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Murder and Crazy part 1

“Thanks kid” Kayne said with a wink as the inkeeper’s oldest brought him his food. As he took a bite from his stew, the stranger sat himself down in front of him again. “Ah your back,” Kayne said as he brought the mug of ale to his mouth, “Guess you’re here to hear the rest of me story. Well I can’t blame ya as it only gets better from here.” Kayne signaled the innkeeper to bring another mug for the stranger before starting. “Let’s see, were was I? Right, the next day.”

Well after getting some shut eye, we all gathered again at Ace and Spade’s place to decide what we were going to do next. Most us wanted to try out the vision thing, so Yanika bought herself a mirror to try it out. Unfortunately, she only saw some nonsense about Torrok roaming a dessert. Not exactly the revoting revelation we were expecting there. Especially as that was our only dose. Still that did not discourage Majid from questioning poor Torrok concerning every desert he had ever come across in his life, much to the guy’s growing irritation. It was at that point that Blue decided to ask him, where the sword actually was. Turns out that he tossed it. See apparently the sword and he are cursed, so that in a couple of weeks it always comes back to him.

Say that reminds me, you’re an author right? And you must know a lot of legends and shit right? So maybe you can tell me what the deal is with all the obsession with swords and the like in all those legends and stories? I mean whenever you hear about some old legend or the like, it’s always about some kind of magic sword that’s key to it all. Sure sometimes you got an exception like a good hammer or axe thrown in, but the guys writing those things always seem to have some kind of unnatural obsession with swords. I mean I just don’t get it. But then I never really liked using swords that much. I mean, give me something with a bit of weight like an axe or a hammer, but swords? I just don’t know. To me they’re kind of quant and what’s the word, right dainty. And don’t get even me started about them so called swordmasters. I mean every fucking time right before a fight, they got to start rambling on and on about how great and powerful their bloody swords are. And they can go on for hours if ya don’t stop em. Now my personal guess is, that they’re overcompensating to ridiculous degrees but that’s just my take on it. But you canput this in, Kayne’s life lessons number, what was the number again? Right five, Kayne’s great life lesson number five: Swords are overrated.

But the thing comes back. Which I gotta admit is kinda nifty. I mean I wish my axe could do that. That would have saved me a lot of trouble. Another thing it can apparently do is shrink. See Torrok found it in some giant’s tomb and when he touched it, it shrank to a size that he could handle. Which is also handy.

But yeah I was actually content to just wait until the sword came back, but the others were more like: no we gotta get it cause what if pissant gets hit filthy mits on it. Also, apparently someone posted a bounty on the thing, seeing as the streets were covered in flyers that asked for it to be returned. They even posted a bounty of 7.000 fricking gold coins. I mean with that kind of cash, even if I had to split it with the rest, I would have had enough to fulfill at least one of my big dreams at the time. So I came to one of my best ideas at the time. I told that we should sell the sword. Ya look sceptical but hear me out. See if we sold the sword at the pawnshop, that was mentioned on the flyer, we could get our 7.000 coins and when the dude, who I assumed was pissant, came to pick it up, we could jump him and kick his ass. And even if it wasn’t pissant, we would still get some answers from the bloke. Foolproof right? But unfortunately, the others didn’t see it like that as theys was worried about the right and wrongness of it and not wanting to risk the sword. I admit I was half tempted to just go find the sword meself and collect the bounty, but I wasn’t willing to stab them in the back like that and also even if I was gonna go split the cash with them afterwards, I wasn’t too keen on sifting through a giant heap of thrash for it. I mean we got Majid and Blue to do that for us.

So while they were doing that, Ace and Yanika decided to get to work on translating that Dwarven book. At first they just wanted to get a dwarf to translate it for them, but I figured that that was probably a bad idea. See we didn’t know what was really in it and if someone else translated it for us, they could just tell us whatever and keep the secret for themselves. So armed with Pissant’s notes, they agreed to start working on it. Also, damn it, what was the name again of our magic hobo? Screw it, Scruffy it is. Scruffy decided to stay with them. Apparently he wanted them to teach him how to read while they were doing all that. Good on him, always improve yourself.

So that just left me and Spade. We decided to go track down Pissant, so we could give him the beating he deserved. Now at first we didn’t really get much intel, as we tried it Spade’s way first. Ya know look for clues, subtle rumors and all that crap. Like I said, Spade is a good guy but he tends to overthink things. So after a while, I just started asking around some taverns and learned that Pissant was an enforcer for hire for some of the local gangs. Though lately apparently, he had been acting kinda off. Spending most of his time at some old place that’s actually an entrance to the black maze bellow the racks.

With that piece of knowledge in check, we came together again at Spade and Ace’s place in order to bring everyone up to speed. After which, Yanika, Majid and Blue decided to check out the guild for thrashfolk in order to see if someone else found the blade, while the rest of us took a trip to the pawnshop to see what we could learn about the bounty on it.

The pawnshop was owned by this halfpint called Rowls and at first and we decided to let Ace handle it. So she start smooth-talking the guy but he quickly started lying to us about not knowing who pissant was and such. And after a while of denying, he was starting to really piss me of, even getting close to putting Ace to tears. So I decided to step in and motivate the guy to be more truthful. Don’t look at me like that, I did not touch the guy. I calmly explained what was going to happen to him and his shop if he kept going on like that. Actually, let’s add that one to Kayne’s life lessons shall we. Number 6, when you make a threat, always make sure you can follow through with it. See there’s going to be times when you gotta act tough. Whether it is when you are negotiating a price for a job, trying to get some chumps to back off or just when someone is really starting to piss you off. Now if you make a threat and the other guy calls it, you gotta follow through. That is the most important. Cause when you don’t follow through, not only will ya lose against that guy, but ya’ll also lose against all future guys. Cause news is gonna go round and before you now it, everyone will know that you’re all bark and no bite. So always follow through and never make threats ya can’t keep. But back to the halfpint. So he starts blubbering about how, while he doesn’t know Pissant personally, we can probably find out more if we go to the black maze entrance from before at sundown.

Now as that was going down, Yanika and her group managed to find out who actually found the sword. See one of the thrashfolk, had decided on the dime to retire and that was kind of suspicious. So they went to his place and unfortunately found out that the guy was already dead, murdered with a dagger in his gut. And yes the bloody sword was missing. I’m telling ya the wole thing was like fighting a hydra. Ya cut of a head and a leg and two heads grow back, making for very little progress. So we found out who had the sword and where he lived only for the damn thing to be already gone.

Later then, at sundown, we went to the entrance and after talked to a guard there, who suspected that some kind of cult was acting up down there in the maze. His suspicions would quickly be confirmed. For that was when we first met Janus, who was obviously too well of to muck around the racks at night. Now I knows what ya might be thinking and no we did not think that he was the leader of a cult just cause he was a tiefling. We knew he was the leader of a cult when he admitted that he was the leader of a cult. See he follows this fallen angel called Teiar who according to Ace left the service of the gods in order to live in a small village and to marry a normal woman. At least that was the information that Ace got from a romance novel she once read. Though Janus dismissed it as nonsense and said that the reality was a lot more complicated than in some romance thrash. It was at point that I decided that I did not like Janus. See being the leader of a cult is one thing, but insulting my favorite type of novel is another. I’m gonna give ya five seconds to remove that grin from your face before I help ya with that. And then ya can explain to me what’s so funny about me liking romace books.

See this brings me to my next great life lesson. Never judge a fox by the color of his coat. I mean just look at me. At first glance you would say that I am a hunky prime specimen of a man who has a tendency to fly into a skullshattering rage when his blood starts to burn and who prefers to solve problems head on, preferably with the use of an axe or hammer. And for the most part, you’re right. But I’m also so much more than that. See deep down inside me, there’s a sensitive and romantic soul burning bright. Who has his own dreams and wants for the future that he wishes to see fulfilled. Who dreams of a passionate and wild love affair with the intensity to burn down the mountains around with the heat of their passion. And just as I constantly train my body with workouts, decent meals and skullshattering blows against all those who pick a fight with me, I also nourish that soul with a healthy dose of romance novels. In fact, I even have my own private collection. And if anyone has a problem with that, I refer them to my workout schedule.

But back to the story. So Janus frequents the black maze in order to visit a small shrine to Teiar and to bestow blessings on his followers. That was how he met Pissant. He too had received a blessing and he even got a vision about the sword when he got it. That was how he was put on Torrok’s trail. Now I was rather sceptical about the whole thing. But Yanika, Ace and Spade were curious and decided to take a look and receive a blessing. So they, along with Blue and Scruffy who went with them to observe, followed Janus down the maze and when they came back, all three of them had one of them owl tattoos on them.

It was at this point that I learned an important about the five of them. And that is that their common sense and sense of danger is shot to shit. See it turns out that it wasn’t no angel that was giving them out blessings, but rather a bloody devil. And here’s the kicker to it, they knew that before he finished giving the blessing and still let it happen. I mean I know that I tend to take risks from time to time, but there’s taking risks and then there’s committing suicide. In fact that’s another lesson. There are risky situations and then there are suicidal situations. Knowing the difference between the two is the key to living a long and exciting life. But Yeah not their brightest moment.

Now Yanika insisted that it probably wasn’t so bad as it wasn’t like they gave the devil anything or signed anything for it. but to me that was just asinine. I mean that’s how they get ya, first taste is always free. And when I suggested going to a temple in order to get it checked out, they weren’t that interested in it because they wanted to go check out the thrashguy’s home again in order to see if they can find some more clues. I just wanted to slap some sense into them then and there, but I decided to keep things civil and proposed a compromise. We would first go check out the place, and later we would go to the temple to check them out.

Thus we went to the guy’s place and before we could get started, some goons came up to us and told us that their boss wanted to speak to us. See he wanted to know who went around and killed a bloke on his terf without his permission. Not wanting to rock the boat as Ace and Spade have to live in the district, we followed them to an inn. But the boss only wanted to see two of us at first, so the rest would have to wait downstairs. I remember poor Ace almost bursting at the seems when she realized that the gang we were dealing with were the Red Ice gang. And yeah there were some nasty rumors about those guys, but nothing to be done about it then. She needed to learn that sometimes in this work, ya gonna have to deal with folk that ya don’t wanna deal with. So she and Spade went up to the boss his room and a short while later came back down with him.

Now Brand is bad shit crazy. I mean there’s no doubt there, just look at the guy. Dressed up in that jester getup, mumbling to himself al twitchy like. And to make things worse, it quickly became clear that Spade had hired us out to figure out for him who had killed the thrashguy. I was not pissed off but I was severely annoyed by this and I remember saying to myself that when this was all over, I was going to have a word with Spade about it. See I’m an independent mercenary who prides himself on his reputation. And when he pimps me out under his name, it’s not just his but also my reputation that is on the line. Cause a merc who has a bad rep, is one who isn’t going to get many well-paying jobs anymore. That is why I decide what jobs I take and which ones I don’t, to keep my reputation intact. And I have a few key rules. I don’t do nothing with animals, I don’t hurt kids and I don’t work with crazy. And now thanks to him, I was stuck between the last one and breaking a contract, because Spade had already accepted payment. And that last thing is a dead sentence to a mercenaries career.

My mood wasn’t helped when the idiot started to inspect us and told me that he wants me to get a tattoo. I dug my nails into the palms of my fists so hard that I almost drew blood at the mere gall of his remark. As I said before, these muscles are trimmed to perfection. The very notion of ruining them by putting ink on them is almost sacrilegious to me. Now if it was a nice amulet or the like that could rest between my pecks in order to draw more attention to them, than that would be different but under no circumstance am I getting inked.

“After that inspection, he dismissed us” Kayne said while gritting his teeth “And we were free to continue our investigation of …“. Kayne’s attention was suddenly drawn to one of the customers who was getting a bit to hands on with one of waitresses. “Scuse me” Kayne said as he got up, ‘need to give someone a quick lesson in manners”.

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