No Honor Among Thieves (part 4)

Posted: January 7, 2017 in Fantasy, No Honor Among Thieves
Tags: , , ,

Part one is here.

Part two is here.

Part three is here.

Comments as always are welcome, and I’m curious if recaps are necessary or would be welcome.

“Well?” Gray stood up, unfolding herself from the too small chair she’d crouched on in the cramped room. Shelves lined with books obscured the walls, the cases leaning at odd angles, holding each other up. Across from her, Tamara shifted in her chair, rubbing sleep away from her eyes.

The cutter, a stooped old woman missing most of her hair and teeth offered a gap toothed smile. “The boy will live. You brought him to me in a timely fashion. There’s little chance for infection. Always a risk with those kinds of wounds. As it is he’s sleeping now.”

She held out one blood stained hand, the offending crossbow quarrel clutched in her hand, dried blood crusted under her clipped short nails. Gray took the quarrel, slipped it into her satchel. “Can he walk?”

“Not until tomorrow at the earliest. More likely the day after that. Gut wounds are nothing to take lightly.” The cutter ran her hand over the stubble of her close shorn head. Gray knew that professional chirugeons kept their heads close shaved to prevent bits of hair falling into the wounds they treated. This cutter’s sloppiness for her own personal care showed how far from professional they were. She also didn’t ask as many questions as a professional might.

“So he can stay here?” Gray asked.

The cutter nodded. “If you can pay.”

Gray’s lips pressed into a tight line. She reached into her satchel, fingers touching the cool metal of the necklace she’d nicked from Heron’s. She pulled it out, set it on a side table. She pulled out a velvet cloth from the bag, unrolling it to reveal a set of fine tools. She eyed the piece, picked out one of the smaller sized stones.

“Not that one, dear. The one next to it,” the cutter said, leaning over her shoulder.

Gray gritted her teeth and pried out the stone the cutter indicated. The woman picked it up with deft fingers and made it disappear somewhere within the layered robes she wore, all of it stained with Gray didn’t want to think about what.

“I only have the room for the one of you, and I might have other paying customers. So shoo. Come back tomorrow, but none too early, understand?”

“Yes,” Gray all but growled, hating to be separated from any of her crew. “Come on, Tamara.”

“But, Artair-“

“Will be fine. It’s not like he’s going anywhere.” Gray turned and stormed out of the cutter’s shop, slamming the door open a bit more forcefully than might have been strictly necessary. Outside, a light rain was falling. She pulled up her hood and hunched her shoulders, trying to look smaller, less than a target. She figured Barrion would be after them by now, and probably the guard on top of it.

“Do you trust that old hag with Artair?” Tamara asked, catching up with Gray and doing her best to match her long-legged stride. “What if she contacts the guards? Or Barrion?”

Gray laughed and shook her head. She jabbed her thumb back toward the cutter’s shop. “An unlicensed cutter going to the guard?” She laughed then spat a gob of mucus into the gutter. She paused, narrowing her eyes. “I can see where she might go to Barrion, but I doubt. That type enjoys their independence, and most of them don’t want to be seen taking sides. Any sides.”

“But she’ll help us? Isn’t that taking sides?” Tamara didn’t bother pulling her own hood up, the rain plastering her hair to her face, instead pulling the collar up on the long leather coat she wore.

Gray shook her head. “No. She’s taking our money. There’s a difference.”

“And if someone offers her more money to give us up?”

Gray shrugged and stepped her pace up, leaving Tamara struggling to catch up. They crossed a bridge over into the twisted streets of the Lower Merchant Quarter, an older section of the city that grew random and haphazard, where streets crossed over themselves and it was possible to find the same street perpendicular to itself. It housed chirugeons licensed and otherwise, black market alchemists, fences, cobblers, tinkers, thieves, and counterfeiters. Gray stepped into one overhanging doorway, rapped her knuckles against the warped wood of the door.

A panel in the door slid open, a pinched face peering out. “We’re closed until tomorrow. Come back then.”

Gray smiled. “Can’t do it, Jayce. Got a bit I need to move tonight.”

The eyes behind the door narrowed. “Gray? What dark trouble do you bring to my door? I swear you don’t bring nothing but trouble girl.”

Gray’s smile grew a little wider, and she held up what was left of the necklace she’d nicked from Heron’s. “Now don’t be like that, Jayce. I bring a bit more than just trouble to your door.”

The panel slammed shut, and for a moment Gray worried Jayce was going to leave her and Tamara standing out in the rain. Then she heard the bar being drawn back and the door opened.

“Are you going to stand out there all night?” Jayce asked, ushering them into her shop. “Or are you trying to attract the attention of the watch?”

Gray and Tamara entered, the warm air of the shop embracing them like a blanket after the cold rain outside. Gray’s head brushed against the low ceiling of the shop, and the walls were covered with glass cabinets and tables. Everything displayed was cheap costume jewelry, glass and paste and cheap painted metal. Jayce walked around the counter and settled herself into her chair, her back stooped and crooked, her eyes peering blearily at the two thieves.

“Where’s the boy?” Jayce asked. “Run into more trouble than he could handle?”

Gray shook her head. “Almost, but not quite. He sends his regards.”

Jayce cackled, her open mouth revealing several gold and silver teeth. “I doubt it, but thank you for the pleasant lie. So what have you brought me?”

Tamara produced a velvet pouch, which she emptied out onto a clear part of the table. A variety of gemstones, mostly on the small size sparkled in the dim light cast by the braziers lit around the shop. Gray studied Jayce, though she wondered just when Tamara had picked the gems up and why she hadn’t offered one of them to the cutter as payment. Probably thought they were worth more to the fence.

“Not a bad selection,” Jayce said, fitting a jeweler’s loupe to her eye. “A body has to wonder where you came about such treasures, however.”

Gray frowned, felt her fingers drift to her sword hilt. “Does it matter?”

“It might,” Jayce snapped. “If the original owner comes looking for them.”

“We can take our business elsewhere, old woman,” Tamara said through gritted teeth.

“I didn’t say I wouldn’t take them.” Jayce pinched one of the gems between her fingers, held it up to the loupe. “Not bad. Not flawless, but most people won’t care about that. The size is good. Not so big as to be immediately notable, but more than chips. Very nice. I can take these, assuming the rest are of similar quality.”

“What about this?” Gray asked, producing the necklace.

Jayce hummed as she picked it up, turning it over in her hands. “What’s this? A mark? I recognize this. You hit Heron’s?” She looked up sharply, plucking the loupe from her eye.

Gray shifted on her feet, not meeting Jayce’s penetrating gaze. “Uhm… yes?”

“Last I heard he was under Barrion’s protection. Don’t tell me he slipped in his payments.”

“We, ah, aren’t operating for Barrion anymore,” Tamara offered.

Jayce blinked at the two of them, then shook her head. “You are working freelance? Never mind what I said about Artair, I think you may have bitten off more than you can chew.”

Gray’s eyes snapped up to meet Jayce. “That dung worm tried to have us killed without provocation. Now, do you have business with us or should we take it else where? I’m sure we can find a fence who’ll do business with us.”

“Now don’t be hasty,” Jayce said, placing her hand over the gems already on the table as Tamara opened the velvet pouch and reached for them. “I don’t have any love for Barrion, you should know that. And I don’t mind seeing his nose tweaked. And gold is gold, and the mark doesn’t matter once the metal is melted down.”

Gray smiled. “And I’m guessing you know someone that can do that?”

Jayce smiled back. “I just might.”

“And this stays between us?”

Jayce made a noise in the back of her throat. “All this time we’ve done business and you need to ask that question?”

“I suppose not,” Jayce replied. “And what of Heron?”

Gray shrugged. “He’s the reason Artair’s not here. Not sure if he’s alive or not, so the watch might be asking questions. We weren’t here, understand?”

“Never saw you before,” Jayce confirmed, fitting the loupe back over her eye. “Now, let’s see what you brought me.”

  1. […] one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Comments are always […]

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