She wore red: Part II

A story from the world of the Cursed Eight


Accipiter G. Goshawk

The story continues from where we left it She wore red: Part I

Her fingers twirled together into an elegant steeple as she looked at Sharp, calculating.

“I’m thrilled that my needs have tickled your fancy, Lady von Kairn. You are aware of course that the Vortian Embassy is practically a fortress, and that Ambassador Vanar is rumoured to be an incredibly dangerous individual.”

“I’ve heard of him,” she answered airily. “And it doesn’t matter. No job is beyond my skills. However,” she added, “I am only interested in ventures that are adequately funded.”

Sharp grimaced.

“I think I liked you better when you were tied up an agonizing, Lady von Kairn. Very well, name your price.”

“Four hundred Astrae, up front and the remaining six hundred when the job is done.”

“One thousand Astrae?!” he sputtered angrily, sending the chair smashing into the back wall with one blow of his globulous arm. “That’s more than the Twelve make in a year of taxes!”

“Give them time; they’ve only been here a decade,” she quipped softly.

“Your rate is preposterous, and if you really believe that I’ll-”

She stood up.

“I’ll spare us the trouble of the next fifteen minutes of negotiations. We both know that the Barahdrium is worth more than ten times the amount I’m asking. In its refined form, maybe fifteen times that amount over. We also know that you will cut it with less refined metals and sell it to the Detorak Empire for twice its worth. So, Sharp, one thousand for the job.”

The half-troll sputtered another moment, then finally he relented.

He pulled a small pouch from inside his coat and threw it at the thief’s feet.

“We have ourselves a deal, my Lady. I expect the Barahdrium to be on my desk by the full moon. And if you botch this, I suggest you pray real hard to Gerotil for help, because I will be coming for you.”

She bowed mockingly.

“I will see you, when the moon is full, Sharp,” she said as she sauntered up the stairs and out the door into the Astralian night.

*          *          *

The moon’s silvery light had only barely touched the walls of the Vortian Embassy, when the window to the Ambassador’s study swung open without a sound.

With catlike grace, Lady von Kairn crept into the room, pausing from time to time as her thick spectacles detected the faint magical auras of hidden traps.

She skirted one colourful wall tile and slid under an elaborate coffee table, avoiding the primed fire spell that would have blasted her to dust.

In seconds she had reached the desk and the hidden wall safe. Her dexterous hands twirled the three dials expertly, finally producing a much desired click. The safe swung open and the heavy bag quickly disappeared in to her sack, along with a large pouch of Astrae and a tasteful ruby necklace.

“Incomparably talented, I must say. Well done, my dear.”

By the second phrase she was already at the window, fleeing the rich voice emanating from the chair in the corner. But as she vaulted on to the balcony, he was there, clutching her wrist with a grip like stone and unyielding as death.

“The infamous Lady von Kairn, I presume,” came the warm rumble from somewhere by her ear. “I am honoured. Were the circumstances different I would bow, but…”

Her heart beat impossibly fast, as adrenaline surged through her veins, forcing her hand slowly down to the dagger hidden in a pocket by her thigh.

“I’m afraid your presence here this evening poses something of a diplomatic conundrum, my lady,” the voice purred, as the hand gripping her wrist twisted, forcing her to turn and face her captor. “But I’m sure that together we can come to some mutually beneficial arrange-”

Without thinking, she plunged the dagger into his side and dashed for the edge of the balcony. However the grip didn’t falter; her inertia sent her crashing to the ground, her hand still clutched tightly in the figure’s adamantine hand.

“That, was most inappropriate. And I’m afraid you may have ruined my best evening suit,” he rumbled thoughtfully. She winced in pain as he lifted her effortlessly and swung her across the room, causing her to crash into the large wooden chair.

She groaned. Her head was spinning and she had to concentrate not to lose consciousness. Across the room, the window slammed shut.-

The story concludes in She wore red: part III

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