Assassin's Tale

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Chapter 25

Caroline’s little ship tilted as it changed tack once again to take advantage of the light airs that had dogged them since pushing out into the river. Behind her two fishing smacks followed suit, all three carrying what was left of the population of La Mer.

Dannia sat beside the white coffin of Angel staring out from her vantage point on the high poop deck her eyes unseeing and empty.

The aftermath of the assault was surreal.

The lieutenant had taken guards loyal to him to the Châteaux to rescue Angel only to find all the officers dead and his Father the Imperator murdered. The whores gave him garble accounts of what happened but one thing they did agree on and that was that Angel was being taken back to the camp. The lieutenant worked swiftly removing not only his father’s chain of office but also the garnet ring with which he could control the War Golems then he headed back to the camp. Fate or the Gods had arranged that he entered the fray at the right moment to bring it to a close.

As they neared the river port where Caroline’s ship was moored the Lieutenant took his guards and several of the Mages and all of the Golems to where the men were held captive while Caroline took Simieon and Juliet to collect the children.

They were all onboard the little flotilla of ships that made its slow progress to the sea now and a pitiful group they were.

Dannia will never forget the sight of the men as they were brought into the clearing by the quays. Once proud strong men had been reduced to hollowed eyed skeletons barely weighing six stone each, their legs so thin you wondered how they didn’t break from the shear effort of walking, but walking they were.

It was decided that Caroline’s little ship would take the wounded and most frail so both Ludwig and Beatrix could tend to them though for the men there was little they could do other than slowly feed them with broth to build up their strength.

Dannia heard a splash and a muttered prayer as another of the frail succumbed to their wounds and ills.

She saw Tommy and beckoned him over. She watched him carefully pick his way through the frail and injured that lay everywhere on the deck.

“Tommy what’s the butcher’s bill do we know?” She asked her voice cracked with emotion and fatigue.

Tommy sighed and sat down beside her.

“We came off relatively lightly Danni.” He said with a grimace. “Which is more than can be said for the white banded guards. We lost Mary. The stupid woman killed fifteen of them before she died from blood loss; she was so in her berserk state she wouldn’t stop. We lost De-ath from an arrow in the heart but he was injured badly anyway from treading on a trap. I told him he was tempting fate with that daft name. I’ll miss them.”

Dannia put a hand on Tommy’s and gave it a consoling squeeze.

“It was how they would have wanted to go.” She said.

Tommy nodded.

“The guards lost seven out of the twenty five and two others are critical. Ludwig has them down in the hold so he can keep an eye on them. Of the children three were killed in a cave-in at the mine and another didn’t get out of the way in time as he cleaned the waterwheel looms and was crushed by the returning running wheel.”

Dannia lifted a hand and stilled the young man, she had heard enough. Respecting her mood he got up and left her in peace.

Dannia put her hand on the coffin and lent back to look up at the cloudless sky and wept bitterly. Of the five hundred and fifty towns folk who were captured and enslaved barely two hundred remained and for some they would not see their homes again.

“Friend Dannia some people want to speak to you, I send them away, yes.” Helena told her after being relieved by Bella at the tiller.

Dannia look across to where Hattie, Juliet and white faced Fran stood.

“Let them come Helena?” She beckoned them forward with a wave of a hand.

“Lady Dannia I know this time is hard for you but Fran was Angel’s lover and I wondered if she can share your vigil for Angel?” Hattie asked carefully so not to offend Dannia.

“Come sit with me all of you and tell me of my sister.” Dannia got up and took Fran in her arms. There was no stirring of sexual desire, nothing but shared grief. The two women clung to each for support as they wept.

At last they pulled apart and Dannia asked the same question she had asked the Lieutenant when they had said goodbye back at the quay.

“Did you make my Angel happy?” Like the lieutenant she said yes. “I’m glad my Petite Angel was happy at the end.”

The lieutenant had tearfully saluted and led his guards away. With Holy Paladin Caroline at his side the new Imperator had his own people to deal with and a corrupt church to destroy. But in Fran’s case she just wept.

Dannia put her arm around Fran and drew her to her side as they all sat and began telling tales of their friend called Angel.

It took three days to reach La Mer and another day to disembark and get organised with the help of a newly arrive militia contingent from Perry. The sick and injured were taken to the temple while Simieon and Helena aided by those strong enough removed what was left of the corpses the raiders had left behind.

It was decided to bury them together in a mass grave in the centre of the town the next day.

It was as Dannia watched the two home going fishing vessels disappear into the sunset from the jetty, that Hattie, Beatrix and the others came to see her.

“Hello Ladies. How is your friend doing Holy Sister?” Dannia asked.

“Alice’s fever has broken at last which give us a good chance of healing the wound on her back now. She should make a full if slow recovery.” Beatrix reported.

“Good I’m glad, a very brave girl I gather.”

“Yes she is. My Lady Dannia I suppose you’ll be taking Angel back to your fathers home for burial in the family tomb and I wondered if there was a keepsake of hers we could bury with our own people. She was so loved by us all it was as if she was one of our own.” Hattie petered to a stop expecting a flat refusal at best.

“No Lady Mayor I will not give a keepsake but not for the reasons you are thinking of. I want my sister buried here where she was loved, where she was happy. Is that possible?” Dannia said with choked emotion.

“Yes my Lady she shall be laid amongst the others and a memorial shall be built over them, a shrine of remembrance for all who died.” Beatrix told her respectfully. “She will be with people who loved her and I can’t think of a more fitting resting place.”

“Nor can I Holy Sister, nor can I.” Dannia sniffed loudly before continuing. “Will you look after my sisters sleeping place Fran?”

“Yes my Lady with all my heart I will.” Fran replied tearfully.

“Then let it be so.”

Juliet vowed to put a statue of Angel on the monument but was gainsaid by Dannia who suggested an actual Angel would be more tasteful.

The funeral was a sombre affair as Angels coffin was laid amongst the others in silent respect.

The mages who had returned with them placed a protection over the grave before Fran called the earth to seal them in. As the ground began to heave and trickle into the large communal grave Beatrix gave the blessing.

“Lord God look upon these poor souls with favour and take them into the bosom of your heart. Take our friend Angel who came to us as a stranger and became loved by all she met, who became one of our own. Give comfort to all those who have lost loved ones, give them peace.”

Soon the ground had covered over the grave and all was peaceful once again.

That night as Dannia was sitting quietly with her old group the conversation swung round to the treatment of the women.

“What a world we live in.” Simieon muttered staring into his wine. “The School whipping and circumcising the girls to beak their spirits and get control over them, the orgies were the women want to be whipped for pleasure, the camp where you were tortured and beaten out of fear and hate.”

“All a mere hairs breadth apart from each other. The camp guards were taught to hate and fear anything different, to consider themselves above all others.” Peer added. “It was the only way their minds could cope with what they were doing with out going insane.”

“You will always get those who get a thrill about sailing close to the edge, in playing at being in danger that is how most orgies work. They play safely with the sense of degradation without really experiencing it.” Ludwig added sleepily lighting his smoking weed pipe.

“And what of the school girls, where do they fit in in your comparisons?” Dannia said angrily. “They were mutilated to break their spirits yes but their fathers; lovers and husbands must have wanted them that way. They must have wanted to have subservient women to service them without regard for their own pleasure, their own needs.”

“You don’t know do you darling. All the Temple healers got together and using the flesh imprinted in ‘Nocturnes’ recreated their flesh; they are all whole again my love, all whole and well.” Simieon told her very worried about this vulnerable version of his wife.

“I want to leave for Perry tomorrow.” Dannia said resolutely.

“The spy master won’t mind us staying in the house for awhile longer so you can build your strength up.” Peer told her.

“I can’t stay here Peer, I just can’t.” Dannia whispered. “I leave for Perry tomorrow who is with me.”

All except Ludwig agreed to accompany her.

“I have no reason to return to Perry besides they need me here to help with healing. I may go back to collect my equipment but that will be all.” He said sadly. “I’ll say my goodbyes now if I may as I need to be back at the temple. Beatrix has offered to put me up there and I don’t want to disappoint her. She a fine looking woman.” He blushed before kissing and hugging his friends. “Well goodbye don’t forget me.”

“How can I you little sod I’m still suffering from wind from that healing potion you gave me.” Peer groaned.

“Hmm must be the Leeks I put in it. I wonder if those new herbs called chillies would be more effective.” With a watery smile he left them for his new life with hopefully his fine woman assuming he didn’t poison her first with his concoctions.

Perry was still the same when they rode in, still bustling still as debauched but now the thought of it made Dannia feel sick. Even their rooms gave her no solace after she reported everything she knew to the spymaster. She looked around it seeing in her minds eye everything that had occurred within its wall and the sickness grew. It wasn’t her home anymore it belonged to another woman called Dannia not the one standing on the carpet now.

Three hours later two last events took place.

Dannia was outside of the guild masters door talking to two huge thieves

“Hello Hugo, Sven. I didn’t know you two had become the Masters bodyguards.” Dannia said cheerfully in a voice quite unlike her own.

“Well if isn’t Lightning Fingers returned to the fold.” Hugo chuckled.

“Good to see you Lightning the boss will be glad to have you back.” Sven the larger of the two said to Dannia’s heavily cloaked form. “Here Hugo perhaps Lightning here can settle the argument for us.”

“Of course I will boys. What’s a matter?”

The two men had been arguing over who had the better piece of new equipment and wanted Dannia to arbitrate.

“See this Lightning.” Hugo showed her a dull rod concealed in his palm. “Watch!”

He thudded it into the melon on the table and when he drew it back it revealed a shinning new blade that had sliced the fruit open. “It’s got a spring in it so when you thump it into some one the blade springs out and does for them. There are different sizes to.” Indicating three others beside the pierced fruit as with a click on the shaft the blade vanished back into the handle.

“You’ll have to go some to beat that Sven.” Dannia commented.

“You think so do you look at this.” Sven held up a slim silver tube on a necklace chain. His slid his finger along its surface and a fine set of rods appeared that clicked together to make a key. He ran his finger another section and the rods moved creating a different key. It was the finest set of lock picks she’d ever seen.

“May I?” Sven dropped into her gloved hand where she studded it a moment before picking up the spring knife from where Hugo had left it on the table. “A difficult choice this. Oh by the way is his Lordship in?”

Hugo replied with a self importance he didn’t deserve.

“Yeah he is what do you want to see him about?” He asked.

Dannia’s gloved hand waved them down so she could whisper in their ears.

“To kill him for betraying the city but don’t tell anyone.”

Before they could react she burst into action slamming the spring knife into Sven’s head killing him instantly before snatching his knife and cutting Hugo’s throat.

She pulled back the hood of her cloak and looked down at the men with distain.

“Rank amateurs. Fancy killing each other over some toys. Thanks for these by the way they may come in useful.” She pocketed the spare spring knives and the lock pick before turning to the main doors to the Guild Masters Office. She thought she had heard a thump from inside but when she heard nothing more assumed it was her imagination as she lifted up her hood once more.

She pushed open the door and with her nerves on hair triggers walked in to confront the man who thought he’d take over Perry after the invasion.

Any retribution she was going to take would have to wait until they met in the after life. The man laid sprawled half way down the spiral staircase from his living quarters above.

As Dannia cautiously crossed to the body she was unaware of the shape of Owen Dorr, the Dyffid Bard, slipping around the door and away.

“What and idiot he’s slipped on the stair and impaled himself on his own sword.” She let the head drop back down to the floor. As she was about to get up she notice something white at his neck. She pulled back his collar to reveal a tattoo of a Snow Bear rather than a necklace as she hoped. Leaving the body where it was she examined the two rooms pocketing anything of interest. In fact that was precisely what she was doing in the office when Simieon caught up with her.

“Dannia what have you done woman!” He was beside himself with fear and anger.

“I killed those stupid idiots out there but not him.” She pointed at the dead body of the Master. “He killed himself.”

“For the Gods sake can’t we ever settle down anywhere with out you doing something daft.” Simieon was almost leaping up and down on the spot. “You can’t go round killing the Guide Master and expect the high council to turn a blind eye about it.”

He rushed over to her and grabbed her wrist.

“Come on we’ve got to get away from here!” Dannia meekly followed him out and soon the pair of them disappeared into the dark labyrinth of the thieves roads.

Father Peter and Alison stood side by side looking out of the Temple of Huron’s side door that led out into the small grave yard. An area of freshly dug earth could be clearly seen.

“She’s taken Marie with her then?” Alison asked slipping her hand into his.

“Yes apparently. I should think the little casket with her ashes as gone too.” Father Peter said sadly. “Do you know she left a note for me this morning?”

He passed the roll of parchment over to the girl.

She unrolled it and read out loud.

“If you love her tell her you idiot. The age gap means nothing if you truly love her. Dannia.” Alison sniffed and laid her head on the fathers shoulder. “She’s going to miss our marriage and I wanted her as a matron of honour.”

Father Peter smiled and looked down at the girl before kissing her tenderly.

“Yes she is but I’m sure she’ll be with us in spirit that’s assuming you’ll have me.”

“Come on daring let’s go in we’ve a wedding to plan.” She paused a moment. “Will she be alright Peter?”

“I hope so Alison my darling, I hope so.” Taking her hand he led her back into the temple and shut the door.

Outside the city a small caravan made its way rickety up the road. Simieon and Dannia sat side by side on the caravan’s running board still arguing over events.

“How many times Simieon! He was already dead when I went in the idiot had fallen on his sword by accident.” Her voice was a piercing shriek.

“Oh yes and what about the other two they killed each other just to get out of your way?” Simieon bellowed back.

“No I did kill them. I’ve got their tools here lovely they are.”

“Dannia!” Simieon roared in disbelief.

(Now where was I? What do you mean you’ve gone off the idea? I’ve been trying to start it for days! Stop that will you. Oh never mind I didn’t want to write it anyway.)

Authors After word

Well I hope you have enjoyed Dannia’s outing in Assassins Tale but I bet you have gone of course nothing could really happen. I sorry to say it can and frequently does.

Female circumcision is still carried out today in some third world countries and even in some modern communities. Even as late as the nineteen fifties in America it had its advocates.

There are three types of circumcision in women starting with the removal of the clitoris all the way down to the removal of the clitoris, inner and outer labia and the fusing of the remaining flesh to produce a tiny fissure for the flow of menstrual fluid and urine. In all cases in my mind the sole reason is to remove female sexual pleasure which I think is abominable in this day and age.

Violence and abuse against girls in schools by staff was an accepted method of teaching right up to the Victorian age and I’m sorry to say more of this barbarism is being brought to light in faith schools everyday.

Orgies have been acceptable way of conducting yourself over many many centuries and the use of pain as a form of sexual stimulation is just as old.

In Rome the wife of Caesar Claudius challenged a local brothel owner at an orgy she had arranged to see which one could have sex with the most men. The emperors wife won easily, her name was Messelina and her rather dubious record stood until a student studying sexuality as part of her psychology degree broke it and I wouldn’t be surprised if it hasn’t been broken many times over by some porn starlet or other.

The first known concentration camp was in Poland during the 18th century and the Americans used similar types of camps against the Native American Indians in 1830. But the first concentration camp by that actual name was created by the British during the second Boer war somewhere between 1899 and 1902.

The ones we all remember, at least I hope we do, are those that Nazi Germany used against the Jews, Gypsies and anyone else who didn’t fit their twisted view of humanity.

It was in these camps that doctor carried horrendous experiments on the inmates ranging from enforced sterilisation to creating war wounds for them to practice on.

Nothing should trivialise those events of barbarism to our fellow man but perhaps we can examine what the mind set would be of the perpetrators and what excuses they would give themselves for there actions in a piece of fiction.

So you see even a fantasy world such as mine reflects the real world we live in and can never be as violent and cruel.

Yours

Silverback.

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