The Shadow Wolf Sagas are a way of exercising my writing skills, particularly first drafting and first person POV.
Blade Breaker 1.1 — first part of the series.
Blade Breaker 1.4 — Last week’s chapter, in case you missed it.
Watch Sargent Murith did not look especially pleased to see me. I doubt she was unsettled by the sight of a man with a bloodied warhammer, standing over two corpses, grinning like a madman; the craven do not last long as as watch officers in this city.
“Hold right there,” said Murith, voice more resigned that commanding.
“Of course, officer,” I said. “I will be happy to cooperate.”
Murith directed her men to spread out and canvas the witnesses. As always her crew seemed better trained and diligent about their tasks than most watchmen. None of them even asked me for bribes. In the meantime I cleaned off my hammer and hooked it back to the back of my belt, moving slowly and carefully. After a moment Murith turned back to me.
“Ragnar Grimfang,” she said. “What is your explanation for this mess?”
“Well met, Watch Sargent Murith,” I responded. “I was on my way to the shops when these lads and two of their friends decided to rob me of my money and my life. I claim self-defence.”
“You have permits for those weapons?” she asked.
“You know I do, Murith,” I said. “They are on file with the watch, same as always. You working Burning Hill now?”
“I’m filling in for a friend,” said Murith, squatting down and examining my dead. “Wounded in the line of duty — buggers use poison on their knives over here, more often than not. I was just on my way to see if I could fine a few of the alchemists who supply them.”
“Tough to make that stick,” I said.
“Aye, but it will make some of them think twice,” said Murith. “You working a case?”
“Yes,” I answered. I saw a flash in her eyes. Watch Sargent Murith loves all aspects of the craft of investigation; this is why she is stuck as a petty Watch Sargent, as an investigator she would be far too good at actually solving crimes and she was not amenable to bribes. I often consulted Murith when I needed someone with a nose for investigation to challenge my ideas; the red-haired dwarf was as thorough and tenacious as she was observant. Occasionally Murith provided assistance in the field — she was a remarkable shot with her arbalest, as well as quiet, cautious, and not bound to jump at shadows. “I can’t let you in on this one Murith, it involves an assassination.”
Murith whistled “Been nice knowing you, Northman. Even you should know better than to stick your nose into guild business.”
“If fate has it that I will die, who am I to gainsay?” I said. Murith was born in Myrrhn, ran with the twilight docks gangs as youth, the assassin’s guild and the merchants houses were the gods of her youth.
“I thought you always said that you were fateless now that you have died once?” said Murith, frowning.
“It came to my lips without thinking,” I responded.
“Automatic?” said Murith. “Much like what you did to these guys. I hate to get on your case Ragnar, but even street rats have family; you could end up making serious enemies. A man of your skills could easily have disarmed them.”
“If we were in Nordan lands, I would make amends with their kin,” I said, leaving out the part where I felt that I thought I was doing the city a favour by ending them. “But we are not and such an action would be frowned upon here. And if I had not been the one to emerge from this alley, you might be collecting the corpse of their victim.”
Merith sighed. “You think this is random attack?”
“I’m not entirely convinced that it is,” I said. “But anyone who knows me enough to want to kill me would send more men.”
“I’d just drop lifebane in your mead,” said Merith.
“Ouch,” I said. “But an empty jest, we both know you can’t afford lifebane on a Watch Sargent’s salary, and last time I checked Murith Stouthand was not padding her vaults with bribes.”
“I might make an exception to be rid of a troublesome Nordan,” she growled. “Now off with you, my friend, before you set a bad example for my lads.”
I bowed to Merith, who flashed me a smile, before resuming my journey to find out a little about the poison that my assassin friend had used on Sapphire and her lover.
Burning Hill is organized even more haphazardly than the rest of Myrrhn, a mix of broad streets filled with gaudy and elegant shops that sell love potions and life extending creams; maze-like alleys that house the enraptured connoisseurs of the latest addictive creation of shady labs; and the specialty shops, the abodes of master alchemists who had earned reputations as specialists, and catered to select customers. Poison is not illegal in Myrrhn, but good poison, like the kind that paralyze a giant-blooded Nordan while you slowly cut him to pieces are the province of the specialists. I had no idea who sold such things, but I did know a fellow who might.
Git Thunderpants was a useful goblin to know. He was a little on the crazy side, which meant he didn’t mind working with a man like me, but quite good at his trade. I occasionally hired him to analyze poisons and drugs, and once brought him on a little expedition in search of treasure in the undercity. Git’s place was a tall, thin stone house with a chimney that perpetually spewed strange smelling smoke into the air.
I have no doubt that Git was a major contributor to the famed ‘acid fog’ of the Burning Hills district.