As Paulek approached the closed gate, he saw that Jorge was, as usual, leaning against one of the parapet supports with his legs crossed and his arms folded as though in a deep sleep, Paulek was soon proved wrong as the deep rumble that Jorge used as a voice came to his ears.

“You move like a clumsy old horse, I could hear you coming from your doorway, tonight we learn to move like a ghost, humans can’t hear you but another of us with bad intentions could hear you from across the ocean.”

Paulek began his lessons, along with how to carry and use a weapon while still remaining totally silent, by the time the first softening of night was being broken by the dawn light, Paulek could move even without hearing himself, although Jorge still said he moved like a constipated cow but admitted that he know had some idea of what was needed, as he left Jorge for the night to return to the bakery, his instructors voice left him with one more piece of advice.

“Don’t let that new little Roma sleep alone for too long.”

Paulek was amazed that Jorge even knew about the newly arrived Tito, then again, Jorge was close to Sergei but, what did he mean by the comment, this new life was stranger and stranger by the day, Paulek thought about Tito, he was a nice looking boy, he seemed honest and attentive, he knew all there was to know about this new life and, Paulek had to admit, he was easy on the eye, but Paulek had never been with a girl or a boy, what did Jorge mean by the remark.

In his confusion, Paulek found himself at the door to the bakery before he realised he had even left the gate, the first cock crows were already echoing out on the nearby farms, the rustle and early morning bustle was just about to begin and his own eyes were already beginning to drop with the need for sleep.

As Paulek reached for the wooden door, it was thrown open from the inside, Paulek saw the well rested figure of Tito standing back waiting for him, as the first ray of sunlight hit the top of the towns wall, Paulek stepped into the dark coolness of the bakery, the soft sound of the door closing behind him sealed the new day from his sight, Paulek felt the full force of his need to sleep as he staggered into the kitchen, a quick glance at the comatose body of Hawk and he was lying in his own small oven, as the sleep came over him Paulek heard the steady steps of Tito working in the other room and then, nothing.

Each night was much the same, Tito waiting patiently for Paulek to awaken, the hard practices with Jorge and then the return to see that Hawk was still in his death sleep, he did however, notice that the old bakery was now spick and span, not a dust mote or cobweb could be seen, every wooden surface was shiny and the whole bakery now smelt like a new cottage, even the stone walls were spotless, any of the old mustiness had been dispelled and it was a welcoming sight as each dawn broke and Paulek returned from his practices, the bakery, under the young hands of Tito, now looked like the spotless home his mother had kept.

On the night of the fifth day, Paulek was woken by not only the rattling of Hawk’s chains, but a heavy banging on the front door which was immediately stopped as he heard Tito open it, Paulek slipped from his new oven bed and looked at the red and open eyes of Hawk as he thrashed around under the chains.

As Paulek reached for Hawk’s hands, he was roughly pushed aside by a fast moving Pavlik, Paulek had not even heard the boy arrive, behind Pavlik came Sergei, holding in one hand an unconscious form of a man.

“Well, well, well, look who’s finally come to join us?” Sergei said.

With the natural ease and strength of his kind, Sergei dropped the burden he had been carrying and turned towards Paulek.

“Hmm, I like your new bedroom, very fashionable, so how is it going with Jorge?”

Paulek guessed that Sergei well knew what was going on with his training, as he had said before, nothing went on without him knowing about it.

“It’s good; he’s a very thorough teacher.”

“Yes, he is that, now then, how is your new son doing, looks as though he is ready for his first feeding, Pavlik, get out of the way and let the boy feed for Christ’s sake.”

Pavlik had been smothering Hawk with light kisses and comforting caresses as the tied boy tried to get to the heady smell of the man on the floor, Tito had wisely stayed out in the main room, his education about the Drinkers had been instilled in him from birth, at a time like this he knew that his hot blood would only lead to disaster.

Reaching down, Sergei lifted the unconscious man and easily laid him on the table for Hawk, with a quick slash of his long nail, the blood began to flow into Hawk’s mouth faster than he could drink, Pavlik tried to clean up the spill as Hawk filled his dry and hungry body with the gift from Sergei, strangely enough, Paulek felt nothing for the human, his only concern was for Hawk, he felt almost, motherly over the chained boy, it was a funny feeling, he looked around as he heard a soft sound behind him.

Tito stood silently watching Hawk drink, at his feet was a bucket of steaming water with a large cloth soaking in it, Tito gave Paulek a soft smile and went back to the other room where Paulek could hear the sound of things being moved around, he turned back to the scene at the table just in time to see the now dead man slide from the table and onto the floor, with one foot, Sergei pushed the corpse aside and reached for the chains, suddenly he stopped and looked at Paulek.

“This should be your job, it’s only right that a first time father should free his son, come on Pavlik, step back and let Paulek free your boy friend, it’s his son after all.”

Pavlik looked up at Paulek in confusion.

“His son, but he isn’t old enough to make a Drinker yet, how could he, my blood was already in Hawk?”

“You’ve only been one of us for little over a year, Pavlik, there’s still a lot for you to learn, your blood was diluted when Hawk was hurt, it tried to repair him, when Paulek added his own, it over rode yours as it was the freshest and yours was weaker, I just made him, if you take a smell you will see he now has his own apple pastry smell with the added fresh cut hay underlining it.”

Paulek watched as Pavlik leant over the still chained Hawk and sniffed lightly at the boy’s neck.

“Yes Sergei, I see what you mean, oh well, I wanted to be his father but if it is Paulek then I am just as happy, congratulations Paulek, you’re a father.”

Pavlik’s smile was wide and, at the same time, confused, Sergei slapped Pavlik on the back and pulled him back from the table to let Paulek unlock the chains as Hawk looked up at Paulek with an amused smile on his young face.

“Hello Daddy, going to let me out of here now.” The cheeky sound of Hawk’s voice sent the others into fits of giggling and laughter, Paulek quickly released the two padlocks and stepped back as Hawk reached for Pavlik, the two boys hugged tightly as Sergei and Paulek looked on with an amused smile on their lips.

Sergei pulled Paulek towards the doorway saying.

“Come on Paulek, let your sons boyfriend wash him clean, now tell me, how is young Tito looking after you?”

“He’s very efficient, everything is clean and I really feel safe with him around.”

“Have you laid him yet?”

“Laid him?”

“Well of course, didn’t you know?” Sergei suddenly caught himself. “Of course, how bloody stupid of me, you didn’t know did you?”

“Know what?”

“Look, Tito is your servant but, he is also your boy, once a month you have to feed him those few small drops of your blood, but also, at least once a week you have to lay with him, more if you really like him, but at least once a week, your man seed seals him too you, others will know by your blood smell but your man seed also helps him to gain strength and be better than a normal human, that’s how he is able to defend you against any attackers.”

“I...I have to lay with him, but I don’t know how, I mean I haven’t ever done anything like that, I didn’t know you could.”

“Oh, shit, ok well let me tell you what you have to do.” Sergei got an amused look on his face as he looked down at Paulek.

“You grab him and throw him on that bed face down, then, well then you fuck him good and hard and good and long, he’s been waiting all this time for you to do it, why do you think he looks as though he’s lost, he thinks you don’t care for him, he would still serve you faithfully because that’s what they do but, what he really wants is for you to take him, don’t you Tito?”

This last was said loud enough to reach Tito’s ears as he stood outside waiting for his Master to get things settled in the house, this was not a time for servants to be seen or heard; the sudden call from Master Sergei brought him alert, Tito turned back and went inside the house where he saw his Master sitting with Master Sergei.

“What is it I can do Master Sergei?”

“You want your Master to fill that little cherry hole of yours, is that not right Tito?”

Tito felt his face blush but, what the Master had said was true, he knew his duty and he knew what he liked and, Master Paulek was what he liked, he couldn’t understand why he had not been taken on that first night, it was tradition among the servants to be taken by their Master as soon as possible to seal their union of Master and Servant.

“It is what I would desire Master Sergei, but it is the decision of my Master Paulek that this will or will not be done, Sir, I am his servant first and last Master Sergei.”

“See, Paulek, now as soon as Hawk is up and about, why don’t I take him and his boyfriend for a walk, they should be back, oh, lets say around dawn, that should give you time to sort out your servant.”

Paulek sat stunned at such open talk of things that were never spoken of, however he did feel that there was not enough room under his long black coat for his rigid boyhood, Tito looked as though he was positively glowing with anticipation as Sergei stood and called for Pavlik and Hawk to come out and join them, the two love birds, one now washed and clean and dressed in new clothes brought by his Pavlik for just such an occasion, came back into the room and looked at the trio.

Sergei rose and beckoned the two boys to follow him outside.

“Paulek and Tito have something they have to do, why don’t you two come to my house for a while, there’s a lot we need to tell Hawk before dawn comes.”

Paulek watched the trio move away, he turned to look at the Roma boy, Tito was already down to his pants, his slim tawny chest was heaving slightly at the thought of what was to come, faint trails of sweat ran down his thin chest and his eyes sparkled with desire, the sudden effect on Paulek’s libido overtook his normal reserved common sense, before he knew what he was doing, Paulek found himself standing over Tito’s prone body, the boy was lying on his back looking up at Paulek from the narrow bed, there was no fear in the boy only a faint hint of trepidation as Paulek looked down at him.

Suddenly, Paulek realised while he knew what animals did when mating, he had no idea of the mechanics of being with a boy like that, he watched in stunned silence as Tito released the belt on his pants and slid them down his slender, tawny legs to reveal his own long boyhood in all its rigid glory, Paulek could not move as he looked at the vision before him, Tito had splayed his legs wide and Paulek could easily see the brown rose bud that awaited him, still he didn’t know what to do, seeing his Master confusion, Tito offered him some advice.

“Master, remove your coat and kneel between my legs, let me add some moisture and then enter me, you’ll know what to do after that.”

The gentle smile on Tito’s face stirred Paulek into action, nature had it’s own way of working things out so Paulek let his instincts take over from his fear, with a flash of movement so fast that Tito never saw it, Paulek was naked and kneeling between those inviting thighs, his rigid boyhood now looking bigger and thicker than Paulek remembered it, was close to the moist wet hole.

Not even thinking straight, Paulek pushed suddenly forward and buried himself deep into Tito, he didn’t hear the loud scream from the boy underneath him, the sudden hotness and tight grip on his boyhood took over all other considerations, this new feeling was making his head spin and the sound and discomfort of Tito took second place, that is until he felt a pounding fist on his chest.

Paulek looked down in shock to see the grimace on Tito’s face, a tear was falling down the boys cheek as Paulek’s mind cleared from the sudden rush of desire that had made him blind to everything around him, a sudden sense of remorse overtook Paulek as he realised he had hurt Tito with his ignorance of what he was doing.

Tito was trying to gulp in lungs full of air as Paulek stopped and looked down at him, the sudden pain of entry was still fresh in Tito’s mind, although he could not say no, this was his duty to his Master, it was not until he was lying on the bed looking up at Paulek he had realised the boy had never done it before, the sudden lust that filled his Master’s eyes a fraction of a second before the violent pain of his first entry, had taken Tito unawares, slowly he reached for Master Paulek’s face, with a soft caress, he tried to speak without letting Paulek know he had hurt him too badly.

“Master, it is my first time, you have to go slowly at first, you must stay in control, if you lose control you may bite me and that would kill me, I want you like this but you must keep control, I’m only human after all, I can’t take things like you can, do you understand?”

Slowly Tito’s voice entered Paulek’s mind, it really seemed so simple when the boy told him, why had he wanted to hurt Tito, it made no sense, he would have to ask Sergei next time they met, with Tito’s words clear in his head, Paulek began to make the movements he had seen so often on the farm with the animals, it felt good and, as he got used to the tight hot place he was buried in, it began to feel even better, under him he could see Tito begin to relax and slowly a soft smile began to form on the Roma boy’s lips as Paulek set himself into a rhythm.

It was the approaching dawn that stopped Paulek, he had no idea how often or how many times he had felt himself fill the hot tight place he was in, somehow the night had gone by and, underneath him, Tito was a wreck, he was covered in his own boy juices, most of which was now dried in small patches of whiteness over his torso, from between his legs had seeped a large part of Paulek’s offerings, the whole room had a heady smell about it and, when both Pavlik and Hawk walked in the door, they both wrinkled their noses and then laughed as Paulek, still coupled with Tito, looked up from the dishevelled bed.

“Well, I guess we can see what they have been up too.” Was the comment from Pavlik.

“Lucky the sun is about to rise, poor Tito would be dead if he had to put up with much more.” Returned Hawk.

Seeing the embarrassment on Paulek’s face, the two boys went into the kitchen to give Paulek some time to rearrange himself, as they had said, Tito was almost unconscious from all the activity, unconscious but happy, he had never felt so good, his mind was a little addled by his Master’s stamina but he was happy and that’s all that mattered to the young Roma boy.

Paulek re-donned his coat and went inside to see the two boys, they were in each others arms as he entered, he heard Tito pick up the bucket for water to wash himself with, it had been a torrid night for the boy and he needed to get clean he still had his duty to attend to, his Master could not be left unguarded during the day.

“How are you going to get back to the Baron’s at this time of day, Pavlik?” Paulek asked the boy.

“Not going back, to hell with that man, now my little Hawk has been made one of us, I have no intention of ever leaving him alone again.”

“But how will we live, I know we don’t have to eat or drink, but we have to keep this place going for Hawk and I have to look after Tito, he needs things as my servant.”

“Let’s open the bakery again.” This came from hawk.

“Open the bakery, how, I don’t know anything about baking and how the hell are we going to sell it, none of us can be out during the day.” Paulek asked him.

Hawk looked at Paulek and Pavlik.

“It’s simple, I have all of our recipes hidden away, most have been in my family forever, I can teach you both how to do it all, us three bake during the night and then Tito sells it from the front during the day while we sleep, it’s perfect, it gives him an excuse for being here, as far as the town is concerned, he is employed by me to run the shop, it makes it easier for him to keep people out of the kitchen area.”

All three suddenly yawned, it was time to sleep, as if he knew he was wanted, Tito appeared at the door, Paulek looked at him with a new fondness.

“Tito, do you know your numbers?”

“Of course Master, all Roma know numbers, we have to or the money lenders would cheat us, what do you wish?”

“We need to rest now, I know you must be tired, but you need to watch over us today, while you wait, I need for you to count the coin we took from the Captains purse and tell me tonight how much we have.”

“Very good Master, I shall see you all tonight, everything will be ready.”

The three boys took one of the cold ovens each, Tito checked to see that the doors were closed but not locked and then left the room, closing the door behind him, he had another long day ahead of him but he had his Master to keep safe, he ate a little cheese and the last of the bread he had bought the day before, next he put his pillow on the floor in front of the door and, after making sure the door was locked, took up his position sitting in front of it as he had done the first day.

Paulek was the first to rise as the sun disappeared, as he placed his feet on the floor, he heard the other two begin to move, from the front room he could also here the loud yawn from Tito, a soft whisper from Hawk, asking Pavlik how he was, caused Paulek to smile, now the two boys had each other, in their world all was right at last, for Paulek it was only starting.

The three young blood drinkers looked at the tired face of Tito as their watcher told Paulek what they had to work with for the reopening of the old bakery.

“Master, we have a total of fifteen coppers, seven silver and two gold coins, I have spent one silver and two coppers on my own needs thus far.”

“Thank you Tito, you have been very frugal, now Hawk, how much will you need to reopen?”

“Alas, more than that, to fire up the ovens alone would cost most of the gold then, there is the flour, some new moulds, churned butter, salt and many other things, without our own orchard we would have to buy in the fresh fruit for the pastries, I’m afraid we will need more than five gold to do it all and, how will we make contact with those we need for supplies?”

Paulek thought for a short time and then an idea came to him.

“Do you think that Sergei would help us with the money, if the bakery does well we could easily repay him within months, as to talking to suppliers, we have one of the best bargain makers right here, Tito, the Roma are renowned for their skill in this area.”

“I don’t know.” Pavlik replied.” Then again do we have another option, I think not, let’s talk to Sergei and see if he will help?”

Paulek turned to Tito.

“You go and rest Tito, you’ve done well, we have things to do for now, sleep well and we will see you before the sun rises.”

After ushering Tito off to his small bed, the three boys left for the office of the Marshal to talk with Sergei. Sergei was sitting back in a large wooden chair as the three boys entered; his first words surprised the boys.

“So how much do you think you need?”

All three could only look at the man with their mouths open as Sergei laughed at their stunned expressions.

“I told you before, I know everything that’s going on in this town, now how much do you need?”

Hawk was the first to speak.

“We’re not sure but we think about five gold, I still have to do a lot to get everything setup, there is much missing from the kitchen.”

“Let me suggest something then, you have Paulek’s horse and cart, two of you use that at night to collect all the wood you will need, remember you have more strength and speed than humans, that will save a lot of coin, next, you have Tito, his people are well known for their bargaining abilities, use him for everything else, I’ll give you ten gold coins, that should get you everything you will need to get started, you have twelve months to repay it at only 10%, you should be able to come up with eleven gold by then.”

The three boys stood before Sergei with a stunned look on their faces, had it really been so easy, suddenly they fully understood what was being offered, all three put out their right hand and shook on the deal, Sergei reached under his black coat and withdrew a small leather purse, tossing it to Hawk, he said.

“Here you go, I thought you would like those odds, good luck boys, remember that you have all the time in the world, a small profit over a long time is better than a large one in a short time, your parents, Hawk, were well known for their fairness and honesty as well as the quality of the baked goods, all you have to do is follow their example and you will all be rich in time and, time is the one thing we have plenty of.”

All three boys felt a lot happier and although it was full night, they could not help giving out a short shout of happiness; Hawk gave the purse to Pavlik as Paulek suddenly grasped him by the arm.

“Come on Hawk, we have to go and see Jorge, we need to practice to protect ourselves and there’s no time like the present, what about you Pavlik, don’t you have to go back to the Baron?”

“I don’t have to now, Hawk is one of us at last, and the Baron has no hold over me anymore, this is all I ever wanted, we are together again, we can do what we want but, your idea of learning to defend ourselves is a good one, I think I better come along as well, we can’t do anything about the bakery until Tito wakes in the morning.”

When the three boys were in front of Jorge, he set Paulek to practice what he had already been shown, the other two he had to start from the beginning, as Paulek improved, Jorge set him more difficult practices, he was now able to scale a high wall without effort, his sword play was smooth and fast, even Jorge now had difficulty in getting past Paulek’s defences.

Just before the first rays of dawn showed, the three boys set out for their new home, Tito was at the door waiting for them, the old bakery was now spotlessly clean although still bare of anything to make it a home, Hawk immediately got down to making a list of items that would be needed for the making of pastries and breads, he told Tito what also would be needed for the ingredients and where to go to order them, if anyone asked questions he was to tell them he was only an employee and they would have to ask Hawk himself when he returned from his travels to the next town, it was the only way they could think of to put people off coming to the bakery too soon and finding three dead boys in the kitchen.

For the next week, the boys used two hours a night to train with Jorge then put all their efforts into gathering wood and setting up the bakery as each item was delivered during the day, slowly the bakery began to return to its former glory, everything had been scrubbed clean, there was an ample stock of fire wood for the ovens, there remained only one thing to do before they began to bake for the towns people, they had to find a secure place to sleep during the day, it was Tito that came up with the obvious answer.

“Master, you all have unlimited strength and speed, why not dig a place in the barn under the floor, no one would think to look for you there, if they look inside and your doorway is well hidden, they will only see the pony and a straw strewn stone floor.”

Paulek smiled at Tito, it was the perfect answer, with three of them working at full speed, they could have a small cellar dug and lined with timber in one night, if they asked Sergei and the other two for help, it would be done much faster.

Paulek went to ask Sergei, he was told that it was no trouble at all, in fact, with all six of them working hard and fast they could line the cellar with stone and seal it from any moister as well as make it more safe, stones would not be missed where as timber was easy to detect, all agreed it was the better plan, the digging and making of the new hideaway cellar would be done the following night, for now, they had the last of the small items to finish so the bakery could be opened for the next market day, in two days time.

Hawk had been going over the costs and prices with Tito, he kept his profit margin low as he had been advised, even so, with the help of the other two he would easily be able to provide ample breads and pastries for the town and surrounding farms, it would be the market days that they would have to bake extra as there were always many more visitors to the town on those days.

Tito had already been out and about during the day to advertise the reopening of the bakery, while this was good news to many, it was bad news to a few, the thought of the bakery reopening was not what they wanted, that small plot of land was badly needed for other things, plans were begun to get the land in question, the little bum boy could not be allowed to continue to hold the land against the wishes of certain important people who had other ideas for it.

The night before the first market arrived, everything was ready, Pavlik was firing up the ovens as Hawk read over the old recipe’s and explained to Paulek what to do and how to do it, slowly the three began to get comfortable with their new surroundings, Tito was given orders to get to bed so he was ready for a busy day on the morrow, their newly worked haven under the barn was ready and secure and could be watched over during the day by Tito, the trap door leading down to the hidden cellar was well hidden under layers of hay on the stone floor even if the barn was burnt to the ground, they would be safe in their hideaway.

For the first time in years, the fresh smell of baked goods filled the early morning air around the old place, those early workers looked with interest at the old bakery, most of the residents could still remember the old couple that had owned the bakery all their lives, one or two could even remember the grand parents working the old place.

The first customer of the day for Tito was an old woman, she had a thick wool shawl over her shoulders and a hand woven basket on her arm, her long white hair hung to her shoulders and the wrinkles around her eyes gave her a look of subtle amusement when she looked at the young boy standing before here.

“I want one flat bread; two of those sweet pastries, and don’t try to cheat me young man.”

Tito put on his best smile and did as the old crone requested, the bread and pastries were still warm from the ovens, carefully he placed the items in the old crone’s basket.

“That will be four coppers thank your mistress.”

“Four, only four coppers, how come it’s so cheap, is there something wrong with them, are they bad tasting, tell me boy, why so cheap?”

“It is my Master’s wish Mistress, two coppers for flat bread, one copper each for the sweet pastries, two coppers for high bread, two coppers for long bread, it is his orders to me Mistress.”

“Well young man, I hope it is as good as what his parents used to make, if not he will hear from me, I will not have inferior breads in my house.”

The old crone threw the required number of coppers on the wood counter top that they had made the previous day and left through the open door, it was a little time before the next customer arrived, this was a man who looked to be a farm worker, course and rough clothes, heavy boots and rough hands, he asked for a long loaf and dropped the coppers without comment, slowly the customers began to arrive at a faster pace, by midday, Tito was running back and forth to the kitchen to resupply his shelves in the front, the word had soon spread that the bakery was open and the quality was as it had always been as well as the price was below that charged by the bakery owned by the Mayor on the other side of town.

When Tito closed the doors as the sun sank into dusk, he looked at the barren and empty shelves, there was only one flat loaf and two pastries left of the stock that had been cooked the night before, Tito sat down to count the days takings, his master would want a full account when he woke tonight.

Tito had just finished his counting when the three boys walked into the bakery, Hawk was the first to look around and see the almost empty shelves, the single loaf of bread and only two pastries made him smile, he reached for them and then gave them to Tito, the boy had worked all day, not even stopping to eat or drink, all three boys could see how washed out he was, at a nod from Paulek, all three grabbed Tito and hugged him close.

“Thank you Tito.” Paulek said, “You’ve done well, now go and eat and get some sleep, by the way, how did we do?”

“Very well Master.” A tired Tito said. “We have taken one gold, five silver and twenty six coppers, a very good day and everyone seemed happy that the bakery was open again.”

The boys smiled at the tired boy and then shooed him off to bed, Hawk took the coins, deducted a small amount for Tito’s use and placed the rest in a hole created by a loose stone in the wall, it was, he said, where his parents had kept their coins, it was now time to go for their practice with Jorge before setting to work again for the next days baking, they had discussed it all before hand, they would have time for two hours a night for practice and still have time for the baking before the sun rose on another day.

For the next month all went well, the coins were coming in at a regular pace and the loan from Sergei was diminishing rapidly, soon they would own it all themselves, Tito worked hard each day while the others slept their death sleep, the locals noticed how the bakery was now working and making life for the mayor and his more expensive breads and pastries difficult, this of course created a new and worrying time for the Mayor, while his bakery was not the only business he owned, he did not like to loose anything, even the small amount he made from the bakery, it was time to fix that little bum boy and his delusions of grandeur, there was only space for one bakery in this town and that was his and his alone.

The Mayor sent out the word for his friends to meet, it was a pity that the Captain of the marshals had disappeared one night but, the new one might be open to some hidden benefits, the Mayor arranged for the meeting of the four richest men in the town, it was this small cabal that truly thought they ran the whole town, all taxes were funnelled into their own coffers and only a little was put aside for any town improvements to keep the locals quiet.

Between the four men, they controlled the two inns, the only general store, a bakery, the stables and blacksmiths shop, the goldsmiths and the flour mill as well as the only shop in the town that supplied cloth to the citizens, every farmer that walked through the gates on market day had to pay a toll that went into the pockets of the five.

The meeting was held in a private room of the largest inn, it was upstairs and could be kept private by posting one of the marshals on the stairs, the meetings had been held once a month for the last ten years, it was how they had been able to take control of the town, but this one was more of an emergency, the Mayor was losing money and they were now no closer to owning the special piece of land they needed for their public offices.

The main discussion was about getting hold of the boys land and bakery, how they were going to get it without others knowing they had swindled the boy was another story, between them they had all the coin needed but the boy was adamant, he would not sell and they had tried scaring him, nothing seemed to work, all that was left now was to rid themselves of the boy once and for all.

It was mentioned that they had not seen him for some time but, someone was baking and the boy that ran the shop was only an employee, they had known that much, finally, the Mayor came up with a plan, they would contact someone from another town to come and rid them of the boy, it he was attacked at night, no one would be the wiser, all agreed it was the only way they could get hold of the land and shop, the Mayor prepared to put the plan into action.

The three boys worked that night away after practice, if they had a good market day this week, they would make the final payment to Sergei and have a little left over to start their savings, Tito had proved to be a real boon for them all, he worked hard and honestly, taking very little for himself even after the boys said he was entitled to more, for Tito, he was just happy to be serving his Master Paulek.

Jorge now considered Paulek and the other boys to be as ready as they would ever be; only true battle could improve on their training, all the boys could now move without sound, climb vertical walls and swing their weapons with total confidence, they were now a force to be reckoned with, Paulek began to feel confident enough to start making plans to get his brother back from the distant Baron.

Paulek and Pavlik spent many hours talking about the habits of the Baron, it seemed an unwritten agreement that the other two would go with him although neither had said anything, they all knew that the Baron was older and more experienced than they were, it would be a close fight even with all three of them but, Paulek was convinced, he had to get his little brother back at any cost.

It was the night before market day that things changed, Tito was fast asleep in the front room while the three boys worked in the kitchen, the bread and pastries were piling up as they worked at a frenetic pace, it was Pavlik that heard the soft sound of the front door lock being forced, the sound was not much but it was unusual enough for the boys to stop working and listen.

With hand signals, Pavlik had Paulek and himself lean against the wall close to the door, anyone entering the kitchen would not at first see them, Hawk was to continue working as though nothing was wrong, all three boys heard the soft creak of a lose board in the middle of the front room, carefully, Paulek and Pavlik drew their swords and readied themselves for combat.

The intruder moved towards the door, the boys could now smell the hot blood of a human, he seemed unaware of his surroundings as he tried to move soundlessly, had they been human they would not have heard him, the boys were now ready, Hawk continued as though nothing was amiss.

Slowly, the door was pushed wider, a head covered in black cloth appeared around the open door, with lightening speed, accentuated by their superior strength and new blood, Pavlik grasped and pulled the intruder into the room with ease, before the man could react, Paulek had his sword at the mans throat while Pavlik held his arms behind his back, Hawk turned around and smiled at the intruder.

“Who are you and who sent you?” Hawk asked.

The figure in black clothes said nothing, at this stage he was still too stunned to understand what had happened, he had been told there would be only one boy working in here and, how the hell did the other two get him so easily, he had not even seen them move, all his life he had done this type of work, he was well trained by one of the best assassins in the land and yet, these young boys had captured him with ease, for the first time in his life he felt the tinge of fear, something was not right and he didn’t know what it was.

Pavlik shook the grown man with ease.

“He asked you a question.”

The man could only stutter, he didn’t know who the man was that hired him, everything he did was through an intermediary; it was safer for all that way.

“I don’t know, my boss just told me to come here and see to a boy called Hawk the baker, I didn’t know there were three of you, I was not told.”

“Where is your boss then, which town does he live in?”

“Hayston, the town of Hayston, one days ride from here to the west.”

“Yes I know of it, well boys, what are we going to do with this one?” Pavlik asked the others.

Both Paulek and Hawk smiled a sinister smile.

“Well, I’m hungry, how about you Hawk?” Paulek asked.

“Do you think there’s enough for three Pavlik?” Hawk replied.

“Yes I’m sure there is, well, it’s decided then?”

The other two boys nodded and, with little more delay, they attacked the would be assassin, as they finished, there was a knock at the door, all of them looked up and Hawk called.

“Come in Sergei.”

Sergei stepped into the back room and took one look at the body on the floor.

“Did any of you bother to ask him some questions first?”

“Yes, he’s from Hayston, his boss is there and knows who sent him, we thought we would go and ask him, it has to be someone in this town who wants this bakery and that means only one person.” Hawk replied.

“It’s to late to go tonight, leave it until tomorrow night, with market day being over you will have plenty of time to look into it, I, like Hawk, am pretty sure who it is but a little proof would be good.”

The three boys nodded their agreement.

“Now what are you going to do with the body, boys?”

The boys looked at each other until Pavlik answered.

“I think I should dump it in the forest, the animals will take care of it for us, there’s plenty of time for them to do the job before sunrise.”

“Good idea Pavlik, why don’t you take care of it while the other two continue with their baking, I have to get back to the office, make sure you don’t make too much noise and awaken someone.”

Pavlik nodded and with ease picked up the dead body of the would be assassin, in seconds he was gone followed closely by Sergei, Paulek and Hawk returned to their baking, they still had a market day tomorrow that had to be got ready for, the heavy smell of fresh blood hung in the air as the two worked with a renewed vigour of fresh blood pumping through their veins.



                          Back       Main         Next