Fitlock Haguana slipped the long, iron key into the complex lock which fastened the thick, wooden door into the stonework surrounding it. In times past, the reassuring thunk brought a smile to Haguana’s face, recent events had made smiling a thing he no longer did.
Haguana lowered his aching body into the chair from which he helped direct the flow of Forever into the kingdom and dropped his head into his hands, breathing deeply in an attempt to make the ache in his chest abate, even for a short while.
Gremlaw had watched as the man approached his place of business and leaped up into the dark rafters of the building, hauling his body up into the shadows to wait. As Haguana sat at his desk, Gremlaw dropped lightly down to land directly before the man, on the table.
Fitlock Haguana threw himself back from the deranged man who squatted on his desk, eyes wide and heart pounding. They had found him! They had sent this man to kill him! As the shock deadened his limbs and his heart almost failed, Haguana felt a calm wash through him, he was almost relieved to think the pain, suffering and anxiety would soon be taken from him by the bite of dagger on throat.
“Morning!” Gremlaw said in a light tone, “It looks as if you’ve been betraying the kingdom.” Haguana was puzzled, why was this assassin talking and not taking action.
“Just get this over with and kill me,” Haguana replied in the voice of a man twice his forty years. Gremlaw moved his legs gracefully so he sat on the edge of the table and swung them gently back and forth in the manner of a child. He scratched at his chin with the point of a dagger which he then pointed at Haguana and said,
“I’m not here for that, Fitlock, I’m here so you can get me to the source of the drug you’re bringing in to this glorious nation.” Gremlaw had decided to add a little sarcasm to his manner of speech, trying to convey a sense of confidence he did not feel.
Haguana felt a little disappointed at being denied his death. He understood this youth knew certain things about the importation of Forever, yet he could not know it all.
“I am an honest businessman,” Haguana said in an unconvincing tone. Gremlaw smiled piteously,
“Come now, my dear Fitlock, don’t be so modest.” Gremlaw said snidely, “It’s become common knowledge, in some circles, you are solely responsible for certain imports of an addictive nature.” Gremlaw winked as he mouthed the word ‘Forever’ silently.
Haguana felt an even deeper pit of despair than he felt previously open inside him, this boy was quite well informed after all,
“Exactly what is it you want of me…?” He allowed the question to trail off as there had been no introduction.
“Gremlaw is my name. As to what I want,” Gremlaw tapped his chin with the dagger theatrically, “I feel it’s time I found some gainful employment in your impressive trading…Empire.”
Haguana almost flinched as Gremlaw enunciated his final word and acid rose into his throat as the realisation finally sunk in. This youth was here to make him betray the agents of the Kavashian Empire! Flaying alive would have been a better fate than the dire torments they would expose him to if he were found out.
“What hold do they have over you, Fitlock?” Gremlaw asked in a gentler tone. Haguana made a face and simply replied,
“My wife and two daughters.” His face crumpled as he admitted, “I woke one night to the sound of muffled screaming,” Haguana sniffed, “I never knew where they took them. A man in a hood said if I told anyone, they would kill my daughters.” Tears dripped down Haguana’s careworn face as he repeated, “My beautiful daughters.” In a voice filled with anguish.
Gremlaw swallowed the lump which had risen in his throat, he felt overwhelming pity for this man, yet he was in the same situation as DeLarouge held his mother against Gremlaw’s continued obedience.