October 22, 2014

In Which Fred Takes a Job

August 26, 1187

"There's a man here to see you."

Dania glanced toward the stairs, lip curling inward. She was the only one of Fred's siblings who knew exactly what it was he did, though he was sure the other two at least suspected something unsavory by this point. It was very rare that a client managed to trace him physically in person, instead of arranging a meeting through one of the usual channels, but on the off-chance someone did, Dania knew damn well just what sort of person that client was likely to be. Fred knew how Dania hated being kept in the dark, and he supposed that her knowing made them all just a little safer. It didn't make him feel any better about the worry he caused. "Are the children around?"

"No. I sent them out for a few things. They were here when he came, but he didn't seem much interested in them, though. Or me."

"Good." Fred never left a job unfinished. But if he did, there were those who would seek to punish him for his failure. The usual channels prevented such people from finding his family, but there was little he could do to conceal them from such parties who came to the home. But if this man hadn't made a point to study them, then he wasn't that sort. "Where is he?"

"Upstairs. He said he didn't intend to stay longer than he had to."

"All right." If that was the case, he'd want to be sure the man was gone before the children returned. If he knew Dania, she'd told them to call on their aunt or uncle while they were out--buy some more time.

He crossed the room and ducked into the stairwell, climbing at what he hoped was an assertive pace. He stepped onto the landing and met the face of his client: a man of slight build, fair complexion, and most inscrutable eyes.

"Yes?"

"Curt. Good. You'd like to get this over with just as much as I do."

Fred doubted it. But at least this would be quick. "How did you find me in person?"

"Let's just say we have some mutual friends." The man untied a pouch from his belt and spilled the contents to the floor. The amount was that of someone with considerable incentive. "I come on behalf of someone who has no issue paying so generously."

A nobleman. Or a wealthy merchant. Or a crime lord. Regardless... "And someone with a high profile mark."

"My sources tell me that won't be a problem for you." After King Roderick... he supposed he couldn't protest that. "I have no interest in making your life miserable. If you'd rather not, I'll leave right now and won't bother you again. But I'll have to take that money with me."

"No need. I'll take the job." Fred nudged together a couple of coins with his boot. Perhaps he could buy the children a horse. "Give me the details."

"All right." The man's mouth curved--not smiling, not frowning. Considering. "My employer and I have worked out the details of the procedure. If there's a part of it you can't do, don't be shy about it. We'll figure something out."

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