The first thing Barrett and Kail did in Mahne after securing rooms in an inn was to check out the local situation. While Barrett would have always done the same actions with regards to Kail, some foreknowledge of the situation might have helped things go more smoothly.
The first news Barrett checked out was word from Crilen. Killing three people in the streets had caused a huge uproar. The Macaio clan’s influence in the area was strong enough that the details had been blurred, but there had been dozens of people around for Barrett’s declaration so the general details of that were among the various versions of the story. As Kail had said, Mahne and Crilen were not on great terms, and Mahne had refused to uphold a bounty on Kail and Barrett. That might have seemed obvious because they weren’t arrested when they came through the gates, but it could have been subterfuge. That wasn’t Barrett’s strong point, even back when he was a noble. Maybe it would have made him a bad noble… but it was better to be a bad noble than an evil one.
Barrett was glad they were safe, at least from the city itself. He had no idea how to find black market bounties, but he would bet there were some- or would be, if they were a bit slow in setting it up. There was possibly already one on Barrett from the Silver Blade, though he wasn’t sure if it would have reached Mahne. It was possible the Silver Blade had already taken note of what happened in Crilen, but it was also possible they were busy dealing with other things. They didn’t have an infinite number of members, after all… and they were down a half dozen or so third tier members. They had other things to do than just hunt Barrett, after all. Hopefully.
“Why are we stacking boxes?” Kail asked Barrett.
“It’s good for you, and we need the money.”
“Why? It’s easy and boring.”
“If it’s easy, you aren’t stacking enough boxes. Think of it as body training. In addition, it’s humility training. Even fallen nobles have to be willing to do honest work, even if it’s manual labor.” Barrett slid a pile of boxes toward Kail, “Remember, keep it steady. We don’t want to break anything.”
Kail bent his knees to reach the bottom of the boxes… then frowned when he couldn’t pick up the stack easily. Even so, his face strained and soon he was standing properly, walking with determination.
Barrett nodded. Good. Kail got it. They could have taken missions out of the city, but Barrett wanted a solid week or two of rest to finish healing his spine. It was progressing nicely, and he was fairly certain it would make a full recovery- or at least close enough to only require a small amount of medicine to go over the last hurdle.
Barrett had found the job through a few well-placed coins to beggars. They had nothing else to do but watch and listen, and if they didn’t know something they could at least direct him closer. Barrett had a lot of sympathy for beggars, having been reduced to basically their level when staying with his cousin and aunt. Sure, there were a few dishonest beggars around, but those he saw here were basically unable to work due to being sick or crippled. It was a nearly-inevitable result in cities of any size.
Barrett hadn’t wanted to take work away from anyone else- and nobody wanted a worker who only planned to work for a week, no matter how efficient they might be. In most cases, anyway. They just happened to arrive at the time a new warehouse had just opened and the owners- the Kaleo Blacksmith Guild- had just received many new shipments without being able to ship out some orders as they had expected. Thus, warehouses needed filling and reorganizing at the same time, and they were short on hands.
It had been arranged that Barrett and Kail would be paid by the job instead of daily. That had taken some work to convince them, ending with Barrett picking up a crate that would normally have required them to wheel over a crane to place on a stack.
Large crates were hard to balance… but Barrett could shift his center of gravity to wherever he wanted. It was almost effortless now. Alnherr would have been proud. Barrett wanted to get back to Stredo as soon as was reasonably safe, but for that they needed some money for travel. Sure, they could survive in the wilderness on their own as they had proved but it was better to not need to. Besides, traveling made training harder without the right setups, and Barrett didn’t have that.
The new warehouse was massive. Even with Barrett and Kail doing the work of a dozen men and other workers, they were still only about two-thirds done by the fifth day. Barrett actually wished there were even more work. It was good training, especially for Kail… and the pay wasn’t bad. The manager was also a very competent fellow, and treated the workers well. He pushed them to work hard, but also organized people to avoid accidents. They even provided a decent lunch… though not nearly so plentiful as Barrett might have liked. However, most people didn’t have the appetite of a third tier warrior.
Suddenly, Barrett set down a stack of boxes with a thud. “Boss!” Barrett called.
The manager, Iokua came around the row of crates that was blocking them off. He glanced around, then gestured to the pile of boxes in the middle of the walkway, “What the hell is this?”
“I’ll take care of that in a moment. There are some people sneaking around out back, and it doesn’t sound good.”
“Out back?” The manager raised an eyebrow, “When did you see them?”
“I didn’t see them. I heard them,” Barrett tapped his ear. “I still hear them. No time to explain. Send a couple guards around the outside clockwise, and I’ll go with you the other way. We should hurry.”
Iokua frowned at Barrett for half a moment before turning, “Let’s go then.” Barrett followed him to the entrance, “You two! Do a quick patrol around the building!” He gestured the direction the guards should go, “You, come with me!” he called over another guard. They quickly paced around the short end of the warehouse and turned the corner into the alleyway. “Well damn,” the manager shook his head, “I was hoping you were wrong.”
In front of them were a handful of thuggish looking people, carrying large flasks of oil. It was clear they were oil, because one of them had just been poured against the side of the warehouse. Another thug was just starting to attempt to create a spark. Then one of them noticed they had been spotted, and they turned to run in different directions, with one of them running directly toward Barrett while pulling out a dagger.