The next day I arrived bang on time. I was shown through the doors yet again, up to the Mayor's office where he was waiting, the chained Fae's restraints tight in his hand and my first payment from his other.
“The butler will give you the package on the way out. Here's my Fae, do as you wish with him,” he handed me the chain and I reluctantly took it; I did quite the opposite with the money, which I stuffed in my pocket. The Fae just glared at the Mayor.
“Please, come with me,” I said softly to the Fae, he looked up at me, his eyebrow raised, but he obeyed. As we exited the house, I was passed a small brown paper package, which I placed in my backpack. The Fae and I exited the grounds. As soon as we were out of sight I immediately took a hairpin out of my hair and turned to the Fae. He took a step back, looking quizzical.
“Just hold on a second,” I said, walking towards him, “I wont hurt you.” The Fae gulped, but obeyed. I gently touched the collar around his neck, brushing the keyhole. I used my hairpin to unlock it. As soon as I did the Fae immediately ripped it from around his neck, rubbing it, sounding both relieved and in pain. He looked up at me, still looking quite bemused.
“Why?” he asked, moving his fringe out of his eyes nervously, as if he expected me to have done it out of spite, or to wrong him somehow. He had a beautifully soft voice, just like the Mayor. I looked over at him, smiling gently.
“You're not his prisoner. You're no ones prisoner,” I smiled, patting him on the shoulder. His eyes widened, then he grinned brightly.
“Thank you,” he said, “I haven't been shown such kindness in a long time.”
“My pleasure. Now, lets get you some decent clothes. The ones you've got now are hardly fit for adventuring,” I handed him the money the Mayor had given me, and his smile widened even more.
“You really are a gem, you know that?” he smiled and walked on ahead of me.
He took great pleasure in the unappealing looks he received from the village folk, the way they glared and spat and growled. He took even greater pleasure in buying himself some things. I had given him all of the money on the condition that he at least bought some clothes. Speaking of clothes, I was suddenly feeling very self conscious. I was wearing a tight, leaf brown tank top, and brown leather trousers, which were somewhat revealing. Not much though; I'd rather not shame my mother who would have had a heart attack if she'd seen me in anything more revealing. I felt especially uncovered when the Fae boy would cast his eyes over me mischievously, thinking I wasn't looking. Boys! Luckily, my brown hair was extremely long and could cover quite a lot, and I was wearing a long green trench coat over my outfit which did cover me up...if I had it fastened, which most of the time I didn't; even in winter. I liked the cold. It wasn't a heavy enough winter as of yet to warrant my coat being fastened anyway. When the Fae boy had finished shopping, and got himself dressed, he returned to me at the designated meeting spot. He wore all black; a linen shirt and dark fitted trousers and leather boots. He also wore (by my request) a leather chest plate over his shirt – just in case. This mission didn't seem dangerous enough to have my fully body armour on, as the most dangerous things (to the Fae boy and I at least) in the forest were wolves. Though, I had heard rumours of more fearsome creatures lurking in the woods.
“So, what's your name?” the Fae boy asked, leaning against the clock tower in the centre of the town square. I started to walk down the path leading to the village exit, and he quickly followed.
“Galadhwen,” I replied, “And you?”. I could sense the Fae boy smiling as he reached my side.
“The name's Lerin,” he said, “When my dad said he was calling in an assassin for this mission of his, I didn't expect the assassin to be an elf.” I looked over at him quizzically as we reached the less busy parts of the village.
“Father?” I asked. Lerin returned my confused look with a bitter one.
“The Mayor is my father,” he said, looking at the village exit. His expression was pained. I decided not to question him further. That might make the journey awkward. But the Mayor was his father? That'd make him a half breed...no wonder he was in the position he was in. If I had been a Fae,I would've ran for the hills when the war began, but Lerin would've only been young when it started...just like I was...His Fae mother mustn't have been able to take him to safety in time. I wonder what on earth happened. War is a horrible thing, and it looks like Lerin was one of the many, many casualties. It made me feel quite sad. There was a moment of silence as we exited the village before words were spoken again.
"Why is it so surprising that I'm an Elf?" I asked, sighing. Lerin rolled his eyes.
"Isn't it obvious? You and I are outcasts...How do you even get...work?" he shook his head in disbelief.
"Because I'm the best," I said simply. Lerin gulped.
“So, have you, you know, killed people?” Lerin asked. I laughed.
“I'm an assassin, of course I've killed people!” my reply wasn't a proud one, but a reminiscent one. I shook my head and pushed the memories down. Lerin looked at me, a little more afraid.
“When did you start, you know...killing?” he asked, his attention completely fixated on my face. His gorgeous eyes were a little unnerving.
“Since I was twelve. That's when I got my first mission,” I said simply. It's not something I liked to recall. Lerin didn't ask any more questions on my occupation; at least we both knew when to shut up.
We exchanged small talk until we reached the outskirts of the ancient forest; the tree trunks were dark with mystical proprieties, the same properties that kept the leaves an ivy green, and the forest birds chirping cheerily. It was a sacred grove for magic; abandoned and feared by man. We settled just before we entered the forest with some food I had packed for the journey in the morning.
“So, the journey will take us about three days,” I said, taking a bite from my tuna sandwich. Lerin nodded.
“Where are we going exactly?” he asked, attentively waiting for me to hand him the sandwiches. I obliged, handing him my pack. As he rummaged in my bag to find him, he grimaced, his ears lowering slightly. He immediately took his hand out of my bag and shoved it at me.
“What the hell have you got in here?” he hissed, obviously in distress. I looked at him oddly.
“Just the usual nomad stuff; my cooking utensils, clothes, sleeping bags, and the package,” I replied, looking quite bemused as Lerin rubbed his hands. I shook my head and took the sandwiches out for him. Lerin took them off me, a little more calm now.
“My dad's into some messed up stuff. It was probably whatever was in the package,” he sighed, unfolding the brown paper on the sandwiches. I didn't question him further. The Fae had unnaturally strong senses, especially to things afflicted to certain nature types. The package probably contained something that his Fae afflictions didn't agree with.
“We're headed to a waterfall in the middle of the forest,” I said, trying to lighten the mood. Lerin's ears pricked up again.
“The Fae stronghold that's around here is near the centre of the forest,” he said, taking a bit of the sandwiches. He smiled contently, at what I wasn't sure.
“Maybe we'll run into some of our relatives,” I smiled. Lerin nodded.
There was silence for a few moments; Lerin was processing something, quite obviously. He kept looking back and forth between me and my pack; which, may I note, was nearly as big as I was.
“If the only reason I'm here is to carry you belongings, which I'm quite obviously not doing, why am I here?” his grey eyes sparkled with question. I continued to eat my sandwich.
“Because I thought that it was cruel to just leave you imprisoned, and I had to honour my distant relatives by setting you free,if only for a few days,” I smiled at him and he averted his eyes as he started to blush.
“Also it'd be nice to have some company. Being a nomad can get quite lonely,” I tried to change the subject yet again, as most of our conversations thus far that didn’t consist of small talk ended in either one of us trying to avoid questions into our past.
“So...what's your story?” he asked, I raised my eyebrow.
“Story? What am I, a folk-tale?” I laughed, shaking my head at him. Lerin laughed with me, blushing slightly. Even the slightest blush was obvious on his frosty white skin.
“You know; people who are assassins have a deep, tragic back story on how they became bitter and warped with rage and anger...But you seem quite cheery, well, except when you're talking about business,” he grinned. I noted that he had already wolfed down his lunch. I almost laughed at how ironic my observation was, as I had noticed that he possessed two elongated canines, just like a wolf. I stared into the distance, trying to distract myself, or find a way to avoid the question. Lerin looked at me, eyebrow raised, waiting for an answer. Then he clicked. His features widened, and he winced an apology.
“Sorry,” he bit his lip, “Your past is a forbidden subject. Got it. It's the same with me. I shouldn't be so inconsiderate!”. I shook my head, then smiled at him.
“Sometimes, the most deadly weapon an assassin can posses is their smile,” I continued to eat another sandwich to distract myself, but it tasted bitter. I noticed Lerin's woeful expression.
“Don't worry,” I smiled briefly, but maybe my reply was a little too harsh. He winced again.
“I can be a real idiot sometimes,” Lerin laughed bitterly, “I haven't spoken to another...well, anyone for what...seven years?” Lerin moved a little closer to me, trying to comfort me. Usually, if anyone tried this, I'd kick them in the face and walk off, but he was so sincere, and we, after all, being Fae and Elf, shared a connection.
“Maybe one day I will be able to share my past with you,” I said, “But until then, we shall mention noting of it, please. It'll be easier for the both of us.”. Lerin nodded in understanding. This is why I liked him; he obviously had things he wished to hide, so he knew how potent the pain of recalling things were - the pain that haunts you every night as you try to sleep; the pain that you have t subdue in order to take rhythmic breaths. Lerin and I decided to remain silent until we packed up and carried on walking.
I put the remaining food in my pack, then proceeded to check that the parcel was safe. It was perfectly in tact, even down to the string that held the wrapping together. It was quite small, no bigger than the palm of my hand. I suppressed the urge to check what it was. That was against the contract. Just as I was about to pick up my pack, Lerin took it from my reach and put it on his back, smiling at me.
“I may as well be useful for something,” he grinned and started to walk ahead. I rolled my eyes and smiled.
“You're going the wrong way,” I laughed. Lerin came to a sudden halt; I could see from here that the tips of his ears were bright red.
“I was just seeing if you were paying attention!” he called, changing his direction from due west to south west. I laughed and followed him, gradually catching up with him.
The journey until nightfall was actually really enjoyable. Lerin knew an awful lot about the Thanosian woods; about its plants and their uses, about all the nature and the animals, and all of the Fae folk-law surrounding them.
“I'm only half Fae,” he continued, moving a branch out of his way, “But, I still do have another form. It's a snow wolf, which I inherited from my mother who hailed from the Borean mountain range.”. Lerin recalled this memory fondly, and as he did his feature seemed to make so much more sense to me. He often mentioned his mother on our journey, and of the times he spent in Fae stronghold which was situated in the snowy Borean mountains. It was quite interesting actually. I offered little snippets of my happier memories; the most potent being the Elven capital of Appollis – a city made completely of ornately carved materials, all of which were as rare as the race that walked their roads. Lerin's eyes were wide in amazement as I described the halls of the Palace of Elven Royalty; the columns that reached as high as the eye could climb, and thrones of elegant red velvet and ornately carved gold wood – the rarest wood in the world. These were some of my only happy memories from my past, and I had no obligations in sharing them, in fact, I enjoyed it. It was nice talking to someone who actually cared.