Am I concealed? Yes. Do I have all of my arrows? Yes. I brought myself to a kneeling position, looking out the window of an old building that had been empty for years. My target was the older man walking down the street, carrying a box of fresh fruit in his arms, stealing a peek at every woman that walked by. How pathetic he looked as he kept his eyes low, at least below their faces.
I rolled my eyes at the sight, remembering why I was assigned this guy in the first place. The street was fairly crowded for the morning, people were bustling this way and that, trying to get from one place to the next. Carts pulled by horses were moving quickly down the stone streets, many trade vendors bringing in their goods for the morning.
The man was headed in the direction of two men that were unloading a cart and shouting at each other as they did so. From what I could hear, they were shouting orders of where the boxes of fruit and supplies needed to go.
A guard appeared around the corner where the young men were working and I disappeared into the darkness of the top floor. I used this spot many times to scope out my targets since there was never anyone here. The building was old, much older than many of the stone buildings in the city. There had been a fire many years ago, leaving the building covered is ash and debris, leaving all of the furniture burnt to a crisp. Although the building was still stable, no one had the time to take it down or even clean it up. Lucky for me.
I slotted the nock of the arrow onto the bowstring and watched as my target stopped on the street to talk to a young woman, someone who clearly didn’t want to talk to the old fellow. She was carrying a bag full of fresh vegetables as her son stood nearby, throwing a ball in the air and catching it before it hit the ground.
“Sorry for this,” I whispered to myself. “But you had it coming.” I set my target and released the arrow from the bow, sending it flying through the sky with an easy whoosh. The arrow sunk into the chest of the man and he stumbled back, grabbing onto the arrow and causing the woman to let out a scream and run away. She grabbed her child, all the while dropping her bag of vegetables; sending them spilling out onto the stone street.
I disappeared behind the window, resting my back against the cold, stone wall. The sound of feet running and people shouting sent a cold wave through my body as it always did. I would wait here in the darkness before things settled down. The guards would be here soon, to take the man off of the street and search for the person that killed him.
The man was dead, the job was done, now all that mattered was my safety. Sometimes, this job got old but the pay was good. In the city of Penshaw, there is a group of assassins that takes care of special assignments. The targets are people that have done terrible things, not necessarily the people that are high profile but the ones that have raped, murdered, assaulted, stole. There are many other reasons why someone would be the target but the list goes on and on.
The group carries out special requests sent in to our leader, Meredith Buffe; then the requests are assigned to a certain assassin. I have been part of the group for four years, since the day I turned sixteen. I have killed many people, the majority of the faces I don’t remember.
I have trained myself to be heartless, to not think about the ones that I have killed and only the things that they have done. I don’t kill without reason, that is one of the conditions that I had set four years ago when I first started. The only people to die at my hand are the ones that have caused pain to other people. If they make someone’s life unbearable from day to day, they are to die. That is the way I complete these tasks.
After hours of waiting, it was clear that the officers weren’t going to come searching for the killer and instead cleaned the body off of the street and moved on with their day. The face of the young woman was stuck in my head as she ran in pure terror, clutching the back of her child’s head and running back home. I hid my bow in the corner of the room, behind a bookcase that was only half burnt; towards the bottom. I would come back for it in the dead of night, when there was no one around to see me with the weapon.
The streets were nearly empty as I appeared out the back door of the house and slipped through the alley full of old trash and mice that scrambled to hide once I approached, finding my way into a small crowd that had formed on the side of the stone streets. None of them bothered to notice me, even though I wasn’t close to being dressed like them.
Unlike the rest of the women, I wear shirts and pants-no dresses. Being an assassin, it’s difficult to move around in something other than pants and shirts. At many points in my job, I have to be prepared for a fight if it presents itself. If I’m caught in a dress, there isn’t much chance of me succeeding. The rest of the women walk around in dresses and boots that they work in, moving through their gardens and fields in order to provide their families with fresh food for the winter.
I approached one of the vendors who was selling vegetables and took a wooden crate that was sitting nearby.
“You have to pay for that,” the man standing next to the cart full of vegetables told me with a flame of annoyance in his voice. He was an older man with insane eyebrows that were thick and pointing in all directions. He stood with a hunch in his back and had patches all over his shirt, ones that weren’t done properly.
“That’s why I grabbed it,” I mumbled while I picked out some vegetables that the woman had been carrying before. I didn’t bother checking quality as the process was too long and I didn’t quite have the time or care. Doing the bare basics was all I ever wanted to do.
“Why you dress like that? Are you one of those rebel women? The ones that don’t wear the dresses and walk around proper as they should,” the man challenged as he began counting up how much the cost would be as I put more and more vegetables in my wooden crate.
“You could say that. I’m not much for the dresses. It’s harder to move around in them.” I showed him the wooden crate and he added up the numbers-including the cost of the crate. He gave me the total and I handed over the coins before heading down the street, in the direction of the woman that ran off with her child. I could feel the man watching me go before another customer took his attention.
She had disappeared around the corner before I heard a door slam, the screaming of her child stopping immediately. It was my job to be observant of every situation, noting every sound for later use. Just like now. The closest door on the street corner had the ball that the child was throwing up and catching, sitting outside the door as if the child had dropped it in a panic.
The sound of a child saying something behind the door brought a calm to my body as I waited. The door opened to reveal the woman with red eyes, a sign that she had clearly been crying. This was my fault, she was crying because of what I did. Ignore the thought, I told myself.
“Hi there,” I began. “I noticed earlier that you dropped all of your vegetables so I went and bought you some new ones. I know how expensive they can be sometimes and I didn’t want you to have nothing.” I handed the crate over to her and she took it cautiously, studying what was inside the crate.
“Are-are you sure? I can reimburse you if you want,” the woman responded as she placed the wooden crate on a nearby table and took a handful of coins from a small pouch. In the background, I could see her son sitting on the couch; reading a book with a calm expression on his face. Hopefully the event would not scar him.
“No, that’s not necessary. Have a nice day.” I gave one last smile before heading into the street, watching as a horse pulling a cart came closer as I passed. It was a vendor heading out of Penshaw, pulling the unsold goods with him until tomorrow, when he would sell everything again in another city or another kingdom altogether.
The city was beginning to wind down with many farmers heading home, covered in dirt with aching backs and knees that had been sunken into the ground while they picked fruits and vegetables. I passed by a woman that was walking home her daughter from a late day of school, not bothering to make eye contact as they passed.
My own home wasn’t very far away, a small cottage towards the docks that I hardly spent any time in. Due to my job, there seems to be constant mapping that takes place with every request. Since the cottage is so small, there isn’t much to do anyway. A small kitchen with a bedroom and bathroom is all that I have needed.
I unlocked the door and listened for silence before finally entering the house. There were people that knew I was an assassin-mainly the ones that were assassins as well-but there were sometimes random people that watched me closely, noting that I was a killer so they could turn me in. There were sizable bounties on our heads, on everyone in the group so when someone tried to turn us in; they could get as much money as they want.
The result of the ones trying to turn us in is usually death since we can’t be caught. Even though we are killing for the right reason, the Penshaw soldiers and guards do not want to deal with us since too many people lose their lives in the process. Creating havoc throughout the city is not a crime but killing people is.
I took off my dark leather jacket and slung it over one of the dining chairs, causing it to rock just slightly. The silence of my house was something that I eventually got used to as my childhood was full of people, too many of them. The silence was difficult to get used to when I first moved out on my own as there was no one taking up my personal space or constantly talking.
My name is Fauna Grave. I have gone through years and years of extensive training to get where I am today. I went through many years of fight training and weapon training in order to become an assassin. There are many people like me, the ones that end up on the streets at a young age.
As a child, I didn’t have any siblings. Although that was the case, I did have two loving parents that cared for me greatly. At this point in my life, I don’t remember their names-something that saddens me but also something that I have gotten over. We lived in a large cabin on the edge of Penshaw, with the lake as my backyard. There was joy to my life with a small family that enjoyed spending time together.
My father was a tree cutter and a furniture craftsman, someone that was good with his hands and knew how to take care of his family. My mother was the same way but instead stayed home to take care of me, prepare meals for us, and keep us clean. She was a small woman who was had the sweetest personality. My father was the opposite, rough and tough, but had a big heart that he didn’t like showing.
On the other hand, my mother was soft-hearted with a small frame and soft brown hair that hung just past her shoulders. Her bright green eyes had always been haunting to look at and something that I remember vividly. I get all of my looks from her and my personality from my father. They were nothing more than pure opposites but they loved each other greatly.
When I was just three years old, there was an attack on the city by our neighbors to the north, Lanteglos. They set fire to many of the buildings in the city and destroyed crops along with killing whoever they could. My parents, in a panic, managed to stash me in a pub that was near the house. I was stuffed behind a counter along with a few other kids while all of our parents tried to keep us safe.
When my parents went back to their house to look for weapons they had stashed in the back of their closet, the Lanteglos soldiers set the house on fire and locked my parents inside. It was a torture mechanism. When they set the house on fire, the soldiers stood outside the house to make sure my parents couldn’t escape. Their only solution was to stay in the house and die instead of getting stabbed to death by the soldiers that were standing outside.
Since that was the case, my parents died in the fire when the smoke became too thick and they could no longer breathe. Not long after, the roof collapsed and crushed their bodies. That day I lost my parents was the worst day of my life. I had nowhere to go and in the midst of all that was happening, I had to live on the streets. Since the city was trying to recover from the terrible attack, there wasn’t enough support for the children that lost their families. All of us kids had to live on the streets and hope that people would stop to give us some food or even a home.
I lived on the streets for nearly a year, fighting for my life and nearly dying in the process. It wasn’t until a cold day in winter where an older woman took us off the streets and to the outskirts of Penshaw. She lived up on the mountain with her husband, deep in the woods where no one could find her. She slipped through a small gap in the fence that bordered Penshaw and led me to her home, the home that became my own.
As kids, we didn’t know what we were doing as we were trained by the womans husband. We were given food and a warm place to live and sleep so none of us complained. By the time we were old enough and aware of what was going on, it was too late for any of us to back out. We got some help as weak kids on the street but as we got older, it would be difficult to get the help that we needed.
We stayed with that woman until the day we were sixteen. After that, all of us became assassins because there was nothing else for us to do. Our childhoods had been robbed from us and it was difficult for us to change our lives. We were stuck being killers but the pay was good enough to keep going.
After I completed my first assignment, I had enough money to put a payment on the small cottage that I would call my home. I lost touch with nearly all of the kids I grew up with, especially the ones that didn’t take the job seriously.
Over the past four years, many of them have been captured or killed for the things that they have done but there are still a few of us left, just trying to do our jobs as we are told to do. That’s how we survive.
I straightened out the jacket around my sides and grabbed the leather bag from my small dining table before taking one more look around the house. I wouldn’t be leaving for long but I always seemed to forget something.
It was the day after I killed the old man off of the streets and was ready to hand in my report to my superior, the old woman that had raised me since I was a child. I hated going to see her, she never treated me kindly even though I was the one assassin who did everything she asked. The only reason she didn’t like me was because I did things on my own terms, instead of doing exactly what she said. I did everything she asked but in different ways that suited my preferences.
The report was in my bag as I locked the door behind me and headed down the stone streets of Penshaw. The early spring air chilled me to the bone as a thin layer of fog and mist hung over the city, making every surface wet with morning dew. There were few people out and about, some of them sweeping off their store fronts or watering the plants that sat out, slowing coming to life as the weather became warmer.
Penshaw has always been a beautiful city, one that sits near the lake and is surrounded by tall, green mountains that loom beautifully any time of the year. The wooden buildings are beautifully crafted with a thick roof to keep every family safe and warm during the winter. There is a school in the city, a small one for the children that have the desire to learn. If only I had the chance to participate with the rest of the normal children.
Just as the thought crossed my mind, I passed by two small children that were kicking a melon back and forth in the streets. At any moment, that melon would burst and an angry mother would come storming out to scold her child. I tried to hide my smile at the thought and instead focused on their contagious laughter instead.
The dirt road that led up to the mountain was clear with no sign of previous people going through, a good sign for me. I slipped through the small gap in the fence and made my way along the trail that was barely big enough for one person.
My leather boots scraped the pebbles beneath me; the sound being much louder in the silence of the morning. My hot breath created a cloud of steam as I moved up the dirt trail, deeper and deeper into the mountain. The journey up the mountain didn’t take very long, twenty minutes at most if you stopped to get a drink from the stream that ran through parts of the mountain.
The old cabin that I grew up in came into sight and I sighed, already trying to prepare myself for the unbearable conversation that would come next. The old woman I grew up with; by the name of Meredith-the same person as my boss-was the most stubborn person that I had ever met. Even more stubborn than myself.
Outside the front of the cabin was a clean, green yard with a stone path going down the middle with a brick border. There was a large tree out front with a swing hanging from one of the thickest branches-a swing I had used myself whenever I wanted to be alone.
The cabin was much larger than any of the houses in the city, it was the only way Meredith was able to keep all of those children in her home. There is still no telling how she managed to feed all of us and keep all of us alive. That is a mystery that even money can’t figure out.
There was already a bird in the fountain that sat off to the side of the yard, near the garden. There weren’t any crops growing due to the fact that it wasn’t warm enough yet for anything to easily grow but the seeds had been planted just a week ago. As I walked down the stone path, the small bird took off into the sky before landing on one of the thick branches of the trees and disappearing as some sort of camouflage.
The wind chimes hanging from the front porch of the cabin swayed back and forth slightly in the morning breeze that was nearly non-existent. I knocked three times on the door-three steady knocks that each came one second apart. That was our special knock; the knock of the assassins you could say. It wasn’t anything special but it was necessary.
That way, Meredith or her husband, Harold, didn’t open the door to someone that was unwanted. The door opened to reveal Harold, a small man with wide eyes and a mustache above his lip that always annoyed me due to the fact that it didn’t suit him. At the sight of me, he smiled, causing the deep wrinkles to form around the corners of his eyes and his mouth.
“Good morning, Fauna,” he exclaimed as he stepped out of the doorway and allowed me to come inside. The familiar smell of pumpkin filled my nose as I stood in their large living room.
“Good morning, Harold,” I responded, trying to keep a smile on my face. “I’m here to see Meredith and turn in my report from yesterday.”
“Ah, of course. She mentioned something about you coming by today. If you didn’t-well you know how she is.” He waved his hand at me and led me through the kitchen, the source of the pumpkin being a mashed one that was sitting on the counter. There always seemed to be a pumpkin nearby, at every time of year and I could never figure out why or how, no matter how long I lived there. At some point I stopped looking.
Harold had no hair on top of his head, anything that he had was gone years ago. His back was permanently hunched due to all of the years that he had been alive, his body giving out on him every single day that he managed to wake up. Back when I was training, he used to be nimble and strong, someone that was able to teach us right from wrong.
“How has everything been going lately? Is Meredith bringing in more children for training?” I asked as we went through the dark and narrow hallway, towards the back of the house. Harold opened the door to the staircase and walked down with lantern in hand, lighting the way just enough to see where our feet would land.
“Meredith and I are very old now and that makes it difficult for us to train in large groups. Instead, we’re just taking on one or two children at a time. I was hoping that one of the assassins would take over, you being one of them but I know your stance on the subject.” Once again, Harold waved his hand towards me, the best he could as he was walking in front of me.
There was no chance that I would train children to be an assassin. Kids with no other place to go should not be trained to be killers, no matter how good the money may be. Take it from me, when you’re forced into the life, there is no getting back out of it.
Harold led me over to the heavy wooden door down in the basement, one that was full of wooden crates and building materials that they would never use. The air in the basement was cold, nearly numbing my hands as Harold led me into Meredith’s office, the only light in the room coming from the windows that were near the ceiling of the office, as well as the ground of the house.
Harold stepped aside and allowed me to enter the room, revealing Meredith sitting behind her desk.
“Ah, if it isn’t my shining star. Take a seat,” Meredith mumbled as she kept her eyes on the sheet of paper in front of her. I did as I was told and took a seat in one of the velvet chairs that faced her desk. I took my report out of the bag and slid it over to her without saying a word. She took the report from me and began reading through, her glasses at the tip of her nose.
Like Harold, she was a small woman, with short hair on top of her head that was always wrapped up, showing only her face. She had aged worse than Harold, much of her weight being lost in the past few months. Although that was the case, she was still as feisty as ever.
“Were you the one that caused the scene on the streets yesterday?” She asked me as she signed off of my report and opened the cabinet, dropping the report inside.
“That could not be avoided. It was the perfect time so therefore, I did it. Request completed. One less rapist on the streets of Penshaw, right?”
She glared at me and sighed before saying, “You’ll get your payment soon enough. I do have a special mission for you, if you’re interested. It will stray a little far from your usual tasks but the pay is better than anything you’ve ever made.” She looked up to face me, her expression as though she couldn’t wait for me to leave. She had always been this way with me, only communicating with the very minimum so we didn’t get into another heated argument.
“I will not go retrieve another donkey for the king. That last one was an ass if you know what I mean,” I countered as I sat back in my chair and crossed my arms over my chest. I tried to hide my smirk as the joke was one that I shared often-whenever I had the chance. Meredith took off her glasses and leaned back in her chair as well, trying to figure out how to navigate the situation.
She squinted at me in silence before saying, “You will not be retrieving another donkey. But, the request does come from the king. The task involves his son, do you know him?”
“The thief? The idiot that always gets himself into trouble because he steals and parties too hard every single night? Yes, I have heard of him and he is the last person I want to deal with. What did he do now?”
“He’s in Lerwick. He got himself into some trouble last week and he needs someone to bust him out. The king came to me because he knows that all of the people I have trained to be ‘delivery and retrievers’ are so helpful and reliable. The pay is twice what you made today. Are you interested?”
“Twice? The pay is twice what I made today? I can buy another house with that money. Why is the pay so high?” The sound of a cough coming from the other side of the door nearly caused me to jump from my seat as Harold was dealing with his ability to breathe again.
Meredith rolled her eyes at the sound and rubbed the inner corner of her eyes. In the darkness of her office, there wasn’t much to see except for her desk and chair, a bookcase, and two chairs that she had facing her desk. The room had an eerie feel to it as though terrible things had happened here. I had heard rumors that this is where they killed the assassins that went off the rails.
If that was the case, I hated being in this office because I could be next. I felt as though Meredith was hanging on by a thread before she snapped whenever it came to me.
“Because it’s the king and he would do anything for his son. No matter how stupid he may be. The king has reached the final straw, he won’t loosen the reins on his sons activities anymore. You just need to retrieve the idiot and it’ll be over.”
I sighed and thought about the situation. Where was he in Lerwick to where he couldn’t come back on his own?
“Is he in the prison?” The thought suddenly clicked into my mind, that must be why the pay is so high. The Lerwick prison is nothing to fool around with, the security is very high there and anyone that tries to get out is killed on sight.
Lerwick is the capital city in the kingdom of Lybstin. They are a nearby kingdom in a small chain of kingdoms that are on this continent. The three kingdoms are on mutual ground, Lybstin, Chepstow, and Holmfirth. Penshaw is part of Chepstow along with the cities Aramore and Veritas. The other two cities in Lybstin are Glaenarm and Durnatel.
The least favorite of the kingdoms-at least in my opinion-is Holmfirth. The twisted minds of their kingdom is the one thing that has always rubbed me wrong. Lanteglos is part of their kingdom along with Tamworth, their capital, and Bleakburn. None of the kingdoms mess around in terms of authority but Lybstin is especially strict. Dealing with criminals doesn’t last long in their cities. Criminals are killed within days of the crimes that they committed.
“Yes, he is in the prison.” I threw my hands in the air and slapped them back down against my legs. “Oh, calm down, Fauna. It’s just the prison. I’ll send you in with Cooper.”
“Cooper? He’s a mess! He doesn’t do things right. I won’t work with him.” Meredith rolled her eyes at me once more and pulled something out of the drawer of her desk. It turned out to be a cigarette, probably not the first of her day.
“You don’t do things right, either. You’re the perfect pair. So are you in or are you not?” Meredith took a puff of her cigarette and sent smoke into the empty space between us.
“No, I will not be part of that. Get someone else to do it, I’m not going to risk my life for some idiot that can’t follow the rules.” I stood up from my chair and brushed myself off while waiting for Meredith to say something.
“Fine, fine. You don’t have to do it. I’ll just get Cooper to do it with another one of the assassins. I do have another request if you’re interested.” Meredith folded her hands together on the desk and raised her eyebrows at me.
“What is it? Another rapist? I’ve been getting too many of those lately.” I scrunched up my nose-something that Meredith hated.
“No, a resident of Penshaw murdered his son and said that the young child drowned in the lake. His wife, the mother of the child, knows the truth and wants her husband dead. Does that sound like something you would be interested in?” She handed me over a piece of paper with all of the information. The woman had written much more than the normal person would on the request form.
I read through, noting that the father killed his son because the child wasn’t growing how he wanted him to. How selfish of a father. A young child didn’t get to live out their life because of an insecure father that didn’t have the strength to push his son in the right direction.
“Sounds like a real asshole,” I mumbled to myself as I folded in the corner of the paper-also something that Meredith hated. “But those are my favorite jobs. I’ll take it.” I handed the paper back over to Meredith and she stamped it quickly, a sign that the request was active and taken on by one of the assassins.
“Try not to make a scene this time, alright? Have a nice day, Fauna.” Meredith set the paper aside and got back to what she was doing before as though I had never been there in the first place. I left without saying another word, knowing that Meredith expected nothing more.
I shut the heavy door behind me as I left the dark and hollow office. Once again, I was in the dark basement that felt just as bad.
Harold had left long ago once the coughing started, taking his noise up to the house where no one could hear him. The basement was even colder as I was now alone without a lantern to guide the way. Even though Harold left one on the staircase, it was difficult to see my way through.
I tried to navigate everything in the basement until I kicked something that was on the ground, something heavy that didn’t budge as my boot made contact with it. I looked down to see something familiar, something from my childhood.
Growing up, we didn’t have very many toys and the ones that we did were not actually toys. When we weren’t training, we were allowed to run around the area and play with whatever we could find. Chances are, that would be rocks or wooden boards that we could try to kick through.
I picked up the heavy rock from the ground and placed it on one of the wooden crates to survey whether this was the famous rock, the one that we all used at one point or the other. As kids, we weren’t very strong but that created competitions to see if we could lift or push heavy rocks around.
I smiled to myself as I ran my hand over the rough surface and found my name towards the bottom, fading away after all of these years. Whenever someone was able to lift the rock and throw it, they got to write their name on the rock, to cement themselves into the history of the young assassins.
There were names all over the rock but mine had been written there more than once. Surprisingly, I was one of the strongest of the group even though I was one of the smallest.
The sound of Harold coughing once more woke me up from the past and I headed towards the stairs, taking the lantern with me to light the way. I had walked up and down these stairs thousands of times before, retrieving things from the basement for Meredith and Harold. The basement wasn’t used often except for storing everything necessary.
As I left the house, Harold was sitting at the dining table, drinking a cup of coffee in silence. I never bothered Harold and he never bothered me. We had an unspoken understanding that we both knew about, the situation involving Meredith. Unlike Harold, Meredith was tightly strung. She didn’t bother actually making conversation, wondering about how we were doing in our personal lives. All that mattered to her was getting a piece of our profit. Since she was the leader of our little assassins guild and was responsible for all of our training, she got part of the profit after every assassination. It wasn’t something that I bothered to deal with since I made enough money to fully support myself.
As I made my way back down the mountain, the sound of carts moving on the stone streets was peaceful, reminding me of the times where I didn’t have an assignment. I would sit on the street, eating an apple, and watch as the carts went by along with all of the people that were looking to buy or sell their goods.
The hustle and bustle in the morning of Penshaw always had a special touch to it. Everything was clean and organized in the morning, before the streets were filled with the flood of people looking to buy fruits and vegetables along with clothes or special goods for their families.
Chepstow was one of the leading kingdoms in terms of trade. Kingdom officials from all over came to Penshaw by boat or cart in order to sell goods or even make deals with the king.
I didn’t know much about the king of Penshaw, except for the fact that he had an annoying son and a wife that cared more about her looks than anything else. King Winston is an older man, a large man that sits behind a desk nearly all day or in his library, resting on a sofa and reading from his large selection of books. The only time I ever see the king is when he participates in parades or on his birthday when the kingdom throws him a celebration in the village square.
In terms of his wife, she isn’t much for being a queen. Her name is Ida and she is from Holmfirth, specifically Lanteglos, our biggest rivals in terms of war. She dresses herself up constantly in clothes that nearly no one but royalty can afford. Her blond hair is large, sticking high above her head to create an appeal that I don’t really understand. Just like her husband, she hardly makes appearances and could care less about the public.
Then comes the best part. Their son, the young idiot that sadly happens to be around my age. Ever since he was a child, he got himself into every single possible mischief and never failed to ignore the mistakes that he was making. His name is Dennis and sadly, the word ‘prince’ goes in front of that.
He walks around in a thick leather trench coat with the collar popped up and dark boots that are thick around his ankles. He has dark hair that is short on his head but long enough to be shaggy and nearly imperfect all of the time. Ever since he could, he has sported a beard that he keeps short but thick enough to make him look ‘mysterious’ as I have heard from the other woman that just want to get into bed with him.
He had to be retrieved twice before due to the fact that he creates problems through partying, starting fires, stealing valuable items, and so many other things that I have forgotten about due to their stupidity. I’ve never actually talked to him nor have I even passed by him but he always seems to be a popular subject around the kingdom. He is the source of nearly all of the gossip and without him, there would be nothing to talk or complain about.
The royal family in the kingdom of Chepstow is nothing to care about since none of them actually care about us. Sadly, when people invade, they are the ones that have to be protected instead of the innocent people that live in Penshaw.
I turned the corner down one of the streets and nearly ran into a vendor that was pushing his cart full of leather goods.
“Watch it, I’m trying to get these things from one place to the next. I don’t need you spilling these all over the place,” the woman grunted as she straightened out a pair of boots that had slightly leaned forward in the harsh stop.
“How much for the boots? I’ll take them off your hands if they’re my size,” I observed as I picked up the pair.
“You can’t afford those. They’re too expensive. Look at you, you can’t even afford dresses.”
“Actually, I choose to dress this way and I can afford these boots so are you looking to make a sale or are you just going to be rude until I leave you alone?” I crossed my arms over my chest and stood in front of her cart as she stood on the other side, waiting to push forward.
The woman rolled her eyes and took a step back. “Fine. Try them on and I’ll tell you the price. Just be careful, I made those myself.” I took off one of my boots and slipped the new one on, feeling the immediate difference. I didn’t like buying clothes, especially boots since I could never find the perfect pair for the right price.
“What are these made out of?” I asked as I took a step in the boot.
“They’re a mix of cowhide and pig skin. The thickest and most durable pair that I have.”
“What do I have to give up in order to get them?” Just as I asked the question, the sound of someone whistling behind me diverted my attention. I rolled my eyes at the sound, remembering who whistled all the time. Cooper. He had perfect timing, as usual.
Cooper is an assassin as well, an older assassin that has been doing the job for many, many years. In fact, he was one of the people that helped train all of us kids. He wasn’t strict, but instead one of the most easy going people I had ever met. Not only that but he had an insane love for alcohol and anything that could make him forget about the past.
I turned around to see him approaching in a leather coat and dark pants with an annoying smirk on his face. He added a little skip in his step as he approached, causing the vendor to let out a loud sigh, a signal that she was getting ready to leave. Luckily I was still wearing one of her boots.
“Well, if it isn’t the lovely Fauna. I haven’t seen you around here in a while, how have you been?” Cooper asked as he slid an arm around my shoulder. I rolled my eyes and slipped back out before taking the boot off and taking a large amount of coins out of my bag.
“Leave me alone, Cooper. I’m busy,” I sighed as I took off my old boots and put on the new pair.
“I see that allowance you get has been treating you well. Those are some of the best boots you can buy. I have them too, see?” Cooper stuck out his boot in my direction and showed me that he was in fact, wearing the same pair.
The vendor decided that she wasn’t going to get around us easily so she moved her cart to the street with a look of annoyance on her face. She shook her head as she passed and disappeared around one of the stone buildings.
I took my old boots and held them underneath my arm just as Cooper took a swig from a flask that he had hidden in his coat.
“It’s not even noon yet and you’re already drinking?” I surveyed as I began walking down the street with Cooper following next to me. He smelled of whiskey and body odor, a clear sign that as usual-he hadn’t cleaned himself in the past couple of days.
“Who says I can’t drink before noon? Any time of day is a great time to drink, don’t you think?” He kicked a pebble that was lying in the street, sending it jumping over every single stone that it hit.
“I don’t think anytime is a great time to drink, to be honest with you.” A kid came running around the corner at full speed, a wide smile on his face. “Hey kid!” I called out. He stopped in his tracks, scared at the sight of the two people dressed in dark clothes, watching him closely. “Take these boots and sell them, I don’t want them.” The kid cautiously took the boots from me and studied them before taking off around the corner without a word. Some children just didn’t have manners these days.
“You could have sold those yourself. You wouldn’t get much for them but anything is something. This job is so flimsy that you’re not guaranteed money, you know.” Cooper took another swig from his flask and let out a cough, a tired one that told me he had been up all night.
“I save the majority of my money. I don’t spend every dime on booze. Trust me, I have plenty of money saved up.” I took the key from my bag and unlocked the door to my house as Cooper stood by, resting himself up against the wall.
“Is that why you didn’t take that job from Meredith? Because you have enough money?” Cooper put air quotes around his words as that same smirk he approached with hadn’t been wiped off of his face yet. Even though Cooper was nearly fifteen years older than me, he didn’t look as such.
He was a small man in the form of thin but had some height to him. His hair was sometimes in tight curls when he didn’t bother to brush it out and sometimes just a mess on top of his head. His pale skin went along with his blue eyes that stuck out, especially in the brightness of the sun.
Although Cooper didn’t look like much, he was one of the best assassins in the kingdom. He had a way of getting things done without creating a scene or for people that would figure him out. The only ones that knew he was an assassin were the assassins themselves. Cooper was dangerous in the way of what he could do but in reality, he would never hurt someone that didn’t deserve it.
I sighed and dropped my bag on the dining table as Cooper came into the house uninvited. “I didn’t take the job because I don’t want to retrieve the village idiot. He’s a big boy, he can take care of himself.” I shrugged off my jacket and draped it along the back of the chair, just as Cooper pulled out another one and took a seat. He pulled out his flask once more and I let out a groan and grabbed it from him.
“What the hell was that for? I can’t drink in here?”
“No, you can’t. Listen, I don’t want that job but if you take it then go for it. Have fun picking up the prick.”
“If you do it then the king might just move you to one of the palaces near the castle. He tends to be pretty generous about those things. You brought him that donkey so he sort of trusts you,” Cooper shrugged as he messed with the wicker basket of fruit that was sitting on my table.
With a sigh mixed in the sound of a grunt, he got up from his seat and smoothed out the sides of his jacket before heading back towards towards me and taking the flask from my hands. “Just something to think about.”