The Friend of Death


He closed his eyes and let the rain pour over his face and drench his clothes. He loved the rain. The sharp, cold feeling penetrated his skin and made him feel alive. He lay in wait crouched on the end of a gargoyle’s head and entered another world. It wasn’t too distant, but it helped him listen and see what wasn’t visible.

Voices and horses sounded in the distance. He opened his eyes enough to see their vague images through the rain and darkness below.

The toy sized horsemen began to move, and so did he. He ran along the housetops jumping from one to the other, trying to duck or roll every time lightning flashed.

His heart was already pounding through his chest. He ran ahead of them inching closer until he could see the carriage. No matter how many times he did this, he always hesitated. Time always slowed when he neared the edge, but just as the sky flashed white, he threw himself forward as hard and as fast as he could fall.

The part of him that had been holding back, that had been making him think he was already giving everything he had, broke loose. It was as if the floodgates had opened. His heart raced faster, and his senses heightened beyond their peak.

Landings were rarely graceful. The carriage slid and flipped spilling its contents while he tumbled along with it. The mud had softened the landing, but it clung to his clothes and made his movements sloppy. He felt as though his body may fall apart, but the excitement kept the pain at bay.

He almost fell while trying to stand in the torrents of mud and water. It was nearly impossible to see through the black mist and haze. Hearing was his only guide.

The horses kicked frantically, and the riders were just as disoriented. Muffled voices tried to break the barrier of the pouring rain. He heard the faint sound of a sword being drawn, and it made him smile.

Everything remained motionless in the darkness. It was difficult to take in the wet air, but he steadied his breathing. He knew that he was too inexperienced as a swordsman to fight against the three knights, but they still didn’t stand a chance. The darkness was his element, and what was a swordsman to a man who could kill without even coming near his target?

Streaks of light raced across the skies, and in that flash of a moment, he threw a blade through the air. A jolt of pain shot up his legs and tossed him backwards. He bit his tongue to keep from yelling out then kicked the corpse off of his legs and stumbled to his feet.

When he heard the horses, he realized that his two remaining targets planned to flee, but there would be no escaping. Doubt crept through his mind, but he reassured himself. None of his targets ever got away, and they were not about to be the first. One made the mistake of heading towards him. The horse stumbled over the carriage, and it slowed just enough for the assassin to tear the man from his beast. An easy kill.

The assassin fell backwards just as he watched a sword whizz over his head. The remaining knight was swinging wildly in the darkness in an attempt to find him. The assassin smiled and resisted the urge to laugh. It was an utterly vain attempt. Lighting flashed, and he saw the knight’s eyes just as the life began to slowly drain from them.

He panted and looked at his trembling, outstretched hand that had been holding a dagger only moments before. Thank God for his natural instinct to kill.

Lightning flashed, and for a moment, the streets were painted red before the rain washed them clean.

A dull ache emerged from his limbs and side. He remained crouched over the corpse of a knight while the cold rain sent shivers down his spine. His breathing finally steadied, and he stood and began dragging the dead man away from the carriage.

There were three of them. The fourth was their lord, and he had been crushed under the carriage. The assassin pulled their bodies to a pile just as the rain began to slack.

He looked up into the falling rain then closed his eyes as the piercing shards hit his face and ran down his neck. He didn’t know whether to be content or dissatisfied with nature. The rain made it more difficult to move, but it created darkness. And the darkness was his.

He took back his dagger from the man’s side and looked over each of their faces. An unfortunate habit. He shook his head and picked up the first dead man by under the arms.

Displaying his work had proved to be a challenge. There had barely been enough rope. The bodies hung in an uneven fashion over the side of the church just high enough for the people to see but not touch. The limp necks gave the illusion that he’d hung them. Only the pools of blood that dripped at their feet told a different story.

The storm had subsided, but thunder rolled in the distance to foretell its return. The cold air chilled his bones. He put his shoulders back and ignored the throbbing pain. His right arm was trembling. He stared at it and clenched his fist to get it to stop. Killing was not the difficult part. It was hanging up soggy, fat corpses with a wet rope.

Only a continual dripping disturbed the silence until the sound of pattering feet in the sludge and sharp gasps of fear made his muscles tense.


His heart sped to a vehement pace. He grabbed the handle of his blade and slowly began turning his head, but his hand fell to his side. His heart was still racing, but a sick feeling emerged from the pit of his stomach.

Street children.

A little boy hugged his sister tightly, and they were both so dirty that he could only see two pairs of shining blue eyes fixated on him. He let out a sigh just as the rope burns on his hands began throbbing. They had been watching him this whole time. He swallowed hard and looked down.

They would be fine. It was the worst sorts of things that made people stronger.

He carefully reached into the pouch at his side and felt a silver coin between his fingers. He turned to face them completely and watched the terror form on their faces before flicking the coin in their direction. Their faces transformed as it spun in the air and landed in a puddle not far from them.

Before they could notice, the assassin disappeared.

He peered down at them from the top of a building as they carefully looked around for him then crawled forward to rummage through the mud.

The children turned the money in their hands with wide eyes then looked at each other with bright faces.

A smile pulled on the assassin’s lips.

Yes, it was wrong. Deeds done in secret, whether good or bad, were not supposed to trigger emotion, but how could any man help feeling satisfied when he killed, or warm and soft when he helped the helpless?

The children glanced up then fled away out of the assassin’s sight to escape the shadows of the hanging dead men.

He felt a tiny pang of guilt and was nearly compelled to follow them, but before he could decide, they were gone.

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