Andressa watched the drunken party of half-elves stagger out of the Sun’s Solace yelling curses at the implacable bouncer. All privilege and drunken bravado, when she could easily see that Jaroz’s new doorman was more than the five could handle in their current state.
He was, in fact, one of the reasons she wasn’t inside the Solace watching the Bounty. If Marko spotted her inside and decided to cause trouble, she wasn’t sure on whose side the hulking enforcer would come down on. She had a hunch that it wouldn’t be either and she would risk losing her mark. The price on his head from the Post Office was not great but it would buy passage on a cheap Cloud Cutter and she was going to need one soon if she was to follow the lead on Walt Bellows.
The rowdy revellers began to stagger down the street singing loudly; within moments other more shadowy figures began to leave less obtrusively. The first left with a box in a satchel. He moved with the confidence of one who had grown up in the Shade, a casual wariness marking him out from those who do not fully appreciate the dangers of the district. Some moments later, Marko and a few others are framed by the bright light of the door before melting into the night.
Andressa checks the Valari on her belt, the curved metal boomerang that is the birthright of the Akheela-Taan, before following Marko and his cronies down the streets. It quickly becomes clear that they are intent on parting the nobles from their coin, which suits her well enough as a distraction. Two of the companions peel off down a side alley. She can see they are working round to box the group in, probably in Knot Lane. Saucy Sal keeps a basement establishment there and it is often frequented by those seeking entertainment in the Shades.
The band of nobles weave into Knot Street as expected, bright beacons of wealth in the poverty of the Shades. Marko and his other companion follow slipping between the deeper shadows and where they step Andressa follows.
When the singing stops, she knows that is her cue. She hears the yell and crunch of knuckle on nose before she reaches the corner. Hears Marko offer to relieve the revellers of their coin as she slips the Valari from her belt and whispers a blessing of the tribal spirits on the curved blade. It leaves her hand as a glowing blur that arcs around the heads of the stupefied victims and fells both of the thugs blocking their escape.
“Marko Giotta, seems you’ve been stopping Couriers from doing their job,” she purrs. “Post Office have a bounty on your head, matters not to me how I collect it.”
Marko yells and launches himself at her, a short blade swiftly appearing in his other hand alongside the cudgel he had been hefting intimidatingly at the drunken party. Andressa catches the blade on her Valari before kicking hard at Marko’s kneecap. The thug goes down quickly allowing her to launch the Valari at the other would-be robber. He stops and ducks and grins, which allows her to free her scimitar. Swiftly, she brings her hilt down hard on Marko as the other feels the full force of a returning Valari.
The brief fight over, Andressa retrieves her Valari from the fallen robber, cleaning its blade before stowing it at her belt. Marko is not a small man and although she doesn’t care how pretty he looks when she delivers him to the Post Office, she doesn’t fancy dragging him halfway across town. Looking around she spots a broken sack truck abandoned in the alley at the back of Saucy Sals. Andressa shrugs. It’ll have to do. She straps Marko to the improvised sledge as a song and laughter bubble up the steps of the basement tavern and drags it towards the Mercantile district of Salkanalle.