The greatsword struck the practice manikin, causing wood shavings to be catapulted across the room and a mighty crash. Breathing deeply, Evania waited for the dust to settle, then observed that she had sliced it in half. She half-smiled to herself, then decided that she had practiced enough for the day. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she sat on a stool and polished her blade until it glinted. She saw her dishevelled face reflected back, reddened and sticky. She slid the sword into its sheath, then ventured up the wooden steps to the main floor of her humble accommodation. The pleasant sloshing of water lapping the edge of the basin were calming, and Evania patted her face and neck, then removed her ebony breastplate, gauntlets and the rest of her armour, deciding bathing would perhaps be a more fruitful exercise. She released her knotted brunette hair from its plait and it swished to the middle of her back, then filled her bath. She sank into the water, enjoying the respite. Suddenly she felt an icy draught, and turned to see Vladimir stood by the hearth.
"Some consider knocking before entering another's dwelling place, what do you want, Vlad?"
"Evania, I have little time for courtesy. Besides, I have trained my eyes not to stray. I have a job for you that needs to be done, tonight?"
"Tonight?! It seems you have little time for notice as well."
"This has suddenly come up. Reuben Taverner, a Tolbyccian sympathiser is set to stay at The Half Moon Inn tonight. It's suspected he's trying to mount a rebellion with a small group of followers. Your task is to persuade him to disband with gold, or finish them off if they refuse."
"Right, so make a scene really? That'll do wonders for my image, well whatever's left of it."
"Ev, don't joke with me. Lead them to a secluded area, perhaps masquerade as a fellow sympathiser and suggest a better place to meet. Then, try using your silvertongue. Failing that, your silver blade will do."
"I can see why you're the brains of the outfit. Fine, but I expect a decent amount of gold for this."
"Which you will receive in due course. Thank you for your cooperation."
"Now Vlad, if you don't mind the water's getting cold and I would like to bathe in peace."
"I understand. Now, this needs to be done smoothly."
"I know Vlad, I'm not as stupid as I look."
"Good. Report to me the outcome tomorrow morning. Until then, madam."
The door clicked shut. Evania saw little purpose in bathing anymore, things were only going to get messy later. She rose out of the bath, dressed, and prepared herself for the bloodbath.
"Ah, such is the life of a mercenary."