Seymour de Winter had lived in Brysail for all of his life—all of it he could remember, at least. He couldn’t be certain about the first few months of it, and there was no one to ask. The folks at the orphanage didn’t know where he had come from, only that he had appeared on the doorstep during the bitter winter of 1194, wrapped in a burlap blanket. But that didn’t matter. Not really. Brysail was home.
It was a thriving metropolis, the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of the Southlands. No fewer than five hundred thousand people resided within its boundaries, five hundred thousand people scrabbling and sinking and prospering, five hundred thousand people with wants and needs and aspirations, five hundred thousand people to watch and study and document. Five hundred thousand potential criminals and five hundred thousand potential victims. There was always demand for a detective in the city of Brysail.
And he loved it. He loved its narrow streets and old stone buildings, its twisting alleyways and slanting signs. He loved the way the lights and lanterns cast their yellowish glow on the smoke-stained sky by night. He loved the clatter of horseshoes on the uneven cobblestones. He loved the sight of the Murkintir River in the morning, how it caught the sun as it crawled by and sparkled so genuinely that one might forget that it was mud-choked and smelled of sewage.
He could see it now through the gaps in the buildings, this low, creeping, beautiful, black serpent of midnight. It had caught the moon in its margins, the golden orb’s warped reflection shimmering in the silent ripples of the river’s polluted water. He watched it, waiting patiently for Henry to catch his breath after his laughing fit, and considered its ancient, living darkness.
Alasdair and Mialina, declaring their desire to return quickly to the inn and go to sleep, had gone ahead, leaving Seymour and Henry alone with the city.
“Are you in any hurry?” Seymour asked Henry when the mage had recovered.
The Aechyed shook his head. “Care to take a detour?”
Seymour shrugged. “Walk around. See the city.”
“In the dark?”
“Of course. That’s when it is the most alive, after all.”
“Might as well, I suppose.”
Seymour grinned. “Good man. Come, your lordship—we have a fair bit of ground to cover.”