Is it Thursday again already? Time to join Ragnar Grimfang, Twiceborn and Exile, once more.
“Murder-Wight,” I hissed, tensing. The ominous figure at the end of the tunnel, bathed in torchlight and shadow, did not move. Murder-Wights were a dangerous form of undead: fast, incredibly strong, and nearly impossible to destroy quickly.
Git remained silent, his hands already inside his pouches. His brow was furrowed and his eyes were intent on the wight. I did not know what concoction he was carrying that he thought could harm such a being, nor did I want to be around when he threw it.
“Easy,” I whispered. “There may be another way in.”
Before Git could respond, the door behind the wight swung open. A woman’s voice called to us from within.
“Ragnar Grimfang and Git Thunderpants, please come in. I would like to get this over with and return to business.”
The Murder-Wight stepped into the light. It looked like a corpse with its eyes and mouth sewn shut, but its movements betrayed a grace and vitality rare even in the undead.It gave a bow and gestured for us to enter.
“Garm is pissing on us today,” I muttered, invoking the chief god of my people. “Let’s go my friend, it appears we are expected.”
“How do we know it isn’t a trap?”
“If it was, I expect the wight would have attacked us from ambush seeing as they knew we were coming.”
“Good point. Next time we should bring Renoit.”
I walked up the corridor toward The Rarest Reds. The scents of fresh blood — human, animal, and some which I did not recognize — wafted through the air, unmistakable, but not overpowering. To my relief the Murder-Wight stepped into the shop before us, sparring me the tension of having it at my back. It was a big one, and well-armed with mail and a sword and club. The Wight kept moving as we stepped into the shop, coming to rest in a corner.
“He doesn’t bite,” said a voice, close to my ear. I turned, nearly jumping, and found an elegantly dressed woman standing next to me. I took note of her pale skin, green eyes, and red hair. She smiled at my discomfort. “I on the other hand would pay a gold bar for a pint of you.”
“Come again?” I asked.
She smiled, showing me her teeth. A vampire. But a pretty one, and not hostile. Git poked me, as if it to remind me of our task, while Zara sauntered away. The shop was well appointed, especially for a place in the Undercity market. With dozens of works of art, landscapes and nudes mostly, and expensive looking fixtures. I did not see any blood, save for ten small vials on a carved obsidian pedestal.
“How did you know we were coming?”
“It pays to keep an eye on the movements of the Undercity,” she said. “I am Zara. This is my shop.”
“How did you know to look for us?”
“In a word: Cinder,” said Zara, her smile fading. “That bastard has been no end of trouble. He used to work for me until I found out that he was turning street toughs.”
“You don’t approve?” I asked.
“I have lived through enough periods where my kind were hunted down like dogs and left to burn in the sun,” said Zara. “Cinder is reckless. Violent. He dreams of dominion with our kind ruling over herds of mortals.”
“You don’t share his dreams?”
Zara snorted. “We all fantasize about power Nordan. But why start a war when I can buy and sell of the blood I need. I live a comfortable life and I intend to survive for a very long time. Ruling from a throne of skulls only paints a target on your back for every other maniac. Cinder was a fool.”
“I take it he left on bad terms?”
“He wrecked a small fortune worth of stock and tried to strike me. My guards are most capable, however.”
“Can you help me find him?”
“Normally that kind of information would cost you a pint,” said Zara, eyes flashing for a moment. “But it would serve me well if Cinder was put to rest before his schemes cause me more trouble. I have a list of his current haunts. You will find it in the red envelope on the pedestal by the door on your way out.”
“I thank you,”
“You can thank me by leaving quickly. I have more business to attend to this evening.”
I nodded, and seeing nothing to rouse my ire in the little blood-shop, I turned to leave.
Zara’s voice tickled my ears as we left. “Be careful Twiceborn, I would hate to see blood like yours go to waste!”