They found the Brass Rose to be closer and have clean beds which was all they needed to hand over the rather steep cost of two gold each for a night in a shared room. The bath was communal and Callindra got some strange looks when she walked in carrying an unsheathed sword.
“No blades in the bath.” The attendant said, giving her a glare. “You’re going to have to leave that out here.”
“Sorry, but he’s attached.” Callindra said with a smile, shaking the Mithril chain and showing how it was attached to the cuff on her right wrist.
“At least get a sheath for it then.” She grumbled, “Can’t have a bare blade in there.”
“I don’t have a sheath for him yet.” Callindra said, “I’m still looking for the right leather.”
“Then you don’t come in.” The attendant said, crossing her arms over her ample chest.
“Oh leave off Jendra.” Someone said from inside the room, “It ain’t like that little chit is gonna be able to overpower us anyhow.”
“Look, the chain is pretty long, I’ll leave the blade over here.” Callindra said, leaning Shadowsliver against the wooden bench. “I can still reach the bath and I don’t want to get the leather on his hilt any wetter than necessary.”
The attendant grudgingly let her into the bathing chamber and Callindra stripped, a process made awkward by the chain and Shadowsliver’s razor sharp edges, then sat on a stool to sluice and scrub the dirt of the road away. When the worst of it was gone, she slipped into the pool of steaming hot water with a sigh. Her unbound hair floated out around her like a fan and the tendrils of Brightstar flowers released their gentle fragrance into the humid air.
“What’s with them flowers?” A husky voice asked.
Callindra identified it as the same one who admonished the attendant Jendra to relax and grinned. “Thanks for your help back there, being Bonded can be a challenge sometimes.”
“Bonded? To your sword?” The woman chuckled, “What kinda affliction led you to wanna do that?”
“It’s a long story.” Callindra said with a matching chuckle, “I’m Callindra.”
“Tarinaotfsatalis.” The other woman said, “But I go by Arina because that other monstrosity shouldn’t be visited on anyone. You here for the contest?”
“Well, I guess.” Callindra said, “Really we’ve just been on the road for a long time and finally arrived at civilization again. Hasn’t the Abyss come to this place? I’ve seen some horrible things, even in the most remote regions but here everything seems to be normal.”
“We’ve had some infected here, but they got handled right quick.” Arina said, “Count Adbar don’t take no damn chances, that’s why we doing so good here.”
“Oh, I was wondering about that.” Callindra said, running her hands through her long hair and working some tangles out. “This place seems so much different from other large cities we were a little apprehensive at first.”
“What? Why? If we’re not showing any signs, why would you be wary?” Arina asked, her brow furrowing.
“I guess we’re just a suspicious lot.” Callindra said with a self-deprecating smile. “When you’ve been through the things we’ve seen I guess it’s less of a reflection on any given area and more of a commentary on our experiences. Gods and demons this bath is exactly what my road weary body needed. Arina, do you know anything about the contests?”
The other woman grinned, “Well, not really. But there’s said to be great prizes for the winners and Adbar has been solid so far. His guards get the best of everything and entering their ranks is no easy task. If this is something special beyond that it must be pretty amazing.”
Callindra finished her bath in silence, drying off before carefully collecting her sword from the bench and exiting to dress. She looked at her dirty clothing with a disconsolate sigh and decided to simply shrug into her tunic instead of donning all her travel stained garments.
“I cn wash ‘em for ya mistress.” A girl child with a clean if rather threadbare smock said hopefully. “Have ‘em ready inna candlemark fer a silver.”
Callindra held out a gold piece, “If you can get me an extra set of trousers, another tunic and two breast bands as well as washing my gear and tending my armor this is yours.” The girl’s hand flickered out to grab the coin, but Callindra rolled it across her knuckles and out of reach. “I’ll be able to find you if you take it and run.”
“Oh mistress I ain’t no scapegrace.” She protested, “They ain’t gonna lemme in if I were nickin from th custom.”
“Not unless you were very good at it.” Callindra said with a grin, “I’ve seen lightfingers work before and if you aren’t one you certainly have the knack.”
“Jus means I’ll get ya th best deals don’t it mistress?” The girl said with a gap toothed smile.
“Now that’s what I like to hear.” Callindra said, “I’m on the second floor, first room on the right.”
“You wif all them boys?” The girl goggled, “An you stayin inna room wif ‘em?”
“They’re my brothers.” Callindra said, “It’s fine once you get past the smell.”
That brought a laugh and the girl scampered out promising again to get everything she was sent for. Callindra went to the common room, belting her tunic at the waist and deciding it was long enough for the demands of modesty. She walked up to the bar, set Shadowsliver next to her and tossed a silver piece at the bartender. He caught it and walked over. She ordered an ale and a meal and gave him an extra gold piece to cover her meal.