There are places in Rechastaad, where you can say the name Michael Stinch without whispering. But this is none. In the weathier parts of town, busyness with one hand behind your back may not be uncommon, but definetly not well received. Cane Street had a busy day, the Gentleman Dressers were all occupied and the walkways were cramped. You should not expect the Copperfield Caustic to stick out.
I waited at the left hand corner of Gartners Grooms. I tried to be discrete. But I was nervous. I am not used to the dirty deeds and batched backstreets. It was my fault I waited, I was about half an hour too early.
Then it happened, atleast I thought so. A mysterious character was watching me from across the street. I should have known. I heard stories about the Caustic. Young, slender and very plainly dressed. This person could not have been him.
I am sorry, I didnt know back then. Though I dont know, who I am sorry for.
As I approached this character, he nodded, as if he was telling me to follow him. I did as he bid and we arrived at a dead end. Two other persons where already waiting there.
“Well, well, Mr. Gerden. Finally comi’n through to paying our debt, are we?”, asked one of the men. At that point I had realized, that none of these ill-mannered folks could be the fabled Caustic. I replied: “I have no idea of who this Gerden is, you are talking about, but I surely am not him. That I would remember.”
Another came forward: “And we are supposed to trust you? After you hired us without showing your face, even trying to mask your voice? We are over this. We had a deal. Daleas life for fivehundred coin!”
I flinched. These people were assassins. I knew, I was in a pickle and I took almost no money with me, to prevent robbery. One pulled out a blade.
“I don’t know you, I don’t have anything to do with you, Mr. Gerden or your busyness. I was looking for the Caustic.”
“The Caustic?” The man most to the right ansked. The one next to him started fidgeting with his blade. “Is he near?”
“We were going to meet at the corner across mainstreet. He does not have to hear about this.”, I told them in hope of them surendering to the Caustics imminence.
“He’s lying!”, shouted one, who has been silent as to so far. “He has to, how is that stuck up son of a bitch supposed to know of the Caustic? He’s a legend and wouldn’t put up with just anyone.”
“Unless, of course, it promises revenge for lost kin.”, came a voice from out the shadows behind the delinquents.
They jumped forwards in my direction, turning and stumbling. Trying to catch sight of the voices body. But although sound still vibrated through the alleyway, time seemed to stop.
“Lay down your weapons, if you value your life greater than them.”, I heard from just beside me. I turned around and just caught sight of a flash as the Caustic dashed forward, straight through the enemies.
No reaction could be seen on their bodies or faces. Then all of them started to combust. Without a scream, without a flinch, they perished.
Although I didn’t think it was possible, I gained not only more respect for him, but maybe more fear. I had heard the legends, but I held them as empty, phantasmic, too unreal. How could I know, how almost all of them could have been the truth?
“So,”, the Caustic said, “Shall we make busyness, then?”
I swallowed my fear. It was time to act.
(The story continues……)