The Sword

“We have need of your sword.”

“It’s not for hire to the likes of you,” I said, my gravelly voice even lower than usual; a rattlesnake’s warning of its displeasure. I couldn’t imagine being stuck around the stink of garlic-tinged decomposition any longer than absolutely necessary, and the last time I had tangled with a demon, it had taken me three days to clean the ichor from the join of the crossguard and blade of my falchion.

“You don’t understand,” the smelly Addorhaja said as he led me through shop’s back alley, one hand hovering behind the small of my back.

“Slavely has been outlawed for over a decade,” I said bluntly. “I owe you and yours nothing. If I don’t want to take the job, I won’t—and I won’t be threatened.”

The awful smell intensified as we neared the end of the alley. “We have need of your sword,” he repeated, almost gently. “You are expendable.”

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