I showed mercy once, when I was young and still naive in the ways of the world. They swore to me that they would not breathe a word of what had happened, that they ould change their name, start a new life.

The desperation in their eyes made me think they were sincere, and that this would be the end of it.

I was wrong.

Years later, I put the chronology together. They had, indeed, changed their name and moved. But it was for the purpose of vengeance, not survival. They pulled on the few details that they could remember of our encounter, obsessively poring over them until they were able to track me down, in spite of all the precautions I regularly took.

If they had also taken the time to practice their marksmanship, I might not have made it.

I sat there, with their blood soaking into my clothes, for some time, thinking. They had indeed told no one. The letter of our bargain would have been kept, for I wouldn’t have seen them coming. I’d be dead.

Since then, I keep a simpler bargain. No one says or sees anything, because the dead tell no tales.

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