Previous Installment: Only the desperate beg
Kenshin stepped over a prone man as he entered the bellows. He was not sure that the dirty human was alive. He didn’t stop to find out. His hand never left his hilt. This was not only for readiness, but to prevent theft. The law didn’t seem at home here.
At the end of the straight alley that acted as the entrance to the slum, Kenshin arrived at a small opening. The night sky was clearly visible, framed by scrap-wrought roofs. Torchlight illuminated a wife lambasting her drunken husband, a dog chewing on an indistinguishable bone and a man stabbing another in the throat.
Kenshin felt slightly unnerved by this final scene, but the lack of concern by the other denizens convinced him to maintain his steely façade.
The companion to the now dead rag-cladded human wasn’t perturbed by his friend’s demise. Rather, he came closer to the dirk wielding wood elf.
“I ain’t messing around, Grobo,” the wood elf threatened, levelling the dirk for another thrust.
“Ya hiding the shit, Michel,” Grobo replied, scratching and rubbing his arms. He didn’t seem to notice his dead friend. “Get me some of that yellow rock I smell on them sleepies in the alley.”
“You gonna pay for them?”
Grobo looked nonplussed. “D’aint pay I do. Ya been given it out. Give me sum, y’hear?”
“No charity, Grobo. Go molest someone else.”
Grobo seemed to turn, disappointed, then leapt at Michel. Kenshin caught him by the arm. He stared the junkie in the eyes.
“Best be on your way, Grobo.”
The death stare worked and Grobo dashed towards the nearest alleyway.
“Thanks, stranger. These junkies have been getting arrogant. They can’t pay but want a fix. Think their itch gives them the right to our livelihood.”
Kenshin nodded, feigning agreement.
“The drug he was speaking about,” Kenshin changed the subject. “He was talking about this sunrock stuff, right?”
Michel nodded, leaning on the wall. His dirk was back in its scabbard. “Best damn stuff in Crestfire. Scent is heavenly. Alahur himself couldn’t bring such divine joy. Can smoke it, snort it or use one of those fancy injectors from Z’kla or the dwarf manufactories.”
“What’s the going rate for, let’s say, a gram?”
“Not much. Silver-a-gram. Stuff comes cheap and we trying to open up a market. Even then, these damn junkies got no cash. You, though. You looking to buy?”
Kenshin nodded. “In bulk, actually. No, not to trade. Not muscling in on your turf. My merc company is crossing the desert for some weirdo client. Real batty guy. Thinks we’ll find some cursed amulet or some such. Thing though is that he’s rich. Paid half in advance for supplies. I’m pretty sure we’re only gonna need water but cause we can’t get that, drugs will have to do.”
Michel grinned. “Boss is gonna love you. I don’t carry any rocks on me. Gonna have to come to the back with me.”
Kenshin followed the wood elf thug down a narrow alley to be met by a brutish half-orc. At the sight of Michel, the half-orc opened the door for them to reveal a lavish tented area covered with pillows and empty wine bottles.
Another wood elf dominated the scene, flanked by a human and elf woman. As Michel entered with Kenshin, he grinned.
“New customer, eh Michel?”
“Yes, boss,” Michel replied, “looking for bulk. From some merc corp.”
The boss turned to Kenshin.
“Aye, what you looking for?”
“Sunrock. My company needs it for the trek north.”
The boss looked dubious. Michel interjected. “Some crazy client wants them to loot the ruins. They want some stuff for the route.”
The boss relaxed. “How much stuff you looking for?”
Kenshin responded. “Company is eighteen men. We’re travelling for about fifteen days north. A hit a night – what you think?”
“Sounds good to me. I don’t have that much rock on me, but my supplier is in the neighbourhood. In fact, it is just about time to meet him.”