Palacia Varius Savat [A Rama Empire short story]

"Ket Savat'Ilen Tekir, the saying went. The Goddess Ket Savat thirsts, and that usually meant for blood."

Almost four centuries have passed since the Craft Plague, and yet there is still one society where mage craft is still accepted and used. The Blades of Ket Savat are still thriving in the palace deep beneath Cahl's capital, carrying out their assassin work in the streets above.

Rohen is one of the Goddess' Blades, and one of her best assassins. He is firmly devoted to the Goddess ideals, but as the world changes, doubt flourishes. When you have to chose between home and work, both in the name of Ket Savat, how do you know your gods are even there?

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3. Part II

Ket Savat'Ilen Tekir, the saying went. The Goddess Ket Savat thirsts, and that usually meant for blood. Blood like the bonds hooked into Rohen's skin with black ink, the magic that tickled his senses and made him the perfect killer. Blood like he had spilled on marble floors for the Goddess, the day before.

Oh yes, the Goddess of Cahl's hidden caves, the mother of our people, certainly has her cruel streak, Rohen admitted to himself, as he rolled a piece of bread between his fingers. Though I suppose I am not the person to judge. He popped the mashed bread in his mouth, chewing softly, as he watched the underground palace. Pure light, blue and white, lit up the entirety of it from artfully carved stone lanterns.

Built beneath the streets of Cahl's capital, the Palacia Varius Savat was a wonder few had ever seen. None but the Blades of the Goddess was allowed to wander its corridors, and Rohen was one of the society of assassins. He had been born to the Blades, the son of two of the best, and was raised in these underground halls. To him, the walls of dark grey marble and black obsidian was as familiar as the ink on the back of his hand. The mage lights were everywhere, banishing the darkness of the earth, and allowing for blossoming gardens to be tended, and butterflies to thrive. Palacia Varius Savat was one of the few places where mage craft was still practised, undaunted by the mage hunts above ground.

Rising, Rohen brushed the left overs of dinner from his pants, and adjusted the daggers by his side. The blades were curved and edged with the same symbols as on his hands, tying his weapons to him, and his mage craft.

"You're leaving already?" Dania asked him in surprise, looking up from her own hoist of fruit and bread.

He answered her with only the barest sound of confirmation, as he glanced at her. Goddess, that woman is a treat to behold. Her hair a black waterfall and her skin more golden than olive. Her body was slender, her curves subtle and her eyes greener than the elephant palms in the palace gardens. Turning his head, he left her on the balcony where they had dined together, cursing internally against himself. He had never been good at showing affection, but if anyone held it, it was Dania.

Dania was streetborn, not bladeborn. Her mother had been one of the dreamgivers in the lower city of Ilianril, a prostitute, and not even she knew who Dania's father was. They only knew that he must have had at least some craft in his blood, because Dania had awakened hers young, and it was strong enough that the Goddess had called her to the Blades. She had not grown up being taught the craft, and had only just passed her initial teachings a few moons ago.

Suddenly Rohen felt something being thrown at him, and he ducked. His fingertips slid down one of the small knives hidden in his arm guards, as he turned back toward Dania. A date flew by him and he blinked. She had thrown her food at him!

"What the-" he started.

"You could at least answer me properly," she snapped, springing to her feet. With decisive motions, she wrapped up the rest of her food in a piece of cloth, and packed it away in one of her pockets. A few bread crumbs rolled into the pond beside her former seat, creating ripples. "Instead of harrumphing like an old man!"

"You threw a date at me!" he protested indignantly. "I could have fired back a knife before you knew what happened!"

"Oh please," she laughed. "I'd have moved out of the way by then, and you know it. Any good Blade would."

And she is good, he admitted to himself. He sighed, his smile turning crooked.

"Of course, whatever you say."

"Where're you rushing off to?" she asked him pointedly. "Got somewhere better to be?"

"Council meeting," Rohen told her, shaking his head and walking away. He lifted a hand in goodbye. "I'll see you later."

"I'll hold you to that," Dania said smugly.

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