“I want that son of a bitch killed!” Kengarn hissed, his aged face contorted like a crumpled up map.

     Livgren, Fourth Captain of the Honorable Merchant Guard (Drogarth), looked at the other man without expression, though he was just as angry as the merchant. He was a tall, strong man with steely gray hair and a close-cropped beard, somewhere around forty years in age. He seethed internally because Kengarn had gradually begun to make more and more demands on him. He didn’t mind using his influence for his own profit — but this madman across from him was going to push him beyond the limits of safety if he had his way.

     He tried a slight smile. “Kengarn. I really don’t think I can help you. Darton is a cavalier; do you realize what that means? It means that he is one of the four highest-placed, most important law enforcement officials in Drogarth. He is above even the City Marshal, and, in the Baron’s eyes, far, far above even the whole of our organization. We help to keep peace in this city — the upper tiers, of course — but we are not officially sanctioned. We’re basically an army of vigilantes, with no real authority other than the guild’s money and our own swords.”


     “So?” Livgren allowed a trace of his anger to show. “So? Let me tell you so! If I touch Darton, if I so much as fart wrong near him, those other goddamn cavaliers will be on my ass quicker than you can say ‘gold.’ Those three would take on the whole guard if they had to, and win. You pay good money, and I know you’re working for a good cause,” Kengarn hadn’t told him what this cause was, though his money made Livgren see it in a positive light, “but you cannot pay me enough to tackle a cavalier. I suppose you could get that slaver friend of yours to find someone to do the job for you, but I would advise against even that.”


     “It’s simple,” Livgren said, leaning forward, his eyes hard. “If all of a sudden one of Grenald’s glory boys is killed, what do you think is going to happen? Hmm? You think it’s gonna be ignored? Well it’s not. There will be an investigation. And it will be led by his three comrades. Perhaps they’d get nowhere. But if by some chance they did, if somehow they got wind of your little cause, I have a feeling it could really fuck up your day.”

     “They’d find out nothing,” Kengarn said, though he looked a bit nonplussed.

     “How do you know? I think they would. If something happens to Darton, I think they’re gonna head right for you.”


     “I said they’ll head right for you. You know why? Because he’s shadowing you, that’s why. Do you think they don’t know that? Do you think this is just something the kid decided to do to amuse himself? He has a reason, or he wouldn’t even know you exist. And you can bet those other bastards know about it.” He leaned forward more, smiling. “Maybe they already know all about your cause, have you thought of that?”

     A look of shock was on the merchant’s face. Obviously he hadn’t. And, just as obviously, he found no pleasure in the idea. Not for the first time, Livgren wondered exactly what this cause was that he was aiding.

     Kengarn moved his head slowly side to side in weak denial. “No…they can’t know. It’s not possible…”

     “Anything’s possible. If I were you, I’d cover my ass, and quick. And that doesn’t mean by killing Darton, either.”

     The merchant nodded. “Perhaps you’re right. I’ll do what I can.” He seemed to get hold of himself, then a gleam came into his eyes. “I nearly forgot why I came here in the first place.”

     “Why was that?”

     “I need more help from you and your people. For the cause.” Mocking the emphasis Livgren had put on the word.

     Livgren leaned back and took a deep breath. He didn’t like the sound of this. “What kind of help are you talking about?”

     “Mainly strong-arm stuff. I want your help in taking over the Undercity.”

     Livgren’s jaw fell. “What?!? How in the hell do you propose to do that?”

     Kengarn’s mouth twisted into a cold smile. “First, we have to kill all the thieves.”



...CHAPTER 13...