The Needle

The Needle looked up at the Harbor Master and did his best to appear to be listening to the old blowhard. His latest tale of his glory days, involved yet another unbelievable adventure, filled with chopping of monstrous tentacles and rescuing grateful damsels.

The piers beyond the glass windows of the small tower housing the Harbor Master’s office, faded into the fog that filled the horizon.

The Harbor Master droned on, the sound seeming to keep time with the waves crashing against the shore. The Needle sighed and nodded his head mechanically, to give the impression that he was listening; with any luck the windbag would run out of steam soon and head to the local tavern as he usually did at some point in the day. Not for the first time he pictured slipping one of the many poisoned pins he carried hidden in his clothing and jabbing it into the Adam’s apple of the chattering old fool. Maybe the Abenthian Fire Salamander poison, he thought. He lovingly rolled, the handmade cylinder shaped pin head, carefully sheathed in his pocket. The shape of the head allowed it to be attached to darts, or embedded in holes where people might step. It was a versatile design of his own invention. Of course the head also prevented him from grabbing the wrong end of the pin which would not be pleasant.

The fact that he was called “The Needle” and not “The Pin” was simply a result of his disposing of a few strong arm types when they mocked him with that phrase in front of their mutual employer. Their gruesome deaths insured that “The Needle” was respected by those who employed him.

He smiled as he reminisced and imagined the Harbor Master’s attempting to talk around his tongue as it swelled to the size of a small melon.

Unfortunately the Harbor Master interpreted the smile as enjoyment of his story, causing him to launch into an even more lavish tale where the monsters all had three heads and the damsels all had grateful sisters.

Of course the Harbor Master – or Manthion as he was known by his friends- did not know him as The Needle; to everyone in town he was simply Mister Gray. He had appeared one day to take the place of Manthion’s former assistant who had apparently died from some sort of spider bite. Very unfortunate.

The Needle saw the beads of sweat on the Harbor Master’s brow and he wondered if the flood of words weren’t an anxious effort to ingratiate himself because he sensed something dangerous in the small and wiry man standing before him. It would be most unfortunate for him if he did learn who his taciturn employee really was.

For the second time that day Mr. Gray gave Harbor Master Manthion a small smile and his dark eyes registered four additional drops of sweat budding on his forehead.