Introduction: At the End

I swung with all my might, in high hopes that I would be directly on target. I was, but my opponent's force proved greater than mine as I rebounded back, crashing onto the rocky terrain. She took on the offensive now as I immediately used one of my twin swords to deflect what might have been my final blow. She continued, maniacally striking me one blow after another while I countered the only way I knew how- by moving out of the way in the knick of time.

Her recently sharpened razor sliced fair sized rocks like cold butter, so it had no trouble delivering massive damage to my ninja gear. Both of us knew it was only a matter of time before she would run out of stamina or I would slip into a bloody death. The only question was which would happen first?

After numerous swipes, my opponent paused to gather her thoughts again. Without a second thought, I scrambled back up to my feet, suddenly realizing the crimson tainted sweat staining my clothes that were revealed by my broken armour. Pain did not occur to me. It was too drastic of a situation to worry about such matters.

"Why did I have to deal with such a stubborn one?" She sighed impatiently. "You know you can't win." Her facial features were masked by a silhouette light setting, and it made the event that much more intense as she backed me into a corner, "Why don't you save yourself some dignity, save me some time, and give up?"

"Why bother asking? It's not as if I would." I remarked, confident I could still edge out a victory with my remaining sword. It was going to be a fight to the finish. "And besides, I'm not quite ready to die just yet!" Just as she was off guard, I struck back with a surprise attack, which would, if it had been a success, claim sudden death. Unfortunately for me (as always), the blade missed her throat by about a half inch. Quickly, I drew back, but not quite fast enough. Her weapon tore mine from me, leaving me nothing to fend with.

"It seems as if you are now." She held my blade to my throat. "'serves you right… murderer,"

Murderer? The thought of being called a murderer by another shuddered down my spine. "Murderer?" was all I could say as a blank expression crossed my face. "What are you saying?"

"Don't play dumb. You, Morry Hermit Hiatus are the reason the last member of my family is dead. Being the ninja you are, you probably don't even remember how morally wrong it's supposed to feel to take the life of another."

"It seems as if you came to kill me by means of a personal affair rather than the assigned one you spoke of earlier." I suggested in a barely audible whisper.

She understood, "Well, I decided why not hit two birds with one stone?" She answered.

Gathering my strength, I began again, "Now listen here, I didn't murder your brother." Not intentionally, I rationalized to myself. It was a horrible recollection, one I had almost put behind me. It was all coming back in sharp shocks of distress.

"You killed him. I know you did!" She was not listening, but I would not confess. My denial in silence irritated her as it would anyone. "I don't care what you say, I know you did it…" She took a breath, "But you'd better confess or… or…"

"Or what, I have nothing left to lose." I gave a menacing snicker. "You're going to kill me anyway." She fell silent.

For a moment, I thought I had won the pep talk, but I realized my misjudgement when she came around to say, "Don't be so sure. First I'm going to defeat you in the physical duel we're having right now, which I've already accomplished. Next, I'm going to torture you until you confess to killing my brother, something you seem to be so reluctant about when it comes to admitting the truth, and when you finally do, I will tear you limb from limb leaving your head intact so you can feel all your pain until your last dying breath. What do you think of that?"

"You're certainly a harsh punisher. I have never met an assassin that would spend so much time in the killing process… As a matter of fact, aren't assassins supposed to charge in for swift, subtle kills?" I questioned, trying my best to remain calm despite the pain.

"Assassins are also efficient, and I'm way ahead of schedule." She explained, "Talk all you want, you're wasting your breath, which is something that should really concern you. I'm still going to kill you accordingly. Perhaps then you'll be able to relate with how my brother felt at the time of his passing."

"I charged in. He died a painless and sudden death. There was no pain, no torture!" I blurted out. What was I saying? I thought. If I were able to, I would have shoved my foot into my mouth.

"So you admit it, you did kill him. Now I have no doubts to draw back the wrath of my spite and revenge." She continued, "Feel a degree of pain you've never experienced. It'll be the one of a lifetime, yours rather."

"Stop!" I protested, "How could you-"

"How could I what?" She interrupted, irritated at my delay.

"You don't know what happened. You don't even know the half of it. All you know is during an invasion into my hometown, mind you, you survived, your brother did not, and you decided to pinpoint the blame on the first person you could lay your hands on." I rebuked. "You are not going to accuse me of something I haven't done, not again." It was my turn to be angry. Normally, I would have waited for death, but this was different, my lifetime of anger empowered my actions.

"Again? Now how did I strip you of your honour, and reputation? Oh, that's right. Those were lovely times. Let's check the list, shall we? I've defeated you, outsmarted you,"

"Now hold on-"

"Don't start. You're in no position to. I seem to have tortured you enough. I don't see what else there is to do but to start the butcher act and… kill you." She paused. "Why aren't I?"

Hesitancy- This is the chance I've been waiting for, I thought. "It's certain that you have unsettled, second thoughts." I suggested. "I may not be an assassin, but I know well enough to know you must kill for a purpose set high enough in your personal values." She appeared to listen to my theory. It was surprising to me since I was making it up as I went along. "Kill me if you do desire, but you will lose the opportunity to uncover valuable information regarding what happened to your brother." I bluffed as sincerely as I could. She bought it so far, so I continued, "I know how your brother died. I may be the only one that does. Aren't you the least bit curious in finding out what happened?"

She took a deep breath, "I don't have time for this." She retaliated.

"What are you afraid of, the truth?" I shot back. The cuts were starting to get to me. I had to speed up my convincing process. "No one's coming for me." I was telling the truth.

"And how would I know that?" She asked cynically. "We're on opposite sides of a battlefield. How could I possibly trust you?"

"You can't." I remarked frankly, "However, you should know I have no back up. After all, it's all the courtesy of your doing." I snapped. Her hesitation to kill me had made me forget that there was still a blade held to my throat. "We're wasting time. Either listen or kill me, but don't leave me here frying under the weather."

"Alright," she compromised, "You've got ten minutes." I looked at her, which might have appeared to be one of disbelief, but was actually my struggle to stay conscious to speak, "Well, I'm waiting."

"You owe me more time than that." I tried her, testing the waters.

"Owe? I owe you nothing." She looked at me, shocked I would even think such a thing. "But out of curiosity, what do you think I owe you?"

"You owe me my family, whom my victim slaughtered in the first place, my hometown, which you devoured to ashes, and my reputation that you've tainted." I told her. "I'm going to start at the beginning, when you Flamers took advantage of a small defenceless town all the way to where we are now. You owe me an opportunity to explain my perspective. Once I have finished, why don't you decide who here is the one that truly deserves the death sentence?" I felt I had the energy to tell the tale. "I saved you once." I reminded her.

"So did I, so we're even on that level." She remembered. To ensure I could not move, she fastened me to one of the numerous boulders, and sat down in the shade.

I was close to my dying breath, "Hear my confession, please." I was coughing up blood.

"You're bleeding internally. You'd better make it quick for your sake." She finally agreed.

I began right away, and did not hold back any details. What came to mind was significantly different from what I said due to time restraint, and her background knowledge of some of the events. I told her not only for the opportunity to think otherwise when it came to my death, but to recollect how I had gotten myself into this mess. Here is what happened.