ShelbyFoister.com – Est. 1981
2Aug/151

Carac’s Dead Friends – Short Story

Carac's Dead Friends was originally written years ago as an exploration in writing a scene with many people. As I started to slowly create the world for Shards of War (Mostly through daydream and actual dream) I wanted to explore how the "magic" system would work in this world. I looked back and decided to adapt this short and what I ended up with is a vague introduction as well as a "what if this happened to someone who was unsuspecting."

Enjoy!

Chronology: Middle Era

Location: Holmport

Carac’s Dead Friends

(What has Nine Toes and a pair of Damp Pants?)

I take a deep breath and open the solid wood door. I’m early.

As I step inside the tavern I scan the room for Carac. There is a large bar in the middle of the room with tables and chairs against the wall. Patrons are sparsely scattered throughout. Finally I see him sitting at a table in the corner at the far end of the room.

Approaching the table, I toss a small, brown leather bag down in front of him. He picks up the bag and opens it like he fears a viper may spring out. His face goes grim and white.

I know we’re about to talk business when he kicks a chair out for me to sit next to him. I don’t. I pull a chair from another table and sit opposite him, taking note of the large bag under the table.  The poor lighting in the tavern is casting shadows on our faces but I can tell that the man at the table behind us is watching me more intently than he should, and there’s a mug of ale sitting on the table opposite him. Is there someone else sitting with him? I think to myself.

I lay my hand on the rough wooden table and tap my index finger. Carac shifts nervously and says the words that are like music to my ears. “I have your payment.” A smug grin spreads slowly across my face. “Of course you do,” I say.

Carac frowns and pretends the bead of sweat dripping into his eye doesn’t sting. A chair shifts behind me; I can feel the man seated behind us looking at me.

“During our first meeting you felt no need to bring bodyguards,” I accuse, keeping a calm tone.  “You think I’m going to kill you and now you’re going to bribe me. What if that doesn’t work? Are you going to send your henchmen to kill me?”

Carac looks as if he’s been caught in a lie. He acknowledges the sweat on his brow by wiping it with his sleeve.

“Listen, the thing is-“ I stand abruptly and grab his wrist.

“JACK!” Carac screams out for help.

Feeling the edge of the dagger concealed under his sleeve, I use my free hand to retrieve it. I hear the heavy plodding of the man behind me; he’s coming quick. I sling Carac’s dagger to the ground behind me.

”Arr!” It sticks in Jack’s boot. He falls to the ground and hovers his fat hands over the blade, afraid to rip it out. He makes a whimpering sound instead as if he intends to cry the blade free.

The place has gone quiet and everyone in the tavern is now looking in our direction, a few men are walking toward us. I turn my head slightly giving them a sideward glance. My arm outstretched I move my finger back and forth as if to say “Tsk tsk tsk.“

With my full attention back to Carac who has been unable to pull his arm free, I whisper, “You were saying?”

“I- I- have made a very bad mistake and-“ he stammers. Leaning in a bit closer I slip my dagger out from my belt.

“I CAN PAY YOU W-“ he screams as the dagger comes up quick and slams into his temple. “No negotiations,” I say to the corpse.

Just then the men’s room door at the back of the tavern flies open, slamming into the wall and a long-haired man runs out in time to see my dagger being removed from Carac’s skull. “CARAC!” he screams. He wipes his wet hands on his pants and runs toward me.

I drop the corpse and throw my dagger at him. It misses and sticks into the men’s room door. The man behind me with the hole in his boot doesn’t hesitate to pull the blade free now. He throws it at me, an untrained throw, but still sharp. I anticipate my defense and drop down to my knees. The blade sails above me and sticks into the face of the man with the damp pants, he falls hard onto the table splintering it as his momentum carries him forward.

“Noooo!” Nine Toes Jack cries in horror as he realizes he has just killed his friend. He runs toward me with his shoulders lowered and eyes full of rage. I stand up to meet his attack, grabbing the back of a chair I swing it with all my strength. The chair shatters as it slams into Jack but this only slows him a little.

“I’ll kill you, pig fucker!” He screams as he tackles me and we crash to the ground. I don’t have time to react before Jack is on top of me, choking me. He’s a big man, heavier than I am but shorter. My eyes are darting around looking for an advantage. Damp Pants is lying near us with a dagger still in his face but I can’t get my arms free to reach for it.  I see the other patrons standing around yelling and pointing but I can’t hear anything over the beat of my own heart pounding through my neck.

Finally a group of men run through the onlookers and pull Jack off me. He tries to fight them off but there are too many. I lie still for just a couple of seconds catching my breath before I pull the dagger from the corpse.

The Bag! I catch a glimpse of it lying under the rubble of the destroyed table. I had forgotten about it through the chaos but I’m sure it was the bribe money Carac intended to use. I grab the bag, sling it over my shoulder and immediately feel my skin begin to tingle. I shrug it off thinking it is just the blood returning to my limbs.

Nine Toes Jack is beginning to free himself from the group of men and he will surely love to continue choking me. Before he can get free I’m putting a dagger in his gut. The patrons aren’t sure how to react so they back away slowly, Jack bends over clutching his wound.

“You won’t get away with this… You’re a dead man,” are his last words before I grab the hair on the back of his head and slam his face into my knee. He falls to the ground.

Now I’m standing in the middle of this tavern that is torn to shit, my head throbbing and my heart feeling like it may explode through my neck. Most of the patrons have fled or are standing against the walls but there are a few standing around me now. I slip the dagger into the sheath at my belt and walk slowly toward the exit, stumbling and catching myself on the bar.

“What the fuck, stop him!” a man yells from the back of the room. I know the voice, it’s Harold the owner. We had an agreement that I could do business here if I didn’t cause trouble. I can’t tell if he recognized me but I’m not going to stick around to find out. I run for the door slipping through half-hearted attempts to grab me.

As I run out of the door and into the dark streets I hear men yelling for the city patrol followed by the whistles of the guards. By the time they arrive I’m long gone. I make my way back home, weaving in and out of alleys and rooftops. If I have a tail I will lose it.

Once I feel like I’m a safe distance away I stop to assess the damage. My throat is already swelling, another few seconds and Jack would have had me unconscious. My back is sore and tender to the touch; I probably landed on a table leg. This meeting did not go as planned. I didn’t want to kill Carac, at least not in public. I had to act first and fast because I didn’t know how many people Carac had with him. Someone is going to be surprised to find a severed finger with a wedding ring still around it when they open up that little brown bag. I smile to myself at this thought. They’ll be even more surprised when they find Carac’s own mother dead in her apartment with a finger missing.

I continue on; the patrol will be swarming the city soon.

I’m feeling very proud of my ability to move silently when I trip over a loose roofing tile at the edge of a tall apartment building. Twisting mid-fall and reaching out for the ledge. I grab ahold of the side and I hang there dangling from one hand trying to be as quiet as possible in my panic. Panic? Fuck no. I push that aside and remind myself that I am a professional. Just then the brick breaks free and I plummet to the ground. I’m falling between two buildings in an alley and there’s nothing to grab ahold of.  Flat brick walls on both sides is all that I see as I twist around in the air. I’ve conceded to death when I feel that familiar skin tingle that I felt in the tavern. Bright red and black swirls surround me and now I’m on the ground lying on my stomach in a puddle of dirty rain water.

The red and black swirls fade. “What the fu-“ I start, just as the brick cracks into the back of my head.

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