An excerpt from Contravention of Thieves
- Jagger: Twist the Knife - 7:00 am
The past month had been a busy one. When I was not working with Fitz on his bear pit schemes, I was plotting schemes of my own.
The bear, Phil, made a full recovery, and was fighting well. He didn't have the bloodlust potion anymore, but it didn't seem to matter. What he lacked in pure rage he made up for in natural ferocity and instinct. I wasn't very interested in that anymore, to tell you the truth. The damn bear had done his use to me and now was just a pile of meat and a nice rug for all I cared. What was important was that I was building a strong relationship with Fitzaviar, day by day. He came to respect me as a shrewd and cunning individual, and I him as a very wise and devious man. I was careful to keep him from understanding just what I was capable of, as it would lead to dangerous suspicious later on. I was also careful to note all his weaknesses, and determine ways to use them against him without him realizing. It was going very well.
But there was a problem. Two problems, actually, and their names were Logan and Twipp. Logan was Fitzaviar's right hand man, and his figurehead in almost all affairs. Fitzaviar almost never attended to criminal activities personally, in order to maintain his public image, so he had Logan take care of most of it in his stead. Logan was like a son to Fitz, he was his nephew actually, so they were very tight, never one questioning the other. Twipp was Fitzaviar's left hand man, and the relationship was not as tight. Twipp was in charge of dirty work, so to speak, managing the things too gritty for aristocrats like Fitzaviar or Logan to dirty themselves with. Those things were, in two words, bureaucracy and economics. The relationship between he and the lord was a strictly business one, with neither of them ever discussing anything outside of the official business.
I was in a disguise, standing on a foggy street corner in the middle of Queenslake, one of the small sections of The City. I was wearing clothing typical for a Thief of this city, and rather strange to me. I would have to get used to dressing like this if I didn't want to stick out so much. My throat ached, the voice alteration potion working properly. My chin itched, the fake beard glued on tightly. I felt silly in these pads, making me look about a hundred pounds heavier. In the dark as well as the fog, I was totally unrecognizable. This was a very good costume, but felt wretched. Thankfully I would be out of it soon.
The buildings were tall in this area, as it was one of the more prestigious parts of town, where you could find jewelry stores and pet markets, and other such shops that only the wealthy attended. I stood in a deep shadow between a gutter pipe and a chimney shaft, the low eve shielding me from the light drizzle.
My subject strolled into view, Gimble. Gimble worked for Lord Agus, the one who threatened my life that night at the bear pits. He still hadn't made the attempt, though the threats continued to seep my way. It was amusing. That, however, was not the matter, at least at this stage. Gimble was a simple hit man who also worked as a spy. He was the typical cat-burglar type, who operated by blackjacking his foes and then carrying them off, either to capture them or to dump them into the river. He was one of the lower agents, low enough so that he wasn't involved with much of the secret affairs of the organization, but high enough so that he understood his place, and special missions were not unexpected. How did I know all this? Simple research. Knowledge is power, and power can be bought for the right price.
There was another major reason why I chose Gimble. He wore a patch over his right eye, because it was defective, and he would grow disoriented if he tried to use it. That would very much come in handy latter.
"Gimble," I said, in my very unusually different voice.
He turned to look at me, hand instinctively placed on the hilt of his dagger. "Who goes?" he said slowly.
"Step into the shadow," I instructed him. He didn't budge.
"Who says?" he replied.
"I have a package for you, but I cannot go out into the open with it."
His curiosity got the better of him, and he stepped forward, closely, spying left and right, gripping his cloak slightly.
I made a quick lunge, grabbing his wrist, twisting his arm behind him and slamming his face and chest against the brick wall. He let out a muffled grunt of annoy. Before he could protest I told him what the deal was.
"Since I have no other way to ensure that you listen carefully to what I say, and do exactly as I tell you, I will have to kill you if you did not. Do you understand?"
He grunted loudly, nodding, cheek pressed to the red brick.
"Good. I work for the same man you work for, Long Agus. I am one of his secret operatives. What I have to say to you is simple, and you must ask no questions. Again, if you refuse, then you will die, one body part at a time. Do you understand me?"
He grunted again, nodding furiously.
"Excellent. There is a job that must me done, and you must do it very carefully. We need you to go to the Hammerites, poised as a civilian, and lead them to believe that a man named Logan will be conducting criminal activity tomorrow night at a place called The Overlord's Fancy. This information was given to Lord Agus by Twipp, indirectly. The man carelessly leaked the information. Lord Agus wants Logan out of the way, so he is going to have the Hammerites take care of this for him. Also, a man by the name of Jagger will most likely be there. As you know, Lord Agus wants this man dead. The Hammerites should fulfill this nicely. Do you understand what I want you to do?"
"Repeat to me the instructions, I said, grabbing his head and lifting it from the wall so he could speak. He gagged for a moment, and then caught his breath.
"Dress as a commoner. Go to a Hammerite, and deliver to them information about Logan's dealings at the Overlord's Fancy."
"Yes," I told him. "Do not mention this to anyone. Do not write about it. Do not speak to your peers or superior about it. You may not even mention it to Lord Agus himself. Anything that may lead a trail back to Agus must be avoided at all costs. You will forget that we had this conversation. You will do nothing but do as you have been instructed, or you shall die, one body part at a time. Do you understand?"
He nodded again, relaxing as my grip loosened.
"When you have done this, you must go into hiding. Logan has many friends, and if word should somehow get out that you were an accessory to his apprehension, you will be hunted down. I have prepared a place for you. It's a secret dwelling known only to Agus's chief agents. When you have completed the assignment, you will find a map to this place hidden under the third brick from the bottom of this wall, two bricks from the corner. Now go, and do not turn to look at me as you leave."
I let him go, throwing him back into the street. He stood slowly, and started to turn to look, but then stopped, dusted himself off, and began to walk naturally, just as he had before. That worked well. I emulated the style of Agus's henchmen well, I think. Hopefully Gimble would be able to inform the Hammerites properly, and Logan will be apprehended tonight, and taken to Cragscleft.
- Jagger: Deceit Supreme - 8:00 pm
I calmly blew out a ring of smoke, my eyes cast downward at the thick mug of tea clutched in my right hand. Logan was at the OverLord's Fancy this moment, and hopefully my deceit of Gimble will pay off.
"Properly administrated, a shop would be profitable," Fitzaviar said, continuing our conversation. "Perhaps we may even force it into style?" He was talking to me about his idea to produce and market burrick skin coats. We were sitting in the small private bar and in the cellar of his mansion.
"So Ftiz," as I sometimes called him, "you never did tell me about your grand-kids."
He blinked and looked up, being that I totally derailed his train of thought. "Pardon?" he said. "Oh, yes, the children. Well my eldest son's boys, Horus and Ruper, are both apprentices now. One is being a carpenter, and the other an ironworker. Though I would have of course preferred to see them as businessmen, they are both very talented lads, and love their craft. Besides, both of the fields they are entering hold much room for advancement, and could very well get them quite wealthy someday. That is, if the scum Hammerites don't take control of the industries. Bloody cutthroats, it wouldn't surprise me. Though they have been recently weakened once again, they fluctuate often and drastically, and it's just a matter of time before a power hungry priest ascends the hierarchy and decides that the order should control ALL vocations in The City. Bloody scum that they are, I wouldn't put it past them. This new high priest though, what's his name? Any matter, he's much more conservative then the last, and I did indeed make a sigh of relief when that rouge killed his predecessor. As I was saying..."
"Yes, as you were saying, your grand-kids?" I said, amused.
"Pardon? Oh yes, of course. Well my daughter's oldest girl is doing just fine, I imagine. In the last letter I got from her she had some very nice drawings in it. I should show you. Her son is still a toddler, and is finally making decent sentences! I nearly spit myself laughing at the words that come out of that little boy's mouth. Kids say the damnedest things."
I chuckled, lighting up a fat cigar, offering him one. He declined. I had gotten him to smoke one before, but he didn't like it. I blew a puff into the air, and relaxed. I was damn nervous about my little scheme. Any moment now one of the thugs should be bursting in with news of Logan's capture. "And what of Rean? Have you heard from him at all?"
He shook his head sadly. No, my youngest son is silent. As I told you before, he went into seclusion two years ago when his mother died. I know where he is living now, and I make sure that he has enough money to take care of himself, but he won't work, and won't go outside, and really won't do anything. It's a shame and a pity, but I don't know what to do.
"Yes, a shame," I said, feigning sympathy.
"What about you, Jagger? I ain't never heard o' you speak o' your family." Said Mortimer, one of Fitzaviar's aids who had been seated silently at the bar.
"Yes, Jagger. You never speak of them. Family is important, you know."
I frowned and shook my head. I suppose I brought it upon myself, but they had taped a very touchy subject right on the head. I didn't let myself think about it though, and contained my composure. "I don't speak of family to protect them. I don't want someone who has a grudge against me going and killing them, if you know what I mean. Best that they remain nonexistent." That was a very true thing I said, but really not the reason why I never speak of them. As much as I didn't want to, I thought of my sister again. I wondered if the wretch was still alive.
Fitzaviar thought for a moment. "I can see your point. However when you come from a proud and respected family, there is no point in trying to keep their identities a secret." He laughed. "And besides, I know of no-one with a grudge against me."
I grinned secretly. That, my good sir, was about to change dramatically.
As if on cure, four thugs burst into the room, panting, and shouting for Lord Fitzaviar's ear.
"My Lord!" Shouted their leader, Mel, "Something terrible has happened!"
Fitz stood sharply, almost knocking over his chair. "Out with it man, what has gone wrong?"
"The Hammerites!" Mel shouted, panting, "They came, they bashed the place, we hid, they broke every wallboard looking for us, then betrayed, the owner gave in, told were we were hiding. Some of us escaped but, they, but..."
"Logan… where is Logan?" Fitzaviar said softly, trying to stay calm.
Mel shivered, and slowly shook his head, his eyes still filled with fear. "Taken."
Fitzaviar inhaled deeply, tightly curling his right hand into a fist. He shut his eyes and looked away. I could see his forehead trembling. He knew what slow and painful death Logan was in for. I put on a perfectly executed face of anger and sympathy, but inside I was smirking. Fitzaviar took of his spectacles, and put them in his coat pocked. Everyone was dead quiet, save the out of breath panting of the thugs, who had no doubt ran the long way home.
"What do we do, sir? We have to save him!"
"How many others were captured?" he said.
Mel looked at the men behind him, as if he wasn't even sure who was taken and who escaped. "Klent, Plewmen, Thomas, Elanger, and Markus were captured," he said finally. "And Drag and Wildman were both killed."
Fitz looked away. "Logan will be able to withstand any torture they give him. He will not talk. The other men don't know enough to be able to spill anything. If word gets out that Logan is my subordinate, then I am ruined, and we all, all of us, will die at the Hammerites' hands. If I send a rescue party after Logan, and they are seen, I am ruined and we all die. Logan is strong. He will die with his honor, even at the disgraced hands of those red demons."
"But, sir, you can't just leave him there… he's your nephew!" Mel insisted.
"No one is more aware of that then I!" Fitzaviar screamed, his rage finally showing. "Logan would have wanted it this way." He said after a pause, regaining his calm. He shook his head. "This changes everything. I could not have anticipated this. How? Why?" He slumped down into his chair, eyes against his palms.
We all stood silent, eyes fixed on him, all but me, who was lighting up another cigar. "The question on my mind is,” I said suddenly, "How did the Hammerites know? Was it a coincidental inspection? I doubt it, and even if it was, Logan was more then capable of appearing to be a nobody to them. No, this was either a setup, or a third party clued them in. Was it one of your enemies, or one of the Downwinders' enemies? Since you yourself said that you have none, I can only speculate that it was one of their enemies." I turned to Mel, the head thug. "How many of the Downwinders were taken?"
He shook his head and shrugged. "I didn't pay attention to them really, more to my men and to Logan. They killed plenty, and took plenty prisoner. It really wasn't clear who the Hammers were after, just that they were there to wreck havoc."
"So we just don't know." I said. "We must act quickly. One of us, preferably one that was not at the incident, needs to disguise himself and go down to the Hammerite Temple where they were taken. Tell them that one of the men who was killed at the incident killed your son or father or whoever, make sure you come up with a detailed back story beforehand, in case they ask questions, and tell them that you wish to personally thank the man who told them where to find him. With any luck, they will be so headswollen at serving their damned justice that they will spill as much information as we need to know in order to track down the fiend who is responsible for them making the assault."
Mel looked at Fitzaviar. Fitz looked up slowly and nodded his approval. Excellent. Not only was my plan working perfectly, but Fitzaviar trusted my leadership potential. "You must do this immediately. Word travels fast on the streets, so they won't wonder why you know already. We have to do this before the one responsible has a chance to cover his tracks, assuming he hasn't already done so."
"Makes sense," Mel said to me. "I'll have Corus do it, he looks innocent enough." He approached Fitzaviar. "Don't worry, sir, we'll find out who is responsible. Mark my word. Logan will not go unavenged."
And so they left. Fitzaviar wanted to be alone with his thoughts after that, and I was more then happy to accommodate. With any luck, in several hours our scout would be back, and I will have the information I need to point them in the direction of Gimble without making it look like I know any more then they.
- Jagger: A List of Suspects - 8:00 pm
Fitzaviar wanted to be alone that night, to collect himself over the loss of both his nephew and his right hand. He placed me in charge of this operation, since I had pretty much elected myself anyway. He didn't ask Twipp to do if, because he wanted someone he knew personally for such a personal task. That was me.
We didn't meet back at Fitzaviar's mansion, in case Corus, the man who went to get information from the Hammerites, was trailed. We traveled down underground to an abandoned black market station. Under my arm was Fitzaviar's big book of profiles, containing a sketch and description of most known major criminals, and their lackeys. I loved this book.
I set it down on the dusty table, and my fellow thieves gathered round. "Alright," I said to Corus, what did the Hammerites tell you?"
"He said that the man who gave them the info didn't give his name, and wished to remain anonymous. The guy was pretty nondescript, wearing simple clothing, and no items on his person. He did notice one thing though. The man seemed to grow dizzy often, and his right eye never moved along with his left. Or was it the other way around? The Hammerite couldn't remember, but he knew his eyes looked funny.
"Ah," I said, exchanging glances with several of my peers. I flipped open the book, and skimmed for everyone and anyone who had a note about their eyes. We found four entries. In order, there was Barton, a freelance rouge who specialized in grave-robbing. "He didn't have anything to gain from bumping off Logan, but there was also nothing to rule him out either." I said, getting several nods of agreement. Pluck took notes.
Next was Garrett, who reportedly was using some type of mechanical eye given to him by the Hammerites. "He’s hard as all hell to track down, and something like this was totally against what we know of his style, so we rule him out." I said, knowing that none of us wanted to mess with Garrett anyway.
Next was Gimble, the guilty one of course, but I couldn't let my peers know that I knew that. "He works for Lord Agus," I said, "whom you all know more or less wants me dead. Technically, there is no way he should know that Logan and I are linked through Fitzaviar, but we cannot rule out the possibility. Put him on the list." Pluck did so.
Next was Ginny, one or Lord Bafford's men, and comptroller of the Dreckboun gambling house, which had been shut down by the Hammerites several months ago. "This guy is easily a suspect, though his movies go against the Downwinders, and not us. Put him on the list." We went through the rest of the book, and that was it. Funny, there must be something about the letter G and men with bad eyes.
"Alright," said, flipping back to Barton. "It can't be him," I said after reading a bit, "since he wears the eye patch to cover his missing eye, not lame eye. Scratch him off." They all nodded and Corus crossed him off the list. "Now, Gimble. It says here that he does indeed have a lame eye, which makes him our best bet. How much do we know about the way Lord Agus operates?" I asked.
Mel spoke up. "We know enough to know that he's not above things like this. We also know that he doesn't always make good on his threats. He's a bad example of a bad lot, the type that gives lords like Fitzaviar a bad name. We know that he wants you dead, of course, but as you said, he should have no way of knowing that you and Logan are linked."
I nodded, making myself look thoughtful. "But it's very possible that he could have found out, and suspected that I would be at the Overlord's Fancy that evening. He could have made Logan the target to cover his tracks, since no one would expect that he be the one to target a man who he has no quarrel with."
"Makes sense," said Mel after a moment. "What about the other two, Garrett and Ginny?"
"Garrett, hah, if it was him I’d say we are all out of luck. Thankfully, Garrett has a magical eye, or mechanical, or whatever the hell that thing is, and not a lame one." Mel and the others nodded. "Ginny, he's a suspect. No one knows why he wears his patch, so we can't rule anything out. We'll have to bring them both in for interrogation.
"Good, finally some action. But where do we look?" Mel asked.
"I've made it my business to know all of Lord Agus's outposts. Mainly so I don't accidentally stumble onto one. I'll give you a list of where to look for Gimble. Try to be inconspicuous; we don't need another incident on our hands. As for Ginny, your guess is as good as mine."
"You won't be going with us, then?" asked Mel, confused, and slightly irritated.
"I'll go after Ginny, you go after Gimble," I said, after a moment’s ponderance. That way I could be sure that Ginny was not discovered until Gimble was, and I wouldn't have to face Gimble. I could not take the chance of him recognizing me.
"Good then, lets get to it," said Mel solemnly. I closed the book, and handed it to Pluck. I wrote down a list of the places Mel and his team should look for Gimble in, and organized my team. Time to get this game flowing.
- Jagger: An unexpected twist - 4:00 am
It was nearing dawn, and my team was meeting back up for progress checks. We met in an out of the way portion of Town Square, in a dark alleyway. "Anyone have any leads?" I asked, after making sure that all five of us where here.
"I have one," said one of the thieves, but it's a long shot. Ginny is living in an apartment in new market, but he's reportedly never there. I suppose we could always sack the place and figure out where he is when he's not there."
I nodded. "Anyone else?"
"Yes," said another, "I've heard that Ginny is thinking of leaving Bafford's employ soon. I don't know anything behind that story, but there it is, for what it's worth."
"Hmmm," I hummed to myself, trying to figure out a reason to abort this search. "The sun shall be up soon, and the rules will have changed. Meanwhile, I'm starving, personally. Any of you up for a sandwich at one of these market eateries?" I said with an exhausted smile. I got a few assorted grunts of agreement before everyone went silent, starring behind me. I could hear some strong footsteps echoing down the narrow ally. I turned to look, and saw three silhouettes against the bright street-lamp's aura. Hammerites.
My men grew deadly silent as the three soldiers slowly walked down towards us. Their blood read tunics and polished white armor gave them an almost ethereal presence as they entered the darkness from the light of the street. My mind raced to determine a course of action. Running was too risky. I would have to try talking them into passing us by.
The one in front, who seemed to be a lieutenant of some sort, walked straight to me, ordering his two privates to circle around behind our group, surrounding us. We didn't dare move. I could see my men's eyes glance nervously at the twenty-pound mallets each solider carried, traces of dried blood encrusting the ends. These three could very well have been part of the team that attacked the Overlord's Fancy.
"Good morning, citizen," the lieutenant said to me, as he got within swinging distance. "I say, pray tell why art thou our on this streets upon this small hour fore dawn?" he said in his nasal Hammerite accent.
"My friends and I were going to catch a bit of early breakfast before going fishing, sir." I said. "We 'ere meetin' 'ere to avoid a bothersome chap we don wish ta come wid us." I said, faking a south-quarter accent.
"Ah, I see," the Hammerite said, not impressed. "And what is your name," he asking, getting within arm's reach now.
"M' name's Brendal," I lied, "and this here is Blunt, Cardy, Smee, and Plehwire." I said, making up some names off the top of my head.
"Indeed." The Hammerite said after a pause. I could hear the leather glove of the Hammerite behind me creek as he gripped his hammer tighter, anxious for the order to strike. Hopefully my men would not panic. They seemed calm enough, which made me proud. "And so," continued the Hammerite, "Thou dost wish to wait a long while fore thy breakfast, for the earliest eatery doth not yet open till yet another hour."
I wasn't sure if he was right or not, but I knew it was not good to argue. I made a tactical move, repositioning the Hammerites to better suit the plan I was forming. "No? Aw cripes. Ay Cardy, where'd ya put that info book thing?"
It took a moment for my men to decide which one of them was Cardy, but finally one of them spoke up. "Uh, It's um, in my bag, over there." He pointed to a large garbage sack discarded several yards down the ally.
"Ah good, um, say, sir, could I jus' walk over ta that bag and get out that there book and maybe then ya coulds help us find a good place ta eat? I said, trying to sound really stupid.
"If thou goes to that sack to draw a weapon, thou shalt surly die at mine hands instantly. Go then, and take they book, and show it to me." he said.
It worked, he followed me to behind the group, and the other two soldiers didn't move, eyes fixed on me, and were behind him. We now surrounded them. I fetched into the bag, and started to rummage around in it. "Oh look, I said, finding an old can, This is the same color as my old blackjack!"
At that, blackjacks were drawn and with a muffled crack and a thud, the two privates where down and out. The Lieutenant cried out in shock at the sound behind him, and spun around to see what has happened. With one motion, I fetched my stiletto from my belt, flipped it open, and sliced it into the side of his neck, thrusting outwards, ripping his main blood vessel along with most of this throat, in two. One of my men was quick to place a hand over his mouth to muffle the scream, and we slowly guided his dying body to the ground.
"Excellent work, all of you. That was perfect," I said, beaming with pride.
I got several quiet whispers of accomplishment from the group, followed by a "What should be do with them, boss?" I liked being called boss.
"Kill those two. Dead men tell no tales." I paused, "that is, unless they are found. Quickly, you, you, and you, switch clothing with the Hammerites. We can't leave them here like this and we can't risk being seen carrying them away. Remove anything from them that would identify them as soldiers, and dress them in your clothing. Move!"
My men did as I ordered, first killing the two unconscious Hammerites, and then undressing them of their red tunics and white armor, and exchanged clothing, making these three soldiers look like no more then well groomed street bums who met an unfortunate end at the hand of some fellow thug. Add to that the face that three of my men now looked like Hammerite soldiers, and this unfortunate incident seemed like it would turn out very well after all. "There, good. Excellent in fact. You three must now escort us two commoners safely to Lord Fitzaviar's manor. Think you two are up to it?" I said with a laugh."
We all exchanged chuckles and marched home, taking the long way, of course.
- Jagger: A Plot's Fruition - 7:00 am
By the time we got back to Fitz's mansion, I got word that Mel's team had found Gimble in exactly the place I told Gimble to hide, and that they were holding him, waiting for me, back at the abandoned black market station. My three Hammerited thieves got changed back into real clothing, and we all went over there, along with a very solemn Lord Fitz. It was morning now, but was still very dark in the underground chamber. We made the trip in almost total silence; with Lord Fitz dressed inconspicuously as one of us.
We rounded the bend into the large dimly lit chamber where Mel and his team were holding the gagged and bound Gimble, seated on a wooden chair. The room was moist, with the sound of dripping clearly heard from all around. The only source of light was Fitz's lantern, and the campfire lit by one of Mel's men. Now that we were all together, we were all Fitzaviar's men. I gave the lantern to one of my peers, and he took it and hung it from the low beam right in front of Gimble's face, to keep him from seeing much else other then the glaring light.
Fitzaviar nodded to Mel, and Mel began. I stood quietly beside Fitzaviar, listening from a small distance.
"Alright, Gimble, you rancid piece of filth." Mel pulled off Gimble's gag. "We know that you're the one who clued the Hammerites off to our boss Logan's business at the Overlord's Fancy. Tell us what we want to know, or you're dead.
Gimble stood silent.
"Was Logan the target, or the Downwinders?"
Gimble stayed silent.
"Were you working alone or under Lord Agus's orders?"
Gimble didn't say a word.
"Dammit!" Mel punched Gimble hard in the jaw. "Answer me you taffer!"
Gimble sneered, and then grinned. "May yea drown in yer own shroom tea, ya larnit."
Mel punched Gimble hard again, slamming his head into the back of his chair. Gimble just grinned and took it.
"Mel,” I said quietly, urging him to come, tired of his ineffective interrogation techniques. He came. "Watch and learn."
I walked over to Gimble. "Hello Gimble, how are you today, I said calmly."
"Who the hell are you?" he barked.
I walked behind him where I stayed, so he couldn't see me. "You're in no position to be rude, my good sir. These people want to know something, and you are the one who needs to tell it. If you don't tell them what they know you know, then you're going to die very slowly and very painfully. Do you understand?"
"Go to hell, larnit."
"Mel, see that lead pipe?" I said to Mel. He nodded. "Take it, and then take off Gimble's shoes. Gimble looked nervously as Mel took the pipe, and then removed Gimble's boots.
"Now, Gimble, every time you are rude to me, you loose a toe. Is that fair?"
I nodded to Mel. Mel took the lead pipe and drove it down over Mel's little toe, crushing it right off with the sharp hollow tube. Gimble let out a very agonized grunt.
"Feel like cooperating, Gimble?"
"Shove it up your -Arrghhh!!!!" Mel took off another one of Gimble's toes.
"Gimble, all you have to do is cooperate. Do you really want to go through with all of this?"
Gimble looked down, trembling slightly. "I did it because I hate logan. That's all you need to know."
"Not good enough,” I said, nodding to Mel. Mel took off another toe, enjoying himself far too much. Gimble didn't even grunt that time, just flinch, growing accustomed to the pain. "This really is unnecessary, you know. All you have to do is tell us the real reason behind informing the Hammerites of Logan's meeting with the Downwinders, and who informed whom that the meeting was taking place in the first place." Gimble remained tight lipped.
I pointed to Gimble's other foot, and Mel quickly smashed off another toe from that foot at random. Gimble shouted out in agony, not expecting the change in feet, and began to crumble, muttering hateful things under his breath.
"Gimble…. " I said softly. "How much do you want us to hurt you, Gimble? Tell us what we want to know, Gimble, and the pain will stop, Gimble."
He leered at me. "Fine!" he shouted. "Lord Agus wanted Logan out of the way. I don't know why, I wasn't told! I think it has something to do with his plan to kill some guy named Jagger. I bet that Logan was just the red herring, and that Jagger was the true target! That's all I was told, now let me go!"
I nodded to Mel, and then to Lord Fitzaviar. This was going almost too well to be true. Now Fitzaviar saw Agus as the enemy, and he was sure of the motive. He would also now become very protective of me, if I know him well, which I did. There was one thing left, and I had a feeling that it would go just as well. Lord Fitzaviar spoke quietly. "How did Agus know of the meeting."
"Well, Gimble? How did Lord Agus know about the meeting?"
"How the hell am I supposed to know?!" Mel's pipe came crashing down on Gimble's knee, shattering his knee-cap. Mel was getting the hang of this. Gimble screamed again, coughing and hacking. His blood was now all over the floor, slowly dripping from his feet.
"Gimble, tell us what you know."
Gimble hacked, coughing, at the verge of tears. "The, the agent said something about a guy named Twipp leaking info. He said it was due to incompetence. The info slipped out because he was careless, or something like that. That's all the hell I know!"
I could almost hear Fitzaviar grow pale. I saw the look of anger and horror in Mel's eyes as he heard this. Mel slammed the pipe into Gimble's ribs several times, making many large cracks, accompanied by Gimble's screams of pain. "Liar!" Mel shouted with rage.
"Why would he lie about that?" I said, turning to walk away. "My lord,” I said to Fitzaviar, "how well to you trust Twipp's competence?
Fitzaviar gave a deep sigh. "I trust it, but I do believe that a mistake such as this is not beyond possibility. I fear I must have a… word… with Mr. Twipp." I could see the anger welling in Fitzaviar's eyes before he looked away.
Mel suddenly spoke. "Who was the agent who gave you this mission?"
My heart froze. I had worried that this may happen. The seconds before Gimble's reply seemed like an eternity.
"I, I dono,” he said finally. "I don't know any of the higher ups very well. It could have been any of them. He had a very raspy voice, and a thick beard, that's all I know." I gave a private sigh of relief, for the disguise paid off. Mel nodded.
"What should we do with him, sir?" he asked Fitzaviar, but Fitz was already on his way out. I answered in his stead.
"Cut off his hands and feet and sew his mouth shut. Tie him to a wooden beam and throw him into the river as it enters the forest."
"NO! What? You said!?" Gimble shouted in horror.
"I said that the pain would stop, and it shall. Soon you'll be very dead. Take care of it, Mel."
As I turned to leave, I saw one of the men hand Mel a sharp cleaver. As I turned the corner, I heard the slice, and Gimble's scream…. and another slice, followed by an even greater scream…… and then again……… and then again…………..
- Jagger: All the Pieces Now in Place - 9:00 pm
We stood in Fitzaviar's office, waiting for the guards to bring Twipp. It took a while to get a hold of him since he occasionally vanished off to his secret home. Fitz was seated at his desk, his back to the door and all of us. He didn't want to be seen in this state of grieving that he was in. Many hours had passed, and it was evening. The drapes were pulled shut to Fitz's bay window, as he wanted no one on the street to see what occurred here tonight.
I smoked my cigar to calm myself. I was nervous, to say the least, but I didn't want to show it. Things had gone too well through all of this, and I didn't want anything to spoil it now. It was so quiet in here you could hear a pin drop, or, 'was so silent a fly on the wall could be heard,' as they say in this realm.
We heard the commotion coming up the stairs. All eyes but mine went to the door, while mine secretly went to Fitzaviar, as he slowly turned around in his chair to peek at the door through the corner of his eye, covered by his round glasses, and then turned back so that none could see him behind the large leather back of his chair.
I could hear from outside the door….
"And you cannot tell me WHY the lord requested me?"
"No, sir, he simply gave the order that it was very urgent"
"I'm sorry, sir, but the lord ordered that you not be given the chance to evade this meeting."
"What in the trickster's name is going on here?!"
"I told you sir…"
The door opened, and Twipp, a fat bald man dressed even more richly then Fitzaviar came in, with a guard gripping each of his forearms. The guard was speaking to him "… you have been summoned by your lord."
Everyone stopped breathing as the two guards, armed with halberds, shoved Twipp forward into the room. He could feel the eyes all around him, penetrating. Mel, standing to the right of Fitzaviar's desk, me to the left, the ten thieves and thugs from last nights adventures surrounding him, and the two guards behind, flanking the now closed and locked double doors.
Twipp stepped forwards nervously. "First of all, Lord Fitzaviar, I do not appreciate the method in which you summoned me. I did not require armed guard escort, nor do I require them to force me to go anywhere. When you wish to speak with me, simply summon me and I shall come at my leisure within the day."
Half the men in the room swallowed hard, anticipating what was to come, and distraught by Twipp's behavior. A deadly silence followed, with Lord Fitzaviar's chair not budging.
Twipp watched the back of the chair, growing nervous. He fidgeted with the ruffles on his coat sleeves.
"Mr. Twipp,” said Fitzaviar at last. "Where have you been the past few days?"
"As I informed you when I left, sir, I was in the Uptown District, involved in some work with one of my minor personal clients there. I do have my perfectly legal business as an accountant to furbish, of course."
He turned around slowly in his chair, so that a silhouette of his face could be seen, but no details of his expression, just the glint of the candle-light against his glasses. "How much do you know about Logan's meeting with the Downwinders?"
"Why, I know a great deal, I helped set that up." He paused. "Why do you wish to know, has something gone wrong?"
I could hear Mel give a deep grunt. I don't think anyone else noticed.
"Yes,” said Fitzaviar, quietly. "Something went wrong."
"Well, where is Logan? I should discuss it with him. Did the Downwinders act rash and decline the offer, or did they ask for too much collateral?"
"No,” Fitzaviar said after a very long pause. "The Hammerites came that night. Many died, and many were taken prisoner. Logan, if I know Hammerite agendas, shall be dying in two days."
Twipp grew pale. "H…. how, why? How did that know? Who sent them? Who leaked the information to them?"
"You did," said Fitzaviar, before Mel could shout it out.
Twipp was aghast. "Who? Who has told you this vile lie! I would never do such a thing! I hate the Hammerites!"
"If you had done it on purpose,” Fitzaviar said, turning in his chair to face the panicking Twipp before him, "then I would have at least had a shred of respect for you, for pulling off such a caper, in order to accomplish some undoubtedly devious scheme of yours."
"I swear to you, Lord Fitzaviar, I did not do this intentionally."
"I know," said Fitzaviar, "it was the result of incompetence. Incompetence I am not able to put past you." Fitzaviar stood, and walked around his desk. He snapped and pointed to the guards, and then rushed forwards and took Twipp tightly in their grip. "And since you did it out of incompetence," he said, traces of rage in his steady voice, "you do not even deserve a legislatively theorized punishment." At that, and to all of our shocks, even mine, Fitzaviar drew a small hidden dagger from his hip, and plunged it quickly into Twipp's chest, where it stayed, Twipp screaming in pain, looking down wish shock at the dagger hilt protruding from his sternum, struggling against the iron grip of the guards.
Fitzaviar slowly walked to his desk, removing the gloves from his hands as he went, and seated, as we all watched the life slowly drain from Twipp's eyes, his speechless mouth flailing unreadable words. Fitzaviar turned away, not wanting to watch. He thought that he was once again hidden behind the back of his chair, but I could see him as he removed his glasses, and wept silently into his hands.
Moments seemed like hours as we all stood silently, watching Twipp slowly die. Finally, Mel turned to Fitzaviar, his view blocked by the chair. "My lord, what shall we do now?" Fitzaviar motioned for him to come closer, and he whispered something into his ear. Mel Stood, and walked over to the guards. "Strip him of all valuables, and place them in the vault. Put his body in a large sack, and throw it into the river.”
The guards nodded, and took him away, careful to not let the blood oozing all over the corpse's clothing drip on the rug.
After that, Fitzaviar sent all of us away. I walked with Mel for a bit, speaking to him. "So, my friend, what do you suppose will happen now?"
Mel shook his head. "I don't know."
"I don't know who of us can fill Logan's shoes," I said, "or if any of us should even try,” I said, as I laughed inside, for I surely plan to take the role.
He just shook his head, and remained silent.
So there it was. In one massive stroke, I had removed both of Fitzaviar's key officers, and given a reason for Fitz to hold a very potent grudge against Agus. I wasn't loosing my touch after all. There was, however, one last issue that needed to be resolved before everything was laid.
- Jagger: Trust me - 10:00 pm
Two days had passed, and none of us spoke much to eachother. Lord Fitzaviar had insisted that we wait until Logan was executed before appointing his replacement. The public information release pamphlet came early that morning, and we flipped grimly to the list of that week's executions. Logan was listed, with his crime being that of a smuggler. Truly, he had not told the Hammerites a thing.
We, being all of his men of any rank, all met in Fitz's office that afternoon. He announced that he was going to re-structure his entire organization, so that no one like Twipp could ever cause something like this again.
"Jagger," he began. "In the short time that I've known you, I've already begun to call you friend. You are a brilliant man, with a cunning mind, but most importantly, you understand people, and the way they think. I wanted you to know that I had strongly considered you as my new right hand."
I felt a twinge, as I realized in extreme irritation that all of this could have been for nothing.
"Instead," he continued, "I have decided that Mel, whom I have known for years, would be the better choice." There was a stir of commotion in the room, and a look of shock on Mel's face. "He knows all of my men well, and most importantly, I know him well. I trust that you shall do a fine service for me, Mel."
Mel shook his head. "No, sir, I must protest. I may be a good thief, and an even better assassin, but when it comes to negotiations and such, I am all thumbs. No, please, for the sake of us all, I can't do this job."
Fitzaviar looked distraught. Suddenly one of the thieves, whom had been with me the other night when we were searching for Ginny, spoke up. "Sir, Jagger may not have mentioned this, but I feel it must be done."
The man told quickly the story of how I dealt with the Hammerite patrol, and surely saved all of their lives. "It was amazing, sir. At that moment, I truly felt total loyalty to this man. Though Mel is my friend, I feel that Jagger may be the best choice." He got an assortment of nods from all over the room. I couldn't help but grin.
"Yes," said Mel, "I must insist."
Fitzaviar smiled, and nodded, walking up to me. He took my hand, and shook it firmly. "Good then, Mr. Jagger, it will be a pleasure working with you."
I grinned back enthusiastically, and shook his hand. Putty in my hands.
Before Fitzaviar moved on to talk of his reorganization, I spoke up. "Sir," I spoke up, "If it is all right with you, I would like to name Mel as my first officer." This got an assortment of nods and shouts of approval as well. A large smile crossed Mel's face, but remained silent.
Fitzaviar smiles slightly and nodded. "Yes, this would work. In fact it is a grand idea for the reorganization. Very good, Jagger."
"In that case, as my first act as right hand man to Lord Fitzaviar, I name you, Mel, as my number one guy."
I certainly was not loosing my touch. Everything was in place now. I have Fitzaviar by the throat, a lackey of my own, and free reign and motive to do that which I had planned to do ever since I came here.