Krahkov paced impatiently across the well-worn floor, seemingly unaware of the groaning worm-eaten floorboard’s fragility. Dimitri did not flinch as his master spat incoherent frustration at damp ridden walls. Dimitri had known Krahkov for a long time. He was used to his angry outbursts.
Dimitri himself was not, however, one for anger. Though a head taller than his companion, he did not exude menace. For him life was simple, which was good because the same accusation had been made of him; the most recent accusation made when he had refused to abandon his current employer. They called Krakhov a sinking ship. Dimitri didn’t understand, as far as he saw it if a ship was sinking better to stay on board than dive in the sea. Besides, he knew better than to look for opportunity elsewhere. In Malifaux, you do not try your luck.
“That useless Dolbo yeb. If he has been caught by that sooka excuse for …’
Krakhov often slipped into the mother-tongue when he was stressed and angry. He was rarely one without the other and, recently, he had much cause for both. When they had first come to Malifaux their particular talents had meant they quickly had become powerful men. Protection rackets, smuggling and arms dealing; it felt like people just wanted to throw money at them… or they did after a little persuasion. However, their fortunes had turned and now they were almost destitute.
“Honest to the Maker if I get my hands on that…”
“’Onest!?!” The voice questioned from the darkness on the far side of the abandoned warehouse. A regular hard tap accompanied by the moaning of floorboards told them that the origin of the exclamation was approaching. Krakhov had paused. Dimitri had never started.
“’Onest day’s work, ‘dey say. Dat’s where people grind down ‘dere bones work for ‘da Guild. S’not for me. ‘Onest gets ya’ dead.” The few gas lights that the brother’s had managed to get working started to illuminate the figure. The first thing seen were the shoes, shining brighter than the sun ever did in the wretched city. A well pressed grey suit followed, complete with golden cufflinks and tie. The ensemble was complimented by a single golden tooth bedecking a mirthless grin. Everyone in the district knew this figure from whispers ushered from the bottom of dirty glasses. This was Shanks, head of the Gremlin Mafia.
“You should go back where you came from” Krakhov spat, irony lost under seething rage.
“Now dat’s not ‘da way you should start neg-osh-ee-ate-shuns.” Krakhov's blustering exploded into incoherent spit and visceral language. Dimtri couldn’t remember seeing Krakhov so mad.
“You killed my man?”
“Let’s not dwell on the past,” Shanks pulled a small knife from his pocket and started prying bits of food from between his teeth, “I am ‘ere to neg-osh-ee-ate ‘da terms for buying your bis-ee-ness in-ter-ests.” Shanks voice was nasal and he clearly struggled with words of multiple syllables, but he appeared to enjoy using them, as if they empowered him. Krahkov laughed, this was bad. Dimitri grip on his large wood-cutting axe, his trademark weapon, tightened until his knuckes were white.
“And what, exactly, do you think that will cost”
“’Dis.” In one smooth motion Shanks plucked something out of another pocket and flicked it over to the gangster. Catching it in one hand, Krakhov stared at the small object in his hand. He visibly began to shake. Dimitri relaxed.
“You think you can buy my assets with this!?! This!?! One single soulstone!” Krakhov had now closed the gap between the two ‘businessmen’. His broken nose pressed close against the Gremlin’s face and spittle leapt from bruised lips behind a big black beard. “One INACTIVE soulstone!’ He pressed the unassuming rock into the gremlins face.
Suddenly, the stone began to glow.
It was faint at first, barely visible in fact, but eerie green glow grew rapidly until you could see it through Krakhov’s hand. He took one step back and began staring at the power cupped in his hand. He lifted his other hand to inches before his face and studied the thick red liquid there. Drool dripped down his beard as he attempted to locate the origin of this strange phenomenon that seemed to coincide with a sharp pain in his stomach.
Shank plucked the newly powered soulstone from Krakhov’s hand before the giant mobster crumpled on the floor.
“’Waste not, want not’ as me Moma used ta’ say” Dimitri took one step forward, but then stopped when he felt something press against his leg. He looked down to see another gremlin, this one with a pair of trousers pulled up to just below his arm-pits. Despite this compensation, it was clear that the bottom of the trousers had been rolled up many times to prevent tripping. This might have proved amusing if the same Gremlin did not have a .45 calibre pistol aimed directly at his groin. Dimitri did not know what unnerved him more: The size of the gun, the fact that the Gremlins arm shook with the exertion needed to lift such a mighty firearm or the barely contained excitement painted all over the little green face.
“Ape-parent-lee it is called a Still-ate-oh” Shanks was wiping the long thin blade clean on his golden hankerchief, which he then carefully folded and placed neatly back in his breast pocket. He approached the gargantuan man casually and then, with a single finger, pushed the weapon aimed at him away. The other gremlin made no attempt to hid the fact he was heartbroken.
“I ‘ere ‘dat you ‘ave ree-sent-lee found yoo’self out ‘ta work. I bee-leaf I can ‘elp you wid’ dat.”
Dimitri relaxed. You do not try your luck in Malifaux.