A subtle murmur filled the dimly lit tavern. The Whispering Mountain was doing some great business tonight mused the brown griffin sitting towards the back of the bar. It was for the best, he thought, if the other patrons were engrossed in their own activities then it was unlikely anyone would overhear his conversation.
Another black griffon with a scarred face and eye patch approached his table. “Everything looks clear boss. The lads are set above and there isn’t a sight or sound of any guard ponies.” said the new comer.
“Excellent, Collis, I didn’t think that anyone would be on the lookout for us here but stay alert. It wouldn’t be that hard to believe that we’re being set up here.” He said.
Collis nodded and walked past his table and out of his eyesight. The brown griffin turned his gaze back to the bar looking over the patrons to try to identify any telltale signs of guard ponies. However none of the patrons appeared to be the least bit alert to anything outside of their immediate food and company.
“Can I get you anything hun?” called out a sugary voice next to him.
The griffin turned and saw a tan pegasus mare waiting with a pad. “Just some hard cider, please, preferably a Stalliongrad vintage.” He said adding a charming grin to his order.
The Pegasus gave a sly smile in return. “Sure thing hun” she said flicking his beak with her brown tail before heading over to the bar.
“My, my, a drinker and a womanizer, that’s not exactly professional is it, mister.” said a pony sliding into a chair across from him.
The griffin looked over the black unicorn before him, noting his hidden cutie mark and gave a huff. “In my trade, it’s very professional cause you never know when it’s all going to end.” He replied.
The unicorn raised an eyebrow before continuing, “So I take it that you are Beck, former praetorian in the Griffin Cohorts turned mercenary and my contact?”
Beck nodded “I might be. I take it I’m not going to learn your name or my employers name?” he asked.
“Oh good you’re familiar with the routine” the unicorn said cheerily. “Now let’s get to business…”
“Hold on a second” Beck interrupted “before we go any further, I need to make sure you are what you claim to be.” He reached under the table and pulled out a scroll filled etched with several lines of runes. “This scroll will cancel any spells that are currently active, so if you’re hiding anything now would be a great time to let it out.”
The unicorn gave another strangely happy smile “Not at all, I have nothing to hide” he said.
Beck pressed the seal onto the unicorn’s horn and waited. After several seconds of nothing he removed it and placed it back under the table. “Very well, continue” he said.
The unicorn cleared his throat “As I was saying, I’m representing a client who has need of your skill sets. It will be extremely dangerous and the target will be an extremely important figure. Now, before I give any more details I’ll need you to accept the contract.”
“Are you…” Beck broke off his statement as the waitress returned.
“One hard cider from the finest groves of Stalliongrad” she said.
Beck smiled, “Thank you, if it’s half as good as the service I’m sure it will be amazing”, he said taking the drink.
The mare giggled “Your friend want anything?” she asked.
“I’m good “ the unicorn said in a dull tone.
The mares smile broke and she glared at the unicorn. Sensing the tension Beck quickly pulled out some bits from his bag. “Here this should cover mine and my friends lack of tact” he said putting almost triple the drinks worth on the table.
The mare gave another giggle “I’m off at midnight” she told him before leaving the two. Beck watched her leave noting how she went out of her way to sway her hips for him.
The unicorn cleared his throat “I believe we were in the midst of something?” he asked irritably.
Beck sighed “Yes, I was going to say are you crazy. I’m not going to take a contract with such little information. Missions like that usually end with the words kill Princess Celestia and let me tell you something, those are suicide missions.” He said.
“I assure you my employer has no desire to see the sun stop rising.” ,the unicorn reassured, “Furthermore I am prepared to offer five million bits upon accepting the mission as well as up one hundred million depending upon the degree of success.”
Beck paused from his drink “That’s quite the sum. I’m not sure if I’m going to like what you demand for such a sum. If it is any of the nation’s leaders, especially the Griffin Emperor, I will not take it.” He said matter-of-factly.
“Oh, my employer does not demand anything so grandiose. I can only hope to persuade you. I know that you can accomplish what I ask, since you’ve clearly had success as a mercenary to the point that you can easily overpay for bad cider. I know that you have the horsepower to accomplish this, since you have the rest of your soldiers quartered in room 211. Furthermore you were looking for such a sum as I offer most likely meaning you’re looking to retire out of the mercenary business. I can guarantee that you will want to take this mission.” replied the unicorn.
Beck’s face failed to hide his surprise. The cheery little unicorn had just switched over to a brutally accurate analysis in a second and obviously knew far more about him than the unicorn initially let on. At this point if the unicorn was guard, he’d have definitely have already put him into custody.
Beck looked into the cider and thought about the offer. Clearly this employer meant serious business. As he drifted through his thoughts, the memory of his first instructor of the cohorts popped up.
The bull chested griffin looked directly at Back shouted “Only the bold will truly live on. Only a griffin who is willing to risk everything will win everything.”
As the memory faded Beck knew what his answer would be. Clearly the unicorn did as well because that creepy grin had returned. “All right, I’ll take your contract” he said.
The unicorn’s face lit up, “Excellent, the initial payment can be found waiting in the mailbox for your room in the tavern. Now for some of the details, your target is a young teenage pony described in this document. She currently resides in Canterlot and is enrolled as a student there. Her death, maiming, kidnapping, or even a threat against her should prove our employer’s point.” The unicorn stated.
Beck frowned, the target seemed especially simple, even more so given the offered sum. “What kind of defenses should I be expecting?” he asked.
“Well that depends on when you make your move” ,answered the unicorn, “there are however several opportunities where she will only be guarded by a small number of guard ponies.”
Beck nodded “I know that there’s more to this than you’re letting on. No one pays that much for an easy job, but I’ll take your offer. We’ll get working immediately.” He said.
“Excellent, I shall leave you to your planning then. We will be eagerly awaiting the news of your success.” The unicorn said as he stood up to leave the table.
Quickly his spot was replaced by Collis' hulking form “So, boss, we got a job?”
Beck nodded “We’ve got a job” he said. He looked up at the clock and noted the time “But first I think we’ll need to celebrate, go ahead and give the gang the night off” he said.
Collis flashed a grin across his scarred face “Yes sir” he said before heading back the room where the rest of the griffins waited.
Beck poured the rest of the cider down his throat and waved for the pegasus mare to come back over. The night had already proven to be very profitable and was most likely going to go even better he thought as the Pegasus began to slink over towards him.