| Flies and muck, searing heat, and people with steel wanting to slice open your bowels. Permio did little to ease the mind. Corin had been down here a month and was amazed he was still alive. Word had reached Silon via his Huntmaster informing him his daughter was at it again.
Nalissa had been sent back up to Atarios ––not for the first time apparently–– and Corin an Fol ––the merchant’s former blue-eyed boy––promptly despatched down to Permio, tasked with a new contact. Unlike the last, this one was currently proving tricky.
“I’ve got a wee job for you,” That morning three weeks ago, Silon had rubbed his diamond earring and surveyed Corin calmly enough, but the hounds had sensed the tension in the room. Now and then one would reveal tongue and molars in Corin’s direction.
“Who?” Corin gave the merchant look for look. You don’t have to love your boss.
“Krugan, a brigand who operates in the hills north of Agamandeur. He’s become a problem; I need him silenced.” Sounded easy enough but Silon had neglected to enlighten Corin on the fifty heavies this Krugan kept manning his hideout in the desert. Corin had left for Permio that following day, neither he nor the merchant saw cause to mention Nalissa.
This Krugan raided a village now and then, butchered a few folk, fondled the odd lass and stole stuff. Nothing untoward; this was business as usual in the deserts surrounding the Sultan’s cities. Corin had served down here during the Second Permio War. He knew the drill, sharp steel being the only currency bar gold.
But the kick in the balls wasn’t welcome. Neither was the rough hemp cutting into his wrists, as he hung and swung naked and filthy in the marketplace, a score of grubby traders watching on and placing bets. They’d erected the gibbet an hour ago, just for larks.
“Silon paid you to murder me, yes?” Krugan’s one eye was baleful and bloodshot. Corin wondered how long this would continue before the brigand cut his throat. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
Corin swung about a bit and yawned. It was hotter than a camel’s hump this afternoon, and he really needed a beer, but then ale was crap down here as was everything else.
“Just do for me and move on,” Corin croaked, and then swung wide as Krugan’s kick impacted his groin again. This was getting tedious. Krugan showed his lizard smile and slid the curved fat dagger from his belt.
“As you wish,” Krugan nodded his men hold their captive steady. “You are clearly too stupid to know anything useful.” Krugan handed his jeweled dagger over to the big lad behind Corin. “Ugami cut this bastard’s throat and leave him for the dogs. It’s time we got moving, else the Sultan’s guard find us.”
Ugami grinned and readied the knife. Corin winked at him. “On reflection,” he yawned again, “I probably should have hidden that stolen gold better.”
“What stolen gold?” Krugan barked as Ugami’s knife hand froze.
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