A small groan escaped my lips as I rolled over, pressing the heel of my hand to one of my eyes. I sat up, my back stiff and my entire body sore from a second night spent sleeping on the floor. I shouldn't have run out of energy this easily. The fire of the forge is a constant source of heat and the vent in the ceiling allows light to come in at all times. But in the process of making this simple dagger I had used more Talent at one time than ever before in my life. It had left me so drained that I passed out beside the forge, physical incapable of crawling up the stairs. As I stood up I looked at the work I had done. So far I had the internal portion of the dagger finished, a long and thin chamber made of cordite to store extra Talent. That chamber would allow the wielder to siphon and use Talent from any person unfortunate to be on the receiving end of a bite from 'Vayash'.

'Vayash', a name I remember from my childhood. The name was reference to a legend about a powerful creature that survived by drinking the blood of humans. The legend exists in all cultures, some placing the creature as a demon while others call it something closer to human. It seemed a fitting name for this dagger, capable of restoring the wielder through Talent. I ran my fingers along the blade I had, knowing I needed a few more days before I could even dream of attempting to fuse the cordite with the more sturdy steel of the actual blade. An audible growl rose to my ears as my stomach protested the work of the last few days with so little to eat. I let a small blush slip across my face, running a hand through the hair on the back of my head. "Guess I should go find something to eat." On impulse I grabbed a few queens and made my way out of the shop, enjoying the cool morning air.

Three weeks! Three bloody weeks of sitting on my ass and waiting for anything. Three weeks with no word from Dor… The Deader. I was getting impatient. And when I lose patience terrible things tend to happen. I needed air and a chance to vent my frustration. A bulging coin purse would tempt any lowlife Sa'Kage thug who didn't know what I was. And I wanted to chance to spill a little blood. I grabbed the purse and walked out the door of my temporary house.

No matter how much I hated this city, even I had to admit it was comfortable to live in. The Market District was well maintained and had a glorious amount of shops for anyone to enjoy. Right now I just wanted a warm meal, which only meant one place was worth my time; 'The Night Angel'. Quite an auspicious name for what seemed to be an upscale eatery originally opened by a farmer turned war hero named Dav Slinker. I had discovered a short time after arriving in the city that it was just a front for a smuggling ring and black market trading den. I didn't care about any of that, but they did serve damn good food and brewed their own ale. The ale alone made it a perfect place to spend a lazy evening.

Once I had seated myself, the staff already knowing my order and drink preference, I took stock of the room. My eyes roamed over every patron in The Angel, spotting who was here enjoying the food and who was here for less sultry business. As my ale arrived the front door opened and a giant walked in. The sun was at his back for a few seconds, but no woman I knew of was built as well as him. As the door closed and I could make out his features my breath caught in my throat and I nearly drowned myself with ale. Three bloody weeks and I didn't know Dorian made this his eatery of choice. Damn. Now what the hell am I supposed to do. Oh fuck it! I lifted an arm and waved, hoping to catch Dorian's attention. When his steel colored eyes turned to me and that boyish, lopsided grin came to his face I felt my heart skip a beat.

It wasn't often that I found myself going into The Night Angel. I personally wasn't too fond of ale and the food was only half as good as what I was used to making for myself. But for some reason, the smells drifting from the kitchen out to the street set my mouth to water. I am pretty sure my stomach led me in before my mind could tell my feet to go somewhere else. Once inside I looked around, instantly able to tell the thugs and smugglers from the regular patrons. As I headed toward an empty table near the fire a movement and flash of gold to the left caught my eye. I turned and sitting in a corner, her back to the wall, was Serianna. I had almost forgotten what she looked like and her beauty brought a smile to my lips. Carefully making my way through the bar I sat in the chair that she pushed out for me. "Good morning Miss Willow. I hope you have enjoyed the city these last several weeks. Your order is coming along well. I am almost a third of the way finished with it. I believe it will surpass any expectation you could possibly have." I grinned; glad I had been able to keep myself from telling her every little detail I had planned for Vayash.

As Dorian made his way over to me I did my best to paint on an endearing smile. I watched him, studying how he walked and carefully avoided every shady patron. If he couldn't avoid them completely, he didn't give them a chance to put a knife in his back. So he's smarter than I thought. Cute. As he sat in the chair, or rather, barely kept himself from collapsing into the chair, I saw that his mind was even more strained than his body. Fresh cuts on his hands attested to how hard he had been working since I left him. A few burns on his arms showed he may have collapsed beside his forge more than once. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

However, if he kept up his pace I wouldn't even have to kill him. He would do my job for me, without getting me that damned knife. No matter how much I hated the thought, and at this point for some reason I didn't, I would have to keep him from doing just that. How I would do it, well. I guess I just have to wing it. No plan, no disguise, no way out. "So Dorian, have you had much chance to relax while you work, or do all of your orders keep you too busy?" I smiled gently, giving him just the smallest hint of teeth before I settled for a softer approach. By the shiver that ran down his spine I imagined he may have enjoyed that simple flash, but until I knew him better I had no way of actually knowing.

I tilted my head to the side, a practiced move to let my hair slide across my shoulders and fall from around my neck. It helped to accentuate the lines my dress left and to reveal just a hint more cleavage than I had shown previously. By the blush and quick cough I knew Dorian saw it. He's so damn innocent. I wonder if he's ever felt a woman's embrace aside from his mother. My breath caught in my throat as I realized the implications of what I just discovered. I knew how to distract him for a night, hell maybe even two. "No Seri. I've been trying to keep all of my orders current while working on yours as well. With the bulk orders I receive they tend to set a deadline that I must follow or lose some of my best customers." He shrugged slightly, a small move that sent a shiver down my spine.

I was tired. By The One God I don't know how I kept myself from falling into the chair. I didn't realize I had exhausted myself so much. The air here didn't help much. The heady scent of spices and venison was almost too much, while the more subtle tones of stale beer and sweat added to the slight headache using my Talent in such large amounts always brought on. Her question seemed simple and innocent, but her motions caused a stirring in my blood that I hadn't allowed myself since I was young. The way her hair flowed off her shoulders, showing more of her neck and then, by the gods! I had to look away, coughing my embarrassment with a cough and hoping she didn't notice my blush. "No Seri. I've been trying to keep all of my orders current while working on yours as well. With the bulk orders I receive they tend to set a deadline that I must follow or lose some of my best customers." It was a simple truth. The army and mercenary companies paid big money for me to make weapons. As long as they paid I made anything from swords, to bows, to tripwire. But I had almost finished the orders and that left me plenty of time to work on her special order.

For now though, convincing myself that a day off would do some good, wouldn't take a lot of persuasion. And if she was spending the day with me, it would do me plenty of good. Flagging down a barmaid I ordered a bowl of venison stew and a glass of wine. I didn't like to drink, never was good at holding alcohol, but I could handle small amounts of wine as long as there was plenty of food with it. After I ordered the meal I turned back to Seri, certain I could keep my eyes above her breasts if I tried hard enough. "I never got around to asking, but want brings you to Caernavon Seri?" I smiled gently, wondering to myself if she would answer. I already had a feeling I knew, but I wanted to affirm my beliefs.

She bit her bottom lip nervously and her eyes flitted around, as if searching for an answer that wouldn't come. "Business Master D'Amor. I have a friend in Cenaria who has been a fan of your work for some time. They send me to see if you were worth the cost we have heard from the army. Until I receive my dagger, I cannot leave. But I must say I am impressed by what I saw and those I have spoken to are all in agreement that your price, though steep, is very fair compared to the finished product." It seemed honest, and the answer rolled off her tongue as if it really were true. I couldn't find a single reason to doubt her because of her story. I just didn't envision her as the front runner for some unnamed group, she didn't seem the type.

As he used the order for food to cover his embarrassment I couldn't help but laugh a little, the first time I had honestly laughed in a long time. I ordered the same as him, seeming to defer to the role of support to his lead. It was a calculated move on my part, hopefully giving him the impression that I still needed someone to watch out for me. I didn't, but hopefully he wasn't smart enough to have realized that. And then he asked that damn question. The one question I had hoped he wouldn't ask. "What brings you to Caernavon Seri?" Still calling me Seri, even though the slight edge in his voice told me that he didn't completely believe it. I bit my lip, and blushed, looking down and away from him for a moment so I could think of an answer. Damn him. What am I going to say? Damn him, damn him, damn him. Wait! What if…

I looked back to him, meeting his steel grey eyes. "Business Master D'Amor." It wasn't a complete lie. And by telling him I was coming in front of a large order, I knew it would push aside suspicion of anything else. Hell, even I would have believed the story and I don't believe myself even when I talk to the Shinga. No one knew where I was from, who my parents were, or why I was the best at what I did. My dad Remus had taught me a small amount of body magic before he disappeared. I didn't care that he ran out of me, mom died when I was young and dad had trouble doing anything for long. His limp kept him from most hard labor and military duty. When he disappeared, I was thirteen, able to make a living on my own. Two years later I was picked up as an apprentice to a wetboy and learned the trade. That's my story. The story only I know.

As soon as the food hit the table I took a drink of the wine, a good and strong red wine, a perfect complement to slightly overcooked venison. The stew was warm and thick, spiced perfectly to accent the flavor of the deer meat and enhance the potatoes. After a few minutes eating in silence I risked a full look at Dorian, I had never taken my eyes off him, but I didn't outright watch him. As I began to speak his eyes met mine and the words caught in my throat. I was about to do something I had never done before, but that I had been told could be my best weapon. Sex, a woman's must powerful playing card. "Master Dorian. If you aren't busy for the rest of the day, would you mind spending the rest of the evening with me? It may give you an idea for the dagger."