Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cold Revenge

The jewelry in the shop was of the highest quality. The displays were full of rubies like demons’ eyeballs, pearls like tiny moons, gold shaped into every imaginable form…. The whole room glimmered with from with the light reflected off the jewels.
There were three people in the shop-- a lady of obvious wealth browsing necklaces, a young man looking around the room uncomfortably, and the woman behind the counter, who was carefully doing something with pliers to a piece of chain.
The doors opened, and another man walked in. The customers tensed when they saw him; he was clearly up to no good. He was large, ungroomed and not recently bathed, and heavily armed; a cutlass and several knives swung at his side, and he was carrying a pistol.
He aimed at the woman behind the counter. Even with the gun pointing at her, she looked far less intimidated than her customers. “Give me everything of value,” growled the man.
The woman behind the counter smiled and pulled something out from under the counter. “You don’t really want to--” Midsentence, she shot him in the leg.
He dropped to the ground and gaped at her. She ignored him, and turned to her customers, who were also gaping at her. “Excuse me,” she asked the young man, “Would you do me a favor and help me get him out of here?”
“Certainly,” he agreed, too surprised to argue. The shopkeeper grabbed the robber’s legs, her customer took his shoulders, and they carried him out of the shop and dumped him in the street outside.
The woman went back to the chain she’d been working on, and the man paced around the shop until the rich woman left. “I believe you knew my mother,” he told the woman.
“Doubtful,” she said. “I’m not from around here.”
“She was a pirate, on the Crimson Revenge. Perhaps you know of it?”
“Perhaps I do, perhaps I don’t.”
“I’ll pretend to believe you for a moment. It was one of the more infamous ships. The captain was a woman by the name of Ryshe. My mother was the quartermaster; her name was Enend. As I said, they were quite notorious, for a time. Eventually the law caught up with them, and all but the captain were hanged. The stories differ on what happened to Ryshe. Some say she was killed in the fight, some say she went down with her ship, some say she escaped.”
“Let me guess, you believe she escaped.”
“My mother wrote to me, before she was killed, and said so.”
“And you want what--to find their treasure?” the shopkeeper asked mockingly.
“No, I’m sure the captain long since took it and used it-- to start a new life, would be my guess. Maybe buy a shop?”
“If its location wasn’t gotten from the rest of the crew, before they were killed.”
“It was in a bank.”
“And of course the authorities couldn’t possibly take stolen money from a bank?”
“They could have, but they didn’t, did they, Captain Ryshe?”
“No,” she agreed, and didn’t deny her identity. “No, they didn’t. So you’re Enend’s son--Drach, is that right? She spoke of you often. Are you here to demand her share of the money?”
“No, she always sent my father money; if she was owed anything at the end it couldn’t have been much, and I’ve no need of it; I’ve done quote well for myself. I’m a doctor.”
“Enend would be proud.”
“I was only six, when she died. My father didn’t tell me the whole story, how she was betrayed.”
“I hope you’re not implying I betrayed her.” There was a dangerous edge to Ryshe’s voice.
“Oh, no. I meant how they agreed to let her live if she confessed. She confessed. They didn’t let her live.”
“I never heard of that,” said, Ryshe, shocked.
“It was the judge--Yering, his name is--who went back on his word. I turned eighteen, a few months ago, and my father told me. I mean to get revenge.”
“I see. So you’re here for my help.”
“You have to understand, Drach, I’m an honest citizen now. I haven’t killed anyone in a while.”
“You didn’t blink an eyelash when you shot that man, just a few minutes ago. Anyway, I’ll do the killing. I’m just not sure how to.”
“A bullet in the brains usually does the trick. Or a knife to the neck, a blade through his heart, a rope around his neck… it’s not that difficult.”
“I know that! I mean, I’m not sure how to get to him, kill him, and get away afterwards.”
Ryshe smiled. “He lives here?”
“At the top of the hill. But his house is full of servants, and guarded, even if I could kill him there, I’d never get away.”
“Is he married?”
Ryshe grinned, went over to a display, and carefully selected a diamond necklace. She broke its clasp, carefully, so it looked normal but wouldn’t close, and handed it to Drach. “Go to the house, and sell this to either the judge or his wife; offer a price high enough to be valuable but lower than it’s worth. It’s a very good piece; they’ll buy it. When they realize the clasp is broken, they’ll come here, and you’ll have your chance.”
“What if his wife comes here?”
Ryshe shook her head. “A man like that would go himself, or at the least accompany her, so that he can bully me into fixing the clasp, or giving him some of the money back. He’ll be here.’
Drach left the store, and returned a few hours later. “He bought it,” Drach said, and they waited.
Judge Yering came into the shop the next day. “Excuse me, I bought this necklace for my wife and the clasp seems to be broken; would it be possible to have it fixed?”
“Of course,” said Ryshe, taking the necklace from him. Drach was loitering by a display, a knife tucked in his belt. Ryshe looked at him pointedly, but Drach avoided her gaze. Ryshe fixed the clasp, working far more slowly than she needed to. She gave Drach one more pointed stare, then handed the necklace back to the judge. He thanked her and left.
“What happened?” Ryshe asked Drach when she was sure the judge was long gone.
He shrugged. “I guess I changed my mind.”
“All right.”
“You don’t mind?”
“This was your idea, not mine.”
“Thank you. For helping me, and all.”
“Enend was my best friend. I’m glad to have met you.”
There was an awkward silence. Finally, Drach left.
Ryshe closed her store early and went out. She bought a bottle of expensive wine, and a smaller bottle of a very different kind of liquid. She arranged for the wine to be delivered.
Judge Yering was found dead the next morning.

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