“Seventy-six,” I repeated to myself.
With that number burnt, indelibly, in my mind, I shoved open the door, and levelled my double-barrelled shotgun.
The room’s furniture had been pushed against the walls. Well, every piece except the office chair that sat dead in the centre.
I fired immediately, but as expected, it did nothing except bring an angry smile to the face of the “man” who sat in that chair.
“And here I thought I was being too obvious,” the “man” said, a mocking tone in its voice. I grunted, my eyes scanning the room.
These things could never be easy.
I quickly made note of the runic circle, drawn, no, smeared on the carpet. In blood, of course. Why the furniture in the room had been cleared.
“Now, you’re clearly trying to figure out how to get passed my ward.
I don’t doubt that you’ve got something in that jacket of yours to counteract this,” it waved a hand idly, indicating its fell work. “But, here’s the thing.
It could get messy, and, for all you know, you misjudged what I am.
“From what I know of your line of work, that could be very deadly,” it flashed a fanged grin.
I paid it no heed. They all had different strategies, but there was one thing they all had in common: they lied. They couldn’t help it.
It was what they were.
Even now, when it was attempting to parlay, it kept its left hand hidden within its immaculately tailored suit.
“So to save us the hassle, here’s what I’m proposing. You leave me, and my family, alone. In return, we'll grant you some of our considerable wealth...”
I halted for a moment. Not that its offer was tempting... the wealth would obviously be cursed, made to corrupt my soul, the usual.
Besides, personal rewards had never been my goal.
Just remember the tale of Sigfried.
I took out a vial of Goldschlager. Hadn’t had to use this one in a while. I met the man’s gaze for the first time as uncorked the vial, and threw the liquor onto the circle.
The gold flakes sparkled as they greedily absorbed the blood’s magic.
The “man” stood, arcane incantations leaping from its mouth.
My second round put an end to that.
They always forget double-barreleds don’t fire both at once.
The “man” slammed back into its chair.
“Adamantine...” it muttered, gingerly touching the holes bored through it with its bandaged left hand.
Then it looked up at me. “You won’t find him, you know? My brother? I sent him away. He’s long gone by now.”
“I don’t need your 'brother',” I growled, drawing my knife “Any of your kind will do.”
It smirked, “We were the only dragons in the city.”
“I don’t need dragons,” I responded, walking up to it. “Any demon will do.”
"But we're not-" it started, but I silenced the lies, driving my knife into its gut.
And then she could finally rest.