“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.
“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.