The market district was filled with people of all kinds. It was the loudest place in the city. Merchants could be heard yelling the prices of their wares, and those that weren’t yelling were haggling with customers. A trio of boys lay on top of a house that overlooked the market.
“There’s Mum’s shop,” Va’il said while pointing down towards the shop on the other side of the street. Mai’ou was standing in front of a small door, and was behind a large table. She was taking orders from the people that had lined up. After each order, she’d go through the door behind her for a minute, and come out holding whatever product the person had asked for. She did nothing else but that for the rest of the day, much to the trio’s disappointment. They spent three hours on the roof, and not a single male lupus had visited.
“Hey, I have to go soon,” Pete said.
“Not yet, there is still a chance he shows up,” Kelin said.
“Kelin, Mai’ou is going to be done soon. I should get home before her,” Va’il said.
“You two. Fine. You can go. We’re not done investigating though, not at all,” Kelin said.
Kelin, true to his word, did not let the investigation falter. For two weeks, the trio spent a few hours per day watching over Mai’ou’s shop. The number of male lupus who visited her was low. There were a couple that the trio thought might be the culprit, however each time it was only a Snag, Jeed, or Ari; never an Eason.
The constant vigil was putting a strain on the willpower of all three boys. Anything more than a day without a real lead was forever in their eyes. All of them eventually realized just how surprising it was that they continued to stick with the surveillance.
“Wasn’t this supposed to be done and over with?” Pete was sitting up while eating an apple. A collection of large seeds was at his side; he had been eating nectarines earlier. A few feet behind him was a sizable collection of seeds that had gathered over the past days.
“You don’t have to wait any longer. There,” Kelin said while pointing. At Mai’ou’s shop was a lupus man. He had dark hair, dressed very nicely in a black suit, and held a brown cane. He wore spectacles and a black hat. He looked middle-aged, and was probably between one-hundred and one-hundred and eighty years old.
The boys quickly jumped up and ran across the rooftops until they came to a bridge. They crossed over and ran towards the roof of Mai’ou’s shop. They got as close to the edge as they could, without being seen, and listened to the conversation below them.
“Mai’ou, my dear! What specials do you have today?” The man was enigmatic with his gestures and manner of speaking. The boys could see his cane whipping around as he gestured wildly.
“Mr. Eason! It’s been too long! Without your weekly order, my pockets feel a little lighter. You cannot be leaving me for that long again!” Mai’ou was just as energetic with her words as Mr. Eason. The boys, upon hearing the name, knew their target had arrived. However, Mai’ou’s attitude instilled an understandable fear in each of them.
“Dear, you know how work goes. I just have to take it as it comes. I too, have been sorely missing the choice trimmings that you provide.”
“Yes, I know too well. But, you couldn’t have missed me too much. Your orders are always so large. The last time you were here, I ran out of black ink! Even a voracious eater couldn’t possibly finish that much so quickly. I’m surprised at how you do it.”
“You flatter me too much, though all in good jest. But I do love it, even though I don’t eat it all. A scrap to the left, to the right, I have to just throw away so much stuff that I don’t want,” Eason said while laughing heartily. He laughed like a large man should.
“Yes, I suppose that you must waste so much,” Mai’ou replied while also laughing, “but as long as you buy from me, it’s just fine.”
“Dear, you’re almost as greedy as a noble.”
“I’m not greedy! I just know how to make a profit. Besides, you know what I think of you.”
“Yes dear. But anyways, your admiration will have to wait for today. I’ll come back to discuss that one matter we spoke of before in a little while, once work calms down. Right now there are so many issues with noble children, and you just would never believe the situations. I suppose I cannot talk of it, otherwise even my neck wouldn’t be safe.”
“Well then, let me get your order. What will it be for the noble Eason Ar Raign?”
The boys above were struggling. Pete and Va’il were holding Kelin’s arms and pulling with all their might. Kelin had earlier tried jumping down while mumbling something about wasteful eating. Va’il noticed that Kelin’s expression had drastically changed when Eason said: “I have to just throw so much stuff that I don’t want away.”
The three boys tumbled and fell as Kelin relaxed. Staring into the sky, Kelin spoke.
“I’ll get him.”
“What has you riled up?” Pete asked.
“He’s bragging about wasting food. Mai’ou too, I can’t believe your mom,” Kelin said.
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen her like that. She’s always so tight with spending,” Va’il said.
“She’s a smart businesswoman,” Pete said dryly. “I’ve seen dad act like that before. He always complained about this one seller whenever he came home. For weeks, he’d just complain every night about how horrible the seller was. One day dad had me help him at work. That seller came. Dad was so friendly that I couldn’t move. He acted like he loved the man. It was strange. He said it’s part of business to know how to please even people you hate.”
“You’re ridiculous, comparing Mai’ou to that. This is the man that she’s going to marry. Marry!” Kelin said. “You can’t just say she’s putting on an act. Maybe she is though. No, no, I can’t be that optimistic.”
Kelin buried his head in his hands. Va’il stood back and looked over the edge of the roof again. Eason was walking off and Mai’ou was nowhere to be seen. Probably counting money in the shop, Va’il thought.
“He’s going!” Va’il said to the two other boys.
“Huh?” Pete and Kelin looked dumbfounded. Then it clicked. Kelin regained his composure and ran to the roof’s edge to check where Eason was.
“Well come on, he’s getting away,” Kelin said while dashing off towards the next rooftop.
The boys followed Eason while running from rooftop to rooftop. Eason walked at a very slow and casual pace. He didn’t speak to anyone he saw in the streets, nor did he stop at any shops to buy anything. He left the market district and headed towards the first district, where most nobles lived.
The boys had to stop traveling by rooftop once Eason entered the first district. The first district was filled with larger houses and estates, so it was no longer possible to jump a few feet to get to the next house. There were many alleyways in the area that Eason walked through, so the boys had no trouble hiding. Only the top nobles had giant estates, the rest settled on large houses that were next to each other. There was also a variety of politicians in the area, though none of that mattered to the children at the moment.
Eason entered a large blue and white house; the family sign at the entrance was engraved with: “Ar Raign.” They had located the house of the target; things would become clearer, Va’il decided.
“Kelin, have you got a plan now?” Va’il asked with enthusiasm. Va’il had finally gotten into the spirit that Kelin had been exhuming all along.
“Nope. But, it’s on its way. We have a vital piece of intelligence. You two know how to get back to this house again?” Va’il and Pete nodded.
“Oh no, not another stakeout!” Pete said, and then moaned.
“Please, don’t take me for a fool. We’ve got the target. This target will move around, I’m sure of it. We only have to find out when he leaves, and the rest will fall into place. I just need you two to bring along a few things next time.”
“What kind of things?” Va’il asked. Kelin smiled.