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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7. Chapter 7

There sat on a seat, a seat very much like a throne, a creature who ruled. Each different island that makes up Gamdagleeare Luff is ruled by the leader of whichever species resides on that island, however there are at times multiple creatures on islands with separate rulers amongst themselves. The edge island was no different, while the Ravens did not rule the island they were allowed to visit and build a temple, and Ravenwood was always welcome.

The creature that sat on the throne wore the normal garb of a Ravenwood, a robe, dark as the night, which kept him hidden in the dark. Only the Captain’s extraordinary vision allowed him to see the creature.

The seat was on a platform that hung two feet off the ground, supported in the air by four strong wires connected to hooks on each corner of the platform. Two guards stood in front of it, facing the door, and every time it swung towards them they would give it another push so that it would continue to gently swing.

The room itself was large. The ceiling towered above the heads of those below, you could barely see the top. Painted gold stars and colourful planets swirled away down the sides of the wall to give the appearance that there was no building around them, and that it was the night you really saw. Torches burned in pits in the floor, a pathway of light illuminating the road to the short set of stairs allowing you to walk up and step onto the platform. As the Captain took all this in there was the sound of metal against metal grating and then the swinging floor came to a stop against the stairs. The creature that sat still in the chair lifted his head.

An eruption of movement instilled. The Captain was grabbed by strange hands, manhandled across the path and up the stairs, and forced to kneel before Ravenwood. Turning his head to the side the Captain saw Fion kneeling next to him. The Captain wasn’t the sort to bow before anyone. In his mind they were all equal with one another, except for the Shadows and he treated everyone as such.

Fion mumbled words at a speed the Captain could not catch, and stopped the moment Ravenwood raised a hand. Looking up as much as he could with his head bowed, the Captain saw that it looked like a normal hand. As he looked closer, the sleeve of the robe fell away and suddenly the Captain wasn’t sure that it looked like a normal hand anymore. Short talons on the end of each finger glinted a black light back at the purple flames. There were only two fingers and a thumb on the hand, no stubs that indicated he had had other fingers. It was almost the same colour as the robe as well, a sickly black.

Raising his head an inch, the Captain was able to get a better look at the rest of the body without fully appearing as though not bowing. His first impression was the height of the creature. It was seven feet tall at a guess, a face with a hooked nose hanging low over thin, pale lips pulled back in a weary smile. White hair rested limply on its shoulder that the Captain could just make out underneath the hood.

Ravenwood walked towards them, stopping just in front of Fion. At a wave of his hand, Fion rose and the strong hands that gripped the Captain released allowing him to stand.

‘Is this him?’ Ravenwood asked in a proud, frail voice filled with age and wonderment. Raising his hands he pulled his hood away from his face.

‘Yes, my Lord. This is him,’ Fion replied, his head still bowed even though he has risen.

‘Him?’ the Captain asked.

‘You are Captain Von Delgo, are you not?’ Ravenwood’s voice changed to sharp, twisting with a faint, piercing crackle at the edge.

‘No.’

Ravenwood looked surprised. ‘You are not?’ he asked, casting a look at Fion who was shaking.

‘Nope.

‘May I change my question?’ Ravenwood asked after a brief moment.

‘You may.’

‘You are the one that goes by who he is and not by what he is called?’

The Captain cracked a tiny grin that disappeared as quickly as it arrived. He remembered being forced to bow.

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘It is sometimes hard to know what a person’s name is, it is sometimes easier to remember them by who they are rather than by name.’

‘True. A spoken truth.’ Ravenwood smiled, lips peeling back. ‘I am surprised, I must say, about you.’

‘I am not what you expected?’ Now that the name business was over the Captain was feeling quite relaxed, he felt they both stood on a firm footing of who each other was.

‘On the contrary, Captain Von Delgo, you are everything I had expected! You voice, strong, words spoke with precision, full of commanded and order. You accent unagreeable on what it should be, making it hard to place where you are from. Creating a mystery. The way you speak to try to confuse others about yourself because you know only what it is you go by which confuses you. The way you dress!’ By Ravenwood’s voice, the Captain could tell he was ecstatic.

‘What is wrong with the way I dress?’ the Captain demanded angrily. True he was dirty, but he hadn’t had a chance to clean up.

‘It has you all over it. It radiates what you are.’

‘What am I?’

‘As you have said, you are what you are until you find out.’

‘I see,’ the Captain murmured, aware that Ravenwood knew an awful lot about him. True they had met before, or was it another Ravenwood that he had met? Either way, the creature was a danger.

‘The way you dress is fine,’ Ravenwood told him as he turned and walked back over to his chair and sat down. He suddenly looked older than before. He had turned young when talking with the Captain, but now it had changed.

‘I am sorry,’ he said, his voice sounding the same.

The Captain didn’t reply.

‘Guards!’ Ravenwood screamed. The guards stood to attention even more so than before as Ravenwood continued. ‘Get Captain Von Delgo,’ he rumbled out the words, ‘a chair next to mine so that we may chat further. Then leave us be.’

A short moment later the Guards and Fion departed and Ravenwood indicated the seat found for the Captain.

‘You may sit, if you like, or you may stand.’

With the Captain’s hands in his pockets, Ravenwood was unable to see the Captain fingers the safeties on his guns. At the offer to sit down, he released the safeties and took a seat next to the ruler of the Ravens.

‘You were given a scroll from our riders, were you not? You did receive the scroll, otherwise you would not have come and Hio would not have picked you up and brought you here,’ Ravenwood told him.

‘I have it.’

‘Unopened?’

‘Yes.’

Ravenwood allowed himself a smile as he nodded. ‘As I thought you would go about this.’

The Captain pulled the scroll out from a pocket and rolled it across the table the guards had placed between them. When the scroll came to a stop next to Ravenwood’s hand, the Raven rolled it back to the Captain.

‘Read it,’ he said. ‘It is yours. Open it and then tell me what you think.’

‘Alright.’ Snapping open the seal, the Captain let the parchment roll open. He held up it but was unable to see anything written on it. After only a moment’s thought he rose and walked over to one of the torches and held the scroll up against the light. Tiny scrolled letters appeared written in red ink.

‘Blood?’ the Captain asked without turning.

‘My own,’ Ravenwood replied.

The Captain grunted, unamused. ‘Only the best for someone as noble as I,’ he murmured. Behind him, Ravenwood nodded.

Aloud, the Captain said, ‘How could you be sure that I would come?’

‘Read the scroll. When you are done we shall have a drink and talk further.’

‘Talk over drinks?’ The Captain turned towards Ravenwood. The Raven had pulled his hood back up over his head. Silence covered him and he would not break it until the scroll had been read.

 Sighing, the Captain lifted the scroll back up to the light and began to read.

To Captain Von Delgo, Commander of the 5th Army of Shadows, League of Immortal Shadows. Saviour of the Lost, 2nd Army, 3rd Squad, of the Ravens.

The people need a man. I know not what you are a part of in life, only that I believe you are that man. We come to you with a proposition. Look around you, what do you see? I know what I see, and what my people see, and it is not right. It should be stopped. You have come to us, to me, so that I may ask something of you. Help. From what? The first question I am sure you are asking yourself. I will not wait any longer. Here it is: we want you to kill Sygfearn Monstillian. You do not recognise the name? Monstillian does not use it, preferring instead to go by his title. Vain? Perhaps, but you know something of going by titles? Sygfearn Monstillian’s title is High Lord.

Shocked? I await your answer when you are ready to give it. You are famous, you, I am sure are the right man. I would not trust anyone else for this. You have been around Shadows; you know where their city is. I, and the rest of us, are confident that you, and only you, can infiltrate the High Lord’s palace and rid the land of immortal tyranny. Anything you need we will take care of. We will do anything we can to make the rest of your life worthwhile if you do this deed for us.

If it has crossed your mind to deny this offer and leave, we are afraid that we cannot allow you to do so. You may let something slip, accidentally, of what we are planning. If you do not accept, be warned. We will place a bounty on your head so large Gamdagleeare Luff will fall from the sky with the weight, and every single thing that breaths life, even if it is not a bounty hunter, will go after you for it.

The Captain lowered the scroll, rolled it up, turned, and threw it on the table where it rolled off the edge. The soft thud as it landed on the ground and continued to roll off the edge of the platform all the way to the door was the only noise besides the Captain’s calm breathing. Moving back to his chair, the Captain sat and rested his chin on his fists.

‘The only thing I can do is accept,’ he murmured. ‘Though I could very well deny the offer and walk out of here. But then I would leave with a bounty on my head. I might be able to survive most of the assassination attempts, but not all of them.’ Silently the Captain turned to Ravenwood who had once again removed his head and was watching him.

‘Your choice,’ he said, eyes glinting.

The Captain couldn’t help wondering who the bad guy was in this story. Everyone is capable of killing, some for fun. There really was no good and evil in this place, there were only those who thought they were one or the other.

‘I’ll tell you when I get to know some things,’ the Captain told him.

‘What things?’

‘You mention a ‘we’ in the note. Who is ‘we’?’

‘People who no longer want to live under the High Lord’s rule.’

‘Who?’

‘Other… leaders,’ Ravenwood replied secretly.

‘Leaders of who? Which creatures?’ The Captain was determined to get an answer he actually wanted to hear.

'Other Shape-Shifter's. Some wizard's and witches. Elemental's have signed the pact and are agreed. Mind Reader's, and the Fire Dragon's.'

'That all of them?' The Captain asked, his eyes wide with surprise. He hadn’t imagined there would be so few willing to band together to take down the High Lord. For something as large as this he imagined at least a dozen different species, not six.

'Those are all we dared to ask,’ explained Ravenwood quietly, his tongue drawing out the Ss.

'And Ravenwoods at the top of the list in charge?'

'Yes.'

The drinks were now on the table, the Captain hadn’t seen anyone place them there. Ravenwood opened a bottle of something sticky and poured it into two small shot glasses. He handed one to the Captain and kept the other.

'So, your decision?'

'You are going to pay me for this?' the Captain asked, he wanted to be sure of it.

'Yes.'

'Anything?'

'Anything you want.'

'Good.' The Captain drained his glass and placed it on the table with a clink. He yawned and stretched.

‘I’m tired, I’ll sleep on it.’ The Captain noticed with a feeling of satisfaction the look of annoyance on Ravenwood’s face at having to wait. The Captain rose to his feet as he said, ‘If you could supply a bed I’ll get to sleeping right away so as to give you your answer sooner.’

‘Very well.’ Ravenwood rose to his feet and headed down the stairs towards the door. He stopped at the entrance and called for Fion. Fion came running in a short moment later and Ravenwood whispered something in his ear. Fion nodded and left and Ravenwood returned to his chair.

‘Follow him and he will lead you to a room to sleep. When you are rested you will find me in here.’

With a nod in reply, the Captain left the room and the door slammed shut behind him.

Torches lit his way down a thin corridor as he followed Fion to his room. He didn’t pay much attention to details as he walked because he was so tired. He had rose before a sun and walked a desert, talked late into the night with the head of the Ravens and found he had to kill or die. Details could wait for morning. He entered the room Fion directed him to and fell asleep the moment he touched the bed, not even worrying about changing his clothes.

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