Throught the Night

A world on the edge of war. A boy who hosts a dormant evil on the brink of being unleashed. A tortured woman with a dark past. An ex-prisoner with an infinite stash of secrets. A blind assassin who knows nothing but bloodshed and darkness. All of these come together in an unlikely band to join the rebellion against the forces of hell itself. But when the skeletons in their closets come out to play, who will find themselves on heaven's side, and who will burn?

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2. Fragile Peace


 

The small seaside village called Fisherman's Haven wasn't exactly what one would call a busy place. It was home to maybe a couple hundred people, and so it was a good place to raise a family. The men worked all day in the harbor, catching fish to sell in the local markets. It was good enough work to support a wife and a couple children. The town boasted of a small market, a church, a small stable, a butcher, and of course, several docks. Fisherman's Haven was situated about ten kilometers from the bustling port city of Finhav, and therefore was used to hosting many a traveler passing through on his way to the city. The cozy inn, which also functioned as a tavern, usually hosted at least one traveler on any given night.

This night, the tavern glowed with cheery candlelight and the sound of hearty laughter could be heard all the way from the docks. 'The Lucky Salmon' was open by principle until the twelfth hour, but received most of its regular patrons at that precise time, and so rarely shut its doors until much later.

The moon was high in the sky when a group of about five or six men came stomping through the tavern's door, mud on their boots and smiles on their faces. The young barmaid who was polishing a couple glasses behind the counter held in a groan. She had just finished clearing all of the tables for the night. 

"Boys, I'm closing up. Order something quick and sit at the bar. I just got done with the tables. No food." She said with a sigh. The men were regular patrons, and almost always regularly late.

"Aye, come now, lass," said the largest of the men with a long red beard. "The night is still young. Me and the boys was just saying 'at we could use a nice dinner. We been on the boat all day."

"That's what you say every night, Bardon," the barmaid turned and put the last couple dishes away. Just then, the owner of the pub, a thick and tall man, came in through the back room.

"Kimiko, give the each o' the boys a nice fish with sauce with a good ale. They's our best business." He gave a big smile to Bardon and his friends. The barmaid stifled an argument and turned her back to the customers as she started to prepare their drinks.

The men stayed late, and by the time they got up to leave, the sky was grey and they were all rather intoxicated. The bar owner had gone home many hours ago, and so the only one left to tend to the rowdy men was the barmaid.

"Alright, boys. Let me get the place ready for tomorrow. Its nearly morning." She started to urge them out of their seats. Suddenly, the door opened with a loud sound. The barmaid whirled around with a start. A long shadow was cast onto the rough wooden floorboards in the faint light.

A man stood in the doorway. He was cloaked in a dirty, grey hood and cape. His breath clouded the chilly air. He came in an closed the door behind him. There was something fluid about his motions that automatically set the barmaid's nerves on edge.

"Morning," the man said in a polite but quiet voice. He lowered his hood. He had startling blue eyes, golden hair, and a beard sprinkled with grey.

"G'morning, sir," replied the barmaid. "I'll be right with you. These gentlemen were just on their way out." She hurried the drunk men out the door as the stranger took a seat at a table facing the door. Once it was just those two in the large dining room, the air took on a different feel. The barmaid had often been alone in the tavern with only one other patron, but something about this man gave her a bad feeling.

"What can I do for you?" She asked.

"Some breakfast and tea will do," he replied. He scrutinized the barmaid with a strange intensity. She nodded and hurried away. She was not used to being paid so much attention. Sure, she got her fair share of wandering hands and catcalls, but no one had ever looked her in the eyes with such interest.

She set the kettle over the fire and busied herself in the kitchen by frying a couple eggs and some ham. When she returned to the man, he had barely moved. The sun was now up and his eyes were even sharper than before in the bright light. He looked up at her approaching.

"Thank you," he nodded as she set the plate before him. She turned to go.

"Excuse me," he said in Taiyougo, her second native language. She stopped in her tracks. Turning warily to face him, she answered him in Anglese, the common language. "What do you want?" It was more than strange that he had spoken to her in Taiyougo. Kimiko had gotten her fair share of odd looks throughout her days at the tavern. She was half-Taiyougo after all. Her almond shaped brown eyes and soft, curving facial features weren't common around here. But the Anglese half of her usually made up for peoples' curiosity. But the way this fair-haired stranger was looking at her was different. Ominous.

"Your name," he continued in fluent Taiyougo. The piercing gaze seemed to bore through her.

"And why would I tell you that?" she asked, in her own language.

"Because you're in danger, more danger than you know."

"Who are you anyway?" She asked, now frightened.

"You don't want to know that." He glanced at the door, the sun a burning ball of light reflected in his icy gaze. The barmaid stepped away from him once.

"Finish your breakfast and then get out." She said, once again in Anglese. Then, the man reached into his cloak and took out small sack. The barmaid's eyes widened as he opened it, revealing a pile of gold coins.

"Your name," he repeated. She was conflicted. She could use some extra money. In fact, she needed it.

"Kimiko." She replied tentatively. He stared at her still in silence. She knew what he wanted. Her real name. Someone had finally found her.

"Who sent you here?" she asked.

"Like I said," he shook his head. "I'm hear to protect you."

"Right." She started to walk away, but then heard a small jingling sound. A second sack of gold coins now sat on the table. She sighed.

"I have no idea what you speak of. My name is Kimiko." She used every last ounce of willpower not to accept his generous offer.

He let his gaze bore into her a moment more, and then started to eat his breakfast as if she wasn't there.

Kimiko returned to the kitchen in time to meet her boss on his way in, chills running up and down her spine.

"Thanks for staying for Bardon and his gang," her boss clapped her on the shoulder. "Lord knows we need as much business as possible. Now get yourself home. I'm gonna need you again this afternoon. Anybody here?"

Kimiko nodded. "One traveler." She yawned once and nodded to her boss. "I'll see you this afternoon."

"See you."

Kimiko walked tiredly home, barely able to stay on her feet. She waved wearily at friends and neighbors on their way to work at the docks. The sun seemed to mock her with its brightness, stinging her tired eyes. She was disturbed by the presence of the man. He did not seem like he was from Anglesia or Zaré. So he couldn't be too dangerous, but one could never know. She was a person with something valuable to protect. She couldn't take a risk that he had been hired by the enemy to track her down. She new what she had to do. But she had to get home first.

She lived with her younger brother in a small apartment above the only fabric shop in Fisherman's Haven. 'Fabric shop' was putting it nicely. If one was lucky, one could find a yard of leather or sheepskin. Most just went to Finhav to find some decent clothing. But this was good for Kimiko and her younger brother. It was quiet.

"Hey," greeted her little brother as soon as she walked through the door of the one room apartment. He had just gotten out of bed, judging by his tousled hair and sleepy eyes. "You're home late." When Kimiko and Hachi were together, they spoke only Taiyougo. Kimiko had never had enough money to send him to school and hadn't the time to teach him Anglese, the most common language. 

"We're leaving town." She said abruptly, grabbing an empty pack on a hook by the door. She proceeded to pack their few possessions.

"Wait, what? I was just starting to like it here," Hachi whined. "I even had found a few friends."

"You're fourteen years old. Stop whining. You should be used to this by now." Kimiko didn't mean to sound so harsh, but she had no time to argue. The man could have followed her home for all she knew.

"At least take a nap. You look exhausted." The concern in his deep, brown eyes was genuine and made him look older than he was.

"I don't have the luxury to be exhausted. We have to go now. Any ideas? Want to go back to Taiyou?" She folded her few dresses and stuffed them in the bag.

"Why do we always run away?" Hachi asked. He sighed and started helping her back. "Can't we just go stay with-"

"We've had this talk before. We're never going to stay with Jalen. It's out of the question."

"But why?"

"I don't need to explain it to you," she said in her most bossy voice. "Should we find a place in Taiyou? Its been a while and its pretty far from here."

"Yeah like two weeks by horse after the million years it takes to get to Gallica," he grumbled but didn't protest any further.

All in all, they were out the door in an hour's time, leaving nothing but a note for the landlord in their empty apartment. And then they were on the road, again.

And they were being followed.


 


 

 

 

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