A block from the shrine, Hash saw them. A group of men—four of them. In the mild weather, they had abandoned the sheepskin cloaks that most in the city wore. No cloaks meant that Hash could make out the cheap linen and wool of their clothing. It also meant that he could see that they carried clubs and, more importantly, that they looked like men who knew how to use them.
He eyed them for a pace or two before he realized they were waiting. Not right in front of the shrine. That might be obvious. But after a few more paces, he realized they were watching the front door of the shrine. Watching and waiting. That was not a good sign.
At the next building, a run-down tavern that served watered-down beer, Hash stopped and leaned up against the peeling whitewash. Watching and waiting. It could be they were the guard of some merchant who had decided to visit the shrine. Could be. But they weren’t. The way the rest of the people on the street avoided looking at them told Hash these men were trouble. And the street, normally fairly busy, was all but empty in the late morning. Why? The answer was obvious: people knew trouble. And with the eses gone, trouble meant keep your head down and your eyes up.