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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25. Chapter 25

The castle hallways were dark and brooding, long corridors of empty space that stretched on in gloom. Cobwebs covered the paintings on the wall and the many stuffed creatures standing in hollows in the walls. The floor was a musty carpet that left the Captain’s footprints behind. It was quiet, far too quiet for the Captain to feel comfortable in. Moments before he was being chased and now, there was nothing. He didn’t know how long he had walked for, five-ten minutes, and in all that time he had seen no one. He stopped at a corner and peered around it. At the far end of another corridor stood a door guarded by two dark figures that twitched and flickered faintly every couple of seconds. The Captain pulled back and leant against the wall.

He had a map of the castle in his head, the one from Artty he had memorised. The guards were protecting the entrance to the throne room. A few doors down the way he had just come was another hall that would lead around the back of the throne room to the anti-chamber the High Lord and his council used to discuss the cases they were about to give a verdict on. From that position, it was supposed to only be a short walk to the chamber that the High Lord would most likely be in during an attack, his bedchamber.

The door of the throne room opened suddenly and a guard rushed out, speaking swiftly in a tongue that appeared merely as symbols and letters in the Captain’s head. Together the three guards ran swiftly down the hall towards the Captain. He retraced quickly, stepping into the first room he came to and closed the door just as the guards rounded the corner. From inside the room he listened to the fading steps and waited until they were passed before stepping out. He made his way back to the corner and peered around, the entrance to the throne room was clear.

Far off a deep gong sounded and was quickly drowned out by confused shouting. Distant feet trampled and echoed through the castle and the Captain realised that a large mass of them were heading his way. Taking a breath and hoping that the other side of the throne room door was also deserted, the Captain ran the short space and pushed on the heavy gold doors. Despite their size and weight, they swung open easily and the Captain entered, making sure that they closed behind him.

The Captain passed through the Throne Room. It took him only a couple of minutes to find the door in the back of the stand where the High Councils’ seats sat, and to unlock it. He paused at it, his hand resting on the latch that would send it sliding open. Muffled voices reached his ears and he swore, the anti-chamber was full.

The door slid open and the Captain jumped back, fading directly into the shadows on the high backed chairs around the table. Beneath the tablecloth, he could see black forms drifting across the room, heading towards the exit. The Shadows were arguing, the High Lord was sending them away to look for the Captain and seemed unconcerned about the breach. The Shadows paused at the door and then took on two forms of robed men. One turned, her eyes looking back over the room.

‘Something isn’t right in here,’ she whispered. ‘The room has been disturbed.’

The other shadow hissed. ‘Is it him?’

Silently the two shadows separated, each walking to the opposite sides of the room and heading back towards the long table in an arch. Their footsteps made little noise of the carpeted floor. The lack of sound in the room made the noise of metal sliding out of a leather sheath more noticeable.

The Captain tried to push himself further into the shadows, but he was trying to blend into a shadow that did not want extra company. A dull minded, stupid form that had not even begun to contemplate living. It was fighting against him. The two shadows neared; now they stood on each side of the table and were heading towards each other. They stopped in front of where the Captain was hiding. He could feel their eyes boring through the table, straight through to him. They could feel the tension between himself and the shadow of the chair. It called almost be likened to a baby, not yet understanding what was going on outside and crying because it’s sleep was disturbed.

With one swift movement, the Shadows pulled away the tablecloth and ducked under, peering into the dark. The Captain stilled, allowing himself to float away from the shadow of the chair and meld instead to the crumbled cloth on the floor. The two Shadows frowned, and then rose to their feet.

‘Come on,’ the female said as he stepped down and hurried back to the door, dissolving back into a shadow as she passed through the door. The male followed and the Captain was left alone.

The anti-room was more a lounge room. It held two sofas, and a rough table made of wood on a couple of blocks of bricks. Curtains hung closed over the window in the door, they were thin enough to let a faint stream of light through into the room. Pulling back just enough of the curtain to see what was outside, the Captain checked to see if there was anyone guarding them the outside hall. Seeing that the way was empty, he passed through the door and hurried up the stairs towards the corridor that he knew held the High Lord’s room.

He knew the exact room; he had been there before on a number of occasions in the past. When he had done something that, the High Lord disagreed with. The hall was empty and in less than a minute, the Captain was standing outside the door. It was exactly as he remembered it and he walked in. The room had not changed either, and the memories that flooded through the Captain’s head almost knocked him over. The room wasn’t fancy, it was almost the same as the anti-chamber, but this one had a different shine to it. Something seemed to shine and glitter in everything, even the light that shone from the roof's fan and from the table lamp in the next room. Moving over to one of the shelves lining the left wall, the Captain gazed at the wood. Whatever was making it glitter must be in the wood. But enough of sight-seeing glittery things, time to move in to the kill. He crossed the room again and locked the front door. It hadn’t been locked before, but he doubted the guards would wonder as to why the door was locked if they hear the click. After that was done, he positioned myself in front of the other closed door on the right. There was the sound of running water coming from behind the door. To show his lack of interest in the breach to his castle the High Lord was having a bath.

To the Captain it seemed indecent to barge in on him when he was having a bath, so he stayed back and waited. He had tried to think of ways that he could start it, the confrontation, but nothing seemed right in his head. How did you go about killing the High Lord? He had killed before multiple times, bathed in blood and drunk it in wild moments during war, but they were all unimportant people to him. They weren’t people he had given his life to serving before. They weren’t as important as the High Lord, and a job like this had to be pulled off right. From his pocket, he pulled out a piece of paper full of strange words and read them, trying to commit them to memory.

He was shaken from his thoughts by the door being unlocked and then being pushed open. He gripped the piece of paper that he had torn from a book at Hel-Cohre’s place and held it tightly in his hand, in the other he held his gun. The nozzle was pointed straight ahead, aiming for a spot between the Shadow’s eyes. It had taken the form of a man. What better form to have a wash in than in one that most needs a wash?

‘Von Delgo,’ the man murmured in pleasant surprise, hardly perturbed by the weapon facing him. ‘I had heard a rumour that you were heading this way. In fact, I am surprised you would return here. I thought you had lost your taste for us long a gone,’ he sneered. ‘Or is it merely that you have come to what little sense you have and have come to let us finish you off properly?’

‘I know your name,’ the Captain replied, licking his suddenly dried lips. His gun hand wavered. The knuckled on the hand holding the crumbled sheet of paper were white. His body had also taken the form of a man, the one that was his real body, not the fake form of the Shadow he could take.

The High Lord released a placid smile, it was almost mechanic, like he wasn’t pulling the muscle and working on a smile but it instead formed without him having to do any work. It was a mask. ‘Well, I don’t know what tight little spot you expect that to put me in,’ he commented, the faint smile seeming less fake as his words held traces of humour which backed it up.

‘It’s part of a spell,’ the Captain explained. ‘An old one.’ He held up the piece of paper. ‘I took this from a friend. It was just missing one little piece to make it complete, and that was a name. I hold both sides of the key.’

‘Good for you, but you won’t be able to use it,’ the High Lord’s words turned harsh. ‘You can’t kill me, spell or not. There are certain steps you must take, and there is no way you will be able to manage that on your own. And you are on your own. There is no one on this world that believes in this plan, or would even step forwards to help you if they did.’

Daggers appeared in his hand and he threw them at me with precise precision. One entered into the Captain’s forehead, the other pierced his heart. Blood started to pour out of the wounds as all feeling was lost in his lower body and he dropped to his knees. The High Lord laughed uproariously. ‘You didn’t even try to move out of the way,’ he said, as he strode over and yanked the daggers out.

‘That’s because I didn’t need to move,’ the Captain whispered as he allowed his body to slump to the floor where it faded away. It rushed across the floor where it climbed up the side of the couch and took the Captain’s body again.

With a snarl that seemed more animal, the High Lord spun, to follow it, more daggers appearing in his hands. They flew from his fingers as the Captain raised his pistol, stepped out of their flight and pulled the trigger. His shadow bullets hit the knives, grabbing a hold of them and tearing them into pieces. He heard the High Lord cry out behind him and turned to see him fall to the floor. The Shadows daggers in the Captain’s hands melted and rushed across the floor to the High Lord. They blended with his body and he rose, sharp spears forming from his hands that he threw like javelins.

Spinning away, he misjudged the distance to the wall and hit it, crumpled to the floor and rolled away as sharp spears erupted from the floor. One of the tips pierced his leg and he swore as the tip broke away. The swear word changed into a scream as the tip transformed into a word that burrowed through his flesh. He felt it eat its way through his body, splitting into two with each bite. The pain was excruciating as they fed on his insides. The Captain rolled and shook on the floor, feeling his body eaten apart. The worms were beginning to break loose, bursting from his body and pouring to the floor in a huge pool that began rising into the High Lord. The Captain’s body worked quickly to try to repair the damage before the High Lord struck again.

The High Lord marched over and fired a wall of daggers at the Captain. The Captain rolled over, out of the way and sprang to his feet, diving into the High Lord and bowling him over. They both tumbled to the floor and the Captain separated, his body breaking down into tiny pieces that turned to ants that swarmed over the High Lord. The High Lord screamed as the Captain focused on herding the ants through the Shadows mouth, ears and nose. He managed to drag most of them through the High Lords body before the Shadow began repairing his body. Then the Captain reversed direction and went back the way he had come, destroying all the High Lord’s newly restored skin and bursting through the man’s face. The High Lord collapsed to the floor, his legs unable to hold his weight. The Captain’s own body felt weak from the power of forcing his body to separate into so many small pieces. With his last energy used up to restoring his body to one piece, he also fell.

They both lay on the ground, slowly restoring their broken bodies. From the corner of his eyes the Captain eyed the weary High Lord, he needed to end the fight soon. Unless someone died soon the fight might never end. He rolled off his back, pulled himself to his knees, and continued until he was standing. Still keeping an eye on the High Lord he pulled out the spare pistol in his holster and aimed it at the Shadow on the floor. It would be useless, he knew, he could fire until he was out of bullets but it wouldn’t kill him.

The High Lord groaned, twisting impossibly and then rose. Turning he placed his pale eyes upon the Captain. There was a small flicker in his eyes that the Captain caught before it was gone, he had glanced at the door to the corridor.

‘The doors are locked,’ the Captain told him. ‘And the guards will not help you because you don’t need them and they know it. You do everything yourself, they are just there to make you seem fancy. They’ll only come when you’re in actual trouble.’

The High Lord nodded. ‘Yes. I will tell you what, you lower the gun and unlock the door, allow my Shadows to take you away, and I’ll make sure that you get off easily. After all, you haven’t killed me.’

‘Not yet,’ the Captain replied, hefting the pistol in his hand. It was a useless gesture, but it brought the High Lord’s eyes off his. ‘But I will now.’

‘You have to bind me in something that burns before you can kill me!’ the High Lord snarled. ‘And I won’t let you get close enough to do that! This fight is useless and you already know that, Von Delgo. Why do you even insist on this charade that it might work? What do you hope to accomplish?’

‘Your death, for one thing,’ the Captain remarked. ‘Which will be easier than you think. I don’t have to bind you in anything as you’ve done that for me.’

‘I don’t-?’ the High Lord questioned, puzzled.

‘As strong as your hatred for anyone not a Shadow, it’s weakened by you use of human clothing.’

The High Lord’s eyes widened as the Captain pulled the trigger on his gun. The bullet found it’s mark between his eyes and the force rocked him backwards into the wall. He slid to the floor, more concerned with trying to untie his bathrobe than the bullet lodged in his head. The Captain stormed forwards, until he was just out of reach of the High Lord’s kicking feet. The Shadow hardly noticed him as his fingers fumbled to pull the bathrobe off. His body stiffened as the Captain began reciting the words he had memorised from the piece of paper he had been carrying.

‘No. No!’ he screamed.

‘Telivasutay palamuntay tekicana quisticana,’ the Captain recited, watching the High Lord’s eyes widen as he began forming daggers. The Captain sent a shadow to gag him and quickly continued. ‘Galahonre grohhn, daastrn!’ The High Lord’s body jerked as the robe around him tightened until his face was red. Whatever was inside the High Lord’s body popped out as his face went white, then black, then grey. Flames licked at the collar of his bathrobe and quickly caught on. Soon the whole of the High Lord’s body was alight and flaking.

Stillness filled the air as the final piece of the High Lord touched the floor and was swept away into pieces so tiny that nothing could return him to his corporal form. The Captain dragged his gaze away from the faint shadow of ash that was the High Lord, and looked at the door. It was open and two guards stared down at the ash. They witnessed the end of their High Lord. Something no guard had ever seen before.

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