Nighthawk

The name's Tarue Lockwell. 'Course I usually go by my street name - Nighthawk. Or maybe the Silver Assassin. Anyhow, so far I have lived a grand total of twenty two years. As for my occupation, well lets just say I relieve others of unwanted goods. Now I'm not one to be writing something down every time I so much as step in a puddle but this, well lets just say this was a rather intriguing chapter in my life.

Looking back, I suppose it was too good to be true when that old fortune teller at the midsummer fair made her prediction. Fame and fortune was my destiny, or so the old witch prophesised after gazing into my small, chubby, seven year old palms. Of course I wish I had never gone near that tent now. Gave me nightmares for weeks it did. Imagine walking into some strange place, coughing in the hazy tobacco smoke and suddenly a withered face peering at you, cackling, "Oh come on over here child, aren't you just a cutie pie. Give old Auntie Deb a hug now, don't be afraid," while the putrid stench of something unknown, no doubt pickled, invades your face.

It's enough to give a grown man the spooks. Nevertheless, the old phoney was not too far off the mark. I am famous, and I am rather wealthy, but not for the reasons I had first hoped for. Tarue Lockwell, Saviour of the People was one I had thought over a fair bit. Tarue Lockwell, beloved Merchant Prince was a certain possibility. But Tarue Lockwell, wanted for crimes against the Crown, reward of fifty thousand gold pieces? Surprising indeed. Admittedly the reward was flattering but a life of crime? That is something not many seven year olds dream of. Of course, I am the best in the business.

Now, to the task at hand. There was a wealthy merchant in town. A little too wealthy. Surely he must be having a little trouble, carting around all that loot. The kind person in me was crying out, begging me to help him. I decided to relieve him of some of his wealth, and you know, just look after it for a while.

Silvery clouds hung in the air as I danced across the rooftops, my soft feet making no sound upon the clay roof tiles. As I drew closer to the merchants manor house, the sounds of laughter and music reached my ears. I grinned. It seemed like Mr Merchant was having a little get together. I peered over one of the garden walls…Yep, kings and pirates. A costume party. This would make my job much easier. I gracefully leapt down (with style, of course) from the rooftops and strode towards the front gate. Immediately I was confronted by two burly guards.

"Righto, hold up. I place you under arrest for acting suspiciously. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of…thingy."

"Law?" I asked.

"Yeah that's it!"

I sighed. "Could you please tell me what is going on in there? I asked, pointing inside.

"It's a party" he replied smugly.

"Indeed. What kind of party ? I queried.

"A costume party. I think they are the best kind, because of the-"

"And what do people wear to costume parties?" I interrupted.

"A costume" the huge, if rather slow man replied.

"Ah, how intriguing. Do you have any idea what this is?" I said, motioning to my black attire. However before I was forced to labour through another exchange of words I was saved by another burly guard.

"Oi, Mitch! What you doin? Give the guest some peace. If he has an invitation let 'im through" the second guard rumbled.

"Well that's just it Jim. He, like, doesn't have an invitation. And I found him acting suspiciously!" Mitch bellowed back.

"Righto, I expect he just left it at home. Isn't that right? He looked at me, an I could only nod, stricken mute by the levels of sheer stupidity.

"See? Now, I hope you enjoy the party", said Jim, pointing me towards the door. I smiled, clicked my heels and entered the party.

After greeting the wide range of guests and sampling one or two…or five of the various beverages I made my way upstairs, sticking to the shadows. A long narrow hallway greeted me as I climbed the staircase. I decided the only available course of action was to close my eyes and pick a door. Hmm, empty boxes. Next one, nothing. Third one, whoops!

"Can I help you sir? Looking for something maybe?" A tremendously plump maid confronted me.

"Sorry to disturb you sir, uh, maam. I was looking for the basement. Don't worry I'll find it. Must be around here somewhere. Ciao!"

I slammed the door, sprinted to the nearest door and pulled on the handle. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the four hundred pounds of feather duster wielding woman behind me but whatever it was, I wasn't thinking straight. A shape on the door suddenly glowed, and the handle burned into my hand. Okay, so I hadn't counted on a wizard spell protecting the door. Still, it is kind of cheating isn't it?

I staggered back, nursing my hand, and, considering the open laundry chute behind me, this was not my smartest move. I tumbled head over heels, in rather ungainly fashion, before coming to rest atop a pile of dirty linen of dubious origin.

This night was turning out to be rather dreadful. Definitely one of my worst. I decided the time had come for it to end. I spotted a small window, and silently slithered out. As I melted into the shadows I heard a voice behind me call out into the darkness.

"Righto, hope you enjoyed the party sir,. Cheerio."

I flew across the cobblestones, a mere shadow as the wind jerked and tugged at my cloak. That may sound fairly simple to you, but you try running unseen wearing a sword, grappling hook, and a hundred other bits an bobs.

The buildings grew shabbier as more desolate I moved deeper into the slums. Suspicious men went about their dark business and scantily clad women waited at the street corners. I entered a dark alleyway and pulled open a sewer grate.

Now most people have a natural aversion to sewers. I can understand. They stink, have rats, stink, and have more rats. Me? I'm used to it. Very handy. Some people also call it the as the Thieves Highway. Rightly so.

I slipped down into sewers and trudged along, making my way back to my den where I could lick my wounds. Metaphorically speaking of course. I stopped to tie my bootlace, when I heard footsteps and sounds of conversation.

I silently drew back into a small alcove as the two dark figures stopped where I had been moments before.

"-Yes, that is the perfect time and place to initiate our plot against the king. The others are ready also. We shall throw down these bonds and rise up as the New World Order! We shall crush any that oppose us! We shall burn them all! Mwa ha ha ha "

At this moment an evil and conspiratorial rock chose to dislodge itself from the wall and plunk into the murky waters. Immediately I heard the sound of drawn steel. Sighing, I stood up.

"Okay then lets get this over with. But let me warn you, you are going to regret the day your grandmother met your grandfather to give birth to your father so he could meet your mother so they could have you." I warned. They merely looked at me in dull incomprehension. I sighed, and in a smooth, professional way I drew my katana and promptly cut off his head. Okay so I didn't cut of head, but I did chop him up a bit. As he fell the second figure kicked my hand, sending my sword splashing to the floor.

"Ooh Mister, that was your first, and last mistake." I said, drawing a pair knifes from my boot and quickly disposed of him. Like I said earlier, I'm the best in the business. Before leaving, I pocketed his pendant. For old times sake.

So, a plot against the king? Intriguing. Now I am no patriot. I don't go round singing the national anthem. Hell, I don't know if this country has a national anthem. But I felt it was my duty to inform the king of the murderous plot. I mean, if the king was murdered, how is a thief supposed to make a living? And, well, there is a second reason. The king kinda saved my life when I was little. He doesn't remember it but I do. I was walking home, after recent, err, 'business venture' well several men confronted me, and attempted to take my life, when a rather wealthy chap rode up – the king, and dispatched of my would be assailants, and thus creating a life debt. It is a rather sticky situation, one that I would rather not be in, but nevertheless I had to repay

I felt it was my duty to inform the king, as well as my desire to fulfil the life debt. . Sure, sometimes it may seem I have no morals, but there are some things I believe in. Sheesh, I am starting to sound religious. Let's end that topic of conversation before any more harm is done to my reputation shall we? Bit of advice. Stay out of debt. Always. It helps. People can make all sorts of demands when you owe them something.

Once again I donned my black garb and departed my den via an abandoned church.

As I reached the palace I had to make a decision. To swoop into kings chambers? Or make an appointment? I decided to try the latter first. True, it goes against all my morals, but, well, there was a monarchs life at stake.

Slipping into a side street, I relieved a shop owner of his clothes. I pulled the simple robes over my more elaborate 'Nighthawk' clothes and made my way into the palace. I joined a long line of people from weary scullions to red faced nobles. I quickly cut ahead of the queue. The Nighthawk never stands in line!

When I reached the front a rather tired looking scribe. He merely glanced at me before stating," Please don't cut the queue. The king will see you in due course."

I grabbed him by the collar and shook him fiercely. "Good God man!!! Have you no common sense? The Kings life is in danger! He could die! Do you hear me? Die!"

However the scribe seemed fairly unperturbed by my actions, and just hung their limply. I suppose he was used to crazy people shaking him. All well it seemed I would have to take matters into my own hands. I circled the palace grounds, and seeing the Kings chamber, I plotted my course of action.

Approximately three minutes later I was standing behind the king in his bedroom as he peered out of his window, totally unaware of my presence.

"Ahem." I cleared my throat. He spun, drawing an ornamental dagger as he did.

"Welcome to my humble abode. I suppose you have come to kill me, or 'liberate the people' as that chap last week said", the king stated simply.

"Kill you? Pah, I have come to warn you of a plot against you", I replied.

"Ah I see. Your clothing suggests otherwise. I wonder as to why you would inform me of this so called plot", the king said, suspiciously.

I looked deep into his eyes. "Is a son not allowed to warn his father that he is in mortal peril?"

"Son-father, wha?" The king was shaken. "You mean I'm you're, you mean you're my…?" I looked seriously at him, and then burst into laughter.

'You should have seen your face! Oh, it was hilarious. No don't worry. I'm not your son. Of course, it would have its benefits" I chuckled, eyeing the luxurious room. The king was not amused, and looking angry, however my job was done.

"I have warned you, you may take the warning to heed or not. The choice is yours. Good day." I went to leave but the king interrupted me.

'Very well, but at least tell me how you got in."

"Oh, fine. It was actually quite simple. I tossed a rock at that window to distract you, and then climbed in through that one. Rather devious wasn't it" I said grinning. "But alas, I must be off. Important business you know." However, as I was talking something heavy hit the window. The king frowned and went over to see.

"Bit like that actually", I said, also frowning. I spun round to see several people standing in front of the open window as they drew their swords.

"Gah! You want proof? There's your proof!" I yelled to the king. The king drew a sword from beneath his bed and began to wave it about randomly. I could see that this was getting worse and worse. Age seemed to have dulled the kings sword hand, now he was no more than an irritation. As the men began to charge I ran over to the king, and knocked his lights out. There. He would be alright, he should waked up in a few hours. At least this way he was out of the way. He was more likely to get me with that sword of his.

I turned my attention towards the attackers. I swiftly drew my katana and parried the first blow. I dispatched the first assassin, and then threw a knife at the second. After disposing of three more of the black clothed men I realised that I could not win. More and more men were pouring in.

I decided that was only one course of action, if I wanted to save the king and myself. I pushed over the bed, holding back the attackers for a moment. I shoved the king onto my shoulder, opened a window and slid down. I felt the fresh wind in my face and I thought things were starting to look up, but when I reached the bottom, I was met by a circle of bristling spears.

I slowly, and yes, as strange as it may seem, handed them the king. By now however he was conscious enough to inform the guards of my heroic rescue. He stood up.

"Well, it seems you were right. You have done your country an honour. How can I repay you?"

"To but shake your hand would be the greatest honour of all." I replied.

"Then it is done", he said, holding out his hand. I grinned and shook hands, before disappearing into the day. I heard shouts of surprise behind me, then anger. I smiled, and tucked the kings majestic rings into my pocket.

Some expensive jewellery, a fanatical cult in pieces, a rescued king. All in all, not a bad day eh?

So I hope you enjoyed reading about my life as much as I did living it.

Signed, Tarue Lockwell

Nighthawk

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