There are Many Types of Poison

This was written for The Sin Eater's Daughter writing competition under the category 2) write a story about poison.

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~~There are many types of poison. Some are herbs and such that you ingest that will slowly (or sometimes quickly) kill you. Some are people that get inside others and manipulate you, turning your mind. Others are events. Something so horrific it poisons your mind. Whenever you think of it, it drives you mad.
These events change people. The death of a loved one that spurs you to drive everyone else away to reduce the pain. ‘If no one likes me then it can’t happen again. If I push everyone away, I won’t have to feel the pain of their passing.’ The witnessing of a terrible crime that shoves you into a state of paranoid panic. Nothing can calm you down as nothing is to be trusted.
Then there’s the worst. Doing something that hurts someone. Even if it was an accident, you have the feeling of transforming into a monster. You are a terrible person. You destroy everything around you. You deserve to be feared. Hated. Excluded.
Nothing that anyone can say or do will convince you otherwise. If you’re such a savage, pushing everyone away is fine. Your monstrosity excuses you from everything. You can hurt someone however you want because you’re a demon and can’t control yourself. Whatever you did has poisoned your mind. It has manipulated you into a new way of thinking. This is often worse than the poison that kills you. This one eats away at your mind until you are a mere shadow of yourself.
This is what happened to Cassandra. And it twisted her mind until it was no longer her own.

A scream pierced the night. A tidal wave of panic crashed down around me as I shot out of bed blindly. I raced down the corridor in to my brother’s room where I was convinced the sound had come from. The door slammed open to reveal a sight that no one ever wants to see.
Lying limp in a growing pool of blood was my brother.
I flung myself towards him in a desperate attempt to save him. Dropping to my knees, ignoring the blood soaking into my nightclothes, I tried in vain to find a pulse in his slit neck. Wildly, I looked around to find out who had done this to him. Abandoned on the floor by the side of my brother was a plain, ordinary knife. Its only noticeable feature was the blood smeared across it; the same blood smeared across me. I grasped it in fury, trying to find other evidence on it.
Suddenly, the rest of my family poured in – three sisters and my parents – all drawn here by the scream. As one, they cried out in despair, some dropping to their knees. They all looked at the youngest member of our family lying dead on the floor. Then, as if noticing me for the first time, my father asked “What have you done to him?”
I looked at him, bewildered.
“What have you done to him?” he said, louder than before.
“I-I haven’t-“
“What have you done to him?!”
I looked down and saw what they could see. The eldest child kneeling next to her brother’s corpse, soaked in his blood while holding a knife. It looked as though I had done this. My head reeled as a million thoughts ricocheted around in my head. How do I convince them it wasn’t me? What do I do now? Why would they think this of me? As these questions overwhelmed me, everything faded into black…
I awoke with a start. It was just a dream. It was just a dream. It was just a dream. This has been swirling round my head each time I wake up for the past few weeks. Except it wasn’t a dream; more like a flash back while I was sleeping. The local doctor had said that this can happen after a traumatic experience, before his head was cut off. Precautionary, so he can’t tell anyone what I had told him.
“Try to block it from your mind while you are awake so it won’t plague you while you sleep.” had been his last words and something I have been trying to follow. It’s harder than it sounds though. The memories never leave me. They’re always hanging around in the back of my head, no matter what I do, along with the after effects of that night. Another doctor had said, before he was also decapitated, that telling yourself the story of your life so far will make it seem just like that; a story. This can help you disconnect from it. Giving a heavy sigh, I lean back, close my eyes and try to tell the tale of my life since that night.
I can still remember the accusing looks of my family as they allowed me to pack one bag with what I could before ushering me out of the stately home and onto the desolate street. I can recall the shift in perception of me as it went from respected heir to a large estate to murdering traitor that killed her own brother. I can relive the attacks in the street, both with fists and with words, that occurred on a daily basis as my once friends and neighbours hissed “Murderer” at me whenever I passed them.
No one ever doubted that I had killed my little brother. Everyone just assumed the worst of me, without a trial. So I became what they expected me to be; I became a killer.
There are tales of what happened after I moved away, unable to live in my hometown. Some say I spent the next 5 years moving from place to place, unable to settle. Others whisper about me being a witch, that I have changed my appearance and am living among them, killing people off with illnesses.
 The last rumour is partly right. I did change my appearance, but not with any witch craft. I simply cut my long hair into a short, boyish style and took to wearing dark, hooded cloaks instead of bright dresses. My frequent nightmares and lack of sleep caused my eyes to become more sunken and hooded. My skin turned pale from rarely going outside during the day, preferring to travel at night. This made me look like a completely different person, to match with the new emotional turmoil that was occurring inside of me.
I had been forced out onto the streets by my own family, disowned and disgraced. No one in our area would go anywhere near me unless a large coin was held out as an offering. I used to hear stories of others that had been thrown out and what they had to do to survive. Most went into begging. Others had to steal goods and try to sell them, although this often led to their murder in the hands of the tradesmen they stole from. But some went into the business of assassination.
There were rumours of wealthy lords that paid assassins to kill off rivals and enemies for large sums of money, if you knew where to look. I decided that this option was the one that would give me the best chance of survival. Back then, I wanted to make enough money to pay a lawyer to help me clear my name of my brother’s death and find out who did this to him.
I moved to the nearest city which was miles away. No one from my area ever came up here due to the distance so I knew I wouldn’t be recognised, despite my new appearance. I had been sleeping in dark alleyways by day and stalking the streets by night. After cutting my hair, I used what little money I had to purchase a black, hooded cloak and a silver hunting knife. I knew enough about the city to understand that if you have to resort to killing, you have to look the part.
It took weeks for me to be able to find an assassin. While I searched, I got myself into frequent fights so that I could teach myself how to defend myself and attack others. This worked surprisingly well and it didn’t take long before I was winning most of the matches. These had gotten me rather well known around this section of the city. A strange, short haired female beating up men whilst in a dress? Sounds a bit unusual. It was during one of these fights that I had met my first assassin.
I had been fighting 3 large men at once, something I had never tried before, when I noticed someone watching me. Unsure of who it was and what I should do, I decided to finish this as quickly as possible. A few blows to the head of the two tallest that made both collapse left the third running away before he got hurt any more than he was already.
I can remember making a show of walking over one of the unconscious body, lifting my dress up a few inches as if it mattered whether it got dirty, revealing  the trousers that I wore underneath so as not to exhibit anything when I kick out. I then stopped in front of the stranger and rearranged my face into a black look of curiosity.
“May I help you?” I had asked, cocking my head to one side as I stared into the folds of a cloak that surrounded the strangers face.
“I think it is I that shall be helping you.”

A knock sounded on the door, making me jump at the sudden sound that had dragged me out of the retelling of my story.
“Who is it?” I asked, making sure that my voice didn’t waver.
“Blade,” came my reply “Are you doing that thing the Doctor said?”
“I was in the middle of it.” I snapped, hoping he’d get the message to leave me alone for a while.
He must have understood me as I could hear his footsteps receding back down the hall. Closing my eyes again, I tried to focus on my past.

The stranger that had been watching me took me to an alley way that was in a part of the city that burned down a few years ago, meaning very few would walk in on us. It was here that the stranger explained that he had seen me fighting quite often and believed that, with a bit of practice and training, I would make a good assassin. I had been relatively cautious about trusting this person that seemed to assume I could kill people but, after a while, I agreed to go with him to a local training house of his.
Once there, I was showed around and introduced to a group of assassins in training. Barely any of them used their real names and the stranger, who I have come to know as Blade, still refuses to tell me his. Some had names that are fairly normal like Sam, Edward, Ross and such, whereas others were Midnight, Shadow and, of course, Blade. After vague introductions, my training had begun.
Most of it has merged together into a blur of activity. I can remember learning how to stab, slash and fend people off with a variety of weapons from a dagger to a hair pin. I was also taught the quickest ways to kill someone, the ways that left very little mess behind, the methods of discretion so it looked like a natural death.
Finally, three years later, I have completed my training. Never in all that time did I kill someone for the fun of it. Some of the people I trained with used to go out when they had free time and purposely get into fights, killing their opponents in a variety of imaginative ways. But I could never kill like that, dishing out death as if I were some God that gets to decide who dies. Yet I still killed for the money. I don’t understand my reasoning’s but I can stomach killing for my survival.

Another knock rattled the door.
“Cass, I don’t want to rush you but we really have to go if we’re going to make it in time.”
Letting out a huge sigh, I hurried to change into my ‘killing gear’ as Ross likes to call it and hastily sped out of the door, almost running into Blade.
“Come on. Let’s make a quick stop at the weaponry before we leave.”
I love the weaponry. The walls are lined from floor to ceiling with array of swords, daggers, knifes, bows, arrows, darts and such. There are also stacks of shields and a mound of poisons for when we have to be more subtle than puddles of blood caused by stabbing.
Blade and I walk in and see Ross leaning against a table of blunt knifes, using one to clean the dirt under his nails.
“Are you not supposed to be on the way out to slay some mortal beings?” Ross chimed with a smirk plastered across his face.
“We are but Sleeping Beauty over here decided to oversleep. Could you help her get the gear she needs while I scout to see if it’s safe to leave out the back?”
People always assume that assassins are the types that stab each other in the back to get a few coins, living alone in solitude and killing anyone who comes close. But it’s completely different here. Blade set up this training house so that he and a few others could teach other people that have been forced into situations like mine as well as keep each other on their toes. They have created a community of killers that all look out for one another and split fees when times get rough. Although I am very grateful to them, I do still find it very ironic.
Without warning, Ross reaches over to a row of knifes on the wall next to him and tosses my set of blades at me, one after the other in quick succession. A few thuds sound as they impale into the wall behind me just seconds after I duck to the ground. Leaping to my feet, I brush off my clothes and pluck the daggers out of the wood.
“Your reactions are getting faster, my young apprentice.” He snickers with a mock bow.
“I’m not your apprentice. Blade is the one that has been training me; you just like to throw daggers at people while thinking that you’re helping them. And I wouldn’t be your ‘young’ apprentice seeing as I’m 7 months older than you, you dense nitwit.” I snap as I feign an air of irritance, trying to hide a smile. I wipe the daggers clean and then hide them about my person in various sheaths that have been sewn into the fabric of my clothes.
Blade then stuck his head round the door behind me and says “Ready to go?”
“Let’s go reap some souls.”

I would never have resorted to killing anyone if I had stayed with my family. Having everyone think of me as a monstrous killer made me want to become one, to prove their hasty suspicions right. I think that the murder of my brother and the betrayal of my family poisoned my mind, turned me away from logical thinking. Instead of trying to show everyone that I was innocent like I should have done, I decided to draw back from the society I was once a part of and join a new one of self-assigned executioners. I will never understand what happened or why I chose to do what I did, but I do know this; it changed everything.

 

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