‘My price has changed.’ The shadow whispered with a hiss. Irwin shrank back against this evil, but couldn’t move his booted feet.
‘For, for why?’ His words stumbled from his mouth, tumbling slowly through the air only to be rebuffed by a horrendous screech. The walls themselves trembled in fear and Irwin shrank into himself, a mouse in human form.
‘You dare to question? Your deed is done, your rival lies a victim of the eternal sleep and you question my price?’
‘N-n-n-no.’ A timid little squeak. ‘How much more do you want? I have reserves. I have savings. I-I-I…’
‘Shhhh.’ The cowled figure moved towards him with a clicking sound, until the darkness of the hood was hovering mere inches away from Irwin’s ear. ‘The Veterans always take their price. Freely or by force. We do not lack in riches.’
A harsh grating flowed and Irwin realised the shadow was attempting to laugh. ‘If I wanted your money, Saranda, I would have taken it. You possess something the Veterans want. What will it be, Saranda? Our contract states that we may change the price and think of all the gold that you will save if you just…’ The figure sniffed, deeply, a mockery of intimacy. ‘Send the girl to us.’
Irwin’s spine flickered into existence for a moment as he mustered the strength to say no. It died quickly as the Veteran turned and rushed towards him. ‘Everything you do you do for material wealth, Saranda! You retained the Veterans to gain more money, you force her to slave for you to get more money, it is all about money!’ The creature drew breath, sharply, for another tirade. ‘Think, Saranda. Think of the gold that will pile up if you don’t have to pay for her. Can you see it, those shiny yellow circles spinning away in the darkness of your greedy little mind? She comes to us!’
Irwin’s resolve disappeared as quickly as it had risen, worn away by an unstoppable tide of greed and fear. ‘V-v-very well. The girl will come to you. Three days hence.’
The creature leaned in and whispered, barely above silence, ‘Very well, Saranda. Your fees are paid.’
Irwin never saw the creature leave, his eyes screwed tightly shut in terror. ‘My poor Arianne.’ He choked. ‘Forgive me.’
How far would you go for greed? How far would you go for love? Where does your balance lie?
The Idiot in Tin Foil