The darkness was Riovynn's friend. He hugged the shadows like a king would hug a crown, or a drunkard, his tank of ale. Like the king's crown, the shadows were what made Riovynn what he was, and like the drunkard's flagon, the shadows turned him into something else entirely.
He wasn't a man anymore. He was a shadow. He was indistinguishable from the dark, and he avoided the silvery glow of the moon like it was a roaring fire, and he was chaff.
As he snuck through an empty hall, Riovynn cursed himself. And cursed him. The Emperor. The one who had stolen his freedom and forced him into service for the the empire. He hated the empire. Not out of any sense of morality or principle, but because it was his captor.
But there is nothing you can do Riovynn thought. Now stay focused on the task at hand, or the Emperor will be more than just your master, he will become your executioner.
At last Riovynn came to the inner chamber. He had been watching Duke Huimor for a fortnight, sent by his master to discover where the Duke's allegiance lay. If Huimor was loyal to the empire then Riovynn was to return and the Duke would never know he had been under surveillance. But he discovered that the Huimor was a supporter of the rebellion, then he would find himself outside the unfortunate Duke's bedchamber, poised to put his support to an end.
Two guards were stationed on either side of the door. Riovynn gave them credit, they both awake and fully alert, even at this late hour. It would make his job trickier.
But it wouldn't enough to save them.
He drew a knife and launched it the guard on the left. The only sound was the small thump as the dagger found it's target. The dead guard was being propped up by the wall behind him, and the pole-arm that he held in a rigor mortis grip.
Fifteen thought Riovynn.
A wind blew through the room, causing several of the curtains to flutter. The motion drew the attention of the second guard, and Riovynn took the opportunity to dart forward and jerk his neck in a a direction it was intended to go. The guard went limp and Riovynn lowered him to the ground.
He recovered his dagger from the first guard's chest and turned his attention to the chamber doors.
He gave one a slight push. No sound. They had been well oiled, and swung smoothly as he opened them just wide enough for him to slip his wiry frame in. The assassin quietly pulled up a chair besides the bed and sat down in it. After a moment, he gave a small cough.
He hated killing people in their sleep.
The duke woke with a start and looked around the room. His eyes passed right over Riovynn several times without registering his presence. Huimor groped around on his nightstand for a candle which Riovynn handed him. He also passed him the flint and tinder set.
"Thank you" muttered the duke. He stuck the two together and with a spark, the candle flared to life. The duke glanced at Riovynn, and nearly dropped the candle in surprise.
"Guards!" He shouted.
"Sixteen" said Riovynn. "Not a bad number, but not quite enough."
"You killed...? W-who are you? Why are you here? Why haven't you killed me?"
"I am here to simply send a message" Riovynn said calmly.
The duke seemed to relax at this, "Oh. Well... I don't see why you needed to kill my guards to do so. What is the message?"
Riovynn chuckled softly as he flicked his wrist and flourished the dagger that he now held in his hand.
"You my dear duke. You are the message."
Nobody was awake to see Riovynn leave the castle, which was very fortunate for them. As he made his way back to his small camp in the forest, Riovynn let his thoughts wander back to his imprisonment. He wasn't a slave persay, he could leave whenever he wished. But the Emperor wouldn't just let him go. Not now. When Riovynn escape, and he would escape, he would need protection. Not even his skill could hold off all of the Dark Lord's agents and nightmares. He would have to think about it more. Those who said that ignorance was bliss, were ignorant as to the the true nature of ignorance. Ignorance was death.
But to some, Riovynn thought, death might very well be the best option they have. So ignorance would bliss after all.
The sun rose and with it, rose screams of horror; as the nobles of the court woke to find sixteen corpses laying about the castle. A few of the bolder nobles charged into the Duke Huimor's room. What they saw, was enough to sicken all of them.
When Riovynn said that the duke was the message, he had meant it in more ways than one, for on the wall, written using the Duke's own blood and intestine, was a message for all those who dared oppose the empire.
Riovynn foresaw a loss in Resistance support in the near future.