Sep. 14, 2017
“Don’t look so disgusted.” His mentor demanded, turning his head slightly as he walked. Diero had no idea how he always knew; he never seemed to actually look, but he always knew when the young rogue did something wrong. At the top of the stairs the they took a sharp left and stole into a quiet room just above the bar. Diero could still make out the hubbub below through the poorly insulated floor, and could see most of the patrons through the large gaps between the boards. “There’s a man, drunk and belligerent.” Right to business, his mentor was always about business. “He’s in debt to many, drinks away his earnings before they can collect. Owns nothing, has no one, there’s no way to pressure him to pay.” His mentor pulled a blade out from under his robe. “No one will miss him.”
The blade was dark, made of something metal that he didn’t recognize. It was cold to the touch, like steel, but it reflected no light. In fact, it seemed to actually absorb light. The hilt was made of a simple polished wood with slight markings etched in gold into the grip. It simply read, “Death’s Embrace.”
“It’s beautiful,” Diero stammered as he tested the balance. It laid perfect flat on his pointer finger without wavering at all. “And perfectly balanced, what is it?!”
“It’s a gift. The best blade an assassin could hope for.” He clasped Diero on the shoulder, a rarity as he didn’t like to touch anyone if he wasn’t killing them. “Make me proud.” The young rogue nodded brusquely then headed for the door, stashing the blade in an accessible pocket inside his robes. “He’s in the alley,” his mentor said quietly. Without looking back, he left the room and exited the tavern into the street.
He quickly pushed past the ladies of the evening that stood around out front, ignoring their requests and lewd gestures and strolled into the alley. It was late morning and the sun was high in the sky, the alley was lit well and, though secluded, still very public. There was a large man covered in sweat bent over a cask, vomiting loudly onto the ground. His body heaved and shook with each fit which was followed by a bout of coughing and spitting. As Diero approached him the man stopped and straightened up, stretching his back and yawning loudly. He quietly slid the new blade from his pocket, his heart starting to race with anticipation. He’d seen his mentor do it so many times, so smooth, like an angel of death. He envisioned himself dancing through the alley, blood spraying the walls as the man was sliced into tiny chunks before he could even move to defend himself. A grin crept across his face and he stole closer to the drunken buffoon, who was now scratching himself and preparing to take a piss.
As Diero came within striking distance he paused momentarily, letting the power of the situation wash over him. He was in control of this man’s life, and he was about to end it. Dozens of years cut short by his blade. He chose who lives, and he chose who dies. His heart raced faster at the glory of it all, the godliness that he would embody as he embraced his life as an assassin. With a surge of excitement the young rogue jabbed his arm forward, plunging the knife into the man’s back.
“Fuuuuhhh!” The man bellowed, throwing his head back. His voice echoed through the alley and into the street, a few passers-by looked in, curious as to what creature had caused such a noise. No one cared, however, and continued wandering as they saw the black hooded figure pull a bloody blade from the man’s back. The blood spurted gently out of the gaping hole left in the man’s flesh, splashing across Diero’s fingers. It was warm and Diero’s excitement grew. He jabbed forward again but the man, large as he was, wasn’t ready to give up and the initial cut didn’t incapacitate him as Diero had believed. He turned quickly and grabbed Diero’s arm by the wrist, swinging his second arm with a powerful punch to the young man’s chest. The vile drunkard was surprisingly quick for his size and apparent state of inebriation. Diero flew backwards and landed in a pile of trash, the blade bounced away on the stone alley floor, just out of reach.
“Raaaaah!” The man bellowed again as he charged, but stopped suddenly as his bellowed turned to a throaty gurgle. Diero watched as his lips reddened and a small spurt of blood spat out, bubbles forming behind it as the man struggled to breathe. With a heavy thud he slammed into the ground, more gurgles wetly sounding from his lips.
“I…” Diero started as he saw his mentor standing in the alley, a red, dripping blade in his hand after the man fell. He shook his head and Diero silenced himself. The man’s face was drawn with disappointment and frustration. Without a word he picked up the dark blade, wiped it off on his sleeve, and stashed it back in the robe from whence it came.
“You’re not ready.” He said quietly, the disappointment in his voice bouncing off the alley walls like the fat man’s bellows. Without another word he quickened his pace and hastened out of the alley, leaving his young apprentice struggling to keep up.