It’s been a while, I know, since I’ve shared anything regarding my writing. Honestly, I’ve not had a chance to work much on this lately, having spent more time with writing jobs from Fiverr than working on my WIP. I hope to get a chance to get back to this piece soon and finish it up. For now, I’d like to share a bit of it with you, as I haven’t shared any in a while. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share your thoughts.
Lorenathalus found himself crouched in the shadows of a building across from the castle, next to an alley, looking at the guarded castle gate a half-mile away. Anju crouched beside him. The elf could not remember exactly how he had gotten there. Nor could he remember stopping by his little loft to retrieve his belt of daggers, short sword, and bow and arrows – but he knew he had to have done so, for he wore them now. Even though he could not recall these things, his position had a feeling of familiarity, for he had pictured this scene in his mind many times over the years as he planned his revenge. He had put up with the humans training and using him as an assassin, all the while pretending to be a good, loyal lackey so he could learn the skills he would need when his time for vengeance finally came. Only he had not planned on doing it this night. And he certainly had not planned on doing it during a full moon. But the orders he had received had been the last straw, pushing him to act now instead of in a few years as he had planned.
But with all the planning he had done over the years, learning assassin skills from his unsuspecting teachers, there was one plan he had not formed – how to actually get into the castle. So there he sat in the shadows, staring at the guarded castle gate half a mile away and wondering how he was going to get in.
The sound of drunken laughter echoed down the street behind him. He carefully turned to look and saw a couple of castle guardsmen staggering down the street towards him, oblivious to his presence. A sly smile crossed the elf’s lips and he glanced at Anju. “Quick and quiet, okay?” he whispered to the white wolf. “We don’t want to draw attention.” The wolf’s tail wagged in reply as the animal stood up. “Good,” Lorenathalus said softly as he slowly stood up also.
The two quickly ducked into the alley next to them and waited for the guardsmen to come by. As soon as they passed by the mouth of the alley, Lorenathalus and Anju slipped out and up behind the two. The elf hated doing this out in the open under a full moon, but he had no choice. He was just glad there were no street lamps around and that the guards at the castle gate did not have his keen elven sight.
Quick and quiet, he had told Anju, and that was how it played out. Lorenathalus grabbed one guardsman by the head and, giving a quick, sharp twist, snapped the guard’s neck. At the same time, Anju pounced on the other guard, knocking him to the ground, clamped his jaws around the man’s neck, and shook his head back and forth very hard and briskly, snapping that guard’s neck. Neither guard ever knew what hit them or had time to utter one noise.
Just as quickly as they had dispatched the guards, they drew the bodies into the alley. There, Lorenathalus slipped off his cloak, dagger belt, and bow and arrows and slipped a couple of daggers into the tops of his boots. Then he put on the uniform of the guardsman he had killed, as the other had some blood on it that might arouse suspicion. Then he ordered Anju to stay there and guard his stuff, explaining that he’d just draw too much attention if he went with him. Anju promptly sat, but the look in his eyes said he was not too happy with the arrangement. Promising to be back soon, Lorenathalus left the alley, strolling nonchalantly down the street, toward the castle. He affected a drunken swagger and had his hair tucked up under the uniform’s helmet. The helmet hid the points of his ears, but there was really no way to hide his distinctively slanted eyebrows and almond-shaped eyes. So he kept his head down and trusted to luck.
The elf’s trust seemed to have been well placed – for a while, at least. The guards at the gate did not challenge him. Thinking him one of their own, they only laughed and joked him for getting so drunk as they opened the large oaken doors for him to stagger through. Once he was in, they closed the gate behind him.
For the benefit of the guards patrolling the castle walls and grounds, Lorenathalus kept up his drunken swagger as he crossed the wide courtyard and made his way up to the doors of the castle itself. Assuming that he was reporting for duty, the guards smiled and chuckled but opened the mahogany doors to let him in, giving him a remonstration to sober up quickly. Lorenathalus nodded and mumbled something about doing just that as he entered the castle. The doors closed behind him.
It was about now that luck decided to betray the elf’s trust. Not hearing anyone immediately nearby, Lorenathalus stood up straight and looked around. He found himself in the antechamber – a large, torch lit room decorated with colorful tapestries and burgundy drapes. A huge gold and crystal chandelier hung overhead. A long hallway in front of him led further into the castle. To the right were a couple of closed mahogany doors. To his left, a carpeted staircase led up to the royal private rooms and bedrooms. The elf drew the dagger from the top of his right boot and, moving with a natural stealth and speed enhanced by his assassin training, ran up the stairs. As he neared the top, he found that the hallway dead-ended straight ahead, but branched off to the right. Along that hallway were the royal bedrooms and private rooms. With his destination close at hand, Lorenathalus became overly excited and unusually sloppy. Imagining what would happen when he arrived, he did not pay attention to his surroundings, and so he did not notice the sound of footsteps heading his direction from the hallway. Still running as he left the stairs and made his right turn into the hallway, Lorenathalus collided with trouble. Instinctively, he looked to see who or what he had bumped into, and saw that it was a big man in black armor. The man had a black beard and a craggy face that was all too familiar to the elf. Lorenathalus frowned. The man also looked at who had bumped into him, and instantly recognized the face. He frowned as well.
“Kinski,” Lorenathalus said with no attempt to hide his displeasure.
“Lorenathalus,” the man said flatly. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be on a mission?”
“I am on a mission.”
Kinski glanced at the dagger in the elf’s right hand. “I see. So you are. Is it a sanctioned mission?”
“Not by King Heinrich and the Guild.”
Kinski nodded in understanding. “A personal mission, then.”
“Right. I’m not taking orders from the king and Guild any more. I’ve decided to quit and leave town. I was going to say farewell to the king first, then was going to tell you good-bye. But I suppose I can start with you first, since you’re already here.”
Kinski sighed. “It appears they were right after all when they told me I was a fool to leave you alive. But I really thought it would have worked out, since you were so young when we brought you here and began training you.”
Lorenathalus gave him a wry smile and raised his dagger before him in a ready position. “That’s the problem with trying to make a pet of a wild creature, Kinski,” he said. “There’s always the possibility that it might turn on you at any time.”
Kinski drew his sword from the sheath on his left hip. “You’re one to talk, Lorenathalus,” he snapped, “what with that wolf following you around all the time like a puppy.”
Lorenathalus gritted his teeth and scowled. “Anju is not a pet! He’s a friend!”
The elf slashed out with his dagger so quickly that Kinski did not have time to raise his sword to block. He barely had time to dodge. He twisted his head out of the way of the swift blade, but not far enough. The edge of the dagger caught his left cheek, leaving a slash from the corner of his eye to just above his chin. Kinski’s left hand reflexively raised to cover the wound and he narrowed his eyes at the elf smirking at him.
“Guards!” Kinski yelled, calling for backup, knowing he was no match for the elf’s speed by himself. “Intruder!” He raised his sword, intending to keep the elf occupied until the guards came.
Lorenathalus grimaced, his plan fallen all to pieces. He could take Kinski, but not before the guards arrived. He had to escape so he could try again later. But how? He quickly glanced around and spotted a large stained-glass window halfway down the hall. It’ll have to do, he thought. At least I’m not that far up. It’s only on the second floor.
“I swear,” he told Kinski, “one day I’ll make you pay. Both of you.” Then he slashed the dagger at the big man again.
Kinski blocked with his sword, catching the dagger near the hilt, and tried to push Lorenathalus back toward the stairs. The elf pushed back in return and kicked out hard with his right leg, hitting Kinski in the stomach with his foot. The big man gasped and stumbled backward. Lorenathalus dropped his dagger and took the opportunity to sprint past Kinski to the window.
A quick glance around revealed no way of opening the window, save for one – a large vase sitting on a stone pedestal nearby. Time was running out; he could hear voices and footsteps clambering up the stairs. Lorenathalus grabbed the vase and threw it at the window, shattering the glass, and jumped out the window just as the guards cleared the stairs and came into the hallway, Kinski in the lead. Shattered glass rained down around the elf in a rainbow of colors as he fell through the air and landed in a crouch in the courtyard below.
Kinski stared down from the broken window and watched the elf run away.