The Price of Demand (Reintegration Edit 12)

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Altman set down a hammer and chisel and wiped dust the color of dried from his hands with a handkerchief and sighed in satisfaction. “That ought to about do it.” He hefted a small bag which contained more of the red powder. Waldon finished filling several more of the bags while a couple of his men pounded broken bits of red rock with sledge hammers to produce more. “We’ve enough for now I think, thank you!”

“Altman!” He turned at his name; Kaylene approached. “I ‘ave the small sacks you asked for. What are you up to? What happened t’ your hands? Is that blood?”

“Iron oxide, love. Simple rust to catch our troublemaker, if all goes well.”

She tossed him the small bags. “Whate’er you think it’s for, you’d best be washin’ it off before you touch any of my good linens or it’ll be me droppin’ stones on someone’s head, and you won’t like it one bit. And you’ve got some on your trousers, it’ll be murder to get out!”

Her words were harsh, but there was a glint in her eye. He grinned at her; she smacked him upside the head, but answered with a smile of her own.

“Ow! Yes, I’m afraid it will be hard to get out, but that’s exactly why I needed it. I’ll take care of the cleaning later myself. I have some ideas on how the iron’s magnetic properties may allow it to be removed more easily. For now, let me just go get cleaned up. I’ll be retiring early tonight to track down whoever’s behind the assaults tomorrow.”

Kaylene shook her head slowly, a look of amused wonder on her face. “Solves crimes and cleans his own clothes … no wonder I agreed to stay here with you.”