Crokus emerged on to the street. In either direction, as far as he could see, not a single reveler was visible, and a thick silence hung over all. The wind curled round him, first from one direction, then from another, as if seeking escape. A charnel smell filled the air. His head was throbbing, still weary from the scenes of Simtal’s estate. Before he could move, a strong arm gripped him across his face and he felt the touch of a sharp knife on this throat. A voice hissed close to his ears, “A man just seeks help and promises debt well paid back.”
“Help seekers do not sneak up and put knives on the throat.” If he was scared, Crokus did not let his voice give it away. He felt the grip loosening on him, but the knife still rested on his neck. He turned around to see his captor, but he stood against the light, just giving slight features of his face away.
“Identify yourself, ye help seeker, show your face and then I will decide what fate shall befall you.” He said, knowing very well that he was not speaking from a commanding position.
“A man has many faces and names are what, just words. I am sea-farer and a traveller. A man seeks fresh horses and provision to travel back to what he calls home.” There was a strange calmness in the voice of the stranger standing in the dark.
“I take you for no Malaz, where you come from.”
“A man travels from far, across the oceans; when a man sails to the other end of the ocean, he sees the greatest free city of all the time. That is where a man lives.”
Crokus was growing weary of this futile conversation. He shrugged and said,” The estate lie abandoned, walk through whatever is left of it, I am sure you will find enough provision to end a life time, in party hall. Towards the back there is a stable, pick your choice of horses if any of them are still in flesh and standing.” Wit seemed to be returning to him and half mockingly he added,” A man can then take his arse wherever he wants.”
The man moved a step further in light and faced Crokus. He was almost as tall as him. He did seem like a possessor of many faces. He looked utterly calm, unaffected of his little dig at him. Crokus felt him thrusting something in his hand, a coin.
“A man is indebted and assures that debt will be paid back with help when a man is in need. If the day come when you would find me again – give that coin to any sailor sailing across the great ocean and say these words – Valar Morghulis. A man will be brought to what he seeks in the greatest free city in the east – Bravos.” He walked away with a nod, speaking his words, “Valar Morghulis.”
Crokus found himself repeating after him,”Valar Morghulis.”
The man had melted in the darkness of the Simtal’s estate. He turned in the direction of Baruk’s estate. At least, with the streets empty, this wouldn’t take long. He began to run.
[A cross fan-fiction bringing together two of the greatest and my favourite series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen and A Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones)]