I haven’t really highlighted any of the villains. One needs to remain a secret, but I have these two fun ones. Really enjoyed writing Urian Coy because I don’t get to do pompous merchants as often as I’d like. Eris is another character type I’ve used and tossed away rather quickly. Hope both of them know what they’re going up against . . . Yeah, they really aren’t ready for Darwin.
Gasping for air, Urian falls out of the thinning ice and sprawls on the damp, carpeted hallway. He kisses the ruby ring on his thumb, which is still warm from emitting the magic that saved his life. Guards are running throughout the building with various relics, which launch fire and heat at the enormous block. Water flows along the floor as the barrage of flames does its work and the manor’s decimated wing is gradually thawed. A loud crack rings out from time to time before a section of the block collapses due to the base being weakened. The entire berg lists to one side and a chunk falls through a glass dome, which is followed by a loud splash from the expensive indoor pool. More pieces come free and slam trough the damaged roof to destroy whatever is below. Listening to the breaking of his property, the fireskin remains on the ground until two of his men come to help him to his feet. He angrily shakes them off as soon as he is standing as if they are in his way. Ignoring the rudeness, the guards nod in apology and hurry to help their friends recover those still trapped in the ice.
Muttering curses and glaring at anyone who tries to speak to him, Urian stumbles to a nearby office. The door locks when he twists the handle and he slumps into a chair, which creaks beneath his bulky weight. Grabbing a stick from a nearby bottle, he tosses it into a fireplace and sighs at the warm wave created by the logs bursting into flames. The merchant searches his pockets for a bell and frowns at having to meticulously scrape chunks of ice off the tiny bronze clapper. Holding it above his head, he shakes it once to create a single chime and tucks it back into his robes. A few seconds later, a slender elf drops from the ceiling and goes down on one knee before the merchant. Her short, lavender hair is damp and her simple clothes are disheveled enough to reveal the green leather bodysuit beneath.
“I apologize for the surprise summons, Eris,” Urian says before patting her on the head with his tail. He slightly recoils when she stands and fixes him with her silver eyes, which he has always found unnerving. “As you are aware, the manor has come under attack. I have lost many men and several priceless objects. You are needed to hunt down my enemies. My company and life would have ended long ago if not for your protection. Please make sure these people no longer pose a threat to me.”
“I will complete my shower and be on my way,” the elf declares with a bow. She holds out her hand and cocks her head to the side when it remains empty. “Is there no report or information on this mission? You are aware that I prefer to know about my targets before I go on the hunt, Master Coy. If I hunt blind then it will take some time.”
“I understand, but this was a surprise attack,” the merchant replies as he slips a golden ring off his pinky finger. Tossing it to his assassin, he shows her the end of his cane, which has a tiger face etched into the tip. “Your target is a halfling named Darwin. I secretly branded him before he escaped with my property. He took a bracelet, which is stuck on his arm. Him and his cousin, Arlinger, lost the key, so I could not get it off before they fled. Do not be tricked by any of their foolishness or stupidity. I thought Arlinger was the smart and dangerous one, but it is the other way around. Darwin uses ice magic with no care for his surroundings. A public fight will pose risks, so I will contact Mayor Senh to prepare for any destruction. He will make sure you and I are not to blame for any accidents. You do not have to bring the body back, but I need the bracelet as soon as possible.”
“If there is no key then I will have to bring the arm back as well.”
“I have no problem with that.”
“Then, I will leave within the hour.”
“Why so late?”
“A caster with such power requires preparations.”
“Besides, a branded enemy cannot hide.”