What Stifles The Stifling?Mature

2.1
A young wife sobs just inside the gate.  A warden offers sympathy behind a glass eye.

Maron was escorted by one of the guards, newly relieved by a stumbling soldier, the scent of midday drunkenness apparent to both the young administrator and the slip-mouthed regular.  They walked a bit in awkward ceremony as they left the sun-scorched surface behind them.  The air was naturally cooler in this place if only for brief moments as they passed corridor after corridor, billowing out blasts of intense heat.  The ironworks.  Maron had expected cries of anguish and turmoil, instead he was greeted with silent toil.  The depression was palpable.

"You're name, guard?"

"Dawmas, sir." the guard replied said in a more formal tone than before, almost alien to the skipping Yrasi tongue of Quarter Harbor.

"Dawmas, when did you last see Director Lohta?  I must speak with him."  Maron clenched his fist in his pocket, reminding himself of the silver knot and his purpose here.

"Lahto isn't the type to see to these things himself." Dawmas the guard said.

"I was not under the impression that he had a choice."  Maron reaffirmed.

"Yes, of course.  But..." Dawmas trailed off, searching for a way to explain.  "He often entertains guests at this time of day."

"Guests?"  Maron was not comprehending.

The guard started to pull at his coat with an exposed finger of a sun-touched hand, as though to remove the coat altogether.  Soon they passed an open mess room, where the guard led them in briefly and he could remove the burdensome attire.  "Allow me a moment, sir.  These rooms can get rather uncomfortable with metal on."

Maron waited in the mess room as Dawmas disappeared to a smaller chamber.  For a moment, Maron inspected the conditions, not solely to maintain his guise as an auditor, but out of habit.  He was, after all, predisposed to the work.  He counted the tables and chairs.  Tallied the plates and utensils, most in dire need of bathing in the shore.  He plucked at some recreational instrument that seemed largely untouched.  The quaff cellar was empty.  Everything in order.

Dawmas returned, brown face exposed through a wide neck tunic and bore a welcome grin in spite of the condition of the place.

The End

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