The thought did occur to him, of course. As they were walking away from his old home, Ithecal brat leaving the way with his new sword in hand, Kasoria kept looking at him with that appraising glint in his eye. Weighing up his options. The pros and cons, as it were. Not the how or the what, exactly. Those things were never much of a consideration for him. No, he was thinking about after the deed itself. What would be the consequences? The ramifications? None, so far as he could tell. He may have looked like a monster from a child's tales, but that same child could tell you the Ithecal was a kid, a street rat (gecko?), no-one of import.
So why not just kill him after you get back what you want?
The thought wouldn't go away, but at least there was plenty to distract him. Something approaching normalcy was returning to Etzos. Even if it was just the fact people were living in it again, and without the constant dread of a besieging army soaking into them every waking moment. People were cleaning up looted stores. Repairing houses. Cart after cart of dead bodies, piled high and tastefully covered with sheets (mostly), trundled away from the center of the city, heading forever outwards. Kasoria didn't want to dwell on how many fields and meadows would be salted with ash for the next... Fates, he didn't even know. But more than the efforts to rebuild and restore, he noticed something else.
There weren't nearly enough people. Not for the city as it was, or would need to be again.
Six in ten. That's what they said. As high as eight in the outer towns. So for every ten Etzori living a season ago, seven of them are dead.
He shook his head, unable to keep the sorrow from his face. He was a murderer, a killer, and had long since made peace with that, as best he could. But to slaughter a city, in such a way, with such sadistic delight? Over a million of his people, from the northern hills to the southern jungles, from Westguard to Fosters Landing. And why? Because they were an imperialist, expansionist threat? Because they had offended the Immortals in some way?
No, he thought, and the sorrow died, replacing by anger like water frozen into ice. Because we are the Free City of Etzos, and we need no gods or morties. That's why she tried to murder us all.
The boy stopped and Kasoria was so lost in his own thoughts he almost ran into his back. They were in the shadows under the eaves of an archway, opening up to a courtyard. A clutch of gutter rats were clustered around the stairway on the other side. From below, they could hear the faint sounds of music, strings and drums. Kasoria inhaled sharply and the faintest whiff of bathtub gin caught in his nostrils. A tavern, in the loosest sense of the words. More likely some barely-licensed shebeen that was naught but a dozen tables, chairs, and a big flat board serving as a bar, with shelves behind it loaded with bottles. Most of which were likely filled with embalming fluid.
Kasoria shuddered and remembered Mad Caspar, Vorund's resident lunatic. He used to drink the stuff, with flavoring. As if it could make a difference.
Enough nostalgia. Focus on the present.
Which he did, and started by smacking Fur around the head.
"Put the fuckin' sword away," he snarled, eyes fixed on the men and boys around the stairs. "It draws attention. Sheath it 'til yeh need it."
That little nugget imparted, he kept looking at Mister Tattoo. Who seemed very much the typical Oh'Pee street rat. Cut off sleeves to his tunic. Amateur ink on his bare skin, likely telling of fearsome deeds one needn't question too closely. He leaned against the wall, apparently holding court. One hand held a bottle, the other rested on his sword-
Kasoria's eyes went wide. Not at the sight of the sword, or the hand. But what was around the wrist. He'd know that bracelet anywhere, the dozen or so coins from all across the world, glinting in black and gold and silver and brass. His father had made that for his mother, long, long ago. His first gift to her, given more meaning since he had made it himself, not just spent coin to have another do so. There was a growl, from behind the Ithecal. Long enough to make the lizard-man worry a touch, and then words replaced it.
"You go ahead, keep 'em focused on you," he said, giving orders as if he were working with a partner, of all things. "I'll come 'round the side, get to him a'fore he can bolt." The Ithecal looked back at him and Kasoria answered the question he didn't ask. "F'youse think I'm lettin' you get behind me fer long enough to jam a sword in my back, yer a fuckin' idiot. You earn trust, boy, y'don't just get it."
Teaching again? Already?
Another growl. He decided to let the lizard think it was directed at him. Then he motioned towards the staircase, and made himself scarce.
Kasoria took the long way around the outer courtyard. The next archway was at the right, where the one they'd been at was right in front of the stairs, the shebeen, Tattoo and his minions. He'd let the Ithecal come closer, first. Let them focus on him, and not on the shabby little beggar coming in from the side. He stood there in the shadows, watching the big lizard come closer. Raise a hand in greeting and be answered by scorn, laughter, even a handful of thrown pebbles. Kasoria frowned minutely. Clearly not a popular fellow in the area.
Mayhap it was his wandering thoughts that did it. Made him lose his edge, his focus. Of course his eyes were on Tattoo, but not on anywhere else. So he didn't see the cat at his feet until he'd all but stepped on it, drawing a squealing tirade of abuse as he jerked away-
-and Tattoo looked over-
-saw him there, with his cloak, his beard, his hair, all raggedy-raggedy, the-
He roared the command just as Tattoo bolted down the stairs. Shoving aside his underlings, all cocksure fearlessness vanishing from him now. Kasoria took off running, barging through the kids without so much as a glance, powering down the stairs two at a time. The door was swinging open at the bottom, and a hefty bruiser of a minder was already appearing in front of it-
-Kasoria leaped off the fourth step from the bottom, right arm cocked back, timing the jump, the landing, the explosion of his arm-
Fur would see the little human go airborne for a moment, then land fist-first. A blow that spread the doorman's nose all over his face and sent him reeling back with a scream. Kasoria slammed a boot between the big man's leg as an afterthought, then sped past him. The stink and drunken joviality of an underground drinking den assaulted him at once, but he ignored it. He could see Tattoo's blonde crest vanishing into a backdoor, and kept running. Weaving around and across tables, vaulting over another, sparing but a glance over his shoulder-
"Move, fu'fuck's sake!"
Letting the lizard get behind him wasn't a smart move, as far as he was concerned, but he had no other option. Tattoo could run like a fucking hare, and he couldn't afford to pause, wait for Fur, let him run ahead, then follow behind. So he kept moving, stone and wood whipping past his face as he went. He ignored the ache in his legs, the wheeze in his lungs. Fates, but he was getting fucking old. He kept his arms pumping, kept moving, just kept. Didn't do anything but that which gave him speed, and finally-
"LEMME FUCKIN' IN!"
Tattoo was pounding against a doorway at the end of a tunnel. Kasoria didn't know how long they'd been running, or how far down they'd gone, but these stones were... old. Not much red brick or granite down here. Now it was limestone and old mud bricks and actual, real rock, like the kind this whole city was built upon. Kasoria tried to make a note to return, explore this level, but he would likely not remember. Everything in him was focused on that boy, that bracelet.
"OPEN THE FUCKIN'-"
"Fuck, Garo, s'the fuckin'-"
Whoever it was opening the door, he was too slow. Perhaps he'd been at the ale, or something stronger. He opened the door and found "Garo" in front of him. Panting and ruddy and terrified. That was enough to make him frown, and then he saw movement behind him. A short, dark figure, flying across the stone floor with murder in his eyes. And behind him... was that a fucking lizard?
With a bellow of rage, Kasoria leaped and aimed a flying kick square into Garo's back. At that speed, with all his weight behind the blow... well, Kasoria was no physicist or master of natural sciences, but he knew that it would be far, far more powerful than a simple standing kick. The impact blew Garo off his feet and into the doorkeeper. Both of them collapsed inside the room, crashing onto a floor that seemed more made of rot than wood. Kasoria walked through it a moment later and now, now he unsheathed his sword.
A dozen sets of eyes regarded him from the shadows beyond a scattering of pilfered, pitiful candles. All around the room was loot, of one kind or another. Everything from jewelry to bags of grain, clothes to bridles and musical instruments. Kasoria heard the feet running behind him, and slid as nimbly as he could to one side of the doorway. Only the wall behind him, now. Not an Ithecal with a sword he'd given him.
"Now..." he said, between pants, looking about the room without fear, glaring down at Garo and Doorkeeper as they started to rise. "I'm guessin' youse know me. So... yer gonna give me-"
He took a step towards them. As soon as his weight pressed down, they all heard a creak like the groan of a dying giant. Kasoria felt it, too. The faint shuddering under his foot, that told him this floor was not stable. The rot was everywhere, but it was clearly built to last... as long as you didn't, say, fill the room with chests and boxes and pilfered wares. Or have more than a dozen people inside it, all gathering in the middle of the room and-
He looked behind him, and saw the Ithecal running towards them all. Another weight. Another body. Another couple of hundred punds that might.
"Wait," he shouted, arm outstretched to stop Fur before he leaped into the room and into the disintegrating floorboards. "D-"