Chapter 1: Death Dealer
Ra’venna runs her eyes along the length of the red stone wall encasing the manor. It’s almost insulting to presume a simple wall can keep her out; she muses, her lips curving into a wicked smirk.
Her eyes dart upward to the lavender sky overhead. Tevata’s two suns, Phebo and Solus are traveling downward. It will be dark soon, that is when she’ll act. The darkness of night will provide her with the perfect cover. For now she will simply fade into the crowd.
She tugs the violet hood of her cloak further over her head, careful to conceal her ears and hair. She casts a glance at the world around making sure she hasn’t drawn any unwanted attention. She doesn’t need to additional obstacles.
With a few silent steps Ra’venna slips into the anonymity of the evening market. The market is crawling with Kitsunes. The primary inhabitants of the kingdom, though Ra’venna is able to spot an Elf and even a Dwarf. The city of Cha’ol is one of the more lucrative within Asharia. It is not unique to Ra’venna, she has been to far more impressive cities filled with creatures and places more captivating.
The mercenary slips past the crowd into the shadows of a forgotten alley. The sky is darkening with every passing second. It won’t be long now.
Ra’venna Voltrea, a mere infant compared to the world around her. Yet, her skill and intelligence can rival even the oldest. Her ability to survive is unmatched. She is a shadow, rarely seen, but always there and they fear her. As they should.
The last light of day vanishes and in its place rises the four moons. Her lips curve into a smirk. She leaves the alley and makes her way across the now deserted marketplace.
The guards are changing. Easier it will be. Even if they weren’t all those guards are good for are appearances and chasing away angry mistresses. Hardly a bunch to be feared.
Ra’venna plays into their blindspots and scales the wall, using the protruding stones as leverage. She is able to pass over the wall and land on the grass without so much as a whisper.
She glides across the yard like a rock skimming over water. She leaps up onto an unguarded building. It’s small and insignificant enough that it isn’t worth wasting guards on it. Ra’venna recognizes the symbol on the wooden door. It’s an armory, for the guards, no doubt.
From her perch on the structure she has a perfect view into the Count’s chambers. He’s pacing, drowning in the waters of his failures. His plotting and back-handed deals have caused him to fall out of favor with most of Asharia’s nobles. The price for such a crime is his life.
Ra’venna watches, waiting. She has to be sure he is alone. She will not kill an innocent or kill him in front of his family. The rough wood of the armory rooftop digs into her skin despite the pants she’s wearing. Her violet cloak flutters slightly in the wind.
After a few minutes, Ra’venna is sure he is alone. She waits for the guard to round the corner of the manor before launching herself from the roof. She pulls herself up the ledge and slips through the open window.
The Count doesn’t hear her come in. He’s leaning over the desk with his head bowed. A chill runs up his spine. He doesn’t understand why. The crackling fire chases away any cold. He turns away. A gasp escapes his mouth, his green eyes widen, and he staggers backwards colliding with the desk’s edge.
Ra’venna stares down at the Kitsune. Her cloak casts a shadow over most of her face, but her eyes. Oh, her eyes, nothing can conceal those. They burn like the purple fires of Iakutopia. Her face is an impassive slate. She stalks over to him.
The Count’s mind tells him to flee, to scream for the guards, to do something, but he is frozen with fear.
Ra’venna wraps both her calloused hands around the Kitsune’s plump neck. Her hands turn as cold as a corpse and a blue tint washes over her dark skin. Her dark power pours forth from her hands into the Count’s neck. It seeps into his skin, turning his flesh black, before it becomes dust. The Count’s face is frozen-his mouth, hanging open, omitting a silent scream.
Ra’venna stares into his green orbs, no trace of emotion on her face. Behind her purple eyes gleams satisfaction and a glint of pride.
Her power spreads rapidly, devouring both his flesh and clothing. His ashes fall through her hands. What was once an overweight Kitsune is now a pile of ash.
She pulls a pouch from her pocket and kneels down to gather the ashes.
In a matter of seconds she is gone from the manor, leaving no trace that she was ever there.
Minutes later, the Count’s youngest son, boy of five Etrex’s old enters the room, calling for his father.
Ra’venna’s arm is resting on the back of the chair and her free hand lying on the marble vanity, inches away from the velvet pouch. The party downstairs is just beginning to pick up. The music seeps through the walls, but is almost drowned out by the sound of drunken cheering and laughing.
The Duke should come upstairs shortly. Ra’venna frowns. She hates to be kept waiting almost as much as she despises parties. She longs to be back at her house, soaking in a cold bath or lying on the balcony gazing up at the stars.
She can hear heavy footfalls approaching the doors. The wooden door opens, creaking as they are dragged across the polished stone floor. Ra’venna raises her gaze from the marble. She can smell the alcohol radiating off of him, despite being yards away. She at least hopes he’s sober enough to pay her. If not, she can always take the money.
The Duke turns around and jumps. His heart leaps to life. He places a hand over it and takes a deep breath.
Amused, Ra’venna allows a smirk to grace her features. “I have come for the second half of my payment.” She states, plainly. She always operates the same way: she receives a contract, visits the contractor for details and the first half of her payment, does the job, and returns to collect the second half of her payment.
The Duke gulps hard. “Of-of course. I need proof. That-that it’s done.” The words spill from his mouth like a tumbled ball of yarn. Ra’venna restrains from rolling her eyes. The Duke is nothing but a coward. He cannot even bring himself to name the crime.
Wordlessly, she slides the velvet pouch across the marble. “Here is your Count,” she smirks, “or rather what is left of him.”
She uncrosses her legs and rises from the chair. The Duke glances nervously between her and the pouch. “Would you like to check it?” The Duke shakes his head before she can finish the question. He betrays his fear. He has no desire to see the contents of the bag.
“You really are the Dark Duchess. The-” he pauses, gulping, “The Nether Fairy.” He utters the word Nether as if it is a curse that will take him if it hears him. Ra’venna smirks. She basks in the fear her power instills.
Her smirks turns to a falsely innocent smile. “Don’t fret. As long as you do not betray me you have nothing to fear.” Her voice dripping with artificial sweetness.
“I won’t. You can trust me.” He fumbles. He holds up his hands. They tremble as violently as his voice.
“I don’t trust. Trust gets you killed.” She laughs a secretive sort of laugh.
He rushes to his desk, rummaging through the top drawer until he finds her payment. He whirls around and holds out the golden, velvet pouch, three times the size the one containing the Count’s remains.
Ra’venna takes the pouch filled with gold from the Duke’s shaking hand. She smiles one final time.
She glides past him. Her dark cloak brushes up against his clothed arm. He shivers as she walks by, a cold wave washing over him. It’s not the power that courses through her veins that radiates cold, it’s her. The coldness that exists in the very depths of her.
When he finally musters the courage to turn around, she is gone.