Chapter Four: Tales of the Night

Ryanon stood in front of the table with her arms crossed over her chest, not really caring what the other assassins thought. There was just simply no way she was going to do this job, at least not the way they wanted her to do it.

Karlen and Kieran stared at her.

"This has got to be lowest of the low jobs and you know it," Ryanon hissed.

"Masse is not protesting it, at all," Kieran said, gesturing to the other female assassin who was staring at Ryanon with a giant smile. Ryanon really could not stand Masse; she was too much of a princess.

"And it will be good for the two of you to work together," Karlen pointed out. "You have been working with Dak way too much and it would do you some good to broaden your horizons."

Ryanon snorted.

Kirean smiled. "Besides, we are hardly taking a cut in the pay and you could get all of those books and stuffed animals that you have been eyeing."

Now, that was rather tempting. Ryanon did not have a lot interests, but books and stuffed animals were another story. She could spend all day in her room, hugging a stuffed animal and reading a good book. She also had a guilty pleasure for films, but that was neither here or there.

Besides, Kirean wasn't supposed to distract her from getting out of this ridiculous job.

Ryanon marched over to the table and banged her fist on it. "No, you listen here. I am not to be used like this. I am not going to be a bloodily courtesan!"

"It's really not a bad job, plenty of money," Masse said, examining a fingernail. "Plenty of young men and women do it and they seem pretty happy to me."

Ryanon just snorted. "Again, why do you want me to work with that?" She pointed at Masse.

Masse's eyes narrowed. "Just remember that I could kill you."

"You'd have to beat me, because I'll kill you first."

Karlen stood up. "That's enough!" She banged her fist on the table so loudly that Ryanon jumped. "Now, you two are going to do this job with each other and I don't want to hear another word about it."

Masse smiled sweetly at Ryanon. "I'll behave myself if she does." Her voice was oddly sweet and pleasant, but licked with an iciness that made Ryanon want to choke her.

Karlen raised an eyebrow at Ryanon. "Ryanon?"

"Fine," she spat. "This doesn't mean that I like it."

"Well, now that we have that all settled, you two are free to go." Karlen waved her hand at them.

Ryanon stormed out of the room without even bothering to hold the door open for Masse. She really hoped that it hit her in the face and bruised her precious face.

"Ryanon." Azur smirked at her as she passed him.

She huffed at him.

"Well, now, who got you your wrong side?" The twenty something assassin leaned against the wooden wall, his body still shone with sweat from his recent workout. He was, what Ryanon supposed, charming, but he just didn't know when to stop pushing someone, which really did make him one of the deadest assassins here.

"Where's Kitt?" Ryanon asked.

Azur ran a hand through is thick hair. "He's still running."

"Figures," Ryanon muttered, leaning against the wall. "So, what about you? How's life been treating you?"

"It would be better if I could get some work." He smiled. "Apparently, I'm not the most humane assassin out there, but I didn't think we were humane anyway."

"Got ya." She stared off into space.

Azur gently grabbed her chin, slowly tilting it upwards so she was staring into his soft eyes. "You know that I could give you more fun than Dak, don't you? I could be a better partner than he ever could. He just doesn't see your talents."

Ryanon leaned into his touch. "And what could you give me?" She ran her hand down his thick arm. "Could you give me all the riches in the world?"

He smiled. "Yes, I could and more. You wouldn't ever have to work again. I could give you a life of leisure."

"Is that what you think I want?" she whispered in his ear. "Do you think that I want to take the easy way out?"

Azur's laughter tickled the back of her neck. "No, you don't seem like that kind of girl."

"That's right and don't you forget that." She turned and started to walk away.

"Where are you going?"

Ryanon smiled down at him from the landing. "I have a duke to kill, haven't you heard? Scout, I guess." She moved her head to the side. It would be good to take care of her other job though...She had been putting it off for far too long.

Azur shook his head. "It's always about work with you, isn't it?"

Ryanon just flashed him a smile.

Upstairs in her room, Ryanon opened her closet, staring at it with her hands on her hips. Now, she was going to be in one of the roughest areas of town, far rougher than the slum pubs she was used to. The harbour was one of the most dangerous places in Skalavik. She had to look good, but at the same time, be able to quickly get away from anything.

She reached into her closet and pulled out a simple red dress. It would hit her at the knee, which still gave her plenty of room to hide weapons. Plus, if she paired it with tall boots that would give her even more room. She knew that it was something that she could run in as well. She held it up in front of herself and stared into the mirror. It was the perfect fit with her earth features.

She pulled her brown hair out of its braid. It would be really nice to know where and who she got her features from, but there was just simply no way to find out. She had been in Karlen's and Kieran's care since she was three. Before that, it had just been her and her brother on the streets.

She laid the dress out on her bed. Yes, this would get the job done. Besides, it wasn't like she was going to be killing the duke tonight. There was too much studying yet to. The timing just had to be right.

No, she would be killing a lord. Something that Masse didn't know.

She stared down at Karlen's notes again. "Lord Lowis Goldspire," she whispered. "Cheating on your wife while you were supposed to be at court meetings. You really were foolish enough to think that the rest of the court would cover for you." She shook her head. "Ah, men really are that foolish."

There was a knock on her door.

"Just a minute."

Masse huffed on the other side. "I am not waiting on you to make yourself beautiful, because we all know that is never going to happen."

Ryanon rolled her eyes as she stuffed one final knife under her dress. She did have swords, but knives were her choice method of killing and poison. There was something about killing a human with a sword that just wasn't honourable. A knife just made it all that much more personable. Poison made it easier to get away with murder though. Plus, knives and poisons were a lot easier to hid than a sword.

She ripped open the door. "Let's go and don't you dare slow me down."

Masse snorted. "I think you will be the one slowing me down." She looked Ryanon up and down, wrinkling her nose up. "Is that really what you're wearing?"

Ryanon stomped past her. "Come on."

The two young woman made their way out of the guild, snaking through the slums. Tonight, Skalavik's finest people were out. The werewolves and vampires stood outside every pub, staring at everyone. Though the claws weren't out now, Ryanon was sure that they soon would be. These weren't even the wildest of the breed, which was kind of the scary part. The wildest kind would come out on the next full moon.

The drug lords smiled as people approached them, their gold bags jiggled; while courtesans looked on, hoping for some kind of a job.

And like always, the cameras seemed to be looking the other way. There was too much nobility out and a scandal was something the court did not want.

Masse smiled as men from all walks of life approached her and whispered naughty things in her ear, to which she would laugh at and run her hand up their arm. Ryanon just sent these men a death glare whenever they approached her.

The crowds grew thicker and rougher the closer they got to Srilurk Landing. The edges of Nikirs Ocean were filled with ships as they prepared for an upcoming Market Day, which was still months away. Ryanon and Masse fought their way through the thick crowds, while keeping an eye out for soldiers and cameras. There were too many riches here tonight for them to be left unguarded.

"There," Ryanon hissed in Masse's ear. "Look to your left."

Masse's eyes shifted. Duke Wymond Cragshield was standing in front of pub, laughing with men who he wouldn't be caught dead with had he been sober. "Should we move?"

Ryanon's eyes shifted around. She nodded. "Remember, we can't spill blood here tonight. There's too many vampires out." She wasn't about to let Masse do the job without her. Masse didn't know the vampires who were out tonight would not come after blood.

Masse simply nodded, not giving Ryanon any lip.

They made their way toward the duke, doing their best to play the role of courtesans. Ryanon frowned and fought the urge to stab the next man in the throat who touched her.

Masse cursed under her breath. "We've got company." She pointed to a stack of barrels where three young men were lounging and laughing. "They really do need to work on their disguises."

Ryanon's eyes shifted over to Prince Vicar Morninghelm, Lord Tyon Cragshield, and Captain Dak Morninghelm. All three of them had a drunken look in their eyes. She shook her head. Dak should know better, but it was clear that his mind was on other things, as his eyes kept shifting to every young maiden how passed in front of them. "Sneaking out of the castle will not get them any points," Ryanon muttered to Masse.

Masse stared at Dak. "What should we do?"

"We are here for the duke, not them, and the duke is on the move again."

Masse looked through the thick crowds. "Where did he go?"

Ryanon nodded to a falling down pub with that was in the shape of a pirate's hat. She had also seen the lord heading in this direction. Tonight could not get any better.

Masse gulped. "Why did he pick there?"

Ryanon grabbed Masse and stared pulling her toward it. "Because it has the best courtesans. Everyone knows that."

They slipped into the pub and sat down at a back table.

"Where is he?" Masse hissed. "You told me he was here."

Ryanon held her finger up to her lips. "Actually, we're not after the duke tonight."

Masse's mouth dropped. "I thought that's what Karlen sent us here for."

"She didn't tell you about the other part. Now, go play with the boys. I see some sailors making eyes at you. I have work to do."

Masse's eyes shifted to the sailors in question. "I'm only doing this, because they are cute." She got to her feet and walked off like a lovely swan.

Now that she was gone, it was time to get ready for the real job.

It didn't take long for the half drunken Lord Lowis Goldspire to stumble through the door, laughing with rather harsh looking group of sailors. The lord's eyes darted around the pub, looking at the courtesans.

Ryanon moved from her place in the shadows, settling into a seat close to the stairs. She carefully pulled off her cloak and adjusted her dress in a least modest manner. She placed her legs so that a little bit of skin was exposed, but so the dagger on her leg remained hidden.

The lord's eyes briefly landed on her as he made his way to the bar.

Ryanon gave him a small smile as he dumped a pile of gold on the oak surface and ordered up another round of drinks for everyone. She just did not understand how people like him could drink like that whenever there were bad things out there.

"Aren't you a pretty thing?" the lord whispered as he sat an ale down in front of her. "A pretty thing like you should not be out here all by herself."
Ryanon batted her eyelashes in the way she knew drove men mad. "Why don't you fix that?" She ran her hand down his fat chest, smiling as if she was actually enjoying doing it. "We could upstairs and get to know each other." She dropped her voice with each word. "Do you know what I mean?"

The lord gagged on as his ale as he nodded. He offered a thick hand out to her. "I always keep a room here, you know. I can't have the wife find out about this."

Ryanon took his hand. "Well, we can't let her get in the way of our little game."

The lord ran his chubby hand along her face. "That was just what I was thinking."

Ryanon allowed the lord to lead her up the ancient stairs. If only he knew that, he was playing a game with a devil.

He stopped outside a door that was the furthest away from any of the others. He pulled a large, brass key out from his tunic and slowly opened the door. "After you, my lady."

Ryanon stepped through the door. Sure, the room was large, but that wasn't the first thing she noticed. In the corner, there was a large window. She walked slowly over to it and stared down at the trash-ridden street. Her eyes scanned the rooftops. No cameras.

"I know the view is not the best," the lord said as he put his arms around her waist. "However, the bed is lovely."

Ryanon gave him a smile as he started to nuzzle her neck. Men were such pigs. "Why don't we go try it out?"

Lord Lowis Goldspire led her over to the bed. Ryanon pulled out a blindfold and offered it him. He laughed. "Well, I do like the way you think," he said as he allowed her to blindfold him.

Ryanon smiled as she ran one hand down his stomach while the other reached for her knife. "Tell me, my lord, does your wife know that you're here?"

The lord laughed. "No, she thinks that I'm at a meeting. Oh, she is so stupid."

Ryanon fingered her knife. "And what would she do to you if she found out?"

"She'd probably kill me."

"I see." Ryanon bent her face close to the lord's. "Tell me something."

"Anything," the lord breathed.

"Do you like pain?"

The lord's laughter filled the room. "Oh, sweetheart, I knew you were a wild one the moment I laid eyes on you. Give it to me!"
"Well, if I must." Ryanon raised the knife above her head before driving it into the lord's chest.

Lord Lowis Goldspire did not even have time to cry out before his life left him.

Ryanon quickly climbed off him, wiped her knife clean on his tunic, and turned to the window. She gave the dead lord one final look over before disappearing out the window.

Masse could find her own way back home.