Tai sat at the long cherry wood bar, waiting for his order. He took a long sip of his dark beer and smiled at the bartender as he put down the icy cold plate of freshly opened oysters on the bar. Gods, the oysters up here in Menethil were good, he thought.
Tai put down his beer and picked up an oyster, glancing across the crowded restaurant. Ah, looked like their target was coming through the door now; Phase One was about to begin … Tai glanced at his pocket watch, thinking ‘Right on time.’
He tilted the shell up, sliding the salty mollusk into his mouth and watching the target enter the restaurant …
Kennia, dressed in a midnight blue blouse and a black leather skirt, stood at the far end of the bar, giggling at one of the patron’s jests – and very distinctly not making eye contact with Tai. Looking over the shoulder of the chatty dwarf sitting on the stool, she saw the merchant come in the door and head to the bar – Kennia had come to appreciate the value of quality intelligence, and their informant had so far correctly predicted their target’s time of arrival and his first stop. Now it was time to test the last bit of information – his supposed weakness for blondes.
Without even glancing at the dwarf, she handed him what was left of her drink and slipped past the surprised dwarf. She sauntered toward the chubby, well dressed man, standing alone at the bar. Kennia wondered what this meant about her – but she loved being the bait in a trap.
As she approached the man, she turned to the bar calling to the bartender for a drink, letting her arm lightly brush the man’s arm. She noticed him glancing at her but pretended to not notice him – best to play this a bit more subtle. When the bartender brought over her drink, she picked it up and turned around, resting her elbows on the bar pretending to survey the crowd with a bit of a disdainful look on her face. She took a sip and then arched her shoulders back a bit. Time to see if she was the bait she thought she was.
“Not impressed?” the merchant asked her. She looked over at the seated man, feigning that she’d just noticed him, replying a bit tartly, “No, not yet.” Warming a bit as she took another sip of the drink, she asked a bit teasingly, “Should I be?” The man, careful to push his sleeves up to show off his gold bracelet and his fistful of precious rings, turned to her in his seat picking up his drink. He appraised her coolly over the top of his drink, sizing her up like one of the troll slaves he bought and sold. Kennia suppressed the shiver that began to arc up her back.
Finally, he smiled at her as he took the drink from his lips, “Perhaps you’ll allow me the chance to impress you. Care to join me for dinner?” She hesitated – had to play this carefully and not appear too eager. He pressed, “The food here is excellent and I make excellent conversation.” She relented and let him look around for a servant to get them a table for two …
At the other end of the bar, Tai put down yet another now empty oyster shell, his eyes following the two. Time for Phase Two …
Khary smoothed over her apron, still not used to wearing it. Looked like Kennia had hooked their target – she was playing with left earring which was the signal they’d agreed on. If Kennia’s job was to be the bait, it was Khary’s job to get him to the boat, so to speak.
Khary moved over towards the couple, weaving between patrons at the bar. No time to waste, as she had spotted the hostess heading back in this direction after seating one of the more prominent priests in the city. Her eyebrows arched as a tall elf, not paying attention, moved forward talking to friends and blocked her path. Khary pivoted and slipped between two other patrons, careful to not spill their drinks.
As the man was about to turn and head in the direction of the hostess, Khary appeared before him asking in her best polite voice, “Pardon sir. You seem to be looking for a table. May I help you?” The man grunted, mildly surprised but pleased to be waited upon. He didn’t bother answering her, but just held up two chubby fingers and offered his other arm to Kennia. Over the man’s shoulder, Khary noted Kennia’s small smile of appreciation of Khary’s circuitous route.
As typically happened, the man paid no attention to Khary – aided, no doubt, by her role as a laborer. She was used to this, even comfortable with the lack of attention from men. She led the two of them to an open table, not too far from the door but not so close that the man would complain. Once the two were seated, Khary left them alone.
Now that their man was where he needed to be, now her job description changed. The restaurant was crowded tonight - which was what they wanted, she knew, but it certainly made for a lot of potential trouble. She weaved back to the bar, and picked up a serving tray. As usual, a number of drinks were waiting to be picked up and brought to tables. Khary glanced around and obliged, putting them all on her tray, smiling once briefly at Tai who seemed to be enjoying his meal.
Before another servant discovered her drinks were missing, Khary balanced the tray and headed across the crowded restaurant, playing with her left earlobe with her free hand …
Murithi, seated at the table, watched the events unfold. When she saw Khary’s hand go to her ear, Mur let her hand slide inside her vest and wrapped her fingers around the hilt of the small, razor sharp blade. Her eyes flicked towards the door, assessing her route. Looked good so far.
She let her eyes rest briefly on the table with their target and Kennia. Perfect, she thought. Kennia had leaned over the table, flirting with the man and was now playfully running her fingers on his hands. Mur understood instantly, and pushed her chair back a bit.
Mur didn’t enjoy killing but she was good at it. She was quieter than Khary or Kennia and had opted for this job, more comfortable with a blade in her hand than a drink or a tray. The crash of broken glass brought Mur back to a sharp focus. Across the room, Khary had just spilled a tray of drinks all over a table of now very irate, very loud guests. Khary was doing nothing to quiet them; in fact, she was now noisily accusing a man at another table of pinching her rump and causing her to spill the drinks. The man’s wife was not taking this well nor quietly.
Mur grinned. Perfect Khary, she thought. Keep it up. Mur stood and moved smoothly along the wall, all eyes on the loud drama across the room – including the eyes of their target. Mur locked eyes for one split second with Kennia, who clamped her strong fingers around the man’s wrists – just as Mur slipped her left hand over the man’s mouth, stifling the scream as her right hand drove the blade into the man’s innards. She twisted it once, making sure the poisoned tip went deep into the man. The man surged against her and Kennia, but the two women restrained him.
Mur felt the man go limp and released his mouth, making sure he was still seated. With one, two smooth steps Mur slipped behind the tables, the echoes of the drink mishap hiding the clatter of the knife falling to the floor as she let it slip from her grip.
Kennia waited a beat, then two … she had to give time to Mur to get out and away but she also had to be the first to react to the man’s death. One last nerve wracking pause … and then Kennia screamed, as she let go of the man and he slumped forward.
All eyes in the restaurant flitted from the spilled drinks to the now dead man. Kennia was near hysterical, screaming about a large man that had just stabbed her dinner partner. Patrons and servants rushed to the table to help and calm the crying woman. Khary smiled, glad for the respite, and took the opportunity to head to the kitchen – and the back door. She took off her apron as she exited, dumping it in the large trash barrel.
Khary nodded at Mur as she came down the alley. Time for the two of them to move on – no running, but no wasting time either …
Inside the restaurant, the guards had been hailed and were now inside investigating, letting no one leave. Tai admired Kennia’s acting ability; she was displaying just the right mix of fear and disbelief. The guards were taking Kennia’s statements and were certain to question anyone suspicious.
Knowing this was coming, Tai finished his last oyster, savoring the flavor of the sea on his lips. Tai joked with the man who had been sitting by him all night, “Good thing you’re my alibi … otherwise they might think I did it!” Tai winked playfully at the man, who grinned back oblivious to the irony.