The Eagle's Flight
The Eagle's Flight
2. When Eagles Sleep
Godfrey walked through the city to Lowtown in the evening glow. He followed the Arnsweg through the Temple square, down the hill, and across the bridge to the slums. Leaving the wide main road, he entered the winding alleys. Lowtown was trapped between the river and the southern city walls, which meant that houses had been erected wherever possible. The whole district was a maze, which the city guard might patrol but never control. It was easy for outsiders to get lost in the crooked turns and streets of Lowtown, never to be seen again.
Godfrey walked with firm steps, however, unwavering in his movements until he reached a large building with a sign in front. Upon the sign was painted an eagle resting on a perch and below was drawn a tankard of ale. The name of the tavern was not written anywhere; in accordance with the sign, the locals called it the Eagle's Rest.
It was here that Godfrey turned away from the street and through the heavy oak door to enter the tavern's common room. He walked over to the counter, behind which the tavern keeper eyed him suspiciously. Godfrey dug out six copper marks and placed them on the table. "Two ales," he told the barkeep.
"That'll be six petties more," he informed Godfrey with a glare.
"Six copper per ale?" Godfrey laughed. "The swill you serve isn't worth half that. Come now, Harold, you may think I should pay the outsider's fee, but unlike you I never forget a face or a name." The barkeep grumbled but eventually conceded and filled two tankards of ale. "I will also be staying tonight," Godfrey added as he pulled the mugs to himself.
"All full," Harold told him sourly.
"No need for concern. I will be taking that man's room." As he said this, Godfrey nodded towards a man sitting alone in the corner. Picking up his two mugs of ale, Godfrey walked over to the man's table.
There was something unusual about the man in the corner, though it was hard to pin down the specific reason. He appeared tall, hard as it was to judge while he was sitting down, but men of all heights graced the Eagle's Rest. He seemed thin in the strongest sense of the word, which was also common for Lowtown. He wore a leather jerkin, which was not unusual among travellers needing extra protection on the road, and he was swathed in a large cloak of un-dyed wool like a blanket with the hood pulled up to conceal his face. This was sometimes seen in Lowtown, where not all men were equally reputable and might have reason to keep to the shadows.
The last thing of note was the band of linen tied around his eyes, proclaiming him blind; people whose eyes had been torn out would often conceal the empty eye sockets in this manner. This was also seen at times in Lowtown, where many made their living as beggars and had various disfigurements garnering sympathy. So in truth, none of the individual features was unusual. It was the combination that struck onlookers as odd. Blind beggars rarely wore leather armour for protection. The wide berth that the rest of the tavern patrons gave him, however, suggested that people had chosen to interpret this oddity with caution.
Godfrey did not seem to share this opinion and sat down. Since the blindfolded man had taken the spot in the corner with his back against the wall, Godfrey now sat with his back exposed to the rest of the room. "If you are blind," said Godfrey, "what is the purpose of sitting in the corner to cover your back?" Then he took a deep draught of the ale he had brought with him.
"I hope you did not buy any of our gracious host's brew for me," replied his companion.
"Of course not, I know your taste. They are both for me," Godfrey said, indicating the other mug on the table by clanging against it with the mug in his hand. "Have you been here long?"
"Some weeks. It has not been a charming stay."
"I doubt anybody has ever accused Low