Chapter Three

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          Siobhan entered the tavern and nodded toward the bartender Ivan. He jerked his head toward the farthest corner of the sparsely filled lower level. Elias sat in a high backed chair, his back to the door. Siobhan never understood his lack of wanting to keep his eye on potential threats entering rooms. Taverns, at their best, invited unsavory characters. She should know, often she was one. Elias was far too trusting.

This tavern often saw the working girls come after their nightly escapades to obtain one last score for the evening. The lowest forms of life Scanla had to offer filled the tables many a night. That was a reason whenever Siobhan passed through she chose to stay at that particular tavern that also acted as an Inn. Though it helped Ivan gave her a better deal than any of the other three inns' in the city.

Two tables filled with men burying their cares away into a mug of mead paid no mind to her as she sauntered past. She recognized most of them as regulars, there to drink themselves to a stupor before returning home to unhappy lives. It was far too quiet for the normally boisterous tavern. Not even a minstrel played on the small pallet tucked against the southern wall. It unnerved her. She liked routine. Anything else made her nervous.

Candlelight from the wall sconces illuminated the narrow room. Ivan's tavern, the nameless beast that it was, was the smallest of the three. However, that had more to do with his back-room dealings than anything else. He closed off half of the building for "storage" purposes where he sold illegal totems and other magical artifacts.

Siobhan removed her cowl and tossed it onto the back of Elias' head. He didn't grunt when he pulled it off and rolled it into a ball, tucking it into the tattered bag he always carried. If the Aquantian had any emotion other than calm, she rarely saw it. She grabbed an empty chair and turned it around to straddle it backwards. Elias slid a mug closer to her and she accepted it without thanks. Politeness wasn't needed with him. He understood her better than anyone, a fact that also often annoyed her.

She pulled the extra purses stolen from the moron off her belt and slid them across the table. If it were any other place, she'd be more discreet about her actions, but in there she was among her people. Among people who knew not to mess with her and her coin.

"I see our thief was productive." Elias grabbed the purses and combined the coins into one he carried around his neck before discarding the empty leather to the side. Siobhan didn't particularly care how much the new conquests added to their end game, just that they did.

She shrugged. "He may be sloppy, but he had swift hands. I'll give him that, but he's lucky he's not dead. We won't be staying in Scanla past the night thanks to him."

"I take it your fun went less than expected?"

She rolled her eyes at the twitch of his lips. As much as he could read her, she could read him. Because he didn't agree with her methods, when they backfired on her it gave him great amusement. Elias's high collar was still buttoned tight, but she could make out the soft tissue above his highest gill. How she wanted to poke them to annoy him. Bushy eyebrows wiggled when he laughed as he took another drink.

"No. It didn't go the way I'd planned."

"I'm sure there's a lecture in there about your brazen attitude but . . ."

"I'm sure you'd like to sleep under the roof tonight instead of with the horses."

He chuckled. "Yes, I do enjoy a bed over a bale of hay. I also like being able to walk straight without your proverbial foot up my ass."

"I can't imagine it's any easier to walk with your foot always in your mouth." She rubbed her fingers over the lip of her mug and sighed. "How did we do with the kills?"

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