Seymour had been to Waelyngar before. That time, however, he had been in town to put people in the underground penitentiary, rather than breaking them out. It was a case of multinational organized crime, and he had been needed to testify.
It had been two years now since that occasion, but not much had changed. The city on the hill was just as he remembered it: calm, and tidy, with just a hint of a divine glow hovering at its edges when the sun struck it just right. It had none of Brysail’s roughness, none of its dirty recesses, and few signs of wear and tear. It was a very proper sort of city—prim, even—sitting atop its high rock, all white limestone and flowerboxes, looking out over the pristine lands around it. Perfect in every way, shape and form.
It was a lovely façade.
Seymour’s feet had started downhill, so that was where he followed them. Past a bakery, a hat shop, and a tailor’s he strode, Henry following him at first, then walking alongside him.
“In Brysail,” he began without warning, “there used to be an old watch tower, on a little island in the middle of the Murkintir. It guarded the city’s aquatic entrance, you might say—a sort of western gate. A beautiful structure it was, sandstone, I think, but in varying colors. Brown and orange and yellow and red. It was taken out of use a few centuries ago, but the city still sent workers out to maintain it annually. Kept it in immaculate condition, at least superficially.
“Four years ago,” Seymour continued. “It just toppled over.”
“It had a wooden foundation. In the damp ground, it simply rotted away. Turned to fibrous, worm-eaten mush.”
“I see,” Henry contributed.
“You’re wondering why I’m telling you this, no?”
Henry shrugged. “I am,” he admitted.
“Good. Continue to wonder, your lordship. It’ll do you well.”
They had come into a residential area. The streets were now lined with low, white, thatch-roofed houses with small plots of land in front, mostly used as gardens or as pecking grounds for chickens.
“Seymour?” Henry asked.
“Why did you become a detective?”
Seymour sighed, tucking his hands into his pockets, and looked toward the sky. “That’s a long story.”
“I have time.”
The Aechyed sat down on a rock wall and gestured for Henry to join him. “Very well. On one condition.”
“A fair trade. I tell you my story, you tell me yours.”