Death’s Shadow


The torch in the sky sets on another day. The clouds glow, orange and red gouge the blue above my head. Finally this day will be consumed by the night. Darkness, my greatest ally will soon arrive. The night is my friend, without it my work would be nigh impossible. The sun begins to dip below the horizon, shadows begin to cover the streets. It is time to move.

I walk down the narrow streets, shops are closing and the population is readying for the coming night. I must find my destination soon, there is still much to do before my task is done. I have been plotting and planning for several months, tonight everything shall come together. I am close, so close. I keep moving, darkness has arrived and with it I have become a shadow, moving quietly to my purpose. I can see candles lit in windows, I must avoid drawing attention, I stick to the shadows, I must remain unnoticed.

I am close now, the house is not far. I begin to climb, swiftly I ascend one of the many stone houses, the crags and sills allowing me to with ease. Once I reach the roof I find my bearings once again, seeing the last vestige of light dipping beneath the earth. Up here there is not another soul, save a crow which follows me as I cross from rooftop to rooftop. My soft leather shoes allowing me to progress without a sound. Finally I reach my target, the building is large, with many windows, many entrances. The many roofs of the building reach high into the sky, it is a mighty building, a castle some might say.

There is movement behind the panes, the candlelight reveals silhouettes as they patrol the many rooms. My task will not be an easy one, but I press on. The buildings are packed together tightly in this city. There are a number of possible entrances to the castle, I find a window in an optimum position. I move closer, I am reminded of the first occasion I completed a task such as this. It was a similar enough task, although I was much younger and far more the fool, inadequate planning was punished severely, scars remain as a harsh reminder. Since those days I have become much more careful.

Even a man of my, profession can find love and years ago I did. It is funny, as I look back, she did not care for me, at first. I swooned over her for years. She refused any invitation I made, thinking I was a simple thief, a cutpurse, an outlaw. She was only somewhat correct, but in those days I was a fool, a headstrong fool. As age took me I realized that she was more important. It took time, but eventually I showed her the depth of my love. I vowed to never steal again. She still does not know my true profession. After this night she will never need to for this is to be my last job, forever. I will never take another life, save this one. This one life can change so much, our world hangs in the balance because of him. I find myself caring for a family which has made me all the more cautious.

I reach the window, preparing myself for what I must do. I slow my breathing, making sure my heart is not nervous, I need silence. I need to become a shadow, shifting from room to room unnoticed. I begin. I enter through the window, the room is dark and books fill the shelves. I move quickly to the door. I hear nothing as I listen, not a footstep or a breath, I silently pull the door open. Peering out, I find not a soul to greet me just as I expected. I move into the hall, soon finding myself at a grand staircase, up I go. Huge paintings of arrogant rich nobility cover the walls, at the top I find a large oaken door. Suddenly footsteps, around the corner a light, I move to a shadowed corner and watch. A man holding a candle turns the corner, aged and slow moving, he opens the door and shuffles into the room. I wait a few moments and then follow, I am a shadow. I am the night.

At the head of the room sits an enormous bed, on the walls hang more extravagant paintings. Gold is everywhere, the frames of paintings, the candleholders, even the bed frame and the sheets, gold covers everything. I crouch in a corner, blanketing myself in gloom. The man sits on the bed, placing the candle on the table next to him. I wish him sleep, ‘off to sleep old man’. Extinguish the candle and sleep. I wait for seemingly an eternity, until finally the flame is reduced to smoke. I hear the steady breathing of sleep then I move, close, so close. As I approach the man I draw my blade, I have completed tasks such as this many times. This will be my last, I will return to my family and never again raise my weapon to another. I promised her, I promised to be there for her, for my family.

The blade in my hands, slow and steady it prepares itself for the deed. I bring the weapon to his throat with purpose and with a touch of regret, I slice it is swift and silent. The old man lets out one last breath as blood pours from the wound. I am already gone from the room. My escape must be swift.

I run down the stairs as quietly as a spectre, I am a shadow. As I reach the bottom I can see the glow of candlelight. I peer around the corner and spot the source, a guard holding a candle, with a large sword belted at his waist. I back away, this was unexpected. I creep back to the bottom of the staircase. Thinking quickly, I must find a way back to the room. I will kill the man in my way if I must. I move, peering around the corner, the guard has vanished. I move back to the empty room which I entered from. As I enter the room, I notice the window which I had left open, is now closed, strange. I reach to open it, and find it has been locked, panic clutches at my mind.

Sounds begin echoing around the mansion, I can hear movement and voices, someone is yelling. The muffled voice seems to grow clearer, I move to the door and press my ear to it. I can make out one word, a name, my name. Panic has now taken hold. How do they know I am here? I keep listening, the voice sounds familiar, a long forgotten familiarity. I rack my brain. I keep thinking while I begin to pick the lock on the window. Soon the familiar click of the lock echoes from within its depths, I am free. I climb the window sill and prepare for the leap to the nearby rooftop. A loud snap bellows from behind me, a figure barges through the door. I glance behind to see the face of the voice, I leap. The air from my lungs leaves me, I hit the rooftop violently. The face burned into my eyes, my brother’s face.

I run off allowing my ally to shield me. Bewilderment and confusion torment my mind as I make my escape. Why? How? My brother died years ago, after we had worked together, I had not heard from him. I did not hear of him until his death.

What does this mean?

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