“Someone is helping you,” said Rizla, in his ear. “Who is it?”
Suga stalled by kissing the top of her head. Rizla had always taken a virulent if not deadly view of his friendships. He wanted Gustie to live. “It is not a Sacred Servant. Have no fear.”
“Who then?” she persisted. “Cordell?”
Cordell was the tavern owner.
Suga laughed outlaid. “Cordell would foul his breeches if he caught wind of my plans. No, the matter is settled between me and another, Rizla, there is no more to be said.” He twined a strand of the soft, blue -black hair. “All will be well. It will go as planned. Bridon will be dispatched into the Blue Bottle and he, with the others, will be on their way to the Nevers. The bottles will arrive safely. I’ve greased Ketch’s palm liberally this time.”
The bottles will arrive safely. I’ve greased Ketch’s palm liberally.
Suga, who personally had no use for money and was often amazed at the appeal it held for humans (he barely remembered the time when he’d had those cares) and rarely identified with humans. Gustie, the tavern wench, was an exception. When he’d told Ketch the amount he’d pay for safe delivery, the dolt had actually swooned. Of course, Suga hadn’t bent to revive him. Firstly, it physically impossibile; secondly, secondly, it gave Suga a chance to study his face in repose.
Ketch was always in motion — chattering, gesticulating or stuffing his mouth and that day, as Suga had studied the body fallen flat beside the hitching post, he was pleased to note that it was just as he had suspected: Ketch did indeed resemble vermin. The man’s overbite was dreadful and, oh, the twitching . . . Suga was finding it more and more uncomfortable to watch when it occurred to him the man might be trying to wake up.
He filled a bucket from the horse trough and dumped it on his head.
“Is it true or did I dream it?” Ketch was on his feet at once, talking. “Two bags of gold?”
“It was not a dream, my friend,” It was difficult for Suga to call him “friend”, even more difficult for him to reach deep into his pockets. He pulled out two bags, small ones, but the man was overjoyed. Ketch dug his hands into the first bag. Some coins he merely touched, other he tasted, but each was examined The first bag replaced the second where it had been behind his belt, guarded by his short short.
The coins slide easily because palms were greased with sweat. “Tell the Tu–” he stopped stop, his eyes popping about the stable yard. “Tell your master the job will be done. Ketch will see that it is done and done right. Not a broken bottle. Swear it on my life.”
“A broken bottle will cost you your life,” Suga replied.
“It won’t happen,” Ketch boasted. Caught up in the haze of gold, everything was possible. “Each bottle is safe with me.” Both pouches were stashed firmly beneath his belt. When he walked, no one would hear a clink. “I could buy a fine home with this. Maybe have a wife,” For a moment, a dreamy expression softened the avaricious rat-face. “The Widow at Glady Spring! Why I could ask her!”
“For that price, you could buy several young ones,” said Suga.
Drops of sweat fell from Ketch. His nose began to twitch.
For a moment, it appeared he would faint again.