Confidences and Cons

“So what’s your name this time?” Liss Kamorii asked. She moved her hands fast, practicing slipping the manacles on and off. He didn’t look too closely at the way her wrists bent; no matter the ease it looked damn painful.

“Cal Vexozi.” He said and leaned close to the mirror. The glue over his chin itched as it dried and it required deft fingers to press the false beard and moustache into something that looked real. The effect made him look substantially older and far less trustworthy.

“Vexozi.” Liss said, working her tongue over the surname. “Practicing your Vrackish then?” The manacles slipped off her wrists again.

“Af caurse.” He answered, slipping easily into the accent. The door opened into the room he’d rented and Ales, Liss’ older sister, slipped in frowning. She already wore the dingy, mostly indecent slip both sisters would be playing their parts in. “That sounds awful.”

“It’s Vrackish, it’s sauppased to saund awfaul.” He didn’t bother turning from the glass. With careful strokes he palmed rose oil through his new beard and then into his dark hair, taming it into the eastern fashion. It looked disgusting but he smelled nice, which was mostly why the merchants did it. “You two ready?”

“Yup!” Chimed Liss and beamed.

Ales however scowled. “We nearly didn’t get the sale last time.” The older girl pulled out a tin and passed it to her sister who diligently began darkening the hollows of her brown eyes. “That’s your part. He was suspicious.”

He turned and reached for Cal Vexozi’s coat. The once fine dark crimson cloth was faded, and he’d pulled a few threads from the cuffs for emphasis. “Maybe there was something wrong with the merchandise, not the seller.” He’d been pleased when the two sisters approached him with the job; an unpleasant role to play but a lucrative one. And the Kamorii sisters were good at what they did. However Ales was not the easiest going and was prone to paranoia…which was fair considering which parts they’d be playing.

“It’s not us Vexozi.” Ales checked her mused appearance past him in the mirror. Between the shift and her red lined eyes the mask was perfect. “You aren’t the one chained inside a cage.”

“Ales it turned fine last time.” Liss said softly. She’d finally ceased the constant on and off of the manacles.

“That it did. Besides, you two have never possessed problems with chains and cages. Unlike me, I get caught I’m not twisting manacles and slipping off blithely into the night. Believe me, I have a vested interest in seeing you two safe.”

Ales snorted. “Believe you? People get in trouble when they do that.”

“Which is the very reason you hired me.” He punctuated the glib response with a grin. Ales glared a little, more annoyed than angry. He was right. He shrugged the coat on. “But… a few more props wouldn’t hurt. Most merchants have guards.”

“You have any large friends who can act as well as you?” Ales crossed her arms and looked him up and down. He knew that if it were up to Ales it would just be her and her sister running the job. But slaves didn’t sell themselves.

“No.” He checked his disguise again. “But I can hire some.”

“Actors?” Ales asked skeptical.

“Friends?” Liss asked, equally as skeptical.

“Guards.” He grinned. Despite their reservations about him, he liked them.

Ales grimaced. “Is that wise? Can we trust hired muscle?”

“No, of course we can’t. But we don’t need to. We hire a tough to guard me and my merchandise during a perfectly legitimate illegitimate business venture. I still take the money and hand you over, you two slip out of bondage once Cal Vexozi is far away, and then we all get paid. No acting or lying necessary.” He paused and corrected. “On their part.”

Ales shook her head even as Liss nodded. “You hire him, he’s your prop, your issue.” Ales said.

He agreed with a short bob of his head. “Of course. You two finish making yourself look like an opportunity too good to be true, and I’ll meet you at the east tunnel.” He didn’t wait for Ales to pick another fight; they knew what to do. Cal Vexozi the slaver and down on his luck merchant stepped from the inn to go find himself a guard.


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