Before the hobgoblin could act and draw his weapon, Saeter quickly spoke up.
A huge content smile appeared on his face as he turned towards the thug, and that kind of freaked Blacknail out. His master’s face just didn’t look right unless he was glaring or scowling.
“We were just checking to see if any of the big wigs dropped any coins. We already spent all of ours, but we still need some more drinks,” Saeter muttered brokenly, as if he was drunk.
The old scout swayed slightly as he waited for Galive’s minion to respond. The guard eyed them critically for a second, but then snorted in disgust.
“If you don’t have any more money then get out of here. A man of your age should bloody well know better than this,” the cloaked thug told Saeter, before turning around and walking away.
When the other man was gone the smile immediately dropped from Saeter’s face, and a familiar scowl reappeared.
“Ya, fuck you too,” he muttered as he turned back to Blacknail.
“Did you get it? We need to move,” the old scout then asked him.
“I got it; the human Galive can’t hide from me!” Blacknail whispered excitedly.
“He doesn’t need to hide, he’s a bloody Vessel and an experienced fighter. In anything like a fair fight he’ll rip your scrawny green ass apart,” Saeter growled back.
“I’ll be very sneaky,” the hobgoblin replied defensively.
Blacknail wasn’t too worried about it. Galive wouldn’t be the first Vessel he’d faced, and fair fights were for idiots and humans anyway.
“You’d better; don’t take any foolish risks. We can always try again another night,” Saeter explained.
“Yes, master. What-ss now?” Blacknail asked.
“Now you’re on your own. I’m not much good at sneaking around a building like this. Find Galive and kill him. Just don’t let anyone see you, especially not Galive,” Saeter ordered him sternly.
“Yes, master,” Blacknail whispered back gleefully.
It was time for the hunt to begin, the oh so delicious hunt. Blacknail licked his lips and started salivating just thinking about it.
“I’ll be outside across the street and a bit down the escape path we planned out,” Saeter told Blacknail.
The old scout then gave Blacknail a farewell nod, and started walking towards the front entrance. Blacknail watched him go for a second, before turning around and smirking at the door Galive had gone through.
At last, it was time to have some fun! Galive was going to regret making him sit still so long! He would also regret making Herad angry too, of course. Either one was really just a bad idea.
Now what was the best way of tracking down his prey? Blacknail slowly turned and regarded the room around him. There were still a lot of random residents of Daggerpoint around, but none of them were looking his way. There were still several of the cloaked guards standing around the perimeter of the room, though.
Two stood by the bar, two more were by the main entrance, and one was stationed by the door Galive had gone through. As Blacknail watched, the last guard glanced his way. Blacknail knew that he was acting somewhat suspicious, so he casually turned around and mingled with the remains of the earlier crowds.
He then looked around the room. There was no easy way into any of the doors that led inside; they were all guarded. He’d have to make his own way in, and that meant he needed a distraction. What would work?
After a few more seconds of thought, Blacknail headed over to the table closest to the door Galive had gone through. There were two men and one woman sitting at it, and they all seemed quite drunk. The woman seemed unsteady and was leaning onto the larger of the two men. Blacknail grinned as he walked past them. They would work perfectly.
For his plan to work he still needed another human, and none happened to be nearby. That was easily solved though; all he had to do was use a human trap. Blacknail nonchalantly strolled up behind the people seated at the table, and placed several coins on the ground behind them. He then took a seat at a nearby table, and waited.
Within a few minutes a human took his bait. A man from across the room noticed them, and walked over to pick them up. As he passed Blacknail the hobgoblin got up and quietly shadowed him.
Just as the man was about to reach down and pick up the coins, Blacknail tripped him. The man grunted in surprise as he fell over and hit the woman at the table, and she screeched in alarm. Immediately, her large companion got up and pushed the other man away.
“You little bastard, what do you think you’re doing?” the larger man roared angrily.
“Shit, it was an accident,” swore the other man as he picked himself off of the ground.
Blacknail rushed over to assist him. The hobgoblin extended an arm and helped the man get up.
“Thanks,” the confused man told him, as he stood up.
“You dropped this,” Blacknail told the man as he pressed an item into the man’s outstretched hand.
“So, it’s a fight you want,” roared the bigger man as he drew a knife.
“Um, what…” the smaller man replied, as he twitched in nervous surprise.
He then looked down and noticed what he was brandishing in his hand. He was holding up a dagger of his own, the one Blacknail had put there. He paled slightly and opened his mouth.
“No, I…” the man started to say.
He didn’t have time to finish speaking; his opponent lunged towards him, and the smaller man had to defend himself. Laughter and shouts of excitement soon filled the air, as everyone else began to notice that a fight had started. A crowd soon formed.
By this time Blacknail had already slipped away, and mingled into the crowd that had rapidly formed to watch the fight. The noise and mob quickly grew large enough to attract the attention of the guards, and several rushed over, including the one that had been guarding the door.
With a smug smile Blacknail broke away from the others, and walked through the now unguarded entrance while everyone was distracted. He giggled merrily to himself as he moved. It was so easy to fool humans sometimes! Why did they even bother placing sentries?
The hallway on the other side was dark, and Blacknail happily scurried into the shadows. He stopped for a second to listen for signs of movement nearby. A second later, when he was sure there was no one nearby he began to follow Galive’s trail.
After a few seconds he heard someone approaching so he slipped into a side room until they had passed by. Blacknail was finding it very easy to stay out of sight. The temple had a lot of dark unused rooms in it for him to hide in.
It was hard to follow Galive’s scent though. The bandit’s trail was mixed up with that of many other humans, and it had been muddled up by how many times Galive had walked these halls. It was hard to figure out which trail was the freshest.
Thankfully, Blacknail didn’t really need to use his nose. As he moved out of the dark hallway and into better lit areas of the temple he heard talking up ahead, and thanks to Galive’s rather boring speech from earlier he knew exactly what the man sounded like.
Blacknail couldn’t make out what was being said, but he definitely knew which direction the man lay in. It was just a matter of time until he found his prey. The hobgoblin stalked forward eagerly, but soon ran into a rather annoying obstacle. The room up ahead of him was brightly lit, and four of Galive’s cloaked henchmen were playing cards in the middle of it.
Blacknail couldn’t think of any way of sneaking past them, or any way to take them all out silently. He hissed in frustration and tried to think of a solution. A few moments later he heard someone coming from behind him, so he quickly slipped into another side room and out of sight.
He waited for several moments until the person had walked past, then Blacknail peeked out from around the door frame. As the hobgoblin took in the sight of another dark cloak a great idea occurred to him.
Blacknail quickly took out his coin purse and lunged forward. Before the man could react the hobgoblin had swung his makeshift weapon and smashed him across the back of the head. The man immediately slumped and started to collapse. Humans were apparently weak to coins in more than one way.
Before the thug could hit the floor Blacknail caught him and dragged him into the side room, and then behind a pile of crates. The hobgoblin then claimed the defeated warrior’s cloak for his own. It was rather nice looking, and much smoother feeling on his skin than his own.
The grinning hobgoblin pulled the cloak on and then walked back out into the hall. When he reached the occupied room up ahead he simply flipped the hood up, and kept walking. None of the men playing the game did more than casually glance his way as he walked into the room.
Blacknail fingered the dagger and the sling he had up his sleeves and ready to go just in case, but he didn’t need them. The humans were engrossed in their game, and Blacknail was soon through the far door and out of their view.
He then stopped to listen again. A few seconds later he swerved left and headed towards a staircase; the voices sounded like they were coming from up above.
Once up there he stepped out into another hallway, and then quickly darted into a empty looking room before anyone came. The room was rather large but it only contained a few chairs and crates. Blacknail had to stifle a sneeze, as he realized there was also a lot of dust in it as well.
The hobgoblin could feel the floorboards tremor slightly as a group of people approached, so he moved out of sight. He hid up against the wall; behind table that had been flipped on its side.
The pack of humans quickly passed, but Blacknail didn’t move. He was now close enough to Galive that he could make out the chieftain’s words. In fact the man sounded like he was in the very next room.
“Listen, I appreciate the sentiment, but you can’t stay in here,” Galive told someone with obvious frustration.
“Zelena sent me to protect you, and that’s what I plan on doing. Need I remind you what happened to Fang? He also thought he was safe in his hideout, but Herad’s assassin got to him,” the other voice explained.
“I’ve done everything else you asked; I switched rooms, I doubled the guards, and I’ve let you tag along, but this is my home and you’re staying out of my bedroom! This is not a debate,” Galive responded.
“You’re putting yourself at risk,” the other man told him.
“Maybe, but how would anyone even get in here? This is the second floor, there are guards outside, and the window is too small for a man to slip through. I’m far from helpless as well; I’m a Vessel you know,” Galive told him.
“A good assassin can get into anywhere,” was the other’s reply.
“I guess you would know. You’re the most expensive knifeman in Daggerpoint after all, Malthus,” Galive said.
“I am the best, and that’s why you should listen to me,” the other man replied.
The bandit chieftain grunted disdainfully before responding.
“I thought Zelena had bought out the entire Assassin Guild, anyway. If that’s true, where did Herad’s knifeman come from?” he asked Malthus.
“Zelena has entered into such an agreement with us, but we only have a monopoly on knifemen in Daggerpoint. Herad seems to have picked her killer up from outside,” the assassin explained.
“Huh, I heard she’s been wandering around the countryside down south. What, did she randomly come across him in the middle of the forest?” Galive laughed.
“I don’t know. I’ve tried to find out, but I haven’t had much luck. Herad is keeping him hidden, even from most of her own men. Normally, that wouldn’t stop me, but I suspect someone else is covering for him as well. Some of the guild informants have gone silent recently,” Malthus admitted with obvious frustration.
“Seems like Zelena is paying you guys way too much then,” Galive pointed out.
“That’s not your concern. You just need to worry about yourself. This mysterious assassin doesn’t even need to enter your room to kill you; he could poison your food or drink,” the assassin turned bodyguard explained.
While crouched in his hiding spot Blacknail smiled to himself. That was a great idea. He wondered if he could do that right now…
“All my food is checked anyway. Herad is far from my only enemy. You’re welcome to test it yourself though,” the chieftain replied.
The hobgoblin hissed in annoyance. Apparently, he couldn’t poison the man after all. Oh well, he would remember the idea for later. He was sure it would come in handy eventually.
“He could also use some sort of magical device, or throw a firebomb into the room,” Maltheus added.
Blacknail didn’t have either of those, but they sure sounded cool! He was definitely going to ask for some of those when he got back.
“That’s enough of this, I gave you an order. You can stay here or guard the window from outside, it’s up to you. Now, I’m going to go tell the girls to join me and you won’t be there to watch, got it?” Galive commanded the assassin sternly.
“As you wish, I’ll stay here and guard the door,” was the other man’s reply.
Galive then huffed and walked away. Blacknail didn’t worry though, he knew his target would be back. The hobgoblin just made himself comfortable, and prepared himself to wait for the right moment to strike.
A few minutes later he heard the sound of Galive returning, and he wasn’t alone.
“I’m going to show you ladies a great time,” the chieftain bragged as he approached his room.
This was quickly followed by quiet chuckling and excited murmurs from the females accompanying him.
“So, you think you’re a great lover, eh?” one of them asked.
“Of course I am. Cor-Dius is the god of things done in darkness, so as his head priest I’m obviously the greatest lover in the city, if not the world,” Galive bragged as he opened his door and stepped inside.
There was more murmuring, before the door shut and blocked the noise. The assassin snorted in disgust as soon as Galive was safely out of earshot. He apparently didn’t agree with the chieftain’s high opinion of himself.
Just as Blacknail was settling back down to wait, noises began to erupt from the other side of the wall he was leaning on. He heard the creaking of a bed, followed by high pitched human squeals, and the sound of flesh slapping against flesh.
The hobgoblin groaned quietly to himself. He really didn’t want to sit there and listen to humans mating. Hopefully, it would be over soon.
However, the noises actually soon grew louder, and groans of pleasure were added to the mix. Blacknail stuck his tongue out in disgust as he plugged his fingers into his ears. The noises were giving him a huge headache.
“Stupid pink-ss humans,” he hissed, as his imagination started supplying images to go along with the noises. The hobgoblin now had another reason to kill Galive.
After what seemed like hours, but was probably actually much less time, the noises finally stopped and the room grew quiet. Blacknail heard a groan of relief from the man guarding Galive’s door, and nodded in agreement. He was also glad they had finally stopped.
After enough time had passed that the hobgoblin was sure his target and his company were asleep, he put his plan into motion. On the outside wall of the room there was a small cross shaped window. Blacknail was pretty sure it was exactly the same as the one in his target’s room.
It was too small for all but the smallest humans to fit through, but Blacknail thought he could slip through. Hobgoblins were very skinny, that was part of the reason they were so attractive.
Silently, he crept over to the window and looked outside. There was a guard holding a lantern down in the yard below. The man seemed to be patrolling the perimeter of the temple. He was doing a terrible job of it though, which was typical for a human.
Blacknail took a second to take off his new cloak and put it away; it was comfy and he’d decided to keep it. He then looked out the window and observed the below guard’s routine for a few minutes. When the hobgoblin was satisfied that the man was unlikely to look up and spot him, he squeezed through the window and outside.
It was a tight squeeze and getting his head through was uncomfortable, because his brain was so big, but Blacknail managed it. There was a small ridge on the wall outside so the hobgoblin grabbed it and began to shimmy carefully along it, and towards the window into the next room. His claws dug into the wood and gave him nice firm handholds.
After a few minutes of climbing and clambering along the wall, Blacknail managed to make it across the outside wall without alerting the guard below. The hobgoblin let out a small sigh of relief when he reached his destination, and saw it was indeed the same type of window he had just come through. It would have been really awkward if it hadn’t been.
Blacknail carefully reached up to get a solid hold on the windowsill, and then hauled himself over to it. As he hung there and the light of the guard’s lamp passed below him, he carefully pulled himself up to the window opening. There was a heavy blue curtain in the way, so he gently pushed it aside.
The hobgoblin grinned wickedly and shivered with anticipation, as he peeked inside. His prey was right there, and was sleeping defenselessly. Soon the hunt would be complete, and the sweet taste of victory would be his!
For a second the clouds above shifted and the moon shone brightly in the sky. Blacknail’s thin clawed shadow stretched out and into the room. Seeing this, the hobgoblin giggled and then moved eagerly in for the kill.
Book 3 is Out!
The third novel in The Iron Teeth series is now out on Amazon. Please support the author and help promote the book by purchasing and reviewing A Bloody Road. Every review and purchase helps a lot!