AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the third story in my series, and it takes place after "The Biggest of Lies" and "The Darkness Within". This story strays from my usual fare of supernatural adventure stories and portrays a much more realistic type of plot. I'd say this story takes place about a year or so after my first two stories. Like "The Darkness Within", this story contains some material that may not be suitable for younger audiences. There are some depictions of violence in this story. This story was originally published sometime in mid-2000. I've forgotten the exact date.

Rules of Succession

By: Kasuto of Kataan

Prologue

In the dark room, illuminated by a small oil lamp, a man sat in the corner, partly shrouded in darkness. He was dressed in a simple shirt and pants. Another man sat across from him, he was dressed in more elaborate clothing. He was obviously very rich. The rich man fidgeted in his chair; this place made him nervous. He had heard about the first man's reputation, he was the absolute best in his field. The man had no name. He was known only as Z.

Z stood and picked up a bottle that was sitting on the stand next to his chair. "Would you like something to drink?" said Z. The rich man nodded. When Z offered you something, you didn't refuse. "Good. I think you'll like this." From the bottle he poured an amber liquid into two small glasses. He walked over to the rich man, handed him one of the glasses, and sat back into his chair. "It's Gerudo Brandy." The rich man took a sip and immediately coughed and hacked. Z chuckled. "Sorry, it's a little strong."

"You're telling me," said the rich man, his voice hoarse. He set the glass onto the table next to his chair.

"Well, let's get down to business," said Z after drinking the liquor in one gulp. "I understand that you need my services." Z and the rich man had talked in two prior meetings. They discussed plans of how to carry out the mission, and the rich man had told Z that he would help in as many ways as possible.

"Yes," replied the rich man. "I need you to this job for me. It's the person I told you about."

"Mm-hmm," mumbled Z.

"I can get a drawing, if recognition is a problem."

"That won't be necessary," said Z. "I know what this person looks like."

"Good," said the rich man. "Can you do it?"

"Yes," replied Z after a moment of silence. "But this is going to be high profile, and I want to avoid attention. I'll have to go into hiding for a long time after this. Plus, because of who this person is, it's going to cost you...a lot."

"Money is no object. How much?"

Z thought for a moment. "Two million rupees," he replied.

"Done," said the rich man.

"Good. Now, I'm going to need to plan this perfectly. Is there any deadline? Do you need this done at any certain time?"

"I want this done as soon as possible," the rich man said.

"Okay. I can work quickly. I'll need intelligence to form my plan. Basically, I'm going to need to get into the castle somehow."

"Oh don't worry about that," said the rich man. "I can get you into the castle easily, without arousing any suspicion. I already have a plan."

"Excellent," smiled Z. "One last order of business...I'll need an advanced payment. I want half now."

"That can be done," said the rich man. That was a lot of money to put up front, but he had no choice. This had to be done.

"I want one hundred thousand rupees in cash, the rest can be in gold and valuables."

"Great," said the rich man, with a menacing smile. "I'll have the money to you by the end of the week." He stood up and shook Z's hand to seal the deal.

"It's a pleasure doing business with you," said Z.