Two mercenaries are sent to hunt a witch, until one of them falls in love with her.
The back of Reuben’s throat stung as he drank. He never grew a resistance from alcohol, and was never a heavy drinker. His family would only drink red wine, crafted from the richest grapes in Austantis. Reuben was still trying to adjust, years later.
At least he built an immunity to the tingling sensation that passed his lips with each sip. The bartender thought he was drinking now only for the sake of drinking, a way to unwind. Really, he had been honoring his last victim, whose body he impaled and left in a town square. A body was just a body, but the soul, now a sacrifice to Obitulem, needed to be made holy for His grace.
Then there was Wulfrik. He drowned himself in alcohol while he tried to steady himself to add another tattoo to his collection. I told him a million times that sobriety would be his ally when it came to tattooing himself, but he never listened.
“You sure you don’t want me to do it?” Reuben asked.
“No! I can ‘andle it!” Wulfrik was so drunk he was skipping syllables.
Reuben rolled his eyes, scanning the pub for anyone coherent. There were men making toasts, some collapsing, others gorging themselves around a keg. Every pub was this rowdy, even in Pytham, the most prestigious kingdom on the continent. Good, the whole kingdom was not tainted by eccentricity and politics.
Reuben let out a sigh of relief.
“Oi! Something the matter?” asked Wulfrik.
“Finish your damn tattoo so we can go take another job!” snapped Reuben.
“I’m almost done!”
Wulfrik began reaching for his mug, halfway into his tattoo. Reuben snatched it from him, so they both could leave and take another assassination job.
Wulfrik frowned, then focused on his tattoo again, “Who are we going to kill today? Aristocrat? Politician?”
“You become coherent quickly,” Reuben replied, “Hurry up. Obitulem is hungry.”
“And he will be fed, after I finish this tattoo.”
For someone as soft-spoken as Wulfrik, he was stern when it came to his beliefs. Wulfik’s sky god—Reuben forgot the name—was precious to him. He would pray every night before they slept, and before every battle. Wulfrik was certainly more devoted to him than Reuben was to Obitulem.
Wulfrik continued his tattoo, “Politicians are too easy. All they do is cower in fear. ‘Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me!’ I want a challenge.”
Crash! The pub door slammed open, and everyone’s heads turned towards it. A man walked through, draped in a white regal robe, bearing the insignia of Pytham: a caduceus.
“I am a minister of Pytham,” he spoke eloquently, “where are the Brothers of Purgatory?”
Reuben stood up and rose his hand, exposing the skull imprint on his palm, “Are you searching for us?”
Wulfrik joined Reuben, “We are the Brothers of Purgatory.”
The minister continued, “Your presence is requested in the capital. We have arranged you transport. If you would come with me, I will escort you to Linter.”
Reuben and Wulfrik looked at each other, and Reuben said, “This better be worth it.”