[Disclaimer: I do not own the Gentleman Bastards Sequence. That is the property of Scott Lynch. I do however, own the characters involved in this story. Also, quite a bit of language in this one. Thanks to Caddy-Shack, FlareShard, JulyFlame, and gaijinguy for beta work.]
It is easy enough to kill someone with a knife. It’s just a matter of knowing where to slip it. Between ribs, into the heart, or maybe the lungs. It’s simple anatomy.
What takes real skill is to kill somebody from the inside out. Destroy everything they have ever accomplished, kill their family, kill their friends. You destroy their life, and make them suffer. Most importantly, you do it right in front of them. They don’t have to notice, not at first, but the important thing is that they will. And when they do figure out what’s going on... Well, it’s too late to stop it.
It is easy enough to bring a person to their knees. The tricky bit is keeping them there.
The night was going well. Everyone was drinking, and everyone was having a good time. It was fairly typical for the Last Mistake at this time of night.
Some people were having more fun than others, especially at the card tables.
Elsewhere, in the shadows, quiet conversations were held.
“Oi, Lucius, smarten up. We’re talking serious business, mate.”
Lucius gestured with his mug of beer. “Ah, piss off, Julian!” He grinned widely. “The Grey King is no big deal. Just another petty thug. One of the gangs’ll have him before too long.” He grinned at the tables third and final occupant. “Isn’t that right, Basti?”
Basti grinned. “Yeah. ‘E’s a petty thug like the rest of us.”
Lucius slammed his beer back down. “Hey! I take offense to that!” He giggled slightly. “You two might be petty thugs, but I most certainly am not!”
Julian slammed his hands down on the table. “He is not some petty thug! If he were, one of the gangs would have gotten to him already! It’s been weeks!” He looked at his companions. “Think about it! Nobody has seen him, he has left no-one alive, and... well... Barsavi has locked himself up! This is not how things are supposed to be! If this isn’t a serious threat, I don’t know what is!” He took a deep breath. “I mean, of course Sebastian sides with the mongrel, he’s full fucking Vadran!”
Lucius paled. “I’m sorry, what did you just say?”
Julian stood up. “I’m bloody fucking tired of the two of you teaming up. Just because Sebastian is Vadran, and you are a fucking Camorri-Vadran mongrel doesn’t mean I’m wrong!” Throughout all of this, his voice was steadily raising. Suddenly, he turned to the rest of the crowd. “Did any of you miss that? Lucius Sievert is a bloody fucking mongrel!” With that, he stormed out.
Sebastian shot his friend a concerned glance. “Lucius?”
Lucius drained his mug. “I’ll be fine. Let’s just get home.”
Several hours later, two figures staggered down an alley in the Cauldron. They stumbled into a doorway. The taller one fumbled drunkenly with the doorknob. The shorter swayed slightly, then leaned on it’s compatriot.
“Lucius, you are leaning on me.”
“Fuck off, I’m drunk.”
Sebastian stared at Lucius. “You know, I sometimes begin to question your tastes. I mean, you’re fairly handsome. Short, yes, but still. I mean, look at that. Blue eyes, blond hair. Not that common in Camorr, really.” He paused. “Really, why have you never brought anyone home with you? Your mother’d be ashamed.”
Lucius hiccuped. “Basti, I’m not in the mood.”
“Well, that’s good. I’m not into guys.” After a few more tries, he got the door open. “Alright. Time for bed, mate.”
The next day, Lucius stumbled into the kitchen. “Dear Thirteenth. I think my brain is about to slip out my ears.”
Sebastian looked up. “I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t done that yet. The gods certainly made it small enough.”
“Mmf.” He sat down at the table. “Gods. We’re going to have to work tonight, aren’t we?”
Sebastian shook his head. “Not likely. Remember what happened with Julian?”
Lucius paused, then put his head in his hands. “Oh, fuck.” He sighed. “You know, it’s kind of our fault.”
Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “It’s our fault he’s got a thing against Vadrans?”
“No. It is our fault that we’ve been teaming up on him for so many years, though. I don’t blame him for snapping like that.”
“I imagine the drinking helped.”
Lucius nodded. “I imagine it did.” He stood up. “We’ll give him a few days to cool off, then we’ll go and talk to him. Sound good?”
“Yeah. Who’s turn is it to talk to No-Hope?”
Lucius replied without hesitation. “Yours. I’m to deal with Tesso.”
Sebastian laughed. “You always get the easy jobs, don’t you?” He stood up. “I guess I’d better gather everything up then.”
“You do that. I’ll meet you at the door.” He paused for a moment. “Hey, Basti?”
“Have you seen my knife?”
Sebastian paused. “Lucius, you’ve got about thirty knives. You’ll need to be a bit more specific.”
Lucius scowled. “You know exactly what I mean. I am a bit too hungover for your nonsense.”
“Nope, sorry.” Sebastian stroked his chin. “Don’t you usually leave that under your pillow?”
“Yeah. Oh well, I’ll look for it after we’ve done this.”
Several hours later, the pair had made their weekly tithe to the powers at the top of the thieving community. With nothing to do in the immediate future, they wandered aimlessly about Camorr.
“Hey, Basti, what say we get something to eat at the Shifting Market later?”
Sebastian nodded. “Sounds good to m-oof! Dammit, man, watch where you’re walking!”
Lucius did a double-take. “Oh, uh, hey Julian.”
There was a lengthy pause. Julian was the first one to break the silence. “Shit, I’m sorry guys.” He sighed. “I was drunk last night, and, well, I was kind of worried. About the Grey King, and, well...”
Lucius nodded. “Don’t worry about it, mate. Drink does weird things to everyone.”
Sebastian perked up slightly. “Hey, looks like we can actually do some work tonight.” He gestured vaguely. “And, I know the perfect place.”
Later that night, Julian made his way to the meeting point they had decided on, an empty house in Catchfire.
“Lucius? Sebastian?” He looked around nervously. He was never exactly punctual for these types of thing.
Sebastian emerged from the shadows. “Julian. You’re on time, for once.” He paused. “You know, I haven’t exactly... forgiven you for what you said last night.”
Julian grimaced. “Yeah, I know. I’m really sorr-” Sebastian cut him off.
“I am not the one you should be apologising to. Lucius was a wreck after what you said.” He sighed. “I’m assuming he’ll be wanting a spot of... revenge.”
Julian whipped around to face Lucius.
“Hey, sorry I’m late, gentlem-” He was cut off by a sudden splatter of blood emerging from the Camorri’s chest. “What the fuck?”
Julian slumped to the floor, dead.
“What the fuck? Basti... what? Wh-why did you do that?”
“Well, that’s a bit of a long story, isn’t it?” He chuckled. “You remember, back when we were in the Hill, how you’d steal quite a bit of stuff from me? Just to make yourself look better? Do you know how many times I had to go without food?” His face grew serious. “Forty times, Lucius. Forty nights you robbed me of my dinner.”
“Don’t you fucking talk to me.” He sighed, and gestured at Julian. “You know, I only started picking on him so that you’d do the same. You, being you, of course took it... a bit too far. That culminated in the... incident in the Mistake last night.” The grin had returned to his face. “So, really, what everyone else heard was what he said about you. And, I had the genius idea of using, well, your favourite knife.”
“Basti, I ca-”
“Ah! No talking!” Sebastian giggled. “Really, now, to everyone else? You did this.” He turned on his heel. “Good night, Lucius. I’ll be sure to tell everyone that I haven’t seen you since we split up at the Market earlier today.” He started towards the door.
“You fucking bastard! It was years ago!” He stared at Julian. “And, Julian! He never did anything!”
“People are tools, Lucius. Until you come to terms with that, you’ll be useless. Hell, you haven’t even made an honest effort to hurt my feelings yet!” He shook his head. “You’re weak, Lucius. You always have been. It’s probably the whole ‘mongrel’ thing.” He shrugged, and continued walking to the door.
He barely made it halfway. Lucius grabbed him by the cloak, spinning his one-time friend around to face him. “Basti, I regret what I’m about to do. But, this isn’t for me. This is for Julian.”
A body hit the floor.
Second later, a different body slumped to it’s knees, sobbing.
The body on the floor drew its last breath. “Just... as... planned.”
Three people entered the house.
One particularly short one left.