Yeah, I know, not exactly an impressive move. Certainly didn't make him happy. But, hey, let's see you get punched in the gut by a seven foot ogre, and see how well you keep down breakfast. Besides, we chimai are known for our delicate constitutions.
A little weasel of a man stepped around his ogre. He looked me in the eye, his nose wrinkling at the smell. "Ashrak, buddy, where is the statue? The whore you were with last night saw it in your pack". He threw the tattered remains of my rucksack at my feet. "We know you've been sleeping off the bender since then. You haven't delivered it, so where did it go? C'mon, Ash, you've already made Big Tom angry. If we get paid enough for him to buy a new pair of shoes, he probably won't kill you."
I coughed out the last bit of vomit, and spat it on the ground. I was careful to avoid spitting anywhere near Big Tom. I straightened up, putting on my best smile. "Kap, buddy, I don't have the statue. It was a straight courier job, from Tsoi down here. I delivered the goods last night, after Rosina bid me her sweet farewell. And you know I can't tell you anything else. I've got a rep to maintain here."
"Look, monkey man," Kap snarled, leaning in. We chimai hate being called monkey men, and he knew it. Bastard. "Your reputation is about to be changed to how impressive your famous guts look strewn about this room. You've got one chance to live. Cough up the statue, or at least the name of who has it". He turned to the ogre. "Tom, count to five, then rip his tail off."
I didn't like the grin on Big Tom's face. I liked even less the idea of trying to get through life without a tail. After all, we chimai are known for our dextrous tails. I had no choice but to throw the dice.
"OK, Kap. As usual, your sweet reason and honeyed words have won me over. I was carrying the statue for Shibbai. You know her. Once I got it to the city, her magics could pluck it right out of my pack. No need for us to meet. She doesn't like meeting people, Kap. I'd suggest you not try to meet her."
His terrible little face got even more pinched. If I hadn't seen it happen with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it either. I think he was staring at me. Trying to figure out if I was lying, obviously. I gave him my best smile. I also tried to guess if I could make it out the window through the shutters before Big Tom grabbed me.
Kap shrugged. "OK, I buy it. No one would say her name without meaning it. Not even you are that stupid. I'll let the boss know, and it will be his call where we go next. As for you, I suggest that you not go anywhere. If it turns out you are lying, well, Big Tom's little girl does need a new dolly. Seems her last one tried to escape."
I didn't breathe. I didn't even blink. It was too easy to blow it all in these final few seconds. The pair of thugs turned and left. I waited until I heard the last stair creak under Tom's weight. Only then did I relax.
I went over to the wall under the window, and popped out the loose board. Two chimera to the kitchen boy had been money well spent. The thirty seconds warning was barely enough time to stash the goods. I slowly lifted the statue out. Trenmor was going to pay out his pretty Arran ass for this. It was obviously a lot hotter than I had been told, if the lie about the witch had been believable.
A piece of parchment fluttered to the floor. It had been stuck to the bottom of the statue. I picked it up. The handwriting was crabbed and sloppy, but all too legible.
I don't like my name being used without permission, boy.