Title: Pact (1/6)
Authoress: A Nameless Traveler (ANT-chan)
Rating/Genre: Action/PG-13 (Semi-graphic violence, gore, and language.)
Summary: The crossing lines of fate finally meet and intertwine. Draca is asked to take on a job quite unlike anything he's ever done before: to steal someone's life, rather than their treasure. But Draca makes his reputation by never failing a job he's given. It's the final clash between assassin and thief!
Not So Legal Disclaimer: These characters are mine. The plot is mine. The "Dragon's Lullaby," however is not. It is the song "Sora," which belongs to Yohko Kanno. Also, this series will eventually be yaoi! You've been warned. I don't want any flames from poor, traumatized homophobes. I will, more likely than not, laugh at them.
Time Line: Early spring of 2448 A.S. Three years after Isle of the Lost.
Ages: Sin – 448 years; Draca – 93 years; Gwen – 9 years; Kyris – 33 years
"...Meeting for the Third Time... is Fate."
Some things never changed. Another bar. Another solitary, otherwise boring night. Another soulless town which he didn't care to know the name of.
Another moron interrupting his night of getting tipsy on cheap bar liquor and feasting off the blood of some clueless female (and perhaps getting a little action as well). Filthy rich, two-faced idiots. They acted as if the world revolved around them and their whims; as if people had nothing better to do than their bidding.
And they didn't even appear in person. They sent a "representative."
'Psh. Representative, my ass.'
"S-So… w-will ya do i'?" The skinny little twig of a man was scrutinizing him with a nervous eye, his hands fidgeting every few seconds.
Across from him the Vampyre Draca lounged in his chair, leaning over the table with one elbow resting against the wood, the side of his feral face cradled in a pale hand. His wild blond bangs fell haphazardly, shielding part of one eye at that angle. The other cat-like, crimson eye was half lidded and dull with disinterest and a touch of condescension. In his other hand he cradled a half filled glass of amber liquor.
"Let's see if I understand this," he drawled, "Your boss wants me… to kill someone?" There was a faint inflection in his voice, one of mocking and incredulity.
The man flinched. "W-Well yeah." The man's accent was thick – probably due to his proximity and fear of the Vampyre – and of a similar family of his own speech pattern. He caught the glint in the Vampyre's eyes and quickly added: "B-Bu' m' mas'er woul' be m-m're 'an 'appy to com'ensate-"
Draca lifted his head, and held up a silencing hand. "Listen," he interrupted, "I am a thief. A Master Thief. And I'm generous enough to take on requests for those in need, for a price, of course. If you want someone dead, hire yourself an assassin." He took a sip from his glass. "Now get out."
The rich man's puppet leapt from his chair in a panic. No doubt he had been threatened with death, dismemberment, or other such tortures if he didn't get the thief's consent. It was the same with most, if not all the lackeys he'd dealt with. Disgusting aristocrats… they were the scum of Viranus in his opinion.
"B-Bu' our t-target is an assassin, sir…!" the man cried.
"What?" Confused, Draca's indignation faded in lieu of intrigue.
The little man seemed to calm slightly at his apparent interest, and continued. "M' mas'er was no'… sa'isfied wiv th' performance of th' assassin 'e 'ired months back. An' w'en 'e confron'ed th' man… well, he threa'ened t' kill th' mas'er. So now th' mas'er wan's 'im dead."
"What'd he do? Get blood on his fancy rug?" The man didn't laugh, and Draca nearly rolled his eyes. Humor was apparently lost here. "So why not hire another assassin for this?"
A memory of an imposing iceberg of a killer in black came unbidden to his mind. A man that he'd neither seen nor heard from in nearly three years. Good riddance. But even as the thought passed his mind, his mouth moved of its own accord.
"There's a good one I could recommend…" His own words horrified him – disgusted him. The puppet's flinch at his frowning expression went unnoticed as Draca berated himself.
'What the hell am I doing?' But the words were out of his mouth and gone before he could call them back.
"T-Tha's th' probl'm…" the man across from him muttered, "Thi' assassin inn't th' type ya can j-jus' 'ire another for. 'E's good, really good. W'cked strong an' clever too. It'd be poin'less t' pick a killer off th' street."
"So why come to me?"
"W-Well…" The fidgeting began again, this time twice as nervously as before. "Th' mas'er 'eard t-through 'is c-connections tha' ya were 'n town. An'… an' 'e b-b'lieves tha' y-you're th' only one who can k-kill thi' assassin."
"Because I'm a Vampyre."
"Er… t-tha' m-may 'ave s-sum'in' t-t' do wiv i'…"
It never changed. He was being used for his Vampyre blood. But in all his ninety-three years of living, this was the first time he was ever solicited to kill for money. Most of his employers were at least subtle enough to disguise killing with a layer of theft. The men who hired him usually made the fact clear that if the master of his target met an unfortunate end, it was of no consequence to them.
This rich bastard however was either very stupid or very bold.
But part of him didn't particularly care. It had been too long since he'd had anything remotely resembling a challenge in the way of fights or thefts. This was something new and intriguing, and something about it called out to him. He'd been so bored before this – the supposedly unpredictable life of the thief becoming unbearably monotonous.
As such, Draca gave a fake hum of thoughtfulness. "I don't particularly go for the whole 'killing for money' thing." He stifled a wicked grin when the man started to panic once more. "But I suppose I could make an exception this time around."
An impossibly relieved smile spread across the man's face, and he bowed deeply multiple times. "Oh th'nk you, sir! Th' mas'er will b' mos' pleased!"
'Yeah, and you'll live another day, won't you?' Draca mentally sneered.
But aloud he said, "Now, where can I expect to meet my employer?"
"Oh! Th' mas'er doesn' require tha' you meet wiv 'im un'il af'er ya comple' th' task. 'E's foun' a place a few miles ou'side th' ci'y – an aban'oned for'ress t' th' west. One lef' ov'r from b'fore Adrian's Fall. Th' mas'er guaratees tha' th' assassin will be there a' sunrise abou'… er, four days from now."
"Sunrise?" The blond growled. "Just perfect." With an annoyed sigh, he knocked back the rest of his drink.
"I's th' bes' th' mas'er could do, sir."
He waved dismissively. "Just tell me one last thing. This assassin, who is he?"
There was a suspicious flash in the man's eyes – a flinch. It was the look of a man about to lie to save his skin. "Peo'le say 'e's th' best money can buy. Tha's all I know." The man turned and hurried from the pub, making a feeble attempt to appear as if he was anxious to be out of the Vampyre's presence. Draca didn't particularly care. He did not even bother to call the man's terrible bluff.
He watched the man disinterestedly as the aristocrat's puppet scurried from the premises, and then shook his head. He signaled the bartender for another drink, mulling over all that he'd learned.
'The best money can buy, huh?' the Vampyre wondered. There had only ever been one man he'd ever known to be described in such a way. But still –
'Nah… now way.'
Even after having it for years, Sin was still unsure if the Sight was either a blessing or a curse. As with many things in life, it seemed to be both. Because of it, rather, he'd become an expert of sorts when it came to the interpretation of the soul. The swirling Colors spoke volumes to him. It was nearly impossible for someone to lie without him catching on. The Colors of the spirit betrayed their thoughts and intentions to him. The disadvantages of the Sight, however, were daunting. He could not See that which did not live and mythril had the harrowing effect of negating it altogether.
The Sight itself made his work that much easier, but there were sometimes when he wished he had never gotten it.
Sin gave the messenger hawk before him an annoyed, soul-cutting stare – as he had been for the past five minutes since the animal had landed on his windowsill. The hawk seemed not to notice, and continued to hold its leg out and blink at him infuriatingly. The scroll attached to its leg seemed harmless enough, but to Sin it was worse than even a Shadow.
He didn't want to touch the damned thing, for it was proof of one of the Sight's more troublesome disadvantages. He seriously doubted that the scroll had been written in magic-infused ink, and he hated going to others for help.
There was a slamming of a door on the floor below, breaking him from his thoughts. He never kept it locked, as only a fool would attempt to invade the home of a known assassin. He could See the bright form of the now nine-year-old Kitsune pup sprinting up his stairs long before she burst through his study door.
"Gwen," he greeted without taking his eyes off the bird.
Little Gwen was panting harshly. He surmised she had run from her parents' shop all the way across the market to his home. It was not unusual for the little girl to come visit him here when he wasn't away on a job. He didn't mind in the least. She and her childish innocence were a burst of sunshine in his normally dark life. It was a long way from being appalled by her seemingly instantaneous attachment to him upon their meeting five years ago. Since then he had come to adore the child for it.
She attempted to catch her breath and looked over at him with a sheepish half-smile. "I saw the… the messenger from the shop and… came to help." When his expression didn't change, nor did his eyes drift from the abomination in his window (that was still staring at him, damnit), she began to ramble to make up for it. "B-Because I know you can't… um… and you hate it when people send you messages and you hate asking for help and… and… um." Her fuzzy ears drooped pathetically against her head and the toe of her shoe made idle circles on his floor. Embarrassed magenta and blue sadness radiated from her.
The cold, annoyed stare he had unknowingly transferred from the hawk to the girl abruptly cracked and shattered into a thousand pieces. A true, grateful smile forced its way past his walls and onto his scarred face. He could not keep his cold demeanor around her any more than her could force himself to harm her. And how could he not? The girl had always been there to lighten his day and help in whatever way she could, no questions asked.
The moment one of his rare smiles appeared (the ones he often saved only for her), the pup brightened into her shining joy once more. A bright sunshine yellow dominated her glowing form, permeating the air around her slightly. His heart swelled with pride and warmth at the affect he had on the young Kitsune, and in his mind he knew that as long as he could make her happy, he could not truly say he was unsatisfied with his life.
With a fond gleam in his eyes he finally removed the scroll from the hawk's scaled leg and handed it to her as she bounded over to him. Sin lifted her easily onto the desk beside him before propping a hip against the dark wood comfortably.
There was a crackle of parchment as the scroll was unfurled. To Sin's chagrin he had been right: there were none of the glowing runes that he could actually See on the otherwise light gray of the parchment. "Ummm…" Gwen fumbled as she studied the runes. She'd had no formal schooling in reading and writing. That task had been left to the cooperative efforts of her parents, Kyris, and himself; and she still had a bit of trouble with the more complex runes. Her parents taught her the basics of science that came with their work, and Kyris the finer points of finance and business. It was he who would be left with the task of teaching her the more complicated mathematics (and perhaps Alchemy, should she be interested) when the time came.
Gwen completed the deciphering of the letter and began to read haltingly to him. "It says: 'Sin-" the pup blinked owlishly at the parchment, and he Saw the traces of yellow-green annoyance in her form. "Aren't you a Master? Aren't they supposed to call you that? You earned it, didn't you?"
He rolled his eyes at her, making her giggle at his moment of childishness despite her indignation. "Not everyone respects the importance of a Mastery."
The Kitsune frowned, but continued anyway. "'I am Lord Alexander Bayne III. You may remember me from an a-assignment I hired you for many months ago. I'm afraid we did not part on the best of…terms, and I have come to re…realize that I was out of line.'" Gwen paused to look over the next few lines. Sin on the other hand had drawn in on himself, contemplating on the identity of the sender. Business had been slow in the last few months, but he had been employed by many forgettable faces over the years. He usually made a point to forget those he worked for, with the exception of his regular customers. 'Didn't part on best of terms…'
A flash of memory. A cowardly, rotten, arrogant man berating him for a supposed mistake – of a deed that Sin utterly despised. He recalled idle threats being thrown at him, and how he had finally lost his cool and gave a not-so-idle threat of his own. 'Ah… him. What the hell does he want now?'
"'I would like to make… amends for what happened, and perhaps com…compensate you for it. We can discuss the matter here in Eruna if you wish. But there is one con-di-tion I would like to pose-'" Gwen stopped, the annoyance glowing fiercer. "Do they all talk like that? It's so rude!"
A short sigh left his mouth. It would figure that bastard would want a favor from him. "Most of them, unfortunately. What else did he say?"
"Er… 'There is a thief that has de…vel… developed an interest in one of my trinkets of value, and I would greatly appre…ciate your ass-is-tance in the matter. I would pay you a commission as well as your payment for my con… con…' What's this word, Sin?" She spelled it aloud for him.
"-condolences, of course. Should you be interested, please send a response. Signed Lord Bayne III."
There was a short silence in the study as Gwen reread the letter and Sin wondered what he should do. On the one hand, he was against working for those he had threatened on the grounds of incompetence. It was risky – you could never tell with those spoiled rich bastards – and it was bad for business. Crawling back to an employer he had denounced simply made him look bad. But on the other hand… he did a quick calculation and estimate in his head.
That was a lot of money. Enough to make up for the lack of business lately.
No one could ever claim him to be noble, after all. And he seriously doubted the man would make an attempt at revenge. The man was too cowardly. Besides, if the man was coming to him with this, that meant the thief in question was too powerful for guards of the normal sort to handle. He was almost looking forward to a challenge.
"Are you gonna do it?" Sin came back to reality with at snap, glancing down at the flowing golden form of the Kitsune pup. He nodded solemnly to her, giving her a grateful pat on the head.
"Thank you, Gwen. For coming," he murmured. At his words the little girl's form shone brighter, and he could sense the wide grin on her face. She swung her dangling legs idly as he reached for a piece of parchment and his own magic-infused ink, quickly scratching out a response. Once finished he silently crossed to the window, rolling it as he went. The hawk stuck its leg out obediently for him and, after fumbling with the difficult to See leather twine, he sent the bird flying back the way it had come. He watched it fly until he could no longer distinguish its glow.
'A thief, eh?' There was an image in his head that would not cease nagging at him. It was of a tall, lithe form, overflowing with arrogance, recklessness and wickedness. Swirling Colors of black, deep violet, red-orange, and bloody crimson danced about his mind's Eye. He quickly shook it away.
Really, what were the odds of that?
Well-manicured nails drummed idly against the mahogany desk. The few sparse candles in the room threw long, dark shadows across the desk and its occupant. The man lounging in the plush, high-backed chair was young – just a few years into adulthood. His long, angular face was thrown into sharp contrast by the dim light of the chamber. On his aristocratic features he wore a deep, stern frown.
"Well?" the man said, his voice pitching into a high, drawling whine. "Did the Vampyre agree?"
"Er, y-yes, m'lord." The thin man standing in the center of the study fidgeted nervously. "'E agreed t'come t' th' fortress a' th' specified time."
The man at the desk relaxed in his overstuffed chair, his frown melting into a crooked smirk. "Ah. Good, good. Now it is only a matter of time before I am rid of both that ridiculous assassin and that abomination of a thief."
The servant before him raised his head slightly, his downcast eyes questioning, but never rising. "Sir? May I ask why you're involvin' th' thief in th' ma'er? O'her than 'is obvious strength, I mean?"
"Tch," the aristocrat snorted arrogantly. "Well I suppose I could inform a simpleton such as yourself, though it might be a little too much for your intellect. Oh well, I shall try and explain it as simply as I can. You see, that thief is an abomination upon life – a bloodsucking monster that should never have been born, much less allowed to continue infecting Viranus with his evil. It is only a matter of time before that Vampyre decides to come for the blood of we nobles. Those beasts only wish to create chaos in society. But he does have his uses. He is, without a doubt, the only one who can kill that assassin." He paused to chuckle darkly. "But Sin is no pushover either. With any luck, this one encounter will rid me of my deadliest enemy and rid the world of that monster."
"An' if one lives t'kill th' o'her, m'lord?"
A slow, smug smile appeared on the young lord's face. "Oh, I have a few… precautionary measures in place should that occur."
"O-Of course, m'lord…"
End Part 1. Walk on, Traveler of Worlds.
This is the start of our third tale, and as you can see, it doesn't begin with the best of intentions.
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