Second-Hand Rumors~ chapter 11

     Having outlived most of his peers, and several generations of their progeny, Liam had gained some of the perspective usually reserved for wise men and immortals. One such lesson is that it’s never too late to learn something new. The desire to grow was what kept Liam in the thieving business, not his greed, crippling laziness, or inability to function while doing hard labor. Thieves live the freest lives of anyone, until they get caught and thrown into jail. Freedom from structure allowed Liam to make his own hours. He could work as much or as little as he could get away with and, most importantly, he never had to worry about getting chewed out by a boss. At least, that’s how it used to be, until he started working for Simon Nair.

     When Simon Nair calls for your presence, you ignore it at your own peril. Sitting on the couch in his study, ignoring Simon for the time being, Liam felt a rare sense of rightness. Normally, thieving was just a living. Liam had rarely, if ever, stuck his neck out for someone else, because it usually ended up getting lopped off. It sounded like this time was no different. Luck is a cruel, lying mistress. Never believe a word she says, because she never stays true for long.

     “Between your expert sabotage and already high tensions, fifteen people died before Adrian Denavi descended from on high and took care of business. He told me he wanted to kill fifteen of my people in retaliation. I told him he could kill you fifteen times if it would make him feel any better.”|

     That last bit snapped Liam out of his reverie, “I’m not worth fifteen of his hired goons.”

“Thankfully for you, Adrian concurs with that opinion. It’s just fortunate that little scam of yours worked so beautifully, otherwise I would be nailing you to my office walls by your femurs.”

     Chuckling weakly, Liam attempted to brush off that comment, “You don’t mean that.”

     Simon looked up with his left eye to glare at Liam, “You know I do. If there was any way the Society could retaliate, you know they would. Your plan was reckless and immature coming from someone over two-hundred years old.”

     In times of doubt and threats of death, Liam found it best to just move the conversation along, “How did they find out it was me, anyways?”

     “There’s been this miraculous invention called security cameras. Your face got caught multiple times on your way in and out. But enough about your latest fuck up, I have work for you. I can’t go to the Neelan family yet.”

     Perking up at this, Liam sat a little straighter in his seat, “Why not? I assumed they caught whoever the spy was.”

    Simon threw up his hands in frustration, “They know who it is, and they won’t tell anyone, outside of a select few. They’re letting him run free for now, in the hopes that this will lead them to whoever is leaking information in the first place. That means I need you to help me find someone.”

     “I’m guessing this will be an unpleasant task.”

     Simon tossed Liam a large manilla envelope, tightly bound with twine, “Working with me, you’ve gotten to experience the high life. Now I’m going to send you so far into the gutters they’ll never find your body. Some members of the Five Families started a murder for hire business, and I need to find out who they are, where they are, and how I can stop them.”

     “Or hire them on, because you seem to do well with the suspicious types.”

     Liam felt the air change before his brain even knew he was in danger. It was one of those animalistic abilities which had kept Liam alive, thus far, “Get out of my study and get to work. Come back when you’ve found something, and Liam? Don’t cross paths with the Society for a while. It was a misguided, but surprisingly noble thing you did, but I don’t want to lay your laurel wreath on another pile of bodies you built.”

     With that, Simon returned both his eyes to his work, leaving Liam to vacate the office with the folder tucked under his arm. Once Liam reached the lobby, he found himself letting go of a breath he hadn’t even been aware he was holding. Pressing a hand to his forehead, it came away slick with cold sweat.

     Normal is hardly a static word. One man’s normal is another man’s radioactive fever dream, but for what it was worth, the Nair mansion felt more normal today. It lacked the subtle, intangible feeling of terror which had permeated the lobby last time. In one of the lines to see a clerk, a brownie and a dwarf had started a fist fight over who got into line first. Simon’s warning on his way out had stuck in his mind. Liam was self-centered by nature, it’s part of what made him a tolerable thief. You have to be reasonably self-centered in order to think you’re entitled to other’s belongings. In this case, Liam decided he liked normality, or what passed for it here. No more death, no more killings. Certainly, no more that could be laid at his feet. He’d gotten his own personal revenge, time to leave well enough alone.

     Once outside the mansion, he sat down on the steps and opened the twine surrounding the files. The Five Families were considered high nobility, but Liam had learned that was a double edged sword. That was all fine and dandy if you were the heir to the family, or the head of a family. That was two people out of dozens. Most members of the Five Families lived in relative obscurity and poverty, the notable exception being the Goodbody family. Their branch families just had to deal with being treated like second class citizens. If you weren’t in one of the main three Goodbody families, you were a grunt soldier on the front lines. Your fate was set from the moment you could hold a weapon. Running with Samantha Goodbody had been a small taste of that. She was older than her younger brother, and thus she should have been heir. She wanted to live life on the open road, and Jack becoming heir had been a more or less mutual decision between Sam and her father.

     The file Simon gave him contained three packets, each dedicated to its own name. Christopher Goodbody, J. Neelan and Robert Rever. He’d never heard of them, as was to be expected, but each of their packets felt heavy in his hand when he lifted it up. Scanning through each one gave Liam all the information he wanted. They were bad news. Worse than bad news, each one was what you would call a taboo in their own family.

     Liam was what you would call a tourist in the Mythic world. His association with the Nair family, via Simon, was what tied him to it, and kept him safe. He would hardly call himself an expert on the Five Families, but he knew enough to know that a Goodbody who had killed his own brother was bad news. Christopher had brown hair which reached his shoulders and sky blue eyes, meaning his dominant personality traits would be from the Goodbody side of his family. He had a thin, dull red scar across his chin and a larger one above his left eye. According to the packet, he had been expelled from the Goodbody family home after murdering his older brother.

     J. Neelan was a young woman, kicked out of the family for selling secrets which got other Neelan family members killed. She had brilliant long black hair, but what caught Liam’s attention were her eyes. One green and one light brown. He would have to ask her about that when he found her.

     Lastly, was a member of the Rever family named Robert. He had been kicked out of the family for enjoying his work a little too much. Since the Rever family was in the business of killing, Liam figured that had been the right call.

     Having scanned the files, Liam mulled over the job in his head. Heading out and randomly searching for them would be pointless. When you’re hunting for someone, you need to think like them. Silently, Liam expressed a little gratitude for being forced to listen to Sam rant about hunting so often. When you know what someone wants, you can figure out where they’re going. Once you know that, it’s just a matter of checking up on each place until you find them. What exactly brought this group of exiles together and why were they killing people? More than that, why did they interest Simon so much? There’s criminals, and then there’s assholes that even Liam would find unforgivable. Giving up for the moment, Liam rose shakily to his feet and started home. Better to take the rest of the day off and start fresh tomorrow. Liam had a few leads he could follow up on to find these unforgivables.

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