ATCv1 #8 of 25

9 03 2008

Please note that posts in this category belong to the old, discontinued version and as such will not any updates nor corrections.

The owner of the inn wanted to go to the stable as he did every
morning, but the first rays of the sun were illuminating an unusual
scene. He found the lifeless body of a dead man he’d never seen
before, an open stable door, and, in the stable itself, the child that
had arrived with the old merchant yesterday, next to her bandaged dog
who was lying in a pool of dried blood. She was sleeping like a stone,
but the dog was watching him closely. With some effort Mynor managed
to stand up and poked Laiva with his nose. When she slowly opened her
eyes she looked into the blank face of the innkeeper; her eyes
wandered to Mynor, the blood on the floor, the broken plank of the
wall and back to the man.
‘I can explain that, I think…’

She pulled the throwing star out of the body. The assassin had been a
middle aged man with a face making you believe he couldn’t harm a fly;
no scars were witnessing the fights he had been in. He wore armour
protecting chest and back; so that was why the arrows hadn’t killed
him. Metal scales had been sewed on slightly bigger ones made of
strong leather; this way the metal parts didn’t bump together,
avoiding the treacherous clattering while still protecting the wearer.
Laiva’s arrowhead still stuck in the armour. She pulled it out and put
it in one of her pockets; it had penetrated one of the scales, but
slowed down enough not to kill. Over the shoulder the man wore a belt
with a number of bolts for the crossbow, a set of different knives and
a long rope on it. Laiva turned away and picked her bow up which was
still lying where she had dropped it. Lost in thoughts she ran her
fingers over smooth wood and the runes engraved in it. It was a good
bow, much better than the one she originally had; the elves really had
a skill for archery.
‘Come on, or do you want to stand there all day?’
Niry was waiting with the cart. The innkeeper had insisted on
them leaving instantly; Laiva wasn’t sure if he was afraid of her or
the people she might attract, but the result was the same. Laiva
climbed on the back of the cart and sat down next to Mynor wrapped up
in the cloak of the assassin. His life didn’t seem to be in danger
anymore, but he was still weak. In fact the shot should have been
deadly, and would surely have killed any other wolf, however, Mynor
proved to be special again. The speed at which he was recovering was
beyond any imagination and by all means beyond the effects of the
ointment Laiva had put on the wound. She scratched him behind the
ears. He had risked his life to save hers, without hesitating.
‘You know,’ Niry started, ‘I believe the story you told the
man, but I’m a little bit worried. It’s just… you killed this man. I
watched your face when you told it; either you are a great actor or
you weren’t shocked at all and someone having met as many people as me
is not easily bluffed. To you it was just a necessity, wasn’t it? I
don’t want to say that are used to killing, no, I’ve met such people.
You see, you just didn’t seem to mind. And then the man, his tools; he
was a professional killer. You are not the a harmless little girl you
appear to be, at first sight…’
There was no reaction, so Niry turned his head and looked in
the back. Laiva was sleeping, snugged up to Mynor.

They travelled on, but things weren’t the same. No matter how fast you
might be, rumours will always be faster. People tried to avoid them or
gave them strange looks, and that wasn’t the worst. Even old Niry
behaved differently towards Laiva; he hid it pretty well, but she
noticed anyway. He wasn’t sure who he was actually travelling with,
but since he’d never tried to talk with her about it, Laiva kept
silence about it as well. However, the worst thing was all the time
she had, time to think. Too many things had happened in the last week,
things she didn’t want to think about at this time, and yet she
couldn’t help herself brooding over them. She still felt uncomfortable
about her overhasty leave; she had run away, although she’d never
admit it. Then there were the elves. That one was really driving her
crazy; she had twice the amount of memories she should, nicely
contradicting each other, and sometimes it was really hard to
distinguish between the real and the fake ones. What was real anyway?
Could she trust her senses anymore? Mynor was strange enough,
something not to muse upon, but those were all things she could deal
with, or at least she thought she could deal with. However, the
assassin had been too much. Nobody, absolutely nobody, had a reason to
have her assassinated. Laiva brooded long over the question if there
was perhaps someone she had just forgotten about, but what could an
eight year old girl possibly have done to provoke such a reaction? The
only ones that might have a reason were the elves, but that wouldn’t
make any sense. No, they let her go because it was right and it
wouldn’t fit into the elven way of thinking anyway. Yes, they’d let
her go. There had even been a kind of goodbye party for her. It hadn’t
been an easy decision, but she couldn’t just give up. The moment she
had left her village she’d known that there was no way back, her
decision had been made and it was final. All had wished her the best
for her future and then she had left, the elves in her heart and their
gifts in the backpack.

Using the last bit of its power the pigeon landed in the window,
exhausted by its long journey. It had flown through storm and through
rain until finally the old castle had appeared, a giant shadow from
the ancient past. Thankfully it let the man remove the uncomfortable
tube from its leg; soon it could dry its feathers and eat as much
grain as it wanted.
‘What does it say?’
‘It can’t be… the assassin… he failed. The child… killed
‘So the second part has been fulfilled. “The one sent…”‘
‘Stop it, it’s not over yet.’
‘You can’t cheat destiny.’
‘We’ll force it onto its knees, if we have to.’




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