Chapter XI


The streets of Rhaz are quiet, more so than usual. Ennui saunters to her residence. Broken bottles lay littered about the cobbled streets; the glass crunches beneath her boots. A part of her hopes the glass might break through, forcing her to feel something. Lately, the only thing she had been able to look forward to was her interactions with Khimi. It’s been a while, Khimi. She turns down the dark alley, her eyes picking up the shapes of figures near the entrance to her small residence. Hmph! Didn’t realize anyone knew where I lived, she thinks,pulling a dagger from her leather bracers. The knife is small enough to conceal in her palm, but sharp enough to gut a man. The figures stand from the crates, their footfalls echo through the alley and across the sandstone walls at their approach. Passing the light of a nearby window, two men in silk jackets and white sarouel, their babouches unblemished by the filthy streets around this area. Ennui sighs. Bloody Envoys.

Ennui eyes them suspiciously, “What is it?” She asks bluntly.

“Ennui?” The larger man says, bowing slowly. He combs his black hair from his almond colored eyes and smirks.

“That all depends on who you are,” she shrugs, fingering the tip of her curved horns. “Which Lord do you work for?”

“An interested party,” the shorter man replies quickly. Peering behind him into the darkened alley. “If you’d like to hear our Lord’s proposal, then it’s best you take a walk with us.”

“Where to? I do like to keep my family informed of my whereabouts. In case they go looking and all,” Ennui says, mustering a smirk.

“You don’t have a family,” the larger man says, stepping closer. “If you want to play it this way, we can just tell him you’re uninterested in his generosity.”

Ennui scoffs, “Fine,” she groans, thrusting the dagger back into her bracer.

“Very cooperative of you,” the shorter one mocks and walks past.

The scent of peonies fills Ennui’s nose. A scent not unfamiliar to her, she recalls her recent endeavor at Omar’s estate. The scent of lilac and peonies had been heavy on those who served under the Merchant Prince. Maybe he’s got a thing for flowers. She clicks her tongue and the taller one trudges past her. And I’ve definitely seen him there as well. A Goliath of a man, standing nearly two heads taller and twice her weight. His distinctive tail marks him as a beastkin. Wonder what you are, she thinks before she follows behind the two. Equine? Not a capri or a canis.

“Omar, huh?” Ennui asks while they walk through the quiet streets.

No response is given, though the larger man turns back with a cruel glance, peering at Ennui out of the corner of his eyes. I don’t fuckin’ like that. As they walk towards the main part of town, the two men turn down another alley. Well, I REALLY don’t like that. Ennui reaches for the dagger at her side. The windows remain unlit, broken bits of rubble line the sides of the building in the alley. The dried mud walls of the buildings are cracked with age and neglect. Ennui had never traveled to this part of Rhaz despite having heard of its reputation in the past. The gutters? Omar wouldn’t degrade himself so much. The large man begins rapping his fist against a battered door, his knocks are returned in kind with several more. Ennui attempts to remember the counts and plays them back through her mind. He knocks twice more in response before the door is finally opened.

“After you,” the shorter man whispers to Ennui, gesturing mockingly at the entrance.

“Right,” Ennui replies, quickly making notations of the windows and exits to the building.

The building seems largely in disarray. Broken bits of furniture lay scattered across the room. Cobwebs hang in the corners and across the ceiling. In a far corner of the room, sits a large man, flanked on either side by a stern looking individual. The heavyset man Ennui immediately recognizes as Omar, even with his face obscured. Omar waves a hand at those who escorted her to the hideout, signaling for them to leave. She stands in silence, fingering her dagger. Time comes to a standstill.

Ennui looks about the room, “You summoned, Omar?” She jeers.

“It’s best to watch that tongue, devil!” One of the figures shouts, only to be greeted with Omar’s raised hand demanding silence.

“So perceptive,” Omar chatters.

His lilting voice sends a shiver down her spine. He fingers the bronze crook in his hand, his knuckles turning white while he turns it back and forth in his palms. He looks at the figures to either side of himself, then stands, the crook tapping loudly against the worn floorboards. Walking halfway across the room, he pauses and lowers the cowl of his hood, revealing his round bearded face. No surprises there, she thinks to herself. Omar walks closer, the dusty boards loosen dust into the air.

“Ennui,” Omar whispers. “I wouldn’t have summoned you here unless it was worth your while.”

“We’ve worked together before, Omar,” she replies in a hushed voice. “Why all the pageantry? Send me a note. You know, one with a name and an amount. That’s all I need.”

“This one…” Omar begins, rapping his bronze crook against the floor boards. “Is a little more personal…for both of us, perhaps. Though, I was always told you didn’t make connections.”

“That’s true,” Ennui replies, closing her cloak. She pushes the dagger firmly back into its scabbard. “So, who is it?”

“Don’t you want to know the price?” Omar grins sharply, ambling back to the wooden stool, sitting between the two cloaked figures.

Hells! You certainly have me curious,” Ennui chides, “let’s have the name first,” she whistles, sitting on a wooden crate near the door.

“It’s someone you used to deal with frequently. You’ve spent a number of years as a mercenary under the same company as him,” Omar begins, seemingly judging Ennui’s expression.

“You’ll have to be a bit more specific,” she says, attempting to mask her emotions. “I served with many during those years.”

Omar begins to laugh. “It’s okay…there were rumors you had feelings for Khimi during those years. Is that true?”

“What’s that matter?” Ennui chuckles. “You said the name, now tell me the price.”

“I’d like to keep you on retainer for this one,” Omar chuckles, grunting loudly. He leans forward. “When things go my way, you’ll receive a portion of the Zeybek estate. A handsome sum.”

“What…?!” Ennui snaps. “The whole estate…?”

“Let us just say that a situation has presented itself,” Omar chuckles. “And if you decide to accept this little offer…you’ll make a fortune, Ennui. More than enough to never need to work again. Your children’s children wouldn’t need to lift a finger a day in their life.”

Ennui sighs loudly. “There won’t be children but… Omar, this sounds rather ambitious… I don’t mind the job,” she lies. “But I need to know how this is going to play out.”

“We’ve worked together enough,” Omar sighs and leans back against the wall. “Khimi dishonored my Jilliana,” he begins with an insincere sob. “According to my Jilliana, he forced himself upon her. Witnesses at my gathering happened to see them together and enter her bed chambers alone. Imagine my thoughts when I learned of the whole sordid ordeal!”

Ennui taps her foot lightly. “No one will believe that about Khimi though…he’s never touched a woman.”

“There is a first time for everything,” Omar replies with a curt smile.

“So what’s the plan? Is Jilliana with child…it’s too soon for that,” she ponders aloud, rubbing her brow.

“Be it Khimi’s child or another’s, Jilliana will be with child,” Omar remarks with a scowl, “and when faced with such allegations, the young Lord will have no choice but to wed my Jilliana.”

Annnnd, Khimi is the last of his line…so once the child is born…you’d have Khimi killed,” she nods then continues to tap her foot more aggressively. “There are a lot of ways this could play out, Omar.” She tsks, then laughs. “Hells, and I thought I was the Devil here.”

“I’ve prepared a few contingencies should this plan fail. Either way, the Zeybek line ends with Khimi. If you won’t end his life…there is no short list of cutthroats in the Desert Cities,” Omar snips with a smile. “Better for it to be his friend who slits his throat, no?”

“Give me a few days to think about it. It’s a big ask,” she replies, shaking her head. “I have no qualms killing Khimi. My issue lies with the repercussions after. I will certainly be under the assumption you will throw me to the wayside as soon as the deed is done. You must deny any connection and all of that. Khimi’s never alone, either. He has that aslan now, and his advisor.”

“You’ll be paid kindly for each life you’re required to take along the way,” Omar sighs loudly. “I’ll give you three days to make your decision before I reach out to my Dolman contacts.”

Ennui scoffs, “Dolmans.”

“The Dolmans have never failed me,” Omar chuckles.

Ennui stares at Omar, hiding her disgust, “Three days, Omar. Give me three days.”

“Three days,” he replies, rapping his crook three times against the wooden floor.

“Am I dismissed? Can I go?” Ennui asks, peering back at the guarded door.

“Just a second,” Omar replies, standing from his stool. “Ennui, if I get even a hint that you’ve crossed me…it’ll be the last time you step foot in the Desert Cities,” he adds with a smirk.

Ennui scoffs again, “I wouldn’t expect anything less from THE OMAR. I had heard you were given a nickname by the beastkin by the way.”

“The blood prince,” Omar sneers in disgust under his breath. “How could they scorn me so, I have beastkin in my employ,” he adds, motioning to the others about the room.

Ennui raises her brow, “Right. Right.”

The two stare at one another through the dark room before Omar waves a hand in her direction. Ennui hurries from the room, questioning if she should look back or not. In her experience with Omar Kappas, the less she says the better. That’s too much coin to pass up,she thinks to herself. The thought of murdering the only man she may have ever called a friend weighs heavily in her mind, and the sudden desire to indulge in copious amounts of spirits hits her while she passes one of her regular haunts. She sighs, listening to the sounds of men arguing inside the mostly empty tavern. Beneath the indigo dyed awning, she glances up to the heavens.

Ennui sighs again, her eyes spot Stella Solaris, the brightest star. “You’re fucking with me,” she says, pointing a finger upwards towards the heavens.


The tavern’s low light did not bother Ennui. It is the sickly looking man who decided to sit by her at the empty bar that bothered her more. He offers her a toothy smile several times over the course of her impromptu visit. The dwarven barkeep surveys Ennui suspiciously, then gives her an uncomfortable look, seemingly aware of her thoughts.

Ennui clicks her tongue, “What do you want?” She questions, turning quickly, her boots resting between the wooden legs of his stool, locking him in place.

He shakes his head with a hearty laugh. “You’re that Devilki–”

“Yeah, no shit,” she replies harshly. “I am a fuckin’ Devilkin.”

The dwarven barkeep leans against the counter. “Calm down, Ennui.”

“What. Do. You. Want?!” She barks again in a wrathful tone.

“Lem’me buy ya’ a drink,” he replies, groaning in dismay. “Apparently you need one.”

Ennui releases her boots from the wooden stool, “Fine…but if it’s a proposition I am a bit tied up.”

He nods at the dwarven barkeep, “Get ‘er something good. Maybe some o’ that Sidian wine.”

The dwarf scoffs and walks into the back room. “Don’t get your hopes up, there ain’t anything good.”

“Now, girlie. I’m real tore up that you don’t remember me and my boys,” he says, placing his elbows on the wooden counter.

She chuckles, sipping the wine from her chalice. “I don’t remember most men who cross my path…there is something that makes them…uninspiring.”

“Sounds about like something you’d say,” he says while he digs between his teeth then pauses, “You really don’t remember me, do you?”

“Truthfully, I tend to not remember many people,” Ennui sighs again. “Doesn’t matter who you are. Nearly every man is worth forgetting.”

He stands from his stool, unbuttoning his shirt. “You left me something,” he begins. “Do you remember this?” He asks, showing a grizzly scar across his chest.

Ennui blinks, stifling a laugh. “Look, if I left that scar, and you’re still alive, then you should consider yourself lucky.”

“I’ve moved past my hatred for you, and I definitely consider myself lucky,” he laughs, replacing the buttons. He pulls himself back onto his stool.

Ennui sighs again, “So what is this…what do you want?”

“I understand we were both doin’ our jobs then,” he says, sipping from his chalice. “But how about a little compensation?”

Ennui snorts, “Compensation?”

“Do you have any idea how much coin you cost me?” He asks, a hint of anger tipping into his tone.

“Thought you said you gave up on hating me,” Ennui scoffs. “You know what? Keep your bloody wine.”

“Just hold on now,” he says, grabbing her by the arm. “Just where do you think you’re goin’?”

 A tempest of anger and rage fills Ennui. The man’s fingers on her shoulder strengthen, digging deep into her pale skin. She grits her teeth, placing her hand over the hilt of her dagger. Her hand grabs hold of the man’s, ripping them from her shoulder.

“Here’s your dri–” the dwarven barkeep begins, resurfacing from the backroom. “Hells! I said to stay calm!”

I AM CALM!” She shouts.

“Please, Ennui…” the dwarven man pleads, placing the chalice on the table. “I can’t afford to have this kind of reputation…you’re costing me big.”

She releases her grip on the dagger, “You’re lucky. I would have left a larger mark than the last.”

“I’m not lookin’ for much,” he says, sitting on his stool with a loud thud.

“Ah, I have your lamb,” the dwarf says quickly, returning to the backroom once more.

Bloody lamb, Ennui thinks. Her thoughts scramble rapidly while she looks over the figure seated beside her. Lamb. She continues to drink from her chalice, ignoring the newly delivered chalice.

“I tell you what,” Ennui grumbles, fingering the length of her horns. “You help me out with an important decision, and I’ll gladly give you some coin.”

He eyes her suspiciously, “And what would you need help deciding?”

She takes a moment to contemplate her words before continuing, “Let’s say someone offered you a lot of gold to kill someone,” she chuckles. “A lot of gold, enough to never need to work again,” she adds, raising her brows with a mischievous smile.

“And the catch?” he asks, eyeing her cautiously.

“Let’s say it was your brother or sister. Someone who you would consider clo–”

“Your lamb!” The dwarven man exclaims, dropping the small plate of sizzling lamb in front of them. “Ahh, am I interrupting?” He asks, noting Ennui’s disturbed expression.

“Yes,” Ennui says, her nose wrinkling at the lamb.

“If…you need me, just call,” the dwarven barkeep says, walking into the backroom once again.

The man strokes his chin, “Well, if it’s that much gold then… Hells, I think they’d understand their sacrifice.”

“A noble sacrifice,” Ennui nods in agreement.

The man lifts a bit of the lamb to his lips, blowing bits of steam from the sizzling meat. Dark thoughts of her past flood back to her. Her anger returns. She grits her teeth and closes her eyes. The sound of a lamb’s bleating fills her ears. Her knuckles turn white, stiffening on the wooden counter. The man’s words become lost to her, the sound of her own heart beating floods her ears. He glances up from his lamb, his lips smack together. Pig. His expression changes while he turns to Ennui. Strangled gurgling sounds echo through the room. Ennui falls atop him, her dagger lodged deep in his throat. His hand grips at his neck, aiming to staunch the bleeding. Ennui straddles his body, pulling the man’s hand back from his throat. Her crimson eyes stare directly into his dark brown eyes, and she watches the man’s last moments pass. She plucks two gold pieces from her leather pouch, placing them over the man’s eyes.

“Here’s your fucking gold,” Ennui murmurs, a cold smile touches her lips, staring at the dead man.

“Everything okay here?” The dwarven man asks from across the counter. “Huh, bastards…didn’t even pay!” He exclaims, sighing loudly.

Ennui leans against the counter, listening to the dwarf’s footfalls return to the backroom. She exhales loudly, leisurely returning the dagger to its scabbard. “Who the fuck were you?” She asks herself aloud under her breath.

Ennui composes herself, wiping the blood from her hands onto the man’s jacket. She stands, and takes the chalice of Sidian wine. Swirling the wine around, she then takes a deep drink. With the chalice in her hand, she departs the tavern with a peek over her shoulders. The night air hits her, a welcome comfort. She replays the events of the evening. So…he would have killed his own siblings for coin. He wasn’t honorable… but, it’s still a lot of gold. Ennui takes another long drink from the chalice, then tosses it aside with a clank.

“Fuck you, Khimi,” she whispers to herself, strolling the quiet streets. “You better make this up to me,” she adds, turning towards the Zeybek estate.