“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Loh digs her hands into her pockets.
”You.” Duma’s tongue whips out, tasting the air, he spits. “You taste mad.”
”Fuck you, Duma. Fuck. You.”
Duma laughs. “You think I want to work with you? Uhn? I’ve heard about you. Please. Sooner we get this done the sooner I can go back to eating”—he leers—”babies.”
”That might actually be funny if I thought you were kidding.”
”Enough, you two. You both wanted this job, but I can’t have only one of you take it. It has to be a two person team and you’re the only two that responded to the posting. No one wants this job.”
Duma crosses his arms, grunts.
Loh sighs. “The reward still fifty-kay?”
Captain Ellis nods. “A hundred split, yes. We need this done, the sooner the better. I’ve been authorized to add an additional twenty if it’s finished by the end of the day. But you both have to return, that’s as much a requirement as is bringing in Phano’s head.”
”Any bonus for bringing him in alive?” Duma asks.
”No. We want him dead. Wanted him dead a month ago. The problems he’s causing”—Ellis grits his teeth, shakes his head—”they need to end.”
Loh adjusts her shoulders, the massive blade on her back shifts. “For sixty thousand I’ll whack the head off pretty much anyone.”
Duma grunts in agreement.
”You want transportation to the island? Or you going to figure that out yourselves?” Ellis asks.
Duma turns to Loh, “I know a fishing captain that trawls those waters. You willing to trust me to get us there?”
Loh stares into Duma’s eyes for a beat, searching for hints of deception. Finds none. “Okay,” she says. “Fine.”
Just shy of seven hours later Duma is laughing, carrying a bloody bag, dips his head in mock bow as Loh opens the door for him. Loh kicks Duma in the butt.
”Excuse me what,” asks Ellis’s butler. “You can’t come barging in like…Now hold on just a minute, Captain Ellis is in the middle…Stop right there.”
But the pair is too drunk to listen. Too giddy to pay the wrinkled old fart any attention.
”Ellis, where the hell are you?” Duma booms in the foyer. “We’ve got your head.”
Loh bursts into laughter. “You going to give him head?”
Duma, pauses, then as understanding dawns shares in the hilarity.
Ellis appear at the second floor landing. “That was quick,” he says. The robe’s cloth belt slips from his hand as he tries to tie it around his waist. From another room a woman’s voice calls.
”You busy, Captain?” Duma laughs. “You want this head, or that one?” Looking towards Ellis’s room.
”Both,” Ellis snickers. “That’s Phano?” Nodding at the bag in Duma’s hand.
”What’s left of him, yeah.” Loh grunts. “You said you wanted his head, we left the rest in the ocean for the sharks.”
”Any trouble?” Ellis asks.
”Trouble? Like the few dozen goblins? Or Phano’s pet Cockatrice?” Duma’s eyes widen? “That sort of trouble?”
”Howell, bring me the bag.” Ellis says.
The old butler steps to Duma. “Sir?”
”Oh, hey, look at that, I’m a sir.”
”A big green ugly one,” Loh shoulders the Orc. It’s like bumping into a tree. The fuck did that make her wet for? Good grief, how many did she have? She steps away, swallows, feels sweat form at the small of her back.
Duma sniffs, his tongue whips. His eyes dart towards Loh for a half second. Hands the bag to Howell.
Loh feels Duma’s eyes on her. Aw hell.
Ellis opens the bag, grimaces. “Yeah, that looks like Phano alright. I’ll have Howell give you each ten right now. Come back tomorrow, sometime after midday and I’ll have the rest.”
Duma glares. “What? That wasn’t part of the deal.”
”You think I keep that kind of money here? Give me a break, Duma. And I need to have a forensic mage verify this is Phano anyways. Find something to do for the next sixteen hours. You’ll get your money.”
An hour later, in the alcove of a bar, Duma moves his axe into a more comfortable position. Behind him the door opens, the sound of music, laughter, a glass breaking, someone calling for a drink. The door shuts, muting all sound save for falling rain.
Loh elbows him. “You got plans?”
”Sleep until I can get paid.”
”Not really. Something about the smell of hot goblin blood gets me”—he spits. “Good night, Loh.” He steps out into the night.
”Whatever, Duma. Go fuck yourself.”
”He turns, water running down his face. How about you help me, you little bitch?”
God. Damn. She smirks. Runs right at him, jumps.
He catches her like she weighs nothing. “That’s what I thought,” he grunts.