Griever squinted and made out the zeroes on the price of the bounty. A whistle escaped his mouth. “That’s a high bounty for a little girl,” Griever said honestly, “But no, I haven’t seen any women lately, much less this Kate of yours.”
The man sighed. “Well, that’s OK.” He put up the piece of parchment and scratched his head – probably a sign to his hidden men. “I didn’t expect her to find her this far from the north.”
That proved it. Griever knew of these men. They were bounty hunters, trained in the most elite way possible to be one thing, and one thing only; Efficient. They were called the Black Wolves by most, but others said they claimed no name. Griever had met a member of the group once and found the man very professional and pleasant, but knew not to tempt a Black Wolf into a fight. Even his Captain had been cautious of them.
Now, Griever was staring at a man who probably led a regiment of the Black Wolves. Dangerous was an understatement, even with Griever being confident in his sword skills.
But, they had not been looking for him.
“If that’s all,” Griever said slowly, trying not to sound too rushed, “I’ll be on my way. If you catch her, though, buy me a drink sometime.” He laughed softly and stepped forward, ever so carefully.
The man watched him for a moment as Griever walked by. “Stop.”
“Are you familiar with the White Boar?” the man asked, causing Griever to curse mentally.
‘Danger.’ The Gear was ever so helpful.
“Yes, I know of them,” Griever said, barely managing to keep his conflicting rage and sorrow in line. “Aren’t they the traitors everyone’s talking about? Don’t remember much more than that.”
The man eyed Griever, blue eyes seeming to pierce through Griever’s green ones and into his mind. It was creepy as hell, but Griever didn’t dare to look away first. Who knew what the Black Wolves were like in combat. They only took ‘Dead or alive’ jobs and delivered heads.
“They are,” he said, “But I have received word that they have been wiped out. So, you have no reason to worry.” The Wolf turned his body toward Griever and continued. “I am more curious about one of the leaders in the White Boar: a man who calls himself Griever, after the Lionhawk from the northern campaigns fifty years ago. Know of him?”
Griever could have filled a bucket with his sweat. Damnit! Why were they asking about him specifically? And his grandfather had done what? What Northern campaigns? The old man had only spoke of legendary shape-shifting Fae and some Marshall turned rebel, not a campaign of any kind.
‘Seems like your grandfather is hiding information,’ Bash said. Stating the obvious seemed to be the only thing he had been doing lately. Even when Griever had found new clothes in an abandoned campsite, Bash had been saying he should take other supplies AS Griever did so. Not before, during. ‘Sorry for talking,’ Bash whined, faking hurt.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know of this Lionhawk,” Griever told the man, “And I only know of the Captain of the White Boars. Auron White or something, right?” Having to talk about his former family – only three days dead, too! – was by far one of the hardest things to do, especially when he had to keep calm about it.
“Augustus,” the man corrected, “But he is inconsequential. What matters is that I find this man who calls himself Griever.”
He knew he should try to get out of the conversation, try to leave and be on his way, but he couldn’t help himself. “Why,” Griever asked, panic rushing into his gut even as he spoke, “Is he important or something?”
The man smiled wickedly. “He is wanted by Lord Droil.” A hand went to a hidden dagger and Griever froze, not daring to let this man out of his sight. “Would you come with me, Griever.” The smile turned into a sneer. “Or should I call you bloodfist?”
‘That didn’t last long,’ Bash mocked, ‘Though I’m sure you can take these ‘Wolves’ of yours just fine. With the help I can provide, of course!’
“Just call me Griever,” he told the Wolf. “May I have your name?”
The man continued to sneer, though it was more a look of excitement before a hunt rather than hatred or the like. That made it all the more frightening, honestly. Griever was not a coward in the least, of course. Fear was just a prelude to caution. “My name is Igna Rave, but you may call me Rave in the few moments before your death.”
As soon as the Wolf had finished talking, his knife was out and slicing toward Griever’s neck, fast enough for Griever to wonder if it was not an arm, but a serpent in place of an arm. He barely managed to move back in time to dodge the strike and pull his own dagger – found when he stole his clothes.
“What, no option to come quietly?”
“The option is there,” Rave all but growled, “Because the dead are always quiet.”