Chapter 10: Compatibility (part four)

The pair had had a day to work out their plan for getting into the castle, and carrying out the assassination. They constantly turned to Lieran as they brainstormed and plotted, hoping to get some sign of approval from their teacher, but he gave them nothing, simply listened and nodded his understanding. When they had finally settled on their overall idea, the guild master set about gathering the supplies and items they’d need to carry out their scheme. Or rather, the single item they decided they’d need: a dress for Eira. They talked through a few contingencies, named meeting places in case things went wrong or the group was separated, and scoped out the town several times to get a feel for the place.

The two younger assassins were full of nervous energy, and when night fell, Lieran had to all but force them to go to bed, or at least make them lay in their beds, as was the case. The taller assassin had no trouble falling asleep, and in the calm, quiet dark, the two newest members finally fell into slumber.

They were up early the following day, though their plan wouldn’t take place until the early evening. The group had a few friendly sparring session to loosen up and spent the rest of the time re-hashing their plan until they could recite it backwards. Having a little bit of down time, Racieus just lay in his bed for a while, staring up at the ceiling until he sat up with a start, remembering the black box he had brought. His two teammates weren’t in the room, which the halfling thought was good. For one thing, he didn’t want to be questioned about the item, for another, in case he was questioned, he wanted to know as much about it as he could. He pulled it from his knapsack, and set it on the bed.

As he had already discovered, the box was all black, with ornate gold designs along the sides. There was a symbol in the exact center of the box’s lid, and for some reason, it caught Racieus attention. The halfling stared at the symbol for a long while, something about it seeming very familiar, yet very… far away. Some part deep inside of him clamored in recognition, but Racieus just couldn’t place it, he didn’t know what he was recognizing. The small assassin finally gave up trying to make sense of the symbol, and reached for the lid to open it, wen he heard steps in the hall. He shoved the small container back into his bag, and lay down before the door to the room opened and in came Lieran and Eira.

Finally, mercifully, the sun began to set, and the small group left their room quietly, their next stop: The Castle of Zadoc Basillio. There was a path that branched right off the main road and led straight through the tall iron fence that bordered the ground all the way up to the high walls and looming towers of the castle. The building was rectangular, with four large towers extending up from the already massive building. Each was topped with an observation post, and while Racieus couldn’t deny the large line of sight that anyone on the tower would have, he wondered how the soldiers were able to see from way up there.

The group pulled up just outside the gate, exchanging silent looks, and after sharing a quick nod, they began to move. Lieran disappeared inside the gate and Eira pulled a small bundle off her back. She unfurled it, handed it to Racieus, and then spun around so the halfling could help her put it on. The garment was huge, nearly large enough to fit two people in it, and that was precisely what the two young assassins had in mind. Eira bent down, and Racieus zipped the back of the dress, then began to silently count in his head. The guild master had asked for two minutes before his two students continued with the plan.

When he reached zero,Racieus nodded to his companion and the girl lifted her dress up so the halfling could duck under it, turn around, and situate himself. Eira allowed the dress to fall back down, adjusting it to be sure that Racieus didn’t show. “Ready?” she whispered.

“Yes. Count us off.”

Murmuring quietly so that the two could keep an even pace, Eira guided the halfling through the gate and up the path to the enormous gate of the castle. They started to enter when a guard stepped in front of them, forcing the pair to halt. The two were instantly set on edge, until the guard lifted his visor and to reveal a familiar face. Lieran winked and moved aside, allowing the young assassins to make their way inside. As the passed their teacher, the halfling began to count once again, keeping tack of the alloted amount of time that all three had to get into their positions.

Eira waded into a crowd of people, and it was here that Racieus slipped out, still counting in his head. He knew, as did his female counterpart, that none of them could be the slightest bit off in their timing, because nobody would wait up for them. The halfling wondered what would happen if the position of his target shifted at the last minute. He couldn’t imagine that he’d be able to wait, his comrades would kill and the alert would be raised. He would just have to be prepared for any situation, for making a kill in plain sight was a last resort only. He prayed their distraction would be enough to draw as much attention away from the crowds of people as possible.

Once in the sea of people, nobody paid the halfling any attention, in fact very few of them even knew that he was there, being as small as he was in a crowd of much taller folks. He searched quickly and thoroughly as he moved through the groups of people, looking for the man who was his target. He had been given a description and an artist’s rendition of the man, so he knew more or less who was to look for. A tall man, even by human standards, with fair skin, and coal black hair. Assuming their sources were correct, the man also was keen on ridiculous manipulations of his facial hair. After a minute or two of looking, someone caught the halfling’s eye, but it wasn’t the target.

It was another halfling, but that wasn’t all that was remarkable about the creature. On his livery was emblazoned the very same mark that was on Racieus’ box. The mission was suddenly second priority, and the small assassin changed directions to head for the mysterious halfling, but he didn’t get far. Racieus’ quarry noticed he was being approached, but when his eyes locked with his pursuer, they grew very wide. A couple walked between the two small folk, and the small assassin looked on in astonishment after the man and woman had passed. The other halfling was gone. Racieus was about to give chase when a large stained glass window shattered, followed up quickly by another window on the opposite side collapsing in the same manner.

That was the signal, and the small assassin had no idea where his target was. He broke into a run through the crowd, desperately searching for the tall fair-skinned man who he was supposed to kill, but his heart sank and he nearly collapsed in a heap when he heard the first few screams fill the large ballroom. The halfling made for the exit, cursing himself over and over, but he realized there was nothing more he could at this point, without risking capture, or worse. Retreating into his head, Racieus was no longer looking up as he ran, and it wasn’t long before he collided with an astonished party guest. The halfling almost burst out laughing at the man, due partly to the look on his face, but also at the man’s moustache. He had no facial hair to speak of on his chin, but his moustache was tailored to grow right into large patches of dark black hair on either side of his face, and these patches grew right into the man’s voluminous sideburns.

Racieus started to excuse himself, but then he blinked as he looked harder at the man. The picture he had been shown had portrayed a different style of facial hair, but with a shock, the halfling realized this man was his target. More screams erupted off to Racieus’ right, and he took a quick glance to see a guard carefully making his way out of a group of people. The small assassin’s target had also been distracted by the screams, and the halfling wasted no time in flicking his wrist, unsheathing one of the daggers up his sleeves, and flinging the knife into the man’s throat. He didn’t dare wait to retrieve it, but instead just nonchalantly moved through the crowd until another chorus of screams sang out, when the tall man fell to the ground. Guards were streaming in through the large doors, but none of them were looking down as they charged in, and Racieus slipped right through them.

The End

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