Chapter One

His knees collapsed beneath him and he landed with a thud, arms outstretched to keep him upright. Tears rolled down his face blotching the weathered stones below him. The cries and sobs wracked his body, moans of anguish spilled forth and echoed off the cold walls of the temple. "Why, why Lord?" He cried to an unseen force. "I have tried to be nothing but your faithful servant and this is how things pan out?"
Lifting an arm up and closing his fingers into a fist, he punched the wet stones, over and over; hoping, no wishing that it would take away the hate and rage. Quickly the falling tears began to mix with the blood seeping from his knuckles, he stopped and crumpled into a shivering ball upon the floor, lamenting until he passed out.

Face after face passed in his mind, reminding him of everyone he had affected with his abilities. Men, women and children, people, simple people; he was given a task and accomplished the deed. Most of them didn't deserve what he had done, some should have been killed for their crimes but still they flashed before his mind haunting him, appearing as a list of sins on his book of life. Every single one he remembered, he knew every name, they wouldn't let him forget that. The faces disappeared and he stood before The Gates of St. Peter, standing out upon the empty plane one by one his victims littered the holy ground.

A man dressed in a white robe appeared at his side holding a large book. The man flipped through the pages until he found the correct page. This must be Saint Peter, Aaron thought. Peter lowered the book in front of Aaron and there upon the page was his name, he watched the letters disappear one by one until the space was blank and the other names shifted to fill the spot. Tears brushed his cheeks as they dripped towards the ground. He fell to his knees, weeping openly, grief racking his soul, wave upon wave slowly pushing him to the ground. Aaron curled up before the Gates and lay there weeping.

A cold breeze blew over his sleeping form, stirring him from his unconscious state. Wiping the wetness from his eyes and face, he pushed himself off the floor and glanced around. Just a dream. He winced after applying pressure to his right hand, looking down at the fresh blood oozing from the wounds on his knuckles. "Great." He mumbled.

Getting off the floor, he straightened his shirt and jeans and walked to the back of the temple to grab a bucket and towel. Filling it with hot water and some soap, he moved back to his drying mess in the sanctuary and began to scrub. Is this what it comes down too? Cleaning up after my own messes? He thought. Exactly, this is what I deserve, after all that this soul has done I deserve nothing more than cleaning up my own sins.

"Brother Aaron?" A gentle voice came from behind him.

"What?" Aaron's response.

"I was awoken from my sleep by your cries, is everything alright?"

"Does it look like it? I now need bandages for my knuckles and I am scrubbing the stones from where I let my anger get the best of me. I am only here for my safety, kept out of the sight of those who would harm me until the Church can decide what action would be the better form of punishment for this sinner." Aaron snapped, disgust and anger clear in his speech.

"I am sorry. I cannot even begin to fathom what you must be feeling."

"Your concern for my well-being is flattering Simon." Aaron mocked, the bitterness ripe in his tone.

"Forgive me." Simon lowered his head apologetically.

"Sorry, I shouldn't be so harsh. I am lost and don't know what action I should take." Aaron tossed the blood soaked rag onto the edge of the bucket and leaned against one of the pews.

"The Church may never forgive you of your sins, but there is one that will always forgive you." Simon reminded him.

"If only he would be so merciful."

"You honestly don't believe that?" Simon questioned moving to a pew across from Aaron.

"I don't know what I believe anymore."

"I pray for you everyday."

"Thanks." Aaron looked away from Simon's gaze, a few tears falling down his cheeks again.

"If you need anything let me know, I cannot tell you what to believe or how to believe, it is up to you to decide."

Simon stood up from the pew, smoothing out his black robes and left Aaron alone in the sanctuary. Aaron sat there for a while his mind blank and body numb of emotion. Finally willing himself to move he grabbed the bucket and cleaned it out before quietly moving to his chambers behind the temple where the rest of the priests and novices lived. Since he was brought here under the "protection" of the church, Simon has been nothing but nice to him. Aaron wondered why, he must know what he had done, know the brevity of the sins committed at his own hands. Aaron tried hard to follow the teachings of the church; he read scripture and prayed when felt as if he should, but something compelled him to commit those heinous crimes. He believed they were for the betterment of humanity, for the good of society. Were they really? Aaron had trouble knowing anymore.

Throwing his clothes over the chair in his sparse chambers, he sank into the mattress and settled down into a fitful remainder of sleep.

The late morning sun glistened through the aged wooden shutters, flickering playfully off Aaron's face. He groaned and stretched under the down comforter, blinking a couple times and rolling back over trying to avoid the evil light. Unsuccessful he threw the covers off and plopped his arms onto them. His bare chest tingled at the brush of the cool air and the warm light sending small goose bumps over the surface of his skin. The network of scars that mottled the near perfect skin was a slightly darker color set off by the sudden change in surface temperature. Aaron pushed the covers down to his feet; his body was in excellent condition, lean and sinewy.

Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, he stood up and moved groggily over to the washbasin. Looking into the mirror, he grumbled at his appearance, he didn't enjoy the three perpendicular scars running down the length of the left side of his face, fortunately missing his eye but they tainted his good looks. Sure, he had a problem with vanity but he came from a long line of vain people with great genes, just another sin to add to his tome of sins. His facial hair was scruffier than he liked but the temple was still waiting on the supply shipment to arrive. The growing beard filled out his narrow jaw, shaping his long face in a strange way. His shaggy brown hair hung down into his blue-grey eyes, sweeping his bangs aside he scooped up the cool water and splashed the sleep from his body. Droplets rolled down his chest sending shivers down his spine, grabbing a towel from the hook he wiped off his face and chest.

A quiet knock broke the silence, "Enter."

The old door creaked on aged hinges and peeking around the corner came the friendly face of Simon. "Father Morris requests your presence in his office."

"Fine let me finish getting dressed and I will be there shortly." Aaron grumbled.

"By the way your scars are beginning to look better." Simon complimented.

"Get out of here!" Aaron rapped.

"Alright, alright." Simon held his hands up in retreat and disappeared behind the cracked door.

Aaron sighed heavily and forced the door back closed and shook his head. Just what I didn't want this morning.

He turned around and moved to the small closet to change his clothes. Pulling a plain blue t-shirt and faded blue jeans he dressed and made himself "presentable" for Father Morris. Aaron left his room and traveled down the hall farther into the compound towards the office of the Reverend Father of this Temple. Two priests stationed outside nodded their heads as Aaron approached and opened the doors to allow him entrance. The doors closed as he passed. So much pomp.

Father Morris was seated in an ornate leather chair behind a large oak desk littered with reports and papers. Father Morris was a high standing official in this region for the Church, a man not to trifle with, he had more pull with the Bishops and Archbishops than most Priests; making him revered and practically worshipped. "Sit." Father Morris commanded.

Aaron obeyed quickly and quietly. Morris leaned forward and rested his elbows on the desk, tenting his long, spindly fingers. The sun shining behind him shadowed the older mans face, "You are an interesting man Aaron. And today you may just find yourself one day closer to living."

Aaron said nothing, trying his best to avert Morris' gaze.

"Currently the council overseeing your judgment is hung up; they cannot decide what would be best for all you have done." Father Morris chided, the corner of his mouth curling up, revealing a cruel smirk.

"Great." Aaron slapped his hands onto the armrests and pushed himself out of the chair.

"Where do you think you are going?"

"Out, it looks like I have more waiting before I die either by drowning, fire, or hanging. Whichever your bloody 'council' chooses." Aaron spat.

"You are not dismissed from this office." Morris replied coolly, irritating Aaron with his lack of anger.

"Stop me!" Aaron teased and with that, he spun around and throwing one of the doors open stormed out of the office and out onto the wooded grounds.

Father Morris shook his head, arrogant He thought. My patience with that boy is growing thin, the council better come to a decision soon, or I will decide one for them. He pushed himself slowly and gingerly up from his chair, age getting the better of him as he moved to gaze out the large window.

Aaron continued his march farther into the woods, fallen leaves crunching beneath his shoes and the crisp fall air rattling more to the ground. He found his usual tree and slumped down between the ancient roots, tapping the back of his head against the bark several times. He leaned his head upon the tree and closed his eyes. Bringing his body to a state of peace and relaxation, it wouldn't do him any good to get angry that only leads to trouble and he couldn't afford it. "There you are Aaron." A woman's voice trailed from the trees.

"What do you want Ambrosia?" Aaron growled.

"That is no way to talk to your sister." She frowned.

"You are not my sister!"

"But you would love it if I was." She teased.

"Don't tempt me to gut you." He hissed.

"Listen here Aaron!" Ambrosia moved from behind a nearby tree and in a flash was picking Aaron off the ground and pushing him up the tree, his feet dangled inches off the ground.

"Don't you dare threaten me, I could kill you before you even exhaled, but then I wouldn't be able to play with you and give you another mission." Her demeanor changing back to an innocent girl setting Aaron back down onto the leaf covered ground.

"Screw the Order; I don't want anything more to do with their stupid missions. I have the Church trying to flay me and the Order trying to get me flayed. I am done with all of you! Just get out of my damn face!" He screamed throwing both hands into Ambrosia's shoulders making her stumble over the roots and landing on the cold dirt.

Tears welled up at the corners of her eyes and the sadness turned to hate, she moved to get off the ground, Aaron rushed over to help her up. She threw up one of her hands to stop him, "Don't...just don't."

"Ambrosia, I am sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you. Just with all that has been happening lately my nerves are at their end." He admitted, looking truly sorry.

"This doesn't get you out of your mission." Her words icy.

"I know." Aaron looked down at his feet, afraid to glance at her.

"There is a man in town, Marcus; he is a man with fear of the night. He is inciting this same fear into the other villagers. You must turn him and show him that there is nothing in the night to be afraid of." She licked her lips and shook her long brunette hair off her shoulders.

Her body was enticing and desirable, ample amount of chest and a full figured hourglass shape. Worthy of any man's touch. Full pink lips and deep blue eyes graced her round face and rosy cheeks, tempting most men.

"You don't know what you are asking." Aaron grimaced.

"Oh the Order knows full well what it is asking." She smirked.

"He is on the city council who is also part of the Council deciding my fate. You can't ask me to do this."

"We aren't asking, the Order never asks, it gives a mission and you complete the task." Ambrosia stepped behind Aaron and slid an arm across his chest, rubbing slightly over his muscles, pushing her chest into his back.

"Stop. You are going to get me killed." He stated removing her hand..

"The Order isn't trying to get you killed; it is trying to keep you alive. You have much to do in this life Aaron. You just need to accept that." She pulled him into her arms, running them over his chest and abs and bit his ear lightly and sucking as she pulled away.

He groaned enjoying the touch and then it was gone. Opening his eyes, he glanced around and knew that she was gone. Succubus, He thought shaking his head. He sat down between the roots again and sank into a form of meditation, clearing his mind and preparing him for what he must do.

The drifting rays of a setting sun danced off his face, rousing him from his unconsciousness. Nearby sounds of movement in the leaves breached his ears. Jumping up and crouching down, defensive ready for an attack, Aaron waited. Black robes moved through the distant trees, the familiar shape of Simon's face met Aaron's gaze, relieving his stance he waited for Simon to approach.

"Brother Aaron I was beginning to wonder where you had gone."

"Just for some time alone."

"Dinner is about finished." Simon motioned for Aaron to follow.

"Simon? Can I ask a favor from you?" Aaron questioned.

"What can I do for you?" Simon stopped his movement and turned to face Aaron.

"I need to go into town tonight. I need to get away from this place just for an evening." Lying but good enough to convince almost anyone.

"You know that Father Morris would have me scrubbing floors for a week if you got away for a night. I am sorry but I just can't allow it." Simon shook his head and continued his walk back to the Temple.

"Simon wait!" Aaron jogged up and grabbed the back of Simon's arm, stopping him.

Simon didn't turn around.

"Look, I am locked up here surrounded with shifting eyes everywhere I look, I need to get out and breathe." That is mostly true.

Simon let out a deep sigh and sank his shoulders and head.

"I will see what I can do." Simon retorted, hurt and shrugging out of Aaron's grasp.

"Hey, thanks." Aaron said smirking. Bingo sucker.

Simon marched back towards the Temple with Aaron trailing behind. Once back to the compound Simon left Aaron alone to go seek out Father Morris. Aaron walked to the mess hall and grabbed some food sitting by himself. He didn't care, he didn't like them, and they didn't like him. Eating slowly, Aaron planned how he would get to Marcus tonight and get this task over and done. Another Sin for the books. He sighed. He glanced up from his emptied tray as Simon walked in; he made eye contact and smirked. Simon joined him at the table and sat down, "Brother Mark is taking a few things into town in an hour and you have permission to go with him, but you must come back with him. He is only going to be in town for a few hours. Father Morris will be waiting when Brother Mark returns."

"Thank you Simon, I owe you." Aaron forced a smile; luckily he was good at faking a lot of things.

Simon got up from the table without saying another word. He'll get over it. Aaron put his tray away and left to go to his room to get ready. Closing the door and setting the lock, Aaron moved to the single candle by his bed and lit it, casting a somber glow across his chambers. Aaron opened the closet and pulling out a garment bag, draped it over the single chair and stripped down into his undergarments. Kneeling before his bed, he pulled out a bundle from underneath wrapped in stained muslin. He set it upon the mattress and placing his hands on either side, bowing his head.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for I have sinned. My deeds are great and my guilt is deep. Forgive me Father for I do what I do not want to do and I don't do what I want to do. Several tears dripped from his eyes and glistened off his pale thighs. Destroy this servant to prevent the actions I must commit tonight. My sins berate and tempt to drown me. I know you must hate me and your mercy does not pour out on this sinner but guide my actions this night. Give me the strength for what I must do. The tears continue to fall and sobs shake his aching soul. He doesn't attempt to wipe them off his face as he reaches to open the bundle before him. Slowly Aaron unwraps the muslin and gently lays the corners of the fabric upon the bed. There lying on the bed were two short swords and a faded and aged leather book.

Flipping through the pages until he found the glyph he was looking for, he traced the image upon the page and placed his arms back on either side of the bundle. Grunting with displeasure, small bits of black markings arose to the surface of his chest, tainting the near perfection of it. He threw his arms straight out, resembling the crucifixion of Christ. Aaron moaned as the markings increased in intensity; glyphs, symbols and signs ancient and new etched into scarred flesh. Decorating the skin in layers of mystery and night. Aaron felt the locks holding his abilities beginning to fall, releasing his powers to rise to the surface. They broke through and blue lights edge themselves around the markings, fading just as quickly. He inhaled sharply as the effect of the release subsided.

Collapsing backwards onto the cold stones Aaron lay there twitching slightly, his eyes rolled to the back of his head. His breathing came in shallow rasps, his body readjusting again to the power. His upper body slowly lifted up from the floor, his arms dragging until Aaron was fully upright. The color returned to his eyes and Aaron used the bed as support to stand. I will never get use to that. Aaron tilted his head to the side, a few of his vertebrae popping. He unzipped the garment bag and pulled out the contents. There neatly packed was a skin tight Kevlar body suit, durable and flexible enough for the task at hand.

Undoing the laces down the side, Aaron proceeded to work himself into the fabric. Pulling out a crossed back sheath he fastened it over his chest after tightening the laces. Grabbing the swords and sheathing them he tucked the book into a hidden thigh pocket. Aaron redressed in the t-shirt and jeans, replacing the shoes for black calf high boots. He threw on a long black duster to better conceal the swords under his shirt. God be with me, He mused blowing out the candle and leaving the room and closing the door silently behind him.

Aaron moved swiftly down the hallway, getting away from the nightly devotions after dinner. Most of the priests and novices joined Father Morris in their evening prayer and devotion. Some still lingered the halls, either busy with other tasks or not wanting to participate this evening. Aaron paid them no mind as he made his way to the stables to join Brother Mark on his journey into town. His mind played several different scenarios of how he was going to turn Marcus. There were many different ways to do this, several with little harm to others and only a handful with only Marcus as the victim. He focused on the latter, wanting only minimal damage and effect upon others. He was growing weary of adding more than the victim to the faces that plagued him at night.

Moving into the courtyard, Aaron sat on the low wall blocking the forest from the temple looking out at the full moon and the clear night sky.

"You don't have to do this you know." A mans voice perked from the shadows.

"What choice do I have? The Order doesn't take no for an answer." Aaron replied his focus still upon the moon.

The man stepped out of the shadows and into the light, his skin seemed to shine in the light. Long, almost silver hair danced off his shoulders, surrounding his face in a soft glow. The man had a thin frame full of lean muscle. Golden-amber eyes stared at Aaron while his thin face wore a smirk; the beginnings of stubble lined his narrow jaw line. He was clothed in skinny black pin-striped pants and black dress shoes with spats. A suit coat with two tails, light gray in color was buttoned over a burgundy double-breasted vest all coming up to a black ascot pinned down with a silver glyph betraying this mans nature.

"There is always another option, the Order doesn't control you. They just give you a mission and you choose to partake in their deeds. Your abilities can be used for better things." The stranger suggested.

"Not now Uriel, I don't have the time for this." Aaron glared over his shoulder and turning back to the forest.

"So you are going to go through with it?" Uriel questioned, concern in his voice.

"What are you doing here?"

"Trying to convince you there is another path to take."

"It is either do what the Order asks or be killed by the Church. That is all there is available for me." Aaron jumped down from the wall and glided past Uriel to glance into the hallway.

Finding no one he sat down on the wooden bench near the cart. Uriel ran a gloved hand through his hair, the strands shimmering in the light and moved to sit next to Aaron. "There is really no point in trying with you is there?"

"Yet you still are." Aaron sighed tiring of Uriel's chatter. I don't need this right now, I need to focus.

"Sure you need to focus. Focus on doing something else with your life." Uriel replied, not skipping a beat.

"I hate it when you do that. Look i have to do this, it is my only choice for surviving the decision of the council." Aaron glanced over at Uriel, fire flashing in his eyes.

"You are so frustrating!" Uriel spat pushing himself from the bench and began to pace the courtyard.

"I am just rolling with the cards I was given. Frustrating maybe, through with life yes."

"If you decide to change your mind, you know where I am and mostly where He is." Uriel reminded Aaron before fading into the moonlight.

Ugh, Uriel can be so, so infuriating!

The door leading to the courtyard opened and out stepped a plump man in simple brown rodes and a straw hat. "Ah Brother Aaron, there you are. Are you ready to go?"

"As ready as ever Brother Mark, thank you for this." Aaron practically gagged on his words.

Aaron climbed into the cart while Mark opened the doors of the courtyard. The horses silently feeding on hay the entire time neighed quietly, ready to get on their way. Brother Mark climbed up next to Aaron and snapped the reigns, urging the horses out. Most of the way into town was quiet; both men had moments of medial conversation, nothing more. Brother Mark tied the horses outside the supply depot and climbed down. "Just meet me back here when you are ready to return." Brother Mark was leery of Aaron and hurried inside the depot.

Aaron shook his head and climbed down; he looked at his surroundings and decided the best starting point was the local bar.

The single pane glass doors creaked in the cool night air. Stepping out into the balcony, a young woman pulled her shawl tighter around her small frame. She glanced down onto the quiet streets below, a few people here and there stumbled down the block. The fire from her room flickered off the marble columns, lending some heat to her backside. The edges of the white gown she wore danced around her feet as they were caught up in a light breeze. "Elane? Where are you?" An elderly gentleman spoke from within the room.

"Out on the balcony Papa." She replied smiling.

"Come in off the balcony Elane you will catch a cold." He replied standing in the door frame motioning for her to step away.

"I am fine Papa, it isn't that bad out here. Besides when was the last time I was sick?" She giggled.

"Just listen to your old man." He smiled shaking his head.

"Alright just for you Papa." Elane replied stepping away from the banister and closing the doors behind her as she moved into the warm chambers.

"Thank you daughter."

With that the old man left the room closing the door behind him, leaving Elane by herself. She walked over to the fire and sat down before the graceful flames, watching the patterns they created on the ceiling above her. She drifted off to sleep, lying on the floor with her arms behind her head.

Aaron pushed open the door to The Lone Eagle, the busiest and most popular bar in town. No one gave him a second glance as he approached the bar, sliding up to a stool and plopping himself down. The bar tender used a wet rag and quickly wiped down the counter space before Aaron. "What'll it be?" The Bar tender asked.

"A rum and coke." Aaron spat, just anything so that he could survey the room and set his sights on Marcus.

"Here ya go mate." The bar tender stated as he set the glass on a plain white napkin before Aaron.

"Thanks."

"No Problem."

The bar tender stepped away and moved down the long wooden bar to a very drunk patron signaling for another drink. Out of the corner of his eye he could tell that the man was getting a very definite 'you have had enough' talk from the bar tender. Aaron kept glancing up into the mirror behind the bar that gave a fairly decent view of the tables behind him. A few of the inhabitants were busy gambling in one corner, another group, sailors it looked like, were showing off battle scars and trading stories. Still as often as his eyes danced about the mirror, no sign of Marcus. Several patrons paid their tab and stumbled out of the bar and onto the lone streets. Brushing past a couple of guys, using each other for support and rolling in laughter, a man entered, dressed in fine silks, with shoulder length curly black hair. He waved at a few others and smiled before joining a group of men at a table near the middle of the room.

Aaron raised an eyebrow as this newcomer entered the tavern. That must be him. A barmaid made her way over to the guest and took his order. The man turned to the others at his table and piped up casual conversation. The entire time Aaron's gaze never left the table, he felt the soft nudge from his abilities, honing in on his target. Reeling them back in and forcing them under control. Wait! He told himself. There will be time enough to turn him. Aaron paid his tab for the drink and with his abilities 'marked' the target and exited the bar. He walked a few paces towards the nearest alley and stepped into the shadows. He stripped off the street clothes and remained in the black bodysuit. Drawing the darkness around him like a cloak, blending in with the shadows, Aaron waited.

Time passed by unconcerning to Aaron, Brother Mark would be waiting for him no matter the hour. That is if Mark didn't want to scrub floors or clean dishes for a month he would be waiting. The doors to the bar opened and closed many times during his wait and finally his powers grew anxious when Marcus exited the building, feeling very buzzed. He moved from the alley still fully clothed in shadow, completely invisible and followed Marcus to his home in the central part of town where the most influential members of society resided. The lackadaisical pace of Marcus irked Aaron, his patience growing thin. The man unfortunately had to walk past the red light district. Marcus was heckled by female and male alike looking for a warm body to join them tonight. He waved them off as he continued to stumble in the general direction of his neighborhood.

A few more turns and Marcus pushed open the gate that lead into the neatly trimmed grounds of his family's home. Fumbling for the key in his pocket, Marcus made his way into the house. Closing the door before Aaron could slip inside; cursing to himself he looked for an alternate route into the establishment. The house had copper drainage pipes attached to the side that led perfectly to the balcony on the second floor. Using their straps bolted to the wall for support, Aaron climbed his way up. Hoisting himself onto the balcony, Aaron crouched down and looked into the windows. The room was plain with just a few belongs, a bed, dresser, desk with mirror and a comfy chair seated by the fireplace.

Aaron reached up and pulled on the handle, the door opened on its hinges. Slowly, very slowly he opened the door and edged into the warm chambers. The fire was barely glowing but threw off more than enough light for him to see by, he latched the balcony doors behind him and made his way to find Marcus. The upstairs hallway was shrouded in natural darkness, a glaze shifted over his eyes allowing him to see in this light, everything held a blue hue giving shape to the hidden pieces of furniture. Aaron took another step down the hallway and the floorboard creaked. He froze. Waiting and listening for movement, none coming he continued down the hallway. "You are here for Marcus aren't you?" A young ladies voice came from behind him.

Shit! He stood still. How can she see me, my abilities have never failed me before. Aaron felt the presence of the Order watching his situation, seeing what he would do to complete his mission. Now is not the time for this, I am not going to take any more lives than necessary. The feeling of the Order faded and only the warm body of the girl remained. He dropped the shroud of darkness and turned to face her. She had a simple white dress on that stopped just barely above her feet. A small slender frame led up to a milky white chest and a smooth and tender neck. Her round features were highlighted by the natural rose color in her cheeks and the brown of her eyes. Her auburn hair was decorated in loose curls that framed her face nicely.

"I asked you a question." She raised an eyebrow, her voice serious.

How could she know? How could she possibly know? Unless Ambrosia is trying to get me to do something I will regret? I already regret taking this mission. I can't lie to her, she already knows. I could get rid of her and then turn Marcus. No! That is not an option, she isn't the target, Marcus is the target. "Yes." He replied defeated.

"I figured. Who are you?" She questioned crossing her arms defensively.

"How do you know all this?"

"I asked you first!" She frowned defiant.

She is stubborn. "I am afraid that I can't tell you that."

"Then I can't tell you how I knew you would be here."

She is good. "I am here to turn your brother."

"I know that, I asked who you were." She glared, impatience in her stance.

"Telling you will compromise everything that I am here to do, please just go back to bed and forget you ever saw me." He turned back away head hung low. Why am I being nice to her? She should be dead by now. The monastery is making you soft Aaron. No, I really don't believe that do I?

"This can't be easily unforgiven." She remarked turned half away, a few tears trailing down her rosy cheeks.

"I know believe me I know." He began to pull shadow back around him.

"There is more to you than you know Aaron Traverse. There are bigger plans for you. He won't let you succumb." Her voice was dull and different.

Aaron spun around hearing his name fall from her lips. His fear and emotions clear upon the scarred face. He could see the gold flare clear in her eyes, she wasn't speaking of her own accord, there was a higher power speaking through her. A shiver swept down Aaron's spine, forming a knot in the pits of his stomach. Pulling up the darkness quickly he turned back around to continue on his mission. "He is the last door down the hallway." The girl's words trailing as Aaron blended back in with the unlit hallway.

What in the hell just happened? He turned down the corner and made his way carefully down to the last door on the upper floor of this expansive estate. A soft glow emerged from under the sealed door. The sound of water ceasing their flow in pipes vibrated lightly through the walls. The light grew brighter and dimmed, another door being opened and closed. A faint fragrance of soap filled his nostrils. He just finished taking a shower, perfect.

Aaron eased the door open, and found Marcus with his back to the door looking through an armoire. Closing the door just as quietly, Aaron moved up behind Marcus with unnatural speed, drawing one of the short swords from their sheaths at the same time. Sliding the blade from behind his back and held it up to the other man's neck. "Don't say a word."

Marcus pressed his lips closed, a whine rising from the back of his throat. Weak, honestly why is this man influencing the public?

"I am going to lower my blade, you even squeak and I will end you." Anger rising in his tone.

Aaron lowered his blade slowly and brought it to his side, quickly Marcus brought an elbow up into his external obliques knocking Aaron back a couple steps. Spinning around to face his assassin, Marcus grabbed a small blade from the top of the armoire and brandished it. Aaron pulled his shroud of shadow tighter around him, reducing the possibility of Marcus seeing him. He side-stepped as Marcus moved forward lunging with the blade, he stumbled forward a couple steps, leaning up against the desk. It's now or never! Aaron sped forward and squeezed the muscle at the base of the neck connected to the spine, sending a small seed of his powers into the young man. Marcus grew ridged as his body became immobilized.

Sweat ran down in beads across the naked chest and back of Marcus as he struggled to break free of his bonds. Aaron dropped his cover and pulling a small heavily decorated blade from a left thigh sheath, he edged closer to his target. He reached behind and sheathing the short sword, pulled out the leather book. He set it down on the desk and flipped through the yellowed pages, stopping when his eyes found the proper symbol for the mission. Gripping the ceremonial dagger tighter in his right hand Aaron brought it up to the moist flesh.

He pressed the tip into the flesh over the shoulder blade, slowly breaking the clean skin and crimson color flooded to the surface. He dragged the tip down feeling the skin part like butter, more blood mixed with sweat and ran down onto the closely knit fibers of the rug below their feet. Momentarily Aaron closed his eyes, relishing in the feeling of the skin splitting and the blade pulling through muscle. Marcus tensed and groaned, tears flowing freely and piling on the polished desk. Aaron forced emotion from his mind, bringing his focus to the task. He continued to etch the symbol into the skin and muscle, going as deep as he could without scraping against the bone. The amount of blood running down the unbroken skin and leaking between his fingers was unnerving; Aaron paid it no attention, his gaze fully focused on finishing the symbol.

Adding the last few cuts, Aaron set the blade on the desk. The smell of iron strong in the air as globs of blood oozed out of the fresh wounds. He moved away and grabbed the towel Marcus used to dry off hanging over the armoire. Aaron wiped the damp fabric over the wound, the white towel soaking up large amounts of blood tainting the color of the cloth. Grabbing the weapon and cleaning it off on the towel, he sheathed the blade. When he could get a good look at his handiwork, Aaron dropped the towel onto the floor to soak up the liquid on the rug. He clenched and unclenched his right hand, letting his power sink into it, raising it up he placed it flat against the red, bloody and swollen markings. Sparks of blue power flowed from his palm and down into the symbol. Marcus arched his back and fainted against the desk, the foreign element pulsing through his body.

Aaron was drawn into the mind of Marcus, thoughts, emotions and desires swirled around him demanding attention. Paying no heed he swam through looking for the thoughts and morals that mattered, the ones that caused the citizens of this worthless town to hate those who were different and the words that incited fear. Finding the root of these intentions he set to work rewriting them, changing their motive, altering their power, redirecting Marcus's focus. Finishing his job Aaron pulled back out of the mind of this man.

Aaron blinked a couple times and looked down at the mark; scabs had already began to form. That is going to leave one nasty looking scar, but my task is done. He wiped his hand on the towel and concentrated on his powers, grabbing the shadows and covering his frame and slipping the aged book back into its pocket. Pushing the images from the night back away, Aaron made his way out of the house by route of the back door and walked down the empty streets. He let the light of the setting moon soothe his frantic soul. Stopping briefly by the alley next to The Lone Eagle he redressed and dropped the shadow, walking 'freely' to the supply depot. Brother Mark was there waiting, hat pulled over his eyes and feet crossed, shallow breathes rose and fell from his chest.

Climbing up into the seat next to him Brother Mark jumped from his sleep and looked square at Aaron, frightened. "I was beginning to wonder if you were going to return."

"Can we just go?" Aaron snapped.

"Sure, I am just glad I don't have to scrub floors for a month."

"That is the only reason I came back." Sarcasm and disgust ripe in his voice.

Brother Mark harrumphed and snapped the reins, woke the horses and they began their trek back to the Temple.