Fantasy Novel

I slam the mug down on the table. Where is that serving wench, I need another ale. The back of my hand wipes away the drops around my mouth. I need to get drunk. Where is that wench?

How hard can it be to keep a man’s mug filled? Damn. I survey the dark room and don’t see one in the place. The idiot owner of this Tavern needs some of my stock. Good help isn't hard to find - it just has to be bought from Raif the Raider. Hey, that’s a good slogan. Maybe I should make a sign.

I’m the best there is.

He’d be lucky to afford my product. My stock is highly sought after because I know what makes a product valuable, I find it and dress it up. It’s all in the packaging. Only the best, for those who can afford to pay it. No one can compete with my quality. It’s all about quality control.

"Wench - Ale!"

I hold up my mug and yell across the room. I need to get drunk, real drunk. Rosa is being moody and the boys are bored. I am annoyed with the nagging, the arguing, and the fights.

The boys need a battle and Rosa needs a good pounding. I couldn't get near her without getting an earful today. Maybe I’m the one who needs sex and she just needs to sleep for the next three days. Damn woman and her time of the month.

“The god's placed a curse on men called women. Ale. Wench.” I yell. "Are you Raif the Raider?" A voice asks.

"Depends, who's asking?" I turn to find two very tall White Priests. Shit, what do these idiots want? "Sorry fella's but I already gave."

"Raif, we would like to discuss business with you."

"Sorry, but I'm out of stock right now. I'll let you know when I've got more." Not bloody likely, I’m not going anywhere near a church anytime soon.

"We need your ability as a Raider.”

"What does a church need with Raiders, some village forget to tithe? Look there are plenty of blood thirsty Raiders out there who will level a village for you, just for the fun of it." I turn back to my empty mug, damn wench. "Wench - Ale."

"We have approached others and your name keeps coming up as the best."

"I am not interested in what others say. Now if you don't mind I'm trying to get drunk." Or I would be, if I could get some ale.

“It will be very profitable."

"How profitable?" Now they are talking my language, profits. Since I can't get a full mug of ale, I might as well find out how much profit is involved.

"We only want one small item from the village. You can keep the spoils. Your skill at raiding with few deaths is the main reason we want to hire you. We don’t want a lot of blood on our hands."

"Ok now you have my attention, which village do you want sacked?"

"Brathoid's"

"Brathoid's? Are you insane? I don't think so! I like the land of the living. Thanks for coming."

I turn back around to my empty cup scanning the smoky room for the bar wench.

Brathoid is not a man to go up against without an army and lots of profit. His is the largest village on the High Flatlands, a primitive city. It would take some serious up front investment because I’d need to hire a few hundred extra fighters and the chance of dying is much higher than taking plunder. I’m not dying for no profit.

"Raif, it is very important to the church. It is imperative that we safely extract the item from Brathoid."

"Look, I don’t care about what is important to the church." "We will give you money up front."

"How much per man are you willing to pay up front?"

"How does $200 a man up front sound?"

"Ah, $200 per man? Up front? What the hell is in that village?"

I can hire guys for half that. It takes an honest man a year to make that kind of cash.

"A baby."

"A baby? I can walk down to the closest whore house or orphanage and get you one of those for a lot less trouble."

"Not just any baby, Brathoid's baby girl. The seers have seen the future and it is vital the Church of Balla possesses her - for the good of all mankind."

“Did you tell him you needed her?”

Most anyone I know gives the church anything it demands of them, even my father and he doesn’t give anything away, to anyone, especially the likes of me.

“We asked. He said no.”

"You guys have weird magic, why not just use it to get her."

Brathoid's village is filled with product. The prospect of profit is getting tempting. With the up front money I can hire the men I need, enough men to have a chance at success. It would only cost me $100 a man. I can pocket the other half of the cash. With the amount of product I can obtain, the profits would be good, really good.

"We cannot use magic to force him to give her to us. We can only accept that which is freely given. However, you can take her from Brathoid and then freely give her to us."

"Loophole huh! Heard you guys were fond of those. But aren’t you offering to pay me? Loophole closed guys."

“No. We aren’t paying for the baby. We are paying you to level a village.”

“Loopholes are tricky things, I guess.”

I don’t like these priests, I don't like the odds of survival, but I do like the return on investment. Not only are these guys going to bankroll the venture, all they wanted from the spoils is one itty bitty worthless baby.

"If I agree to this venture of yours, I also want a favour from your Church."

"What is the favour?"

"I don't know. I just like the idea of you guys owing me one."

I wink at them and give them a, know what I mean, kind of grin. "Agreed!"

"We'll then, you've got yourself a Raiding party." I have to die sometime

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