When the World Falls to Darkness

A kingdom at war, a web of truth and lies, a vicious game of friendship and betrayal, and a world that will kill you, whatever path you take.
When the World Falls to Darkness, nobody is safe.
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Beautiful cover by River_Summers.

(I also promise much more frequent updates starting July, when exams are over. :D)

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6. Assassin

Quartz slid through the shadows, his eyes glinting ruthlessly as he trailed the target. Each step was taken with effortless silence, each movement making no noise as he cut soundlessly through the cold night air.

The target stopped, and Quartz halted, waiting patiently for the man to move again. Eyes narrowed. Mind alert. Senses tuned perfectly.

Moving on, the target made his way through the darkened city streets, oblivious to the shadow behind him. Quartz slipped after him, passing across rooftops with practised ease as the target passed into a side alley - a short-cut.

And a perfect place for the man to die.

It took the assassin almost no time to descend from the roof of that particular building, slinking behind the man with a malevolent grin on his face. Timing was everything.

Finally, the man stepped out into the moonlight: a rare patch of light in this nebulous city.

Quartz emerged from the blackness, his shadow casting a chilling darkness over the man as he unsheathed his knife. The metallic scraping of the blade was enough for the target to turn, looking straight into the eyes of the assassin.

"I'm here to kill you," Quartz said slowly, a malicious smirk beginning to twitch at the corners of his mouth.

The target froze in terror.

"Tell me," Quartz went on, each word hissed with deliberate hatred and venom, "How many have you killed? How many innocent people have you slaughtered?"

The man backed away slowly, trembling in consternation. Advancing, Quartz lifted his head as he, too, stepped into the shadows. His cadaverous skin seemed to glow in an almost ghostly fashion as his dark eyes penetrated deep into the target's soul. Stray strands of pure white hair, too phantom-like to be natural, fell across his face.

And the wings.

They were almost beautiful, thought the target hopelessly, while even more terrifying than the rest of him. More ghastly than even the jet black robes and the hood that seemed to cast his upper face in shadow.

It was almost like the wings weren't there.

Spectral feathers lined the wings, pitch black nearer his shoulder blades and fading out to an almost illusionary, translucent grey. To say the least, it was horrifying.

"Surprised? They call me Quartz," the assassin laughed, unfurling his wings and blocking out the moonlight. Screaming, the target tried to run, but Quartz was too fast. His hand shot upwards, wrist flicking as the knife was thrown dead straight.

It perforated into the man's back, sinking deep into the flesh as crimson blood began to seep from the wound, staining the fine cerulean satin of the man's garb.

Falling, the target struggled for breath, but there was none.

Quartz had won again.

"I wonder if you're thinking of those people, now," Quartz said. "The ones you killed, the men you betrayed for all that money. Such a shame, isn't it? That somebody found out you're a traitor. Selling out your own... You deserve to die more slowly, if I'm honest."

Quartz retrieved the knife from the dying man's body as he tried desperately to breathe.

"Maybe they'll bury your corpse," Quartz mused. "Or perhaps they'll simply throw it into the ocean. Either way, you're dead and I get paid, so I suppose it won't really matter."

And with that, he turned, walking a few steps before glancing back at the perishing target, whose body was once again encased in moonlight. He breathed his last, and Quartz twisted his lips into the beginning of a grin.

Leaving the corpse there for all to see, he beat his wings, and took off, a mere shadow in the night sky.

A single obsidian feather drifted to the ground, landing in the pool of crimson blood seeping from beneath the target - a grim reminder of the assassin's power in the field of killing.

The empty eyes of the corpse stared on into the night.

 

 

Quartz landed silently in the moonlit glade, the faint light illuminating his wings as he walked to the cloaked figure.

"You were a little slow tonight," the figure spoke softly, her voice barely more than a whisper on the wind.

"Swift as always," Quartz replied evenly to the figure. "Three kills in two hours... Not bad."

Turning to face him, the figure took a deep breath.

"I suppose we'll be off," she mused, her posture straightening as a stray strand of black hair escaped the hood. Her body began to emit a faint silvery light, growing brighter with each passing moment. Quartz closed his eyes to the light, keeping them closed for at least a few seconds before he knew it would be safe to open them again.

In the girl's place was a dragon, twice the height of a horse at least; wings so huge they blocked out the light of the moon. 

Offering him a fanged grin, the dragon tossed her head, flicking her barbed tail as Quartz opened his own wings again. Most would flee at the sight of a Guardian - one of the few creatures with the ability to change their form between a humanoid being and that of a legendary creature of myth.

By all law of sanity, Quartz should fear the Guardian, should view her as an empty shell to be treated as a slave to the so called 'Alpha races'. The rules of the Alpha races stated that no angel, no elf or dwarf or human, should ever find alliance with a Guardian unless first binding them to slavery.

But a loyal puppet, bound to him through invisible strings of careful manipulation, was better than a terrified slave, and Quartz wasn't one for rules.

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