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The Hand

By SnowShadows All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Fantasy

The Blade

“What's bothering you, Adept?”

That's Vicar. He's a Journeyman wizard just in from the road. His robes are thick and brown to keep the dirt of the roads at bay while he travels. He hasn't shaved or bathed since he arrived at the College, so his beard is still long and greasy along with his hair. He smells too.

“Just some personal issues, Journeyman. I'll work it out, I'm sure.” It's a lie, but it isn't something I want to discuss with this disgusting man. My own robes are dyed a simple green and I keep my hair cropped short and my beard cleanly shaved. I also bathe every day.

“Let me know if you change your mind.” He had a smile on his lips that didn't travel up the rest of his face. Someday, he'd figure out how to make his eyes smile at the same time and it would be much more difficult to spot his insincerity. Someday.

I nod and continue down the halls. I've enjoyed my time as an Adept at the Wizard College, but that's over now. Vicar's arrival was what I'd been waiting for these last seven months. Well, not Vicar specifically. Just a Journeyman who fit the bill: predatory, rough, and suspicious. Someone who just didn't quite fit.

I slip into the shadow of the corridor and the tingling sensation of transitioning into shadows runs over my skin. My movement is no longer restricted by things like weight and clothes. I flit under the door of the Arch Magus.

The Arch Magus is a kindly old man to the students of the college. But everyone is a villain to someone. Whatever he'd done wasn't my concern. This is my last job as a Blade. I will be one of the Hands and then it will be my concern. But not yet, not now.

Now I must simply put the athame into the Arch Magus' heart.

I'd just come from Vicar's room. The athame is his. It has his magic all over it. The transition to shadows is clean; it hasn't tainted anything with my own magic in years. Nor does it taint anything when I become solid again.

The athame slips between the man's ribs cleanly. His heart should stop immediately, a merciful death. He gasps and turns. This isn't right. He should be dead.

My free hand shoots out to cover his mouth. I pull the athame out and plunge it into his neck, just under his skull.

“I'm sorry. It should have been clean: a pinch, if anything, and that's it.” I whisper, because I want him to know.

The old man still had light in his eyes, but it was fading. He should have been dead already. I check the athame and realize it wasn't going in straight. I sigh.

“I'm sorry for botching this. I usually make things painless.”

I pull at the athame and drag it over bone. It resists, but I'm patient. It takes too long, but the old man goes limp. I pull the athame out and stick it into his neck at the correct angle just to be certain. It slides in with the correct amount of resistance. I leave it.

I become shadow again and flit to my room. It doesn't take long to reduce my robe and undergarments to ashes and scrub myself clean. I reduce the cleaning material to ashes as well before putting on a new robe and new undergarments.

No job is free of complications, but that was worse than most. I'll wait until they find the old man to announce that I'm leaving. I'll declare that I don't feel safe here anymore. I'll disappear on the road somewhere. And then I'll become one of the Hands that wields the Blade. And then I'll concern myself with why our targets die.

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