Chapter XIV

Accidents Happen

Ennui upturns her pipe onto the tavern counter, leaving the ashes strewn about the lacquered wood. The small dwarven barkeep throws his hands into the air in frustration.

He slams his hand on the counter, “Ennui, you’re a damn blight!” He shouts bitterly.

“I’m also your best customer,” she smirks, packing another pinch of tobacco into her pipe.

He sighs, looking at the two women on either side of Ennui. “I’d have more customers if I just kicked you out. I sure as Hells know I would.”

“Try it,” Ennui laughs. “You’ll have to pry me from this seat.”

Oh, come on, Ennui,” the girl to her left says. “Don’t let him treat you like that.”

“Yeah, Ennui,” the girl on her right replies.

Ennui snickers, glaring at the dwarven man. “It’s alright girls. Mamir and I go back quite a ways. Surely, it’s a jest. Right, Mamir?” She asks with a cruel smile.

“Sure, right.” Mamir replies, blowing air through his lips. “Isn’t like if I disagree, I’ll wind up like your friend the other day,”

“You come here with other friends?” the girl on the right asks curiously.

“Different kinda friend, Love,” Ennui snickers again, giving Mamir a knowing look.

“Yeah. Getting him home was quite a bit of work,” Mamir replies angrily. “I felt like a burden beast dealing with him.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you were into men,” the girl on the left says softly.

“I enjoy whatever tastes palatable in the moment,” Ennui replies, pulling the girl’s stool closer towards her. “It’s the same for you two as well, right?”

“Well,” the girl on the right says. “I guess it’s all a matter of coin.”

“Now you’re bringing your whores in her–”

Your whores,” Ennui interrupts, placing a small leather pouch on the table. “It’s all a matter of coin. Right, girls?”

“Right,” the two girls reply in unison.

“I don’t need a whore, Ennui!” Mamir insists, his cheeks flush with color.

Ennui scoffs, “Don’t deny my generosity, Mamir. I’ll think you’re slighting me. Besides, it’s not just A whore. There are two!”

“Hells, you really are a devil,” Mamir says, shaking his head furiously.

“So I’ve been told,” Ennui replies, tapping the lip of the pipe against her chin. “I figured I could at least pay you for your labor from the other night.”

Mamir sighs, looking defeated. “I’d have preferred the coin. But I’ll take the whores.”

“We aren’t whores,” the girl on the left pouts.

“We’re courtesans,” the girl on the right follows up.

Ennui and Mamir smile at one another. “Sure you are,” Ennui says.

“Hey! We really are,” the girl on the left says, crossing her arms. “I came here all the way from Loria!”

“Long way for a courtesan,” Mamir laughs, taking the coin pouch from the table.

The girl on the right sighs, “You’re getting a deal. If she hadn’t upset that painter, we w-would have been fine.”

“So you’re famous, are you?” Ennui asks with a sneer. “Better hope you live up to that reputation, then.”

“Famous enough,” the girl on the left scoffs.

“Well then,” Ennui begins, standing abruptly. “Mamir, seems like you’ll have an eventful evening,” she says, cocking an eyebrow at the dwarf.

“See you soon,” Mamir replies bashfully.

“Not gonna stay with us?” The girl on the right asks.

“I’ve got all the company I need for the night,” Ennui replies, shaking a decanter of wine in her hand.

“Thanks for the drinks,” she replies, giving her a knowing wink while she turns back to Mamir.

“See you, Ennui,” the girl on the left says.

Ennui leaves the tavern, stepping onto the small mudbrick stoop. She sits on the stairs, enjoying the remaining bits of tobacco in her pipe. Several other patrons approach the tavern, each turning away at the sight of Ennui. The sounds of merriment and laughter echo from the windows of the building, and Ennui smiles at her handiwork. At least someone’s having some fun. She stands, tapping the pipe on the heel of her boot. She looks up at the sound of hooves on the cobbles. A wagon passes, followed by numerous horses. Men in dark cloaks with masks. Dolmans…what’re they doing here? She watches their passing, her interest piqued, before stepping onto the sandstone cobblestones. She shrugs, tossing the empty decanter against the building. It shatters violently against the wall.

Turning towards the center of Rhaz, Ennui passes other men on horseback riding towards the south gates. Hells, was that Rashid? She thinks while she looks back at the men passing her. Walking into the center of the city, dozens of braziers remain lit, illuminating the massive statue of the Efreet known as Revya. She smiles at Revya while she passes his statue. Did your precious city turn out like you hoped? She wonders. Despite the late hour, dozens of merchants remain near their stalls, haggling their wares to foreigners. She notes a man with several beastkin working with him. The markings on their arms marking them as property. That stupid aslan is lucky he didn’t end up like these poor saps. She clicks her tongue, walking past them, pushing the thought of them out of her mind. At the west gate she finds herself nearing her home, a somewhat familiar albeit disheveled figure approaches her.

Ennui sighs loudly, pulling her hood down. “Can I help you?” She says to the woman before her.

“Thi-is is all yo-’re fault,” Jilliana blurts, tossing a half empty bottle towards her.

“Go home,” Ennui says plainly, eyeing the alleyway towards her home.

“Y-You were there that night!” she replies angrily. “Yo–”

“You’re bloody drunk,” Ennui says, walking down the alley.

Jilliana pursues, “Don’t yo- don’t you DARE turn your back on me,” she insists. “Devil,” she spits.

“Shut up, Jilliana,” Ennui says plainly. “You’re going to ruin what little respect I have for you.”

“F-Fuck you,” Jilliana replies, leaning against the alley wall. “I…bet Omar doesn’t know.”

Ennui sighs, turning on her heels. Her tail swipes back and forth behind her while she sneers. “Omar doesn’t know what?”

“Yo-You betrayed him!” Jilliana shouts with a laugh. She pushes her loose red hair from her eyes. “At the feast…you were the one with Khimi,” she insists, pointing a finger at Ennui.

“You’re obviously confused,” Ennui shrugs. “Maybe all the wine has gone to that tiny head of yours,” she adds, pinching the point of her horns.

“Th-thats not all,” Jilliana laughs, walking towards her. She taps her finger against Ennui’s chest. “I overheard the men..they said you never replied to Omar.”

“I told Omar I had to think it over,” she lies. “Now go home.”

“I-I don’t know about you,” Jilliana begins, “But I’d be afraid to go to sleep if I were you,” she chuckles. “When you scorn Omar…there is ALWAYS a price to pay!”

“Did Omar happen to hire those Dolmans after all?” Ennui asks, narrowing her eyes.

“Hells if I know. I j-just know that you’re FUCKED!” Jilliana shouts again.

“I have a question,” Ennui says, leaning against the same wall as Jilliana. “Did Khimi really put his prick in you?”

Jilliana scoffs, “What’s that even matter?”

“Well, it’s just really curious. I’ve seen far prettier fare throw themselves at Khimi and each time he refused. Not to mention… Khimi’s got other tastes,” Ennui says, laughing to herself.

“F-Fuck you,” Jilliana cries. “Of course he did!” She shouts again.

“Keep your damn voice down,” Ennui sighs, shaking her head. “I mean, I’ve seen Khimi’s cock…I didn’t think you would be able to move after.”

“What are you saying?” Jilliana pleads, leaning against the wall while she attempts to stave off retching.

Ennui blows a raspberry, “If your cooch was as tight and honorable as you claimed, then you’d probably have been in a real bad way,” she adds with a laugh.

“You’re such a mise–,” Jilliana cries, retching onto the cobbles.

Ennui watches the girl shake, “You’re pathetic, Jilliana. That your life is so boring you seek to make others miserable.”

Jilliana looks up from the cobbles, pushing Ennui from the wall, “You know who is going to be miserable? YOU! When Omar learns that you betrayed his trust. When he lea–”

The sudden thump of Ennui’s fist smashing into Jilliana’s face fills the narrow alley. Jilliana reels, her head hitting the wall with a harsh crack. Ennui stands over Jilliana, watching her lay on the cobbles.

Ennui sighs, “Get up, cunt,” she murmurs, kneeling beside her, “I said, fucking get up,” she says even louder.

She looks down the alley, back towards the street. A small group of people walk past, stopping a moment once they notice Ennui crouched over the girl.

“Everything alright down there?” A woman calls and steps into the alley.

“She’s just had a bit too much,” Ennui calls to them, waving them away. “She’ll be fine in a moment. She’s just embarrassed!” Ennui adds, trying to sound sincere.

The woman chuckles, “Well, she must have had a good night!”

Ennui smiles, patting Jilliana on the back. “She certainly won’t forget it!”

Ennui watches the woman depart from the alley, walking back to the small group of people. That was close. She looks down at Jilliana, slapping her softly across the face several times. You silly dove. She rifles through Jilliana’s emerald blouse. Her fingers steadily unlock the leather pouch attached to her belt. The jingling sound brings a smile to her face before she looks back over the red haired girl. Alright, Jilliana. Ennui sighs, then grabs Jilliana by the wrist, pulling her roughly across the alleyway and over the uneven cobbles. She nears her doorway, checking Jilliana once more.

“Last chance,” Ennui whispers into the girl’s ear. “You really need to wake up!” She shouts into her ear. Ennui scoffs, and after waiting, she takes the key from her pocket. “Fine,” she mumbles, “Have it your way.”

 Ennui opens the wooden door, glancing up and down the alleyway, she pulls Jilliana into the small room. Her crimson eyes glow, the candles about the room illuminate. She drops her onto a Rhazian rug over the mudbrick floor, then pulls on the corner of the large woven rug. She pauses, then looks across the room at the trunk sitting beneath the window. We’ll go with the trunk this time. She drags the trunk across the floor, stopping beside Jilliana.

Ennui sits atop the trunk, “You did this to yourself,” she begins. “This isn’t my fault, don’t even give me that face.”

Ennui takes a moment to check Jilliana’s breathing. Nothing. What the fuck. She shakes her head and stands from the trunk, opening the lid. Several drab colored blankets lie in the bottom. She tosses them to the side and exhales, blowing air through her teeth, she lifts Jilliana. With a heavy thud, Jilliana falls into the trunk.

“Hope Mamir isn’t having too much fun,” Ennui snickers to herself, closing the lid with a loud bang. She pats the top of the trunk several times, “Be good, Jilliana.”

Ennui crosses the room, glancing once more at the trunk before walking out the door. She looks across the alley, putting her hood up and strolling across the quiet streets. No one should be up this late…maybe the fishmongers, she thinks while she walks back towards the tavern, taking back roads and alleys in order to cut her travel time. She nears the tavern, she notices the candlelight in the second floor window. Mamir, you fiend. Ennui laughs to herself, her hand on the wooden door. A strange sense of familiarity takes hold of her. An otherworldly scent filling her nostrils. Her fingers tap against the steel of her dagger cautiously while she turns, the red eyes of a beast stare back at her from across the street. It sits in the darkness of the alley. Hellhounds. She exhales deeply, turning back towards the door. Enough of your reminders, Samael. I’ll do my duty in due time.

Ennui pushes hard against the wooden door, opening it with a loud creak. The tavern remains empty, all the chairs placed tidily under the tables, the stools atop the bar. She walks towards the counter, opening the drawer where Mamir keeps his coin. Empty, Mamir? She shakes her head, pushing through the door to the backroom. The small cooking area smells largely of cooked meats and stew. A kettle on the hearth burns with coals beneath it. She listens carefully near the stairwell.

“Mamir,” Ennui whispers up the mudbrick stairs.

No response.

She grabs a small wooden bowl from the cupboard and sits beside the hearth to remove the kettle. Removing the cast iron lid, Ennui feels a sense of dread wash over her. The scent of lamb wafts up at her. As if being attacked, Ennui recoils, standing hastily from the hearth in disgust. She attempts to put the lid on the kettle, spilling a large portion over the hearth in her haste. Dreadful memories wash over her, the scent lingers. Ennui flees, running up the stairs, taking them three at a time. At the top, she listens down the small hallway. A faint sound escapes from beneath the door of Mamir’s room. She pushes her way into Mamir’s room and bursts out in a cruel laugh at the sight of the dwarven man tied to the posts of the bed. His tanned naked body writhes against the hempen rope binding him in place. Mamir’s mouth is gagged by a torn cloth, which he struggles against, unable to break free.

Ennui chuckles while she looks about the room, “Mamir, never let a whore tie you up!”

Mamir makes angered muffles through the gag.

“Mamir…” Ennui begins, giving the dwarf a knowing grin. She sits on the edge of the bed. “Your prick is still hard.”

Mamir struggles more aggressively against his bindings.

“Fine,” Ennui laughs, “I wasn’t here for that anyway.” She sighs, crossing her legs. “I really need your help,” she says while she removes her dagger from its scabbard.

Mamir shouts against his gag, his legs kicking violently.

Ennui snickers to herself. She skims the edge of the blade over Mamir’s thigh, shaving him bit by bit. “I made a mistake, and I need your expertise.”

Mamir nods, becoming quiet at Ennui’s request.

“If you help me out…I’ll help you track down those whores,” she whispers before she slides the dagger along the length of Mamir’s thigh, long swathes of black hair falling gently onto the hempen sheets. She rests the blade against his sack. “I really require your aid, Mamir,” she adds, glancing up at him with a sullen expression.

Mamir nods again.

“Good,” Ennui says, placing her dagger back in its sheath. She pulls Mamir’s gag from his mouth. “I can’t belie–”

“This! This is all your fault!” Mamir shouts. “You brought in those whores.”

Ennui shrugs, twirling her black locks about her finger. “I didn’t know they were going to rob you. I notice the types of girls you look at, figured they were your type i–”

“My type?!” Mamir yells while Ennui begins to cut his bindings. “My type is a woman who isn–”

“So…whose idea was it to tie you up?” Ennui asks, interrupting Mamir.

“Fuck you,” Mamir begins, rubbing his wrists once he’s freed. He quickly unties one of the knots around his ankle as Ennui cuts the other.

“Oh, and the girls seemed to have taken the coin in your tavern. And they spilled your kettle,” Ennui whispers, watching Mamir dress in a haste.

Mamir breathes heavily. “I heard you spill the kettle, but I’ll hold onto my anger for them.”

Ennui bites her lip. “So you’ll help me then?”

“You’re going to return the favor,” Mamir replies, removing a gladius and hatchet from his cupboard. “We can handle your situation fir–”

“How Exciting!” Ennui squeals, mimicking the Lorian women.

The hours pass, Ennui and Mamir prepare to dispose of the trunk. Mamir had informed Ennui of his plan to dispose of Jilliana’s body. The idea being to bring her out into the desert and leave her for the scavengers. Mamir had ensured Ennui that he had done this plenty of times and had never experienced much difficulty. Ennui wonders to herself what the dwarf meant by “much difficulty” but she left it alone. Just before dawn, the wagon is loaded and they head through the south gates. Mamir set a quick pace through the desert, turning off the traveled path after a few hours and into a deep canyon.

Mamir clicks his tongue, pulling the reins fiercely. The wagon wheels to a halt. “This is as good a spot as any. Far enough from the path and ripe with predators, I’m sure.”

“Is this…your secret body hiding location?” Ennui asks with a scoff.

“They aren’t all in one place…and they won’t be in one piece after a few hours,” Mamir says in a serious tone.

“You may be the only dwarf that has ever frightened me,” Ennui replies, glancing at Mamir.

Mamir rolls his eyes, “Shut it. I know you aren’t scared of shit. Now hand me those bags back there.”

Ennui tosses him the heavy satchel. “Alright, should I just push the trunk out?”

“If you don’t plan on keeping it,” Mamir begins, opening the top of the satchel. He removes a large waterskin from the bag while he walks around the wagon.

Ennui pulls the trunk from the back, it hits the hard canyon floor with a loud thud. “What’re you doing anyway?” She asks curiously, peering from behind the wagon. Her pointed tail flicks to and fro with interest.

“Summoning the desert dogs,” Mamir says coolly, he squeezes the waterskin, launching a rancid smelling liquid from inside.

“Hyenas? Really?” Ennui asks, “They’re gonna get rid of the body?”

“They feast on carrion,” Mamir replies, walking towards the trunk. He cautiously opens it and squeezes the liquid around and inside. A frown forms on his face, he looks up at Ennui. “You know if Omar finds out, we’re both dead?”

“I’m aware,” Ennui smirks, placing her hand on her hip. “But that isn’t gonna happen.”

“You sound very sure of yourself,” Mamir replies, sounding skeptical.

“What do you want me to say?” Ennui asks. “I’ve survived this long. I’ve killed dozens if not more men and women in the desert cities.”

“It doesn’t bother you ever, does it?” He asks, walking back to the wagon. He frowns again while he looks at Ennui. “You don’t fee–”

“I don’t feel shit,” she replies coldly. “The only person who I feel for is myself,” she adds with a flash of anger. “Who the fuck ever cared for me?”

“I’m certain your paren–”

“Fuck you!” Ennui spits. “Don’t even,”

“I didn’t mean to insult y–”

“I’m not insulted, just don’t presume to know me,” she insists. “Now, let’s get the fuck back home. I’m bloody tired.”

“Right,” Mamir says, sighing. He pulls himself up to the driver’s seat.

Mamir drives the wagon a ways down the canyon, turning around where the path widens out. The two sit in silence, the sun beats down on them. Bloody dwarf. They begin their journey back through the canyon. Passing the trunk, Mamir tugs on the reins again.

“Bloody Hells!” Mamir shouts, looking at the empty trunk. “I thought you said she was dead?!”

Ennui scoffs, “I checked, she wasn’t breathing!”

Mamir glances angrily at Ennui, “You better fix this.”

“She’s right there,” Ennui groans, pointing ahead in the canyon. She reaches into the back of the wagon, grabbing the dwarf’s short bow and quiver.

“You’re gonna shoot her?” He asks, jumping off of the wagon.

“Well, I’m not gonna let her run back to Rhaz!” She replies, jumping from the wagon behind Mamir. She quickly nocks an arrow.

“Make sure you lea–”

“Shut it,” she interrupts, releasing the arrow in haste. It lands just short of Jilliana’s feet, causing her to begin running. She looks back at Ennui and Mamir, her clothes and hair badly disheveled. “Fuck!” Ennui shouts.

Mamir chortles, “Give me the bow,” he insists, taking the bow from Ennui’s hands.

“Thanks,” Ennui begins, “I could have done it though. Guess you’ll really be in it with me now,” she adds with a snicker.

“Well,” Mamir begins while he nocks an arrow. He closes an eye, then draws the bowstring back. “You know what they say? Birds of a feather and all that,” he says, releasing the arrow.