Soured Dealings

The tavern was filled in the perfect way, the balance of people that would both provide an alibi and anonymity simultaneously. A setting ideal for clandestine meetings. The kind of place that was crowded enough to let you blend in and no be noticed if you kept your head down and weren’t to loud, but not so much so that people wouldn’t be able to say “Oh yeah I saw that guy” the kind of place Caelum insisted people meet him before a job or after.

In the opposite seat say a rather tall man, a rail thin build that was only given away when you managed to catch a glimpse of his hands, the rest of him obscured by a hooded robe that hid his face in shadow from every angle making it impossible to see anything other than a vague gaunt outline of his sharp features where the candle light met the odd magical masking of the hood.

The man in the hood steepled his fingers, his long sleeves folding over each other to completely hide his hands “So…given that you called this little conference and forced me…” he paused, looking at the table and then the surroundings. “Abysmal place, that you have accomplished the task I am paying you to complete.”

“In a manner of speaking I have.” Caelum replied.

The man behind the hood audibly ground his teeth, Caelum could hear the pressure being put on his jaw. “Enough with your word games knife-ear. Did you or did you not complete the task?”

“As I said, you wanted to get rid of them. I got rid of them, Mindus.” Caelum responded.

Mindus slammed his fists on the table, and the room took notice. “I will not ask you again, answer my question. Did you or did you not kill the woman and child?”

Caelum’s hand shot out quickly and grabbed Mindus by the collar of his robe, pulling him forward. “Keep your voice down.”

Mindus pulled away and Caelum let go right away. “Do not for one second think you can instruct me what to do.” he hissed, brushing invisible grim from his robe and flattening any perceived wrinkles. “Now speak quickly. I wish to be as far away as possible from this place in the next few minutes.”

Caelum leaned forward, “No. I did not dispatch the woman and child.”

“You what!” Mindus spat.

“I’m sure you heard me.” Caelum replied.

Mindus’ blood was clearly about to boil. “And why not?” he asked each word quick, punctuate and laced with anger.

“I don’t kill women and/or children.” Caelum replied. “I told you that when you hired me.”

“So much for money buying good help.” Mindus mumbled. “For what I paid you I expected you to be smarter than that and bend your own morals a bit.”

“You expected wrong Mindus.” Caelum said, leaning back. “You only said ‘get rid of them’ and that is what I did. They are gone, far away and won’t be a problem for you. Your situation is dealt with, no bloodshed.”

Mindus ground his teeth again. “The point was they were supposed to be dead. So they couldn’t become a problem later.”

Caelum remained leaning back. “I believe you still owe me payment, or shall I become a problem. I’m sure the guards would just love to hear your other plans.”

Caelum could feel Mindus scowling at him from behind the shadow of the hood. “I wouldn’t.” Caelum said, seeing Mindus adjusting the sleeves of his robe. The faint click of a hand crossbow in Caelum’s hands. “I guarantee I can gutshot you before you have a chance to weave one of those fancy spells. Granted you might be able to finish it and I might not dodge it. But I can promise you the poison on the tip will kill you, and kill you quick. Though for you it’ll feel like a real, real long time. So I think it best we end this amicable like, you pay me and we part ways. Never our paths shall cross. How’s that sound?”

“You think you can out speed an archmage? How are you so sure I did not walk into this establishment cloaked in a shield spell? Your pathetic bolt will simply bounce off and I will disintegrate you where you sit.” Mindus threatened.

“You aren’t.” Caelum said, “You are concentrating on that darkness around your face so I can’t pick you out of a crowd, and you aren’t wearing any rings. No shield spells, and you know what’s the most fun part about all this?” Caelum said, “Go on, guess.”

Mindus was taken aback for a moment. “What could possibly be fun about your certain death.”

“The fun part is I am willing to risk my theory, are you?” Caelum questioned with a smile.

For a long tense minute the two stared each other down, before Mindus dropped a heavy sack of coin on the table. “For your sake knife-ear, I hope you are as good as you claim to be. Watch yourself, you have made a terrible enemy.” Mindus stood, and headed for the door.

“Pleasure doing business with you.” Caelum said, when the man was out of sight he let out a sigh of relief. “Hell of a gamble…”

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