Part 10:

Dead Soon Anyways

Rain began to fall from the night sky, perfectly timed to cover the two scofflaws’ retreat. It had begun not as a drizzle but as a downpour, and would surely disorient any in pursuit. Tekole threw his arms over his head in an attempt to stay dry, but almost immediately the stinging cold on his bare skin forced him to drop them. Kajulan meanwhile barely even registered the downpour, drunk on adrenaline if not a drop of alcohol.

The two approached a corner, but before they could turn it an imposing figure stepped out, a giant of a tajkyn man dressed in tunic, poncho, and hat, an outfit that was a perfect match with that of the short man from the casino. For once in her life two and two clicked, and Kajulan’s sense of self preservation kicked in. She swung around, pushing on Tekole’s shoulder to force him to do so as well, but before they could start to run the short man from earlier stepped out, quickly moving to the center of the road.

It was here that, after causing one smart decision, Kajulan’s newfound sense of self preservation forced a poor one. Perhaps it was simply a fear response born from recognition, perhaps the short man exuded an intimidating aura, or perhaps it was the aforementioned adrenaline drunkenness, but Kajulan decided to swing around again, and tried to force her way past the big man. She landed on the ground with a splash almost immediately, half thrown and half simply bouncing off the man’s massive frame. Only through sheer will did she keep the money-filled tankard upright. Tekole responded aggressively, rushing at the big man with arms raised, but he too was thrown to the ground, with only a modicum more effort. He did not have the willpower to keep his grip, and the statue fell to the ground as well.

Kajulan, eyes closed to block out the rain, gritted her teeth and came to her feet. She dashed forward, drawing and striking with her good knife in one swift motion, and the blade sunk into the big man’s hip. He shoved Kajulan away before she could withdraw it, but this time she kept her footing.

Tekole then stood, his niceish clothes thoroughly soaked, and threw his weight forward. He collided with the big man who, already shaken from the knife in his side, went tumbling to the ground. Kajulan pulled out her other knife, ready to go nuts with the built in knuckle dusters, but stopped when she heard a click behind her. Even through the downpour, she recognized it as the sound of a revolver shot being pushed into its barrel. She put her hands up, and Tekole, witnessing this, put his up as well.

“You need to drop the knife too,” said the short man. Kajulan did so, and the short man ran over, picking it up as well as placing the statue of the Carver under his arm, the whole time keeping his gun trained on her. Meanwhile the big man slowly stood back up, and drew his own gun on Tekole.

Before anyone had a chance to speak further Kajulan turned to face the short man, shoving the money-filled tankard in his face as she did so. He broke gunpoint for only a second, shocked at the audacity of such a sudden movement, but quickly restored it.

“Look,” said Kajulan, shaking the mug, the coins now sloshing more than jingling. “We still have all the money right here! You can have it back!”

The short man snatched it from her. “We will take that,” he said. “But that’s not why we’re here.”

At that Kajulan felt a lump in her stomach. She did not like the legitimate sense of fear she was experiencing. It was unpleasant.

“What are you here for then?” she asked, despite already knowing the answer.

“We don’t need to tell you anything!” sneered the big man in a low voice, but the short one simply shook his head.

“No no, it’s alright,” he said. “No need to be difficult with people who will be dead soon anyways.” He look up at both Kajulan and Tekole. “You see, that place you robbed belonged to a man named Jethin. That mercenary you socked was also under his employ. And that money you took was a very important payment, one that has now been severely delayed.”

“Well,” began Kajulan, somehow less fearful now that the dire situation had been spelt out for her. “The casino kind of loaded Tekole up before we ran off, so there’s more money in that tankard now than what we originally stole. It should be enough to pay Jethin back, and then some!”

The short man stared at her, unmoved by her reasoning skills. “Jethin owns the casino too.” Kajulan tsked and splashed her foot down on the ground, while the short man stared into the mug, the coins now resting at the bottom of a rainwater soup. “It’s not even about the money,” he continued. He steeled himself, as if getting ready to say something unpleasant. “It’s about the principle, it’s about making sure the people don’t think they can strike above their station, it’s about. . .” He shook his head rapidly. “I’m not doing the rest of the speech. Look, the point is, you two really pissed him off, and he made sure we were all on the lookout for you. We just had the good luck to be the ones to actually find you.”

“Yeah,” snarked the big man. “Luck.”

“Oh, get over it!” shouted the short man, looking up just enough that his brim still protected him from the rain. “The knife’s not even all the way in!” He motioned with his hand, and Kajulan and Tekole were pushed together shoulder to shoulder, while the two men took position behind them. “Now let’s get going. I’m sick of standing in the rain.”