“She’ll see you now,” said the man, holding open a heavy door for the two waiting outside. He closed the door behind them as they entered the office.
The two, a man with mouse brown hair, cut short and styled into a neat quiff, and a woman with shoulder length, sandy blonde tresses, stood straight, hands clasped elegantly behind their backs, dressed in pressed blue uniforms. They regarded the woman sat before them with sombre expressions.
“I understand there was a problem,” the seated woman said. She watched the two before her with wide eyes, awaiting their response, although she already knew what it would be.
The two looked at each other, before the man spoke. “Yes, ma’am. We successfully secured the package, but we were…attacked.”
“Attacked,” she said. Her face betrayed no emotion. “By whom?”
It was the blonde woman’s turn to speak. “We are not sure, ma’am. They were scalars, I believe. Large fellows. They came from nowhere. Outnumbered us. There was nothing we could do.”
“Yes,” said the man, “or they did very good impressions. Larger than men, at any rate.”
The seated woman exhaled through her nostrils. “Any other identifying features? Where did they attack you?”
“Approaching the aetherrail station,” said the blonde woman, “in the harbour. They were waiting for us in an alleyway. We didn’t see their faces. They were good.”
“And they have the key now?”
“Yes,” said the man. “The leader took it from me. He was in platemail.”
The seated woman narrowed her eyes, eyebrows lowered. “Platemail.”
“Yes, it was…cold against my skin, I remember. Rough. It felt…old.”
The seated woman blinked slowly a few times, exasperated. She looked from one to the other. “That’s everything we have to go on? Platemailed scalars attacked you in the harbour.”
The two looked at each other. The blonde woman spoke. “Yes, ma’am. Sorry, ma’am.”
The seated woman stood up, turning and looking out the window behind her. She sighed. “And I don’t suppose there’s any gangs of armoured dragon-men known to be wandering the harbours right now? Perhaps stealing from elderly women? Throwing eggs at windows, maybe?” She turned around and stared them down. The two made a forced laugh.
“No, ma’am,” said the man.
The blonde woman said nothing for a moment, then piped up. “I believe Rell’s Heroes, the adventurers, they’re in the city currently. Their ship has been in the harbour a few weeks now.”
“Are they a gang of armoured dragon-men terrorising the docks presently?”
The blonde woman looked at her accomplice, then spoke. “The crew are scalars. It’s Captain Redscale’s ship. It…” she said, trailing off.
The other woman stood silently, blinking slowly, as if expecting a punchline. “Captain Redscale,” she said, eyes wide and brows raised. She tilted her head slightly, regarding the blonde woman.
“That’s…what the children call him. He’s a pirate, so they say,” continued the blonde woman. “My son, he…he is a fan.” She smiled slightly, before resuming her solemn expression.
The woman opposite took her seat again. “So you mean to tell me this…Captain Redscale and his crew tailed you in the dead of night to a private handoff that nobody outside of this room was made aware of, lay in wait and mugged you for an unmarked iron key, the existence of which, and provenance of, is known to only a handful of people in this entire city,” she said, slowly, crossing her arms. She did not seem impressed.
The two looked at each other. The man began to say something but got no further than a wordless vocalisation. The blonde woman was silent for a few moments. “It is…it is a…possibility, ma’am, I…”
The seated woman exhaled sharply. “Well. It’s a start.”