The leather ripped easily under the pressure of the sword plunging through it. The man - who had now collapsed to his knees - looked up at me. I could see it in his eyes. He was hoping for a shred of mercy or tinge of guilt. Anything that would make the grip on my weapon loosen.
"Please..." he whispered in a hoarse voice. His hand was pressed against his stomach in a desperate attempt to cover the tear in his armor. Despite his efforts, blood oozed from the cracks between his fingers, blackening his hand in the sticky liquid. "Please... spare my life. I have a wife... children... they need me!"
I shook my head. It was against the Code to give in to mercy or to show emotion to the victim, or to anyone for that matter. Breaking this would result in death, or something much worse. It wasn't easy keeping your feelings under check. Many times I did feel that pang of guilt, that singe of mercy. Many times I did want to lower my weapon, but I never did.
"I am sorry." I said. Even though my words held an apology, no emotion was heard within it. I would make this man's death quick, make sure that he did not suffer much longer. Sadly that was all that I could do. I may hate what I am doing, but my fears outweigh that moral standard. I know what happens when an assassin goes rogue. Though no assassin in the Clan ever pulled through with it, it was on a lot of our minds. We feared the Code that bound us together.
I raised my sword again, leveling it with his breastplate. Right where is heart is located. It would almost certainly take his life immediately, saving the man from any more pain.
I was about to ram my blade into the man's chest when something caught my attention. The soft clicking that boots would create as someone rushed down the hallway leading to us. Someone or something was in a hurry. I had to get this over with and fast.
"Marcie..." the man whispered.
I snapped my attention back to him."What?"
"Marcie." He smiled. "Thank the gods, I have been saved."
"What are you talking about?" I asked. That name... it sounded familiar.
"Not what," the man's grin widened. "Who."
"Then who are you talking about?" I let out a frustrated sigh. The man was lucky my partner was not with me. If he was here, he would have his blade against the man's throat, threatening to slit it if he would not give the information.
I on the other hand did not like using force to get the facts that I wanted. "Why don't you tell me who you are talking about then?"
"You will find out soon enough." The man responded.
It was useless to try to get him to talk, it seemed. In a way, I could understand that. After all, why should he? I was about to take his life. Even if I threatened him with torture or promised to slit his throat, he would not give in. He knew that his death was inevitable.
I just sighed. Might as well get this assassination over with and get out of the palace before whoever this Minnie, or Molly or whatever her name was got there. "Goodbye." I told him before ramming my sword into his chest. The man slumped over. I pulled by weapon out of his body, blood oozing down its silver blade. I pulled a cloth out of my pocket and wiped it away before sheathing it into its scabbard.
Now all she had to do was get out of there. My job was to slip into the palace and assassinate the general of the king's army. I had done just that.
The clicking continued to echo through out the hall, getting louder and louder. Whoever or whatever was heading my way was almost there. And the closer they came, the more my heart pounded. My palms grew sweaty. Why was I afraid to know what was coming? I scanned my surroundings. I didn't have to escape now. I had waited too long to kill my target. I couldn't run the opposite direction because that would attract too much attention. I would have the whole palace guard on me. The window was another option. I glanced out it. No. I was at a fairly decent height. The fall would kill or seriously harm me. If it didn't, the leap would attract attention.
My only choice was to turn and face whatever was approaching. My hand gripped my sword's handle tightly as I turned around to face my new threat. I, however, was taken aback.
It was a young girl - no older than twelve - wearing a silky white dress that fluttered around her black leather boots. She had platinum blond hair tied back into a ponytail and bright, vibrant green eyes.
My body relaxed at the site, my hand slipping away from my weapon to rest at my side. A girl this young I could easily slip by. Scare her enough and she wouldn't talk. I really didn't want to but if I didn't and she alerted the guards I would be dead for sure. They would hang me for my crimes.
"Hello assassin." The girl said. She didn't sound like she was afraid of me.
"Who are you?" I asked her.
"I am Marcie," the girl chimed with a smile. Her eyes then laid on the man's limp body lying in a pool of blood that stained the royal blue carpet and the smile quickly faded away into a frown. "I see I've come too late, it seems. Wasn't quick enough to save this poor soul."
"What are you talking about?" How could this little twelve year old girl save anyone? She didn't look the part of a hero. I started my training at seven but that was different. I was born into an Assassin Clan. From the moment I could walk and talk I was told I was a cold blooded killer. This girl looked like she was born into royalty and never had a situation bigger than what dress to pick in the morning.
The girl smiled again, this time allowing her teeth to show. Something flashed in her mouth, catching my attention.
My eyes snapped quickly back to hers. The bright, vibrant green eyes were now a dark shade of red. Her appearance had also changed, the white dress fading away into a black one. Her platinum blond hair darkened into a chocolate brown. It was all just an illusion.
"Y-You're a..." I couldn't finish, fear flickering in my stomach and churning it into a knot. I would have never thought... no, how could I have been so stupid? I had let my guard down the moment I caught sight of the young girl, no longer thinking of her as a threat.
"A what?" She asked, tilting her head to the side with a smile that would have been sweet if not her being what she was. "Come on, spit it out. I know you know. What am I?"
"A vampire..." I whispered, the words almost getting caught in my throat. I should have known that right off the bat. I should have known the name. Marcie. It was the name of a notorious vampire mercenary who hid behind the king's protection under the promise of stopping the rise in assassins. An enemy to the group I belonged to. I gripped my sword handle tightly again, no longer thinking of this thing as a girl I would have to scare but rather another target I would have to strike down.
Many assassins had fallen at Marcie's hands. There was a good chance I wasn't getting out of this one. And yet, part of me accepted that fact. Part of me wanted to throw my sword down and give in. So many lives had been taken. My hands stained with their blood. Who was to say Marcie was wrong in taking my life in return?
Yet a whole different part fought for me to unsheath my sword and defend myself. That instant, that built in nature of a human to fight for survival stirred inside of me. It battled to kick in, trying to drive me into ramming my sword through the vampire because that would be the only way to get out. The only way to live.
Two sides fought each other to take over. Two sides each with a drive of their own. I felt so conflicted inside, unsure of what to do. Unsure of which one was right.
"I have finally cornered you. You made a lot of ruckus last month when you killed the queen's brother. I have been hunting you ever since." Marcie chuckled softly. "Now, shall we get down to business?" She asked. "A life was lost here tonight - a good life - I think that it is only fair if one is given in return," she paused, looking me in the eyes. "Don't you think?"
I swallowed down the lump of fear in my throat. I did think that. I did think that it was only fair that a life was given in return. But that human instant for survival... its drive to take over was stronger. "Now, now... there's no need to get rash here. I was just doing my job."
"You sicken me," Marcie interrupted. "Killing for money."
"Look, I had no choice." I said, trying desperately to defend myself. I actually didn't have a choice. I knew what our Clan's leader would do.
"No choice? No choice!" There was a look of disgust on her face.
"This is the game of life," I said. "There are no choices."
"Only if you allow there not to be," she said calmly, taking out a small dagger from her book. It had a gold encrusted haft with a large round ruby embedded into it. The blade itself was even golden. The spotless metal reflected images of the room around us. She twirled it - rolling the haft between her forefinger and thumb gently - turning it to where my reflection flickered in it, flashing my own image back to me. Wavy brown hair, weary pearl eyes, black, tightly fitted armor that fit perfectly with the darkness of the night. I quickly unsheathed my sword from its scabbard. That human nature was stirring even stronger within me."You think that you can kill me with just a dagger?"
Marcie smiled. "Not just any dagger. This one was crafted by a sorcerer using the finest of enchantments. Makes killing quick, clean and painless. I am not like you. I don't enjoy watching my victims squirm in pain. You deserve it but not enough for me to scoop as low as you."
She then smiled, showing her fangs again. "Now, lets get down to business. It's time you paid for your crimes."
"I told you!" I hissed through clenched teeth, trying not to allow them to chatter with fear. "I had no choice!"
"Tsk, tsk, tsk," Marcie shook her head. "I feel sympathy for your ignorance."
I tried to lunge at her and send my sword through her heart but I couldn't move. My body felt heavy.
"What's the matter?" Marcie's eyes glinted with amusement.
I tried to speak, but the words seemed to be caught in my throat. I tried forcing them out, but the effort was worthless. All I could do was watch and breathe as she silently walked up to me and brushed my long hair away from my neck. She placed the tip of the dagger there.
"See," she said. "There is a funny thing about karma. No matter how much you run, no matter how much you hide, it will always find you." She pressed the dagger's blade closer, the tip of the golden metal slightly entering into my skin. "You have taken the lives of many, and now you stand not even inches from death."
My body grew colder as she sent the dagger further into my neck.
You know, they always say that as you die your entire life flashes before your eyes. I know that now to be true. As she pressed the dagger deeper and deeper, allowing death to take me - one of his many employees - into his cold, cruel arms, my life played before me. Every contract, every death, every moment blood from another painted my hands... all ending with one.
A seven year old girl with curly brown locks, pearl eyes, and a silky emerald dress. The one girl I had - for years - tried to forget. The day I turned seven, the day I tried to close myself off from emotions and pledged myself to the Code of the Assassin - I committed the cruelest murder of all.
The little girl I once was - the one so sweet and innocent - faded away more and more with each passing day, becoming only a haunting memory. The girl slipped out of my grasp, even though I tried desperately to hang onto her.
But within death, we were once again reunited.