When Arano showed up to the meeting place far below the city, Carana could only sigh and pinch the bridge of her nose. He was just so impossible. He was impeccably dressed like he always was in a bright white cotton shirt with a scarlet vest, the color of the holly berries adorning the doors in the city above. Here Carana was in her most uninteresting dress with her hair wrapped up in rags to hide its color. She had gone incognito to a secret meeting and here was this show off basically advertising the meeting. Arano just stood there waiting for Carana to speak as if he was not already in trouble.
“You idiot,” She said. “I should gut you right here.” She yanked the rags off of her head, revealing hair almost as red as Arano’s vest.
A knife appeared in his hand seemingly from nowhere. “Just try it,” he replied. “They will never hear your screams this far underground.”
“Impressive,” Carana smirked and shrugged. “Your reputation precedes you and does not lie. They said that you were fast. Deadly too.” The man’s reputation was fearsome but unprovable. Of course, just because nobody could prove anything, that did not mean that it was all a lie. It just meant he might be the perfect man for the job.
“You have to be in my line of work,” Arano said, his eyes narrowing a bit. His body projected a feeling of ease and a carefree attitude but Carana could tell that he was a tightly wound spring, ready for action.
“At ease, I called you here in peace,” Carana said. She showed her palms to the man and smiled gently to show that she meant no harm. Of course, she had plenty of weapons in easy reach. She had what looked like fancy knitting needles hidden on her person. They were coated with belladonna and could take down even the strongest enemy with a single scratch. She breathed easy knowing that as fast as this fox was, she would still survive if it came to it.
“But not for peaceful purposes,” Arano said with a smile. “You do not call an assassin lightly. You call with a purse and a target and then you step aside.”
” I have a purse and a target but I will not step aside.”
“No?” Arano asked. “Little sparrow, I do not need your help.”
“I am no sparrow and we’ll see if you need my help or not when the talking is done,” Carana said. Her eyes went hard as she stared at the man, unflinching and unafraid.
“So what are you then?” Arano asked. He leaned against the wall. He was a little more relaxed but no less dangerous.
Carana let out a long, slow breath. “The city above has become a dark place. The kingdom around us has grown colder and less and less kind until the people suffer unbearably. People are tired of fighting for justice when justice should come naturally. We cry out for relief and none ever comes. When I was a little girl I may have been a sparrow but those days are a distant memory. The world has made me a wolf. A wolf looking for blood.”
“A wolf. I see it now,” Arano said softly. “You know that blood never really washes off, right? You cannot return to your simple life once the deed is done.”
“I have weighed everything before I contacted you. Don’t start worrying about my soul.”
“Fair enough,” Arano said. “I suppose it is not really my concern. My concerns remain the two items I mentioned earlier.”
Carana pulled a large coin purse from the small of her back and tossed it to the professional assassin. “I would never ask you to work for free.”
Arano caught the purse and a puzzled look spread over his face. He opened the purse and found it full to the brim. “This is far too much. I find that suspicious.”
“We took up a collection,” Carana said. “We wouldn’t want you having an excuse to say no.”
“One last cry for justice, hmm?”
“Yes,” Carana said. “One last stab at getting a fair deal for the people. Literally.”
Arano frowned. “Which means I am not going to love the answer to my other question, am I? Your words and this amount of money mean difficult work.”
“Are you complaining already?” Carana asked. She shrugged and walked toward him with her hand held out casually. The gesture was clear and loudly proclaimed ‘nevermind’.
Arano pulled the purse away and shoved it in a satchel at his hip. “Complaining? I would never. I will kill anyone at anytime. If enough money could be raised, I would kill God.”
“How about the King?”
“The… King?” Arano asked. “The people cry out for the blood of the King, hmm? The poor and destitute would give their last coin to see the King dead at their feet. You could have asked anyone to do this but you asked me.”
“And your answer is?” Carana asked. If the answer was no, there was no way she could ensure his silence without his death. She did not want to kill this man even if he was a killer himself.
“My answer? I’m flattered,” Arano said with a fox smile. “Flattered and excited. In the end, when blood gushes from his wounds and his eyes begin to close. When the end is rushing up to meet him. The King will learn to fear the wolves.”