That last statement that floated up the stairs looked like a physical blow when it finally registered to Verik. Not all the meat was of the animal variety, some looked distinctly human in nature. As the color drained from his face he looked like he was doing his best to keep lunch down and I took a half-step back just to be safe.
“Care to explain?” I asked.
“I swear, I didn’t know THAT,” Verik exclaimed. “I…what…how…just wanted to make a difference,” he stuttered.
I still wasn’t sure what to make of him, the story he told made it seem like he was just trying to help those in need. Tired of the bonds of bureaucracy and wanting to make a difference in people’s lives he detached himself from the guard and started up this operation with some of his friends in the guard. As we found out moments ago, turns out his “friends” were sick of following his lead and had started running some side jobs to make extra coin, leading to the mutiny against him and the processing of human meat to the poor, huddled masses he thought he was helping. Judging by his reaction, it was definitely a case of misplaced faith.
Now that was something I could relate to and for a second my thoughts drifted to Tarya and the havoc she caused me before I pushed those thoughts aside, focusing on the here and now.
By this point, Henric had made his way back up the stairs and was standing sentinel and Valek had also come up to voice his opinions on the matter to our prisoner.
“Enough, Valek,” I sternly interjected. “Henric, can you watch him for a minute, I don’t think he’s going anywhere.”
Walking into what passed as the office I shuffled through the papers on his desk – some ledgers, a shipping manifest or two, and a draft of a letter to someone named Vamonda. Reading it over quickly it looked like his story added up at first glance, he was just trying to help those down on their luck – he finally felt free and was happy once more. That made up my mind, time to ask a few questions to confirm my gut instinct and then act.
Of the entire group, Henric is the one I trust most, but I’m not sure what side of the line he’d fall on. He seems like one who has similar goals and ideals but this would be asking a lot of someone I’ve only just met a day or two prior. I’m still not sure of the motivations of Valek or Zarian, besides I’m pretty sure the bounty and the law are higher on their priority lists then they are on mine. Consequences be damned, I’ll have to do this solo and fill the group in later for better or worse.
“Henric, Valek…if we’re to report on our findings here can you make sure everything is secure downstairs? I’ve got our friend here covered.” I say upon re-entering the room with a stack of papers.
As they descend the stairs out of earshot I turn my attention back to Verik, “So, who’s Vamonda?”
Head in hands, he lets out an exasperated huff. “She’s..she’s my girl. She was the one who gave me courage enough to leave the guard and the help the people. I swear that all I wanted to do – apparently I can’t even do that correctly.”
Eyeing him up and down the man looks defeated, broken. It’s a feeling I know all to well as I rest a hand on his shoulder. “It looks like your heart was in the right place, you just put your trust in the wrong people. I take it you know the penalty for treason?”
His shoulders slumped a little lower, “Of course I do – so that it’s then?” Verik half-heartedly asks. “I won’t fight it, I deserve my fate.”
“What if there’s another way?” I retort. “As I said, your heart was in the right place and you truly thought you were doing good deeds. You know as well as I do if we turn you in, you’ll likely die in prison – and that’s assuming you don’t get the death penalty wrought upon you first.”
With the faintest glimmer of hope comes his reply, “What…What are you talking about?”
“With the right people, the right organization, I believe you could do a lot of good in this city. But it will take time, patience. If that’s something you can handle, if you can lay low for a while I think I can help. Interested?”
It’s an odd sensation watching hope blossom in someone else’s eyes, it’s very hard to describe, but that what I saw there as he spoke next. “I…I would be forever in your debt. I promise, you won’t regret this. I have many amends to make, just tell me where to begin.”
Writing down an address on a scrap of paper I walk him into the office and hand it to him. “Lay low here, no one will find you. Don’t stop home, just grab a couple days worth of supplies with whatever coin you have on you. I’ll drop by with more in the next few days.” Lowering a length of rope out the window, I gesture with a quick nod of my head. “Quickly now, before the others come back upstairs. I’m taking a big risk here, don’t make me regret this…” I finish as his head disappears from view.
“Sarenrae grant me strength and wisdom” I mutter as I turn to head back downstairs. “I have a feeling I’m going to need it.”