When Sprill realized his tenants were either sleeping, hiding, or vacant, he gave a soft grunt of irritation, produced a keyring and turned the lock. Adair followed the landlord and moved through the small, sparse room to the window and peered out into the cluttered lane below, spying only a grim, gray-clad man, conversing with two mailed sentries of the paramount, who stood before a swelling crowd, barely visible in the great thoroughfare beyond the alley. Though Adair could not make out the conversation, it was clear from their body-language that an argument was underway, in which the ashen man was rebuffed. He subsequently turned and left off from the ramshackle lane, shaking his head and muttering and vanished back from whence he’d come.
Adair turned from the window to behold Hoston starring at his pocket-watch.
“Apologies, my comitem. I’ve no idea where they’ve gotten off to.”
“No trouble at all. Perhaps I’ll stop by another time. Wherefore all the commotion?”
“Thou art surprisingly unprimed of thy classes own affairs.”
“The Lord Paramount has organized a parade in honor of Baron Avarr’s triumphal return.”
“The Torian noble?”
“Aye. I mean no offense, my comitem, but should thee not know of this? Surely thou wert invited?”
“If I was, I remember not, but thou speaketh rightly – unfortunately, I’ve been swamped of late. I am to be married and-”
“Why, that is wonderful! I had not heard.”
“Of that I am pleased. I should not wish for my life to become a staple of the gossip columns.”
“The business has been most taxing. I’ve had little time for anything else.”
“I suspect that blackguard what came after ye, has somewhat disturbed the tranquil waters of thy recreation.”
“Thou hath heard of my adventure?”
“Heard of it! I should be a queerly isolated soul were I to have not. Why near the whole of town is jawin’ of it. It were said that thee dodged the brigand’s pitch. Is it true?”
“A man may accomplish the extraordinary when by it, he is beset.”
Shortly after the words had left his mouth, he froze, eyes fixating upon a small, black thing at the periphery of his vision. He turned to the left and beheld a feather, laying upon the ground beneath a chair. He bent to a knee and plucked it from the ground, turning it in the ambered light.
It was a crow quill, familiar in constitution.
“I’d no idea they’d a bird,” declared Hoston, briefly observing the feather, “Hmph! How dare they sneak such a creature in here! I’ll have them on the street for this!”
“Its not from a living bird. Note the glue upon the shaft.”
Hoston bent to the feather and peered at the quill.
“Ay. Must have come from a costume… Well, I must be off, my comitem. I take it the path out lays fresh in thy mind?”
“It does. I thank thee for thy time.”
Sprill bowed and left whereupon Adair unfurled himself from the hardwood floor, placed the plume in his inner-jacket pocket and gave Dren’s curiously unfurnished room one last cursory glance before shutting the door and hailing a hansom.
He twirled the feather between his fingertips as the vehicle clattered down the cobblestone streets, wondering why the absent renter had stolen his coat.