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One Day's Work

Author: 
Grundle (Richard Henry)
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
105

As the mist fades from the shore, Tiri-Nuan wakes to another day. The farm carts, awake for hours, slowly creak into the city like a small army of ants. Each cart pulled by an equally lethargic mule or horse. The chill of the sea slowly dissolves with the mist as the day-globe warms the morning with a golden light. As the day grows, the shrill sound of the crier wakes the town, and as with every day, the lone voice takes up the chant of Bula, which marks the beginning of the morning business. All this is so commonplace, that Thorn barely notices it. She has more important thing to do today than to notice the music of the chant or the bustling of the market. Today someone will die.

She has been practicing this run over and over again, learning each curve and turn of the stalls, getting to know the merchants, just a little. As she passes a fruit vendor, she waves, and gets a wave in return and then is forgotten. All according to the plan, a good simple plan.

The debate is setting up and she can she her mark bustling around. He is helping setup the gathering, as is his nature, being helpful. He is a good man, but this is not important to her. He is today’s mark, and nothing more. She fingers the delicate necklace that she wears, woven by some long forgotten person, she does not remember who made it anymore, she liked it and she took it. That is the way she is, she takes what she wants, and he who thwarts her best be fast. Silently she wanders around patient, ever so patient. Looking about, the guards seem not to be present, and why should they be? This is just a public gathering, like every other one held here almost every day. The peaceful way this is organized pleases her. The people here are used to peace and a slow life, the order of things are not disturbed here. She is about to change that, but they don’t know that, yet.

She slowly remembers whom she will take today. He is big fish in this pond, almost the biggest, his political ambitions, she is sure, is the reason why he has been marked today. But that is all she ponders, for it is an old truism, know enough, but not too much, getting to know the mark to well can cause the hand to stay, to wait just a second longer than is needed…never think of them as people, only as marks, as targets on a tree.



 

She sees him in the market, an easy hit , but the time is not right.He is to die in public, for maximum effect. Of this her employer is specific, he must be taken down in full view. She could care less, it makes the task a little more daunting, but she is very good, and she is fast and confident. Thorn knows two things, she must take him down, in full view of his people and she must leave the city in speed, for that she has obtained a little drink, a potion that should allow her to move faster than her pursuit can attain. That is what she enjoys; the kill is not for sport, but the escape, which is sport, a game she has always won. That this will be difficult, only adds more sweetness to the game. She will take him, at close range, while he is addressing his followers. And in the surprise she will be gone. This is how it is always done, and will always be. She has no remorse, she is a soldier in a war, and he is a soldier in a war. That she kills in silence, without an army makes no difference. He fights his battles in the public with words; she fights her battles with dagger and dart. Today, her weapon is a dagger.

The man is beginning the day’s activities. Around him revolves two parties, easily identified, each distinct from one another. He moves casually amongst both of them, welcome by both, or so he thinks. She can see how each watches him as he leaves to attend to the other. She dissects each of the group’s responses to him as he leaves them. Both respect him, but neither trust him, he is to easy amongst their opponent.

He introduces both speakers for the day, calling the crowd to him. The people mill in, eager for his words, this man is well known.

The first speaker, a great Elf-lord from the look of him, beautiful and full of power and himself, haughty and arrogant, but spellbinding. He begins his speech, his voice music, and his words poetry.

“ People of the city of the twin Moons, long have we lived in peace, Bula grant us it forever. We are here to discuss something, a problem I am told, that troubles our fair city…our city, ours, built by us, all of us.” On and on he goes, thorn is moved by the sound of his voice and the sight of him, but not by his words, To her, he is but a mouth that spouts beauty, but does not touch her. The people respond to him, moved by him, Stirred to loyalty, he controls them. A magnificent speaker, the crowd answers him is silence, each word reaching the gathered mob.

Finally finished he releases the crowd from his spell, and a hushed murmur passes through, much agreement and some rancor. Next, a comically fat man, helped to the stage by two unfortunate followers. His weight, grotesque, but his voice is strong and compelling. He launches into a loud and almost frighteningly convincing tirade.

“People, look about you, men, we are this city, the elves rule us, we are made to make a vow of fealty to a Queen, who cares not for us…” his words incite man and elf alike. His words are strong, reaching the crowd in the gut. Forcefully making them hear him, pay him heed. He is fire, and earth, the total opposite of the elf, who was wind and water. He has none of the eloquence that the elf possessed, but strength of will and a power that the crowd, man and elf alike respond to.

After a time an impossibly long time of controlling the crowd he relents his grasp on them and the spell in broken. Freedom return to the crowd and the people begin to speak to one another.. She has stopped listening, she is waiting, she has moved close to the man she must strike and she can she him, speaking with both the Elf and Man, trying to be a bridge between the two. The hate between the two opponents is palpable, she can see it from where she stands, she almost feels a twinge of pity for the man, he is fighting a battle he will lose, for she can clearly see there is not a gap that can be bridged between the man and elf. The argument has almost become brutal and they are separated.

Now is almost the time, she can sense He will address the crowd, he is the conciliator, she can see he must do it, the crowd is unruly and a riot could break out, the energy is strong and he must control it. The Time approaches.

Again, he employer stipulated she must wait till he is nearly done. She has seen him speak before a crowd before, she knows his weapons and that he will calm this crowd. She must strike just as he has done so, to make the hit strike harder on his people. “Listen to me, please listen!” He stands before them, a Man of good age, handsome in his way, and with a strength of body that appeals to Thorn. Had she meet him before this job, he would have been one she would have bedded, but now he is a corpse to her, only he doesn’t know it. He will though, just before the end, he will know.

She slowly runs her hand along her left arm, she can feel the small heft of the dagger. Carefully, set into a spring in her forearm, envenomed with a particularly nasty surprise. Another demand of her employer, the refined poison of giant sea snake, it will cause a rapid and painful havoc on the body, shutting down the organs of the victim, but will leave his mind aware, so that the process will kill him, in agony. This is something she cares not for, her kills are clean and quick, but, this is a political assassination, and she can understand the need for a very graphic and public death. He will die, quickly enough, so that no cure can be administered, but slowly enough to bring fear into his followers.

“ The city and the land are in turmoil, we all agree, to the south the wastes a raging again, yes, and the Queen is dealing with it. W are safe, but there is a more pressing issue…”

The mass responds to his voice. He controls them, only lightly, with great skill. His is a reasoned and logical attack. Addressing people in the crowd directly, making his words personal. The effect is less staggering than the preceding speakers, but as effective. The throng clams, relents is antagonism. Peace begins to settle amongst them.

“ Look around you, we live in peace, man and elf, prosperity surrounds us, we trade with our neighbors to the north, we guard to the south, all this is accomplished because of our two great races living together, nowhere is …

She works her way to him and he, unknowing of his fate, works his way towards her. His death now, on her arm sings a song to her along, buzzing, humming, for this dagger was made for him alone, it knows his name and waits, impatiently to meet him. He is just steps away now, almost in reach, but not close enough, he must see her face, feel the sting, Carefully, un-noticed she stoppers the flask and drinks the fluid, it rushes down her then, like lightning, and she can feel he body beginning to stir, faster and faster. She now must fight to keep her body moving slowly, it hurts so much. It aches to moves faster and faster, but a movement to quick would draw the attention to her far to quickly. To her, time almost stops, the crowd moves slowly, carefully, she governs her body…hard..hard to move this slow. His head makes the turn towards her and she catches his attention with the words she has practiced to say, slowly…so slowly.

“You should be our King, Man..you should lead us!”

He slowly comes to her, she has done it right, but she knew she would. And so slow, the potion is really working now…he puts his hand upon her shoulder, eyes fully on her..the time almost right. He turns completely, his words slowed beyond recognition, tells her something.

Then, her hand strikes, so fast that the others cannot see, he can barley feel it, the dagger, that tiny sliver is now in his body, so small that it will leave no visible mark, for a time, but he will feel it, and as he does, an eternity of time later, it seems, his eyes become aware of that sudden pain. And Thorn is gone, so fast that even she cannot believe it. The potion is still hitting its peak; the people are frozen and cannot see her, she moves so quickly. Past the market she runs, out the gate, the guards asleep ,it seems, at the entrance to the city and she is gone, safe. Easy, no sport in the escape, no thrill, but she is safe.

A small time later, the potion begins to wear of and the weariness begins to catch-up to her. So suddenly, Thorn is not prepared to deal with it, her body needs to rest, and the safe house is still far to go. Slowly, haltingly she paces onward.

Finally, an eternity later, Thorn reaches the safe house. From the secret entrance she arrives. Fatigue overcomes her and Thorn collapses, exhausted. Hours later, Thorn awakes with a start. In that time she has realized she has lost something, her necklace, gone, she cannot remember when she lost it. Slowly she remembers, His hand, upon her shoulder, just as the pain hit, while she let him see her, must have clenched at the necklace, a mistake, that may cost her life. For a time she is afraid, if the mages of the city find it, they can track her here, and take her and learn from her. But she cannot leave, the safe house is a safe house till it is broken, and if broken she must die protecting it, so as not to reveal the others.

But the days pass and no one arrives. Thorns fear subsides, if they found it, they would have been here by now, safety assured she waits for her payment.

Slowly there is the knock at the door, the knock that was prearranged, she knows her employer has arrived and her payment is due.

The employer enters, hooded as before.

The bag lands upon the floor, a bag, large and heavy.

“Gold it is”

He turns and over his shoulder says, “He did not die, but our purpose was achieved.” And he is gone, the door shut. When he is safely gone, Thorn takes the bag and starts to opens it, a small jingling disturbs her, and she becomes aware of what the bag is sealed with….her necklace.

 

One Day's Work © Grundle (Richard Henry)

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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