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The Dagger, Part I – Of the Night

March 20, 2013

Midnight struck at the town clock just as Bayn settled into the small cavern at the foot of the river. Just beyond the line of trees, he could make out the lights coming from Faircross, a small town about half a mile from the city of Huntingwood. With less than twenty citizens living just within the walls, Faircross was the sort of place that could easily be forgotten in such a large world like this. Bayn could almost see it being washed away in the deluge of the river current, never to be seen again. Would a single citizen of the nearby Huntingwood even consider it in their own minds after that day?

With gentle breeze, the night winds blew against the flap of wolf skin hanging from his camping post. A fire burned before him, the light protected by a sheet of dark bear skin across the passing of rocks which led to the mouth of the cavern. Above, the moon spread light about the Shaded Forest, which surrounded the small town. The shadows that fell on the ground looked haunted, and combined with the movement of the animals, it made the woodlands look as if it was coming to life before his very eyes. But Bayn wasn’t scared. He had spent the night in this forest many times when he was a boy, when his father would take him hunting before the onset of winter. The family had no choice but to stock the meat within the ice of the local river, which froze for seven months of the year in the coldest of winters. Now, he was the hunter. This was his arena, and he wasn’t hunting small prey.

The moon was moving across the skies slowly tonight, with the wind picking up close to one in the morning. From where he sat, cooking venison cut straight from the deer, he could see lights flickering through the foliage that served as the environment for Faircross. Lights sometimes moved across the panorama. The guards were on duty twenty-four seven in any small town, but there was only a handful of guards protecting this place, because, unlike many of the other townships surrounding Huntingwood, Faircross was of very little importance. At least to the highest echelons of power back in the Capital. It served one purpose; a farmstead, directly at the pinnacle of over sixteen different crop-farms, wheat gardens, production warehouses and fish hatchery companies, all of which served the wealthiest of the families within the Capital itself.

Grudgingly, Bayn wasn’t from a wealthy family. His bloodline was one of common folk, growing up in the small Port of Howy, where the fishing docks were filled with growing custom every day, but where most of the earnings given to his father and brothers were handed to luxuriantly adorned ladies and gentleman of title. It made him sick to think of, but he had long learned to live with his circumstances.

There were those who mourned what they didn’t have, and those that accepted what they were given. Bayn accepted it. He had extraordinary gifts, nurtured from a very young age to adulthood. Now it was part of his life, and he didn’t look back in regret as his fingers grew redder with the blood of his victims.

Bayn was an assassin, and on this night, he was on one final job for the Dagger’s Guild. It didn’t matter who the target was. In all his years working for the secretive assassin’s guild he had never come across such a miserable target. A farming man, he had spent most of his life living in this drudge of a town. He didn’t even try to breach the walls, and spent most of his coin on prostitutes from the local tavern. There was even a story doing the rounds in town that he once disfigured a young girl for not performing certain tasks at his behest. It didn’t matter. When Bayn got the call, he didn’t question the reasons why. It was none of his business was the target had done, only that they would, by nightfall, be dead.

Bayn had read the information in the log book; his name was Tyll Wincent, and he was nearly fifty years old. He ran the wheat farm just outside the small town since he was in his early thirties, after his father was killed in a boating accident. He had no children, nor a wife to speak of, and he had no friends to speak of in the village. Whoever wanted him dead, it was well paid for. Good coin rested on Bayn’s belt, and every now and then he would stroke the cloth holding it together just to make sure it was still there. It had plenty of coin which Bayn would use to return to his homelands across the oceans.

Less than an hour passed. The lights from the town guards had stopped fifteen minutes ago, but Bayn had given it a little extra time before he made his move. Succulent meat tasted, he placed the venison remains in a small sack, and then tied up any loose ends, from kicking the fire out to hiding the carcass beneath some broken twigs and leaves scattered about the forest.

The town was quiet. He moved with silent grace, having studied the movements of the guards and the people. There were three young men by the docks, watching the fishery while filling themselves with mead. The guard tower was well lit on the top floor, with several flags draped down the side of the building to show they belonged to the Royal Guardsman, sent by the capital to keep a watch over this tiny investment. Lanterns lit the way along the avenue of trees, and there were empty carts sitting outside each of the stores, small family run businesses which probably made barely a gold coin to give to the Capital.

Death and taxes were two of life’s very sure things.

One of them could be easily felt at the tip of an assassin’s blade. Bayn moved so quietly, he had reached the tavern in the middle of town without a single light falling upon him. There were still people inside; a few by the windows, but none of them looked up from their drinks to see the hooded figure pass by, between the old oak trees near the mill.

The house was right at the end of the brick road. Two obstacles stood in his way; the first, an old guard still watching the dark road in and out of town. He had long passed the age when he could make a difference, but beside him, sat a large rotund piece of metal, which served as an alarm should he ever need to bash the mallet against it. Then, there was the locked door.

No locked door had ever given Bayn trouble.

There was no barrier he couldn’t pass through, and no target he couldn’t take down. They were two very menial obstacles, and two minutes later, he stood behind the wall of the dainty cabin where Tyll lived. The old guard didn’t stir as he rested his head against the wall behind him, unaware of the trouble that waited in the shadows. It was how Bayn liked it.

He waited. He could wait for hours, if needs be. But the hours were wasting away and he had very little darkness left. It only took a second for the old man to look up and see him. He had to be very careful. With gentle steps, he walked across the wooden porch, his soft shoes making no sound, and reached above his head. With delicate touch, he turned the lantern and the flame went out.

No one reacted, and he let out a sigh of relief. Even in the darkness he could still be seen, but he was already at the door and turning the apparatus in the lock before he heard the tumbler snap, and the door opened ever so gently.

Inside the house was Spartan. Two wooden chairs rested against the back wall, one of them covered in stacked books. A fireplace burned lightly, the embers of a fire still glowing within, and there was a smell of cooked fish in the air. Bayn wrinkled his nose at the aroma of herbs and spices, and saw a half-eaten meal on the dining table, the fork still protruding from the mashed potato and pointing towards the ceiling. The bedroom was through an arch that split the living room as a separate room. Inside, Tyll Wincent was sleeping, on his side with his arm draped down across his chest. Beside him, a book lay open on the nightstand, with the lantern burning dimly. There were dark shadows all over the room and Bayn hid within them, creeping from one side of the room to the other.

He slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a note. He had not seen what was on it. The note had been written for Bayn’s eyes only, so he could see why he was being punished.

Yet, even as he pulled the note from his pocket, Bayn got the sense that something did not feel right about this whole scene. For a moment, he froze, his hand resting on the note. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Shadows within the room seemed to whisper at him. This isn’t right. It was too easy. He had never been so careless on a job before, normally taking a good long look at the scenery. The town was too quiet, the door too easy. It was all laid out before him like some staged act in a play.

A tingle went down his spine. The note in his pocket felt heavy all of a sudden, and he lifted it out, holding it in front of his face. Tyll was still asleep, so he slipped his finger under the seal and pulled it free. The note was a small piece of paper, black ink seeping through the back. As he turned it over, Bayn felt a lump in his throat.

The name on the paper was clearly written. The ink had dripped at the bottom of some of the letters, and beneath it, a red cross, the signature he knew too well. When the note dropped on the bed, the light struck it from the open window, and the words were highlighted;

BAYN.

The lump in Bayn’s throat became a war cry as the walls in the room seemed to explode all around him…

TO BE CONTINUED.

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2 Comments
  1. I like this piece, Daz, and i’m glad to see that there’s more to be read of it Part 2, here i come!

  2. Thanks Dave, means a lot that you liked it. I am writing several parts (although it is taking longer than I expected)… but I will have the third part up soon, I hope.

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