Scrapper turned his head and looked at Duman who was exactly one block behind. This eye contact was all that Duman needed to know that Scrapper was going to turn left and it was safe for him to proceed. Duman and Listener had developed a system with Scrapper. They would track somebody and the dog would go one block ahead. If the person they were tracking kept going, Scrapper would simply look back and turn the corner or go straight. But, if the one they were tracking was finally in sight, Scrapper would stop and raise his right forepaw.
Scrapper had grey fur and a mishmash of breeding: somewhere between a Scottish Terrier and a Collie (though in Highpattern it wasn’t called Scottish) He was so purposeful and harmless looking as he trotted down the streets of Adelphia, that people rarely gave him a second glance. Those who were bidden of the King to trap animals in the city (the occasional stray fox or wolf hunting for livestock) knew scrapper as a Palace dog, mostly because of the brand on his ear.
Sometimes, Scrapper would get lost in the busy market day crowd. The wise dog deftly avoided a wheelbarrow push by a young maid with a load of geese. Market day geese were generally not very sociable with dogs! As the block’s whent by Scrapper ‘s sensetive nose picked up the growing scent of water and boats. After about 12 blocks of this, Scrapper turned a corner which led to a shipping yard by the river. Here, Scrapper raised his right forepaw. The man had come to a stop.
Duman had to think quickly. The spy might possibly come back to Brownbeard’s stand with reinforcements. “No, the man knows he was spotted. He won’t come back,” he thought.
Duman silently signaled for Scrapper to come back to him. Then, ever so quietly, Duman lifted an iron storm sewer grate by the side of the road. The sewer was just big enough for a man to walk through hunched over. King Titus had worked hard to give Adelphia good sewers for drainage and sanitation. Scrapper knew the drill. Able to move through the pipe fast, the little dog quickly jogged to the place where the conversation of the spy could be overheard. When Duman caught up with his faithful friend, he lay still listening.
“… I’m telling you, there wasn’t more than three. I’d have expected at least a score.”
It was the man’s voice who had been at the produce stand. Duman had to focus his hearing for the second voice, it was much more low and sinister: “Three guards…hmm… wish we’d had a dozen stout lads. We might’ve gotten them out from under Titus’ nose! Dressed up as servants getting the produce? What are they doing?”
“It just seems like they’re wantin’ to make him friendly with the common folk. What this gets ‘em I can’t tell,” said the first voice.
The sinister voice continued, “I expected Titus to take the stone and the Army and march right into Phesus. Instead, he sends those upstarts to get produce. Well… We can’t nab ’em now… he trailed off… Or maybe we can. Three guards you say. Any of those confounded ranger guards?”
“Didn’t see any, your Excellency. But that don’t mean they weren’t around somewhere– you know how they hide.”
Duman had to stifle a chuckle. He himself had dressed up as a palace produce person (ppp for short) and had chortled loudly with Brownbeard. In the next instant, however, his chuckle became earnest readiness. The low sinister voice had retorted, “one of them might have followed you here. Did you see anyone following? Might’ve heard our conversation…” The voice dropped to whisper. Duman could hear their footsteps moving out to look for him. Quietly, man and dog began to climb back up the sewer pipe way from the river. None too soon.
“Oi, there’s a sewer pipe here,” said a voice at the end of the pipe. Duman could hear it quite clearly. The sinister voice chimed in, “fire a bolt into it. Might get them.”
The pipe had curved around to the left up the hill. Duman held scrapper and himself as far to the left side of the pipe as they could, pressing their bodies to the wall. Sure enough, the crossbow bolt skittered around the right side of the pipe whizzing past them.
“Better give it a couple of bolts,” said the sinister voice.
Duman had quickly searched for loose rocks or bricks and piled them at his feet on the left side. None too soon, as another bolt struck the makeshift rock pile. A third one was ricocheting furiously and grazed Duman in the shoulder, drawing blood.
Scrapper still did not bark. His training held as Duman continued to scratch his ears–a signal to remain quiet. Apparently, the man had given up. The sound of their footsteps receded.
Thinking fast, Duman said to Scrapper, “lick.” The dog obediently licked his shoulder wound. As scrapper was licking, Duman was writing. He took one of the very small parchment scraps he carried and wrote: “D in pipe at river 2 bl E. from Market Way. Bring 10+ men armed. Rasha +3 men bad.”
He put the scrap in the dog’s mouth. Scrapper was trained to carry his message or spit it out if he was about to be caught. Then he said to the dog, “Malachi… Malachi… Malachi.” Scrapper turned to go up the pipe but Duman held him for a moment. “To the Palace,” he said to Scrapper in an earnest tone.
Scrapper went up the pipe to where they had climbed in and then simply quietly came back to Duman. The coast was obviously not clear. “Another waiting game,” he thought. Five minutes later, Duman nudged the dog to try again. This time, Scrapper was gone.