The Heartless Bastard
The man looked around nervously before taking the pouch from the hooded woman’s hand. He opened it up and took out a golden coin to shine against the sunlight. Satisfied that the coin was genuine, he plopped it back into the pouch and tucked the pouch under his shirt.
“Start from the beginning,” said the hooded woman.
“What I tell you, you will not believe,” he said, his voice a mix of awe and horror.
The hooded woman regarded the man for a moment, wondering if it was money well spent. “I will be the judge of that. Just tell me. What happen in the King’s tavern?”
“Most horrifying thing I’ve every laid eyes on. I was sitting there with my buddies when two strangers entered. One was a huge man with a hideous disfigurement,” the man motioned around his face and continued, “one can never look at him too long without feeling something was dead wrong. The other one was a woman, tall as the man, and we immediately thought they were rebels.”
“The hat she wore bore the symbol of the resistance.” The man drew a straight line and then a curve in the air.
“I see.” The woman’s voice had a hint of anger.
“Yes but I thought it was strange that the two rebels would walk into the tavern like that and even ordered a drink! Such outrageous cockiness, I say!” The man thumped his chest and then made the holy sign with his finger. “But, rebels do not melt the flesh from with in the holy knight’s armor.”
“You’re kidding me?”
“I wish I was. I saw the armors fall the ground and the pools of melted flesh.” the man’ s eyes were dilated and he shook. “Dark art was at play. Never seen it in life till today. I ran out with the rest of us and never looked back. Later I heard they found the Archmon’s body, neck broken. These rebels…what monstrosities! If I had known before that they would do this, I’d never traded with them. Hell, I’d turned them in!”
“Thank you,” the hooded woman said. She had head what she wanted. “Have a good day.” She bowed.
“It’s dark days, I’m telling, m’lady. I’m getting a bad feeling,” said the man.
The hooded woman nodded. “Perhaps.” She turned around and walked down the alley, which led into the streets.
Beyond the stands of fruits and meats was a platform that many people had gathered around. A robed man, waving a scepter, kept them captivated with his religious rhetoric. She weaved past the crowd, careful to keep her right wrist concealed. She headed, across the city, to a clusters of buildings where the most socially detest lived.
Again weaving through, she made her way between buildings before stopping at one alcove. A bald man sat there smoking a pipe. He blew a puff of smoke as the woman lifted her right arm and pulled down the sleeve to show a tattoo--that of a straight line with a curve at the end--on her wrist. He nodded in recognition.
“Jiando,” said the hooded woman, “we have a problem. Someone is impersonating us.”
Reese, nestled in an ornate chair, twirled a tendril of her dark hair with one hand and turned her velvet hat over with the other, studying the embodied straight line with a curve at the end just above the brim. “My plan was going to work,” she said dully. She looked over to see Avanti’s back move.
“You were not ready.” Avanti turned around. Her arms were covered with congealed blood. The frosty veil that once covered her face was gone.
Reese had to take it in the sight of Avanti unmasked for it was rare the woman revealed her face. Alien crimson eyes looked at her as if to provoke a thought.
“Is there something wrong?” asked Avanti.
Reese only smiled. “You should show your face more often. I like your hair.”
Avanti turned right back around and proceeded to pop an eyeball from a severed head. “Pretty words will get you no where.”
The dark haired woman pressed her hat to her chest. “Augh, that breaks my heart.”
“Hearts don’t break. They can be cut, smashed, diced into small pieces but no. Hearts can’t break lest they were petrified first or maybe….”
“Uh, I was speaking fugitively.” Reese laughed nervously.
“Even so. It would require that you have one.” Avanti picked up a knife and stabbed through the top of the head, wiggling it deeper. “Hmm, I think I’d need fresh ones. This one had been dead for too long. You think you can get me another one? Preferably one that wasn’t dead for more than a day.”
“Gee, let me go and find a body somewhere recently killed,” mocked Reese.
“Are you going to get me one or not?”
Reese got off the chair and putted on her velvet hat. “If I find one along the way, then yes. Otherwise, go get Thomas to get you one.” She turned around and headed for the door but stopped when she put a hand on the doorknob. “Avanti….”
“Hmm, yes?” Avanti proceeded to pop the other eyeball out.
“Thanks for everything.”
Avanti stopped what she was doing. “I wonder if you’ll still say that after our contract is completed.”
“Why do you have to be such a pooper, wifey?” smirked Reese. “I’ll see you before that head can, er, never mind. See you soon.” She turned the knob and pushed through the door, closing behind her as she stepped out.