Forgot your password?
GeroJr, July 4 in Tales of Infamy
Bribe stood watch. Or rather, he stood there watching. It was a lazy day in Lang. The sun crept slowly along the sky, making the streets unbearably hot. The rich left for the mountains, the poor sweated, stank and waited for the evening to come. The ghost hours of summer have come and it was a good time to earn some extra coins.
A fellow watchman passed by, followed by a huge pig of a man. Bribe felt a sudden urge to kick the bastard, but you couldn’t just go around kicking the wealthy. He wondered what urgent business made the man drag his fat ass outside in the heat. It was too early for a matter of lust, so it must have been a matter of gold.
Another guard wandered around the corner. That's how things were in Raedland since the war. A whole lotta watchmen and a whole lot less opportunity for crime. That's what made a bribable fellow worth a whole lot more. You know, the law of supply and demand.
But don’t you think Bribe was one of your average corrupt guards. Oh no. He was very proud of his moral compass and only allowed thieves to steal from the filthy rich. Those bastards couldn't have earned all that money the right way anyway, so it was only fair they gave some back. Would be pretty stupid, if he didn’t get a part of it too, right?
An involuntary smile crossed his face when he thought of the fattening purse in his little hideout.
A pair of footsteps echoed in the narrow alley behind him. Finally.
»G'day Mr. Watchman. How are ya?«
»Good, good. And you? All good?« Bribe did his best to sound very official and bored. Just in case someone was listening.
»All good, all good. Thanks for keepin' an eye out and keepin’ us safe. Have a nice day!«
The deed was done and it was high time to continue his patrolling.
Only half an hour more and he’d be off duty. He sped towards the barracks, leaving the scorching white cobblestones of the Noble Quarter behind him. The good old Swinging Bridge grew larger with every step and soon the familiar stench of unwise petty thieves filled the heat around him. Just far enough not to bother the spoiled nostrils of the upper class, but close enough to remind anyone with shady intentions it pays to bribe a guard before they do anything stupid.
He spotted an empty can and his eyes lit up. He took two quick steps, swung his leg and sent it flying into the center lamp post. Another goal for Bribe!
You see, Bribe wasn’t just a Watchman. He was also a second year player of the Watch Guild and he found himself liking the violent game of Guild Ball more and more. Well, the game and the opportunities it brought.
Of course he had dreams of grandeur, but his… other arrangements kept interfering. He was known to make a blunder every now and then. Calculated blunders, mind you. Those blunders paid off and luckily, he was simply too good to be kicked from the team.
Raedland gave the Empire of the Free Cities more than its fair share of Guild Ball stars. There was the pretty boy, Flint, who never missed a shot. Well, almost. There was the big loud scumbag Hammer. As good as he was arrogant. There was Spigot. They said he was a genius when he could stay sober. Bribe wouldn’t know, he’s never seen him that way. There were Graves, Colossus, Theron and others. But stardom and wealth were surely not in the stars for a boy who got his name by being given away as a bribe.
Dreams were nice and all, but they didn’t pay for a bed, a meal, a woman. Fellows with big dreams also had a tendency to end up in the gutter or so it seemed. Better to stay real and think about the plan for tomorrow.
Old Graves was coming back to his homeland and he was bringing the Ratcatchers team with him. The Watch officials decided it would be fun to host an exhibition game against this sick scum of a team. In their last game, half of the opposing team started puking blood in the middle of the game. Always a crowd pleaser, puking blood, isn’t it? Bribe didn’t fancy playing against them one bit.
But he got a job to do. A big one. Won’t bring him any closer to the Big League, but it will get him a hefty bag of coins. What more can a lad ask for? Who knows, it might even change a thing or two for once. Can’t let an opportunity like this slip by.
Very good! Hoping for another instalment soon.
Holy mother of Solthecius, they stunk. Bribe could smell the filthy Rats from the other side of the field. And the game hasn’t even begun! No wonder half the fans suddenly remembered they had urgent business elsewhere. Around him his teammates kept shifting uneasily. “Fuckin’ unbelievable,” muttered Mace, one of the only watchmen Bribe trusted.
The rumors about their opponents weren’t exaggerated. They were even more gruesome than people described them. The stence in the air kept getting thicker and Bribe retched when he noticed a withered third arm under the cloak of a diseased pile of old bones and skin that could only be Miasma.
“How the fuck are Rats even allowed on the pitch?!” he wondered. Then again, he heard the Hunters fielded a freaking bear. So, there’s that.
“Stick to the plan!” yelled Eye. “The plan” was always the same. Get one or two in and kick some ass. As you might’ve guessed, the captain of the Watch was no tactical genius. He was huge and cruel, loved only by his ma. He excelled in cracking skulls and was feared by his opponents and teammates alike.
“Sure, boss,” answered Bribe along with others. He’ll stick to the plan alright.
The official blew the whistle and coughed. Even though he wore a special mask, the disgust showed in his eyes.
Piper, the Rats’ captain, got the ball. The whole team started jogging and limping towards them. Bribe knew he should meet them at the centerline, but his every instinct spoke against that. Nevertheless, he forced himself towards the ball carrier.
Piper eyed him closely and then passed the ball to the giant rat on his left. The rat started running directly towards the Watch’s goal post, gasping, squeaking and foaming all the while. Bribe sighed. He sprinted towards the foul creature and prepared to tackle the ball. Should be easy enough as the rat wasn’t really fast or agile. He extended his leg and heard the flute at the same time. The rat jerked right with incredible speed and made him look like a fool.
“BRIBE! STICK TO THE FUCKING PLAN, MAGGOT!” He sighed again when he heard the growl and quickly spun around, ready to chase down the rat. There was no need. The creature was oblivious to its surroundings and saw nothing but the goal post. Eye lifted the poleaxe high above his head and demolished the vermin with a single swing. It squeaked and lied still. Watch’s captain chuckled grimly and took the ball.
“BRIBE! GOAL!” he barked and kicked the ball towards the boy. Surprisingly the ball didn’t go wide. What a day. The Rats pressed on, determined to retrieve it and the Watchmen sprinted to meet them. The remaining fans cheered them on, but only for a second or two, as cheering also meant taking deeper breaths.
A curiously attractive woman ran towards Bribe. She winked and he almost fumbled the ball. She revealed a snow-white thigh as she was closing the distance. Even pulled her skirt a bit higher. Bribe’s mouth watered. He stood there flabbergasted.
“What was she doing with the scum of the Underworld? Damnit, was he getting hard in the middle of the match? Well, how could he not with her throwing her cunt at him like that. He had this effect on women alright, but…”
A high-pitched cry interrupted his train of thought. Suddenly she was upon him and not in a way he would have liked it. He barely managed to parry her daggers with his curved knives. The bitch looked bloodthirsty. He was having none of that, thank you very much. He shoved her with his shoulder, spun around and sped towards the goal. She was close, but he knew he could be fast, faster than you’d think.
He noticed the tall hooded figure on the sidelines. It gave him a slight nod.
Bribe planned to get one in before he did the deed.
“Living in the moment, eh?” he thought.
On the left, he could see Eye engaging with a huge infested abomination that could only be Scourge. The thing was widely known as one of the most appalling sights in the Empire of the Free Cities.
“Let’s do this.” He lifted his right foot and kicked with all his strength.
“BOSS! BALL!” he cried. Everything went according to plan. Eye turned his head around just at the right moment. The ball hit him square in the face. A moment of confusion was all Piper needed to play a shrill tune and sent Scourge into a frenzy.
The beast threw itself head first into the Watch’s captain and took him to the ground. Before Eye managed to react, Scourge tore away his ears and started gnawing on his face. Eye bellowed and screamed and stabbed with his dagger. Scourge didn’t even flinch. His diseased body didn’t seem to react to pain. He continued beating and biting.
Bribe turned away. Soon the screams went silent. A mellow melody caressed his ears and Scourge walked away from the corpse as if nothing happened.
Nobody seemed eager to retaliate. No wonder, they just witnessed how quickly a scary strong man can turn into a bloody mess. It was… a tad disturbing. He could see even the veterans were a bit shaken.
The referee signaled the end of the game and Bribe was glad he did. You could hardly continue playing a friendly game around a mutilated body. Piper mumbled a half-hearted apology as the Rats left the field. Graves was silently staring at the body and Bribe thought he saw a sneer just before he followed the rest. Maybe he was just happy to see a new “client”. Maybe there was something more.
His teammates were quiet. Bribe wasn’t sure how many of them saw the pass, but nobody blamed him. Most likely because nobody liked Eye. Still, Bribe felt weird. He didn’t know the deed will get Eye brutally killed. Sure, he knew something would happen, but…. Well, can’t change it now. Might as well not cry over it.
“I guess I am the team’s captain for now,” said Mace, sounding tired as hell.
“No practice tomorrow lads, I think we all need some rest and drinks after what happened tonight.”
“Aye.” They all agreed.
“Are you alright, lad? Don’t fret, shit happens,” Mace said when they were alone.
“I’m fine, thanks,” Bribe answered, a tad too harsh. He hurried out in the streets and towards the shady inn. Staying around the old man made him question his deeds and morals. Now wasn’t the time for that. His contact awaited, and he’d rather not test his patience.
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!
Already have an account? Sign in here.