Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 14



            "They're making me sick now," Leopold said in a low voice that only Raven could hear. "I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I never thought I'd say that about my brother."
            "Then don't look," Raven said, smacking him. "They won't get to see each other again in who knows how long."
            "Which of course begs the question of why they're starting this." Leopold said.
            "Sometimes you just can't help who you fall for," Raven answered. "It could be a baroness who you won't get to see very often, or it could be a cynical, unromantic dweeb who kills people for money."
            "I kill people for money," Leopold commented.
            "I know," Raven said.
            "Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" Leopold asked, pretending to be hurt.
            "I just put out a hypothetical situation," Raven said. "Draw your own conclusions if you want to."
            "I don't think I will," Leopold finally decided. "Thinking too much about hypotheticals can get you in trouble."
            "True," Raven agreed. "Here comes Midas. I guess we won't have to resort to such ridiculous measures. "
            Midas took his backpack from Leopold without a word, and together the three friends headed out of the castle. Leopold noted the walls, towers, guards, and gates fondly as he walked past them, thinking that this was probably the first castle he'd ever entered without have to sneak in. Truth be told, he was actually going to miss this place.
            "So, how's the baroness?" Raven asked when they had cleared the gates.
            "Tried to give us horses again," Midas said. "I had to tell her 'thank you but no' about four times before she'd accept the answer."
            "It was a nice gesture, but what would we do with horses?" Raven asked. "We'd probably end up selling them as soon as we got home."
            "I will say I'm going to miss this place," Midas commented, turning around to take one last look at the castle. "The place is great, and I must say I've really grown to love these people."
            "Well, one of them, at least," Leopold said with a laugh.
            "Absolutely," Midas responded. "Especially when she pays us like this." He threw a bag at his brother. It bounced off his chest, and he fumbled it a few times before coming up with it in his hand. He gave it a shake, producing the distinct sound of money clanking together.
            "It's probably not as much as we would have gotten if we'd done the job, but it'll help some to shut Daniel up," Midas said.
            "Let me see," Raven called.
            Leopold pitched her the money bag, and she pulled the strings open. Based on the denominations and overall number of coins, she estimated this to be a sizable amount indeed. She wouldn't contradict Midas, but it might even be more than the baron had offered. She tied the bag and threw it back to Midas who put it into a shoulder bag. It was new, Raven noted.
            "Why all the compensation?" she asked instead.
            "Well, she is a baroness, and we did prevent a war between her and an enemy," Midas said. He added sarcastically, "Apparently that's a big deal or something."
            "Well, I'm certainly thankful for it," Raven said.
            The three friends walked in silence for another minute or so before Raven spoke again.
            "So what about this new, I don't know, morality I guess you'd call it."
            "I don't know," Leopold answered. "It'll certainly make it harder to kill people, especially for money."
            "And assassination always was our most lucrative gig," Midas noted. "It's going to be harder to find worthwhile jobs now."
            "We're just going to have to be willing to work harder for less," Leopold spoke up. "The jobs are out there, we just haven't seen a need to take them in the past."
            "How long do you think it's going to last?" Midas asked.
            "I don't know," Raven answered. "It's hard to tell if as soon as we leave, we'll forget. It could be years and it could be days. Why, do you want to get rid of the feeling?"
            "I really don't," Midas said. "It's hard to grasp because I don't like the guilt of knowing how much pain and suffering we've caused, but I also like the idea of not causing any more."
            "I know what you mean," Leopold said. "I regret every life that I've ever ruined through what I've done, but I'd rather feel this way and not do it any more than just sweep it under the rug."
            "Then we just wait it out and see," Raven said. "If it doesn't go away and we're never able to go back to assassinating people and starting wars with impunity, so be it. We'll figure something out just like we always have."
            "That's true," Leopold agreed. "Us three against...I was going to say 'against the world' but that's not correct any more. I guess it's just 'us three' now."
            "I like it," Midas concurred. "The three of us against whatever comes, whether it be physical or something else. As long as we're together, we can do anything."
            The other two said nothing. The sound of snow crunching under their boots was all that could be heard.
            "I'm going to take your silence as agreement," Midas said.
            Again there was no answer.
            "I wonder what Daniel will have for us when we get back."
            "Good lord, Midas!" Leopold exclaimed. "Can you be quiet for five minutes!"
            "Of course I can," Midas answered. "This is me, being quiet for five minutes."
            Raven and Leopold looked at each other and smiled. From experience, they knew Midas would never last one minute, much less five.
            "I do wonder what he'll dig up for us, though," the large boy said after about thirty seconds. Leopold shook his head and only half paid attention to what his brother was saying. The trip home was long, and he'd strangle Midas if he actually listened to what he was saying.

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