A note from the fireside~ 5/27/18

     Hello, dear friends. I’ve been thinking of you a lot this last week. I’m excited because I feel like we’re finally close to getting things back to normal. Chapter 17 will hopefully be up this next week, and after that there’s only one more chapter that needs to be reworked. Once that part is mostly done, I’ll go back to the Paranormal Cleaners 1 chapter and rework those, because they are drastically out of date. I’m sure you can tell where that story is going, but it will be fun to see your reactions all the same. Liam’s story took a big step forward this week as well. He’s been taken in by some killers, but don’t let the fact that they’re the protagonists for the next story fool you. Even odds, Liam gets killed at least once.

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to be setting a five week on and one week off schedule for the stories. I’m hoping to get a handle on that by August, so that will be the official date. We’ll give it a shot and see how we all feel about it, both myself as a writer and you as readers. Things have been a little busy lately, so that’s one of the reasons why this weeks post was a little late. I feel so awful every time I post late, I really do. I can’t even remember the last time I posted on time. For that, I can only apologize again and continue to try hard. Starting next week, if I can keep up a good pace, there will be a teaser for the next chapter of Second-Hand Rumors either Wednesday or Thursday. I’m going to endeavor the week after that, depending on how the rewrites go, to start posting a teaser for the Cleaners chapter on Saturday. I will update the Facebook more often as well.

Having reached chapter 14 of Rumors, there are only ten or so chapters left. I’m hoping I can get my act together, and start pulling through on all the things I want to get done. This hearth deserves better, more consistently from me. I promise you this, though. I will never stop trying because you are worth it, dear friends. Thank you, as always for your visit. You make story-telling so much fun. Please come again and spend some time with me. I’ll keep your chair free by the hearth.

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Second-Hand Rumors~ chapter 14

     Liam was about to witness a murder, and that’s why he wanted to stay out of the way. It’s not that he was frightened. Death was an old passing acquaintance and Liam had been confronted with deaths other than his own before, a fact his mother could’ve attested to were she still alive. Liam hadn’t been hired to stop this murder, and he couldn’t have stopped it either way. When Mark Noble woke up this morning, though he didn’t know it, the sunrise was the last he would ever see. Liam kept his head down because the messiest part of public murder is the aftermath. The atmosphere is like the logical opposite of Black Friday, where everyone stampedes away from the violence, regardless of obstacles or personal injury.

     As the immovable objects lined up against the unstoppable forces, Liam resorted to his one tried and true tactic. Snacks. A handy corner store allowed him to avoid the brewing warzone across the street. He bought a pack of gum with money and a bag of chips with his master five-finger discount card and watched from just outside the store as the waves of opposing sides began to crash against each other.

     It never paid to make a deal with someone like Adrian Denavi. Good business sense says that both parties come to a deal with something to offer. Goods or services are exchanged and both parties leave happy. Adrian hardly seemed to understand basic polite social interactions that didn’t involve murder, much less the art of the deal. He was like a shark, always moving and always the aggressor. Even though Liam hated to admit it, this real estate steal was the right move to make after being forcibly defunded by himself and John Neelan. That aggressive nature was why the deal was taking so long, because a consummate shakedown artist like Mark Noble would be really horrible at admitting when he was being taken for a ride.

     While the two men talked over their differences, with Adrian becoming increasingly agitated and aggressive, Liam realized he had lost sight of the Rever. Robert had vanished into the crowd of shifting cronies and bodyguards. It was only when the killing started that Liam could pick him out. Violence always starts suddenly. Even Liam, who was watching for it, got caught off guard. With everyone in the small crowd of bodyguards so focused on their respective employers, not one of them noticed when an extra body guard slowly pushed his way to the front. Nobody noticed, until he’d already killed three of them. Liam popped a chip into his mouth. It was a clever move, gunning for the bodyguards first. Good on his targets for their meticulous planning and lack of discernable morals. If there were no bodyguards, then there would be nobody left to protect their target, his RoyalAssness.

     The red sea parted, guns blazing, leaving Robert Rever tangling with a handful of bodyguards from both sides. It quickly became apparent that guns were useless against their assailant. His rapid movements made it hard for Liam to follow his path. Up close, it would be nearly impossible to hit him. The smarter guards holstered their guns to be effective and the crazy ones holstered them for fun. Adrian was whisked away towards the opposite end of the street, while Mark’s bodyguards rocketed him along towards Liam. With a Rever making short work of his opponents, Liam wondered how far he would get. He got so distracted by Robert Rever that he failed to notice Christoper Goodbody until he plowed into the remaining bodyguards around Mark Noble like a freight train. Goodbody’s were built tough, and Christopher was clearly no exception to the rule. Most of the remaining bodyguards pushed back against him, while one lone bodyguard whisked Mark away to safety. Christopher toyed with them, tossing them around and giving gentle knockout love taps. Watching him made Liam realize what they were gunning for the whole time.

     In two quick moves, they had separated their target from the one person who could have saved him, gotten rid of all his bodyguards, and slowed his movements. The one remaining bodyguard moved Mark along slowly, as though he expected an attack from any direction. A single gun-shot rang out over the chaos and Mark slumped over, dead. It occurred to Liam that they might try and kill Adrian while he was right in their sights for good measure, and that sounded like a good idea to them too, because another gunshot rang out. Impossibly, Adrian reacted by pivoting and grabbing one of his guards, pulling him into his place and ducking away at the same time. The bullet intended for him killed his bodyguard instead. The remaining Society thugs closed ranks and whisked their leader into a car, which drove off with a screech of tires. Ah well, live and learn.

     Sirens sounded in the distance, and the crowd truly began to disperse. Even if you clearly didn’t kill the victim, the cops ask all sorts of questions that nobody on that street wanted to answer. The trick was leaving in an inconspicuous way, because cops are like cats with badges. They chase after things that run away from them. It’s a trained hunting instinct that’s hard to get rid of. All Liam needed to do was pick out one of the three and follow them, wherever they went and no matter how long it took. Christoper’s long hair swayed, and Liam had already lost sight of the Rever, so Liam followed him. He turned down the street Liam was on, before taking an abrupt left into an alley.

     Cutting through side paths, he left the crime scene in remarkable time, and did it calmly. After that, Christopher Goodbody spent the rest of the day panhandling. It was unreal, watching a member of the Goodbody family beg for change on a subway platform. He even got warned off by a cop once, and even that was genius. He was taking the long way home, and why would a hobo kill a man? Even if someone could place him at the scene of the crime, nobody would believe he was involved.

     Liam followed him no matter where he went. He was Christopher Goodbody’s shadow, always present and never noticed. As the sun went down, Christopher finally started heading somewhere with purpose. They reached a small bridge, and rather than crossing it, he went down below it. At first glance, it all seemed so ordinary. It was just an underpass, with giant concrete pillars. It was the sort of place graffiti artists went when the cops were chasing them. As Liam watched, Christopher Goodbody vanished. It wasn’t as though there was any warning, he just vanished into thin air. Clearly, Liam was missing something. Carefully stepping forward, he slowly caught up to where Christopher had vanished. Poking his head forward, a hand reached out from the aether and dragged him forward.

     The scene that lay before him was completely different than the one had just seen. The concrete walls beneath the bridge had been hollowed to create a small living space. Tiny red doors led into their homes on either side of the bridge. From where Christopher held Liam, he could make out a cozy living room with a roaring fire. A tea kettle hung above it, keeping the water piping hot for tea. Some of the cement under the bridge had been pulled up and replaced with earth for a small garden. It seemed to be flourishing in the summer heat.

     A slap to the face snapped Liam out of his reverie, “What were you following me around all day for, you little creep? Who are you working for?”

     “My name is Liam. I don’t work for anyone, and I wanted to pick your pocket.”

     Christopher tossed him towards their home, “What you think, JJ? He’s lying, but he volunteered that information awfully quickly. There’s something strange about him.”

     JJ emerged from the left house, pausing in the door and leaning against it. Her hair was tied up in a tight bun, and there were grease stains on her face. She wore goggles that covered her eyes and coveralls, which contained multiple burn marks, “Oh, that’s Liam Boggan. He works for Simon Nair. That’s why he followed you.”

     Christopher walked over to Liam and helped him up, “Simon has you working for him? That sounds like a dangerous job. Are you just crazy or bored with life?”

     “I think the operative word is blackmail.”

     “That sounds like the Nair family. We should just kill him and be done with it. We don’t want anything to do with the Five Families,” Robert entered their little home space, none the worse for wear than when Liam had last seen him. He hadn’t even broken into a sweat.

     “Whoa, there Rob. Just because he’s working for a Nair doesn’t mean we have to kill him. We could just maim him,” Christopher suggested helpfully.

     “I prefer an option where I don’t get killed or maimed.”

     “Also,” JJ interrupted her two friends, “He’s good friends with Jenny Rever. If she finds out we killed him, and she would, there wouldn’t be anything that could stop her from finding us and killing us.”

     Robert shuddered, “Anything but Jenny Rever!”

     “So how about we invite him to dinner then?” Christopher peered at Liam curiously.

     Liam knew he wasn’t going to get a better deal than this, “I could eat.” When three killers with an agenda ask you over for dinner, you just sit where they tell you to and compliment their cooking. It hadn’t exactly gone the way he wanted to, but it had worked out in the end. Mission accomplished felt a little too optimistic, but Liam hadn’t been killed yet. That was a good start.

Facebook Author’s Page~

     Hello, dear friends. I just wanted to give you a quick update on the week and see how you were doing. Firstly, Cleaners 16 has been replaced. It’s been really replaced this time, because apparently that’s where I put chapter 15 last time. chapter 15 is now where it’s supposed to be, and all is right…ish with the world. I’ve begun work on Second-Hand Rumors 14. There’s some good odds that even if I finish it on time, it might come out on Saturday or Sunday. My wife, who edits my work, is at the bakery on Thursday and Friday and if she gets to the work, then she gets to it. I don’t like pushing her for help on days when she’s wiped out.

Here is a link to my author’s page. I’m going to make an effort to be more active on there.

https://www.facebook.com/TaleSpinnersHearth/

I’m hoping to start adding little teases of a sentence or two a day before each post, though I might wait until Cleaners proper starts up again to get that underway. Thank you, dear friends, as always for your visit. You’ve brightened the middle of my week, and I hope I have done the same for you. Please come back soon. I’ll save your chair right by the fire.

A note from the fireside~ 5/20/18

     Hello, dear friends. I’ve missed you this last week, mostly because it’s been quite exhausting. Let me fill you in on what I’ve been working on and some plans that I’ve been milling over. There was no chapter for Cleaners this last week, because we’re still in replacement mode. Chapter 15 for Paranormal Cleaners has been replaced. I’ve been working on chapter 16 today, and if I have some time tomorrow I can replace that chapter tomorrow or Wednesday. The Second-Hand Rumors chapter was late again, and I’m sorry for that. I’ve been trying to balance two jobs and writing. Not that I’m working full time, I’m just mentally exhausted right now. Second-Hand Rumors ended on a major cliff-hanger this week. Next week, the fireworks will go off and Liam will find himself in the middle of a pretty chaotic situation.

     I’m working on a better writing schedule, something I can stick too. Every week, I fail. Every week, I tweak it a little more to try and figure out how to get it to work better. Here’s hoping that this week will be the one that works out. I’ve realized that I have two avenues to connect with you that I’m not taking full advantage of, and I would like to briefly talk about my plans here. I will put up an extra post in the middle of the week with a link to my author’s page, which I want to tweak a bit. I also will start posting again my Patreon this last week, until I am caught up with the current story in Cleaners and Second-Hand Goods/Rumors. I want be able to connect with you all in the middle of the work, or if I experience any unexpected delays. I figure my author’s page is a good way to deal with those situations.

     In the next few weeks, the first major rewrite section will be done. Once it’s done, I can then shift my attention to finishing the current arc in Paranormal Cleaners. Here’s hoping to a good couple of weeks. Thank you, as always, for your visit to my humble inn. I truly appreciate your visit and your stay. Please do come again next week, I’ll save your seat right by my hearth.

Second-Hand Rumors~ chapter 13

     Living with Dirt Gremlins forced Liam to give up on many common appliances most households take for granted. Most of them, he could conceivably live without. Early on in their cohabitation, he had learned the hard way that Dirt Gremlins viewed microwaves as high powered kilns for their artistic silt. It took a few funny tasting burritos for him to realize why everything tasted like old shoes and cigarettes, culminating in an explosive attempt to make popcorn which had led to black goo shooting from the vents and all over the walls. The one Liam missed on occasion was a television, which worked until Liam found a Dirt Gremlin lodged in the screen. It’s easier to indulge your taste for mindless drama when you don’t have to worry about getting punched by the participants for gawking. That all changed with the discovery of the secret passages laced throughout the Nair mansion.

     The Nair’s employed a veritable army of butlers, maids, guards and a load of other people whose jobs were mainly to stand around looking important. That led to a lot of drama and since Liam was looking for something horrible happening to common people in the Mythic community, this was a good place to camp out and listen. At night, he would return home to assure the Dirt Gremlins he was still alive. During the day, he indulged in what he now thought of as live daytime television. He understood what he had spent the last week doing. What he failed to understand was why Simon now accompanied him, crashing on the couch Liam had requisitioned from an unused guest room.

     Munching noisily on Liam’s popcorn, Simon pointed out through a hole in the wall, “You’re missing your favorite show, Liam.”

     Liam jerked his head up in alarm. Two maids were gossiping about neighborhood boys. “My favorite show is “Angry Chef”. He usually comes on in the evening on your kitchen network hole. Don’t you have better things to do?”

     Simon shook his head, “Nope. This is priority number one with an exclamation point on it.”

     Giving up on getting rid of his employer for now, Liam focused on the matter at hand, “Why do you need these killers specifically? They sound like a huge pain in the ass.”

     “I may be the heir to this family, but I’m not allowed to use any resources that belong to it or my father. I need to find my own people, just like my father before me.”

     “That sounds like a waste of time.”

     “It’s about building relationships with your comrades, Liam,” Simon placed a hand on his shoulder. It felt strangely heavy. Without another word, he left Liam sitting alone with his daily drama. Liam thought long and hard about what Simon told him, before giving up on understanding such a strange man. He was getting ready to go home, when he finally hit pay dirt. Unsurprisingly, the information came from one of his favorite shows, “Two Gossipy Maids”. The plot, from what Liam could tell, was just two angry maids complaining about everything under the sun. For the most part, their complaints were trivial, or domestic in nature. Today’s plot was certainly a twist on that tired gimmick.

     “He told us we needed to be out of our apartment by the month’s end. Not just us, everyone in the entire building,” the first maid cleaned as she spoke. It was a talent the two maids possessed. They talked all the time, no matter what they were doing.

     “Why is he kicking you all out? Is he renovating?”

     “My neighbors said he sold a ton of buildings to the Society. They’re paying him big time for the buildings. Who knows what they want them for, but we’re all out. I guess we have to say goodbye to Styx Street.”

     Liam wandered off before they noticed him. The street name sounded familiar, and Liam had a feeling it showed up in his papers. Leafing through his papers, Liam found the name quickly. Mark Noble, age 45, made a living extorting the people who lived in his building. He was something of a high class slum lord, taking great pleasure in illicit monetary gain from those poor folks unfortunate enough to live in his buildings. As the maid stated, Mark had accepted an offer on many of his apartment complexes. Those buildings would be razed, and the property sold to the Society who would use it for their own gain. That alone was business as usual, but it bore several features which made it unique to Liam. The buildings being demolished were overwhelmingly populated by various Mythic people, mostly half-elves and other mixed bloods which can blend in easily to normal human society. Mark Noble had offered to halt the purchase if the current residents forked over twice as much money as the current offer on the table, with no guarantee he would never enact that evil scheme again.

     Living a long life means getting to experience the same thing repeatedly. Liam believed that all luck was bad luck on a long enough scale. The only question was how long that scale would be, and sometimes it was immediate. If Liam were a hunter, he would have called himself lucky. Once he reached Styx Street, he stopped before he got onto the road proper. Looking at the flow of the crowds, it only took an instant for him to tell that violence was about to erupt. You would be forgiven for failing to notice it, because most people in the street were oblivious to it as well. Under the circumstances, he would have to keep his head down for a bit until the dust settled.

     The building in question was a cute, smaller brownstone which had seen better days. Somehow, it looked even seedier than the one Liam occupied. The apartments were probably too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, but for the residents it was home. What set the building apart, was all the people gazing down at the streets from the windows. Every window had someone looking down, open contempt written all over their faces. Like most neighborhoods in the Bronx, Liam could tell at a glance it was beyond tightly knit. This wasn’t just a community, it was a big family and that meant trouble for Mark. Liam could easily pick out the cause of the commotion from the end of the street. Mark Noble, surrounded by a crowd of bodyguards and sycophants, stood gesturing to the one man Liam kept running into, Adrian Denavi.

     It made sense for him to be there. After all, the Society needed capital after the stunt Liam pulled recently, and real estate was as good a scheme as any. With a start, Liam realized that the Society no longer had the money to pay Mark Noble. That meant they were blackmailing him, so he was getting screwed just as much as his residents. Liam didn’t feel sorry for him. What gave Liam pause wasn’t just the sight of a man who had nearly killed him, there were too many who had succeeded for that to scare Liam. It was the three people he was looking for, who were also in the street.

     Across the street, with a plastic bag tucked under his arm, Christopher Goodbody leaned against a wall and watched the proceedings while eating a donut. He wore a white button down shirt, untucked with a pair of ratty jeans and sandals. His hair was tied up high, to keep it out of the way. When he noticed Liam watching him, he waved. In the middle of the crowd, he could make out Robert. His dull black hair wasn’t what Liam expected from a Rever, but there were small things that gave him away. He swayed with the crowd, seeming hyper aware of his surroundings. Liam also found his ultra-dark sunglasses extremely suspicious. While Liam couldn’t see the Neelan girl, he realized that her handiwork was all over the street. People were giving each other secret, subtle glances before turning to watch the action taking place. If Liam had to guess, there were people from the Society all over the street. Mark Noble also had his own bodyguards, for what little it would do him. With an assassination attempt about to go down, and Liam’s only working goal being to get into contact with the killers, there was only one thing to he could do under the circumstances. Find some popcorn and watch the chaos play out, because he was not going out into that mess. As Mark Noble handed a piece of paper for Adrian Denavi to sign, Christopher popped the last bit of donut into his mouth and crumpled up his plastic bag. Time to duck and cover.

A note from the fireside~ 5/13/18

     Hello, dear friends. It’s a bit nice, isn’t it? My trip with my wife was totally worth it. I’m vaguely thinking of telling you about it in a series of posts, but I don’t want to bog the feed down. I may just settle for posting some pictures of the mice we bought while we were out there. I hated leaving you, but this last week has been exhausting. I wanted to let you know what we’ve got cooking. I’m hoping we can get a handle on things before too long.

I’m sorry for the continued delay of new Paranormal Cleaners chapters. I have to finish this set, at least, before I can even start to work on the next bit. That series will end part 2 when it does come out. I’ve replaced chapter 14. If everything goes according to plan, chapter 15 will get replaced this week and there will be a chapter 13 for Second-Hand Rumors. This last chapter felt…off to me somehow. My wife liked it, and some of you did too, but it felt off to me. I wonder why that is? I really like the end of the next chapter for Cleaners, though. I like those moments when I get to be silly and subtle all at the same time.

I’m excited about one more thing. I’ve finally settled my income driven payment plan for my loan, because I am poor as dirt. With that out of the way, I should have more time for writing. That is, I do have more time for writing, but my brain don’t work so good. I’m having a very hard time focusing on anything for long, and though there are reasons for that, I’m hoping I can sort it soon. I’ve got a few things lined up, once I can focus and I have more time. I’m proctoring AP tests over the next week and subbing is back in action, as well as paper delivery. I am a man of many tiny hats. All I can say is welcome back home, dear friends. Please come again and share some of your time with me. Your visits mean everything to us. I’ll be sure to save you a chair, right  by the fire.

Second-Hand Rumors~ Chapter 12

     In the world according to Liam, work existed for two reasons, money reasons and social reasons. People went to work in order to socialize with their peers and make money in order to eat food and do whatever normal people do. That lack of peers was the core problem behind Liam’s distressing lack of a social life. His interaction with his “co-workers” was limited to pinching wallets, sometimes with a thrilling foot race thrown in for friendly competitive sport. Thieves weren’t alone in that solemn and lonely path they chose. Assassins, too, had limited time with their work friends before their relationships came to a close. Thankfully, there was a solution in most cities. For the criminally ambitions and socially minded, every city had a job board for the more nefarious industries. Liam never bothered visiting the New York City Board. This was partially because these days, he was on forcible retainer for Simon Nair and secondly, because Liam never had the ambition to go for the big jobs.

     The files Simon gave him on his three current marks had almost nothing useful. Truthfully, they contained a wealth of information about three people who shared names with the folks he sought. It bordered on obsessive in many respects, everything from useful facts like work habits to the profoundly useless, like dental records. Liam was doubtful any of it would be helpful, because they didn’t have any peers either. Getting booted from one of the Five Families translated into disgrace for life. The thing about being disgraced is that it changes a person. Information on the people they used to be was useless. Liam needed to know what type of people he was dealing with now, and that meant going to the Board.

     New York City’s Board was especially old, having been established when the English were still in control of the colonies. It changed hands a few times over the years, but thankfully Liam was on good working terms with the current operator. If anything, the Board had fallen out of vogue lately because hiring out you’re average ne’er do wells had been taken over by the henchman equivalent of Wal-Mart. That was an organization Liam was on decided less good terms with.

     Outwardly, the Board existed as a used book store and tobacco shop. It was nestled between a nail salon and a pawn shop just off a large street in Queens. When Liam arrived, it felt as though he had never left. Unlike most stores, the front desk sat at the very back of the store. As soon as you entered, bookshelves obscured your view of the rest of the store. Every shelf was crammed full of old, faded books from the ceiling to the floor. The owner smoked like a chimney in deep winter, and the whole establishment was permeated with the smell of his pipe tobacco. The books reeked of it, the carpets had been fully saturated and the edges of many of the shelves contained small white piles of ash where the owner had absently knocked his pipe out.

     At the back of the store, a small desk with an old cash register sat empty in front of yet another enormous bookshelf. The Board didn’t exactly have a password, per se. It took a bit of searching to find what he was looking for. You just needed to know which book got the board open. “Crime and Punishment” was the ticket this time around, because the current owner considered himself something of a funny man. Walking the book up front, Liam placed it on the sizable counter and tapped it twice to get the attention of the slight man behind it.

     The desk top was a disaster area, with piles of books, broken detritus and coffee mugs covering the entirety of the surface. Somewhere behind them, located on a stool which Liam couldn’t see, was the old man who ran the place. Liam had always called him Gramps, even though Liam was probably older. It’s not that he had never tried to tell Liam his name, it was that Liam had never cared enough to learn it. Stick around long enough, and names become an eternal nuisance. Directly behind the desk, nailed to the wall, was what people really cared about. At first glance, it was just a notice board, but what a notice board it turned out to be. Every assassination, every theft, every blackmail was put up on this board. That is, those jobs which the Five Families couldn’t or wouldn’t take. The man who ran the Board was thin and wiry. He wore the same thing every day Liam had seen him. A white short sleeved button down shirt which might have fit him once upon a time, but now looked oversized on his thin frame. His pants were black and came down to his ankles, exposing his bony ankles and his dull, scuffed black shoes.

     “I haven’t heard that tap in ages.  Liam, I thought you didn’t need my help.”

     “I don’t need your help. I may be on retainer, but I’m still capable of finding my own marks, Gramps.”

     “Well la dee daa, look at the old hand talk down to me. So what brings you to the shop, Liam?”

     “I’m looking for some assassins, hired killers really. I thought this would be the best place to check first.”

     Every time Liam asked Gramps a question, he feared for the man’s life. If Gramps’ voice went quiet behind that wall of books for too long, maybe he was dead. That would be a legitimate shame this time. Liam actually needed his help, so he had to hold off on kicking the bucket a little bit longer. Finally, he heard the sound of a heavy chair scraping across the floor. Slowly, Gramps peeked his head around the corner, like a turtle slowly emerging from his shell.

     “Since when did you need to find hired killers Liam?”

    “Simon Nair sent me on a job. I just have to find them for him and I figured they might have come back here at some point.”

     Gramps sagged a bit, “What have you gotten yourself into Liam? I’m not worried or anything, I just need to know the names of the killers you were asked to find.”

     “Christopher Goodbody, J. Neelan and Robert Rever. Three nobodies who just happen to be related to somebodies.”

     “Oh Christ, not those fellas again. I can’t tell you where they are, but I can point you in the right direction. They’re a unique bunch, so I can narrow down their upcoming targets.”

     Being called a unique bunch by Gramps certainly set them apart, and intrigued Liam in a way that the packet had failed to, “What type of people do they kill?”

     “Scum bags, and I mean real evil people. They only ever take five dollars payment, and then they go get it done. Not sure why nobody stopped them sooner, but they need to be taken out of play.”

     Liam snorted as Gramps returned to behind his desk and rummaged around. He was a thief, not a killer. His one attempt to rob a killer in recent memory had gone very poorly. It was a long wait while Gramps rummaged around his notes, finding exactly the right targets for Liam to keep an eye on. This was the biggest reason why he never showed up to the job board. People who came here were usually looking for that big, last score and Liam preferred bottom feeding with the little fish.

     Gramps shuffled back around the desk and placed a stack of papers in front of Liam, “When I say they go after scum, I mean it Liam. I won’t have your blood on my hands. It would be an awful day if I no longer had to dread you darkening my door with your ugly mug.”

     Liam grabbed the papers and scanned the names. Gramps was hardly joking, every single person on the list had a rap sheet long enough he could have used it for toilet paper in a pinch. What caught his attention, as he scanned the sheets, were the official occupations they held. Banker, actor, architect, every single one of them held a place in high society. Nobody would have suspected them, unless they knew what they were getting into already.

     “So my targets have a thing for dethroning the high and mighty?”

     Gramps leaned against his desk, “The high and mighty corrupt, sure. Those monsters all have connections to the Mythic world as well, usually the underworld type of connection.”

     Liam shuffled through the papers, trying to sort out a pattern in his mind, “So they don’t come here to get work? I thought that was the whole point of the board.”

     “They used to, until the underworld caught wise to their act. They can’t even send a proxy anymore, people just kept finding them.”

     “That means they’re getting jobs directly from the source. How do their employers find them, if they’re putting so much effort into remaining hidden?”

     Gramps coughed loudly, “If I knew that, you wouldn’t be here trying to find them. They’re a threat to the entire underworld, so long as they live. I want them gone. They’re ruining the Board, Liam.”

     “Got it. Find the bad guy killers and restore your honor. I can do that.”

     That sudden change in attitude caught Gramps off guard, “You would do that for me?”

“Well, not for free, obviously.”

     Liam ducked as a heavy book came flying over the desk, “Get outta here, you bum! Don’t come back until you need a real job!”

     Clutching the papers, Liam scampered out the door. He already had two incredibly important clues. Firstly, all the targets were within the Five Boroughs. Secondly, they all ran in the same circles. Shuffling the papers and tucking them under his arm, it occurred to Liam that the next step required information commonly found around the Nair mansion that he might not have access to. Time to make use of those secret passages around the Nair household to get the skinny on the Mythic world. If Liam had to put money on any one of these targets, it would be the one doing the dastardly, moustache twirling deed sooner than the other cartoonish villains masquerading as real people. That just left the task of tailing the person in question until game time, and then following them to wherever they were hiding.