He didn’t follow after them right away. He took one last glance at the bagful of coin, biting down hard on his lower lip and wrinkling his nose, perhaps doubting his decision, perhaps guessing how much was in there. He ruffled his damp bed of hair, breathed in deeply and skittered after them, brushing a gilded statuette of a flower that stood askance a drawer chest with his index finger and grabbing it with the palm of his hand. It was swiped right into his pocket with magical speed, although no magic was involved.
The only sound heard was the shuffle of their feet as they followed the young woman as she navigated them through the hallways. Arhan had caught up with them when the shuffle was muffled by Cantrill’s voice and a rather ambiguous statement. The woman faltered in her step, indicating she more than understood the vagueness and acknowledged the hesitation in Cantrill’s tone of voice. Arhan raised a brow, shifting his gaze to look at them both when he caught sight of a group of women, silent in their dainty steps, coming from one of the side doors. Two servant girls in rags and a much taller, well-dressed woman with a lace shawl drooping over one side of her face. As soon as they saw him, they halted and the lady hid her face behind her heavily wrinkled hands. The wrinkles were not of age, Arhan noticed. It was something worse, he thought. The servants quickly retreated into the solar from which they had emerged, urging the lady to follow them. They were gone within moments.
It was a strange sight, but he pressed on, into the foyer, catching wind of that same hesitating awkwardness emerging in the young woman’s face as she looked up briefly at Cantrill, slower in her movements, her pleading beady eyes staring at the darkness behind him for fear had long forbidden her to look a man in the eye, and said with just a hint of a well-practiced smile,
“So I’ve heard… Sir,” it was difficult not to speak in honorifics. She gave a long, awkward pause before she added, “My Lord is a good man, too.” the words sounded off with some bitterness, Arhan could almost taste it. He wasn’t sure whether he should read into it or that he even wanted to. It was common knowledge that no master was a good master, whether he was a Lord or a priest.
Arhan approached the woman, sized Cantrill up and said in a cheerful tone of voice, addressing her, “Maybe Cantrill's on the market too, if yer so in need.” He played with some of the words, drawling them out in suggestive insinuation. He turned to Cantrill then, “Maybe ask ‘er what kinda good she’s in for,”
The woman quickly shook her head and gasped, “Sir, please.” She turned around, deeply red in her cheeks, and in hurried steps reached the grand entrance, a marvel of stone and wood, edges wrought in iron. She pulled at the door until it opened slightly and sunlight streamed in,
“Through here, please. There’s an inn in town if ye don’t wanna sleep in the hay. The horsemaster, Twins, and Garret, they will all provide assistance.” She spoke in a rapid pace, her heart hammering in her chest. “Good luck.” She more than itched to see them leave.