The Assassin

This is the story of Nathaniel who has to travel the world in search of safety from the law who are searching for him. He has a dark gift that he learns to use as the book progresses. please read and let me know what you think.

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4. A Blade

Chapter 4

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast the next morning was bread and jam; even though it was the bad jam that they didn’t sell it was a rare treat and everyone was in a good mood. I was greeted by many boys. The girls I saw yesterday were there and one small girl met my eye when I looked over and blushed deeply. I could see before she looked away that she was very pretty; with long, light blond hair that she had in plats; one on each side that came down in front of her shoulders. I was beckoned towards several places but went and sat next to Aland. As soon as I sat down he handed me a thickly covered slice. It tasted amazing and large drips slid down my chin, which I wiped away with my Fingers before licking them clean.

“What are we doing today?” I asked Aland.

“Same as yesterday for me.” He said flatly. “We do the same every day, rotating groups and jobs except on Sundays which is tomorrow, when only do jobs like washing our clothes and preparing food, and for the rest of the day I get education.”

“Education?”

“Yes education, when Fin teaches us how to write and read and do mathematics and in the evening we get to read some of his books.”

“What are his books about? Are they interesting?”

“Yes! He collected them when he travelled; he used to travel a lot when he was younger.  They’re all about the world and the jungles and the animals that live in the forests and the seas. If you are lucky you could read a bit about elves and dwarfs that live far, far away. They have the most amazing illustrations and...”

“Don’t listen to him and the books, he loves them. He can talk about them for hours on end.” Interrupted the other boy sitting next to me. Trust me he’s done it before.”  Aland huffed and crossed his arms.

“At least I can read!” He mumbled but the other boy had already turned away. He saw that I had finished my slice and started spreading jam on another slice for me. “No, don’t do that for me!” I said and pushed it away.

“Anyway this morning Matt is taking you to get you fitted for a sheath and get a blade.”

“Can you tell him to meet me in ten minutes” I requested

“Fine!” he said and started stuffing the slice into his mouth. “Ahh. That one was good, you missed out.” He chuckled and licked his lips.

“That’s it.” Called Fin when everyone had finished. “Clear up and let’s get ready for today.” We all stood up and took our plates over to a side room where we placed them in tubs of hot water. Like the day before people went back into the main room and formed two lines. One again I joined the back of the left line and waited as we were put in to groups. There were five people in my group again and they introduced themselves as Casper, Brenner, Garrick, Lydon and Sherrod. First we had to wash all the dishes from breakfast which took what seemed like hours to dry with our damp cloths and our hands were red and sore. We then placed them in metal racks to dry and then emptied the dirty water down the drain. Our next job was to collect honey from the bees but I saw Matt waiting for me by the hives and I quickly jogged over. “Alright?” he asked,    “let’s go.” We walked out of the courtyard and down a street, stopping at another and we walked in.

“Hi Matt, this kid need a sheath?” Asked a fat man in a leather apron

“Hi mace, yeah he needs a shoulder strap for a 10 inch blade” replied Matt

“Come back in two hours and for payment I want this man robbed of 50 guineas.” Said the man giving Matt a sheet of paper with an address on it.

“Will do” Matt responded as we walked out the door and into the blacksmiths next door.

A man with a scar stepped forward and grabbed Matt by the throat and started laughing and threw Matt back down to the ground. “Now Mr. Gezzers what will I be doing today?”

“He needs a blade” coughed Matt pointing at me

“I see a twelve inch would suit him well but …” boomed the man

“Ten inch marc, that’s all he needs” Matt quickly interrupted

“I’ll see to it” he replied

We walked out of the shop and headed towards the bridge in the middle of town.

“We just need to hit this man” said Matt showing me the paper which had a stall number in the famous Grenola market.

We kept out of sight as we approached the market and dived left as a military patrol walked past.  Once we were hidden by the crowds we headed over to the area and spotted the man selling apples.

“Right, I’ll go and block of his escape, you go and tell him that Mace wants his money” said Matt walking off.

I walked up to the man and he smiled at me

“Hello there young lad, ya look hungry how bout an apple, freshly picked this morning”

“Mace wants his money”

“I err will pay but you see”

I saw him glance at the knife on the side and make a dive for it, but I reacted first slamming the table sending the box of apples into the air before throwing the knife to the ground.

He turned to run but Matt slammed into him from the side before grabbing the bag of coins attached to the man’s waist and effortlessly pulled a blade from his trousers and cutting the chord holding it in place. He tried to shout but Matt punched him hard him the stomach before we escaped into the crowds.

Twenty minutes later we walked back into the tailors and Matt threw the bag onto the counter and rung the bell. Mace came running through with a padded shirt with a sheath for the blade to fit in.

“Thank you. Now try this on” he said throwing it to me

I put it on under my shirt and it fit perfectly.

He picked up the coins and walked back through to the other room. We then walked down the road to the blacksmiths and I looked round me. There were many people and carts around buying and selling and loading the barges.  As we walked in marc reached down below the counter and gave me a beautifully crafted, light weight, sharp blade. I sliced the air in front of me examining it before sheathing it in the sheath on my shoulder.

“Beautiful, that’s pure silver alloy and here’s a whetstone for sharpening” he said throwing me a bag

As we walked out Matt reached into his pocket and threw the blacksmith a few gold coins and he did a little bow before walking off. We took a boat out of the city hiding under some Egyptian cloth. We then walked back to the compound where once we arrived I saw Casper walking towards me.

“Thanks Matt I really appreciate what you..”

“Nathaniel we’ve just finished now come on.” Interrupted Casper and nodded at Matt and walked over to the ladder. We climbed down the ladder then Casper passed down the basket. I looked in the basket; it was full of chunks of jam comb. Wow that’s a lot. “Don’t be surprised,” He said seeming to have read my mind. “We only took a bit of the jam out, there is way more in there, we do this so we can take this amount out once every two weeks.”

“It seems quite simple. How come no one else keeps bees in the city?” I asked.

“Well, for one they don’t know how and they think they won’t make any jam because of the lack of flowers as not many people know about the governor’s gardens in the citadel. The second reason is that everyone who can afford jam buys it from us… anyway now let’s get these chunks clear of bees and let’s uncap them.” So for the next hour we knocked the bees off outside, closed the door and took our protective ware off. When we were ready we brought in wooden buckets and scraped the wax caps off each chunk so the jam was exposed then placed the chunks in open compartments in a special bucket with a handle that when you turned it; the compartments would spin around flinging the loose jam to the side where it dripped down to the bottom to be extracted by a tap on the side. The fresh jam smelled delicious and Casper left a small lump aside and once we had finished extracting it he broke the lump in to six pieces and we had one piece each. We went back to the roof and slowly ate the jam comb. I wandered to the edge and looked down at the side street below. It was crowded with people and I could smell sewage from the drains. I frowned and stepped away and looked at the rooftops instead. Spread around on the city`s rooftops were soldiers, just walking along the roofs.

“What are those men on the roof doing?” I turned and asked Casper and he came to stand beside me.

“Which men?”

“Those ones.” I replied and pointed to the men.

“They just walk around the roof looking down at the street to watch for crime. They have a much better view of what is going on and they can pass on messages and orders easy.”  He said and stood beside me for few minutes before turning to go back. “Fun time over let’s do something constrictive. Everyone back downstairs and on to our next job.” He climbed back down the ladder and paused when he saw we were not following him and looked at us sarcastically. “Oh come on! You know we’ll be chucked out if we don’t help.” We all nodded and glumly followed him.

Our next job was preparing lunch. We met one of the groups who had returned with a few large chunks of venison and a dozen turnips. I was assigned to cutting up a chunk of the venison. I was given a large knife and started slicing off pieces and placing them in a bowl. The meat was raw and felt wet in my hands and looked like it could be anything, maybe it’s…

“How are you doing?” Interrupted Casper as he wandered over, jolting me out of my day dream.

“Oh… Fine. It’s just I don’t trust it, It could be anything.”
“Don’t think so, this is from one of the best shops around.” He answered and I nodded in agreement. After my chunk was cut up I moved onto the second and quickly deposited of its red flesh into the bowl. Then we took a few chunks each and diced them into small pieces using knifes made of many tiny blades joined in a square shape. Then as the other groups returned we rolled the venison mince into balls and cooked them in a large pan over a fire. Then we placed them on plates with onions and bread rolls. We served the plates whilst seeing who could hold the most plates. Casper was winning with six before he dropped them on the floor and then slipped on the mess. After we finally stopped laughing we handed everyone else their food and sat down to ours. I put the lettuce and the venison in the roll and took a bite. The juices of the venison soaked into the bread and tasted great. Luckily, after the lunch we didn’t have to tidy up and we had the easier job of packing snacks and water for the other groups who were planning where they were going to go. We they sorted out the bags of items the groups had brought back. In the sack I sorted was a set of carved dragons, each in a different pose and a carving of a campfire surrounded by dancing goblins. I held it up to a window to see it better. The detail was amazing, and you could even see individual coins on the forest floor. I jumped as Matt appeared beside me and we both laughed.

“That’s pretty nice. Let’s show it to Fin.” He announced and took it of me before walking towards Fin’s room with me in tow. We reached the door and knocked and were called in.

“Yes?” Fin said and Matt stepped forward with the carving.

 “Look what someone found.” He said and passed it to Fin. Fin took it and quickly studied it.

“Yes, amazing craftsmanship,” Fin commented, impressed. “But I have more pressing issues at the moment.” Which by the way he looked in my direction he meant me and my gift. “I shall look at it later. Now go and continue your work, you don’t get food for free you know.” We took that as our invitation to leave and quickly left, shutting the door behind us. We walked back to the sacks.

“What are you doing here?” I asked Matt.

“We do take turns doing the boring jobs here,” He answered with a mischievous look. “One of them includes looking after you!” he quickly dodged away before I could hit him and I chased him before tripping him onto the floor. I quickly sat on him and started punching his chest but he used his size to his advantage and quickly pushed me off. We returned to our work and went through the remaining sacks. I found nothing else of interest and sorted them into food or items to go to the shop. Then once again the rest of the group carried the sacks of Items to the shop down the road and then we took the food that we were not going to use for a while to a few buckets of salt in one corner and took out the meats and dipped them in the buckets and placed them in boxes. Then for the rest of the afternoon we had to clean and sweep the side rooms. The first room we went to contained beds like the main room.

“What are these beds for?” I asked.

“These are where the girls sleep, you know… to give them some privacy.” Casper said. So this is where they sleep, ha its way tidier than where we sleep!  We quickly swept the room and left. The next room was the room where I had slept in for five days. I wander what this room is used for normally.

“We use this as the sick room.” Matt said, seeming to read my mind. “Not just for exhausted Assassins!” He then whispered and I glared at him.

“Come on! You two are always arguing.” Interrupted Casper and we started sweeping the floor. The brooms were new and they worked well and we finished the room in minutes. It was hard work and we were sweating by the end but the floors were clean. We moved to another room and continued sweeping in there. The room was almost full of boxes and we had to work around them.  What could be in them? When I could see no one was watching I leant my broom on one of the boxes and lifted the lid. I was surprised to Find Inside the box were piles and piles of wood. I turned and lifted the lid off another box and that was filled with wood as well. Casper walked over.

“Don’t look so surprised. You don’t think we go to get wood for the fires every day? We can store enough for a month in here.” He said, and I shrugged “Along with spare clothes, bed linen and other odd items.”  Everyone had Finished and I picked up my broom and followed them out. To my surprise they put their brooms down and started talking. Matt noticed me standing there;

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“No. What are you doing? Aren’t there more rooms?”

“The bee room and Fins room are done separately and the rest we don’t need to clean because we barely use them.” I nodded and joined them.

“Good job today Nate.” Said Casper, abbreviating my name. “Maybe you’re good at more than explosively burning people and buildings!” We laughed and I playfully thumped him.

“What now?” I questioned.

“An early supper. It’s already been cooked. Chicken soup I believe.”

We went and pulled the tables from the sides, they were heavier than they looked and we had to wait for help from the returning groups. We heaved them in to the middle and lined up the benches. We sat down and were handed the soup. It was really good and warmed us up and we all finished content and happy. Next we had baths. The water was warm and as I was near the front of the queue, and clean. We all put on our clean clothes and we all stood in a large circle. I saw the girl who I had seen this morning. Once again she looked at me and caught my eye and she looked away embarrassed.

“I think she likes you!” Cooed Matt who noticed where I was looking. “Her name’s Alexia and all the boys like her but she’s usually too shy to meet any of them but I think you are in for a chance, however she’s the daughter of Stewart the Brave who trains assassins in Karanda!” He stated to push me in her direction but I resisted before he could push me far.

“Stop it!” I said.

“So you like her as well?” He retorted and started laughing uncontrollably. “Don’t worry.” He whispered. “I’ll only tell everyone!” He cupped his hand around his mouth and went as far as saying “Hey everyone! Nathaniel here fancies…” before he got the chance I reached for my blade and stepped towards him blade glinting which as expected flashed my eyes Red. “Holy Stigma you…” He swore, terrified that I would do something explosive. This was my turn to laugh and I collapsed on the floor in fits of giggles. “Hey! Don’t do that! It’s not funny.” He yelled angrily but that just made me laugh more.

“You should have seen your face!” I laughed. At that point Fin walked in and we all stopped talking and sat cross-legged on the floor.

“Good to see you all. Now for the weekly overview.” He said and sat on a chair in the center of the circle. He then took out a book and a quill and a pot of ink from a desk that had been set up. “So, what happenings of note have happened?” Nearly everyone put their hands up and Fin went through each of them, writing down what they said. All too soon I was mentioned and was made to stand up in view of everyone and was formally introduced to the thirty-or-so boys and girls. I surprised myself by remembering all their names and sat back down. Then we continued making notes on what else happened like how the chicken soup was popular, how much money they had gained by selling the items at the stall, how there were way more soldiers around and even a few saw the emperors mages walking around. Then a boy called Layne mentioned a fire to the west and everyone looked at me knowingly. I pretended not to notice and started fiddling with my bootlace. They continued looking so I slowly raised my head.

“What?” I said in mock confusement and everyone laughed.

“Yes very funny but let’s focus on what we are doing so you can have you rest.” Said Fin to everyone’s surprise, which got a few annoyed glances from everyone. Slowly they turned their thoughts back to the last week and to what had happened. I found the next hour or so boring as tails of how they had ran out of certain herbs, and had almost been caught stealing bread.

Finally they Finished and stood talking by our beds and prepared to go to bed. Fin walked over.

“Nathaniel? I need to talk to again.” He said and I followed him to his room. It was the same as before but this time there was no jam on bread. “There is good news and bad news but I have a lot to talk about so I may as well start right away. I have more to explain and now that you have settled in I will tell you more.” I sat again on one of the chairs and he sat opposite to me. “I’ll tell you the bad news first;

The emperor has ordered a sweep of the city by his mages. Combined they can cast a spell which can detect any living being who has received high amounts of magical contact, for example having cast a spell. They will be able to pinpoint within ten meters of you. You have to leave or we will chuck you out.”

“Yeah…but I haven’t used magic” I mumbled.

“A assassin is basically a mage, you have magic Nathaniel, and you will get us all executed or worse tortured. Think about it these are boys, think what the emperor could do to them.” He shouted

“Ok! I know! I’ll leave I was just taking it in!” I retorted surprised at his outburst but I suppose it was to be expected, he probably loves them.

“Alright. Now don’t worry, there is some good news; it will take a few days to cast the spell and most of the mages will be exhausted for weeks. You can stay two more nights then you must go. We need to prepare you. Oh and look at this:” He handed over a small sheet of parchment. “This is a copy of the latest governor’s news sheet. It’s the headlines from the entire kingdom.” I quickly scanned the main headline.

SERIES OF KILLINGS SHAKE MAJOR CITIES; RYNOS, GUSEN, ERIL AND ATINA.

“What?” I scoffed baffled.

“You weren’t the only one. It seems too have happened in three other cities within a week. That is remarkable but it means you’re not alone. It means that you are now national terrorists. Any loyalists will now have no doubts about killing you. That makes it even more important that you get away.”

“Err… but I have nowhere to go.” I said slowly.

“That’s what I was so worried about but I remembered an old friend. He has experience on these matters. He…”

“He’s a Assassin?”

“No but he used to train them. He lives in the Karanda district, which is west from here. You have to get there; he will know what to do.”

“But how do I get there. Do I go on my own?” I queried. It might be quite a distance.

“I’m afraid that you will have to go on your own and on foot unless you can find some other way to get you there. It will probably take at least three weeks. I will give you money for food and water…” His talking was cut off by a moan from me. Oh great three weeks walk chased by mages and soldiers with a death sentence if I’m caught. “Now don’t complain I have more to talk about. As you can’t remember it I will give you a short history of the emperor Baul… His father was a good man and grew old our current emperor was the second oldest son Baul was reaching thirty years of age with no implication of his farther `handing over’ his rule. He slowly went more power mad as he grew older. Eventually his father died but before his brother could return from an expedition he was assassinated by, as it was rumored by one of Baul’s assassins...”

“Here is a map of the kingdom you must travel to here” he said pointing to an x over the mountains.

“Ok, I’ll leave at first light” I moaned

“Matt will put you on a barge to Rynos where it is a three day walk to the edge of the Vandidian Mountains.”

“Ok” I grumbled

“Get some sleep, you will need it”

I walked down the hall and into my chambers    

great just great ,now I’m a mage as well as an assassin also I have to travel for three weeks on my own hunted by powerful mages and soldiers  and I may never return.

I walked into my room, yelled and felt that fire building up and released it at the chair in the middle of the room; it burst into flames and flew across the room smashing to pieces on the wall with a crack before falling to the floor as ash.

I leapt backwards against the door as it smashed inwards as Fin and Matt came running in.

“what in the name of ……” Fin shouted but said no more as his eyes flicked between the fire and me and the color of my eyes and the blade in my hand glinting as I snarled a warning before I fell to the floor in a quivering mess.

Matt walked over to me but Fin called him back

“Matt don’t you go near that thing”

“Leave him alone Fin he hasn’t done nothing wrong.”

“I said get back” screamed Fin swinging his arm which connected solidly with Matt’s temple sending him flying into the wall with a dull thud.

Seeing Matt on the floor angered me

Stupid piece of …. Ahh

 I leapt at Fin smashing in to him from the side sending him back into the corridor

He raised his hand to punch me but I brought up my knee smashing him in the stomach before throwing him back. The rage was exploding through me. I drew my knife the point pressed into his neck but before I could kill him a hand stopped me I spun round ready to face whatever was behind me, it was Matt.

“Don’t ya go doing this, he didn’t mean it” Matt cried

“The emperor will rule indefinite, once I knew you were a Assassin I travelled to the emperor and he told me to kill you” Fin laughed

And at that very moment the south door crashed inwards and five soldiers and a tall man in a cloak walked through. 

The tall man began to mutter under his breath

Oh no he’s casting a spell

I quickly released all of my anger at him and it hit him before he knew what I had done his clothes caught fire and he flew backwards out the broken door and into the wall the other side of the courtyard with a sickening crunch. I then drew my blade and sprinted at the armored men who now had swords drawn

The first swung his sword at my head but I easily ducked under before smashing him in the face with the handle of my blade.

Before the first hit the ground I span round the blade stabbing into the other man’s neck with ease.

Matt and I ran down the corridor and into the street through the broken door as we heard shouts from behind us, I turned to see another five men chasing us. We sprinted down to the river and Matt jumped onto the barge while I undid the rope and cast us off into the river.  There were shouts from the soldiers who had caught up and were shouting a reward for anyone who stopped us. Men tried to jump on to the boat but the man who shouted waited before jumping onto the deck. I ran forward and punched him hard in the face sending him sprawling over the edge and into the river with a splash. There were more shouts but they sounded a fair distance away.

As we drifted into the current and passed under the bridge there was a thud as a pair of heavy boots slammed down on the deck behind me.

Matt and I spun round ready and standing on the deck was a girl with long blond hair and blue eyes wearing a fur coat.

Alexia!

 

 

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