– The business is simple, like taking candy from a child. – The employer placed a mug of beer on the table in front of Sir Demris. – You come to this village (a crookedly drawn map of the baronies appeared on the table), you find this fellow (a crookedly drawn portrait also lay on the map), stick a knife in his back quietly, come back to me and get your reward. Understood?
Sir Demris nodded arrogantly and turned away, signaling that the conversation was over. The gods saw that he did not like all this. Dirty taverns, dubious characters with no less dubious orders. But Demris didn’t have much of a choice. The third son of a petty knight, he could neither inherit his father’s meager capital nor claim any serious role in his affairs. It remained to do what the younger sons did in all the Free Baronies of Horn and Hoven – to be hired for the first job that came across and hope in this way to break out into the people. The knight did not want to meddle in the northern border, the risk of running into an Akkari was too great, so he had to survive with the help of orders to kill another high-born bastard.
Sir Demris sighed and glanced sideways at a portrait of Karl the Magnificent, a new but rapidly rising leader, hanging in a corner. Handsome, stately, with a deep velvety voice, majestic movements and amazing charisma, Karl was not in vain nicknamed the Magnificent. He was prophesied the glory of the new leader of all the Free Baronies. His friends and allies multiplied every day, and Demris cherished the hope that one day he too would join their ranks.
But, if you sit and stare at the wall, the thing will not do itself. Sir Demris slammed his palms on the tabletop, stood up abruptly and left the tavern.
– Do you know who my dad is? – The fellow, who was assigned to kill, turned out to be fidgety and talkative. He had deftly dodged Demris’s first dagger stab and was now clearly begging for his own life. – He is the second person in the whole damn Horn and Hoven! He and Karl the Magnificent himself dine at the same table!
The mercenary lowered his dagger and thought. It turned out that leaving the guy alive was more profitable than plunging a knife into his heart. Sir Demris put away his weapon and gestured for the would-be victim to come closer. He knew that without a certain amount of moral flexibility in the Free Baronies of Horn and Hoven one would not get very far. The barons constantly squabbled among themselves, everyone betrayed everyone, and it was very important to be on the right side at the right moment. With these thoughts, Sir Demris fumbled for a stiletto in his sleeve …
– The work is done. – The knight placed a ring with the family crest on the table in front of the employer. There were stains of coagulated blood on the ring. – The baron’s bastard is dead. You promised me recommendations.
Demris left the tavern and walked towards the baron’s castle. In his pocket were two letters of recommendation at once (the edge of one of them was slightly spattered with the blood of a talkative fellow, he was just setting a seal when Demris stuck a stiletto in his back), which means that he became one step closer to his dream of becoming famous.