken off this job onto another, because someone else paid more than the city did to keep them.'

Inigo tutted sympathetically. 'Is that likely to delay our work starting?'

'Oh, no, I shouldn't think so. I'll tell the boss, and he'll lean on the Guild Council, or else he'll put a bit in himself. There's a man called Slippy Trace who runs most of these dock workers: he and the boss are on good terms. It's just business!'

To Inigo it seemed a curious way of going about things - in the mason trade, workers swore their master a sacred oath to finish the task they were set, come Pit or high water. But he seized the conversational opportunity. 'So Master Severin is a capable man, eh? A good employer to work for?'

'Oh, yes, the best!' Rachel's face shone. 'Look at how well I've got ahead. Two years ago I was a wages clerk, can you believe? And now I'm managing this acquisition. He really does reward capable people, and he's open with his purse if he thinks you're worth keeping.'

'He must be a very wealthy man...'

'You've seen his house, haven't you? He's not like a Davril Trimble class of wealth, but he's got such a lot in assets - and they mostly perform pretty well, too. I'd say he's in the top ten wealthy in the city.'

'Does he have much of a family?'

'Not any more: just Etta and the little one, Charisse. She's - what? Twelve now? Mistress Severin died four years back.'

'I met Miss Etta, briefly, at the house.'

'Oh, her! She's a one! Forever breaking one or other young man's heart...' she nudged him familiarly. 'Don't waste your time on that one! She just now broke off her betrothal with young Rogier Threlfall, and he slit his wrists over it - did you hear? Lucky to survive! And now she's taken up with Peter Pike, the Guild Council chairman's son.'

Inigo, frowning, changed the subject. 'Do you know of a woman called Mary Welch, who works for Master Severin?'

'Oh, yes, Mary, of course I do! She's the Chief Commander, the most senior of his ship captains. He's got about a dozen or so permanently employed, and she's the best. Her ship's the Take Back Plenty, part of the Filly convoy - they'll be leaving for Nevatan soon, I believe. They do say she's fearfully strict with her crew!'


THE REST OF Monday passed in further sketching, the traceries and arches of the main entrance swiftly taking shape under Inigo's darting pen. He was periodically disturbed by more curious noises: one was a prolong rising and falling ululation, with strong vibrato, coming from Master Betterwyne's room. Some sort of singing practice? His other neighbour, Foxx, whom he had yet to see, seemed to have laid aside whatever it was had diverted him the previous night and was now making a soft, metallic scraping noise which persisted in regular rhythm for the best part of an hour.

As evening fell Inigo stumbled from his roost, dishevelled and wild-eyed, grasping up his mantle to head for the Chancel of the Green Room. As he thumped down the stairs he caught the briefest glimpse of a small, hunched figure scuttling into the room underneath his own on the right - Foxx? There was just an impression of darkness and scuttle, before the door slammed.

The night was chill, and as Inigo strode through the streets he breathed deeply to allow the cold air to clear his head. A large bat flittered around his head, and he struck out at it to fend it squeaking off into the darkness.

The Chancel was busy, as usual for the Monday dedications. There were more people here than in Samarinda: there were no more than fifty enlightened masons in that city, whereas here there were more like eighty, or so it seemed. All men and women who worked on stone were admitted to the Outside Degree, of course, and swore the First Oath, but their membership privileges were slender and they were not entitled to attend these meetings. Only those who had suffered the rigorous examinations that attended entry to the First Circle could call themselves enlightened and participate in the dedications. Inigo himself had sped through the First Circle, but many capable masons remained there their lives long: for some reason, the providence of the Dramaturge or whatever, they were not gifted with the same eye for the High Harmony.

Martin Zord came over to grasp Inigo firmly by the hand as he stood in the antechamber, inspecting the crowd. 'Ah! My dear boy, how delightful to see you! Word has it you've received a most favourable commission, eh? Congratulations! Don't envy you at all, lad, not one bit!' There was nothing but sincere pleasure in his voice or face.

'Why, thank you, Master Zord, that's most kind. Is Mistress Flail here? I was hoping you might be able to kindly introduce me to her.'

'No, sorry, lad - poor Carrie's still laid up with her broken leg, she won't be out of bed for a while yet! But I can do the next best thing and introduce you to our great man Darkev, if you wish it.' He drew Inigo by the hand through the crowd, tossing out the odd word over his shoulder. 'That's Ephrain Weiss - fine fellow! Hello, Porl - this is Inigo Carivelli, young man from Samarinda - yes, that one! Your fame's spread, lad! And here we are...'

He drew Inigo up beside him, before a tall, handsome man with greying black hair, scrupulously well dressed, who was gazing out over the room in a bored fashion. He wore the green handkerchief of the Fourth Circle. 'Master Darkev! This is young Inigo Carivelli, see.'

Darkev took Inigo's hand with a firm, dry shake. 'Delighted to meet you, Master Carivelli. And delighted that our city can provide a home for a man rejected by his own.'

'Why, thank you, sir, The welcome I've had here has been most generous indeed.'

'I understand that Master Severin has commissioned you to work on the Kufrish Emporium?'

Inigo swallowed. 'That is correct, sir.'

'I see.' A moment of silence. 'Were you aware, sir, that the commission had been promised to my own workshop? And was then withdrawn in your favour?'

Martin Zord intervened. 'Now, see, Master Darkev, the lad won the contract fair and square, didn't he?'

Darkev bent his hooded gaze firmly on Inigo. 'Of that, Master Zord, I wish I could be as sure as you. Remember that we are speaking here of a proven murderer, a man in flight from justice! Master Carivelli, I have no wish to hold your... unfortunate... past against you, but I will most strongly hold your poaching of my contract against you. This is Sahela, my city. What hold you have over Master Severin I hesitate to guess. But I strongly suggest that you renounce the affair now, and return to work more fitting to your station. Perhaps in time you may rise to become worthy of such a project, but I pray that will be long after I am gone!'

 

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