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Fish Stocks Limited

“You're indebted to me already though, you would say that. The truth of the
matter is that I have corrupted you.”
“I shan't hear any of that. I corrupted myself, you were just a catalyst.”
“A catalyst? We all have our destiny in death, sir, but we would never call a
murderer 'just a catalyst.' No, I cause terrible things to happen and that makes me feel
terrible without ever even erring myself. My only sin was to fall off a ladder, yet here
I am, lost in a world of sin and depravity, drinking a fine wine with an innocent man
whose soul I have tarnished. My melancholy is justified. And my smile...” Stan gave
that impossible beam that stretched from ear to ear. “My smile is just a way of
showing how sharp my teeth are.”
****
Chapter 17 – The Beast Within
Summer lightning assaulted the sky with luciferous, arcing tendrils of blue-white
light as Stan and Ambrosius made their way home through the night. All of a sudden
rain came down in sheets, and within seconds the two were soaked through to the
bone. The streets became reticulated with rivulets of rain, transmogrified into liquid
gold by the meagre, other-worldly light of the few fish oil lamps that lined the streets.
The sewers rose and boasted a stench that was suffocatingly foul, their contents
floating out in feculant streams that lapped at the front steps of nearby houses and
threatened to rise above and flood over the thresholds. But summer rain is as fickle as
it is ferocious, and all of a sudden it stopped and gave way to a balmy, close night
which just made the smell all the worse. The two wayfarers made it home soaked and
tired, and went to bed with the last dregs of wine still in their somno lent stomachs and
the stench of hearth-smoke and sewage in their nostrils.
Stan swore at the Smug, which woke Ambrosius up.
“It's still early,” said Ambrosius.
“Yes but I forgot to draw the damn curtains, and that cod- forsaken bauble is doing
its best to shine right in my eyes.”
“We might as well get up now.”
Stan sighed. “I resent it, but yes. You need a new suit, one which speaks for your
new found wealth. Then we shall see about getting you a job with the Company.”
The tailor had the suit fitted by the afternoon and Ambrosius and Stan collected it
as soon as it was finished. It looked sharp as a nine- inch nail, with that certain deadly
quality that accompanies something very expensive.
“You look murderous, sir,” said Stan as they walked towards the centre of the
City. “Now Fish Stocks Limited has its headquarters about fifteen minutes walk from
here, right in the middle of everything. They took over the king's old palace. It is said
all roads lead there, from when people came from miles around to use his fish
processing machine. Some say the old machine is still down there somewhere in the
basement.”
They made quick progress across town, Ambrosius receiving a few resentful looks
off people who had taken out loans with him. But they were looks that spoke equally
of deference – the suit told them that they would do well not to get in its wearer's way,
 
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