external image _85347259_picture7.jpgMeric's wrist brace scraped along the bar's countertop as he jerked to reach towards his fifth, maybe sixth drink. The job was done, he'd lifted his share, and Dugal had forgotten his face since the last time he'd been thrown out. He'd have to head back up to the base camp soon to drop off the supplies he'd lifted, but couldn't stand to face the peanut gallery of Wolves just yet. He knew that despite the load of supplies on his back, he'd be faced with the usual taunting and jeering for getting caught. Considering his options, Meric decided it'd be best to hole up in the city and sleep off his buzz rather than go pick a fight with the Wolves over a measly busted wrist courtesy of the vigilante who had caught him. He slipped backwards off his stool, grunting with the drunken effort of keeping both his legs under him and wandered his way to the door.

Out in the stale air south of the railways, Meric could smell his proximity to the river, the polluted mess of a shipping lane he'd spent the better part of the day hanging over waiting for a loaded ship to pass by underneath. He hiked his sack of stolen supplies over his shoulder and pointed himself toward the train tracks. Slowly pulling the rest of his body behind, he headed north along 12th Ave past the cemetery up towards the railway that stole through the streets of Columbus. Once he reached the landmark embedded in the dust, he deliberately swung his shoulders to the left, willing his hips and legs to follow along as he made his trek through the industrial district on his way to the Slums.

After just shy of an hour of doing his damndest to follow the tracks that were wobbling back and forth less and less as he sobered up, Meric heard the limping tap of a cane approaching. The stingy old lady who had harassed him the month before for being out so late trudged through the gravel on the side of the tracks, her cane sinking in as she stepped off the paved road on 11th Street. This lady had been around the slums the last few times he'd passed through, trying to enforce some sort of curfew. Rather than asking for trouble and telling her to piss off like he would any other citizen of this godforsaken town, Meric tried to slink away in the hopes that he wouldn't get an earful from this walking superiority complex.

Three minutes and what Meric was pretty sure was a bruised eardrum later, the woman wandered off, but not before giving him a literal earful of both her jabber about the dangers of being out so late and the rotten end of her cane jabbing into the side of his temple. With the sack of loot back over his shoulder and his brain considerably more clear now that echos of screeches in his ears were starting to fade Meric continued the last few hundred feet around the curve in the train tracks, and passing just beyond The Wardings towards the wayhouse.

Knocking on the door at such a late hour was guaranteed to piss off Maggie, but she wouldn't answer the door if she was already in bed, so Meric pulled a bottle of water out from his pack, and handed it through the small portal in the door into the waiting hands of Chip, who was in charge of the wayhouse in the late hours. Hearing the young boy turn the bottle in his hands, inspecting it to make sure the trade was legitimate, Meric remembered the strange knife he'd pulled from the screaming lady's purse when she was pushing into him to drive some point home about how awful he was for taking his leave to walk around when he pleased. He kept a firm grip on the handle but passed the tip through the hole in the door asking the boy if he knew if it was worth anything.

The crunching sound of a plastic water bottle hitting the ground and rolling into the door surprised Meric enough to retract the knife and set off his suspicions. The deadbolt slipped, the handle was turned and Chip swung the door in, urging Meric inside. Three hushed sentences later explaining the religious origin of the knife and it's importance to the local church, where Meric "found" it, and disbelief that Ms. Bigsby even had it on her person told Meric more than enough about the value of this ornate little blade.

He stuffed it back in his sack, headed off to his assigned room with key in hand, sat on the edge of the well-worn cot on a single threadbare blanket and sighed. While it wasn't worth much as a tool, what Chip told him made it sound like it would be worth quite a lot as a means to extort an entire religious group out of the sort of resources that would get the Wolves to take him back no questions asked.

The next morning Meric rolled out of bed, slipped into his sorry excuse for footwear, got his hands on his morning portion of stew, and made his way to the church just north of the wayhouse. He considered bringing the knife home, telling the others it's worth, and hatching a plan to twist the arm of the churchgoers to get their religious junk back, but before the thought even came to a conclusion, the church was at his back, the knife still shivering, tip embedded deep in the wood of the front door.