I left him there, his glassy stare unfocused and his mouth ever so slightly ajar. A slight smile tilted my lips. It had been a quick kill –there had been no point in watching the man suffer. Besides, there was many a thing that would occupy me here. I glanced around again, like I had when I had been watching him, studying him as my prey. The room was stuffed full of valuables. Weapons, maps, strange compasses, even old pistols. My smile increased to a grin as I surveyed my bounty, before my eyes came across the dagger held in the man’s hand. Why hadn’t he used it, or even attempted? I lent down and pried the blade from his cold hand. It heated to the touch, burned even. I grimaced against the pain. The hilt of the blade was patterned with spirals and celtic designs. It was beautiful. It was one of those things that when you started looking at, you couldn’t look away, you just kept finding more and more things to look at. The blade was sharp and lethal, with long curling quilions above the hilt to protect the hand. I swapped the blade to my right hand, hoping to stop the sting. I was left handed, and although I had had extensive training my right was still slightly clumsier than my left. I looked at my good hand. Burned into it was the pattern from the dagger. I clenched my hand into a fist, and then looked at my palm again. The pattern was still there, but they were no longer pink, more like scar tissue. My left palm was still stinging, but it was strange that the dagger wasn’t heating up my right hand. Before it could affect my right hand, I slid into my belt and turned around to inspect the objects behind me.
I walked around a thick pillar that seemed to glimmer, and found myself face-to-face with a mirror. Not just any mirror, a large, silver gilded mirror with the same swirls and markings as on my wrists. The markings that had burned themselves into my skin the day I made my first kill, years ago.
Lingering slightly longer than I would have wanted, I examined the edges of the mirror a bit longer, not wanting to face my own reflection, but not wanting to step away either. I concentrated on every little detail of the frame, every carving and paint chipping, every swirl, dint or crease before finally, my eyes fell on my own face.
I looked like an animal, my eyes like bottomless pits of darkness, stark against my pale skin and midnight-black hair. I let my hair fall over my eyes, gazing through the dark tendrils of hair and into my own blue eyes. Under my eyes there were deep purple circles like bruised skin. My features looked almost too sharp to be human, too harsh. I looked too much like my Father. I looked too much like a monster.
I felt the anger bubble up inside me, felt my lip curl. I wanted to hit that mirror, shatter it to a million tiny little shards, and then pulverise it further. I wanted to thrust my fist through it, embrace the pain as it cut through my flesh and watch as the blood trickle down my arm and pool on the floor. I swallowed the lump in my throat, forcing it down with everything else. With what I was becoming, with my past, my future, and most of all, what I was now. I closed my eyes, and stepped away, focusing on forcing the anger down, for another time, for when it was needed. I would not let my anger consume me. I kept my eyes shut for a few seconds longer, before I turned to my left, and came to a mannequin in exactly my size and shape. I jerked away from it and put my hand up in defence. It did the same. I paused a moment, frozen, staring at the blank face of the mannequin. I kept completely still, then suddenly, jumped back. The mannequin did the same. I raised my hand slightly, then stepped towards it and poked it in the head. As soon as I touched it, the mannequin seemed to droop, and slumped into lifelessness. The sight was such an odd thing, disappointing even. Like a body with no soul, or an egg shell with no yolk. A body that would only be moulded to best fit what was on the outside, and would never have a real chance of life. My mouth quirked into an awkward smile. In a peculiar way it reminded me of the story of Pinocchio, how he had only ever wanted to live, and had to pay consequences for his lies. I swallowed, and reached out to touch what the mannequin was wearing, concentrating on what was on the outside.
A black cloak was fastened around its’ shoulders with gold clasps running down the front in the shape of half swirls. It looked tailored to fit the mannequin, and the mannequin was exactly my shape, tall, slender. I reached out to stroke the fabric. It had the texture of silk and velvet, melded into one. “Nice.” Swiftly, I unclasped the gold hooks, and in one fluid movement the coat was on my shoulders. It was soft and warm, and even more strangely, it fit me perfectly. He really must have known I was coming. I glanced at the dagger, symbolic of what I had killed for.
A lump formed in my throat. Why didn’t I like the thought of that? Killing was what I did, it was part of me and I did it to survive. I was born into war, and would die in war. I swallowed the lump down and pushed all thoughts from my mind, once again thinking of not thinking.
To further this motion I made my legs move –anywhere, any direction, just move. My eyes skittered across the room, scanning every object of value. There was only a few that appealed to me, and even fewer I could carry. My fingers found a gold compass and spyglass, with similar engravings to the mirror. I shoved them in my pocket along with multiple jewels and gold rings encrusted in diamonds. I had to hurry now. It was nearly midnight, and the place where I was going there was never a night, never darkness. I had to make it the day of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. I pictured in my mind my destination, and knew as sure as hell that I would get there now that the gateway to the Golden City was open. One second I was there, the next I was gone, leaving nothing but death in my wake.

The End

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