The Dark Assassin
WARNING – This story references previous tales from The World of Albrene. I strongly recommend reading The Forbbiden Hunt before continuing.
The Dark Assassin
A man leaned against the rough, dark shingles of a city roof as he delicately balanced on the small brick overhang above the city street below. His entire body was covered by a thick black robe, beneath which black cloth wrappings covered every inch of his skin. Not even his eyes were uncovered. It was dark, but the early glow of sunrise could be seen on the horizon. The man was at the edge of the city the heretics called Hatave. It was a terrible place, the chaotic city streets and haphazardly placed buildings made the layout difficult to memorize. A pungent odor hung heavy in the air from the drainage canal just a few streets away. For a moment the man wished his objective had been in the northern district of the city, with well-organized streets that reminded him of home. However, those were not his orders; his target was in the cesspool that was Southtown.
To fill the time the man began to survey his surroundings. The street below was all but empty; a few early risers were walking from one place to another doing whatever heretics do. There were a group of men, thieves by the look of them, waiting in an alley for their next victim. A group of guards were taking a bribe of some kind in an alley to his left, and several people were just beginning their daily routine.
The man thought through various escape routes from his current position. Should the need arise, he would fall into the small alley below him and make his way to the stables, where a horse was waiting for him. He thought through the various paths to the stables and the four streets to the gate. There were twelve different routes he could take. Getting away from this location would be easy.
The man sat patiently for another hour before slunking off the roof into the alley. He would be quickly noticed if he stayed on the roof during the day. He couldn't help but feel that his skills as an assassin were wasted on such a mundane mission. He would much rather be assassinating some general or government official. However, he would not question his orders. Several more hours passed before he saw her emerge from a large house. She was definitely his target. If her black hair and white skin weren’t enough, the Aluan brand of a darkling was clearly visible over her left eye.
— Why do you resist our god? — thought the man as he watched her. The woman ran down the street toward a pair of people approaching from the direction of the main gates. One was a city guard with blond hair. He was likely a Drake, judging by the way he watched the target approach. The other was just a girl, a young hunter. The man in the alley shook his head in disappointment when the darkling embraced the hunter.
“What have they taught you little shadow,” whispered the man as the drake walked away from them.
The darkling and the hunter were walking back toward the large house when the hunter spotted the man. He immediately darted into the darkness of the alley.
“Ve’Kkahab Vätta.” As he said the words the man shuttered with pleasure. He could feel the power of his lord flood through his body, it heightened his senses and sharpened his mind. He could hear the hunters thoughts; she was about to ask the target about him. “Ky’n’avar Ky’n’roë devϋt n’öda kkakkte,” the man’s voice was an angry whisper, barely audible even to the mouse that scurried through the trash at his feet. The hunter's thoughts were blank; she had no memory of him. The man sighed, relieved that the spell had worked, but irritated that he had allowed himself to be seen.
From reading her thoughts, the man was able to learn the name of his target and her companion. Marifa and Ayela. Ayela was of no concern to him. His task was to show Marifa that Resaguka wanted her to return. He was to extend an offer to the darkling, one that would be foolish to resist.
It was nearing sunset when a fat elven woman with red hair approached the house and went inside. The man continued to stand in the alley. He remained until the moon was high in the sky, and all lights in the house had been extinguished. Then he crept across the empty street. He paused for a moment once he reached the building. He was waiting, searching with his mind until he found Marifa; she was the only person in the building with a connection to the darkness. He then began to climb the side of the brick building until he arrived at the targets window.
Sitting on the small ledge outside her window, the man cracked the wooden window pane and cautiously looked inside. He saw Marifa lying on her bed, asleep; blankets pulled close to her chin to keep out the chill of the winter night. The man adjusted the wraps on his face. Black smoke seeped out of the gap in the wrappings as he revealed his beady black eyes.
“Ve’Kkahab Vätta.” Once again a chill crept down the man's spine, as his god’s power washed over him. “Bö kadäv.” As he whispered the phrase of the spell, black mist clouded the man’s vision as he entered the realm of her dreams.
The mist over the man’s eyes cleared. He found himself on the plateau of a massive mountain. He recognized the plateau; they were on the summit of Hataguka, the birthplace of Resaguka, the god of darkness. Standing at the base of an altar was Marifa.
Her face was stern and stubborn. It was nothing like what it had been in the street when she and Ayela had embraced one another. The man materialized from black smoke behind her. His face was calm and smooth. His bright white skin, grey eyes, and black hair matched Marifa’s.
“Hello Marifa,” the man’s voice was calm and collected. He was confident that he would succeed in his task. “I am Akkä, I come to offer you a final chance to join with the great Resaguka. But first, I will show you what he is prepared to offer you.”
For several minutes there was silence. The look on Marifa’s face grew fiercer than before; cold determination was unmistakable in her eyes. Marifa turned to the man and observed his silky black tunic. There was silver thread embroidered into the fabric that reflected the moonlight, giving him a supernatural appearance.
The scenery around them faded into black smoke and blew away with a rush of air. A new scene began to take shape. It was noon on a perfect sunny day. They were standing in the middle of a lush desert oasis. Trees surrounded a pool of crystal clear water; fruit and berries of every kind densely populated the trees and bushes, giving the desert refuge a most pleasant scent.
“Please, walk with me,” Akkä said as he waited.
His arm was extended toward Marifa. For a moment Akkä wondered if she had heard him. She looked around at the trees, then down at his hand.
“Where are we?” She asked, her voice that of cautious wonder. The man could tell she did not want to leave… his plan was working.
“Come with me, and I will show you.”
Marifa slowly began to reach for Akkä’s hand before recoiling and stepping back. “I do not trust you Akkä. You are not the first puppet of Resaguka sent to tempt me, not the first assassin.”
“I am not a puppet. I have my own free will, thoughts, and feelings. I am in control of my own actions. I choose to follow our creator because he loves us and because he provides us with such great gifts. Also, and if I had come to assassinate you we would not be having this conversation. Follow me, I will show you the generosity of our god.” Akkä lowered his hand and began to walk toward a path that led through the trees. He could not help but worry that his task would be more difficult than he had first estimated.
Marifa waited for a few moments before she reluctantly followed. The two of them were on the path for just a few minutes when they rounded a corner and found themselves at the mouth of a long valley between two mountains. The ground of the valley was lush and green; at the farthest edge of the valley, was an enormous castle. Tall, beautiful trees surrounded it. Along the right side of the fortress was a large waterfall that presumably fell into a beautiful crystal clear lake.
“This is the castle and land our Lord has set aside for you,” Akkä said as he studied Marifa. Her face was in awe of the castle and of the beauty of the land around it. But Akkä could sense the firm resistance still in Marifa’s heart. “You would not need to be alone here Marifa. We could arrange to move everyone you care about to live with you. Even Ayela and your parents. In The Union, people look down upon you, they fear you. In The Regorian Empire, you would be praised as a leader.”
The scene changed to show Marifa in wealthy attire overlooking hundreds of soldiers. She was praising them for jobs well done, and for their obedience and loyalty.
The scene then flashed to her writing in a book while sitting in a large kitchen. A plethora of chefs and cooks prepared meals all around her.
“You could be a master chef. We would place you as governor over the meals and supplies for all of the Empires soldiers. You would have every ingredient from every part of the world at your disposal. To create and store your recipes.”
Marifa walked through the kitchen examining the pots and ovens in wonder. Akkä was hopeful; he imagined that he had gotten through and that he had shown her the genuine kindness of Resaguka, their creator. Then Marifa stopped, hanging her head.
“This is not real,” she said with malice in her voice. “You have brought me here in a dream; you desire to trick me into giving into the wretched darkness of our creator. He would never give such things to someone who has denied him for so long.” The scene was washed away in a cloud of dark smoke and flashes of purple lightning.
“I have shown you the generosity of our god Resaguka, and you dare call him wretched and me a liar, as though he is the one who will condemn you.” Akkä’s voice boomed like thunder through the darkness. Akkä was no longer there; he had merged into the storm around Marifa. “You will see who is wretched. It is not our creator, but these people who tolerate you, these people who you love so dearly, these people who you are so desperate to please. You mark my words, when given a chance they will turn on you, they will betray you.”
Akkä allowed Marifa to fall through the clouds into darkness as he pulled out of her mind.
He was still sitting on the ledge outside of Marifa’s window. Inside, Marifa was lying on her back, sweating and breathing heavily. Akkä pulled the cloth wrappings back over his eyes and jumped down into the alley below her window.
— Damn, — he thought. — I’ll have to go to plan B. —
To Be Continued . . .
Up next – A Dragon’s Battle, A Continuation of A Dragon’s Perspective.
Tales From Albrene
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