The Residential Quarter

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III The Residential Quarter was the official name given to a large sliver of the city of Renna. It was by no means the most beautiful part, nor the most mathematically correct; throughout Renna there were six labelled quarters, so, clearly, whoever the architect had hired to count the districts for him warranted a refund. Amongst the unofficial nicknames for Residential Quarter were “The Warrens”, which seemed to sum both the sector and its inhabitants up perfectly. Like grubby little rodents they seemed to scrabble around its streets without much care for hygiene. Parts of the Residential Quarter were a veritable inner-city suburbia, but for the most part, it was home to the working-class, the unemployed, and the criminals, and a large area of it held a particularly suffocating aroma thanks to the fact that the unsealed main entrance to the Underworks was located just beneath its surface. The Residential Quarter was also the place that, when it came to his occupation, Eldridge Carter found himself most frequently travelling to of all the districts in the city. Once you got used to the smell, the pickpockets, the urchins, the occasional street muggings, the working girls – who ranged from dirty to disfigured – and the “business propositions” certain unscrupulous individuals approached you with, the conclusion to be drawn was that it had character. Learn to survive on the streets and you’ll learn to love them. Most of his targets felt the uncontrollable urge to hide in plain sight. Most of them had an urge on top of that to drink their troubles away after whatever revelation of their true nature. And it was for that exact reason, deep within the slums and hovels of the Residential Quarter, amongst Renna’s dirtiest and worst, that... ... middle of paper ... ...might be an attack dog,” The Duke’s son stood up and sighed, pushing his leather duster open and fully exposing both the underarm holsters for his weapons, and the row upon row of laboriously-placed derringers in their half-holsters around his waist. They had dispensed with the pretense that neither of them was particularly dangerous. Eldridge finished his sentence sharply, his brow furrowing, his face hardening, and his cold glare boring into Gruber’s grubby features. “But at least I’m going to live to see the morning.” There was one moment, one single solitary glimpse of a second where everything paused, everything stopped, and the atmosphere almost had the cool mirage of non-violence laid over the top of them; it was a calm before the storm, a split-second silence, and as soon as either party recognised its presence, fleetingly, it vanished, and the inn exploded.

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