Sergei picked her up and carried her to one of the plush chairs in the small lounge area and set her down. She weighed even less than it looked like she should. Although she didn’t protest, she gave him an exasperated look. He knew he should be asking more questions, that he should be doing something else, but the situation was so bizarre that he wasn’t sure what to do. Where had she been hiding?
After depositing her to rest comfortably, Sergei returned to the bar to get his glass and his pipe. It wasn’t responsible to smoke in the same room as a child, but he needed a pipe if he was going to be able to get through this. When he returned, relit his pipe and took a drink of whisky he finally looked her in the eye.
“Corva. Who is this man and why does he want you dead?”
“He calls himself Ethad, but I’m certain that’s not his real name. Who he is and what his motives are do not matter.” She saw the set of his jaw and sighed, wincing halfway through. Reaching a hand under her layers of jackets, Corva removed a wadded handful of bloody rags and was about to throw it on the floor before he stopped her and got a waste basket for them instead.
“You’re going to let me look at that wound.” He said firmly, “While I do you can tell me about why Ethad wants to kill you.”
She rolled her eyes and began taking off layers, dropping each jacket on the floor. Sergei went to the bar and retrieved a first aid kit he kept there and by the time he got back, she had taken off three cashmere coats of consecutively smaller size, removed a pair of flannel shirts and unzipped a hooded sweatshirt. When he approached Corva lifted her undershirt to show an angry looking puncture just above her waistline.
Sergei knelt to look, swabbing the wound with a cotton swab and peroxide. As the wound fizzed and bubbled, he continued to swab it out. After a few moments, he put the swabs aside, smeared some antibacterial ointment on it and taped a large pad of gauze over the top. Before she pulled her shirt back down he could already see the blood seeping through.
He wrapped the soiled swabs up in a napkin, frowning at a small sliver of wood the size of a sewing needle sticking out of one of them. Wondering what it was, he folded it into another napkin and tucked it into his apron pocket just in case it was evidence. Chels would be proud.
Corva looked up and saw he was still waiting for an answer and twisted one of her dreadlocks around a finger. “Long ago I stole something from someone. That I only took some of it doesn’t matter any more than the fact that it made a large difference to my people. The only way he can get it back is by taking it from me.”
“Why don’t you just give it back?” He asked, blowing a plume of smoke to one side and taking a drink of whisky. “Wouldn’t he leave you alone then?”
“Because he can’t get it back unless he TAKES it Sergei.” She said, sounding frustrated. He noticed that she had taken the glass from his hand without him noticing and had drained it in one long swallow. “Can I give the whisky back?”
“No. But I can’t take it back either.” He countered.
“Well the one I stole it from originally couldn’t either, and he didn’t really care. But last year Ethad won it in a bet.” She shuddered, “Ethad differs from you both in that he does care and he can take it back.”
“Is he like you?” Sergei asked, “You just walked out of nowhere Corva. How am I supposed to be able to defend you against something like that?”
“You have something not many people do Sergei.” She said with a smile that seemed to cut across her like a blade.
“What’s that?” Sergei looked at his empty glass, thinking about getting another.
“I’ll tell you later.” She said, smiling a mysterious smile. “Are you going to help me?”
“I’ve helped you already.” He said, “But I’m not killing anyone.”
“Then will you protect me?” Corva pleaded. He felt the intensity of her gaze and it touched something inside him.
“I will try.” He said.
“Good. Because he’s here.”