Chapter 1: Live and Let Live

Jynx sat on the edge of Valden's bed, watching the life soak out of him. It was an insult she used often when her kills weren't swift enough; insult the victim by living, breathing right in front of them. The new king was staring up at her with hollow eyes that were slowly loosing the light of life. The blood that had once been spurting everywhere had slowed down to a small trickle that ran across his throat onto the expensive rug.
After a few more minutes of leering down at her victim, the assassin stood up and began to wander around the room, fingers tapping the card in her hand. It would not truly turn black until the victim was dead, but she could wait. She was used to waiting. Picking her cloak up from the floor she re-clasped it around her neck and walked over to the shelves. They were covered in small elegant figures of china and gold.
"These would fetch me quite a pretty price on the black market. What do you think, Dear Valden?" Jynx smiled and picked up a small gold tiger with stripes made from onyx and gemstones for eyes. Walking slowly, almost mockingly, past Valden she picked up a black bag that was sitting on the windowsill. Untying the white pull string she dropped the tiger into it then glanced at the white card in her hand. "You are a stubborn one, aren't you?" She scoffed. "Of course, you all are. Stubborn princes and kings, only thinking of themselves when their country is in great peril, when their subjects need their leadership." The assassin walked over to Valden's side and leaned over him. "You make me sick." She spit right into his half- open eyes.
"Not as sick as you make us!" The door to Valden's room burst open, revealing at lest nine heavily-armored guards and a healing wizard. Jynx was taken by surprise. For about five seconds. She reached into a pouch hanging around her waist and pulled out a handful of black powder. Taking a deep breath, the assassin sent the powder into the air, filling it in a matter of seconds. Grabbing her black pouch she leaped gracefully onto the windowsill and grabbed the edge of the roof. Hauling herself up, she waited for the dust in the room below her to settle.
"Where'd she go?" One of the guards shouted.
"I don't know! She's just vanished!" Another one answered.
"That's not important! We can find her later! We have to help the prince!" A wizened voice yelled.
Jynx bit her bottom lip and pulled Valden's card from the deck. The black that had gathered at the edges was slowly fading. "No! They can't save him! He can't live! Akuma will have my head!" She flipped the card over. Valden Lrak was written in red, spidery ink on the back. "My first failed mission." She slid the card into her belt. "I am not going to like this home coming."
Without another word, Jynx wrapped her cloak tighter around her shoulders and stood up. Below her, she could hear the guards clamoring around Valden's room, trying to find her. Sighing at their stupidity, she leaped into the forest below.

Akuma sat back in his soft chair, scowling at the windows above his head. Rainwell was often called the city of storms, a name well suited for it. It was either raining really hard, or, on the rare occasion, sunny without a cloud in the sky. They never got snow; it always melted into slush before the children of the city could play in it.
Swirling the chair around to face the back of his room, he put his long bony fingers together. He was old, around seventy-five, but you wouldn't know just by looking at him. He was fit as anything, tall, lean and muscular, and a drug lord, the leader of a gang circle, and the master of the infamous black and white assassin, Jynx.
A small knock came from the east side of the room, the side facing away from Rainwell Harbor. "Enter!" He ordered in a rough, scratchy voice. A door well hidden in the wall slowly cracked open and two identical faces poked around the edge. "What do you want Tou? Dou?"
"Sousha just returned from lookout duty, sir. Jinkusu is on her way up the road to Rainwell right now!" The twin called Tou answered promptly. His sister, younger by twenty seconds, continued where he left off.
"She's soaking wet and looks disappointed sir! I don't think she killed Prince Valden!"
Akuma slammed a fist down on the arm of his chair, startling the two. "Do not question Jinkusu's strength! She has never failed me before, and she shall not be starting now!" He pointed to the west side of the room. Several card stacks, held in delicately carved clear crystal boxes, were piled up. A silver name plate hung over each one. "Jinkusu has gone through six card stacks! She has killed over three-hundred people and has never failed once!"
The ten-year-old twins bowed their heads respectfully in a show of shame. "We are sorry lord Akuma." They both muttered in unison. He sighed heavily; his face had gone red from yelling.
"Get out of my sight. Send Denrei when Jinkusu gets here." He put his chin in his hand. The twins bowed again and retreated from his room. Taking the pleasure of another great sigh, he closed his eyes and attempted to calm down.

Jynx was having a bad day. She had failed a mission for the first time since she had begun to work for Akuma, was soaking wet and had been spotted by Sousha. She had been tempted to knock him out and reach the warehouse first, but had soon decided that there was no chance she was running after the fastest guy in the Assassins gang. Instead she pulled her wet cloak tighter around her shoulders and continued on her way down the muddy road.
Soon the mud turned into cobblestone and the assassin found herself walking down the main streets of Rainwell. Keeping to street sides wasn't that difficult; not very many people were out in the middle of the fierce storm. Slipping into a little used ally way she came out on the black, sandy beach. A mile north laid a group of abandoned warehouses. They were Assassins territory, and they were her destination. Wonderful.
She trekked along slowly, trying to prolong the agony of what would happen when she got to the main warehouse. Akuma was not a patient man, and as soon as he found out she failed, he would become a tiger. Jynx shuddered; she had seen some of her friends die at the drug lord's hand, and she did not want to share the same fate. After all, it was the first time in seven years that she had failed, and she had six decks of black cards to prove it. None of them had the tell-tale red writing on the back that proved they failed a mission.
Trying to keep that thought in mind, Jynx continued to trek across the black sand. She had half a mile to go now. Under the fishing docks and over the sand dunes, then she was home. Well, as close to home as a street girl could get.

Denrei fixed her hair as she approached the door to Akuma's office. Tou had found her and relayed the message that she was to send to Akuma when Jinkusu arrived. She was pretty, more so than several of the other servants that worked for the drug lord. He ran a huge operation, and it was very rare to see him personally, even for a few seconds. Tucking a loose strand behind her ear, she knocked lightly on the door.
"Come in." Akuma grunted from the inside. Hand trembling slightly, the servant turned the door handle and slowly pushed it open. "Hurry up; I don't have time for this!" The drug lord snapped, startling Denrei. She opened the door a little to fast and ended up falling flat on her face. Akuma was sitting on his chair in the middle of the room, sharpening his plundered saber. "Oh, it's you Denrei. I assume that Jinkusu is here?"
Denrei quickly pushed herself up and bowed. "Yes, Lord Akuma. She is at the front door. Musha and Joufu have gone to greet her and check her card."
Akuma scoffed. "There is no need for that; Jinkusu has never failed me before. She will not begin to fail me now."
"But what if-"
"What if nothing, Denrei!" The drug-lord stood up. "Now get out of my sight before I decided to test out this new blade on you!"
"Ye-yes sir!" The frightened servant quickly bowed and backed out of the room. Akuma sighed; she would never make a great assassin if she couldn't even tell the difference from a real threat and a bluff. He sat back down in his chair and continued to sharpen his blade.
You really wouldn't fail me, would you, Jinkusu-chan?

Jynx stood outside of the central warehouse, trembling from the cold and the anticipation of what was to happen next. Musha and Joufu always greeted her there and checked her card; nobody could get in if they didn't have proof that they were part of the Assassin's gang. They had slowly, over the years, become her best friends. They were only two or three years older than her, so age wasn't that big of a deal. It was the fact that she was an assassin and they were Akuma's body guards that kept them from seeing each other more often.
Looking around nervously like a deer caught in a trap, the girl waited for the heavy doors to slide open. Beside them, high above her head was a peeling number fiver. The wind fiercely lashed rain water and sea spray against the old rotting wood. Jynx bit her bottom lip; she hated the cold, and she hated being soaking wet. 'Just like a cat,' Akuma often joked. I'm not laughing, she thought to herself.
Before she could brood on Akuma more, one of the doors slid to the side, and a red-haired boy stuck his head around it. A smiled crossed his lips, inflating his freckle-stained cheeks. "Hello there Jinkusu. Did you have a good kill?"
"Of course Joufu; when do I not?" Jynx put on a fake smile, which wasn't very hard. She often used one when she was taunting her victims.
The other door slid to the side and a blonde appeared. "You always have a good kill, master of the black cards." He grinned cheekily. "You've never missed a mission in seven years."
"And yet you still have to check my card; a bit silly isn't it, Musha?" Jynx threw out the bait, hoping they would take it.
"Yes, I suppose it is, but Akuma would have our heads if we didn't, so cough up Prince Valden Lrak's card." Musha held out his large hand. They were both bigger and stronger than Jynx, or as they called her, Jinkusu; she was built for speed and stealth, not strength.
"It should be a nice, dark black by now. Demon blood always makes them grow darker than normal blood." Joufu joked.
"Except for unicorn blood; then the cards turn silver." Musha put in.

"And vampire blood turns it a dark red."
"Fairy blood is clear."
"But human blood is just black. Boring old black."
"I wonder what angels blood does to them?" Musha pondered.
"I've seen a fallen angel card before! It was a spiral of black and white. Really pretty, actually. Too bad the girl died; she was probably more beautiful than the card." Joufu said dreamily.
"So an angel's card must be pure white." The blonde answered his own question.
"That sounds about right." Jynx said without thinking. She could have slipped away right then, unnoticed by the two, but she just had to open her big mouth.
"Right. So, can we check out your card?" Musha asked, giving her a puzzled look. Usually she would be grinning from ear to ear, happy about her victory over life. "You're usually a lot more...cheerful when you return from one of your missions."
"Well, I'm cold," Jynx said lamely, "and tired, and wet, and my feet hurt."
"If you would let us see your card you could go in and rest up." Joufu pointed out. The girl didn't have an answer to that one. She reached into her cloak and pulled out Valden Lrak's card. Valden Lrak's white card.

"Are you kidding? That's a white card!" Musha asked.
"Oh, I get it! It's a joke! Very funny, Jinkusu." Joufu chuckled. Usually his laugh would have warmed the assassin's heart, but right now it chilled her to the bones. It sounded mocking. She shook her head.
"Its not a joke, Joufu." She stuttered. "I was found before he was dead. They had a professional healer. King Valden Lrak is still alive."
The two paused for a moment. It was so quiet you could of heard a pin drop. Unfortunately, it didn't last.
"You failed!" The two yelled in unison loud enough for the entire warehouse to hear. Jynx winced; this was not going to turn out good. Joufu snatched the card from her hand and read the spidery writing on the back.
"Valden failed a mission and you actually came back here? Akuma is going to have your head!" Musha yelled. Jynx took a startled step back, tensing up as though getting ready to run for it. She wasn't actually going to run for it; that would be suicide, but apparently Joufu thought she was. He dropped the card and grabbed her arm in his large hand.
"You can't run; there are archers on every rooftop in this city! You'll die before you get out!" Musha exclaimed, grabbing her other arm.
"I wasn't going to run Musha!" Jynx attempted to yank her arms free. "It's just a reflex!"
"Oh." The two said, still refusing to loosen their grip at all.
"Now, if you would let me go, I could go speak with Akuma." The assassin twisted her arms around.
The dark shape of Denrei melted out of the darkness. "Jinkusu, Lord Akuma wishes your presence in the main chamber."

"You failed!"
Akuma's head snapped to the side as Musha and Joufu's voices echoed around the warehouse. The cigar in his mouth dropped limply onto his polished shoes, covering them in ash. He shook it off and stood up.
"Denrei!" He roared angrily. The door to his room snapped open.
"Yes sir?" A panting Denrei bowed quickly in respect.
"Go get Jinkusu and tell her to report to the main chamber! Now!" He stood up, strapping his saber to his side. It reflected wickedly as lighting flashed outside. "What are you waiting for? Go!"
"Yes sir." Denrei bowed again and backed out of the room. She just knew that this was not going to turn out well.

Jynx followed Denrei down a long hallway made of the same wood as the rest of the building. Water had crept in under the walls and through holes in the roof, making the concrete floor slick. Musha and Joufu followed silently, the latter still clutching the white card in his hand. Denrei stopped in front of a large door. Tou and Dou were standing beside it, waiting. They slid it back with a small amount of difficulty, biding the four to enter.
The central chamber was the very center room of the warehouse. The floor was covered with mis-matched rugs and furs. Old couches and chairs were pressed up against the walls, an odd bed or two thrown among them. They were packed with the other members of the Assassins Gang, all waiting eagerly for what was bound to happen. It was always an event when the famed Jinkusu, the black and white assassin returned. She often picked somebody to play the victim and would show how she killed them.
This time, though, it was silent. The second they passed through the doors, everybody in the room went quiet. Rumors spread quickly, and the one saying that she had failed a mission was no exception. In the middle of the room stood Akuma, a black jaguar sitting still by his side. On his shoulder was a small, black dragon, no bigger than a rabbit or fox.
Joufu slid Valden Lrak's white card into her hand and pushed her forward. He, Musha, Tou, Dou and Denrei all stood back against the door, blocking her way out, as though they thought she would run. Taking a deep breath, the infamous assassin stepped forward, towards the scowling Akuma.
"Stop!" He raised his hand. The jaguar bristled at her, growling lowly in his throat. Jynx stopped, pulling her feet together so they were even. She massaged the card nervously in her hands, waiting for him to say more. "Jinkusu, for the first time and only time in seven years you have failed me. Why is Valden Lrak still alive?"
Jynx went down on one knee in respect. "He was dying, Lord Akuma, but a healer found him before he was gone and saved him."
Akuma scowled. "I have told you before, Jinkusu, you are not to play with your victims. You must kill them on the spot!"
"I know sir, but nobody else was supposed to be in the castle. I killed his guards and the king and queen. I did now know that more would come."
"Well now you do." Akuma drew his blade and walked over to her. He circled around her slowly, then placed his foot on her back and shoved her down onto all fours. She was trembling; everybody could tell. Seizing the back of her cloak he yanked it off, the clasp leaving a small scratch along her throat. Throwing the soaking wet fabric to the side he glared down at her back. "How many decks have you completed now?"
"Eight, sir." Jynx pulled two decks out from the baggy pockets inside of her pants, including the one that belonged with the white card.
"Tou, Dou, bring forth a crystal box." Akuma ordered after a pause. "And a black one." The twins quickly complied, bringing forth two boxes identical to the one in Akuma's room. One of them was made of crystal, while the other one was made of onyx. The drug lord took the cards from Jynx then shoved her back down onto all fours. The completely black deck went in the crystal box, and the incomplete one went in the black box. "Seven crystal boxes, Jynx, seven. Only one onyx one." He lifted his sword above his head then brought it down hard across her back. She gasped in pain as he lifted it, revealing a long, bloody slash. Raising the saber above his head again, he lashed it down once more. It easily sliced through her tank top, quickly cutting down into her skin, leaving another gash next to the first one. He repeated this movement six more times, leaving her with eight bloody slashes across her back. Dou offered him the onyx box, which he flipped open with his long finger and pulled out the white card. He dropped it down onto Jynx's back, onto the eight cuts. Picking it back up only a moment later, he held it up for everybody to see. It had turned black, but still had Valden Lrak on the back, only now it had a line through the middle. Below it, in white letters, was Jinkusu.
Spitting on the card in disgust, Akuma threw it back in the box and slammed the lid, nearly crushing Dou's fingers in the process. He slid the bloodied saber back into its hilt, turned and walked around Jynx towards his room. The girl was on her knees and elbows, breathing hard, hair hiding her face from sight. She hadn't cried out once while he was hitting her. The drug lord clenched his teeth; she was strong, almost as strong as he was. She was a threat to his position! He cast her one more nasty look before slamming the door open. The second he disappeared into the darkness, the quiet room burst into whispers.
"Jinkusu!" Dou whispered in concern, frozen to her spot. Joufu and Musha both ran forward towards their beaten friend, who was still kneeling on her knees and elbows. That's when they all heard it; the trademark giggle of the black and white assassin.
"Is she okay?" Someone asked as they room went silent. The door to Akuma's room was closed, and everybody knew it was soundproof, so they didn't have to worry about a tongue-or sword-lashing from the drug lord.
"I---I'm fine." Jynx choked out as she struggled to push herself up. The two guards immediately grabbed her arms and helped her up.
"Don't move Jinkusu!" Musha warned as he shared her weight. "Denrei, go to warehouse three. Tell Carolina that Jinkusu needs help." The servant nodded and ran from the room. Joufu was carefully peeling away the scraps of Jynx's top, inspecting the eight wounds. They were still bleeding quiet heavily. He pulled off his old, fading jacket and dropped it down around her shoulders.
"Come on, lets get her to Carolina." He ordered. Musha nodded and they slowly helped the black and white assassin out of the room.

Valden Lrak was sitting on the windowsill of the infirmary when Tora came in. The pure white tiger was holding a ferret in her mouth and purring contentedly. A gold eagle was perched on her left shoulder. He took flight and landed lightly at the new king side.
"Hello Fleet." He said, stroking the bird's soft feathers. "I assume Akki is not far behind you?"
"Not far at all." A black demon with short, spiky white hair and a long cloak secured around his throat stood in the doorway, grinning. The eagle gave a soft cry and took off across the room, landing on the new comers shoulder. The white-haired boy patted his beak softly. Valden stood up, smiling. He had changed from his bloody night clothes into cream- colored shirt with a black tunic thrown over it. Heavy black pants hung down over the tops of his dragon-hide boots. A short dagger hung in the belt secured tightly around his waist. His wings extended through the holes in the back of his shirt and tunic.
"So, Akki, what brings you here in the middle of the night? You must have flown for hours on end to reach here within a few hours; Demon Caverns is nearly thirty miles from here!" The young demon exclaimed. Akki nodded and sat down on one of the infirmary beds, patting the spot beside him. Valden warmly excepted the invitation to sit.
"Lord Joutei heard about the attempt on your life; he wants you to come back to Demon Caverns with me."
"What?" Valden jumped back up, his tail sweeping a flowerpot off a table. Akki chuckled.
"I told him you would react like that." He leaned back, toying with the tip of his left wing. "He really wants you to return there. Everybody misses you, and the soldiers have been turning soft lately. You could help me train them." Fleet let out a small cry and Akki petted his beak fondly.
"I can't leave! Not until I find her!"
"Her? How do you know it was a girl?" The spiky-haired demon straightened up some.
"She...she gambled with me. We played a card game called snap. I won, but she still tried to kill me anyway."
"Did she tell you her name?"
Valden shuddered. "Jynx, the black and white assassin."
Akki stood up so fast that Fleet started and took off onto Tora's shoulder. The tiger had bristled at the sudden movement, but seeing that her master wasn't in danger, went back to eating.
"The black and white assassin? You're kidding, right? She doesn't leave her victims alive!"
"It was a fluke! I was at deaths door when the healer came. She was just waiting for me to die; toying with me and the balance of life and death."
"Then she's going to come back and kill you! She's part of the Assassins Gang! They never leave witnesses!" Akki began to pace. "You're coming with me to Demon Caverns, tomorrow at sunrise. Pack your bags and say your goodbyes!" He left the room before Valden could argue, Fleet soaring out behind him. Tora came and stood beside the young king, nuzzling his limp hand with her head. He smiled and patted her ears.
"Looks like we're on our way back to Demon Caverns, Tora." He sighed before flopping down onto one of the beds. It only took a few minutes for him to fall asleep.


Thank you for all of your reviews! I really appreciate them! ^_^ Please review this chapter so I know how I'm doing!