Categories > Original > Fantasy

the Silent Assassin

by LordOfPandemonium21 0 reviews

Preview The air was sharp as knives against Arabella's eyes as she peered through the fog to the ocean beyond. She had been perched silently on the roof of the terraced house since before dawn ...

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2018-11-07 - 1918 words

The air was sharp as knives against Arabella's eyes as she peered through the fog to the ocean beyond. She had been perched silently on the roof of the terraced house since before dawn and the sun now hung lazily above the horizon. Her slender fingers had long since gone numb as she gripped her bow with white knuckles. She woe sturdy lace-up boots, scuffed with signs of wear and her pants were adorned with a number of small throwing knives. The inside of her tight jacket held an assortment of blades and a worn sheath of glinting arrows was strapped on her back. The small armoury she carried on her person was weightless and familiar. Her breath misted around her slender face and her steely blue eyes sat large in her slight features, as they flicked around her surroundings, observing every detail. A breeze picked wisps of silvery-blonde hair out of the tight braid that ran down her spine, circling her face like a snow blizzard. She tucked them back behind her ears impatiently.

They said morning, it is morning, now where is this lord? The sooner I'm out of this damned wind the better. In the muddy street below, she saw only a handful of beggars and drunks weaving their way between the puddles that dotted the lane. The heavy scroll she had been given in passing in a back alley of the city indicated that her target was Lord Michael Fowler of Glassbrook. The 'how's' and 'whys' of her contract were irrelevant; it was a need-to-know basis. Sealed with thick crimson wax, the expensive parchment inside civilly gave the details of Lord Michael's whereabouts and asked for 'the highest level of discretion.' So here she was, perched in the shadows of the early morning, waiting for her target to appear. On cue, the mast of a grand sailing ship cut through the thick fog, and was soon docked alongside the creaking jetty.

Well, about time, she thought. Keeping an eye on the tall gentleman who descended from the deck of the ship, Arabella heard the scratch of a shoe on tiling. She turned just as a hooded man dropped down from behind the chimney. There was a knife two inches deep in his chest before his feet hit the tiles. Turning back to look down her arrow towards the dock, she saw that Lord Fowler was now shaking hands with a small crowd that had appeared on the muddied street. Snippets of their conversation danced along the breeze,

" gracious of you to join us..."

"Your trip was pleasant I hope?"

She had missed her chance. Sliding her bow onto her back, she stalked to the rear of the roof, easing the knife out of the deceased hit man as she went. She dropped down from the roof and landed in a silent crouch. She hugged the wall and peered around the corner to look at the crowd.

The man who appeared behind her had his hand around her throat before she heard him. Certainly better trained than the previous attacker, she thought. Despite being caught off guard, Arabella soon had her forearm pinned against his throat as she held him against the wall. Using her other hand, she pushed on his wrist, forcing the knife to drop with a clatter onto the cobblestones. The shadow of his hood kept his face hidden, but she saw his eyes widening as her thin dagger pierced his stomach, easing up through his ribcage. Sliding him to sit against the icy wall, she moved silently to peer around the corner once again.

The street was deserted. An impatient grunt escaped Arabella's lips as she stalked down the street. This should have been simple she seethed. Hearing the laughter of a group of men, she swung up onto balconies and leapt across walls to perch on the roof above a small shop. As she leaned over the edge, the sickening fear of heights bubbled in her stomach but Arabella pushed the feeling away and focused her attention on the men below. From the kaleidoscope of chatter, a deep voice boomed out, "Very well gentlemen, if you would like to follow me inside." An eruption of laughter burst from the throng and Arabella shook her head, such fools, they have no idea. As she concentrated, her foot slid on the roof, and a dusting of debris fell onto the men below, they looked up at her and she sprang into action.

Well, now they know I'm here. Sliding her bow over her head, a throwing knife was already sliding out of her slender fingers. The brush of the fletching against her cheek felt smooth as she exhaled and let an arrow fly, one after another finding their way to their targets. The world around Arabella faded away as she focused on the tall man running down the street, puddles splashing up his legs. His maroon coat billowed around him and beads of sweat appeared on his temples, he knew there was no escape from the figure on the roof. Placing an arrow snugly against her cheek, she raised her aim above his head to compensate for the growing distance. The arrow flew silently through the air and sank into his back. He crumpled like a decaying rose, before his head hit the dirt road and the life faded from his eyes. The puddle rippled slightly as he took his last breath; the fletching feathers of the arrow blew in the wind. With her bow at her side, Arabella turned and dropped silently from the roof.

She landed on the cobblestoned pathway and strode into the street, slinging her bow over her head. The breeze carried the cries of the seagulls and lifted her hair, she tucked it behind her ears impatiently. Over the years, as her reputation had evolved, she no longer had to venture into the dank alleyways to retrieve her payment, often having to fight for her meager handful of coins. Now she was paid up front, her clients aware of her fierce wit and ferocious skills. As she weaved between the puddles on the street, Arabella's mind began to wander to memories she had long since tried to bury.

She remembered the heat of the flames as she had pulled her aching body from the wreckage, she remembered the screams of women as they were hauled off by burly men with pulsing arms and wild eyes, swords pointed at anyone who dared to come close. She remembered the scratch of the sandy pavement as it had dug into her palms. She remembered her mother's last screams ringing in her ears, "Run Arabella, get to the outskir-" As her mother's screams were cut off, and the pirate turned away from her. She remembered coming face to face with a monster. Her thoughts were interrupted as a young boy, newspapers stacked under his scrawny arms jumped in front of her, thrusting the thin parchment into her hands, yelling about yet another scandal amongst the nobility who dominated the city. "Oh, miss, just a penny, only a penny, to hear all about the scandal tearing these families apart!" Arabella pushed her painful thoughts from her mind and flicked a coin towards the jittery child, returning the weightless paper, "Go on, away with you. I don't want it, go on." Pushing the penny in his pocket, the boy spun and dashed away, mumbling his thanks as he did so.

By the time Arabella had arrived back at her house on the outskirts of the town, her temples glistened with sweat and her cheeks had adopted a rosy glow. Despite the way the sun kissed her face, the mountains in the distance were still decorated with a heavy coating of snow. Removing her worn boots and placing them neatly next to the heavy wooden door, the sound of snapping twigs roused her to reach for a knife. From the side of her house appeared a wolf, at least three feet in height. Her silvery white fur moved like a grassy meadow in a breeze as she padded over to Arabella, nudging her leg with her giant head. Arabella buried her hand in the thick fur at the back of Skadi's neck, "Hey you, good morning?" Hearing herself, she cleared her throat, opened the heavy oak door and slipped inside, with Skadi following.

The embers in the hearth still smoldered with an orange glow that danced among the ashes. Arabella systematically placed her weapons back in their place, where they became part of the surrounding interior. She rolled her neck to adjust to the silence, to the remoteness she so dearly loved. Tip-toeing over to the fireplace so as not to disturb the silence, she placed a hunk of gnarled wood amongst the embers. Her mind drifted back to when she had first encountered the monster of a wolf when fleeing from the city of Niven. After having been injected with potions to produce a weapon to use against the kingdom of Tsaw, Skadi was much larger than any normal wolf, with swift reflexes and a killer instinct. Her fur was so thick that it swallowed Arabella's hand as she stroked the wolf's strong back. The sun was dipping low in the afternoon sky before Arabella emerged to retrieve a number of blades and her two katanas, which she then hid beneath her thick cape, the hood casting her sharp features into darkness.

Again sliding on her icy boots she set off towards the warm glow of the city, the gravel and ice crunching beneath her tread. The early hours of the morning and the late hours of the night were when Arabella conducted her work, picking up jobs under the disguise of the stars and carrying them out in the silence of the dawn.The reflection of the moon caught on the ripples of the ocean like a raindrop on an eyelash, its bright light seeping into the grime of the cobblestoned streets as she wove her way between the back alleys of the terraced houses. She walked silently through the streets, weaving between intoxicated and illiterate mobs. A man, who knew a rich man, who knew a powerful man, would meet her every week with a scroll stuffed into his coat, which he bundled over to her along with a heavy pouch of coins. He would mumble his greetings and farewells as part of an uninterruptable babble, before turning on his heel and retreating into the shadows. It was only when she got home that she would break the heavy seal and roll out the parchment to read the cursive script inside. As she strolled through the streets, Arabella was just another shadow in the night, seeping fluidly through the stumbling and grumbling drunks with voluptuous women of the night entangled around their podgy arms.

A man, who could be no more than twenty, caught Arabella's eye as he stood unmoving, sunken in shadow. His tunic and shirt were well-fitted and were tailored to his broad shoulders and slim stomach. His dark shoulder-length hair hung around his face and his eyes cast down. The warm gaslight from the streetlight above hit his face, emphasising his chiselled cheekbones. Sensing her observing eyes, his clear green irises flicked upwards to meet hers. Distracted, Arabella collided with a passer-by. "Watch it, sweetheart," he grumbled. She recovered herself and turned away from the inescapable green eyes, and hurried down the alleyway towards the mountains
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