Roake had a little money left. Just enough. He ate fresh meat and drank hot wine. Then, he put his mind to murder.

He sat in the pub, his plate and glass empty. The serving girl took them away. He did not look at her. She asked if he wanted anything else. “More wine,” he said. She nodded, walked to another table and asked the same questions.

Roake felt the cold of the knife next to his body. The magical cold. Enchantment. He thought about that for a while the girl refilled his glass.

A man came into the pub and started looking at the faces. When he saw Roake’s, his eyes brightened. He almost jaunted over to the table.

“Saints be damned, I never thought I’d see you again,” the man said. “You lucky sonofabitch, I heard you were dead.”

Roake shook his head. “Lucky,” he said. “Sit down.”

The man sat down. His name was Briggs. He and Roake worked together in the past. On the night in question, Briggs was working in the South City. Lucky for him.

As Briggs sat down, the serving girl walked by with a plate of meat. Roake pointed at his plate. She put more cooked meat on his plate. Roake didn’t thank her.

“How many made it out?” Briggs asked.

Roake shook his head and ate more meat. “None of them,” he said.

“Damn.” Briggs looked down at the table. “Bather? Udun? Raythe?”

“None of them,” Roake said. He drank more wine.

“Damn,” Briggs said again. He looked up for the serving girl. She was across the room. He shouted, “You got any mutton?” The girl nodded and went to the kitchens.

“And wine!” Briggs shouted after her. Then, he looked back at Roake. “Sour job, then? Coopered ken?” he asked.

“No,” Roake said. “We got in easy enough.”

“Why’d they all get wooden coats?” Briggs asked.

“They were waiting for us.” Roake looked up at Briggs. His eyes were dark.

The serving girl brought by the meat and wine. Briggs smiled at her. “Thank you, dear.” She shrugged. When she was gone, he asked Roake, “You get the drop?”

Roake shook his head.

“Whole crew gets served lavender and no drop. That’s a fine way to go out.”

“Upper City,” Roake said.

“Should have glassed that,” Briggs said. “No Upper City jobs for me. Ain’t none of them sweet enough for me.”

Roake stopped eating. “I got an Upper City job,” he said. He waited. Briggs chewed on the meat for a moment or two before he noticed. Then, he swallowed the meat.

“No,” Briggs said. “You ain’t that crazy.”

Roake didn’t say anything.

“Damn the saints, Roake. No.”

Roake didn’t say anything.

Then, Briggs nodded. “I get it,” he said. “I get it.”

“You do?” Roake asked.

“Yeah,” Briggs said. “You’re gonna crack the same crib that almost got you killed the first time.”

Roake didn’t say anything. He picked up his knife and finished off the meat on his plate.

Fantasy Noir 6
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