The Bounty Hunter (Sigil Inspired)

D&December, 2017

You are nearly ready to cap the brown candle with a brass cup when the toe of her leather boot catches the crease in your door, nudging it open to let slip a cold wind that has not quite crawled between the slats and slivers in the wooden frame. She strides in proudly, heels clicking against the creaking floorboards, trailing slick puddles of grimy snow and grey slush and when you stand to greet her, she slams a stained sack upon your desk. The black blood has already seeped through and you bite back a groan through gritted teeth---the smell alone burns the back of your throat and coaxes acid to climb up from the churning pit of your belly.

"Bounty's still three hundred, right?" Her tone is cheery, chipper, and she is already scrawling the details in a spidery script beneath the tidy text printed in your ledger. You slap the pen from her eager hand and resume the entry yourself, desperate to prove that it is your word that is law here, your judgment alone that sees this…mercenary…paid.

"This is the third one this week," you mutter irritably, hands tangled in the taut twine keeping burlap shut. It is even worse when it hits with the open air, even in this tomb. If the slashed sinew and torn tendons are any indication, this one is bound for the Crematorium---the Dustmen would get no work out of it.

Her scoff is loud and she dares to follow it with a disdainful sniff. "I keep busy, is all. Better too much work than none at all." You watch her eyes flit back and forth like a dragonfly over a stagnant pond. When they finally flicker to meet yours, you decide to jump.

"And where do you happen to 'find' so much work?"

You chose poorly.

Her smile curls like a hungry cat's and she traces the lines of your body, lingering at the eyes, the throat, the soft swell of your stomach. There is something feral there, something hungry, something that lives in the city only because it must--hungry and trapped in a cage that is so much smaller than simply skin and soul. The hairs of your arms prickle and another blustery breath of frigid air from the open door tells you that your shirt is soaked through with sweat. The bile is back, stinging your tongue and filling your mouth with sticky saliva, and she carefully reaches over the table and tucks her fists into your sloped shoulders.

"It's easy," she whispers into your ear, savoring the taste of them and smell of your fear. Your seat is suddenly very warm and very wet. "I just look for the people who ask too many questions."

You pay her and do not sleep that night.

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