46th of the 15th, 20th of 348
A Phase of Brutality
When I awake, I do so silently; even as I jerk upright and throw one vicious punch to my right and swing my foot upward between the legs of the man directly in front, successfully incapacitating the two assailants looming over my tensed figure. As they double over in pain and arch away further into the gloom of the semi lit room, I take the opportunity to thrust my blankets to the side and swing my feet round to the floor so I can push myself up to standing position and free up my arms.
By this point the assassins have straightened up and are surveying me with a cool confidence. They appear only half tangible, swathed in dark robes which swirl into the shadows of the room. The only part of them I am sure are real are their eyes, alive with malice. They have come here to kill me, no doubt about it.
I have been warned that this may one day happen, that the Society would lose patience with waiting for me to return to their open, loving arms. That they would decide to cut their losses, and send out the word to have me killed. From that, any hired hand could take up the call to earn some hard cash, but if they deemed me a large enough threat, they would send their elite. Trained from birth to take lives swiftly and without mercy, famous for the black stones they leave behind. It wasn’t hard to work out which I was dealing with. Already I see that their movements are full of the sort of enviable grace that comes only with years of practice combined with artificial skill.
The two men place their feet but do not advance. Rather they curl forward, coiling themselves as to be ready to lash out whenever necessary, and bare their teeth like wildcats. The stillness of the moment is so at odds with the walls which are rippling and contorting, so at odds with my thoughts which rush through my mind without paying any heed to whether I have absorbed any of the information they impart onto me.
There is no denying I am afraid. But as we three killers regard each other, each daring the other to begin, I burn with an anger that hazes my senses and boils at my fingertips, that resounds between my ears and grants me astounding clarity. This ignited fury inside of me flares so bright that it blinds me from my terror. I know exactly what to do. My anger is power to me. It writhes inside of me, dark and potent.
Surging forward, my knee crashes into the shorter mans jaw, and before my foot returns to the ground I have whipped out his own sword from the sheath across his back and plunged it into his side, my arms trembling with every vibration as the blade is driven through his ribcage, then yanked back out again. I don’t pay him a second thought as his body crumples to the ground with a sickening crunch because I’m already spinning, raising my arms to block the second man’s weapon. The impact is jarring and my feet almost slip in the slick pool below me. The momentary loss of concentration costs me the punch that comes whistling through the air and rams into my side, then the leg that sweeps my feet from out under me and sends me to the floor, where I can’t find any purchase as it’s still slippery and warm with the first man’s life blood. Sliding on the streaks of gore I can’t protect the fourth, most important person in the room, who is still sleeping soundly in the bed against the far wall, amongst all this silent chaos.
A leather wrapped glove closes around my forearm, and I let the stranger roughly haul me up before I duck under his arm, twist around it, then thrust my elbow back, blind, to deliver a brutal blow to the base of his spine. Predictably, his grip loosens, enough so that I can snatch a dagger from his belt and bury it in his side, forcing the lethal instrument upwards to pierce his heart. Still he makes no noise, even as he shudders and breathes his last.
The silent death match is over, if it ever started in the first place. I clean my stolen weapon with the hem of my shirt, idly wondering if the stains will come off in the laundry, or where I might stash the bodies below me before they start to smell.
And Stella sleeps on. Just as she should.