The Worn Edge: Routine

Three floors, possible basement level. Brick wall surrounding the compound with two small guard posts at the front. I count thirteen total occupants, four guarding the compound in rotations. People constantly coming and going. Presumably to run a job or more likely stop off at the local tavern. Spotted the leader only twice. Veral kept to the stereotype that is usually associated with criminal organizations. Such activities as beating his underlings out of the blue and mocking them for being weak. The kind of man you could chat with over a pint.

A stealthy approach would be best. Hopefully Sloan can get me what I need. They chose a good spot. Far enough out of the city limits that the coming and going doesn’t seem suspicious but close enough that they can still operate within the city. The building itself is very old. The walls infected with cracks and overgrown vines reaching around every corner. Part of the perimeter wall reduced to chunks of stones laying on the ground. Not the best place but I’m sure it works just fine for this scum.

I can feel my eyelids growing heavy with every hour passing. I think it’s about time to head home. The moon, high in the sky, keeps the path ahead lit for my tired walk back. Somehow exhaustion is already taking over a day in advance. My arms have grown heavy and my head aches with a pulsing thump. This is stupid. This job is ridiculous. I want to say I have no clue why I agreed but that would be a lie. I know exactly why. If this were me, if this was Ellie, I would destroy everything in my path to save her. It is strange though, Rofelle has a number of mercenaries under his employ. Why not one of them? Any one of them is surely capable of completing the job.

Doesn’t matter anymore. What’s done is done, nothing left to do but get the job done as cleanly as possible. I should go home, rest up for tomorrow, but in an instant the steps to The Silver Stallion are inches in front of me. Clearly the harvest festival has ended with the sheer number of bodies guzzling down pint after pint. All that work laboring to earn proper coin, spent in a single evening numbing the pain. An all too familiar pastime.

“Hello sir. What can I get you this evening?” The bartender asks as I take a seat.

I pull out a single gold coin. “One drink. The best you have. Something to knock me on my ass for the night.”

“The Soldier’s Lament it is.” He pulls out a regular sized glass and, from gods know where, a very old waterskin. The golden liquor he pours has the strongest scent of hops and honey I’ve ever smelled. Finally he drops a shard of ice into the brew and pushes it my way.

“Have to ask, do you plan on sleeping it off on my floor? Cause if not yer gonna want to drink it on the way home.” He said.

“I think I’ll heed that warning. Obliged.” I can’t help but scrutinize the concoction as I carry it outside. I take small careful sips on the walk home. I’m not entirely sure why he was so cautious about this drink. I feel the tickle of a slight buzz but nothing more.

The door to Birdie’s feels so much heavier than it did this morning. What’s waiting for me is the only thing that matters in the whole world. A single candle lit to offer some guidance in the dark, and Ellie in a deep sleep wrapped in a blanket and a book nestled under her chin. She knows not to wait up, but she’s just as stubborn as I am.

The air is so still the flame barely wavers. My body freezes, afraid to make a noise. Against my better judgment my lips take in the last of the brew and —

 

Ouch.

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