Monday, 21 July 2008

Bite of the Cobra

It had been nearly three hours since my man had entered the tavern. I had heard the cheers of his arrival from the shadows. Even now I could still hear the drunk’s terrible singing and the whore’s wicked laughter.
Many in my position would have been in there already. Warm and dry, contentedly drinking some ale and lying low in a corner somewhere waiting for the time required. Those who took that step were fools and all fools in this business never get the chance to make the same mistake twice. I was far better at this job than most.
So there I was, one cold and wretched night earning my way in the world. Though the rare few knew about my role in society and those who do are quick to deny it. I wrapped my cloak around me for further warmth pinning it against me with my clenched, gloved hands. My mind was already preparing the next step when at a most convenient time he finally emerged from the tavern. As I had predicted a whore or two still clinging to him, probably hoping for a warm bed that night instead of rags. I wasn’t too concerned about the whore being with him, the more practice for me was my view on things.
He was the typical type that I had been sent after. Proud, rich, popular and always full of himself. I followed him away from the tavern and into the centre of town towards the market place. I could still catch phrases whilst he continued his drunken boasts to the whore he had chosen. Each word he uttered rattled me; my daggers were desperate to whip out his tongue with anger. Maybe that’s why my colleagues often referred to me as the cobra. They all knew how good I was especially when angered.
He finally started passing through a darker and quieter part of town, away from the lights of the centre. My moment came when they walked up a dark side street in the direction of the upper quarters, hoping to be back within his richly decorated walls and fine furnishings. Ironically enough it was as he stooped to vomit that I plunged my dagger into her neck, her surprised gurgles made him think she was muttering disgust. When he stood close to up right again he found her lying face down on the floor and with his drunken perception presumed she had fainted. He actually attempted to lift her up which was quite humorous to me if to no one else. After several laborious minutes he finally gave in and turned around to meet a glistening dagger at his throat when I came up silently behind him. He froze as fear grasped him.
“Who…who are you?” he muttered.
“Not so high now are you Councillor.”
“What do you want? I have no gold on me.”
I laughed. “You would never have enough gold to satisfy me Councillor.” He attempted to turn his head but I held the dagger closer against his throat, he continued to remain motionless. “Now if you wouldn’t mind throwing away your sword over there please then we can be done with this.”
He did as he was told however reluctantly and just before his sword hit the ground so did he; two deep but clean slashes across his throat. I paused to listen but all was peaceful. I carried out my job, stripping him of all sellable possessions but as always I left my mark, two small level crosses engraved in his skin upon his chest.
***
“You sure he didn’t carry any gold C?” Jared asked me when I had returned to our den. He was busy rifling through the things I had collected roughly noting in his mind how much he could possibly sell them for.
“You know how thorough I am Jared so don’t doubt me.” I answered coolly back untying the dark cloak from my shoulders and hanging it on a blunt nail that stuck out of the rock wall.
I went across to my wardrobe and pulled out a small bottle of gin taking a quick swig before placing it back again.
“You never offer me any of that.” He complained loudly to himself.
I didn’t bother answering that remark. I took off my gloves and shoes and put on the ones that were in the wardrobe before picking out a dress and changing behind the large picture boards.
When changed I sat upon the old leather sofa I had managed to smuggle down to my lair and started cleaning and sharpening my daggers and sword. Whilst I wiped the blades back and forth with a piece of worn velvet cloth Jared came and sat opposite me upon an ancient rocking chair.
“They won’t fetch a lot but they may just sell for enough to repair your chest plate.” I instinctively looked towards the piece of armour that hung upon the wall beside my night cloak. Its dented form glistening in the candle light.
“I trust you know a metal smith who won’t ask any questions.”
“Oh yes.”
“Good.” I said in agreement holding one blade nearer a candle and inspecting for any small dents or cuts upon it. There was none. “No more job opportunities tonight?” I finally asked looking directly at my fellow under city companion. Noticing the snake green tint in his eyes.
“Not tonight no. But I will let you know if anyone contacts me with an offer.”
“Good remember to make it something worthwhile. All these assignations for rival councillors are starting to get boring. No matter how much they pay me for it.”
“I will remember that. Are you going back to the house then C?”
“Yes the housemaids should be asleep by now.”
“Very well watch your window for any news and I hope to see you again soon.”
“Goodnight Jared.” I finished opening a rusty metal door and ascending the damp stairs to the ground above, holding my red dress up to avoid marks that may cause suspicion.

Whilst out of business I had to be content with playing my cursed role of a Governors daughter, which bored me to death. Every morning I was surrounded by housemaids helping me dress, applying make up to my face turning me into a ghost. Then in the afternoon I was hounded by the towns eligible men all wanting to court me and of course not one of them was interested in me at all. They were all vain selfish aristocrats wanting nothing more but to enlarge their inheritance and that meant marrying me. All the other women of my age in this high society had already been married off, some happily and some not so happy with their match their parents chose for them. However I was lucky. I had made my father vow that I will only marry one I chose myself and he agreed to it on the condition they had to be of noble blood. Of course personally I was never going to marry; I enjoyed my privacy and my secret life too much to ever surrender it for anyone.
Well that was what I once believed until I met Guy. Guy of the Loimbards was his full term of address. The Loimbard’s gained their status due to the fact that they had great jewel mines across the country and so made their money off the back of slaves.
I first saw Guy at another boring dinner party and he immediately caught my attention. If only due to the fact that he seemed as bored as I did and when he found me alone day dreaming at the balcony one evening he did not talk about himself but enquired about me which was a rare thing in those days. He asked about my family, my childhood, my future plans as well as present. I returned by asking similar questions and we did more or less spend that whole evening discussing anything that came to mind from the towns politics to national affairs and even a bit of philosophy. He was very impressive and that night we agreed to meet again the following evening for tea and more lively discussion.
It was that night I saw the owl in the tree and was faced with a decision between social life and secret life. In the end I sent a messenger to the Loimbard mansion expressing my apologies but I am feeling unwell so pretending to be very tired I went to my room early that night. When I was sure no one was going to come and check on me I made my escape out of the window, my dress flapping in the breeze and made my way to my lair.
Jared quickly explained this was an odd job of sorts for instead of killing I was meant to watch the target against other assassins. Assassin against assassin was an extremely intriguing and unusual idea I thought but I agreed to it anyway.
For many hours I merely shadowed my target or I guess you could call him employer but I preferred to think of myself in this profession as my own boss. Watching him walk along the murky streets towards one of the more popular taverns in town. Now it was starting to get challenging as I could not just walk in there dressed as I am so I walked around the alley side of the tavern and watched from a distance through the windows. As usual whores of all kinds were flattering him and making lustful gestures but after several drinks he had enough and went to the back where the lavatories were. I quickly followed on the outside and found the small lavatory window open. Through this I watched him lean against the wall with one hand holding he penis with the other. No one else was in the room other than him.
Until one of the closet doors swung open and a figure quickly swung at him with a dagger which pierced my man straight through his neck. Blood sprayed against the wall in a fan like expression. I immediately slid through the window grabbing the other assassin’s arm and twisting it behind his back. His other hand attempted to swing behind to strike me but I was pinning his arm from a distance.
“Shall we take this outside?” I growled just before he began to seriously lash at me. Aware that it was unwise to start a battle with the bar only outside behind a corridor.
He merely nodded and stopped struggling. I foolishly let go and dashed back out the window again into the dark of the back yard. I hadn’t even turned around before he pounced on me pushing me to the ground. I fought back as best I could but he was sitting directly on top of my back so I could kick my legs as much as I wanted but I could not twist round or roll out from underneath him.
“Shall we make introductions?” he asked slyly. I knew what was coming next. He quickly ripped off my hat and tore off my mask scarf. There was nothing I could do but hope an assassin would respect a fellow assassin.
There was silence.
“Catharine?”
I was stunned. The way he said my name struck a nerve deep down inside of me. My attacker briskly got off me as if he was stung. I pulled myself up and just stared at him trying to work out who he was. Then surprisingly he took off his own mask.
“Guy?”
We both stood staring for seconds. Finally I cracked and started laughing. He was confused at first, then smirked and joined in.
That was nearly ten years ago now and life is never boring. Guy and I are happily married although to some it may be a marriage made in hell for we still go out at night to hunt in the darkness. We are now known as the Twin Cobra’s the deadliest of snakes.

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