Arlandra had stayed at an old farmhouse just outside the town. The old wood of the house creaked and groaned in the wind and the sweet apricot trees swayed back and forth, so slowly that he imagined they were dancing. The house itself held only a few rooms – the couple who owned it were simple elderly people – but friends to Arlandra.
The assassin had Juliet seated in a single wooden chair in the centre of the living room. The house was as dark as the night, save for a lantern hanging lingeringly above his captive. Arlandra saw her squinting in the light. Good, he thought, she needs to be scared.
Through Juliet’s eyes, the light blotted out the assassin’s figure, and his voice was slow and grave. “What do you know of Garn Pallerii?” he questioned.
The light was too bright. “Why not show yourself, assassin,” she said, a weak smile crossed her face. “Let’s have this conversation like civilized people.”
“Not until you tell me where Garn Pallerii is.” Arlandra stood up, his voice getting louder now. “Have the Taellians released him yet? Where is he hiding?”
“I… I don’t know!” she stuttered.
Arlandra paused for a moment and the dark room was silent – save for the heavy sound of Juliet’s breathing. Slowly, he drew his dagger, making sure that she could hear the icy scrape of metal as his blade slid gradually along the sheath. “You told me you could get me Garn,” he breathed, stepping close behind her. “I don’t like it when people lie to me.”
“The lumber industry,” she finally said. She certainly seemed afraid, but her words were relatively calm. “Garn owns a number of camps all along the Elder Forest. I suggest we hit them. If Garn is in hiding somewhere then I’ll bet that he’ll come out when his precious goods are threatened.”
Arlandra thought for a moment. How far was he willing to go? “What are you suggesting?”
Juliet clearly wanted the light to go away. “Garn is a business man, isn’t he? So let’s destroy his business and just see what happens.”
It was actually a good idea. The assassin moved and dimmed the lantern so that Juliet could see once again. When she looked at Arlandra she did not see a bloodthirsty assassin, but a rather a man. He was really quite handsome. Dressed in full black, the colour illuminated the assassin’s green eyes. She looked again at his eyes – they did not seem like the eyes of a murderer, but of something else. It was like there was something missing. She wasn’t sure.
He allowed her to stand up, and they stood there for a moment, facing each other. “I’m sorry if I frightened you, but I needed to know.”
“I wasn’t afraid,” she replied.
“So do you know exactly how we’re going to destroy one of Garn’s lumber camps?”
Juliet held his gaze with hers. “I know someone,” she said, “a friend. She can get us what we need. All you have to do is keep me alive. Agreed?”
Arlandra looked down as Juliet extended her hand. Breaking a contract? What was he getting himself into? “Deal,” he said, and he shook her hand and sealed the offer. “Let’s go blow up a lumber camp.”
Juliet let out a shy chuckle. She had a cute laugh.ns 188.8.131.52da2