Hello! this is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise. This week as a bonus I was sick and exhausted to boot!
You can find the first post in the series here.
Last week’s post is here.
Following Carmen through the streets of the Bonemarket, I made an effort not to glance up at Night’s Finger looming over us. The building was fascinating at this distance, a jumble of towers woven together, some of which appeared to be made from black glass, others from bricks of dark grey stone. I did not want to stand out by gaping at it.
The Bonemarket was less crowded than most districts in Myrrhn. The people on the streets moved with purpose, and there were no buskers, food carts, or wagons where merchants sold goods. There were very few shops in general, but I was always surprised at the number of inns, taverns, and fountain squares we passed through.
I did not see anyone who looked like an Assassin, of course.
Carmen had pulled down her hood, and pulled off some of the fake skin that made her look like an old woman. She moved through the streets with real familiarity, ducking through alleys and hidden doorways to shorten our trip. Soon enough we arrived at a sturdy doorway in a back alley courtyard.
“Welcome to my lair, Old Wolf. Come on in.”
I hesitated for a moment, unsure of myself. Was Carmen just being flirtatious or seeking something more? And what if she was.
Carmen’s was already pulling off her clothes as I entered the little house, hanging the baggy robe in one of three walk-in closets in her front hall. Distracted by the sight of her lithe form appearing from beneath the dumpy clothing, it took me a while to realize that her abode was actually much larger than it appeared from the outside.
“Do you like the view?”
“Yes. The room is nice too.”
By the time that my attention snapped back to Carmen, she was down to her underwear. It was far more functional than the frilly garments that some women wear for display, and much sturdier than the practical stuff. It was held on with sturdy straps almost like a suit of leather armour. As I watched, Carmen’s fingers deftly undid the straps lifted the bra off. Her breasts were not especially large, but they practically exploded as the garment containing them fell to the ground.
“Gods, that thing is restrictive.”
“Something like that. Custom made and very expensive. Do you like it?”
“Sure, I have to say it does look better on the floor though.”
“Thank you. Maybe we can compare equipment a little more thoroughly sometime.”
Carmen stretched, giving me a lovely view of her profile and the muscles beneath her sun-kissed skin. I laughed. Being a doorman for The Doxies’s Union meant I was used to conversations with beautiful and alluring women in various states of undress. Carmen was a skilled flirt, but I wasn’t breaking a sweat as I enjoyed the view and the conversation.
“Honestly, I would enjoy that, in any sense of the sentence, Carmen. You seem alright for an assassin, although I wonder if you are trying to give an old man a heart-attack as part of a contract.”
“You don’t need to worry about my knives anymore, Ragnar. I might have other plans for you, but you’ve shown me great kindness.
“You have been helpful to me as well…”
“Actually, I haven’t.”
I raised a brow. Carmen seemed to deflate a little, shifting from seductive to vulnerable.
“I was thinking of fucking your brains out to assuage my guilt over this, but it seems like a stupid idea now.”
Carmen looked me in the eye. All thoughts of sex fled as I read the signs of inner conflict in her gaze.
“Do you remember the crates that Cinder was loading onto her ship, and how Ulfgorr was after them?”
“How could I forget? Was that one of the Thirteen with you?”
“Yes, Master Stiv.”
I nodded. I had heard of old man Stiv before. It did not surprise me that one of the Thirteen would appear if Wolki and Ulfgorr were involved.
“You see Ragnar,” said Carmen. “After you set me straight in our meeting in Cliffshadow, the Nightblades gave me instructions to steer you toward Cinder. You have a way of… breaking… complex entanglements.”
“What was in the crates?”
“I don’t know about the ones that we recovered from the ship, but I do know that both The Guild and Ulfgorr searched for the crate that fell off the boat. They found the crate, but not the contents. Ulfgorr attacked you because he thinks you have it; a sword I heard. I don’t know much else, and The Guild would be very angry with me for telling you this much.”
I absorbed the information, surprised at Carmen’s candor. Could I believe her? And what kind of sword would set Wolki and the Nightblades against each other?
“Thank you, Carmen.”
“I’m sorry, Ragnar.”
“Don’t be. I understand conflicting loyalties.”
“I’m an idiot, let me get dressed.”
“You are not, and I am certain that the sex would have been fantastic.”
She laughed. “Thanks, I may take an I owe you on that, Old Wolf…”