She was a fine sight to be sure. That said, dark eyes and a wicked smile had got him into trouble before. But there was something different about Nalissa. She had the trademark deeply tanned skin, glossy black locks and shapely ankles of most Raleenian beauties. But Nalissa had a wild and wicked vivacity that hinted at greater delights beneath the tight bodice and torn skirt she, (sort of) wore.
She’d caught the hem on a thorn as she’d danced, revealing a half mile of muscular thigh that trapped the gaze of every man present. Nalissa ignored their stares, as she whirled, arms wide, hips swaying, wine tipsy, bottle spilling in left hand, her eyes huge and dreamy under the moon’s gaze that late summer night in the hills behind Atarios City.
Enough! A tall figure strode purposeful onto the freshly trimmed lawn. Those watching cleared a space; this one looked like trouble.
Corin an Fol, one of Nalissa’s most attentive admirers, gulped down his tankard’s frothy contents and slurped across to the wild drunken lass, now smiling his way. This might indeed be trouble but it was the kind he enjoyed.
“You’re a rough looking tike,” Nalissa’s smile twitched at a corner and Corin felt a stirring below. “Northerner, by your pale hue, ungainly height and big sweaty arms.’ The bottle tilted in her hand again, spilling more wine on the grass, and she almost controlled a hiccup. “What are you doing down here in Raleen?”
“Tis, but business, my dear,” Corin determined to act sober, at least more sober than she, but his frail attempt caused Nalissa giggle and place a brown hand over her mouth. “It’s the altitude, makes me giddy,” Corin thought that worth a try. They were high in the hills after all. But she just kept on giggling. He frowned and wondered why he always had this effect on women.
“Business? Oh, you work for my father then?” she arched a brow and looked slightly disappointed, and Corin had that sinking feeling.
“The merchant Silon from distant Port Sarfe. Yes…him!” She laughed at Corin’s bleak expression. “This is his affair.” Nalissa waved her lovely arms, hinting at the swaying lanterns and torches, the brightly clad musicians with their soft fluting instruments, the tables laden with ample fare, the endless flowing wines and brandy — all something Corin had kind of just crashed in on. No great surprise. He had a nose for such things.
“Yep, I’ve heard of him.” Corin chose not to expand on how he’d taken Silon’s coin that very morning, re a little job down in fly-stinky Permio. Just a straightforward knife job. Go south across water, find target and terminate him. Simple. And the sort of job he liked.
Now he was free of the strict codes practiced by the Wolf Regiment, Corin could take coin from anyone. It suited his wayward nature to operate alone. He had a thing with discipline, and his killing the Wolves’ Swordsmaster had nearly found him roped and swinging. Nearly. Corin an Fol was hard to kill.
He’d got on well with the merchant this morning. They’d discovered a bluff understanding: Silon was ridiculously rich, and Corin, lightning lethal with that lamppost sized blade he carried. Result being contract signed and sweaty palms grasped amid spittle.
“Five years, and your own crash pad in my villa near Port Sarfe. I pay well and regularly. Just stay away from my daughter, should you encounter her — and you most probably will.” That hadn’t seemed a problem this morning. But now…
“That’s a big weapon,” Nalissa’s lips pouted and parted just a nonce as she apraised Clouter, Corin’s hefty longsword strapped across his back. “I trust you know how to use it.”
“I gotta go pee,” Corin wasn’t good with words, but he needed time to think. Hence diversion. He hadn’t noticed how she watched him slope off into the bushes. Moments later, as he fumbled his drawstrings, Corin felt a soft touch in that region. Blimey…
“Can I assist you with anything?” Nalissa smiled as night deepened and voices faded in distance…
There will be more from Mercenary in the coming weeks. To find out about Corin’s more serious adventures in the Legends of Ansu click here
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