Sariah was handed off to two guards that wore masks. They had the same single hand crossbows with the green tipped darts always pointed in her direction. Normally this would have annoyed her enough that she would have done something about it, but she was voluntarily there. She didn’t need to cause a scene yet. That could wait till later.
They brought her to a large room with a seat well lit in the middle. The seat was bolted to the floor and had manacles attached to the arms. The rest of the room was in shadows, and those shadows seemed to move and wave like shadow flames.
One of her escorts gestured with his non cross bow hand for her to go to the seat. Sariah laughed at him. “If you think I am going to handle any more of this farce, you must be kidding me,” Sariah said. The guards took a step back, keeping their crossbows trained on her. “Tomias Trevorine told me all about your magic and mirror game. Drop the act if you have work for me.” Nothing happened except for both guards taking another step back and looking even more nervous. Sariah started to ease into a more offensive stance, but tried not to give the guards any hint on what she was about to do.
Out of the darkness from the front of the room a voice spoke. “Sariah, don’t do that. I pay these men too much money for you to put them out of work.” Two hand claps punctuated his words. The shadow flames flared bright, then disappeared leaving the room fully lit. The bald man who had spoken wore a dark blue robe and a large gemstone ring on each finger. He looked to the two guards. “You two can wait in the hallway till we’re done.”
“Sir, she is not secure,” said one of the guards.
“And you are not supposed to speak in her presence,” rebuked the bald man. “Now go, or else I will escort your remains out of here myself.”
The two guards ran from the room. The bald man turned back to Sariah and smiled. That smile reminded Sariah what a fly must see from the spider as the spider sat down to dine. “Tomias was never supposed to tell of what happened here.” continued the blue robbed man.
“Tomais wasn’t supposed to tell about a lot of things, but yet here we are,” Sariah said.
The blue robbed man nodded. “Very true. I am-“
“Master Kilncare,” Sariah finished. “the left hand man behind the king. The only other person beside the Keeper of Shadows that has the authority to assassinate without the king’s blessing.”
Kilncare’s smile slipped off his face. His eyes narrowed and he began to play with his left index ring. “Tomais will need to be talked to.”
“I don’t know how well he will listen,” Sariah replied. She walked over to the chair and stood behind it. “I am here to see if you need my expertise. I’ve decided to come out of retirement. ”
“Asturtino will be disappointed with that decision. I heard he had provided you with a very healthy retirement incentive,” Kilncare said.
Sariah felt the desire to draw her not present sword. “What can I say, I burned through it too quickly. If you don’t have any work I can go somewhere else.”
Kilncare put his hand to his chin and just stared at Sariah. She thought she should probably feel nervous, but instead she was growing angry. She looked at how many steps it would take to reach the man and break his neck. Would he have time to react?
“Will you just stop that?” asked Kilncare. “If you tense anymore we are both going to do something stupid and whomever is still living will regret it for the rest of their days.”
Sariah laughed and felt the tension ease a bit. “Fair enough. So do you have work?” she asked.
“Of course I have work,” said Kilncare. “The question is are you up to it. You haven’t actively worked for five years. You came here yourself without a fixer. If you flop there will be too many tracks pointing back at the king.”
Sariah decided to take a chance. She said, “You know I am still the best. Look at those thugs you sent to test me last night.”
Now it was Kilncare’s turn to laugh. “Thugs? I didn’t send any thugs,” he said.
Sariah grimaced. “Okay, so that wasn’t you,” she said.
“So you survived a couple of cutpurses who mistakenly thought you were an easy mark. Is this the proof you give me that you still can do the job?” Kilncare asked.
“It was seven of them,” she lied, “and that’s not my proof.” Sariah stood up straight and crossed her arms.
Kilncare looked impressed for a second, then annoyed. “Okay, so what is it then?”
“King Westion’s Red Knight General,” she said softly, but fiercely.
Kilncare looked intrigued. “That was you?” he asked. Sariah didn’t say a word but held his eyes with hers. Kilncare looked away first. “I need Duke Hurris to have an accident. The pay will be standard and paid upon hearing of his untimely, but not murdered, demise.”
Sariah felt like she was slapped in the face. “Standard and paid after the job is done,” she said. She moved around the chair so fast that Kilncare didn’t have time to move. She sat down and leaned forward. Her eyes almost seemed to glow. “You hire me to kill your very own king’s cousin and tell me to do it like a common thieftaker?” she asked. “Maybe I will take a chance on being stupid.”
Kilncare slowly lifted his hands in surrender. “Take it or leave it Sariah. You do this job and we can go back to the relationship we had when Tomias was your handler. I don’t know if you really pulled off the Red Knight General. All I have is your word, and that is not the same as Tomias’”
Sariah moved so fast again she was back standing behind the chair before Kilncare could barely blink. “I can tell you that my word is better than Tomais’. I’ll do your job, but I warn you, do not try to double cross me. The last man to do so died screaming.”
Kilncare clapped his hands and disappeared in the shadow flames. “Don’t make threats you cannot make true,” he said. Sariah smiled and flicked something. Kilncare doubled over as one of the manacles from the chair in the center of the room hit him in the chest.
“That could have been your throat,” Sariah said. “I’ll just let myself out.”