A little experiment of mine, written raw for first draft practice.
I left the Pink Pearl whistling the tune of Furis and the Trolls, an old song about the red-haired god’s quest for vengeance and redemption. I was in a good mood, wide awake, my senses alive to the world; I was on the hunt. My prey was dangerous, so dangerous, in fact, that I would likely be sent to my grave a second time.
Myrrhn is notorious throughout the world for its assassins. Not only does the guild here operate semi-publicly, but they are willing to offer a money back guarantee on their services. The merchant houses of the city use the guild to eliminate rivals and settle differences when negotiations are not enough. Interestingly, putting a price on a rival’s death often causes a miser to reconsider the violent options. Myrrhnese assassins do come cheap, and the guild works very hard to ensure that they have a monopoly on killers for hire. Not even the hardest gangers are reckless enough to cross them.
The guild is ruled by nine grand-masters, the very best of the guild, colloquially referred to as the Nine. To advance in the guild, one can wait for an opening, or enterprising assassins can challenge their superiors. I am not aware of the specifics of these challenges, beyond heresay, but they are vicious affairs that always end in the death of one of the participants. The only commonly known restriction on challenges is that an assassin cannot challenge his or her teacher, or their teacher’s teacher.
The guild is feared, but its assassins are one of the city’s major exports. They bring in hordes of gold from as far away as Dragmar and Thrax, anywhere where the death of a rival, quiet or brutal, is desired. They pay their taxes too, a major source of revenue for the city, and even cooperate with authorities when investigating unsanctioned murders by their membership.
The rules governing assassinations in Myrrhn are as unique as they are amusing to someone like me. There is a strange etiquette to the process, including rules of engagement and self defence laws., even places within the city where killing is not allowed. I do know that contacts are publicly listed on the boards at the Camel’s Tower, the guild’s place of business. One can find out if there is a contact on one’s head or even pay a fee to see if there is a contract on a named person, as well as how much that contract is worth. Of course, the tower is one of the places where an assassin is free to strike in any way they wish. Amusing.
Of course many of those who scoff at the assassins of Myrrhn also scoff at the weregild, which is something to consider.
I decided to check the Camel’s Tower. The assassin would have taken out a contract against Sapphire and her Nordan lover, if only to maintain propriety with guild regulations. Information like how much money he put the contract up for and when he did it would help me get a better sense of who I was up against, build a better picture of my intended prey. Of course, the trip would be somewhat dangerous for me, I am not very popular with the guild, something about killing the last couple of assassins who tried to cash in on me. It would be a enjoyable excursion.
Firstly, however, I wanted to head down to the shops and see if I could find an alchemist who could mix up a poison that could paralyze a half-giant. Such a concoction would be rare and expensive, and I doubted that our assassin would want to buy poor quality goods and risk having an angry Nordan making a mess of his plans.
The street outside the brothel was quiet. Madama Glorianna’s carriage was gone. An establishment that catered to the type of clientele that the Pink Pearl did was slow until the trading houses were closed for the day. I felt a shiver down my spine, sniffed the air, and caught a whiff of something off. I did not see anyone, but I was sure I was being watched.
I spotted a likely looking alleyway, about as dark as one would find in this part of the city, and slipped in. I waited for a minute, then five… I heard a scraping sound on the roof above me, but no one appeared, and no bolt slammed into me from a window across the street. Disappointing. Waiting in the alley, I felt like a man left waiting for a dance. Disappointing. I let go of my weapons and left the alley. It was a long walk to Burning Hill.
Alchemists are technically merchants, but no one wants to set up shop next to one, not even in Myrrhn. I suppose it might be because of the explosions, or perhaps the occasional flesh-eating gas-cloud blowing down the street. Burning Hill got its monicker from the frequent and spectacular fires, after all.
I hated the smell of the place. My nose started to twitch even before I had crossed the bridge. Sulphur. Acid. Blood. Smoke. Mercury. Exotic Spices. Powdered Gems. Amonia. Stranger scents that I could not identify. I spat, startling a noblewoman and earning a reproachful look from her bodyguard. I smiled at the man, looking him in the eye and tilting my chin his way. He shook his head and moved on, following his charge instead of responding to my juvenile challenge. A better bodyguard then most. I wondered briefly what his mistress was after: drugs? love potions? poison?
The addicts in the alleys, victims of the more unscrupulous alchemists, eyes full of dreams and nightmares, watched as I moved past the gaudier shops, heading to the heart of the place. I knew someone who would be able to help identify the poison.
I was nearing my destination, travelling through a dark passage between two old shops when three men with wild hair and long knives stepped out in front of me. I heard the sound of footsteps coming up behind me, as well. I could smell poison and madness, and saw the desire to kill in their eyes.