The Assignment

Captain Von Delgo is a man who is lost. He is known as a turncoat, a hero and a mass-murderer. He has no beginning, and as far as he can see he has no end. Which makes him just about the most dangerous man alive. After the completion of his last job Captain is on his way out to receive his payment and rest up. His plans are delayed when a religious sect known as the Ravens pull him in with an offer. Captain faces a dilemma, he has never once failed in his assignments. But accepting this one and succeeding would change the way of the world, change everything that everyone has ever known, plunge it into chaos. But he has also never once turned down a job, and with his life quickly descending into a chaos of its own despair, he can see no reason why not to accept. After all, how hard can it be to kill an immortal?

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10. Chapter 10

The animal screamed in a sort of goat like cry as strong hands gripped it by the neck and strong legs held it steady. It continued to belt as a long, thin blade sliced its way through skin, nerves, muscles, and finally severed its jugular vein. Its screams ceased as its final breath left it. A fine spray of blood misted up into its attackers face, and 01 stuck out his tongue and licked as much of it off his face as he could. He closed his eyes to better savour the taste of the metallic tasting, crimson juice of the animal he had just killed.

The animal had become limp between his legs and he put away his knife into a sheath attached to his leg and waist. He pulled the animal out from under him and bit into the wound in its neck. He traced his tongue along the cut, and then proceeded to take a long draw at the still bleeding animal. The liquid slid down his throat as he gulped hungrily. His thirst ebbing away with each mouthful. The blood dribbled out of the corners of his mouth and down his chin.

There was a crack and 01’s head shot up and focused on a man standing a short way away, foot resting gingerly on a broken twig. He wore forest gear and carried a short axe in one hand, in his other he carried a bundle of something encased in white cloth.

The lumberjack stood stock still in horror as he gazed at the scene before him, unable to comprehend it as he swallowed nervously. The sight of 01 before him, dripping in blood drinking the juices of a small animal brought bile to his throat and a churning in his stomach.

He continued to stare as 01 casually licked away the blood around his lips. 01 grinned horribly at the lumberjack, sending shivers up the spine.

‘What are you?’ 01 asked. It had almost a childlike tone to it as he asked the lumberjack; it did nothing to still the lumberjack’s nerves.

‘Uh, um, I-‘ the lumberjack’s voice faulted as he watched the man take another draw at the animal’s neck.

‘Yes?’ the man asked sweetly. Too sweetly, his eyes never leaving the lumberjack’s.

‘I’m a lumberjack, Ocul is my name,’ Ocul finally managed to get out. His voice shook as he asked, ‘Who are you?’

01 grinned, as he looked Ocul up and down. ‘I don’t know,’ he replied happily. ‘Will you join me?’ he asked, holding out the animal by the fur.

'Uh, no, uh, I-I don't think I will,' Ocul stammered.

01 continued to grin, as he looked Ocul over again. 'That is a nice weapon,' he said, pointing to the axe.

'It's not a weapon, sir, it is an axe.'

'Is it sharp?'

'Uh, yes. Yes it is. Very. You could get hurt if you don't watch where you swing it.'

'Swing it? What is it for?'

'Cutting trees down, sir.' Ocul replied attentively, not wishing to talk to the man but feeling safer that he should. He had decided that because he was scared that he should probably call the man sir just in case.

'Can I try it?' 01 dropped the animal to the ground and reached out a long, pale hand, burnt raw in places.

'Uh,' Ocul looked from the man to his axe wearily. Sweat broke out on his forehead. He didn’t want to displease the man, not after what he had seen, but he also didn’t want to give the man a weapon.

'Please?' 01 took a step forward, hand still reaching out, eyes pleading.

'Uh, no. I think I should be going now,' Ocul said, deciding that he would leave. Maybe if he left now he would get away. He took a step back.

The man’s grin fell off his face, replaced by a look of rage. 'I said please!' he shouted at Ocul. The child sweetness leaving his voice, no trace could be found in the now cold hatred that came out of the man’s mouth. With lightning speed, he stepped forward. His hand grabbed the axe and twisted it out of Ocul’s hand. He took a step forwards as Ocul stood too stunned to move, and with one, vicious sweep, cleaved the lumberjack’s head off his shoulders. The head flew off into the trees with the force of the swipe, sending a flock of birds to the air as it crashed into a tree. Ocul’s body stayed upright for almost a full minute, and then collapsed to the forest floor.

01 cocked his head at the fallen body, as if trying to understand what had just taken place. His eyes strayed to the axe, dripping with blood, in his hand. He let it fall, bent, and rolled the unfortunate lumberjack over onto his back. The man gazed thoughtfully at the spot where the head should have been. Then, pulling his own knife out, he sliced a piece of Ocul’s flesh from the body and sucked on it.

Pulling a face of disgust, 01 threw it away and spat out of the mouthful taken. Rising to his feet, he walked back over to his first kill and heaved it onto his shoulder before making his way back to the small shack he now called home.

Smoke rose up from the hole in the roof that represented itself as the chimney. Inside, however, the fire was built inside a big, stone fireplace. The man had built the fire earlier in the morning before heading out to hunt, so that it would be warm when he arrived home. The season on the island was starting to change, snow was beginning to fall and people were staying indoors. The man had left to go hunting because he was afraid he would run out of food.

He unlocked the front door with an iron key and stamped his feet on the ground outside a few times before walking in. He walked along the wide corridors of his place until he came to a blue door. Opening it he walked inside, and dumped his fresh kill onto a table. Choosing a large knife from a rack on the wall, he then proceeded to slice the animal into small pieces to be smoked.

He whistled while he worked while he worked. It had been a good day for him, and he was happy. But the thought of a man lying without his head in the middle of the forest kept seeping through the locked doors in his mind and into his thoughts. He hadn’t meant to kill Ocul, but he had been so odd. All he had wanted was to have a look at the strange weapon in the lumberjack’s hand. If Ocul had given him the axe then he might still have his head. It wasn’t his fault the man was headless. He had said please, after all.

He chopped silently away at the animal, a fight raging away inside his head until he was finished. He threw the bits he wouldn’t eat into a bucket to throw out later, and then picked up all the pieces that he would eat and carried them inside a giant freezer also in the room. The tune returned to his lips and he continued it as he made his way to the bathroom to clean himself up from the blood and gore.

Later, he sat at the dining table and watched the snowfall outside the window. He was bored. He didn’t know what to do. He had seen from one of the windows upstairs, a road full of moving things on wheels. Some driven by four legged creatures and some that seemed to drive by themselves. Half of them were heading in the same direction while the other half where heading in the opposite.

He wondered where they were going, and if he might go there too. He had wanted to explore when he found he was free, but now it seemed he had swapped one prison for another. He was trapped, caged in a strange building that defied the laws of physics and everything else. With its many doors leading into rooms filled with more doors, which repeated itself over and over again.

His mind reached a decision and he rose to his feet in such a hurry that he knocked over the table, sending glasses, candlesticks, and plates flying and crashing onto the floor. His eyes flashed red as he stormed out of the house, the door swinging behind him for a moment before finally slamming shut. He would follow this strange trail of moving things, he would continue to explore, continue on his hunt. His hunt for what?

He snarled as he jumped and shot into the air and began to soar upwards into the sky. Gazing down at the ground below him he felt a touch of fear. It was strange. He never felt that feeling when he was inside that place. What place? He didn’t know. He knew he knew, but his mind refused to share that piece of information with him and let him believe it was really true. He turned his gaze from the ground and shook his head to shake the thoughts away.

Without another look at the strange shack, he started to fly towards the moving stream. To start his hunt at last! He knew why he was hunting it, he knew whom he was hunting, and he definitely knew what for! It was the reason he had been locked away, experimented on, feed by tubes in his stomach. It was the reason he had dreamt for so long in black and white, because those were the only colours he could see, besides the red of his blood when he woke during the times they were operating on him. He had seen strange things then, his insides. Strange things, horrible things, he could feel them inside his body sometimes when he moved a certain way. He would find what he was looking for, and he would make it feel what he had felt and what he had never felt.

He flew onwards over the burnt ground that was now regrowing. He flew over a field of blue grass, over a serene lake, and then finally he reached the stream of moving things. He hovered above them, watching them; they looked like ants scurrying around on the ground.

He decided on the path he would follow would be the one leading towards the place with the black glow along the horizon. The wind blew in his face as he flew, a thin smile stretching across his pale faces. His sunken eyes lit up in blue fire, the black rings under his eyes showing the world his lack of sleep. His thin frame now filling out with each meal he ate, and with each hour he exercised wrapped in the clothes he had found in the wardrobe. What a marvellous feeling he felt inside his heart!

A town was coming into view with such speed he was afraid he would fly over and miss it. He had never seen a town before; it looked like something interesting he would like to explore. Maybe he might find something to tell him where to go next. The black glow was also flying fast towards him. He could now see quite clearly that it wasn't just black, it was full of colours. Such colours as he had never seen! He didn't know them. He knew only the black they were placed against, like a painting on canvas. He felt himself suddenly drop to the ground, but he caught himself before he hit it. He hovered over the dirt road before turning up straight so that his feet touched the ground. He let himself drop the last inch and then he stood there in the middle of the road. It was empty. He wondered if perhaps the place was sleeping.

He blinked suddenly as light hit the place in a flood. When he opened his eyes again, people were everywhere. Someone bustled into him and he fell over onto the hard, dirt ground. People started to cry out things to other people, moving things pushed by men moved all across the ground filled with goods. He rose to his feet on the second attempt and had to quickly move out of the way as people started to move into him again. He was surrounded in this strange, full place by himself. But then, it had always been just himself. Except for the time he remembered just faintly, but that was the past. He could make it the future if he wanted to, but -there it was again, a single word. He hated words repeated inside his head.

Sighing, he turned to look at his surroundings. People were pushing other people to get to where they needed to go so he decided that he would too. He moved forwards, bumping into people to walk out of the street, they hardly seemed to notice him just as they hardly seemed to notice him when he had been walked into. He made it out to the sidewalk and continued walking. He passed by people who tried to persuade him to buy things he didn't know what they were.

There was this man standing in the half dark, hammering away at a half circle of metal with a hammer. When he was done, he would pick it up with a pair of large tongs and place it in a barrel of water. Steam would rise up each time he did so, and the man left it in for a bit before pulling it out.

01 watched this for a while at a distance before finally moving closer. The blacksmith noticed that he was being watched and, stopping, looked the man over.

'Yes?' he asked in a deep, rumbling voice. 'Do you want something? Shoeing pe’haps?' he asked with a grin. Roars of laughter came from random people in the street that had overheard.

01 didn't know what the black smith meant by shoeing. He already had a pair of shoes on. He asked the blacksmith what he meant and the blacksmith just laughed. So did the crowed of people that had stopped by to watch. They got new comers to their town every day, and sometimes some of the new comers could be quite interesting to watch and listen to. The blacksmith just grinned and went on hammering another half circle of metal.

'Why do you use those things to hold the metal to hammer it?' asked 01 in his quiet voice. It was hauntingly chilling, thought the black smith.

'Why? So that I don't bun my hand!' the blacksmith replied indignant that no one would know that.

'Why would you burn your hand?’ asked 01.

'Because it's blisting hot.'

'Why is it blisting hot?' 01 asked. His head was on its side watching the black smith’s every move with his eyes that looked like they weren't actually looking.

'Because I put it in the fi’e to melt it so that I can bend it to my will,' the blacksmith said, placing the new piece in the barrel of water that hissed a let out a pile of steam.

'Why do you need to melt it before you bend it? And what is with the water?'

'I stick it in the fi’e so that when it melts it is easy to bend. And the wate is to cool it off when I'm done.'

'Why do you cool off what you have just spent time heating up?'

'So that it don't bun the foot of the animal I stick it on! And amongst other things.' The blacksmith was becoming weary from all the man’s questions. He was also starting to become nervous with the way the man kept watching his every move.

'Can I try?' 01 asked suddenly, taking another step forward with his hand outstretched.

'What?' exclaimed the blacksmith in surprise. Looking the man up and down he laughed. So did the people still watching. The strange man was thin. He looked, compared to the largely built body of the black smith, a twig to a thousand year old Hlis tree. A Hlis tree can grow to being over five meters wide and thousands of meters high. And that is a sapling.

The crowd were starting to call out things now. They wanted the black smith to let the man have a go.

'Alight, you can have a go if you like.' The blacksmith said, giving in to the cries. He handing the heavy hammer and the large pair of tongs over to the man. 01 took one in each hand and his hands fell to the ground with the weight, his eyes bulging with the effort of trying to lift them.

The crowd roared and the blacksmith cracked a grin. The man tried to lift them again but couldn't. He finally let go and they collapsed to the ground. But instead of walking away, he walked over to another horse shoe sitting in the fire and picked it up. The crowd gasped in amazement

 'Wizard,' the word spread through the onlookers like the fire earlier in the week. Next, to add to their astonishment, he flattened the piece of metal in between his hand as if it were nothing.

'Impossible,' murmured the black smith. 'How did you do that?' he asked.

'It's not hot,' said 01 calmly, looking around at the audience as if he had only just noticed them. His eyes blinking in the glare of the sun outside the blacksmith’s hut. The fact that he had done anything of amazement was obscure to him; he had only done what he had done because it was possible. His mind refused to share how it was possible that he could do that but not lift the hammer and tongs.

Frowning, the blacksmith took in his hand, the white-hot, horseshoe from the other man’s hand into his own. He dropped it in a cry of pain and held his burning hand in between his legs. Eyes filling with tears he placed his hands into the bucket of water swearing. A few of the other men ran forwards to help the blacksmith.

The strange man stood in the crowd around them, watching as they helped the blacksmith. Seeming to be forgotten by them, he set off into the crowd. He was puzzled. He didn't understand why the blacksmith thought the metal was hot. The man saw it as being white and he felt it to be cold. Yet that wasn’t so. The other man presumably saw it to be white also, and yet found it hot. He just didn’t understand. Setting off down the street, he went to find something else to do. Find something new to do. Find something he didn’t know.

After a while he came to a stop and stood watching a group of young ladies on the opposite side of the street. They stood outside a house painted in red and whites. It looked like a nice house from what he could see. Lanterns hung from the veranda, and a white fence rang along the outskirts of the property. The woman stood just inside the fence. Some of them talked together in quiet whispers, while some of them stood watching the people outside on the street.

Every time a man passed by the house, the ladies would all gather together and start calling out things to him. They would even wave him over. Some of the men would hurry past, while others would stop and stand a while to chat. Either eventually going in at the end, with a lady separating from the group and leading him inside, or continuing on their way.

The man watched this for a while, and then slowly became aware that one of the ladies was watching him back. He noticed he whisper something to a woman next to her and they both laughed. The man was about to walk over and join them when the lady caught his eyes and called him over. Unsure of what was about to happen, he obeyed.

The lady wore red, and wasn't actually wearing that much of it. Some of the other ladies were wearing other colours. They too did not wear much to cover themselves.

‘Good morning, friend, my name is Olive, are you looking for as good time?’ the woman asked, batting her lids and wiggling her upper body.

01 didn’t know what to say. He looked at her, and then he looked around him, trying to find out what to do. Eventually he nodded. ‘Yes,’ he told her. He wasn’t sure what a good time was, having never heard it before, but he was sure that by the sound of it he would enjoy it better that some of the times he had had to endure.

Olive grinned. ‘Then come on right through, follow me,’ she told him. Opening the gate, she allowed him entrance before headed inside. 01 followed her and the door closed behind him.

Candles lit up the inside of the place showing a well-furnished house. It was full of many things but he did not have time to have a closer look as Olive was already half way up a set of stairs and was calling him to follow. He followed and he was led onto a balcony inside. Doors were set into the wall and many different sounds came from inside. He wondered, from the sounds of some, if they kept animals in them.

Olive led him into one of the rooms and closed the door behind. She asked him something and he replied. A little time after that came some giggles. Then her giggles turned into cries. Then finally, her cries turned into screams and sobs. People walking outside on the street stopped and gazed up in alarm at the second floor windows before hurrying on. The screams lead the way down through the streets and over the edge where they floated on. However, no one paid any attention; they knew what sort of house it was.

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