Check out the start of the series.
Owin led Gwen back across Solva to the room Denton’s people had secured for them. The overcast sky blocked the Mother Moon’s light, leaving them to traverse several sections of the city in near-total darkness. However, as normal, the street lamps near their room were lit.
Grabbing a clump of dry grasses from where the weeds had grown next to a building, Owin twisted them several times to create a tight bundle. Holding the grasses firmly, he lit them from the closest lamp and then being careful to shield the flame with his hand, he followed Gwen into the boarding house and down the hall toward their door.
“Wait,” he whispered to Gwen as they passed the stairs leading to the second floor. With a quick breath, he blew out the flame that was slowly consuming the bundle of grasses. With the fire extinguished, the glow of light from under their door became more obvious. He tossed the smoldering grasses to the floor and then stepped on them to put out the embers.
Without the flame in his hands, the hall was too dark to see Gwen’s face, but he could hear the changing of her breathing. “Be ready,” he whispered as he pulled a dagger from his sheath and flipped the blade up against his forearm so he could conceal the weapon in his hand.
At the door, he used his left hand to fumble with the key. It took a moment to find the keyhole and unlock the door. There was no way to hide their coming, so Owin decided to play ignorant to those in the room. “Oil costs us money. You need to be more careful not to leave the lamp lit,” he said as he pushed open the door.
“Sorry, Owin,” Gwen said.
Owin thought her words sounded a touched forced, but he did not know if anyone else would notice. He paused a moment longer, allowing his eyes to adjust before stepping into the room, though he had already seen the forms of two men next to their bed.
“Where’ve you been?” came Brent’s voice.
Owin jump back a step, keeping Gwen in the hall and shielding her with his body. He feigned looking around the room and blinking his eyes. “Brent, what are you doing in my room?”
Their contact took a step forward. “It is our room, we are just letting you use it. So, where’ve you been?”
The second man, who had dark hair and wore leather armor, followed a step behind Brent. Owin did not miss the fact that the man had a sword buckled at his waist or the licking of his lips.
Owin shrugged. “We have to eat. We have to plan. We have to make arrangements.”
“Why don’t you both come in here and out of the hall,” Brent offer as a statement and not a question. “We don’t want people to hear our conversation.”
Owin stepped forward just enough to let Gwen come into the room and shut the door. “You can’t expect us to succeed at this without prep, can you?”
Brent shook his head. “The Ambassador arrived today, but they’ve changed the location of the meeting.” Brent narrowed his eyes. “It doesn’t look like she’s all that surprised about that. What have you been doing?”
Owin did not like Brent’s tone and the dark-haired man in the leather armor continued to lick his lips in what Owin could only call anticipation. “We had equipment to purchase.”
Brent shook his head. “I can’t have you acting rogue. Until you do the job you’ve been hired to do, I think we’ll keep Gwen somewhere else as insurance that you don’t decide to do something stupid.”
The armored man stepped toward Gwen, which caused Owin to step forward with his left hand held out before him. “Now wait a minute, Brent. Let’s talk about this for a moment.”
Brent moved forward quickly to step ahead of the armored man and put himself in Owin’s face. “You’ve been up to somethin–”
Owin’s right hand lashed out like a snake striking a target. The pommel of his dagger struck the side of Brent’s head. Owin’s left hand struck a moment later; the heel of Owin’s palm crashing squarely into Brent’s chest.
The strength and suddenness of the attack staggered Brent and he had started to fall before the dark-haired man could move. As Owin turned his focus, the man in armor started to draw his sword. Owin closed the distant before the blade had made it halfway out of the scabbard. Still using the pommel of the dagger, Owin swung his right hand at the man’s face, while he used his left hand and his body to keep the man’s sword in its scabbard.
The blow hit the dark-haired man’s temple and the man turned to try to get room to draw his weapon. Seeing an opening, Owin kicked the back of the armored man’s knee as the man turned away. A loud pop filled the air before the man cried out as he fell to his knees. Owin did not wait for the man to recover. From behind, Owin struck again with the dagger’s pommel, connecting with the back of the man’s head.
Spinning around, Owin saw Brent struggling to get to his feet. Using his momentum, Owin stuck Brent in the face with his right foot. The blow instantly sent Brent back to the to the floor.
Owin continued turning. The armored man was splayed across the floor and now as silent as Brent, but not trusting the man to be unconscious, Owin stepped closer, grabbed a handful of hair on the back of his head and smashed his face into the floor twice before releasing his grip.
“Gwen, get the money from under the bed and gather our things.” Owin knelt down and cut away the man’s sword belt as Gwen leaped into action. “Toss me the blanket,” he called out to her as she started to drag the bed.
She quickly threw the worn wool blanket at Owin and then continued to move the bed. “Are they still alive?” she asked quietly.
Owin nodded his head as he started to cut strips from the blanket. “If we killed them, Denton would take serious issue with us, even if it was in our own defense. Bruised and tied up they will heal and we won’t have made any long-term foul. I just hope we’ve found Urel and can complete the job we were asked to do, not the one they wanted to set us up to take the fall for.”