Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not Afraid of the Shadows

Harvak closed the door behind him and stopped for a second, holding the candle into the room. He looked around the room which was illuminated only by the slowly flickering flame in his hand. 'You are getting paranoid, old dwarf' he thought to himself. Nobody could get into his private chambers without digging though tons of rock or half his guards! He went towards the rack where his ceremonial armour was hanging. What could the prince want? It had surely chosen a peculiar moment for his visit to Gilderock. Maybe the old fool just wanted to steal some of the laurels for opening the pass!
Harvak took off his battle armour and stopped again mid-movement to look towards the far corner. The shadow seemed darker than usual. Laughing at his fears, he announced "Hey shadow, I'm not afraid of you!"

"Sometimes you should be"

There was a perfect silence in the room for a while. Harvak stared hard into the corner but still could not make out anything unusual.
"Shadows can't speak. Identify yourself!"
"Shadows also don't have names!"
Clearly a female voice, he was sure. But not dwarfen as far as he could tell.
"Stop the games or I'll call the guards!"
He looked at the door which was only a few feet away
"For what? To attack a shadow?"
He now could make out a darker tall humanoid shape which had moved forward within the shadow. He looked at the axe lying on the table just out of his reach. If he stepped quickly...
"Now, now! Reaching for your axe would only bring this conversation to a quick end!"
"What do you want? Are you a messenger? Is it about a contract I paid for?"
"No" Harvak had the impression the voice almost sounded amused
"You did not pay for this visit. But I can assure you that the contract you have paid for will be fulfilled shortly after I've left!"
Harvak was stunned but finally understood.
"Would you at least be so kind and tell me who has paid for this visit then?"
"Unfortunately for you the other party wants to stay unmentioned as do you in our agreement."
"You can't make an exception and fulfill a dead dwarf's last wish?"
He thought he could see a smile where the face in the featureless shadow should be.
"In my line of work, granting last wishes would be a real hassle, don't you think?"
"Yes, I guess it could make your job more difficult."
He knew there would be no chance to fight it. The reputation of the guild he had paid was immaculate. You had to pay a high price for the guarantee that the job will be done perfectly. He had no misconceptions about his chance to walk out of this room alive.
"Will it be at least quick?"
"It always is"
He straightened up
"Would you allow me to put my armour on? It would be a disgrace for a dwarf to be found without metal on his body!"
"As you wish. I respect people who accept their death without begging. But be quick. You know I have another appointment and you wouldn't like me to miss it, would you?"
He smiled sourly and reached for his ceremonial armour. He didn't turn to face the assassin while he fastened the straps on the sides of his shimmering breastplate. He took the helmet and looked at it for a second while a few memories surfaced. He turned while he pulled the helmet down. And the world went black.

Niema caught the body and silently placed it on the ground. She looked at the bearded face of the dwarf. "My Queen, please take this soul and grant it entry!" It was not often that she met creatures that accepted their end with such dignity. She stood up and brushed down her black cloak. It also wasn't often that she got two contracts which have each other as target. Both wanted a reason to start a civil war to take full power. From what she heard in the markets that day, their wish for war will be fulfilled after tonight. But that was not her concern.
She left through the wall and made her way towards the prince's chambers. There was a chance that he would be as reasonable as Harvak. She respected Dwarfs. Dwarfs always accepted their fate when their time came. Humans never did. As respectful as some might have seemed, they all started begging in the end.

Passing two guards unseen she saw the outline of the prince in the next room. Two contracts fulfilled within minutes. Today was a good day.


  1. Hmmm....should we kill Niema next time we see her?

  2. Why does Niema come across as so much more efficient in her 'secret' life?
    Mendez' back stories always made him out to be merely lucky... and a bit stupid.