“A Simple Desire” ~~Bladesman, Story Three

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“You must think I’m some kind of country bumpkin, who doesn’t have the faintest idea the fat wad of wool you’re trying to pull over my eyes. But, you see–I’ve lived long enough in the world to know just the kind of trick you’re trying to pull,” the man said to me, looking up at me with harsh eyes. Eyes that, in fact, bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the midnight sky above our heads. Tiny flecks of gold for stars, even.

However, I was used to dealing with his kind–the Withirae, as they were called. Or, night elves. Luckily for me, the black-like-midnight-oil-and-shimmering-like-gold eyes were the most unsettling aspect of them–except for their preternatural intelligence, of course.

Which was something I, a mere human, couldn’t hope to match.

“You’re expecting me to kill a Withirae–a night elf, for the One Lord’s Sake! I’m a human. I don’t regularly deal with elves, and I know I’ll have a lot harder time of it, so of course I’m charging higher. I’ll be up against a foe that will be able to spot my most difficult ploy from a mile away, and someone who will be ten times faster at anything I might do. I’ve got to charge you higher for a job that has higher risk.”

“You mean to say that you, the top-ranked Bladesman east of Ithinor State, will not take this challenge?” the Withirae responded, the sneer when he said ‘Bladesman’ excruciatingly evident in his cool voice. Clearly, he saw dealing with a mere taker-of-life an annoyance.

“I never said I refused this challenge. I just said that I–“

“–Wouldn’t take it for your usual price, I know.”

I couldn’t deal with this. Pausing for a moment, I swore to myself and turned away. I had to think. I could feel the eager desire for challenge coming on to me–and, I had to admit, I felt my bloodlust surge at the idea of an actual challenge.

Then again….

“I could get killed doing this. Look, I’ll accept this for a fifteen percent increase on my usual pay. Call that fifteen percent…insurance pay. That’s my final offer.”

The man frowned at me. “Honestly, I expected better from you, Bladesman. I heard you were the craziest man out there, and were the biggest up-and-coming name in Bladesmen. Yet, you won’t even accept this simple challenge….”

I opened my mouth to respond, but he didn’t seem to care: “It’s not like he’s that old, even. He’s only eighty years older than you are, of course. He’s also a writer, so he isn’t even that focused on the world around him.”

Finally, I manged to get a word in: “You know what? I’ll do it. Just…promise me one thing.”

“What would you like, young Bladesman?”

The man even put a cynical emphasis on ‘young’. Clearly, he and I wouldn’t be having my usual dinner-and-courtesy-conversation after I made the kill.

“I’d like you to tell your friends I’m willing to do kills for them.”

The man had the gall to smile.

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“End the Suffering”~~Bladesman, Story Two

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“So, you want me to do what?” It’s actually rather hard to hide my voice right now, even though I know situations like this require as much silence as I can muster. I just can’t hide the surprise, as I peer at the tiny women currently glaring up at me.

She puts a thin, well-manicured fingertip to her lips. She shushes me with all the experience a librarian should have, and I automatically shut my mouth. She pauses for a moment, before urging: “You have to do this for me, Bladesman. You’re the only one this poor girl can run to! You have to end the suffering. I….I’ll give you anything you want, just make it go away.”

I rest my eyes on her, biting my lip slightly. “I’m sorry, but you did make of me a very unorthodox request. I’d like to know why.”

“Five hundred grenders,” the woman snaps, assuming–albeit correctly–that some extra money would make me more keen to do as she asked.

Well, I wasn’t about to bow. Not for a mere five hundred grenders.

I’d already bought my chairs, and had been in the process of unboxing them when a messenger boy rapped on my door. It had been the young Johansson boy–the scraggly-blond little waif who somehow always knew how to find me. He’d handed me the woman’s info, and off I’d gone to see her.

So, long story short, I wasn’t looking for any more money.

Still, she looked desperate–so, who was I to judge?

“I’ll do it for seven hundred grenders.”

The woman’s eye twitched, her silver-blue eyes filling with tears for a split second. Then, she nods–“Yes….Just make the suffering end.”

I grin slightly. “So, uh, before I do this…Can I ask why?”

“I’m tired of hurting all the time. I’m tired of feeling like nobody cares about me, and that everybody who says they need me just…goes to others instead.”

I furrow my brows again. “Seems a bit light, to be worth my services.”

“Just….Just do it, before the suffering gets worse.” She’s definitely desperate now, sobbing ever so slightly.

I shrug, giving in.

“Alright, already. I’ll kill your husband for you.”

She smiles.

“Half-Bloodied Friendship”~~Bladesman, Story One

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I was never very good at making friends. I mean, I can’t say that I wasn’t good at it–I just can’t say that I had many of them. You know how it is–you move around a lot, especially in my line of work. I never get a chance to grow close to anyone around me. Unfortunately for everyone else, you also have a tendency for your friends to randomly die off.

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a killer-for-hire–or, if you want to get all technical about it, a Bladesman.

It gets so hard to get close to people when you know that, at any point, you could be called upon to kill them.

Take right now, for instance. I’m sitting here, leaning down and looking at Amadeus. He’s frowning, probably because he can’t really stop the bleeding. He’s trying to gasp out words, probably trying to ask why I was killing him.

I just wish I could explain to him that I didn’t WANT to kill him, that I was only hired to do it for about six hundred grenders (which would be just about enough to buy some new chairs for my new cabin, and I REALLY wanted some new chairs)–but, no. Dying people are boring to talk to, even if I’ve been invited over to his house repeatedly.

In fact, I’d come over to play some cards with him–but, when he won, I of course had to kill him.

For other reasons then my wounded pride, of course.

I had, after all, had to pay him the thirty grenders’ bet we’d made before the game.

I never should have gambled with him.

I look down at Amadeus as he breathes his last, shrugging to myself. It was time to go on my way.

I couldn’t figure out where he’d put the money I’d given him, though.

Well, no matter. I’ll go down to town tomorrow, and collect the money I got from killing Amadeus. Even with the thirty-grender loss, I’d still get the chairs I wanted.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll go out and make some new friends?

It’d be nice to not be lonely, for once.