Donnen left the tavern and headed out through a moonless night. Fog clung to the streets and buildings like cobwebs, and the heavy air threatened rain. Any other night, he would have gone straight up to the barracks, but he had appointments to keep.
The quays at midnight exchange the cacophony of swearing sailors for the mournful sound of distant bells in the harbor. Donnen found Wagner and his two thugs waiting just out of sight of the harbormaster's office. In the fog, Wagner's white samite coat made him gleam like a smug moon.
"Messere Brennokovic. I trust you've brought my merchandise?" Wagner smiled. Beside him, the tattooed Chasind cleaned what might have been blood from his nails with his dagger.
Donnen reached into his coat and pulled out a small, cloth-wrapped bundle. "We should discuss a few things first."
Wagner's eyes gleamed in the reflected light of his paunch. "The price, of course." He gestured to the scarred Ander, who held up a bag of coins. "One hundred crowns should suffice, yes?"
"That depends." Donnen toyed with the twine securing the bundle's wrapping. "You killed Magistrate Dunwald, didn't you? After my run-in with your friends here, I realized the only blade that could have made that kind of stab wound was your Chasind's stone knife."
Wagner shrugged. "Men die all the time, serah. We should not let that unpleasantness get in the way of business." Another gesture, and the Ander strode forward to stand just inches away from Donnen, brandishing the bag of gold like a flail.
"And Jevlan?" Donnen asked.
"I know nothing of your partner's fate."
Donnen handed over the bundle, and the Ander dropped the bag at his feet to deliver the prize to his boss. Wagner eagerly unwrapped the bundle, revealing an ancient, rusty, and pitted shortsword. He frowned. "This is not the blade."
Both Chasind and Ander drew their daggers.
Donnen held his ground. "Pity you killed Dunwald for it, then"
"You think I'd kill a magistrate and not a guardsman?" Wagner laughed. "Unwise, serah."
"That's all we needed to hear." Captain Hendallen stepped around the corner behind Donnen, a dozen guards with her. For the first time in months, he saw what might have been a smile on her face. "Good work, guardsman. We'll take it from here."