The Killing Place: Part 6 – A Trap is Set…

The Nauticans believed that all things came from the sea, and must needs return there. Thaylan believed something similar, though he did not worship the tides, or the God Beneath the Waves, or whoever it was the western islanders felt the need to placate. No, he was not pious in the least, but it was true that the sea was the source of all things, at least for Seagrave, and Seatown before it.

The sea had given them the food they needed, the source of their income – trade once, now piracy – and protection. And it had brought them so much more…

It had brought Merrick: Thaylan had heard of his arrival in port aboard some half-rotten galley long before the wretched fool had ever shown up on his doorstep.

It had brought him the evling…

He remembered standing on the pier as his ship came in. The captain, a disgraced Shadowportsman with a pox-ravaged face and a perpetual leer, had invited him to his cabin to see “the prize worth a thousand and one gold pieces.” In the end it hadn’t cost him that much to acquire her – hiring one of the captain’s subordinates to slit his throat while he slept had been surprisingly easy. But still, in those first few moments of beholding, he almost could have believed it…

And who had been standing next to him, looking down on her chained and helpless? None other than the good and righteous Sternsword himself. That is where it had begun…

And where it would end.

The sea would bring them back to him because the sea was their only means of escape. They must come down to it, throw themselves upon its mercy: the eastern road was far too dangerous with renewed fighting along the River Ashe, and the southern way led nowhere at all – nowhere anyone would want to go, anyway; north…?

Better to cut across Black Bay, halve the distance, make for Landsgard maybe, or Helisia beyond. That’s what they’d do. He knew it. He hadn’t survived for as long as he had doing what he did without some insight into the minds of men. That’s why he was waiting by the docks with a dozen archers and two-score gladiators hidden amongst the squat wooden buildings and mounds of flotsam. He himself was standing on the balcony of some decrepit hovel, wreathed in darkness, watching.

They were at the far end of the harbour where the skiffs and other small craft were moored. Here, narrow streets and alleys emptied into a tiny square with walls on three sides and the water on the fourth.

It was a death-trap if he’d ever seen one, but it was the only way. And Merrick would be walking right into it, any moment now…

He didn’t know why the dogs had failed him. The followers had found them far off the trail with no sign of their handler. One of his guards had tried to leash them but had been mauled to death instead. In the end they’d put arrows in a bunch of them and ran the rest off. Those who had returned to report what had happened were blood-speckled and scared, tired from the chase and trying to catch up. They’d barely made it with the rest, running hard to get ahead of their prey.

It vexed Thaylan more than he would say. He was half-tempted to let Merrick live for a little while, to find out how he’d done it. But only for a little while…

He was still trying to decide how best to torture the other man to death when he appeared, limping through the rain, supported on one side by the evling. Thaylan watched as they passed beneath him, oblivious to his presence, and continued on into the heart of the square – into the heart of the trap.

He breathed deep, listened closely to the patter of the rain, a drizzle now that the storm had expended most of its energy, and smiled: he liked this moment – the moment before the axe fell, when everything was poised on the precipice, charged with energy, ready to explode. He relished it. It was almost the only thing that made him happy.

 

© Ethan Reilly 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ethan Reilly with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About ethanreilly

Ethan Reilly is an author and blogger who lives in Brisbane, Australia. Did he mention he blogs?
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