Rinn was not clever, and he was alright with that.
He didn’t consider himself stupid, despite the jibes he was made to endure in his youth. Rinn had little use for complexity. Not only because he didn’t understand most things people called “complex”, but in his own life, simplicity had always been the surest path. The life of a monk had suited Rinn. He did not have an issue getting lost in the movement of a kata, or emptying his thoughts for a state of what his sensai had called “still being”. It was why Rinn had enjoyed his time among The Order of the Gauntlet. Their’s was a life highly regimented. Once Rinn was able to learn the cadence of living among The Order he could keep time with their way of life, as he did on his drum with music.
Perhaps because of his limited use for being clever, or the ease with which the monk had located Mattahar, he was not overcome with any sense of triumph as he watched his adventuring companion. She battled with wire brush in hand, fighting a losing battle with innumerable layers of filth caked upon the floor of the Prudent Lily.
Rinn thought that a strange name for this brothel, as he saw nothing prudent about the behavior of the clientele. Most of the Yartaran patronage drunkenly pawed at girls as they passed by, or offered some lewd propositions to the beatific olive-skinned young men that sat primly upon their laps.
Rinn’s location of Mattahar had been a simple matter. If there was anyone who knew anything about young women in a city, it was performers. They were a lascivious lot, who took it as point of pride to have young women targeted for conquest in each city they visited. It occurred to Rinn that he must have known that because he, himself, at one point was a performer. He had no memory of it really, just vague visions of traveling a land that didn’t look like this one. Perhaps he was remembering it wrong? That happened from time to time. Rinn was not clever.
Rinn sought out a traveling band in Yartar, and it didn’t take long for him to find out about the, “New girl at The Prude.”
“Be warned,” A young singer cautioned the monk. “This one is not for rolling. She has the sickness on her.”
Now seeing Mattahar, Rinn could see what the young singer meant. Mattahar did not look well. She was always slightly emaciated and thin from the ravages of her disease. Yet now her skin looked especially ashen, and her eyes hollow and red-rimmed. Her thin lips were cracked, and a fever blister rose in the corner of her mouth. Rinn was startled that her health could have digressed so drastically in just a few days.
Mattahar kept her head down, her hair held back by a soiled scarf, and her ill-fitting clothing was stained with grease and grime. Mattahar seemed absorbed by her work, and she had to be the only woman in the brothel who was being ignored or avoided.
Rinn was not clever, but to the monk it seemed as if the lack of attention was intentional.
Wishing to allow Mattahar to her anonymity, Rinn deduced that she was there to clean up messes, so it would not be strange to speak with her if he created a mess. The seat Rinn had taken was at a table no one had bothered to clear from the guests before him. Half empty pewter goblets, and the thrasher that contained mainly congealed mutton fat and filmy lamb juice littered the scarred surface of the warped wooden table.
In one graceful motion, Rinn swept his leg across the table top, sending the contents crashing to the floor. The clatter caught the attention of a few patrons, but upended tables and spilt drinks were common in this place. A few drunken laughs sounded, and some particularly snarky patron said something to the effect of, “Just put those anywhere.” Rinn ignored them, his eyes locked with Mattahar’s. She saw him, and she knew he had found her.
For moment Mattahar looked as if she was going to bolt as fox might when caught among the chickens. But instead, she slowly rose to her feet. Mattahar grabbed the leaky wooden bucket that contained water almost the same color as the grime on the floor, and lugged it towards the mess Rinn had made.
As Mattahar knelt once again to start cleaning up, Rinn tried to kneel as well. It made sense he should help clean up the mess. Mattahar was his friend, and after all, he had made the mess in the first place.
“Don’t!” Mattahar’s voice sounded strong, giving no indication that she was a s sick as she appeared. “It is good to see you Rinn but it won’t do to have you draw attention. Please sit. Don’t look at me. Try to nod, and only speak if you must. No one would talk to someone like me in a place like this.”
Rinn was not clever, he enjoyed that Mattahar had offered him such specific instructions.
Rinn returned to his seat and looked at nothing, as he did before entering a meditative state.
“You surprise me,” Mattahar said as she scrubbed near Rinn’s seat. “I thought for sure I wouldn’t be found here. I know the girl that opened this place. She used to work out of a similar establishment in ”/wikis/bargewright-inn" class=“wiki-page-link”> Bargewright Inn. She caught the eye of some traveling merchant. He bought her, and brought her north. Apparently he died last winter, and with the money that remained, my friend opened this place. She said backs were the only way she knew to make money, only this time it wouldn’t be her back."
Rinn didn’t get it.
“Rinn,” Matthar said seriously. “I need you to promise you won’t tell anyone where I am. Even ”/characters/monish-knight" class=“wiki-content-link”>Monish Knight. I can’t explain it right now. Even if we had the time, I don’t think even I fully understand what is happening. But there is something happening to me. In my mind, in my being. There is a change, although sometimes it feels like a correction. I don’t know but, for now, I need to be anonymous. I need to not be a part of anything. Until I met you and our friends, my fate was simple. I was slave girl. I would serve as cleaning staff because I was too fragile to serve in the brothels until I was of no further use. Then I would be sold or put out. This was to be my lot, and for some reason, I was fine with it. But now, since I have met you all, I fight monsters, and my life is threatened. Important things happen all around me and I barely understand them. Sometimes I feel as if I am saving the world, but how can that be?"
Rinn could empathize. He too did not always understand what was happening around him. Yet he could feel the gravity of a thing as it happened.
“And now,” Mattahar continued, frustration showing in her vigorous scrubbing of the floor. “Now it is like there is someone else. Someone who knows how to save the world, and someone who wants to. I feel like I know her, but I don’t think I trust her. She is angry with my decision to hide, for the time being. But I can’t figure out my own puzzles if I am traipsing about the valley following you all into the middle of everyone else’s. I just need-”
“Simplicity,” Rinn interrupted softly. “Familiarity. A place where you feel tethered, As you go adrift in your mind, you want a recognizable have a shore in sight.”
For the first time Mattahar looked up at Rinn. Her feverish-appearing eyes now brimming as she fought to keep back her tears.
“You will let me have that won’t you Rinn?” Mattahar asked the monk, her voice thick. “I am not asking you to lie. You can tell the others I am safe, but please, give me your oath you will not tell them where I am? Especially Knight. He has done so much for me, so much for my freedom. And I will pay him back. But right now, I need reprieve. Reprieve from the feeling that I owe him, even though I know I do. Reprieve from his constant vigilance over me. Reprieve from-”
“His anger,” the monk finished her sentence yet again.
Rinn thought about all she told him. Rinn had no problem blocking out the noise of the world. Half of it he didn’t understand anyway. And yet he knew that familiarity was often a preliminary step to solving inner conflict. Rinn also thought about how worried they all were about Mattahar. He knew Knight would tear this city down to the supports to find her, if he found out she was here.
“Your oath Rinn!” Matthar said again. “I’ll have it. Swear to me on our friendship, on your commitment to your Order, and on your own soul. Swear to me that you will not tell the others where I am. I will come find you all again, and soon. Tell them I am safe if you must. And tell Knight…”
Mattahar paused and looked away. He face twisted briefly, as if steeling herself against the turmoil of emotion and uncertainty that flooded through her.
“Tell him I am sorry,” she settled upon. “And that I will see him again, if he’ll let me.”
Rinn sat, looking passively as instructed. He could feel her hurt. He knew if he told Knight he had found her, and that she didn’t want to be found by him specifically, it would hurt him. It was all so complex. And Rinn did not like complexity. This was a decision for someone clever. Someone who understood the intricacies of the human spirit, and could determine which recourse would do the least amount of harm in this dilemma. Considerations, scale of choice, machinations, and unforeseen consequences, these were the realm of superior intellects like that of Panapapi Ticcotarp Copperspackle, not Rinn.
Rinn got up from his chair. Subtly letting his hand reassuringly brush against Mattahar’s sweaty face. He made is way out into the street, all the wile looking at nothing. It was nearing sunset, the time with which he was to meet with Knight and Papapani. Already this area of Yartar was picking up with activity of people beginning their night time revelry. The stink of too many people clung low between the buildings, lingering with the scent of stale alcohol, and far too ample of doses of imported perfumes. Rinn made his way to the west gate in silence, still trying to puzzle out what, if anything he would report.
Rinn was not clever and his heart hurt as he realized, for once, he was not alright with that.