Thanks for the input. It was my first attempt at writing anything even close to noir style. Clearly, I should have watched The Maltese Falcon again before attempting this

I do have more featuring Horst, though the adventure was quite short lived.


Horst Gets Ahead
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It's a hot day in winter when I can tolerate a holy knight more than a mage. Zephyr didn't seem to understand that I wasn't interested in his arcane babble about feats and classes and such. According to him I was "non-optimized." He was living proof that wizards are unhinged. I almost felt bad for Ambler, who had been 'assigned' to protect Zephyr. The paladin did not explain what he meant by that, and I was not interested enough to ask.

Zephyr had gone to the library to do research on the temple and he took Ambler with him. Not that the knight could read. Still, the two had left me alone and I can't say I was disappointed. Zephyr was a fool if he thought that he would find out anything useful. Books only tell you what the authors want you to know. You have to talk to people to get real information, and I knew exactly what people to talk to.

"What do you want this time, Faber?" Marla asked as she and the other courtesans gathered around me.

People talk too much to the wrong people when they let their guard down, and Marla and her girls had keen ears.

"Information, same as always," I told her.

"Information doesn't come cheap."

Same old routine as always. I reached into my coat pocket. Miho drew a sword and put it to my neck from behind me. I let her take the coin pouch and toss it to Marla. The blade was removed and sheathed. I checked my pockets to make sure Miho didn't take anything else. She didn't.

"I need to know about the temple of Mystra," I said as I straightened my hat. "Start talking."

It turned out my client's husband wasn't the only one missing. Marla had lost three girls in the past month after paying a visit to the priests at the temple. I knew Marla was telling the truth. She's always had a rule with her girls that they could leave whenever they wanted to as long as they told her first. Marla was worried about them.

After my chat with Marla I went to the library to check up on Zephyr. He wasn't hard to find. All I had to do was follow Ambler's snoring.

"How long are you going to read?" I asked.

"I'm doing thorough research on Mystra and the temple," the mage replied. "It'll be about three hours. Just sit and wait and we can proceed."

"Three hours is time we don't have."

"Plot advances with us, not the other way around."

Idiot. I left without another word. I had told Marla that I would try to find her girls, and I was a man of my word. I didn't give my word lightly.

By the time I got to the temple I had already formulated a shaky plan. I planned on scaling an unguarded section of wall, sneak inside pretending to be a new convert to the faith, and then start looking around for husbands and whores.

I didn't even get the grappling hook tied to the rope before a passing guard on the street noticed me. He started coming toward me with a halberd, and I knew that if I could not drop him in a single shot with my crossbow he would call for help. I knew my hand crossbow did not carry enough power to stop him.

He stopped about halfway from me, and that's when I saw blood dribbling down from his mouth. I watched in surprise as he hit the ground with a wet splat. I couldn't keep myself from smiling at his killer.

Beautiful, deadly Miho.

A new plan began to form in my mind as I searched the dead guard's body while Miho kept an eye out for more passing guards.

"How good are you at acting?" I asked her with a wry grin on my face.