The precautions were really very simple though would prove effective if necessary. Raven and Leopold would be the two to meet with the employer. Raven would go because she was taking the lead on this job and was responsible for large scale planning. Leopold would also attend the meeting. This decision had been difficult mainly because if the meeting was a trap, he was the one person who would be most useful in springing the others from whatever jail cell they might end up in. In the end, it was decided that he would also meet with the employer because he would actually be doing the job. If there were any questions that should be asked at this meeting, he was the one who would know what they were.
Midas and Daniel were also in the tavern area of the inn but did not sit with Raven and Leopold. They had positioned themselves on opposite ends of the tavern so that between the two of them they could see the whole area. If they saw any suspicious people come or go, they would signal Raven and Leopold who would hopefully still be able to leave the meeting. In theory these precautions would work, but it was something that the group had never tried before.
"Grab a table in the center of the room if you can," Raven shouted in Leopold's ear. The tavern was so loud that they could barely hear themselves think, a fact that made it ideal for the meeting. Yes, communication between the parties would be a bit difficult, but the chances of them being overheard decreased dramatically.
Leopold spotted a partially empty table and elbowed his way through the crowd toward it. He secured a seat along one side of the table and Raven sat in the one next to him. Pulling a large blue handkerchief from her pocket, she draped it over the back of the chair next to her. This was the signal for their client. He would take this seat, give the appropriate sign, and then they would begin to talk.
"Do you want to go get us something from the bar?" Raven asked Leopold. "I don't really want to just be sitting here conspicuously doing nothing."
"Sure," Leopold answered. "Do you want something to eat or just to drink?"
"Grab some food if they have anything worth eating," Raven said. "It looks like that might be asking a bit much in this place, but see what they have."
Leopold smiled to himself as he headed to the bar. Raven might be an orphan like he and Midas were, but she certainly hadn't acquired any of their same opinions about food. To the two brothers who had often gone without meals, anything that they could digest was good enough to eat. Raven, on the other hand, was considerably more picky when it came to food. She had a fairly high standard when it came to such things, so high that it had taken her a while to get used to the traveling rations they usually ate when they were doing a job.
The tavern was doing a brisk business and by the time Leopold got food and drink and made it back to the table, the client was already there. He and Raven were still exchanging pleasantries, so he clearly hadn't been there for too long.
"What's with all of the decorations?" Raven asked, gesturing to the greenery and bows hung around the room. "I've never seen anything like this before."
"They're for Christmas," the client said and Raven gave his a quizzical look. "Don't tell me that you've never heard of Christmas before."
"Can't say that I have," Raven said. "What is it?"
"It's on December 25th," the client said. "It's the celebration of the birth of Jesus."
"Jesus?" Leopold asked. "Who's that?"
"He's with me?" Raven told the client. "I am with him though. Who is Jesus? Was he important or something?"
"You don't go to church, do you?" the client asked.
"Church? No," Raven answered. "The boss says that it's just a bunch of mumbo jumbo to keep citizens in line. Apparently it's not exactly the type of thing that inserts itself into our line of work."
"That's probably true," the client admitted.
"Well, enough of the chit chat," Leopold broke in. "I understand that you have a job that requires our expertise."
"Right," Raven agreed. "You want us to kill someone for you?"
"Kill someone?" the client asked in surprise. "Heaven's no. I just want you to teach him a lesson. He's got a prized horse that he loves almost more than life itself. Kill it."
"So let me get this right," Leopold said slowly. "You want us to kill a horse for you? What the heck kind of job is that?"
"Hold on a second," Raven told him. To the client, "The price is what was agreed upon earlier?"
"Yes," the man agreed. "Half now, half when the job is completed."
"It's money," Raven told Leopold. "I don't care what the job is as long as it pays as well as this one does."
"Yeah, but it's killing a horse," Leopold said in disgust. Raven rolled her eyes and turned back to the client.
"We'll take the job," she said. "Do you have any information that would be useful to us?"
"Everything is in here along with the first part of your money," the client said and handed Raven a package. "Meet me here the day after you have completed the assignment for the rest of your payment."
"Well, that was unusual," Raven said as she watched the client walk away. She took a sip from her mug.
"Well what do you expect from a guy who wants us to kill a horse for him?" Leopold asked. "And if it's for as much money as you're making it out to be, there is something very odd going on here."
"Yes, it certainly isn't an ordinary horse for what he's offering," Raven agreed. "And what's up with all of this Christmas stuff? This is one of the most unusual places that I have ever been and it is certainly putting me off my game a bit."
"Well, then we finish the job and get out of here as quickly as possible," Leopold said. "After all, how difficult can it be to kill a horse?"