Chapter 23:

The Art of the Assassin

Reverie's End: Blades of Malice

Day: 7/18/991; Time: 6th hourBookmark here

Not all battles were fought on a large open field, amidst loud noises and the wailing cries of the wounded. Some of the most vital missions involved silence and secrecy. Lita's job was a delicate one; she was to assassinate the King of Balassar. The public facade that had begun earlier that day was a mere distraction; it was a diversion.Bookmark here

Lita had silenced the sentries at the back door of the castle. She had many tools at her disposal. But sleeping gas was definitely the quietest; screams would only alert the others. She snuck in and began to walk up the stairs, staying in the shadows whenever possible. Lita had more efficient methods, but mana and item conservation were important. She was not a risk-taker; daredevils never lasted long in the assassin business. Bookmark here

The tumult outside had caused the castle's defenses to drop, but she could never be too careful. Lita continued to sneak around, quietly moving towards her destination. The hallways were dark for some reason. It was almost as if no one intended to patrol them. Security was more lax than it should be; Lita was suspicious. Her previous experience had taught her to be paranoid and to expect traps.Bookmark here

Despite her reservations, she continued to walk up the stairs. The halls and stairways were wide spacious, and covered with red carpets. The ceilings were high, but none of this helped Lita's claustrophobia. She was hoping to end this mission quickly. Lita was starting to shake a bit, but she could never quit her assignment. Even top-rate assassins have their quirks and Achilles heel.Bookmark here

When Lita got to the 3rd floor, she heard some noises nearby. She quickly drew her knife and waited. As the guard passed by her, she crept behind him and slit his throat. His muffled screams did not carry down the hallways. She let the body quietly drop to the ground and continued upstairs.Bookmark here

As she approached the fourth floor, she noticed that the lights were on and that there were many soldiers in a panic. One of them yelled, "We need to find the king!"Bookmark here

Lita was now in trouble; it was time to play her trump cards. She began chanting and calmly walked out into the open, scanning her surroundings. She was looking for a staircase that lead to the 5th floor. There was supposed to be only one (according to their spies). It was definitely going to be well-guarded.Bookmark here

The 4th floor was much more lavish than the others below it. There were gardens, fountains, and lavish furniture. Only the king's closest relatives, advisors, and their vassals were even allowed to be here. Lita did not care for any of this; she only wanted the king's head. Her hatred was keeping her claustrophobia at bay.Bookmark here

She continued her nonchalant stroll through the 4th floor. She was alerting everyone to her presence; it was very un-assassin-like. "Intruder!" yelled one of the men wearing steel armor with a reddish-brown hammer sigil on it. These were the royal knights, not the usual enlisted rookies. Physically speaking, they were stronger than Lita. But what Lita lacked in strength, she made up for with ingenuity. Five men saw Lita and immediately attacked her with their broadswords. All five attacks hit Lita in various places on her body. It would appear that she was now dead, but no blood came out. Lita turned into a mist and vanished.Bookmark here

The confused knights looked around to see where Lita ran off to. "She's a skilled assassin. We need to be careful," said one of the men. They stood there and guarded each other's backs. Their defensive stance meant nothing; Lita had already trapped them. She quickly threw out five daggers and hit two of them on a leg each and the other three on their arms. They spotted Lita and ran after her, despite their injuries.Bookmark here

"10 seconds," whispered Lita, as she calmly sprinted down the hallway and hid.Bookmark here

"After her!" yelled one of the men, as they ran. The knights did not get very far. They began to fall to the ground, motionless, and gasping for breath. All five passed out in just a few moments.Bookmark here

Lita's "Subjugation Knives" were coated with a paralytic poison. Fighting fairly was not part of Lita's plan. "Just be glad you're not dead… although it is true that some of your organs might be permanently damaged," said Lita coldly.Bookmark here

A few guards overheard the commotion and were now drawing closer. Lita needed to leave quickly. She had spotted the stairs earlier and was heading there. Upon arrival, she noticed five guards standing watch. Lita began chanting while she hid behind the curtains. Soon afterwards, three of the guards ran off to chase Lita's clone. It was only a figment of their imagination, but it seemed so real to them.Bookmark here

"Halt! Don't leave your post! Our duty is to protect the king!" yelled one of the tall muscular knights that remained. There were only two left now; it was an easy job for Lita. She covered her mouth and nose with her balaclava and tossed out some sleeping weed in front of the guards. Lita had enchanted the weed; it was now producing a pink mist. The guards were late in noticing and both fell asleep within moments. She hurried up the stairs, determined to finish her job.Bookmark here

She could hear talking as she walked down the hallways of the 5th floor. As Lita approached the large silver door, she could see three old men in robes, standing beside a short and pudgy middle-aged man with black hair. She was looking at King Shima VI and his three advisors. Lita's prey was finally within sight.Bookmark here

"Who are these intruders! Why can't our men defend the castle properly?! I demand that all soldiers guard the castle!" exclaimed the king.Bookmark here

"Your majesty… what about the city?" said the eldest of the three advisors, while clutching his cane, and shaking with anger.Bookmark here

"I don't care! We can always rebuild later! The Shima dynasty must live on!"Bookmark here

"Perhaps it would be best if you fled the castle, and went to Northgate while it's still safe," replied the short and sneaky-looking advisor.Bookmark here

"Yes, House Northgate has reinforcements coming to your aid as we speak. They will defend their king," commented the third advisor, a calm and modest-looking man.Bookmark here

The king looked flustered for a moment, but responded, "Yes. They will do their duty. Northgate is obligated to defend me!"Bookmark here

The three advisors sighed and the eldest replied, "You must leave now. Time is of the essence!" He motioned to the four knights in the room, and said, "Escort your king out of the castle. Ride north with haste!" The knights nodded and walked with the king out of the room. Lita was about to follow them, but overheard part of a discussion between the elders.Bookmark here

"A new era dawns upon Shima…" said the eldest advisor. Lita did not know how to interpret these words. She didn't have time to comprehend the situation; her mission was to kill the king.Bookmark here

Lita noticed the security was weak. Besides the four guards, Lita did not see any threats in the immediate vicinity. She dismissed her suspicions and focused on her prey. The king stopped walking when they got to the throne room, and said, "I want to go inside." He walked inside and stared at the throne for a few moments. "I wonder when I can come back here again. My riches! Why must I leave them?!" The guards just stood by and said nothing. Lita hid behind the door and watched; she was growing impatient. It seemed like getting the king in a room by himself was impossible. She decided to make her move.Bookmark here

She quietly ran past the guards, who just stood there nonchalantly. They did not seem to be very alert for the king's royal knights. Within moments, Lita had grabbed the obese king, and held a knife to his throat. His eyes were now filled with horror. King Shima VI did not expect this turn of events.Bookmark here

Lita would normally slit her victim's throat instantly, before they realized what had happened to them. But today, she wanted to savor the death of a great source of evil. Lita had a personal grudge. "Finally!" she whispered. The fat man tried to break free, but Lita calmly reminded him that it would be best if he remained silent and stood still. The knife was still near his throat, ready to strike at any moment. Bookmark here

The king wore a red robe and a golden crown. He preferred to flaunt his wealth, but it did him no good at this present moment. "Seize her!" yelled the king.Bookmark here

"Move and he dies," replied Lita calmly. Her victory was assured, it no longer mattered what the guards did. But neither her nor the king could have predicted what happened next. The guards sheathed their blades, and shrugged their soldiers.Bookmark here

"Kill him. You'll be doing us a favor," responded a golden-haired knight.Bookmark here

"We were going to wait until we left the castle. No one wanted that pig's blood spilt inside the castle. We were being considerate of the maids that have to clean up this mess," replied another young knight.Bookmark here

Lita and the king both opened their mouths in shock. "What...did… you… just.. Say?!" stammered the king.Bookmark here

"Exactly what you heard, you bloody oaf. No one wants a stupid, selfish, and spoiled king on the throne. You've destroyed this country for long enough. It's time for a new dynasty," said a black-haired knight, pointing his sword at the king.Bookmark here

The king did not know how to respond. He was not taught anything, but how to live in leisure his entire life. Swords and strategy was something that his vassals were responsible for. And now, those vassals were pointing their blades at him.Bookmark here

Lita chuckled and responded, "How could I have missed it? If you make enough enemies, someone will want you dead." She looked over at the guards and said, "Thank you for making my job easier. I wasn't sure if I had the strength to take on all of you."Bookmark here

The sound of boots could be heard approaching the throne room. Everyone looked to face the door. In a few moments, a tall man with black hair, a beard, and green eyes walked through the door with 10 knights. They all had reddish-brown capes with a Bear's claw sigil on it. The tall man, who was obviously the leader, smiled, and said, "Well, this is an interesting development.Bookmark here

The king's eyes gleamed with joy, "Admiral Wallace! Save me! Kill these traitors! Kill them all!" he yelled in his shrill voice.Bookmark here

Admiral Wallace, head of House Northgate, looked at the king with a cold stare. "I could… but why would I do that? Letting you live would only put an idiot back on the throne. Nobody likes it when idiots run things," he replied in a calm and deep voice.Bookmark here

King Shima was really starting to sweat now. Lita had not moved her hand the entire time; the dagger was still at his throat. "I'll give… you anything!" stammered the king.Bookmark here

"You could… but you probably won't. You were never good at keeping promises. I'm not sure that I can trust you. Besides, it'd be easier to just let you die, and take over the country afterwards. You were probably too stupid to pay attention, but most of your soldiers, and advisors, are loyal to House Northgate," said the admiral. He paced around the room as he spoke. He finally stopped, and looked at the king, coldly with his dark eyes. "Let me explain all of this in a language that even a buffoon can understand: Nobody likes you. You do not have any friends. Everyone in this room wants you dead."Bookmark here

Admiral Wallace looked over at Lita, and said, "I applaud you for making it this far. As a reward, I will allow you the honor of becoming a "Kingslayer". Would you care to join our ranks afterwards? A woman of your talent would be a fine addition to the Northgate kingdom."Bookmark here

"No thanks. I hate nobles, even the competent ones. In fact, the real danger lies with the smart ones. You all disgust me. Your pompous armor. Your fake chivalry. Your condescending tone. May the Blades of Malice burn all of you alive!" she replied while giving the admiral a cold stare. Lita was trying to stay calm, but she was starting to get dizzy. She had been indoors for too long. Lita needed to act quickly. There were 15 experienced soldiers were standing between her and the doorway.Bookmark here

The admiral sighed, and replied, "Such a pity." He started to pull out his lance; the other men started to unsheathe their weapons as well.Bookmark here

The king's knees were shaking, and his eyes were closed. He was trying to wake up from his bad dream, but was having great difficulty doing so.Bookmark here

"Don't worry. It will all be over soon," whispered Lita to the king, in a sweet and gentle voice. Then, she slit his throat, and watched as he writhed in pain, and died in agony. The floor was covered in his blood.Bookmark here

She then made use of her remaining strength and sprinted towards the door. There were three Litas running towards the door. The knights were stabbing at air and watched in awe as the mirage disappeared before their eyes. However, her strategy was not full-proof. One of the knights hit the real Lita, and grazed her stomach. She held back her scream, but it was too late. The real Lita had been discovered.Bookmark here

A storm of swords made its way towards her, slashes and stabs were mere inches away. Lita did a backflip and dodged all of the attacks. She was now outside of the room, and saw a window behind her. Lita did not hesitate for a moment and leapt out the window, plummeting from the 5th floor. She threw out some rope and grabbed hold of a nearby tree branch. It was not the most graceful exit, but at least she was alive. Her mission was a success, although she was not feeling particularly cheerful about this outcome. Lita ran away, making sure to stay hidden whenever possible.Bookmark here

Admiral Wallace looked outside the window, and said, "Leave her. We have more pressing matters to deal with right now."Bookmark here

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