An Appropriate Boy

And today, we’re with RIVRVLOGR

11) An appropriate boy.

Benor felt that his first task was to find Garrent Woolmin and his academy. This was comparatively easily done. Tallis asked round his various patrons and a number of them had had family pass through its hallowed halls. Apparently the Woolmin Academy was a large house in Dilbrook, standing in its own, securely fenced, grounds. Most boys lived in, with only a few travelling each day from home.
At the same time Shena had been asking friends and business acquaintances about Salat Wheelstrain. All she had managed to discover was that, according to a couple of people involved in shipping, he was a good man if you wanted an embarrassing but over insured cargo to be destroyed in transit. There were hints that he might have arranged what were nicely described as ‘useful’ fires. But none of her informants claimed to know any more than that.
This rather disturbed Benor. Given that Minny seemed to be expected to arrange for the accidental death of Young Vortac, Wheelstrain seemed like the person to arrange it. As he remembered, there was a respectable amount of gold in the bag with Wheelstrain’s name on it.
Finding Young Vortac was a little more complicated. Benor took Mutt with him to reconnoitre. They walked past the front of the building and boys could be seen playing in the grounds. As Benor commented glumly, other than shouting a name and seeing who looked up, there didn’t seem to be a lot more they could do. Mutt excused himself and disappeared. Ten minutes later he arrived back with a smaller boy.
Mutt introduced his new companion. “This is Wain. If any of the boys wants anything, they get a message to him with the money and his commission and he gets it for them.”
Benor looked at the urchin in front of him. He was comparatively clean and was dressed in what were recognisably clothes, rather than the rags he’d often seen on children deeper into Port Naain. Bits of his costume might even be cast-off school uniform.
“I just wondered if you could help me Wain.”
Immediately a hand shot out, palm up. With the casual excess one finds in the newly prosperous, Benor dropped a full silver vintenar into the outstretched palm. “What you wanna know.”
“Is there a boy called Vortac in the school.”
Wain was briefly silent. “There’s Vortac Lilywhite.”
“Could you point him out to us?”
Wain shrugged. “He’s not near the fence but if he comes closer I can.”
Benor had been thinking about the attempt on Young Vortac’s life. It was supposed to look like an accident. “Do any strangers go into the school?”
“No, only the ‘eadmaster’s family.”
“Do the boys ever come out of the school?”
“Yes, once a week they go to the indoor riding school.”
”Where’s that?”
Wain gestured, “Down that side street past the mews.”
As Benor surveyed the scene, Wain said helpfully. “And next time is in three days.”
Benor turned to Mutt. “We’ll better be here.”
“Funny that,” Wain said. “It’s exactly what the other chap said.”
“What other chap?”
Wain held his hand out, palm open again. “He paid me ten vintenars not to tell anybody.”
Mutt stepped forward and grabbed the other boy. “Bad lying is painful to watch. How much?”
“You sure?”
Benor gently put ten vintenars into the boy’s hand. Mutt said quietly, “’An my people will be about to make sure you don’t tell no one.”
“Somebody called him Wheelstrain”
Benor asked, “Could they have called him Salat Wheelstrain?”
“Dunno, it were just Wheelstrain.”
Benor and Mutt withdrew out of earshot. Mutt whispered, “I’ll have some people down here soon. We’ll watch the place.”
“And on the day I’ll be here as well. I’ll see if I can get Tallis to come.”
Mutt muttered, “Yeah, coz you always needs a poet.”


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