The soft sound of fabric against the steel of a dagger was music to Garin's ears. He pulled the soft cloth against the freshly oiled dagger, and upon making certain the blade was clean, he slid it back into its leather sheath. He tucked the oil and cloth away, then finally took in the view of the landscape around him. It was dark, and well past nightfall. He'd waited quite a while for the lights of the neighbors' homes to disappear, and especially for the home directly ahead of him. There would be a death here tonight, and in a few days he would be paid. Then, he would finally be able to take Javik out for drinks.
He stashed away the small pack he carried with him under the roots of the bush to his left before pulling the snug black scarf that lay around his neck up and over his nose in order to cover his face. He would grab his pack on the way back. He removed his cloak then, and after rolling it into a ball, left it with the pack. He stood then, tall, and thin. Unlike a few of his brothers of the guild, he needn't wear anything to cover his head, as his hair was as black as the moonless night itself, and wouldn't reflect any light.
Silently, he made his way down to the small house before him, as he'd grown too impatient to wait for the lights to be put out. She obviously was home, and dawdling wouldn't help him any at all. He made his way to a window where he checked the shutters.
'She trusts too easily..' He thought as the shutters opened easily, and without a sound. Slowly, he peered over window's sill and into the woman's home. He didn't know her name, nor anything about her, other than what The Order had told him. She was the concubine of the king… his favorite, or so was recorded… but the king was to be wed, and he wanted all of the concubines killed. That was easy enough. Concubines weren't exactly difficult adversaries, but they did have their wiles.
The window had opened to a hallway, and he watched as she passed, cradling a cup in both hands. He thought he heard her sniffle. Did he? Did she? She was out of view, so he couldn't tell. Still, he waited until it was quiet, and he began to climb through the window. He hadn't even heaved himself onto the sill when a loud exclamation arose from inside the house.
Faster than lightning, he'd disappeared from the window, and had moved to the other side of the house, heart pounding. He'd thought she'd seen him, but as he thought better about it, he had to stifle a groan.
'It was a sneeze… I am way too tense right now.' Quietly, he made his way back to the window where he had been watching her in the first place. The lights were still on and he could vaguely see her pacing back and forth in that room. She sniffled loudly, looking as though she were breathing the warmth of her tea in through a clogged nose. He sighed heavily, trying to stay quiet and sneak up on her the best he could. Finally, she turned around and he was able to swiftly make his move.
In through the window when she was not looking, he made it up behind her and grabbed her, making her drop her tea cup onto the hardwood flooring.
She couldn't scream, his hand was over her mouth, the dagger tip right under her chin. Garin already knew what her expression would be, he could hear it in her breathing, she was clearly shocked. This would be easy, he had her right where he wanted her and - no. She didn't just... she did. She licked his hand. Shocked and disgusted, Garin pulled his hand away, while also pulling the dagger and himself away from her body. The former concubine turned around and glared at him, big tears in her eyes.
"What are you doing?!" She screamed, "Have you come to kill me?"
Garin said nothing, staring at her with rage in his eyes.
"I know what you are!" She continued, then coughed loudly into her fist. "You're an assassin! Well guess what? You can't kill me!"
"Why the heck not?!"
"I'm pregnant!" She said this almost proudly.
Even if he wanted to kill her, it would be hard to now. Not only was she pregnant, but he had seen her face, and that was something he hated to do. He knew that if he killed her, that face would probably haunt him the rest of his life. He cleared his throat and wiped the woman's disgusting saliva on his black breeches, then he looked her up and down, his expression masked by the scarf covering all but his blue-gray eyes.
"You don't look pregnant." He said finally, knowing it didn't matter if she looked pregnant or not. The Order was made up of hundreds of assassins, all receiving their bounties from the Whisperers, and the Whisperers received the list of bounties from the Listeners, who would do just that… they would listen for bounties. There were only two Listeners he knew of whose names were known among the public. Sinera, who owned a farm outside of the city of Hernell in a neighboring kingdom, and then there was Garvatt, who was more local. A set of strict rules were put in place in order to keep assassins from being too reckless, and to keep The Order from being liable for any blame if a loved one was killed.
One of these rules was that if any woman with a bounty is, is perceived to be, or might otherwise possibly be pregnant, the child was considered an innocent. Innocent people were absolutely never to be killed. If the bounty was not for them, they would not be harmed… it was as simple as that. Only, Garin hadn't been faced with this problem before.
"It has only just come to my attention! Obviously though, someone suspects… is that not why you have come for me? Very well, I will tell my king, who loves me dearly, and has bought me such a fine house! I will tell him of this, and those who pay you will be killed!"
'She stands tall… for a short, loud woman.' He mused. Still, it didn't matter how long it took. His job was to kill her, and he couldn't get out of that. He slid the dagger back into its sheath, and glanced around the room for a scarf of some sort. He would try to avoid removing his own, as he didn't yet feel comfortable allowing her to see his face.
"How do you know of our rules concerning… pregnancies?" He asked while he pilfered through her things in search of a scarf.
"I hear things…" She replied, and Garin noticed how her eyes never left him, yet she made no move to escape.
"I see." He closed the last drawer nearby, having found the scarf he desired. It was a beautiful deep blue, and made of the finest of silks. "A gift from your king, no doubt?" He smiled, though she couldn't see, and in a swift movement he was behind her again, and was tying the gag around her head, then he used a small rope in his pocket to bind her hands before picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder. "The gag is for licking me."
She kicked and flailed haphazardly over his shoulder, squealing through the gag. Every so often she would cough horribly, but it wasn't coming all that easily with the gag in her mouth. Garin put out all of the lights and carried her quickly out of the house, just wishing that she would be quiet.
Not long after Garin wished for her to be quiet, she did silence herself, probably worn out by flailing so much. All he could hear was heavy breathing from exhaustion. He heard an occasional groan or what sounded like talking, but she couldn't really speak all that well with a gag in her mouth, and he was growing tired of carrying her for so long.
Garin dropped her on the ground, allowing his shoulder to rest. The girl couldn't get up and he assumed she was glaring at him in the dark, which he couldn't see very well. "What? Do you have something to say?"
"Mmmph!" She protested, but Garin only laughed.
"I bet you are wondering where I am taking you."
Garin chuckled and turned away to find his cloak and pack in the bush he'd dropped them in earlier that evening. Once he found them, he turned around to see her trying to wiggle away.
"Where do you think you're going?" He laughed silently, "You aren't going to get very far like that. Listen..." He approached her, crouching down next to her and cupping her chin in his palm so she would make eye contact with him. "If you're really good, I'll let you walk."
"Mmphm?!" Her voice, though the words were unintelligible, sounded extremely hopeful.
"Yes, really." He grinned, though she wouldn't be able to see past the scarf covering his face. "But that means no more yelling, or attempting to get away. I am taking you home with me, where you will be safe from harm until your baby comes. If you escape me though, and the royal assassins find you, well… they are not part of The Order, and telling them you're pregnant will ensure your death, and that of your baby… do you understand?"
She nodded slowly, he saw. "Mm mmphmhm!"
He sighed, wondering if it were really necessary to be any sort of civil with her… she was his mark, his target. Also, a woman, and if he'd let her she would scream or talk until his ears would fall off. Still, he wasn't allowed to let her stay with anyone else. He knew the rules well, and in order to keep track of her, a room in his home would need to be given to her.
He reached out and removed her gag first, but to his surprise she didn't say anything at first. He took hold of her arms and helped her to her feet so that she could walk. "Make any move to leave me, and your walking privileges are over." He said, voice somewhat muffled through his scarf.
"I understand, goodness." The woman replied, sighing heavily.
After that, she was silent for a long time, following him closely as he made his way back home. Home was almost a city… it had walls surrounding it, and some sort of guards. It was the general home of The Order and their assassins… few people ever visited it, and they were right to steer clear of it.
It was an hour before she next spoke. "I need to pee."
"Now?" Garin growled, having already become annoyed by her incessant coughing and sneezing.
"Yes, now." She replied, voice laced with irritation. "I have held it as long as I can! Do you think I relish the thought of peeing with someone watching me? Do you think that makes me happy?! Peeing in front of my murderer, how wonderful!"
"I'm not a murderer." He replied irritably., then untied the rope which bound her hands. He had almost expected her to try and escape, but instead she found a place behind a tree to do her business without him watching her. Seconds later she walked back out and looked at him impatiently.
"Are you going to tie me back up?" She asked.
"That depends, are you going to follow me willingly?"
"I'd be insane, but I can't exactly run away... I know this is strange, but perhaps I should introduce myself since I'm going willingly?"
"That's not necessary." Garin said.
"My name is Nadia!" She followed him when he began to walk again. He really couldn't care less what her name was, or why she would even bother telling him. Garin just wanted to get back home and hide her away for... wait, how far along was she? He hadn't even thought of the time that would go into this. Not to mention the effort, but he didn't really have a choice.
"I didn't ask to hear your name." Garin huffed. "How far along are you?"
"You don't care about my name, but you care how far along I am?" Nadia skipped a little to keep up with him. "Why?"
"You don't understand what my job entails me to do. I have to wait for your baby to be born before I can kill you."
"Oh, I know that."
"How do you know that?" Garin asked, he was growing irritated, and he quite missed how silent she once was.
"I like to read." Nadia replied, flipping her hair with the back of her hand. "I learn a lot of interesting things when I read."
"That figures." Garin sighed.
To Be Continued...