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Assassin for the House

It is a dialogue between two characters attempting to get what they want/need.

By S.N. EvansPublished 2 months ago 7 min read
Assassin for the House
Photo by Igor bispo on Unsplash

“You’re better than this,” Lorraine whispered, her voice unnaturally calm for someone in her precarious position.

“Am I, though?” Brennan replied, holding the blade to the woman’s throat, “Test me and find out.”

“I don’t want to test you. I want to understand you.”

“No one understands me.” Brennan felt his face heat with long-dormant rage; he wanted to press the knife harder, but he also knew of its keen edge. If he made the wrong move, this would be over too soon. He wished to savor the moment, feel the only freedom he had left in this world, and liberate one more soul from their mortal suffering.

“It’s your turn to try me then. I know your story. I know how you came to be in that dreadful house. I know what they did to try and turn you into a monster. Don’t be them, Brennan. Don’t be the monster those assassins trained you to be.”

Why was this woman attempting to appeal to him? She was of no consequence. She should not have seen him coming, let alone known anything about him. Lorraine Terry was just another in a long line of hits his “family” had lined up. Did a cat listen to a mouse or bird when it found itself between its teeth? Does a prowling lion heed the feelings of the antelope while on the hunt? So, why was his curiosity piqued? Why did he suddenly want answers? Giving a guttural growl, he takes the knife away, allowing Lorraine to turn and look at him.

“You have until I tire of this conversation, answer my questions, but know you’re still going to die.” He frowned, not seeing enough terror in her captivating brown eyes, “How and why do you know so much about me?”

“I knew that would get your attention,” Lorraine said with a defiant smirk, pulling at the edge of her mouth. “I have had the pleasure of watching you for a long time. Since that murder in Glasglow, I could tell you felt remorse.”

Brennan laughed at her, “You think that was remorse? By the time I was finished, he was so pathetic I couldn’t stand to look at his face anymore.”

Doubt crossed her delicate features, evident in her gently furrowed brow, “There was also that time in Hemgrove the young man bearing the same insignia as the House was found dead, and the duchess had escaped.”

“It’s no fun to kill old women, and he owed me a debt.” He retorted, getting irritated at this woman’s attempt to sanctify him. Was she insane?

“Alright, so I’ve just established that you do have standards. I don’t think killing a defenseless woman is part of those standards, either. Thus, why I believe you’re better than this.”

“The Family put a hit out on you. It’s nothing personal.” He replied, scratching the stubble on his chin, “I do the contracts. I get to live another day.”

“So, you do this for survival?”

“Are you writing a book?”

“Maybe, if I survive,” She chuckled.

“Give me a reason you should survive?”

“Because I have a way to break your bond to the Family and for you to leave the House forever.” She stated, “If you’ll permit me to get my bag,” she asked, looking to where Brennan had made her drop it. I think a few magic items will interest you greatly.”

“No funny business,” he muttered as he watched her retrieve the bag, which was a little larger than a paperback novel.

Opening the bag, Lorraine pulled out a palm-length silver object and presented it to him, “Do you know what this is?”

“A stamp?”

“Close, it’s a magical tool used for removing curses. To remove your ties to the House, all I need to do is find something hot, heat the metal red-hot, and press it into the cursed brand. A little pain, then freedom,” she assured him.

“And, what would that little stamp there rebrand me with?” He questioned, “The sigil of another house and family that would use me?”

“No,” She said, “Like I said, I’ve been watching you a long time. You have standards. I am not offering you more slavery or butchery. I am offering you a new job. Forsake this current contract, allow me to free you from this curse that keeps you indebted to them, and then follow me into the dark.”

“Dark? Who exactly are you?”

“I am a cursebreaker; that’s all you need to know, and I can teach you how to become one, too.”

“My hands are stained with blood, and I have far too many enemies to go quietly into the night.”

“Then have your revenge on the House; after that, return to me.” She stated, “Look, I don’t even need a source of heat to do what needs doing..” Her smile was genuine, and Bazaar, she would enjoy burning him.

“Shit,” He muttered, taking a step back, realizing what was going on, what could have happened at any moment. Nowhere in her file did it say she could control magic. She could have escaped him at any time, done anything she wanted to.

“Now you understand, Brennan, I was never in danger. I legitimately want to help you.”

“Out of the goodness of your heart? Everyone wants something. This world is full of give-and-take. What will you be taking?”

“You misunderstand. Ridding you of your curse gets me what I want. I take the House’s most deadly tool from them, and you get to walk away from this incident with more than your life.”

“So, your motive is to eliminate me from the playing field without truly eliminating me.”

“Killing you would be a waste of your talent, as would allowing you to continue killing for the House. Your life is in balance, so choose wisely, for as easy as I can heat this metal, I can burn you to a cinder.”

Brennan took a deep breath, weighing his options. On one hand, he would be killed by his curse if he did not complete the mark. On the other, she was going to kill him if he tried. Either way, Brennan was a dead man. Growling, he chucked the knife across the room, nowhere near her, of course, and punched the wall. All it resulted in was the potential crunch of his hand breaking. He yowled in frustration like a caged animal. He was not the predator he had assumed, and it vexed him. He turned around to look at her, knowing that he had to trust her if he wanted to live.

“Go ahead, remove the mark,” He said, unbuttoning his shirt, revealing the giant black spider surrounded by a web of runes.

“Brace yourself; this is going to hurt,” she muttered, a tinge of sympathy in her voice.

Brennan braced himself as best he could as the red-hot piece of metal pressed against the runes around the black spider. He gritted his teeth against the pain, but it did not help. Cries and growls of pain burst from him until Lorraine finished. Panting, he dropped to his knees, attempting to catch his breath. Looking up at Lorraine, Brennan felt strange. His vision was beginning to fade around the edges, and it shimmered in a way he could not wholly comprehend, like shards of broken crystal. She put the now-cooled rod back in her bag, and he heard her footsteps as she exited the room; the door slammed as his vision faded.

When his vision returned, he found himself in a strange room; as far as he knew, no one had moved him. An iron door blocked the way out of the room, and four stone walls surrounded him. It looked like a prison. Yelling, he wondered if anyone would hear him, but he was alive. If any amount of time had passed since his failure to execute Lorraine Terry, he was still alive, so her elimination of the House’s mark must have worked. Gingerly moving his hand to his chest, he touched where the burns were and felt nothing. Peeking down his shirt, he saw nothing, no scarring or black spider.

“Good, you’re awake.” Lorraine’s voice said through a sliding slot in the cell door, “Are you feeling well? Are you hungry or thirsty?”

“Why am I in the cell?”

“For your protection,” She stated casually, “We couldn’t have you running off and hurting yourself or someone from the House stumbling across you. Once we are clear on a few things, you’ll be free to go on your merry way.”

For some reason, Brennan doubted he would go free at all– it would not make sense for them to allow him to walk free so soon after capturing him. They might have things they wanted to know about the House. Had the mark gone, was he free to speak about the house without fear of silencing? Shaking, only time would tell if what Lorraine said was true.

Short StorythrillerFantasyExcerpt

About the Creator

S.N. Evans

Christian, Writer of Fiction and Fantasy; human. I have been turning Caffeine into Words since 2007. If you enjoy my work, please consider liking, following, reposting on Social Media, or tipping. <3

God Bless!

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