Three-Thousand Sins

Well, this is the first chapter of a novel I'm writing; hope you enjoy.
.Don't expect it to be updated daily, took me a month just to
type these first ten pages.

Chapter I

So many little time.

Soft notes from the flute floated through the air, echoing through the sleeping city. Filled with the angst and sorrow of the fingers that played it, the esoteric melody was a sound that no one wanted to hear. It chilled all who had the ears to listen - except its player.
She was aloft from it all, resting on the high, concrete buildings of Corona Haven. On the roof she sat, playing her song of redemption. Her fingers flowed over the flute, playing effortlessly, sending the night away in a blur of renaissance. It was a ritual she was well adjusted to, one that she performed nearly once a month. However, this was the first time that she would be doing it in Corona Haven. Her hometown. Though she was akin to the elves that resided in Corona Haven, even they had cast her aside. She had nearly no regrets for her past actions, but she could not help feel a little liability for bringing the place to such shame. Admittedly, she did not wish for it to come to this, but it was well past the time for her to make up for what she had done.
Her long life had not been thoroughly as enjoyable as she had expected it to be. If she did so much as showed her face in public, she would be inevitably condemned to death as soon as someone took a double glance. She had always wanted to be known throughout the realm of Arad'uun, but never in such a way. Now, so poor that all she could afford was the hooded burlap cloak she donned - that was merely for protection, too ( and the tattered rags she wore underneath, the assassin known as Dagger understood only to kill. Having no apparent talents besides the skills of survival, she would waste the rest of her near-eternal existence under the siege that every criminal must face.
Peering through the façade of her hood and into the inky darkness of the night, Dagger stopped her flute playing and searched for the Tower of Gehija. Always she would remember it, and the bright lights that burned through the blackness every night. Each flame that the watchman lit would represent one hour of darkness, one hour less that she would have to wait. The tower was really little more than a pile of metal laced with wood, yet it kept the town of Corona Haven so tranquil. Such a false hope, it was. Something as absurd as the Tower of Gehija could never protect its people from an onslaught. Dagger felt ashamed that she once believed in the safeguard of Gehija, but regretted it now. Trust was for the weak.
Finally she spotted the tower, in the exact center of town. The forbidding black thronged the tower, seeming an aura of light in Corona Haven's strange incongruity. Its very sight sent a chill of nostalgia into Dagger's heart, made her skin crawl with a cold sweat. Dagger was but eighteen years of elf age when she last saw Gehija; it had helped her then, and it would help her now. She scanned the tower up and down. The guardsman was asleep, as expected. Adding a torch every hour of every night was not the most exciting job in the world, but it was tiring. Dagger mused as she remembered the long nights spent at that tower, doing the exact same job. Silently, she thanked what little gods of faith she had left.
Three flames.
It was time.
Slowly, Dagger brought her slender hands up, removing the hood from her head. It exposed a woman, rugged and hardy from years of treacherous isolation. The dark world had made her a despondent, sullied woman, but somehow she retained the beauty that was there before she was corrupted. Her long, curly, auburn hair, tied back neatly with a cord, now rustled in the strong wind. Deep eyes of a strange golden darted round the city, intelligent and cunning. Full lips were set on a tanned, high-cheekboned face, pursing and creasing in contemplative thought. Her ears came to a shocking point, marking her as elvin kith. Though Dagger was akin to the elves that resided in Corona Haven, even they had cast her aside. She was like a deadly deity, thirsting for blood. A candle in the dark.
Now all that was left was the spilling of her own blood. Dagger unsheathed the weapon that gave her such a name, holding it up. It glistened in the light of the moon, showing arcane engravings written in a language long dead. Only Dagger, and a select few, could read the writing clearly: when translated, it read 'Edge of Acrimony.' It was the one true joy in her wretched life. She held it to her arm, already grazed with seemingly hundreds of cuts. The dagger sent a rush of cold as she pressed it over her skin. Arm trembling, it was not easy to trace a cut down it. It was like a red ribbon, a crimson river. The blood seethed over, but was soon lost amongst the other gashes that had been added to the collection. Seeming to be an endless cycle, she did not know when the cuts would stop. Every time a bloodletting took place, Dagger was afraid that all the blood in her body would forsake her, and she would finally fall prey to death. Of course, in her case, it was near impossible, but there was always that daunting impression.
"Three-thousand cuts," Dagger whispered, "one for each sin."
The wind called her name. It murmured of all the crimes Dagger had committed throughout her life, contradicting her every motion. The winds of Corona Haven had always spoken to her. But not since tonight, the first return to the town since her escape, had the wind muttered such vile words in Dagger's ears. It wrenched her stomach, but it was not as if she hadn't been expecting such a greeting. Everything in Corona Haven was enchanted, from the trees, to the earth, to its very inhabitants. Dagger had not been as blessed as the rest of the elves, however. It was anticipated that she would be turned away from the magic of the locality.
She could taste the taint of magic on her tongue as Dagger licked her parched lips. Not in weeks had she had the pleasure of food or drink. Except for a few drops of dew off of morning flowers, Dagger was starved and dehydrated, and that dew would not last her long. Many would think the life of a murderer would be effortless - no taxes to pay, no duties to fulfill, no one to look after but yourself. According to Dagger, it was exactly the opposite. Since her early childhood, she had never had any scrap of friendship or trust in any other being. Day after day, Dagger spent her time in hiding, evermore looking over her shoulder for a threat, for someone to press a blade against her neck and end her miserable existence. But it seemed that the gods enjoyed punishing her, for she had lived near forty years without having the enjoyment of being able to face death at last. It was a sadistic, warped wish, but the one thing she truly wanted.
Putting her futile dreams aside, Dagger sighed once more, and prepared herself for the journey. It would have to be one clean stride from her current location to the home of her victim, without interruption or fault. One missed step, one blundered stride, and her presence would be known throughout Corona Haven. That would be disaster.
With a deep, breath, Dagger flung herself from the top of the building, her cloak flapping vehemently in the wind. The moments seemed to pass at a snail's pace; the cobblestone streets called Dagger to them far below. Finally, just inches from her ominous doom, Dagger's body lurched up, now with enough momentum to tuck into a roll and neatly land several feet away. Unscathed, she immediately sprinted into a pool of deep shadow in a nearby alleyway.
After several more times of diving in and out of alleyways, Dagger had arrived at the estate. She gawked silently at the colossal house; no one must have needed so much space! This new craze of huge homes was only available to those whom had wealth or a high caste in society, but those that could afford such a luxury practically jumped at the chance. Dagger shook her head at the notion - such lavish extravagances were useless in life. During her time in Corona Haven, she had lived in a small, humble hut. It was comfortable, possibly too comfortable at times, but it was home; the only place which had deserved that title, in fact. Dagger shuddered at the sheer thought of ever having a home, but then quickly brushed it off and made her way to the mansion.
It was, indeed, huge, but it was even bigger up close. The stone walls were trimmed in decorative ivy, climbing up an awning to the terracotta roof. The two large, metal doors were locked, of course, not daring to budge for a soul like Dagger's. Yet Dagger was till amazed at the impeccable builders and designers of Corona Haven. If the city were famous, it would be for two things: endowed builders, and cowards. A smirk crept up Dagger's face, and she silently chuckled. Golden eyes examined the windows for any kind of sign or signal of life in the oversized home, but neither flora nor fauna could be seen moving inside. All seemed dark within the mansion, until Dagger spotted it.
It was a candle, burning dimly in a windowsill. Dagger felt a sudden flutter emerge from her stomach, and her hands actually shook in excitement. time had come to avenge all that she had lost long ago.
Dagger dashed to the first piece of ivy she saw, cloak still flapping violently in the blusters of wind. With dagger tightly sheathed, she felt quite comfortable scaling the manor. Dagger was without insecurity, for she knew and trusted only herself - and, at times, even that was not true. Her strong, calloused hands grasped the vine firmly, bare feet pressed dexterously against the house. She moved slowly, but swiftly, always alert to sounds and sights. If the ivy were to snap, Dagger would not have to think twice about moving. She was, truly, the archetype of survivor, yet she took no part in congratulating herself in it.
She shook her head to clear all thoughts from her mind. "Focus, lass." She reminded herself through gritted teeth. The ivy was old, and would not sustain for long. Dagger strived and strived to push herself forward. Though she was well acclimated to ascending buildings and climbing walls, something about performing the task here made her actions weak, her bones brittle. Could it be, once again, the magic, endeavoring to stop her deeds?
Nevertheless, Dagger prevailed. With a single, fluid motion, she clutched the balcony overhead and swung herself onto it. But there was no time to celebrate, not here, not now. Now, duty beckoned, and Dagger was forced to oblige. She picked up the candle, dripping with wax, and snuffed it out, using nothing more than a thumb and forefinger. Dagger unlatched the window with particularly strange ease and slunk into her target's room, reticent as ever, closing the window behind her. The room was quite spacious, though she could hear the obvious snoring echo from the canopy bed at the far end. It was extremely dark, especially without the candle's glow to guide her. Dagger took a moment to catch her breath and marvel in the extravagant furniture - the slumbering objective would not soon stir, hopefully never again. Soon, her keen elvin eyes focused and she got a better look of the place: the carpet was a scarlet of lush shag, deep and blood. Placed randomly around the walls were oil paintings, landscapes showing the vibrant verdure of what Arad'uun once was, and portraits of dead ancestors. Dagger shivered faintly as she laid eyes on the people in the canvases, seeing their cold glares and scowls. To the left, near the door, was a vanity, with a beautifully polished oaken breakfront and gilded mirror. It immediately caught Dagger's eye, mesmerizing her so that she could do nothing but walk over to it.
Up close, it was even lovelier than she had imagined. The dresser had small, delicate carvings, cherubic creatures and flourishing blossoms. They seemed to speak to Dagger as she ran her fingers over them, traced them lightly. The drawer handles were of mythril - yes, mythril! - molded to the shape of Corona Haven's royal family crest: a magnificent goshawk, bearing a stiletto in its jaw during flight. Dagger reveled in the emblem, watching it glint in the ever-dim moonlight as she moved it back and forth in her hand.
Dagger took a deep breath and closed her eyes, choking back foreign tears. The crest was a symbol of her exile; a sign that she knew would never be able to return to her land again. But eleven years ago, she could, and would, wear the pendant hawk round her neck, forever showing allegiance to the royal family of Corona Haven. Needless to say, at times she opposed the emblem, wearing it only out of her mother's wish. During those dark years, all had begun to retaliate against the Marxist ways of the imperial family, forcing all of their people, the saint elves, into poverty. Dagger remembered that dour time in her life, when her parents were severely destitute, her young sister near starving. The look on her sister's guise of sheer terror, as Dagger did the worst -
No. She urged herself. Damn the past. Damn it all!
Gradually, Dagger pulled herself from the seal, now filled with overflowing detest for the whole world and everything in it. Something so small, so seemingly insignificant, able to bring her to her knees. Was she really as strong as everyone said? Was she truly the finest hired gun in all of Arad'uun? Dagger cleared all thoughts from her mind, disregarding everything that had troubled her for all thirty years of her lifetime. She knew what she had to do, and it was now time to do it. This was surely not the time to loiter, especially within breadth of her quarry.
She once again unsheathed that arcane knife from the holster hidden inside her cloak, tainted with her own blood, soon to be covered on another's. Dagger held it up high above her head, watching it glint and twinkle in the moonlight. The blood already laden on the blade was still fairly wet, seeping down the side like a crimson ribbon. For a moment, Dagger was frozen in time, a paradigm of statuesque beauty and deadly desire. Then, she lowered the blade, still keeping a firm grip on the handle, and made her way over to the figure that was still, surprisingly, fast asleep in the bed. Though her face was partly covered by her red silken blanket, Dagger could tell who the woman was at first glance. The flowing locks of blonde hair, noble features, and ghostly white skin could only belong to Strafe Argerlich, sovereign of Corona Haven and Matriarch to all Saint Elves.
Dagger stepped back for a second and clasped a hand over her mouth, biting her fingers to hold in an unexpected gasp. Yes, she knew that she had been given this task to remove a member of the royal the Matriarch herself? This was a job much over the limit of what she had ever done before. Not to mention, she mentally added, over the limit of the meager pay she had received.
Her heart beat ferociously in her ears. This was end of the royal family. The time had finally come for her to fulfill her greatest desire, and Dagger was brimming with an energy of lust and rapture.
Dagger gripped the Edge of Acrimony tightly, raising it over the sleeping body of the Matriarch. She felt no remorse for what she was going to do to the woman's beautiful body, let alone what would happen to the rest of the saint elves in effect. All she felt was the anger that had welled inside of her for so long, and was now brimming, seething from inside. Then, she took the dagger in both hands, closed her eyes, and drove the weapon into the slumbering figure, slicing right through flesh with a tremendous sharpness, sending a shuddering sensation up Dagger's body. There was no shrill yell of pain, no stream of crimson blood. The cut had seemed absolutely perfect, but as Dagger pulled her tool out of the piles of blankets, she knew something was wrong.
The knife sent up a flurry of small, white feathers, glowing in the shadowed light of the moon. They floated up from the slit made in the blanket, and Dagger's eyes grew suddenly wide. She tore the blankets from the bed, bringing up more feathers from a frayed pillow lying where the body of Strafe Argerlich once rested.
Dagger panicked, rummaging uselessly through the pile of covers and sheets and pillows, sprawling herself over the huge bed. It was not until she felt the chill of a sword against her jugular vein did she stop.
"So, it is , the mighty murderer." The words of Strafe Argerlich dripped down Dagger's neck, like lethal venom entering her bloodstream. "Brought down with but the mere use of trickery and a pillow? I knew that you were not dense." Strafe now brought her head so close to Dagger's that she could see the reflection of her pallid white skin on Dagger's russet neck. The ghost of her past had once again crept up behind her.
For once in her life, Dagger was left without a wily retort. All she could do was sneer at Strafe, words lost in her throat. .But this time, words were not needed.
Dagger lunged to the side, grabbing her knife from the bed and collecting another small cut on her neck. It healed almost instantly, becoming nothing more than a small stripe of crimson. She then riposted, jumping blindly at Strafe with her dagger raised, but was caught midair by a metallic thud. Strafe stood strong, stopping the blow with a weapon of her own. It was a sword made of iridescent blue, a strange aura emanating from the steel.
".Magic." Dagger breathed, toppling over, victim to the magic that overcame her.
Strafe walked toward Dagger, her delicate body now seeming to tower over Dagger as the killer continued to convulse from the sense of magic that filled her lungs. Dagger seemed pinned to the ground, bound by the nothing and the everything of existence. Would a clumsy, cumbersome sword truly bring down the greatest assassin of Arad'uun?
"NO!" She yelled, and stuck her leg out in front of Strafe, knocking her over with a swift kick. Strafe fell, face first, only to be caught by Dagger. The enchanted sword clamored to the ground with a tinny thump.
The Matriarch struggled, but Dagger had a firm grip on her silk robe, the color of gentle carnations. Dagger smiled at Strafe's vulnerability, lifting the woman up from the ground, taking pleasure of her dangling feet. "Twill be a shame to bloody something so pretty."
Strafe returned the wry smile. "Still not too cold as to give compliments, I see."
Dagger laughed. "I was talking about the robe, milady."
And with that, Dagger took a tighter hold on Strafe, and flung her out the closed window. Glass shattered and splintered, cascading down in a jagged rain. It all seemed to happen in slow motion to Dagger. Strafe was fast, but not nearly fast enough. She was surprised the Matriarch had lasted so long.
Dagger was quick to follow, pursuing the trail of glass. It was sure to attract some of Strafe's more vigilant sentinels, but this battle would surely be over soon. Strafe had landed a few yards from the mansion, but not without injury. Her face, shoulders, and legs were covered with a sundry of cuts and scrapes, but did not take away from the woman's beauty. She conveyed the semblance of a warrior goddess, long mane of golden hair spilled over her face, jostled in the wind. Strafe breathed heavily, but her feet stayed firmly on the ground. Even without a weapon, she looked like a most formidable opponent. But looks often do not go far in the dark world of bloodshed.
To keep her foe intimidated and keep herself calm, Dagger smirked, saying, "Where are you without your foil now, Matriarch?"
Strafe cocked a silvery eyebrow, her noble chin tipped upward. "Without? You forget, my is magic!"
She pushed the flared sleeves of her robe up, lifting her hand up and facing the broken window. With a concentrated look on her face, Strafe stretched her long, elegant fingers, summoning all magical forces. Dagger was immobilized, quivering from the sheer impression of magic. Her body went icy numb, the Edge of Acrimony slipping from her grip. Her palms and brow were bathed in a cold sweat. But Strafe remained entirely confident - and as a streak of blue shot across the night sky, her eyes widened in total poise.
"'Tis a shame that were elves are not born with the power over magic."
Dagger snarled, bearing pearl white fangs. She clenched her fists, holding back the anger that would, without doubt, be her demise, if unleashed. It had happened once, and that was almost enough to set Arad'uun aflame. And this time, the anger was of a much higher caliber than she had ever felt. It practically seethed from her. The sheer sight of Strafe Argerlich liberated a fury in Dagger that she had not felt in years. ". NO were elf!"
"Yes, that is exactly what I thought, Dagger," Strafe continued, beginning to pace casually, "all talk and no magic. .And it seems you are incapable of even an intelligent conversation! I really expected more, even of the realm's more renowned ("
"You DIE!" Dagger charged at Strafe, her veins no longer icy from the magic that hung in the air. She was revitalized, once again, with the passion to kill.
Metal clashed against metal, sparks flying. Dagger found it continually harder to dodge and strike as the battle continued, the magic wearing hard on her. She could feel the tears of the Edge of Acrimony flooding her as it was continually pummeled. But it did not seem that Strafe was giving up soon. She had a malicious grin, teeming with untainted vigor. Strafe faked a slice and kicked Dagger right in the gut, sending her toppling over. Strafe was quickly over her, enchanted blade glowing cerulean over Dagger's neck.
"I shall be known worldwide as the one to have single-handedly defeated the infamous bravo Dagger!" She smiled, twirling her rapier back and forth over Dagger's décolletage. "But where to make the cut."
Strafe took the hilt of her sword in two hands, pinning down Dagger with her foot. Dagger did not bother to resist. She was immersed in sweat, her entire body aching from the magic that encased her. It was as if she had been buried alive, suffocating under thousands of feet. Her breath came in short gasps; bones becoming brittle as Strafe slowly dug her bare foot into Dagger's ribcage. Dagger cried out in pain, choking back blood.
But for a moment, it seemed as if Strafe would spare her a sliver of mercy as the queen removed her foot off of Dagger's torso. Immobilized, a feeling of apprehension came over Dagger as she realized that this would the last time she had the opportunity to bask in Corona Haven's splendor.
Strafe eyed Dagger strangely, her face shining in a bloody hatred. Yet there seemed to be something else in that . It was almost as if Strafe felt sorry for her, not wholly desiring to kill her. And it was with that hidden pity that Dagger could latch on, pulling the magic hold that Strafe had on her and distorting it, so that it loosened. Dagger was stiff, but she was able to budge.
"And now," Strafe called, raising her sword at a battle ready, "It is time for you to go back to the hell that spit you out."
This time, Dagger was ready. As Strafe thrust her sword downward, Dagger gathered all her energy and jerked, rolling away from the fatal blow, landing on her feet and stumbling back. Outbursts of pain erupted in her shoulder as she clutched her collarbone, feeling a warm pool of blood spill onto her palm. Dagger pulled her hand away, staring at the crimson grandeur. The gash had been shallow; missing her heart, yet the throe was so intense that Dagger feared she would collapse.
Strafe was on her instantly, assailing with unadorned recherché. All that Dagger could do was run. She turned, sprinted towards the cover of a thicket of trees.
Minutes passed, and Dagger slowed. The wound on her chest had begun to heal, yet she could still feel the pain like it had just been inflicted. There certainly had been magic embedded in that blade, and it was now coursing through Dagger's veins. She found it increasingly hard to move as she ran farther and farther through the dry brush and dead leaves. Air fled from her exhausted lungs, skittering away into the summer night. The ground called her to rest. Dagger felt the urge to once again spill her blood, but this time let it flood all over her body in a crimson river. She wanted to cry out in pure agony, to let Apollyon rip her innards and send her to the deepest pit of oblivion. She was ready to gamble with her very soul to numb the pain.
But what she wasn't ready for was death. No, the devil would not have her as a bride tonight.
Dagger slowed to a limp, clutching her knees in a feeble position. Never had she felt so humiliated, so downtrodden in her entire life. Her mind raced with contradictions and questions of whether to subjugate to her assailant or not. It seemed that the hunter had become the hunted. It was too uncharacteristic of a predicament, especially for someone like Dagger. Dagger could not put her thoughts together and think of a logical explanation. The world dipped and swirled, Dagger fighting to keep herself conscious. Her stomach lurched, and bile rose in her throat as she felt the daunting presence of magic fill the air. And this time, Strafe was not alone. All around her, magical presences were flocking, surrounding her. Dagger was trapped.
Dagger leaned back against a tree, veiling herself within the canopy of leaves. Though it was a futile attempt, it at least gave Dagger time to think. Such a ludicrous act would fool not even the dim sentries that Strafe had sent. Still, Dagger closed her eyes, letting go of all emotions and feelings, even pain. She lost concentration, lost the will to do anything. As she slipped further, her senses of hearing stirred. Suddenly, every inconspicuous sound was audible. The wind roused a tinny bell into echo at a shrine a few miles away. Early morning dew sounded like a waterfall as it dripped from a leaf, trickling down onto the ground and sinking into the earth, watering a newborn seed. Two moths mated off into the moonlight, their wings seeming to create nor'easter tempests. .And, most importantly, a set of metallic footsteps, reverberating off into the forest. Immediately, Dagger unsheathed the Edge of Acrimony, silently gripping it in her hand.
Boots clattered, and Dagger's golden hues sprung open. The footsteps came closer and closer, as did the aura of magic. Dagger heard the soft chuckle of a woman, and her eyes wandered from the ground to her face. Standing in front of her was, once again, Strafe Argerlich. A confident smirk had slid across her wry face, and the laughter that escaped from her was filled with cynical contempt.
"There is no use hiding, you mutt," She spat indignantly, "we are not blind. Why don't you just surrender yourself and make it easier for all of us? The penalty will not be as harsh for you, assassin. .Well, in this world, at least."
"Step forward!" Strafe shouted, her voice becoming irritated. Impatient murmurs were rising as well. "Do you think we do not have eyes? That we are but dumb, sightless cretins? Mere armament, with no purpose in life except to mindlessly follow orders like drones?" Strafe laughed, a sound that chilled Dagger's bones. "Well, I think not, lady assassin." A shrill whistle escaped from his lips, and a man stepped forward from the shadows, cornering Dagger. Dagger did not look at them, unafraid of the consequences. But she could feel light eyes on a pale face stared back at her, entrenched in ridicule.
"I really wish it did not have to come to this," Strafe remarked gravely, "truly, I did. Force is not our primary strategy for any for this, we can make an exception." She threw back his head, crowing in a manic laughter. Dagger managed to eye the sword, her blood still glistening.
"So, this is how it will be." Dagger smirked, drawing the Edge into a battle position, "Two fighters enter, one leaves? .That is, unless you have the gall to fight me yourself."
Before Strafe could speak, a soldier was on Dagger, each quicker than she. Dagger tried to keep up, her injured body still aching. She could not see the face of her combatant, her vision still blurry, but whoever it was had many years of training.
"Return to my home once you are done," Strafe ordered, turning and beginning to walk away, "You shall be given your reward there."
A gruff voice answered without strain, "As always, my Matriarch."
Dagger let out a yelp, skidding across the ground. She knew that voice anywhere. .It had to be. ".Eg(n?!"
For a moment, Dagger tried herself, tilting her head up to look into the eyes of the man above her. Egän was clad in a silvery armor that winked in the dim moonlight, the crest of the royal family etched in what looked like blood. His broadsword was held high, covering one blue eye. Red hair was tied back to reveal his entire face, twisted into a horrible scowl. That scowl matched Dagger's.
Egän snarled, bringing his sword down slowly, closing is eyes. "Mutt," He rejoined, "you have not the right to speak my name."
Dagger cast her eyes down, her hands suddenly very cold. She knew this man, though his face had changed greatly from the last time they had seen each other. Holding the position of general had transformed him into a hardy, tough man, not the gentle boy that Dagger had known. She bewailed for that metamorphosis even more than she did for her own.
Egän drove his blade forward, towards Dagger's head, but the lady caught it in her bare palm. With a tug, she ripped the weapon from her adversary, then ducked low as a fist came her way. She managed to trip the man, sending him toppling onto his back and slicing him at the same time. The cut barely pierced Egän's chain mail, but it was enough the shed a tear of crimson down his chest. Smirking, Dagger catapulted the stolen sword into a tree, reveling in the quivering echo it made as it pieced the bark.

Unarmed, yet determined, Egän drew to his feet in one smooth motion, catlike. He immediately drew another weapon from his boot. A long knife glimmered in his hand, nearly as flawless as Dagger's own. It curved in an unblemished sweep, the point sharpened to razor perfection.
Dagger turned to him, features arcing in censure.
"A knife, milord?" She criticized. "It appears that my style has cliché, no?"
Egän spat, gripping his newly brandished weapon close. "You slayers truly do love the sound of your own voice," He smiled sardonically.
Dagger pointed the Edge at him, marking her territory. The wind blew through the trees as the two were frozen in time for a moment, sending a howl that shivered their bones. Dagger's eyes shifted to the small cut on her opponent's chest, the only blood she had been able to draw thus far. .It was surely enough. The wind caught that euphoric smell of blood, navigating it into Dagger's nostrils. She inhaled the wondrous scent, letting it toy with her conscious and distort her being. She closed her eyes, lost in the ecstasy. For a moment, Dagger fell comatose, and it was only by luck that she felt her bare feet pound against the ground, lunging closer and closer to Egän.
"Head-on assaults will not succeed, Dagger!" Egän shouted, all too ready for Dagger. He parried Dagger's reckless hacking with polished, refined blows. Dagger jumped back, nearly suffering a mark twin to the one that rested on her collarbone.
The battled waxed; Dagger's patience diminished. A kill never took this long, be it magic or mundane. The atmosphere, highly-wrought with magic, was taking its toll on her. In a battle between the two opposing forces, the mundane always tired it was true, even for a fighter as skilled as Dagger.
Egan waited for an opening, then grabbed Dagger by the nape of the neck, drawing her close, and elbowing her in the stomach. Spots danced in front of her eyes as she clutched her gut, trying not to vomit. Egän's plated armor served for quite the substitute for a weapon! Dagger tried to catch her breath, for any senses to awaken in her.
The Edge began to slip from her hand, but Dagger quickly gripped it again, regaining her senses. She did not hesitating to rush toward Egän, unleashing all of her power. He matched ever move of hers without much effort, as if he knew every single one. A strong kick in the back of the head sent Dagger crashing to the ground. Eg(n picked her up, flinging her into a tree with satisfying force. She could not move nor breath, once again feeling magic in the blows of her enemy.
Egän moved toward her with confident strides, and Dagger knew that her life was at an end. She closed her eyes, trying to hide the sudden tears. ".I expect no mercy."
Her adversary moved in close, bending down next to her. "And I expect to give you none." Dagger did not see what Egän did, but one minute his hand was up, and the next, the Edge of Acrimony was in it. Egän sighed. "I am sorry to have to do this to you, Dagger."
She remembered no more. The last thing that Dagger saw was the man named Egän, his face seeming somber. He whispered something to himself, and a sudden tempest escaped from his mouth. It was nothing more than a wisp at first, thronging Dagger's head. The tendril of violet effluence fogged her eyes, causing them to burn. Her eyes teemed with tears as she tried to recoil from the smoke, vainly. Egän had bound her with the one power he had over her: magic. Dagger was defeated by her worst fear. She jerked her head uncontrollably, thrown into seizures by the strange miasma. Seeing this, Egän fought back, opening his mouth wider, willing the dark blanket free. It was like being ensnared within oblivion, but without the wonderful endless pain that accompanied it. The uncertainty of what would happen was worse than a thousand millennia in the deepest pit of oblivion.

All of a sudden, Dagger began to cough. She wheezed and gasped uncontrollably, hiccupping for breath. The purple vapor continued to slide down her throat, flooding her nostrils, seeping into her eye sockets.
"Give it up, Dagger!" Egän commanded, more out of pity than anger.
It was then Dagger realized that there was only one way she could fight off the mist, lest it kill her. Slowly, she closed her eyes, allowing the putrid fumes to encircle her entire body. She became limp, numb; her mind was nearly nonexistent. Thoughts blurred into each other. Dagger became lost within her own psyche, drifting through her own diminishing consciousness. She tried to call out to someone, for any soul there to rescue her, but her voice seemed to vanish. Dagger let go of it all: the pain, the torture, and the lies. It all skittered away from her, so that her head was completely empty. It was one of the best feelings in the world. It was the feeling she wanted to sleep with.
Gradually, her head began to nod, her body beginning to wilt. Every single extremity and loin went numb, and she toppled over. It took all of Dagger's might to open her eyes and scan the area. Egän was nowhere in her vision, and the miasma was dissipating slowly.
Dagger felt her eyes shut again, the miasma disappearing from sight. Life itself began to slip away. The forests of Corona Haven receded, and Dagger fell into a deep, dark, submissive slumber.