Waleed quickly glances around the coffee shop, then continues in a slightly lowered voice.
“Over the last month, there have been a series of fires in the city. First, the theatre. Then a week later, Egbert’s Inn; a week after that, Guinevere’s house. Yesterday, Father Ignatious’ church.”
“All of these fires happened exactly a week apart; it appears that we have an arsonist at play. And all of them happened in the Newmarket neighbourhood…”
Waleed’s tone and raised eyebrow on the last sentence implies some deeper meaning, but he catches himself when this gets no response.
“Ahh, I forget that you are new to this city. Let me explain the situation…”
“Hadaton can be thought of as roughly divided into four quarters. On the riverfront to the west” he says, gesturing vaguely over his shoulder, “is the palace, cathedral, customs house and mages’ college.”
“Behind that, the southwest holds the houses of the nobility and the leading merchant houses. Here on the eastern riverfront is Oldmarket; this is where the followers of the true prophet, peace be upon him, are constrained to live. South of us lies Newmarket; this is the quarter for the common people amongst the infidels.”
“All of the fires so far have been around Newmarket. Not only buildings have suffered; lives have been lost. Dozens of women died in the burning of Guinevere’s house alone.”
“The people of Newmarket are grieving, they are afraid, and they are angry. And I hear that they are convinced that these fires are the work of my people here in Oldmarket.”
His expression darkens into a scowl.
“This is not true; my people would not do such things. But I fear that if the situation continues, the anger in Newmarket may boil over, with tragic consequences for my brethren. This city is a tinderbox in more ways than one.”
“In order to prevent this, we must discover the true cause of these fires, and we must do it soon. This is why I wish to contract your assistance.”
Waleed leans back and looks back and forth between the pair of you.
“For your trouble, I can offer you room and board for the duration of your employ, and a reward of $500 each should you succeed. Will you accept the job?”