“I’m looking for a thief,” the Paladin responded to her in his deep bass voice.
Nanna frowned at him, “I’m sure you were told by my people, you have no jurisdiction here, no matter what the crime,” she said attempting to dissuade the man.
There was a pause as the Paladin moved the shoe side to side until the toes pointed at Drake. “I think you misunderstand, I do not wish to bring him in for a crime, I am in need of his services.”
Nanna laughed. “A Paladin needs a thief?” she asked. “This is a rare event.”
“If I’m not mistaken,” the Paladin said pointing in Drake’s direction, “he is right there.”
Drake tensed a little at the revelation that this Paladin could track him. He looked more closely at the boot the man held and confirmed it was one of the pair that he had worn to Lord Arey’s. Drake stepped from the shadows and asked, “What services do you need?”
Everyone present was startled by his appearance except for the yet unknown Paladin. The Paladin smiled and got down on one knee, he presented the boot to Drake and said, “I beg thee for a private audience,” he said.
Stepping forward cautiously, Drake took the proffered boot and asked, “How much did you pay for this enchantment?”
“Three gold, and a promise of aid in the future,” he said.
“Stand up,” Drake said irritated. Indentured servitude was a steep price. “I’ll hear what you have to say. My professional name is Drake,” he said offering a hand to help the Paladin up.
“People call me Lonewolf,” he said standing effortlessly on his own. The armor definitely did not slow him down, and anyone thinking it might slow him down in battle, would be dead wrong, but mostly dead.
The messenger from the assassins guild, escorted by one of the castle guards, arrived as Lord Quinn was being seated for dinner. Lord Quinn hadn’t missed a meal in his life, and he wasn’t about to start now. “Set it on the table, it can wait for now,” he said. The messenger did as instructed and waited.
Servants shuffled in quickly bearing platters of food which they laid out in front of Lord Quinn and his young wife. He started to serve himself when he realized the young messenger was still standing nearby, waiting. “Why are you still here?” he asked putting chicken pieces on his plate distractedly. His wife waited silently for him to finish taking what he wanted.
“I am tasked to carry your response back to the guild,” the messenger replied dryly.
Not slowing one bit, Lord Quinn said, “Guard, remove him from my presence.”
“Yes, Sir,” the guard said stepping forward and putting his right hand on the messenger’s left shoulder. “Come with me,” he said authoritatively.
A dagger, hidden in the messenger's sleeve, appeared in his left hand. He reached up with his right hand and grabbed a finger of the hand on his shoulder, and pulled on it while stepping back. His left hand swung around and buried the dagger in the base of the neck of the guard causing him to crumple to the ground without a peep. An attendant nearby let out a surprised squeal but covered her mouth quickly with her hand to suppress it.
The messenger pulled the blade out and began to tuck it away. “If you call for more guards, I will kill you all,” he said succinctly . “Read the message and respond. Now!”
Drake carefully examined the nearby cord. It was nearly as thick as his leg and extended straight out into the distance. Taking a deep breath and urging the shadows to hold him tightly, Drake whacked the cord with his stick once, stepped back, and waited. The cord began to vibrate a little, then more as large bodies rose up from below and onto the top of the web. Three large spiders approached at an amazing speed, but they slowed as they approached. “These must be the hunters that Kakkot mentioned,” Drake thought. “Bigger than I expected, ugly too.” Drake was very careful to avoid touching any part of the web while he examined them.
The mountain arachnid, as Kakkot had called them, stood about four feet tall when moving. There were long whiskers all over their body and legs. They had two large eyes and four smaller eyes. Their large black fangs moved horizontally in a pinching motion, and the sunlight reflected from the fangs when it hit them right. Two small “legs” were above and hung out in front of the fangs, twitching and moving about. It almost looked like little hands that could be used to pull food to the spider’s mouth.
The spiders inspected the area that had been hit with the stick. One of them reinforced the exact spot that Drake had hit before leaving. The other two appeared to keep watch while the third used his spinneret’s to weave the seemingly needless repair. As soon as the repair was done, a high pitched squeak was issued, and the three of them returned from where they came at nearly the same speed as they came out.
As an author, I want my readers to enjoy the fantasy books I write for them. As a writer, I want recognition for my work. Villainy is available to read for free online, and if you like it, I will have succeeded in my first goal. If you take a moment to tell me you like it, via email or my blog, we will have accomplished my second goal.
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