BRITOMUS DROM UNLOCKED HIS CASH BOX and set up the register for the noon lunch rush, watching the last few stragglers left over from breakfast service head out the door and onto the road, or down to the hot springs for a bath. The cleaning maids hurried themselves up the stair way to begin straightening up rooms before check-in time, and the ungainly dishboy careened through the bar room, a tower of plates and saucers teetering precariously upon his clumsy, sausagelike fingers. By the stage, a group of bards tuned their instruments and rehearsed their numbers, dropping coins into the seed money jar in hopes that they would blossom into a bonanza of wealth by the night’s end. Britomus closed the register and headed toward the cellar to inventory the beer and wine with the aid of his house brewer, Brother Dendy, who had secreted himself away nearly a month ago and barely come out from the brewery except to take meals. As he passed through the bar room, he shot a stern look at the smuggler Taels, who quickly vanished a few less-than-legal items into her voluminous robes, and patted the hulking brute of a bouncer, Vincent, on the back.
Downstairs, he heard violent, decidedly un-priestlike swearing, followed by a sharp fizzing sound, and then an explosion. It was going to be a long day.