The Sudden Adieu: Part 2
*Here is part 1 in case you missed it*
I had to think fast but was struggling to accept the situation I found myself in. Asher was dead and I was about to join him.
In a moment of undeserved optimism, I snatched the ring off of Asher’s finger. I may need it later if I could pull an escape out of my ass. I desperately checked all of the windows and found them boarded up tight. Strange, it seemed the mob didn’t want their hostages escaping. The only way out that I could see was the front door, currently enveloped with flames and on the verge of collapse.
I stooped low to avoid the smoke quickly filling the room. I kicked a loose board I found at the back of the room. A small portion broke off, letting in fresh air. I put my mouth up to it, breathing in as much as I could. I would run out soon and there was still work to do if I was going to make it out of this. I kept kicking as hard as I could but nothing of substance happened.
I had the ridiculous thought of lighting up a cigarette. At least I could choose which smoke filled my lungs before this cabin consumed me.
Luckily, I would not have to leave it quite yet. A brilliant flash of light appeared next to me. I briefly saw a hand reach out and grab mine, and then in another flash I was outside of the building.
It took some time for me to regain my composure. When I finally looked up to see who my guardian angel was I struggled to believe my eyes.
“Maya? You saved me?”
She smirked. “I was trying to save Asher. I figured that you had found him and I was hoping to … well you know.”
“Take his money,” I said finishing her sentence.
She shrugged, “I guess you could say that, if you have to put it so bluntly.”
We were a good length from the cabin, which was completely engulfed in flames now. If I was still in there I would be dead. I couldn’t believe it but I owed my life to Maya. She was going to hold this over my head forever.
“You must have used a ton of your magic to get me out of there.”
“Yeah, almost all of it. And it’s not “magic,” it is called Sakka. You should know that, aren’t you a magic caster?” She said it more as an accusation than a question.
I shrugged. “Sometimes I can make things glow when it’s dark.” She tried to hide the small smile my comment gave her. “So I suppose I owe you for saving me. How much are we talking?”
“Well, let’s start with 250,000 gold.”
“Where did you even come from?”
“I followed you here. I figured if I followed along, you would take me straight to him. Where is he?”
I pulled the ring out of my pocket. “He is still in there. Well, what remains of him at least.”
“You killed him?”
I shot her a look of bewilderment. “I would be a shitty private investigator if I killed the people I was hired to find. No, he was dead when I got there.”
“So, who killed him then?”
“No idea. He had been dead for at least a day before I even got to the cabin.”
“But I saw him earlier today.”
“He couldn’t have been the person I had seen if he was already dead.”
“So, someone must be disguising themselves as Asher to get to the payday. Interesting.” I lit up a cigarette while I waited for her to catch up to the situation. I scanned the area for any kind of hint as to who was trying to kill me. Maya was the only one that knew I was going up to the cabin to find Asher, but then why did she save me? She wouldn’t have gone through all of that just to convince me she did not kill Asher. I couldn’t completely rule it out though.
“So, whoever lit the building on fire probably killed Asher.”
She had finally caught up. “That is my guess. Did you get a good look at them?”
“Not at all. I didn’t see anyone when I approached.”
“Really? Nothing?” She shook her head. “Apparently a ghost is trying to kill me. I guess there is only one thing to do now.”
The building collapsed into a pile of smoldering destruction. I put out my cigarette.
“But … if Asher is dead, Isn’t that case closed? I mean, you found him didn’t you?”
“I could see how you would think that,” I said. “That would definitely be the smart way to look at the situation. But … where can I find Big Brylk?”
The Warehouse was close enough to the docks that I caught the familiar smell of fish and sea water as I approached. The perimeter had the classic two guard rotation in place. Six guards in total. I climbed the fence easily enough and hid behind a crate. The two new guards walking up were having a heated debate about if Big Brylk had fixed the big race the day before. They were perfectly distracted.
I produced my wand and made a couple simple illusion spells. First a noise came from behind a crate to the left of the entrance. I made it sound like glass bottles being knocked over. Then I made it look like a large orange rat came running over to a barrel on the other side of the yard. The color got their attention. I heard them make a wager over who could kill it first as they withdrew their bows and headed off for target practice.
I nimbly went to the door and was surprised to find it unlocked. I guess no need to lock doors with so many guards around, no matter how inept they were.
The inside was chill and damp. There were tables covered with boxes, coins, gold bars, and enough drugs to keep Cardy Vale supplied throughout racing season. These were no small timers. Four more guards were too busy distributing mushrooms and powders into boxes to notice me as I quickly and quietly went up the stairs to what looked like an office.
I was almost hit in the face when the door suddenly opened. I pressed myself against the wall behind it and froze. A gruff goblin voice said “Yeah? Three thousand? I guess we could do that. We do owe him a favor but if he tries to get any more discounts out of us I am going to have to have a talk with him.” He was bald with dark green skin and was wearing enough gold jewelry he looked like a walking pawn shop. He had an impossibly large orc next to him that followed close behind him as he descended the stairs. The juxtaposition of the two made me want to laugh. That must have been Big Brylk, bit of a misnomer.
I caught the door before it closed and let myself in. It was a large office with a magnificent desk made of dark wood. There were cabinets lining the walls with expensive trinkets on each one. Big Brylk did not know the definition of humility.
I was not sure exactly what I was looking for but there had to be something that could point me in the right direction. I just couldn’t let it go. I hated loose threads. I checked the drawers but they were locked. Nothing too fancy though, I removed my lockpicking set and had them open under a minute later.
There were a couple letters and pens but what really caught my attention was a large leather ledger with a B emblazoned on the cover. I opened it and flipped back until I found the entries from two days earlier and saw:
|Asher Casksmith||10,000 gold||5,000 gold + 1,500 for 3B|
I flipped to 3B and found:
|Ulric Chaucer||1,000 gold||1,500 fold (late, 3rd party)|
There was an interesting letter sent to Big Brylk from an alchemist I had heard about named Nelalwe. I was going to open it when I heard a noise at the door. I quickly slipped the letter into my pocket using an old card cheat technique and put my hands in the air. I saw that it was Brylk, the large Orc, and two other men with bows drawn.
“Looks like we have a guest,” Brylk said in his gruff voice with obvious malintent. This had gone from bad to worse.
Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of “The Sudden Adieu.” Thank you so much for reading. I hope you like it and please comment if you have any suggestions, edits, or just to tell me what you thought about it.