94 An Abundant Hunting Ground*
It was not as if Rassa didn't have a plan when he'd left Jerrica. He did. The plan was to leave. To go beyond the reach of the Kildares to a place where he could start fresh. Where it wouldn't be so easy for people to suspect him. Where he could blend in.
He just hadn't expected to find it so soon.
Port Lovolon, while technically within the Empire, and indeed a key trading port, was for the most part under the jurisdiction of Merchant Companies. Despite their best efforts, the Kildares had only managed a minor presence in Port Lovolon with so much competition, and in the end had decided to take the rest of the Empire and come back for Port Lovolon with overwhelming economic force. It had yet to happen, though they'd tried many times. Most recently in their attempt to make trade deals with the merfolk, who, quite simply, traded with no one.
So, Port Lovolon certainly qualified as being beyond the reach of the Kildares. Even if they did know where Rassa had gone - and it would take them months to find him if they didn't - any movement of their private forces in Port Lovolon would cause a stir they were unwilling to make when it came to Rassa.
For the time being at least, Rassa was safe, and, much to Aegin's annoyance, content. It was not that Aegin did not want Rassa to live a peaceful life, Rassa had ascertained as much from his willingness to stick around. Aegin just worried about Rassa. Worried about his prolonged silences and the distancing that had occurred while they travelled. No matter what he tried, Rassa didn't open up, and to Aegin, that wasn't a good sign. Being able to scent emotions had only worsened the problem. Rassa was torn between being thankful he was worried, and annoyed that Aegin couldn't find anything else to do. Rassa needed a distraction, and Aegin wasn't helping.
Ebony had been almost the complete opposite. In the few weeks since they'd left Jerrica, Ebony had spent most of her time trying not to annoy Rassa. Mostly because she didn't want him to get rid of her. It was also the reason why, when they arrived at the Port, Ebony had disappeared for a few hours then come back dressed as a man with her chest wrapped and her hair cut short. Rassa had known it was her straight away from the scent, Aegin, with his training, had noticed as soon as he saw her.
"That's not going to help your chances," Aegin had grumbled.
"For the last time, I'm not selling my body," Ebony had snapped back. They'd been at each others throats since they'd met. Aegin thought that Ebony was untrustworthy because Rassa had just picked her up on his way out of the mines. Neither Ebony nor Rassa had spoken of what he'd asked her to do, and that she'd followed the order without much resistance. They didn't see a reason to speak of it, and even if they did, it was hardly proof of undying loyalty.
Ebony knew she was only around on a trial basis, but from what she had learned of Rassa so far, she found herself more and more intrigued, and less and less willing to part with them should they order her away. Even with Aegin's constant quips that enraged her to no end.
They were probably still arguing in the Tavern.
Rassa, who had adopted the name 'Phil' in the Port as a precaution against anyone who actually was looking for him, had taken to the rooftops as he watched the drunken man from the Tavern stumble through the main streets and side alleys grumpily. He'd been looking for a fight that night. Enough to kill from what Rassa had smelt pouring off him. In truth, anyone probably would have set him off.
Rassa had seen the man before on the docks they worked during the day. He wasn't the most pleasant of men, and Rassa, Aegin and Ebony had made an effort to avoid him. From what little he had obtained through eavesdropping on conversations, Ewan was awaiting the return of a brother that supposedly had 'struck gold' in the southern continent. Apparently Ewan had lended his brother a ship in exchange for a cut of whatever his brother earned.
Given his dress and lack of propriety, Rassa doubted he actually owned a ship. The brother part on the other hand smelled like truth. That was a fun ability Rassa had discovered. In addition to emotions, Rassa could also determine truth from lies with scent. He had spent hours at the docks practicing with these new abilities. The smell of the docks made it more difficult to pin-point individual scents, and truth woven in lies was even harder. Still, it passed the time of mindless work pretty well.
Now however, as he watched Ewan wonder into a dark and quiet alleyway, it was time to practice his so far most practical new ability.
Rassa dropped down soundlessly into the shadows and watched the man stumble, screwing up his nose indisgust. He didn't like blood that was rich with the taint of alcohol, it always tasted somewhat sour and left a weird tang in his mouth. Still, this was only a couple of mouthfuls.
He moved fast enough to part the air around him, spreading a hand againt Ewan's chest and shoving him back into the wall of the alley. Not hard enough to break anything, but hard enough to wind the large man. By comparison, Rassa's lean frame was almost dwarfed, but it was clear who had the upper hand here. Well, to all accept Ewan.
"What the f*ck are you-"
Ewan was silenced as he met Rassa's dark eyes, then a melodic voice flowed into his ears and lulled him into a hypnotised state, "Quiet. No need to make a single noise".
Rassa paused only to make sure his allure had been effective before he leant forward and sunk his fangs into Ewan's neck. Urggh, yep, sour and overripe with ale.
Still, Rassa had to admit, Port Lovolon had one great bonus aside from avoiding the Kildare's radar...it made for an abundant hunting ground.