There are good ways to be woken up. The gentle kiss of a lover, the laughter of a child, hell even the wet nose of a good dog all come to mind. What does not make that list is a fucking bucket of cold, putrid water in the face thrown by a shit-head of a jailer. Nonetheless that is exactly how my day began. Manky water followed by the oh-so-melodious voice of the guard right in my ear. “Rise and shine boy-o. Time to face the music for your poor life choices.” This guy has no idea the price I will eventually pay, but not here and not today. Oh yeah, this son of a bitch dies today.
Three men stand outside the holding cell. One armed and the other two carrying manacles and shackles. Well, this just got more interesting. At least they’re not connected, so I won’t have to walk all hunched over. The manacles were expected, but they usually don’t shackle drunks before they go to the magistrate. Oh well, it’s not like I haven’t been down that road before. They beckon me out and close the cell door behind me. The shackles are on in short order, I bid a fond farewell to the poor sots left in the drunk tank, and off to the magistrate we go.
This is actually my third official to remove on this shit stain of a world. You’d think they’d eventually learn who the hell I am. What can I say? Bureaucrats are never known for their stunning intelligence no matter what world they’re on. Nice thing about repeat business like this is that I don’t have to keep casing the place and planning for weeks to get a clear shot. One magistrate or governor is much like every other. They tend to be creatures of repetition and arrogance. Consequently they all follow similar schedules and to a man all believe that no one would dare confront them. They’re in charge after all. Besides the assassin who kills the boss usually saves you the trouble of doing it yourself AND opens up the chance for promotion.
We come out of the jail into a courtyard with a gallows in the center. There’s absolutely no grass in the entire space and the dirt is packed harder than concrete. Sure sign that public execution is the national pastime here. There’s also an area off to one side where death by firing squad is carried out. You can tell by the way the wall is chewed up behind a thick wooden post. The ground around the post is dark having been stained with blood. Gotta love swift justice . I know I said my pistol won’t work here. Doesn’t mean they haven’t come up with something like it native to this place’s rules. I just don’t bring my stuff. Besides a shot from a distance is just so impersonal.
We cross the courtyard at a pace that is just a little faster than I can walk with my legs bound by these goddam shackles. I only eat dirt twice though and my escort is nice enough to yank me back to my feet by my manacles. My list of those I’m killing for free on this outing just got longer by two.
We finally stop outside of a door that I know leads to the room where the magistrate holds court every day. The lead guard goes in to see if it’s my turn. He nods and the other two shove me forward in the door. It’s considerably darker in here than it was outside, so it takes a second for my eyes to adjust to the new light levels.
“Do you think me stupid?” asks a voice from the shadow behind the desk. “Did you think I would not recognize the man I hired to kill my predecessor?”
Shit. Did I mention that arrogance is contagious? This just got a helluva lot more interesting.
“Jonas, that you?” I ask. “ You’re the magistrate now? Well good for you. Glad to see your money wasn’t wasted.”
He jumps to his feet and slams his hands down on the desk yelling, “SILENCE! DO YOU HONESTLY THINK I WOULD SIT COMFORTABLY ON THIS CHAIR AND NOT REALIZE THAT EVENTUALLY SOMEONE WOULD WANT ME DEAD?!?!? PEOPLE ALWAYS WANT THE MAGISTRATE DEAD BECAUSE WE MUST WORK TO MAINTAIN ORDER, AND PEOPLE HATE BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO!”
I’m using this monologue as an opportunity to slip a finger into my waistband and retrieve a couple of my little miniature knives. The guards have backed up a couple of steps since he started his rant. Probably don’t want to draw his attention. Megalomaniacs tend to become indiscriminate when they start ordering people put to death. It’s always best to look small and non-threatening when they get wound up.
He continues screaming something about doing what is necessary to maintain order and sacrifices being made and examples being set. At one point he slams both hands down on the desk again and leans forward yelling at me. That gaping maw is just too tempting a target, so I flick one of the little blades forward through the opening between his yellow teeth and it strikes home in the back of his throat. Shut him right the fuck up it did and sent him reeling back to fall into his chair clawing at this throat in confusion.
The guard nearest me reaches out and grabs my left shoulder, so I pivot on my left foot and ram the second little blade into his right eye. I finish my pivot on my right foot pulling his head forward under my arm and snap his neck dropping him to floor. His chin got caught up in the chain of my manacles pulling me over and probably saving my life because it got my head out of the way of the slash of the sword of the second guard.
The blade hit a bookcase and stuck. Not hard but hard enough for me to free my hands, close the distance in a hop, and put my thumbs into both of his eyes taking a firm hold of his head. I pull it down hard while I raise my knees to meet his nose. He’s not dead, but he’s out of the fight. I’ll take care of him later.
Guard three, obviously the smartest of the group, has turned towards the door and is heading the hell out of here. I reach behind me and extricate the sword from the bookcase and give it a short toss in his direction. The blade neatly pierces his heart pinning him to the door. It sure gets quiet quickly when I decide it’s time for violence.
I find the keys to my bindings in the pocket of the unconscious guard on the floor. I roll him over and realize it’s Waterboy with the bad breath who woke me so gently this morning. “I’ll be back to you in a second Sunshine.”
With my hands and feet now free, I walk behind the desk to find the magistrate hiding underneath it. “Of course I remember you Jonas,” I tell him. “If you’ll think back to our transaction, I warned you not to be an asshole or else you’d risk seeing me again. Guess you’re about as stupid as I thought you were.” And with that I drag him out from under his desk and use his own dagger to open the artery in his neck. “There’s no shame in dying at the hands of a skilled professional. You were dead when I walked into the room.”
I sit there on his desk and watch the life bleed out of the slit in his neck and the realization that all of his power and planning didn’t amount to shit in the grand scheme of things. I see him mouth the word “why” and just before the light goes out in his eyes I tell him, “because people don’t like to be meddled with you dumb shit.”
Now back to Waterboy.
I grab a glass of water off of the magistrates side-bar. I pour it ever so gently up the nose of the sleeping guard waking him with, “Rise and shine boy-o. Time to face the music for your poor life choices.”
I wait for the fear and realization of his situation to set in and then I put the dagger I just used on the magistrate through his chin and up into his brain. I don’t usually enjoy my work this much, but today has been a good day.
I touch the runes on my arm to open a portal home and signal my chest of gold that the job is done. After the runes on my forearm that show the chest with my payment has arrived back in my room at The Bar I step forward into the portal. There’s a brief moment of dizziness when I’m in two places at once and then I’m standing in my room at The Bar. The portal closes behind me, and walk over to my chest to verify my payment. Once I’m happy with the count of shiny coins in the box, I head out for the main room downstairs. I open the door to my room and say” Bobby, how about a cold beer and some of that stew I smell cooking?”Yep, a good day.