A silhouette of a man sitting behind a desk in a darkened room

Result 11 – Part 2

As you head to the chair in front of the desk, the man introduces himself.

“My name is Lomack. Shuzo Lomack. I’m the general manager here.”

A silhouette of a man sitting behind a desk in a darkened room
“Please…take a seat”

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

You introduce yourself as “Valine”.

“First of all, I must apologise on Omon’s behalf though; he was really hoping to meet with you again himself, but, something came up and he had to go deal with that urgently.
However, from him, and from all of us here at Stardust, we’d like to offer our deepest thanks for what you did to help Omon out last night.”

Lomack gives a deep bow. You watch, a little awkwardly, and point out that you barely did anything; once Omon caught up with the thief, he took care of the whole situation himself. Lomack dismisses this idea with a wave of his hand.

“Nonsense! Omon told me about the knife; if you hadn’t got rid of it, Omon might not have made it back here at all. Aside from stopping the thief and allowing Omon to get his property back, you also potentially saved his life…” Lomack gives you an intense glare. “I’d hardly call that “barely anything”.”

You remain silent. You hadn’t really thought of it that way, but you suppose he’s right. Just one cut and things could’ve ended a whole other way. Meanwhile, Lomack takes a thick, elegant purple envelope out of his desk drawer, and slides it across to you. It is embossed with the name of the hall in gold lettering, and sealed at the back with Stardust’s logo imprinted in gold wax. You look up at Lomack questioningly.

“A small token of Omon’s appreciation,” he says with an encouraging nod.

You take up the envelope and break the seal. Inside, you find a large amount of money; several small stacks of notes: 5’s, 10’s, 20’s and even a couple of 50’s. There are a few hundred Cogs in here at least.

You glance up at Lomack as you idly flick through the notes; he slides something else across the table to you.

“A small token of our appreciation.”

You pick up the new item. It’s a VIP pass, beautifully designed as well, contained within a little brochure.

“Every person who works here is like a family member, and we’re thankful for what you’ve done, so we’d like to extend our gratitude to you.”

Before you can say anything, Lomack holds out a hand.

“It’s more than just about helping Omon. Incidents like this have been getting more common lately. There are more and more reports of muggings and burglaries in the wider area, and it’s becoming a particular problem for us here.
We’re prone to hosting big events and attracting large audiences and, shall we say, more well-off clientele, which makes them, and us, a target for thieves. On a big night, if a thief manages to snatch a purse from just one person, it can contain more value than what they could snag in a whole week of thieving elsewhere.”

You immediately think back to the thief you encountered and the contents of his pockets. That amulet, and the dagger. Those items didn’t seem like anything the average Joe would be walking around with. Lomack continues.

“The locals suffer from it as well of course, but from what I’ve gathered, few are actively taking a stand against it. Most people just surrender when threatened by a shadowy figure with a knife who demands their valuables, and if someone calls out for help, even if a mugger snatches something out of a victim’s hand in broad daylight, everyone around them will just put their heads down and act like nothing happened. But not you though. You were willing to stand your ground and fight back, so for that too, we are impressed and grateful.”

You think back to your decision in the alley. Though you had considered just ignoring the whole thing, ultimately, you couldn’t just let something like that happen. So far, it looks like that decision is paying off.

“But,” says Lomack, “the lack of push-back from the victims, as well as their increasing hauls, is almost certainly emboldening the thieves. Now, they scurry about in the shadows like rats, stalking people and picking off targets. I’ve even had a couple of reports of pick-pocketing in the hall!” He furrows his brow, managing to keep a lid on what may or may not be rage.

“There are more of them than at any point before, and they strike more often and in more risky ways. At this point, I think it’s far beyond just a bunch of individuals and isolated incidents. There’s a nest of thieves around here somewhere, I’m sure of it.”

You pipe up. Surely if it’s this much of a problem, the local law enforcers are involved? What are they doing in all of this?

Lomack shrugs and waves a hand dismissively again. “Oh, they’re looking into it, for sure, but, they’re hardly making any progress. The problem is bigger than them, but they don’t seem to have the personnel and resources to deal with this. A think they’re more concerned with some of the more affluent areas if anything. Aside from that, they don’t have the best reputation with some in the area, so some of the locals; people who have witnessed crimes or could give useful info, don’t. They’re reluctant to talk to the enforcers and don’t share their information fully. Of course, this will only come back around to bite them later, but they don’t seem to care about that now. So, in the end, I suppose I could summarise by saying that the enforcers mean well but aren’t very effective at dealing with it. Not here, at least.”

He looks at you for a moment. “I get the impression that you’re not from around here.”

You nod and tell him that you’re from out of town and you give him a brief explanation of your situation and tell him that you’re planning to stick around a while longer to meet new people and see what Derna has to offer.

“Ah! Well, in that case, I implore you to come back and visit us here. You can definitely meet some interesting new people here. But, of course, I must warn you to be careful when moving through the area, especially if you’re planning to wander around at night, lest you become a victim of theft yourself. Though…” He considers for a moment. “I imagine that you can handle yourself. Omon did mention you had some kind of blade or throwing knife.”

Ha! A little too late of a warning for you. You decide to tell him this and about your encounter with the thief. You mention that you fought the thief and brought him down, but you don’t say anything about the items you took.

Lomack is intrigued by your account and is thoughtful once more. Curious, he asks you a series of questions about your fighting and self-defence abilities, and you tell him you can take care of yourself, having been through more than a few tussles on your journey so far. You also clarify that the weapon you were carrying was a small battle axe.

“Well now… This is a rare thing. Perhaps we can take advantage of this situation.”

You become curious and a little wary, but Lomack smiles, gently resting his hands on top of the other on the desk in front of him.

“If you are interested in earning some money while you’re in town, then you might consider taking on a role here as a sentinel?”

A sentinel..?

“You see, due to the nature of our clientele, we don’t always search people for weapons when they enter the hall. Some of the more…sensitive patrons are prone to complaining, a lot, if they are made to have their bags and persons searched. We’re much more strict on big show days, and we always spot-check those who look like they might cause trouble, but as a general rule, we tend to just let people in and keep an eye out. For that, I employ sentinels. They work inside the hall and by the entrances and blend in with the crowd as they keep watch. If anything happens, their job is to react quickly and either alert the guards if something is brewing or there’s a need to eject any troublesome patrons, or diffuse the situation themselves if something is already starting.

With your fighting abilities, and, I don’t mean this in a bad way,” he raises a hand in a pacifying gesture, “your unassuming appearance, you might just be a good fit for this type of work. Few would see you as someone to be wary of, so would be less likely to try and hide their antics when you’re near.”

He leans back in his chair a little. “The pay is fair and I’m sure it’s something you can handle easily. We rarely have trouble, so it’s not like you’ll be getting into a scuffle every evening, but, another hand on deck as a preventative measure can’t be a bad thing. And, with more staff members on hand, I might be able to branch out a little.”

You idly stare at the envelope and VIP pass as you consider his suggestion. Take a temporary job as a sentinel? Hmm…

“But,” Lomack’s voice snaps you out of your thought, “you don’t need to make a decision here and now. Think about it and let me know later. But, if you ultimately decide not to, that’s perfectly fine. Just continue to be careful when you’re out and about, but if you happen to run into any other thieves or anyone who knows anything about them, I’ll happily pay you for any information you can give me. Considering you’ve already seen two thieves in as many days, I expect you’ll be tripping over some more on your way out of here.”

He shakes his head but then catches sight of the timepiece sitting on the shelf off to one side.

“Oh, goodness, I’ve been rambling for a bit too long. I have a meeting shortly, so if you’ll excuse me, we’ll wrap this up here.”

He stands, as do you, and he strides over to the door as you scoop up your envelope and VIP brochure and card. He opens the door for you, and bows once more as you approach.

“Once again, thank you very much, Valine. I look forward to having you visit Stardust soon, and remain hopeful that we’ll be working together shortly.”

You give him a respectful nod in return, and let him gently usher you out of the room, where he waits for you to move a few paces away before quietly closing the door.

You go back the way you came, walking slowly as you consider your conversation. A job as a sentinel. Desired information about thieves. The state of the law enforcers. The increase in criminal activity.

When you reach the reception, the guard looks up from his paper and cup of tea and swiftly retrieves your battleaxe from a locked chest behind him, handing it to you. You put the envelope and brochure inside your backpack and tuck the battleaxe away beneath it once more.

The guard bids you good day as he opens the door and lets you back out onto the street. You step outside into the still air of the alleyway, and consider your options, both immediate and for the near future. What will you do today? And will you take Lomack up on his offer for a job?

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