The kid could drink, too, on top of everything else wonderful about Agrus Kos’s new partner. The old Wojek spirit couldn’t believe his luck with this hire.
“The point of this game is the faster you drink, the more you get to drink,” Kos chuckled. Kallist raised an eyebrow. They were sitting in the Storm Crow along with Biggs and Murdock. There were four lines of spectral shot glasses, with one huge glass of wodka in the center. “Biggs is the current champ, but I have faith you can take ’im, kid.” Kos clapped Kallist on the back.
“Yes… sir?” Kallist said. Biggs the minotaur geist and Murdock the ghostly vedalken chuckled appreciatively.
“So you shoot all of these little ones in your line, hopefully faster than the next guy. And whoever drinks fastest gets to that big mother in the middle, and has to drink that, too.” Kos eyed the large center glass of wodka like it was a hot date. Biggs and Murdock were cracking up. Biggs shoved ten spicy batwings into his mouth, which he swallowed without chewing. Murdock was doing drinking warm-ups, flexing his elbow and practicing his table-to-mouth form.
Kallist lowered his head into his hand with a laugh. “So… the winner wins… punishment, basically?”
“Kinda like our job,” Kos said. The Chief of Investigations leaned back in his chair, smiling a faraway smile.
“Let’s go then, old man,” Kallist said. “If you drink at the same speed you move, I should be in the winner’s circle by the time you take your first swallow.”
“Burn,” Biggs intoned. Kos fixed them all with a look.
“Don’t forget… I can demote you all.”
“Great, then I can finally go on vacation,” Murdock sighed. Before anyone was ready, Kos reached for his line of booze.
“123 go!” the old Wojek shouted, already downing his first shot.
“Goddamn cheater,” Kallist swore, lunging for his lineup. Murdock and Biggs had reacted too, the minotaur trying to block Kos from grabbing his next drink and the vedalken snatching up two shots, one in each hand.
Kallist was desperate. These guys were serious.
Well, desperate times call for… the assassin stood and swept up all four of his shots in his hands, then dumped their contents into the central glass. He grabbed the winner’s cup, to the shocked looks of his comrades, and proceeded to chug all fourteen ounces of wodka until the glass was completely drained.
“Shit,” Kos said, as Kallist leaned forward and slammed the empty vessel back down on the table.
“Way to ruin the game,” Murdock grumbled, drinking the rest of his shots.
“Kid’s got stones,” Biggs said through a mouthful of bat.
“Or something,” Kos mused, regarding his partner thoughtfully. Rhoka was looking a bit unsteady. “How’d you manage that, kid?” Kos asked, putting an arm around his partner and motioning the spirit waiter for some water.
Kallist grinned at the senior Wojek. “Well, you told me we don’t get hangovers. So… the effects of the alcohol must be all in our spectral heads, right? Mind over matter, you know? I’ve killed like that before, too…” The waiter set a pitcher of water in front of them and Kos shoved it at Kallist.
“Yeah, but that’s not really it,” Kos said as Kallist took the pitcher in both hands and drank deeply from it.
“You’re right, of course, sir.” Kallist admitted as he wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “All I had to do was close my eyes… and think of her.”
Fonn sat beneath the thick arbor, in the shadows, a naked blade across her lap.
She was meeting her ex-husband.
A large stone in the labyrinth before her moved and scraped to the side. They were on Selesnya grounds. Fonn had nothing to fear. The drawn blade was simply there for personal reasons.
Familiar dreadlocks emerged from the opening. Then dark eyes in a face ravaged by death. It was still a handsome face, but terrifyingly so. The body that followed, while well-proportioned and athletic, was in a state of decay. Such was the lot of a lich.
Fonn steeled herself, buried her feelings, and ground her teeth in seething rage. She had quite a few questions for this lich.
Jarad left the stone disturbed, as though he suspected he might need to beat a quick retreat from this meeting. He turned toward the half-elf sitting beneath the arc of morningglory. He bowed, though, as a Guildmaster, it was she who should technically be bowing to him.
“Fonn,” he said softly, standing before her and waiting. Jarad’s voice had always been one of his finest traits. Resonant but not abrasive, elegant, yet strong—in happier times Fonn had taken deep pleasure in listening to her husband speak.
“Jarad,” Fonn said, adjusting her posture so she was leaning forward and her hand grazed the hilt of her sword. She noticed that he carried no weapons. The Gorgoni scourge he’d had on his belt the last time she’d seen him was not present.
“I know why you’re here,” Jarad said. “My condolences… about Johan.”
“Save it for Tajic,” Fonn snapped. “The swiftblade was barely an acquaintance.”
“Well then, what do you wish to know, Centuriad Zunich?”
Fonn repressed an urge to slap him. She wasn’t sure how to phrase her question. I noticed you and the gorgon mage ride the same type of mount. Are you fucking?... didn’t sound quite right. Neither did, I know you’re fucking that gorgon. Keep her away from my son, you asshole.
“Were you aware, Guildmaster vod Savo, that that attack was going to commence, before it commenced?” Fonn asked. Her heart was thudding in her chest for some annoying reason. Kos would tell me to stop being so aggressive, play it soft… Fonn tried to look vulnerable. She blinked her eyes and slouched a bit. She let her gaze waver from Jarad’s eyes to the fields of flowers around them, as if she couldn’t bear to hear his answer.
There was a long silence. Fonn wondered if she’d overstretched her dramatic capabilities and whether Jarad was laughing at her in his head.
“Fonn, did you just ask if I tried to have you killed?”
Something about his tone clawed at Fonn’s gut, made her infinitely sad when she only wanted to feel angry. She leveled her sky blue eyes into Jarad’s dead black ones and stood up, walking out from the shade of the arbor into the sun. Her hand carried her blade easily at her side. It glinted in the consecrated light of the Conclave grounds.
“Jarad, I asked you a simple question. As Guildmaster, were you aware of an attack planned on a patrol party led by Legionnaire Tajic a few days ago?”
“No, Centuriad, I was not.”
“Is there need for Selesnya and Boros to launch a full investigation into this matter, Guildmaster? Wouldn’t it be fair for the Conclave and the Legion to consider retaliation?”
“No. I am already conducting an interior investigation. I am quite certain it was a Golgari fringe faction acting independently of any other group within the guild.”
Yes, a ‘fringe faction’ that includes your mistress, Fonn wanted to say.
“Do I have your word that you have this under control, Guildmaster?”
“You do, Centuriad.”
“Does Myczil need to come to Vhitu Ghazi?” Fonn said. She cursed at herself inwardly—it had slipped out before she even realized she was considering bringing up their son.
Jarad finally showed some damn emotion, narrowing his eyes like he always did when he was extremely angry. “Yes, let’s send him to stay with you, where all the assassins and shapeshifters can get at him and corrupt his body and usurp his soul.”
Fonn actually raised her sword, hand trembling. Over her career Fonn had had several incidents where those under her protection had come to harm. Once, it had included her son and his friends. Despite her prowess as a warrior, Fonn had often wondered why she seemed unable to prevent these disasters. Kos had told her it was out of her control and she shouldn’t dwell on it—that sometimes the universe just liked to pick on you.
“If you’ve got something someone else wants real bad, it’s likely they’re gonna take it from you, Zunich girl. Even if there were twenty Fonns with angel wings and indestructible armor, the other forces would find a way to kill Bayul, kidnap Myczil, and burn up sacred things. Sounds to me like you’re on a high-profile path, and so you get all the high-profile fails. It’s not you, it’s just what is.” Kos had shrugged at her and ordered another coffee, even though he couldn’t drink it since they were at a fleshie shoppe and not in Agyrem.
“Alright, Jarad. He’ll stay with you. I trust you. But on the day our son comes to me for our weekend together as a statue of stone, I will add your head to the Wall of the Reclaimed in the bowels of Selesnya.”
Jarad blinked. Fonn exulted. Ha, he thought I didn’t know. She nodded at her ex-husband, calmly, and coldly. After a moment, to Fonn’s surprise, Jarad bowed again. His hair swept the stones of the Conclave humbly.
“Centuriad. If the day ever arrives that Myczil comes to any harm under my watch, you can rest assured it will be because I am already dead and gone. And in that scenario, I can only hope you will place my still body in your garden plot at Vhitu-Ghazi and... some mornings, deign to use it for target practice.”
Jarad stepped backwards gracefully, and vanished down the hole in the labyrinth. A moment later something’s tentacle slithered up and wrapped around the displaced stone, pulling it back into place with a thud.
The labyrinth garden was empty, and Fonn was alone.
“Kos! What a pleasant surprise. Jacob, make them comfortable, would you?” Grand Envoy Karlov sat by the fire. Jacob had been reading to her from an old book. The manservant rose and briskly welcomed Kos and his new partner into the sitting room. Kos took a seat on the ottoman in front of the Envoy, and his partner sat in the hard chair Jacob whisked over from the pantry.
“I was wondering when we’d hear from you,” Teysa grinned at the old ghost. Jacob walked to a position behind her chair that afforded him a good view of both Kos and the new hire.
“Work,” Kos said, tiredly. “Couldn’t extricate myself to even send the regular update,” the Wojek shrugged apologetically at Jacob, the contact for most Agyrem intel that went to Orzhov.
“We were waiting with bated breath for your bad news,” Jacob replied. Kos just shook his head and turned his attention back to Teysa. But the new hire shifted in his chair, orienting himself and his sword towards the Grand Envoy’s manservant.
“Nice alliteration,” he said, to Jacob.
Jacob smiled. “Nice vocabulary. For a mercenary.”
Kos and Teysa exchanged looks. The Grand Envoy held up her hand. “Kos, I’ve been anxious to meet your new partner. And Jacob… I’m tired, I would love to have a pillow and a blanket.”
“Of course, Lord Karlov. May I also bring you your tea?” Jacob had completely forgotten about the Wojeks and seemed only concerned for Teysa. Kos watched him with empathy.
“Yes, tea would be nice,” Teysa smiled up at the ghostly manservant, and Kos watched as Jacob smiled back at the Envoy, ever so briefly, but it was there.
Kallist snorted and Kos stretched a leg out and kicked the younger geist in the ankle.
“Teysa, this is my new partner. Kallist Rhoka.”
The Grand Envoy’s head swiveled around like a serpent’s. “...Excuse me, I was distracted. Could you repeat that?” Teysa was smiling charmingly at Kallist and himself. Kos felt extremely uncomfortable suddenly. It wasn’t the reaction he’d been expecting.
“Uh, this is the new hire, Envoy. Kallist—”
“Rhoka. It is a pleasure, Lord Karlov,” Kallist said, standing and then kneeling down to kiss the Grand Envoy’s hand. Jacob was just coming back in with the tea and Kos saw the entire tray shake in the other geist’s hands. The clatter startled Teysa. Kallist took his seat again.
“Kallist. An unusual name,” Teysa murmured, taking tea from a baleful-eyed Jacob. The manservant wasn’t going to take his eyes off the Wojeks for the rest of this visit, that much was obvious. Kos sighed exhaustedly at the foolishness of youth.
“What was your previous occupation?” Teysa asked, pressing her lips to her cup.
“Assassin,” Kallist said honestly. The Grand Envoy nodded amicably, but Kos noticed the tiny, tiny dilation of her pupils and wondered what the hell was going on.
The room was quiet for a moment, the fire snapping warmly.
Then Teysa said, “Kallist Rhoka. You remind me strongly of an acquaintance of mine. Perhaps you’re familiar with…”
Kos felt, more than saw, his new partner stiffen and breathe shallowly.
“... Jace Beleren, Ravnica’s honored Living Guildpact…?”
Kos looked at Kallist.
His partner’s face looked only slightly less miserable than after he’d shot the wodka, and a lot more angry.
Weeks ago, a letter had arrived, left at the feet of an ex-assassin sleeping on a quiet ledge outside sanctuary in Agyrem.
Kallist had awakened calmly, feeling a presence fleeing, yet knowing he was in no danger. Had there been imminent peril, he knew he would have risen to consciousness earlier to face it.
The letter was cold to the touch. There was no salutation, only a promise.
What is your heart’s desire, assassin? I know of you and him and her, and all that your soul longs for. I can give it to you.
I have been informed that she is returning to this plane. Undoubtedly, she will make contact with him, and I can make sure you get your just reunion with both.
All you have to do is follow these instructions…
“Obzedat, kid, you startled me.”
“I would be a shit assassin if I didn’t, old man. I mean boss.”
“You watch it, kid. Or I’ll feed you to the Grand Envoy. She looked like she wanted to snap you up in one bite.”
“Might not be a bad way to go,” Kallist muttered. He slid his body through a pillar and hid behind a bunch of lilies. He grimaced dourly at the flowers since no one could see him.
“Sacrilege,” Biggs growled, implanted in the pillar itself.
“The Envoy is an attractive woman,” Murdock defended the assassin, from his place under the keystone of the courtyard.
“Quiet,” Kos ordered through the mind-link. They were down on Ravnica, in Boros territory. Kos felt strange sneaking around his own guild’s base, but then again… it wasn’t really his guild, anymore. It was just one of his many allegiances.
And they had something to investigate. A rumor. A tip from Lord Karlov.
That Teysa… never fails to surprise Kos mused with affection.
“Maybe the Envoy should snap you up in one bite,” Kallist thought in reply. A mental growl from the old Wojek was the only answer the assassin got. But Murdock and Biggs snickered.
“Jacob would piss himself,” Biggs could hardly keep himself contained in the pillar.
Murdock whispered confidentially, “It would never work, Kos only fires his bam-stick for angels—”
“That’s it!” Kos mentally raged, and severed the mind-link. Kallist almost gave away their position laughing, as a Firemane flew by on sentry duty.
There was no need for the mind-link anyway. They’d gone over this plan a hundred times and Kos had drilled them on it until they’d all chipped in to buy a round of beer for the old Wojek to shut him up.
Kallist levitated up to the first-level walkway of Sunhome during the gap between Firemane rounds. He hid himself in some shadows above the arch, and counted down.
At exactly five seconds, he saw the searchlight arc through the courtyard. Biggs followed in its wake, the brightness concealing his ghostly form in the surrounding darkness. The minotaur geist left the path of the searchlight as it passed the northern doors. Kallist saw the hulking ghost wedge himself behind a large potted topiary—a topiary that had been delivered to Sunhome several days earlier—a gift to Legionnaire Tajic from Grand Envoy Karlov. That position gave Biggs, a master lockpicker, access to the door while still being concealed from the Firemane patrol.
Of course, normally the Wojek ghost-squad would just waft through a barrier such as a door. This set of doors, however, was geist-proofed. The northern doors looked like any other double-doors that led to a larder or a weapons-room, but the Orzhov intel was that these doors were very, very unique.
Murdock, the thin vedalken specter, was the muscle. If they were detected, his job was to take out the responding Firemane sentries. Kos had told Kallist that Murdock had been trained in really strange fighting arts “elsewhere”—however the hell that was possible. Kallist had an idea how that might be possible, of course, but didn’t volunteer anything. Apparently Kos had found Murdock in a stasis sleep-cell somewhere out in Utvara, with a note scrawled on his tunic in mysterious characters. Kos had revived and subsequently hired Murdock to his team, the vedalken only ever saying he “wasn’t from here”—to this day being unable to remember anything else about his past.
Kallist new what to look for, so the slight waver of the keystone tile down in the courtyard told him Murdock was still safely in position. Anyone else passing through, however, wouldn’t notice a thing.
A pair of Firemanes glided along the walkway. Kallist flattened himself into the shadows. Kos had ordered them not to kill anyone unless it was absolutely necessary, and Kallist was happy to follow orders. The angels were heavily armored, and their eyes blazed with righteous light. While the state of being a ghost gave Kallist some advantage in a fair fight, he still knew it was much more efficient to avoid an angelic brawl than tangle and risk having one of them overpower him.
Kallist counted down again. At precisely the right moment, he saw Biggs go to work on the lock on the northern doors. The searchlight wouldn’t be back around for a good thirty seconds, and the next patrol wouldn’t pass for another fifty-five.
Kos, in the guise of a vassal soul, was tottering around suspiciously on the public walk in front of Sunhome. His antics were making the Firemanes nervous, and Kallist had to hand it to the old Wojek yet again. The young assassin watched with admiration as the vassal ripped up whole handfuls of turf and threw them around the sidewalk, muttering whispery arcane things and then, suddenly, howling at the low moon. The Firemanes had actually paused in their rounds to inspect the vassal, and one looked like she might be tapping her pin to call for assistance or make an inquiry with Azorius about the strange soul.
They’d want to get inside before any arresters showed up.
Kallist imitated the screech of a bat, Biggs’s cue to hurry up.
The topiary moved in a fake breeze. Kallist’s cue to come down.
The searchlight made its pass.
Kallist dropped from the arch down onto Murdock’s tile, and the two of them flew towards Biggs’s location. The minotaur emerged from the topiary at the last moment, put a hand to the wood of the northern doors and pushed them open just enough for Kos’s team to slide through. As they passed into darkness, Kallist heard the vassal soul shriek something about being touched inappropriately by the Firemanes. Kos was really outdoing himself. Kallist smiled as he followed Biggs and Murdock through the pitch-black that was far too deep and endless for the inside of a hall at Sunhome.
“A little easy,” Murdock murmured as they ascended the void.
“Pfff, it’s proof against all fleshies,” Biggs said.
“And if it was more heavily guarded outside, it would look suspicious and attract attention,” Kallist added.
“The defenses are penetrable only by ghosts. That means either geists regularly traverse this void, or they’re prepared exclusively for a spectral attack since fleshies would be incinerated in the void. Or both. Either way, it means we’d better be on extreme alert,” Murdock hissed. Kallist couldn’t find a flaw in his thinking, and realized he didn’t give his comrades enough credit for their experience and intelligence. During his days with the Infinite Consortium, missions had been doled out in heavy-handed style by Tezzeret’s minions. Usually things were cut and dry. Kallist hadn’t had to do much thinking on his feet except deciding how to kill folks.
“There,” Biggs said quietly. A pinprick of light shone in the endless blackness of the void, far ahead.
“I haven’t detected any sensors, traps, wards…” Murdock whispered.
“Doesn’t mean they don’t know we’re coming,” Kallist muttered. The light appeared slightly larger. Kallist had been only mildly claustrophobic as a human, but he found the suffocating blackness of the void tunnel was starting to bother him.
Follow these instructions… the letter said.
Keep the angel from Kos. Join his ranks. Do not let him find the old guildmaster of the Boros.
Kallist wondered if Biggs and Murdock had gone far enough. But then… Kos wasn’t here. The letter hadn’t said anything about anyone other than the old Wojek.
Do this for me, and I will ensure that she is delivered to you, on your terms.
“You all right, Rhoka?” Biggs said. Kallist hadn’t realized he’d slowed his pace. The minotaur was looking at him with concern, stretching a large hand toward him to help him along if he needed it.
“Newbie’s feeling the belated effects of the wodka,” Murdock tittered. “That’s what you get for ruining a game of shotty-shot-Mcshotterson.”
Kallist increased his speed and winked at Biggs and elbowed Murdock in the ribs. “Big talk, vedalken. Let’s go again tonight, after the job. I’ll annihilate you a second time.”
“Oh, let’s, sellsword. Double portions.” Murdock’s alien eyes flashed in the void.
All three fell silent as the light neared. It was the size of a quarter. Then an egg. Then a bash-ball.
They switched to hand gestures.
I’ll go first Kallist signed as the light grew to the size of a songbird basket.
Glory-seeker Murdock smiled, adding, I still detect nothing untoward…
Did you just sign ‘untoward’ Kallist raised an eyebrow at the vedalken.
Biggs made the gesture for mirth... and then something really obscene that involved a street-sweeper, a dryad and a doppelganger. Murdock rolled his eyes and made a gagging face.
Kallist drew his blade as he stifled laughter. He approached the light cautiously, blinking in the brightness, and pushed through out of the void with a chuckle on his lips.
The scene in the room was no laughing matter.
“What the fuck,” Kallist said instinctively. Biggs and Murdock exploded out of the darkness behind him, taking up positions on either side of the assassin, and Kallist felt a long-dead warmth tingle in his soul at having comrades to face battle with.
“Praise the Legion,” Murdock breathed. Biggs gave a guttural snort of outrage and tried to charge forward. Kallist grabbed the minotaur’s shoulder and held him back.
“Not a word of this to Kos,” Kallist ordered. “I mean, not in detail—” The assassin stopped, realizing what he’d been saying. I’m not supposed to let any of this get back to the old Wojek. In fact, I should probably kill the rest of his team pretty soon, here… Kallist couldn’t give up what the letter promised. Not yet. Not after so many nights alone. So many tears. So many betrayals. Not after giving up his very identity, and then his life, on account of friends.
Murdock crept reverently forward, as if bowing, simultaneously checking for traps and wards. When he found none, the vedalken fell to his hands and knees beneath the softly glowing sphere and whispered soft words. He bowed his head. Kallist wondered if he was weeping.
Biggs shrugged off Kallist’s touch with disdain and fell to a knee, clasping a fist over his heart. He, too, bowed his head, offering a minotaur’s staunch silence to the sphere.
Kallist forced himself to look up and examine the thing in the center of the room in detail. As he often did when killing people, he visualized placing his feelings carefully in an alcove of his mind and shuttering them in gently with the click of an ornamental lock. He then pretended his mind was an empty-paneled chamber, and each detail or action he would take in the moment would fill a panel—without hesitation, emotion, or thoughtful examination of any kind.
It was, in fact, a technique that Jace had taught him to help improve his memory of events that took place in high-stress situations. It also had the side effect of ameliorating the assassin’s conscience-management—very convenient, and practical, for a professional killer.
The glowing sphere was golden and striated with scarlet. Its obvious function was to serve as a stasis cage for the being within. The sphere was about the size of a war-wagon and floated twenty feet above the floor of the large chamber.
Within the sphere was the most striking angel Kallist had ever seen. Not the most beautiful, but the most memorable. Her face was rectangular and large-boned, and even her closed eyes conveyed a sense of conviction so deep the ideal would surely endure even if Ravnica itself was blasted into nonexistence. Her brows were dark and slightly furrowed, as if she battled on even in her state of suspended animation. Hair the color of a sunset was cropped to chin-length, and her neck and limbs were long, graceful, and strong. Her naked, athletic body was stretched north-south in the sphere; wrists bound above her head and legs held down and apart by some unseen force. She bled from dozens of vertical, ragged wounds on her torso and thighs. But worst of all—as Kallist forced himself to keep looking—was that every few seconds or so, he could see something tentacle-like and undulating pass beneath her skin. The angel’s wings were bound cruelly, too tight, behind her in thorned metal rings.
“Does Aurelia know?” Biggs said quietly.
“How could she not?” Murdock hissed.
“Is this her?” Kallist asked, feeling incredibly stupid and disrespectful. He had never seen Razia’s replacement before, though—as a very young child he’d once glimpsed Razia herself flying over the city, a blaze of white and carmine. The change in Boros paruns had happened when Kallist was a novice assassin, newly accepted to the Consortium on the basis of raw talent only. His training under Tezzeret and others had consumed all of his time, and he’d spent most nights lying injured on his bed. The outside world had seemed very, very far away.
Biggs could only nod.
“Pierakor az Vinrenn D’rav, if you are there, please forgive us,” Murdock was saying.
Kallist took a couple steps back, so he was just out of Biggs’s peripheral line of sight. Keep the angel from Kos the letter had said. Do this for me, and I will ensure…
Kallist flexed his sword hand around the hilt of his blade. How many nights, now, that he’d fallen asleep thinking of Liliana?
Do this for me, and I will ensure that she is delivered to you, on your terms…
Kallist wondered if Murdock would give him trouble, since his fighting style was so unorthodox. The correct thing to do would be to fake a clumsy attack on the vedalken, wait for Biggs to rumble in and help… and that would eventually play out where the minotaur’s brawling fighting style would interfere with Murdock’s and Kallist would use the opening to take out the vedalken first—the more dangerous of his teammates. Biggs would be an easy kill after that.
The sword in his hand called to Kallist’s assassin’s mind for action. He raised his arm.
“Wait,” said a quiet voice as a spectral hand clamped down on Kallist’s right shoulder. “I have another option.”
Kallist whirled, knocking the other geist’s arm away, focusing all his speed into sweep-kicking the intruder’s feet from under him. Kallist began a deadly combination of strikes as follow-up…
Surprisingly, his ghostly opponent performed some kind of teleportation move that took him safely, and easily, out of Kallist’s immediate range. He heard Murdock chanting something and Biggs growling in surprise behind him, both coming to his aid—
Then he recognized the other geist. The proletariate low ponytail, studious face and stupid cravat were unmistakable.
“Jacob?!” Kallist said.
The Grand Envoy’s manservant grinned, leveling his dark gaze at the assassin. “Who’d you expect, mercenary? Szadek? And don’t worry, Kallist, I won’t tell anyone I got the drop on you.”
Biggs was at Kallist’s ear in half a second. “Should I punch him, Rhoka?” Biggs said. “The Envoy’d never have to know, eh?”
“Let’s snag him instead and let him go crawling back to Karlov manor in pieces,” Murdock suggested, cracking his vedalken knuckles to underscore his meaning.
“Titillating options,” Jacob said, straightening his hard-earned Orzhov coat. “But if you gentlemen don’t mind not cutting to the chase for a moment, and would indulge me with some verbal foreplay, I think you’ll want to hear this. And, if not—well, we can revert to the normal Wojek gang-bang barroom brawl methods you’re all fond of… and see who comes out on top. After you’re all schism-fodder I’ll convey to the Lord that I did my best to speak with you.”
“What do you want, Jacob?” Kallist demanded. “Is this from Teysa?”
“The Grand Envoy, you mean, I’m sure. The Lord has an offer for the team, but it hinges on whether you ultimately will be satisfied with this compensation package, Rhoka.”
“What’s that mean?” Biggs scratched his head. Murdock was silent, and Kallist could feel the vedalken’s eyes on him intently.
“You’re not making much sense,” Kallist said, “But if the offer’s fair I’m in—if Biggs and Murdock think it’s a good job.”
“She thought you’d say that.” Jacob said blandly. “The matter has become urgent, hence my appearance here. The Lord says you can tell Kos if you want, but it is you—Kos’s finest—that she is truly interested in for this job.” Jacob looked at all of them in turn, but his eyes settled on Kallist.
Murdock had come to stand next to Biggs and Kallist. “We shouldn’t talk here. There’s nothing else we can do for Feather—I audited the spells here and the magic is too strong. We need to report to Kos. We can hear your “offer” on the way back, Jacob.”
“You go first.” Biggs, with obvious mistrust, motioned with his chin for Jacob to enter the void portal ahead of them. Once again Kallist found himself grateful for the presence of his teammates, and was grudgingly glad that Jacob had showed up when he had.
Jacob was rolling his eyes. “Yes, of course. As if I couldn’t evaporate all three of you from—”
“No more talk till we’re off this mission!” Murdock snapped, stepping forward with authority, hands balled on his hips and eyes glinting dangerously green. Jacob acquiesced, extending a graceful leg into the void. Biggs followed on his heels.
That guy. What a putz Murdock signed to Kallist, shaking his head before he, too, vanished into the blackness.
Kallist couldn’t agree more. He hoped one day he’d have an excuse to stick his blade right through Jacob’s smug forehead…
But at least the putz had brought hope that Kallist could get what he wanted without backstabbing Kos and having to kill his new—and only—friends.
Kallist had promised himself long ago that he’d never betray people the way he’d been betrayed.
...to be continued in Chapter 9: Holiday
Retribution in Ravnica
an original Magic: The Gathering fan fiction