Tis Thursday, and time for some Shadow Wolf.
I have decided that the X.Y stands for Volume/Post #, this is thus the first post of the second volume.
Here is the first Shadow Wolf Serial, Blade Breaker, collected in full
“Ready for another round, Nordan?” she asked, eyes sparkling.
“Always, love,” I answered. “Brighthall Mead this time methinks.”
I remember so little of that day, considering how important it turned out to be. There was a lull in the Whore’s War, which meant the Twins were winning. I think it was raining, but in Myrrhn it rains so often that it seems to spill over into all my memories of the place, accurate or not. Just as well, though, since I think the city looks quite ugly in the full light of the sun.
Delilah, my server at the famed Inn of the Willing Wench, gifted me with another smile and glided away. I watched her go, weaving through the crowded common room with a nimble grace that none of the other servers, even the Elven girls, could match. It was a pleasure to watch her move, like an acrobat or a master swordswoman.
She returned to my table with a flagon of mead in each hand. Delilah was small, petite as they say in Loragons, and the glasses looked enormous in her hands. She held them as steady as a man twice her size though, and weaved through the crowd just as deftly with her burden.
“Two?” I said. “That’s thinking ahead, I suppose.”
Delilah lay put the flagons on the table in front of me. Of all the things I remember about that girl, other than grace and quick fingers, her smile was the one that hurt. It was bright and beautiful… and sly. Where Delilah grew up, people rarely smiled openly or honestly, and she never quite perfected it.
As I watched that smile grew into a fiendish grin, and she took one of the flagons and moved it across the table from me, claiming it as her own as she sat.
“I’m on break,” said Delilah. “I put the drink on your tab, old wolf. I know you don’t mind.”
I hoisted my flagon in salute and she followed suit.
“Do you remember how we met Ragnar?” she asked, meeting my eyes.
“You ask me that every time we drink together,” I said.
“I like hearing the story,” said Delilah. “It will be the beginning of my legend, I think. Go on.”
I laughed. “You picked an old man’s pocket, what sort of heroic deed is that?”
“I pilfered the sporin of a twiceborn!” said Delilah, making what I assume was her Ragnar face. “An exile from the north. A slayer of beasts and men, fearsome and deadly. I faced him without fear–“
“Stealing his coins?” I finished.
“Damn right,” said Delilah. “That gold was wasted on you, Northman. Only I didn’t count on you being able to track me down.”
“You’re lucky I found you using the money to help your little gang,” I said.
Delilah smiled. “I’m lucky that you found me. After all, you brought me here, and working in this place is better than being on the streets as an older girl.”
We touched our glasses and played at cards for the rest of Delilah’s break. She was a deft cheat and won every hand. When her break was over she flashed me a smile as she wove through the crowd again. It was the last time I remember seeing her.
All of this flashed through my mind as I knelt over a small body in a ruined cellar. Delilah had been missing for more than a week. I went out looking for her, but it was Sargent of the watch Murith Stouthand who found her first.
“Watchman Grigz found her this morning,” said Murith. “Dawn patrol. The body is fresh. When I saw the description I matched it to your girl. I’m sorry Ragnar.”
“Thank you Murith,” I said.
Memory is a tricky thing. As I stood there looking down at the broken body of a friend the images of her death seeped into those scenes. As she sat across me, raising a glass and thanking me for helping her, in a roundabout way of course, her throat was a crimson ruin. I shook it off.
“There’s more, Ragnar,” said Murith. “Notice how she does not have any blood in her.”
I focused on the details. There was a little blood on the jagged wound on Delilah’s throat, but remarkably little on the rest of her body.
“Loot at her ankles,” Murith continued.
I saw bruises there. I recognized shackle marks. A low growl escaped my throat.
“What is this Murith?” I asked. “What is happening here?”