"The Assassin and the Sausages"
"Tis good the manfool eats the meat of sweet whilst merrymaking,
I don't usually do assassinations. After all, I'm a thief not a killer. I'm after people's possessions, not their lives.
But, I owed a favor to the guy. He was an old friend turned Hammer acolyte. I agreed to the job to thank him for not turning me in when he joined the wackos. He wanted to me to eliminate Renard Bogus, a major player in city government and a big fat obstacle in the Hammerite bid for power. It's not as if he did it to get in good with his superiors; they would never know about it. The rules of the Order prohibit him from even speaking to him. And they would punish him severely, possibly expel him from the Order if they found out. He did it out of sheer fanaticism and love for the Hammerites. I can't help but admire that.
Plus he had to have known I was the best man for the job.
I guess it goes to show that even the Hammers have their dark side, but not /too/ dark. He's probably still meditating about it.
Bogus was a recluse, growing fat over the years on embezzled tax money. He lived in a huge manor, a sprawling monument to his corruption. Little was known about the grounds, which meant no map, so it was going to be difficult. But not /too/ difficult.
After all, I was the best man for the job.
The mansion was up on a hill overlooking the city. It was so far out that the road to it was left uncobbled and there were no streetlights or city patrol. Ironic, a major player in city government unable to appreciate it's benefits.
I had plenty of time to think about that as I walked up three miles of muddy hill. There'd been no need to sneak up the hill, but I still took my time to avoid being covered in mud. I arrived around midnight. I'd known Bogus' mansion was huge, but I'd had no idea how huge. It was solid stone and had several floors and terraces. If not for peaked tile roof it would have looked like a castle. The house was outside the city limits and therefore was not part of the sewer system. Not a problem for one so rich as bogus. He had his own sewer system that drained down the hillside into the river below. Perhaps that's why the fish taste so bad. The sewers seemed a safe, if unpleasant entrance. The outer wall was too high too scale and the massive gate was sure to be guarded. There were two massive pipes protruding from the hillside, the one weak point in the outer wall. Both had rusted metal grates over them which the water filtered through. The stench of the first one quickly sent me to the next. To my surprise clean water was flowing /uphill/ into the pipe. I looked down the hillside and saw a massive waterwheel churning.
The grate and lock were rusted so they couldn't be picked. A couple smashes with a large rock did the trick; the rusted lock broke brittlely and the grate swung upwards noisily. I lifted it up, crawled under and let it swing shut behind me.
The tunnel was round, made of wet stone with a steady stream flowing inward. I had to wade up to my ankles in the water it was slow going; the bottom was slick It was wet, but my boots and cape were made of oiled hyde, so the water rolled right off of them. It was dark except for the strange glowing fungi that grew on the walls. I headed toward the house, making small splashes as I crept.
Eventually the tunnel fed into a sewage center. The room was made of solid stone full of noisy machinery that could only have been of Hammer make. The two pipe in the hillside ran parallel to each other and fed into copper piping that fed into the house. After making sure I was alone, I stepped from the tunnel onto the narrow stone patch in between the pipes and make sure my boots and cape were dry.
There was a dark staircase at the far end up the room. I peered around the corner and saw an iron door at the top. I climbed the stairs slowly and listened with my ear to the door. I couldn't hear anything over the rush of the river and the machinery.
I was going to have to go in blind.
I lifted the latch on my side of the door and opened the door carefully, slowly. No one was there, so I quickly stepped into the glaring torch light and shut the door behind me, looking frantically for someplace to go. There was door next to the one from which I came in. That smelled as like dirt and sour grapes. I didn't want to go to a wine cellar so I took the only other option, the open archway right in front of me.
It led a storeroom, I sneaked in and hid behind some crates as I looked things over. The only exit was a spiral staircase upwards, presumably to the kitchen. I climbed the stair as quietly as I could. There was a light at the top.
The kitchen was empty except for one cook standing over a pot of something. She looked preoccupied, stirring and muttering to herself. If I was quiet about it and kept low behind the counters I could probably sneak by her to the main house. I was halfway there when she suddenly started to turn and head in my direction to get something. I did the only thing I could; I did a backflip through the open window behind me. Luckily the garbage pile broke my fall.
I did my best not to suppress my curses and gags of revulsion. The garbage smelled even worse than the "out" tunnel of the sewer and I had landed on my face. I grimaced and crept along until I was safely in he clear before brushing myself off and spitting out the crap that covered my lips. I noticed that the inner yard was absent of guards. Apparently Bogus put a lot of confidence in the outer wall.
Since I was already outside I figured I might as well make the best of it and climb in on of the windows on the upper floor.
My rope would only reach the floor immediately above the ground floor. I crept around the house looking for the best entrance. I chose an dark open window on the east side. I prefer a grappling hook to rope arrows. A grapple makes more noise, but you can work around that if you know what you're doing. Arrows work best with wood and carrying a long bow around is far too awkward anyway. I tugged at my rope, it resisted and I began to climb.
The room I entered seemed to have no particular use. There was some furniture and a musty looking fireplace. I took a pair silver candlesticks from the mantle. I pulled in my rope and grapple and put my ear to the door. I heard a single set of footsteps pass, and after a great wait they returned. it seemed that there was one guard patrolling the entire floor.
I listened to him make his rounds a couple of times, timing him, then slipped into the hallway when he was furthest away.
I crept along carefully, but moved fast enough so I would gain on him, instead he me. After two full rounds of the floor I rounded a corner and finally caught sight of him.
It was precious going with the torch light at my back and my shadow leaning forward. I followed a safe distance behind him, crane-walking, extending one leg forward then drawing the trailing leg up to meet the heel of the leading leg. It angles your body and thins your shadow. It's something I picked up from the ninji in the Far West. I'm half myself, I was only allowed the training because of my blood and because my mother was a whore who pulled tricks for some very important people.
I learned some tricks myself from them, though of a decidedly different nature. Like how to fight. Your average thief isn't cut out for confrontation and combat, but I like to think I can hold my own.
I waited until he was near the threshold of an open door before I rushed him silently and clocked him from the right with my blackjack. He fell sideways left into the room, the carpet broke his fall. I slung him over my shoulder and heaved him into the room. It was a library. The doorway was a stone arch and there was no door to close behind me so I dumped him in a dark corner between two shelves full of books that looked unread. As I left I noticed a large book open on an oak table in the middle of the room: it seemed to be on display. I looked closer and smiled. It was a floor plan of the house.
It is hard to read by moonlight, but I could understand it pretty well. I committed the important things to memory. The master bedroom took up most of the fourth floor. There was a secluded servant stair I could take but that only went from the basement store room up to third floor. That meant I would probably have to sneak past some more guards to access a stairway up to the main stair.
In the corner of the first floor I found a cold, poorly lit, spiral stone staircase that could only have been intended for servant use.
Security was the heavy on the third floor; knew I was getting close. I crouched in a dark corner and disguised my breathing by taking rapid little breaths through the tip of my nose. You take a deep slow breath through your mouth when your breath becomes to shallow. Something else I picked up in the West.
I spent the better part of two hours crouched there, listening to the guards and learning their patrols. There wasn't more than 6 of them, but they moved in complex patterns to make up for that. They seemed to be regrouping every quarter hour, so using the blackjack was out of the question. But it did provide the perfect opportunity to slip up the carpeted main stair unnoticed.
The hallway that led to the master bedroom was as much a testament to Bogus' ego as the rest of the house. It was lined with pedestals and carved marble busts of his likeness. a large painting dominated the wall at the hall's end. If the artist had done him justice Bogus' his eyes were awfully close together.
The door to the bedroom was open, but no light came out save moonlight. I leaned around the corner, saw that the curtains on the bed were drawn and crept in. I made not a noise as I crossed the hard stone floor, as I approached the bed I stepped onto a huge rug that muffled any noises I might have made.
I listened intently outside the bed and heard nothing. Still, I was very careful as I pulled back the curtain and looked inside. . .
He wasn't in his bed, but he had been recently. The bedclothes were tossed all over the place and there was a half eaten plate of sausage and two goblets and a bottle of wine on the bedside table. The bottles were empty and the sausage was still warm. It would have been perfect since I'd hoped to poison him. Leave a trace of venom on the meat and cup and the servants would suddenly be suspect.
It looked like he'd headed to the wine cellar to get another drink. He must have headed down the main stair as I was creeping up the servant stair. That left me with two options: wait for Bogus to return, or head to the cellar and hope I could catch him before he returned. I decided to head to the cellar. Waiting would have been a hell of a lot easier, but it left too many wild cards. Plus it gave Bogus the power over me, though he'd never known it; I was stuck waiting on him. I hate that. He might've turned on the lamps when he came back the sun was starting to rise through and he could’ve seen me in the early dusk light. It could've gotten messy and the guards might've heard. Killing a sleeping man in his bed is one thing. Killing an awake man another thing entirely. I slipped out the window on a rope, but not before pocketing a gold chalice as a souvenir.
I quietly slid down to the second terrace. A practiced twist of the wrist brought the hook down and I caught it before it could clatter to the bricks. I slipped in through the window of the second floor guest room. It was vacant and appeared to have been for sometime.
I listened until the footsteps on the other side of the door were their faintest before heading into the hallway. The door squeaked like I knew it would, but the guard was too far away to hear it.
Taking the servant stair to the basement was as easy as stealing from a bloated plutocrat.
I opened the door next to the one that led to the sewers and crept down the stone stair.
I had never seen so much wine in my life. The wine cellar was huge and unfinished, it had a dirt floor and walls. The floor was covered with endless rows upon rows of shelves of wine. He could have been anywhere down there, if he was there at all.
I could hear the rush of the sewers on the other side the earthen walls. That was good, it would help cover any screams he might make. If I did my job right there wouldn't be any. But it was a mixed blessing, I could barely hear my own footsteps, let alone those of Bogus.
I considered the methodical approach, checking each aisle, but that would be pointless if he was moving around. There seemed no good way to go about it, so I just dove right in. I crept through the maze of shelves almost randomly, working my way slowly south towards the back of the cellar. I listened for any noise: the clank of wine bottles, the sound of crushed earth under leather slippers. It was all in vain.
I had been down there for what seemed too long and decided that Bogus must have headed backup without my knowing, if he'd ever been down there at all. I was about halfway there when I heard a footsteps that were not my own.
I turned and found myself face to face with Bogus. He had a bottle of wine raised to brain me with it. His face was white and he yelped like a dog. Apparently he had forgotten about the weapon in his hand. He ran. I was blocking his exit and in his panic ran deeper into the cellar.
He should have been easy to track; he was huge a breathed like a steam press. But the deeper the cellar the rushing noise of the water got loud enough to cover that. He moved surprisingly fast for a fat man and I lost him for a moment.
I heard the bottle shatter as he dropped it and ran toward the noise. What I found was a puddle of wasted wine and broken glass and the sound of a fat man hurrying in the other direction. He'd thrown the bottle to distract me. Clever. I felt stupid falling for the same trick I had used to juke rookie guards a thousand times.
But I'm not one to waste time so I gave turned without stopping and headed after him. I could hear his footsteps better as he ran north toward the exit and the sound of the sewer diminished. I could tell was gaining.
Suddenly the footsteps stopped. I stopped and listened carefully. No footsteps, no breathing, nothing.
I looked all around. The wine cellar was huge and labyrinth. He could've been anywhere north of me. I was cursing him silently when it happened.
He farted. Loud. Must have been the sausages.
After that it was a quick, if brutal affair. He was cowering in a corner. I kicked him in his fat stomach and stuck his throat with a short blade. He gurgled and fell silent. I left the body where it was, nobody would find it until I was long gone.
I grabbed a couple of choice vintages and left the way I came.
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