Write about the weirdest job you ever had.
Fiona was used to strange requests in her line of work. Odd jobs were her specialty. Deliver a package here, send a message there, plant evidence on that person, it didn’t matter. Most of the mercs in the guild preferred the traditional gigs—the protection jobs, the assassination jobs—anything that let them use their muscles and weapons.
The Flying Rowan was a grey guild. Anyone and everyone could join and they accepted job postings of all manner of legality. They would not guarantee any guild member would accept the jobs of questionable legal status, and publicly denounced such postings, but the clients knew where to distribute their coin to get their flyers into the right hands.
Fiona just wanted to afford her supper. She didn’t care that some of her family may have murdered people on a client’s behalf. She just didn’t take jobs that required her to inflict physical harm or the jobs that involved women or children. Most of her guildmates had codes similar to her own, and the guild didn’t force anyone to take a job they didn’t want to.
Well, that was how it was supposed to work.
“Please Fi,” Zeke begged. She had never seen the man grovel before. It was unnerving, not least because the scar across his left eye bulged with his pleading. “No one else will even look at it!”
“Z, I don’t do ink jobs.” Why was he pushing this particular job so hard?
He held the flyer in front of his face. “It’s not, though! It’s totally on the level, just look at it!”
Fiona sighed as she snatched the job description out of his metal hand. That one he had lost on his final job before becoming the guild’s Administrator. The kind of job she didn’t give a passing glance. She frowned at the piece of parchment in her hands.
A family heirloom has been stolen from me and I wish its safe return. Further instructions to follow upon acceptance of request.
Her eyes bulged at the reward. That would pay her room and board for a year at the dorm she shared with the other women of the guild. Recovery jobs were usually a pittance. Surely this was a joke. She leveled her gaze at Zeke. “What is the catch here? Who has that much money to offer for a recovery job?”
“Look at the bottom,” he said.
Frowning, Fiona did as he suggested. In faint script, a name was painted. Oberon. She suppressed a groan. “No. No way. I am not dealing with that weirdo.”
“You’re the only one who can,” Zeke insisted. “Look, he came to us. We have someone who can help him. We have to do it.”
“This is discrimination or something,” she muttered.
Zeke shrugged. “Good thing we aren’t a white guild. I’d hate to find out if this counts as discrimination and be shut down.”
“You can’t force me to accept,” she said with less conviction than she felt.
“Are you going to deny him?” Zeke fixed her with his good eye.
Why had Oberon chosen The Flying Rowan to post his stupid recovery job? It would not be wise to refuse. Not when she could do it. And the money was enticing.
“Look, if you do this, the whole guild will be indebted to you. I will be indebted to you.” Zeke tried to sweeten the deal.
Fiona’s ears perked up at that thought. A favor from the Iron Knight could go a long way. She shook her head. It didn’t matter. Favor or no favor, she had no choice. “Fine,” she sighed. “I’ll meet with him.”
Zeke thanked her a dozen times as he submitted the paperwork involved in accepting a job request. She barely heard him over her own thoughts. How long had it been since she had been to the forest? Surely that was where he would request to meet, either before or after the recovery. It wasn’t like Oberon to come to the city. The chaos would be uncontainable.
His letter came two days later. Holding off on other jobs had been excruciating, but Fiona could not work another job knowing her instructions were on the way for her current job. It wasn’t just that it was in poor taste, she knew Oberon would not like to be kept waiting if she took on another job in the interim and something prolonged it.
He was content to spill the details of the recovery in his letter, and only to meet when it was over. He didn’t want to overburden her. Of course he knew where the stupid thing was and who had taken it. She suspected he had lost it gambling and was now trying to cover his own ass before his wife found out. She wondered how the magistrate had outsmarted the Fairy King, but part of her code was that she never asked questions, and she was certainly not about to start with Oberon.
Reese Vanholt was a shrewd judge, but he had a weakness for high stakes gambles. What could have been higher stakes than a bet with Oberon? Fiona could not guess what the terms of the wager had been, but one thing she was certain of, sending someone else to recover the lost item would not break any oaths or contracts the two men had agreed to.
That was what she told herself as she magicked the lock on the Vanholt’s conservatory window. Having Fae blood came in handy in her line of work. She made her way through the gardens and into the library on the other side of the greenhouse. She cast her spell upon the room, warding off any of the inhabitants from wandering in while she conducted her search.
The small lacquered box with the carved ivy inlay sat upon a shelf about halfway up the wall. She could feel the magic radiating off of it from the ground. It did not belong in the world of humans. What had Reese wanted with it?
She leapt towards it, alighting on a shelf several rows below so that she could visually inspect it. There didn’t appear to be any traps upon it, not that human traps would have had any effect on her. She wrapped it in the special cloth Oberon had provided with his instructions.
As soon as she stepped into the fresh air, the Fairy King was at her side. “Well done, little sister!”
Fiona swallowed a squeak as she gave him an elaborate curtsy. She would never grow accustomed to his habit of spontaneously appearing in her presence. She held out the wrapped box to him. “One accessory box for the Queen,” she said drily.
He cackled as he accepted her proffered item. “So you figured that much out, did you?” He bounced the box in his hand. “Why do you live on this side? You should come back with me.”
“Is that an order, sir?”
“No,” he grumbled. “It’d just be nice to have you home.”
“I’m perfectly at home here.” She turned to leave. “If there’s nothing else, I will be going now. Don’t forget to pay the guild what you promised.”
Notes: I know, I know, this isn’t exactly resolved, and there’s barely any tension, but I’m tired. This took on a life of its own as I started typing, and while I am happy for that, it means I ran out of time to finish it properly. It’s certainly on my shortlist for future rewrites/edits.
I would go into some more details but I can barely keep my eyes open as it is. Blah blah fairies are neat blah blah magic blah blah see you tomorrow!
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