I began EEL’S REVERENCE with the vision of a scene between a mermayd in a desert city and his human friend. This is not that scene. That scene is long gone. This is part of the scene now.
There was no mistaking a churchwarden from the Eel. Nowhere else did churchwardens wear armor, or carry truncheons, or daggers. Nowhere else did they wear veils to hide their faces. Nowhere else did they need to.
“Go get her,” said Loach. “Tell her we’ll meet her back here in two hours.”
“What if she won’t wait? What if she’s got another caravan already?”
“Tell her we’re rich and thinking of moving to Port Novo and ask her if she can recommend a good priest. Bribe her if you have to. We can always get the money back when we Do her.”
“Keep her busy in the south end of the crescent,” Loach continued. “Buy her a drink, or offer to let her punch you in the nose or something. Muriel and I have to buy our cloaks.”
Loach and Muriel watched Guerrero catch up to the churchwarden and all but kiss her boots. They saw the warden shake her head once, nod, shrug, and follow Guerrero out of sight around the crescent curve to the south.
“I don’t like it,” Muriel said.
“Don’t like my plan? It’s a sweet little plan.”
“It’s a nasty little plan.”
“Guerrero likes it.”
“Guerrero should be a Coalition reaver, he has the instincts for it.”
“He’s your friend.”
“My friend? I thought he was your—”
Loach joggled Muriel’s chair with his flukes before she could finish. “Don’t say it. You don’t have to go through with it, you know. I’m not going to.”
“But Guerrero thinks—”
“What he had to think, before he’d help us. Now, we’ll get our chance at that warden. Or maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll side with her against him and get in good with the Coalition.”
“You would, you villain.”
“I can’t be a villain, Muriel. Villains are evil, and you can’t be evil if you don’t have a soul, because you don’t have anything to be evil with.”
“If you’re not a villain, you’ll do till one comes along.”
“There’ll be two along before we know it. If you’re going into business with one of ’em, you’d better be ready.”
“I don’t want to go into business with either of them.”
“I’m telling you, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. We’ll tell Guerrero we want her to ourselves and send him on ahead. Then we’ll just knock the stuffing out of her and leave her in the desert, come back here and pick up a caravan to another coast. We could even leave her a little food and water and a thermacloth. She wouldn’t be any worse off than we were, would she?”
“Let’s do that, then. If she makes it back to Port Novo, and if she has the nerve to tell her priest she let two exiles and a derelict trick her and rob her, we’ll all be long gone, anyway.”
“That’s it, then. We’ll do it that way. I’ll get my horse and meet you back here, then we’ll go buy what we need.”
Muriel left smiling.
Loach smiled, too, thinking of the look on Guerrero’s face when he called for murder and found he’d bitten off less than he could chew.
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WRITING PROMPT: Have a character plan to undermine an arrangement he or she has with somebody.