Part 16:

Another Job Well Done

Kajulan had not had a quiet day in all her time as an outlaw. How ironic then that her streak had been broken by coming under the sway of a mob boss. She found it quite amusing, and laughed to herself about it, although Tekole was the only one paying close enough attention to her to notice, and he shot her a questioning glance. The sun was setting as they headed back, an entire day wasted lounging in a bar. Well, three of them lounged. Ladu had been napping.

Kajulan was surprisingly unworldly for someone in a life of roguery, but she wasn’t so naive as to think that this was how things usually went down. Something was going on. Something bad. Or perhaps it was something good. She didn’t particularly like Jethin, after all, and it definitely seemed bad for him.

Kajulan looked over at Tekole, who looked back at her and smiled. She wondered if he was having the same kinds of thoughts she was, about the strange day they had just had, and what kind of trajectory Uruda was on. He wasn’t.

The four eventually reached the tall building, arriving under very different circumstances than they had the night before. Ladu approached the entrance, grabbing the knocker and striking it with ferocious rapidity. It was only a few seconds before the slit in the door flew open.

“Stop!” shouted the man answering. “You only need to do it once!” He looked down, saw Ladu, and sighed. “Just come in.”

The lobby had been redecorated yet again, the table from Kajulan and Tekole’s initiation having been replaced with a single desk at the back of the room. Jethin was sitting there, illuminated by the light of an elaborate candle holder and dressed in the same red and teal robes as before. In his right hand he held a small glass of almost clear liquid, just a twinge of pink visible in the candle light, as he poured over some sort of document.

Ladu looked up at the big man beside him, who pretended to not see him. Ladu sighed, and stepped forward.

“Excuse me sir,” he said.

Jethin didn’t respond, almost as if he hadn’t heard, but Ladu knew better than to repeat himself. A few moments passed.

“Yes Ladu?” asked Jethin, finally looking up. “Well? What is it?”

Ladu’s hands balled themselves into fists, and his eyelids began to blink rapidly. He braced himself. “Well sir, it’s about Lalha, that barkeep who stopped making her payments.”

Jethin took a sip from his glass, his lips puckering as he did so, and looked back down at the paper in front of him. “Yes? And what about her?”

“Well, she still hasn’t made her payments.”

“And why is that?”

Ladu took a deep breath. “She’s, she’s making payments to someone else now. She had protection when we went to shake her down. All of them were albi. Looked like they were Fulcrum’s Hooks.” Tekole looked over at Kajulan, who merely shrugged.

“Hmm.” Replied Jethin. “Interesting.”

Ladu waited for a further response, but it never came, Jethin instead choosing to carry on with what he had been doing. And now Ladu was terrified. In disbelief as well, but mostly terrified.

At that moment the front doors swung open, and in entered another tajkyn man, darker in complexion than Jethin but with a slight twinge of red in his otherwise black hair. He was dressed in the same manner as most of the others were, but the clothes felt different on him, as if they somehow fit him better. He walked straight past the four and kneeled before Jethin, as he did so taking a bloody curved blade and laying it across the desk. Jethin stood, and smiled.

“Excellent!” said Jethin, slowly clapping his hands as he spoke. “Another job well done!”

Ladu looked at the sword, and then back at Jethin, his face turning pale and his wrinkles somehow growing. “You didn’t. . .”

Jethin’s smile shrunk into a deep frown. “Didn’t what?”

Ladu didn’t care if the question was rhetorical. He was fuming now. “You had a member of the Fulcrum’s Hooks killed!? And at the same time sent us out on patrol, in territory you knew they were encroaching on!? If the news had reached them before our little encounter, we could’ve been killed!” Ladu stopped, and looked down in thought. “No, we would’ve been killed!”

Jethin’s smile returned, and he sat back down. He shook his head. “Ladu. You foolish, simple man. Do not worry about things that don’t concern you.”

“I don’t know,” Kajulan said, perhaps a little louder than she meant to. “It kind of sounds like it concerns him.”

Jethin looked over at her, and stood. He began to walk, passing both the kneeling man and Ladu, his expression not changing the entire time. He came to stand directly in front of her, uncomfortably close. Tekole started to lurch forward, but the big man grabbed him.

Jethin stared at Kajulan. “Well well,” he said, flicking her on the nose. “Seems like someone can’t manage her manners.” Kajulan simply stared back at him, with a look of silent rage. The only thing stopping her from doing something stupid like antagonizing him further was knowing just how badly he wanted her to.

Jethin turned. “Well, I’m off to bed.” He began to leave, stopping besides the still kneeling assassin. “I am so sorry, my domutor. You are relieved.”

“Thank you my lord,” the man said quietly. He waited for Jethin to go, before standing and leaving as well.

Ladu turned towards Kajulan. “Thanks for standing up for me,” he said. “But don’t do something stupid like that again. You’re going to get yourself killed.”

“Hey!” said Kajulan, crossing her arms. “You started it.”

“Yeah, and that was stupid of me.” Ladu sighed, looking over at Tekole and then to Kajulan again. “Well, you two have a good night.” He backed up, and did an awkward little wave. “Bye.”