Order of Moonlight

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Shavynel, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. It was the cold breeze of air that woke up. His brother must have forgotten to latch the shutters again. He huddled into himself, but another gust sent shivers along his arm again. Damn it. Azedal heaved himself up, and immediately snapped his blue eyes open. His feet had met floor, but it wasn't the soft worn wood of the room he and his brother shared. The wall before him was stone instead of wood. The window was on the wrong side of the room and there were bars over it. His first instinct was to scream, yell, demand to know where he was and why he was here, but he squashed the instinct, inhaling deeply and letting the air out slowly. Panic wasn't going to get him past barred windows.

    Where was he? Where was his brother? Azedal tried to remember the night before. Had he fallen asleep in his own bed? He couldn't be sure anymore. Had he done something stupid? Drank too much and beat a guard? That didn't seem likely. He never let himself get to that point. But the bars on the window suggested whoever had put him here didn't want him to get away. Well, perhaps he was getting a bit hasty. As far as he knew, the door could be unlocked. It only took three steps from where he stood to the wooden door. His tanned hand tugged on the handle. Unsurprisingly, it was locked and not from the inside. He let his head fall against the door. So much for that.

    What was the worst that could happen? He was stuck here forever and rotted. What was the best? He couldn't think of anything reasonable. That didn't bode well for his future. How long had he been here? How long would he be here? Was there anyone out there? Aze flipped around and slid down the door to the floor and let his long fingers grab at his short brown hair over and over again. Grab, release, grab, release. Did he want anyone to be out there? In some ways it seemed safer to be alone in the room. At least he knew this place if not where it was. He had no idea even if the door opened to a hallway or another room or the outside. No. Knowing was better than rotting here. Azedal stood again, and balled his hand into a fist half to stop it from shaking and half to knock on the door. He raised it, but when he finally touched knuckles to door, it was light and not a knock at all. He was knocking from the inside of a room and had no idea where he was. Whoever was out there was likely not a friend. So did he want to know sooner or did he want to know later? Sooner. He decided. Once he knew the situation, he could maybe do something. Anything. Aze knocked twice before his courage could disappear again.
  2. The knocks on the door went unanswered in a very anticlimactic fashion. It wasn't for another half hour that the sound of a key sliding into the metal lock could be heard, followed by a click as the door unlocked. The wooden barrier between the room and the outside corridor swung inward with an ominous creak, and in stepped a muscular, middle-aged man with short, graying hair and an equally short beard. His eyes--brown in hue--were narrowed slightly as they set upon the occupant of the room, and his thin lips tilted downward in a small scowl. His entire bearing shouted with authority.

    "So you are the one the Seekers brought to us this past evening?" the man queried rhetorically. He stepped further into the room, his boots thudding loudly on the stone floor. "You don't look like much, but perhaps you will surprise me yet. For your sake, I do hope so." He paused, looking Aze over again before demanding, "Tell me your name."

    While he spoke, another individual entered the room. This new arrival's steps were far quieter than his larger companion's, and he slid the door shut behind him once he was inside. He appeared to be only in his teens, though perhaps he might be in his early twenties. Difficult to say. He had long black hair that was tied back in a low ponytail, and his blue-gray eyes were scanning the room out of habit for signs of danger. He was wearing a blue tunic with gray pants, tucked into a pair of worn leather boots. A long-sleeved gray shirt was beneath the tunic, concealing a knife that he kept hidden literally up his sleeve. His build was nowhere near as muscular as the taller man, but was instead more lithe.

    He said nothing at all to Aze, just standing there to the side of the other man. Guessing that he was there to guard the other man wouldn't be too difficult. In the way of visible weapons, there was a pair of daggers sheathed at his hip.
  3. Nothing. Nothing at all. He had stood at the door for a full count of a hundred, but no one came. Even when he had pressed his ear to the door, he had heard nothing. They, whoever they were, operated on their own schedule, and that was possibly more terrifying. The minutes that went by went by slowly, filled with worry. At first he paced, one step per secnd, but there was only so much floor in the room. Eventually he sat again, under the window, trying to see if he could detect the stripes of sunlight move across the floor. There was no point panicking when he didn't know the situation yet, he kept telling himself, but it didn't help.

    At the sound of the door unlocking, Azedal jumped to his feet, heart beating the fastest it had beated since he had awoken. The man who stepped in did not look like one he wanted to cross. The Seekers, he repeated in his mind. They were organized. They did this regularly. And Aze knew he didn't look like much, especially in comparison to the man before him. He wasn't nearly as tall and whatever muscle he did have seemed to be muted. It probably didn't help that he looked like a cornered rabbit, ready to bolt. His eyes darted back to the door only to find that it had closed. Another man stood in front of it, and though this man looked leaner, there was something about him as well that suggested he was also a man Aze did not want to cross.

    "M-my name," he repeated hesitantly. A braver person might have begun spewing their own questions, but not him. Besides, he doubted they would answer. After all, they had arrived when they wanted. What was he being sought for, though? He hadn't done anything against the law. "My name is Azedal."
  4. The muscular male raised an eyebrow at Aze's initial stammering. He had little use for a stammering brat. Fear was something they didn't accept in this place. His younger companion was a testament to that. He hadn't seen fear in the eyes of the teenager in years. Then again, he hadn't seen any emotion in those eyes in that time, either. Fear or otherwise...

    "Azedal..." he said, trying out the name. "A unique name." He crossed his arms over his chest, still studying the recruit. "Mine is Loraziah, but the inhabitants of this fortress refer to me as Father or Master." A momentary pause. "You have not asked where you are. Admirable. Unless you are simply too afraid to ask. In either event, you are currently in the sanctuary of the Order of Moonlight. We are the largest and most effective guild of assassins in existence, I am proud to say. I am its leader, and you are to be our newest member.

    "You have a choice in the matter," Loraziah continued. "You may choose not to join us. But if you make that decision, then Kavil here will have to kill you." The choice was clear: Aze could either become an assassin, or die. There was no third option. Even if he tried to escape, he'd be hunted down and killed. There really wasn't much of a choice for him at all.

    Loraziah glanced at Kavil, who was just staring impassively at Aze. He returned his gaze to Aze to finish the rest of his speech. "Unless you do decide to die, you will be trained by one of the assassins of this guild. That assassin will be your mentor, your older sibling." Another glance at Kavil. "And I have decided to assign Kavil as your teacher."

    Nothing prior to that had gotten so much as a twitch from Kavil, but that last statement got a full blink. He looked up at Loraziah, searching his expression for signs of a jest, but he saw nothing of the sort. The man was serious. Kavil was actually being given Aze as a student. Just what was he playing at? Kavil had never had a student before.

    "Master...?" he asked softly, the rest of the question going unsaid.

    "You will train him, Kavil," Loraziah repeated, seeming amused by the teen's reaction. "I had the utmost confidence in your abilities, as always. I am sure you can handle the duties of a teacher on top of your other responsibilities."

    "...Yes, Master." He didn't sound so sure of that himself.

    Loraziah placed a hand on top of Kavil's shoulder. "Just what I would expect from my Angel of Death," he said. "I will leave the two of you to become better acquainted. He is in your capable hands, Kavil." With those parting words, Loraziah left the room. In his absence, Kavil just looked uncomfortable.

    "I'm sure you have questions..." he said, looking at Aze.
  5. The Order of Moonlight. Azedal fought back the urge to swallow hard. It was real? They had a fortress, and they could still keep it a secret? And they weren't killing him, but then again, who would want t assassinate him? It wasn't as though he had ever been important. But the most surprising part was that they were recruiting him -- or rather, they were threatening to recruit him. Aze looked at Kavil as the other was named his potential killer, and his eyes were drawn to the sheathed daggers. No doubt those daggers had seen blood, and Aze was not excited by the prospect of them being covered in his own blood. The other option, though, was to learn how to kill for a living, taught by none other than the one he looked at now. Now, he swallowed hard. A mentor here was as much a guard as a guide.

    His choice here was to kill or be killed. His own life given to Death one way or another. While the idea of taking someone else's life wasn't exactly appealing, having his own life taken was certainly not better. So the man before him was mentor or executioner. He'd have to be dumb to say he wanted the executioner. Loraziah -- the Master -- left them then. Perhaps if this had been a different guild, he would have felt more comfortable having heard the exchange between Kavil and Loraziah, but Azedal couldn't wave the feeling that his life was on a razor's edge.

    "Yes," he replied, looking to Kavil. His new teacher didn't look that much older than him. If what Loraziah had said was any guide, though, asking questions wasn't necessarily beneficial. And besides, all the questions were jumbled in his head, all competing to be asked first. Not to mention, he wasn't even sure that the statement was simply a statement or a gesture to ask his questions. Well, how he got here didn't quite matter, it seemed. It was his present and future he had to watch out for. "How many have you ... killed?" Now that hadn't been one of the vying questions. He looked away, trying to find a way to amend his question."I mean, what will training be like?"
  6. The first question got absolutely no reaction from Kavil whatsoever, though he did hear it. There was little point in telling a new recruit how many people he'd killed in his time here. The numbers didn't matter. And besides, Kavil hadn't been keeping count. Loraziah kept count, of course. He had records of all the kills, contract or otherwise. It was how he assessed an assassin's rank, aside from the special title that Kavil held. That was not earned by sheer number of kills.

    "Long and difficult," he answered the second question, probably unhelpfully. If Aze thought this was going to be easy, then he was dead wrong. It took a great deal of training to learn how to do this job. Someone with no training could take a life, yes, but could they get in and out without being discovered? Probably not, especially if the target was well-protected. It took practice to climb walls, pick locks, and the like. An assassin's body also had to be in excellent shape. That meant much training.

    He met Aze's gaze, then asked, "Anything else?" If Aze didn't have any other questions, then Kavil was going to show him around the fortress. He'd need to learn his way around his new home as quickly as possible.
  7. That was like no answer at all, but the panic and worry Azedal felt was slowly being replaced with resignation. It sounded as though it would take a while to train, and with any hope, that meant a good long while before he had to kill. But it didn't change the fact he'd have to get to that point eventually. Aze spared a thought to wonder if any in his situation had thought that they could train to kill those that had brought them there. It seemed unwise to aim to kill a guild of assassins.

    "Just one," he replied, too curious for his own good, "What happens to the ... me before this?" Would his disappearance be just left a mystery? Would he ever see his brother again? Or was his life from here on out going to be completely disconnected from the Aze he had grown up as?
  8. "The person you were before now doesn't exist anymore," Kavil answered bluntly. "You won't see any friends or family you had on the outside again. It's best to just forget them. They'll never find you." This fortress was hidden from the public eye, obviously. He'd show Aze its location on a map soon enough. Then Aze would see the extent of the mountain range that surrounded the fortress, and how there were no towns nearby. It was an isolated location. Safe. It was why the guild made its home here.

    He spared the window a glance, checking the time by the amount of sunlight outside. "If you have no other questions, then follow me." He turned to the door and opened it, revealing a plain-looking stone hallway on the other side. He waited for Aze to join him, expecting that the recruit wouldn't do anything stupid. Like try to run.
  9. Aze let out a long exhale as if that would allow him to let go of all the memories he had grown up with. The man before him, Kavil, had to have let go of what was some time ago. Somehow the idea that he would never see his friends or family again was the most comforting thought so far. Sure, they would worry, but it would pass, and he would never have to explain himself to them.

    "None," he replied as Kavil opened the door. Aze took the few steps to close the gap between them. Thoughts of escaping didn't exactly cross his mind. He was still dubious as to the truth of it all for the Order of Moonlight was all but legend, but until he had a better truth of it, it was best to believe that the self-proclaimed assassins were assassins. For now, he tried to take in as much of his surroundings, committing as much as he could to memory. He had always been rather good at navigation, and though he still did not know where the fortress was, he wouldn't let that stop him from understanding the insides.

    Plus, Kavil was as much a guide as he ever was going to get. And if he did manage to lose Kavil, he wasn't sure the assassins would believe it. It seemed just as likely they would take him for trying to escape and if he crossed anyone before Kavil again, he figured his life might just be on the line. "Lead on."
  10. Kavil did indeed lead on, waiting only a moment or so before he began to walk down the corridor. His steps were hesitant as he passed a wall toward the end of the corridor, a thought crossing his mind that he was considering acting upon. His choice was to keep walking, though, leaving the reason behind the pause a mystery for now.

    At the end of the corridor was a stairwell that spiraled in both directions. Kavil opted to go lower, down two levels to the ground floor of the fortress. The hallways were more ornate on this level, lined with torches and some decorative artifacts. It was meant to be impressive, though Kavil had long grew out of his admiration of it.

    "The grand hall is across from the main entrance," he stated, finally doing the verbal part of giving a tour. "There." He indicated a large set of double-doors to their left as they entered an area that looked very much like a main lobby. There was even a chandelier hanging from the high ceiling. The doors to their right were heavy and wooden. They were also open, showing the outside grounds of the fortress. Some assassins could be seen out there, training or otherwise enjoying the good weather.

    He kept walking through the lobby, though he stopped at the entrance to the opposite hallway from whence they came. "The training facilities and healing wing are this way," he said. "The area we came from holds the rooms where the guild members live. The grand hall is where we gather for meals and guild-related events." It really wasn't a hard layout to memorize. "The tower those stairs lead to belongs to the guild master." He pointed out a set of stairs leading off the lobby, located near the doors to the grand hall.

    A few assassins were passing through the lobby while Kavil spoke. When they took notice of Kavil, they picked up their pace and tried to ignore him. Kavil, for his part, pretended they weren't even there. This seemed to be a normal interaction between Kavil and the other assassins.
  11. Azedal's eyes could not help straying everywhere. Being alone in the room had inspired fear, but crossing the threshold between the room and the corridor meant he was taking an active roll in whatever this was. And if this were something he was choosing, he would choose to do it the best he could. His head lifted at that thought, removing any slump in his posture, but there was still that flicker of doubt in his face. Was this really what he wanted? Did he really want to kill? He squashed the questions. He wasn't sure he could stomach the answers, but it didn't seem as though his opinion here counted.

    The word assassin rolled through his mind over and over again. Did they, like Kavil before him, all along the ground like normal people? Or perhaps the stories that they could climb across ceilings and walls were true. When they spiraled down to the ground floor, though, his eyes no longer sought out people but drank in the grandeur before him. He could almost think a normal existence within a normal castle, or at least, this was close to what he imagined castle life might be like having never actually been in one. Try as he might to not look wide-eyed, he wasn't sure he was succeeding. He felt as out of place here as he might among lordly and courtly company. It didn't help that the assassins that walked past them had sped up without a word of greeting to his mentor or a welcome to him. Aze couldn't say he had expected a warm welcome, but surely Kavil was one of them, no? Or maybe there was some stigma to mentoring he had yet to figure out.

    "Entrance. Grand hall, training and healing, guild master," Aze repeated, looking toward each area as he spoke its name as he committed it to memory. And if the area they had been were the rooms of the guild members, then ... "Is the room I was in? Will that be mine?"
  12. Kavil shook his head. "You will have a different room," he answered. "The room you awoke in is the usual place the Seekers put new members when they first arrive here. Now that you have chosen to be one of us, you will have a better room." The rooms the assassins lived in were actually quite nice. They didn't have bars on the windows.

    "There will be a formal presentation this evening to introduce you to the rest of the guild," Kavil stated, starting to lead the way back toward the wing they'd come from. He was going to show Aze his real room now. It was on the fourth floor, where the other rookie assassins lived. Aze's room was the one at the end of the hallway, by another staircase that led into a tower.

    Kavil stopped walking once they reached Aze's room. "This is yours," he said, opening the door. The room on the other side of it was small, but homey. No bars. The bed looked comfortable. There was a dresser, a bedside table, and even a closet. The closet was filled with clothes of roughly Aze's size. Obviously the guild had pre-planned his kidnapping. They'd gotten this room ready for him. Would have been a lot of wasted effort if Aze had chosen to die rather than join them.
  13. "Joy," Aze muttered at the thought of a formal presentation. Wasn't it enough that they had turned his life upside down in one breath? The only upside he could find to that situation is maybe he'd find out just how many guild members there were.

    The room, he was glad to see, looked different from the one he had woken up in. The window wasn't barred, for one, and it looked as though it had been cleaned. It was debatably larger than the one he had shared with his brother, but that had nothing more than a bunk and dressers. Aze walked into the room and turned around, touching the desk and the bed and the closet. He had never had the luxury of having his own desk, but he wasn't even sure what he would do with one.

    "How many others are there? Starting today or still training." There had been other doors, but no sign if they were occupied or not. Plus, Aze wanted some knowing if there were others in his circumstance, someone he could relate to. Then again, maybe kidnapping was how they were all introduced into the life.

    Azedal looked at Kavil. He couldn't quite look at Kavil and see a friend in him. Kavil was part of the people who had done this to him, but there was that chance Kavil had been someone else before this. It didn't seem like a question his mentor would answer, though, and somehow didn't seem appropriate. He was supposed to forget his old life, which probably meant everyone had to.
  14. "You are the only one starting today," Kavil answered after a few moments of thought. "There are about a dozen or so members still in training." They were a little low on the new recruits at the moment, all things considered. When Kavil himself had been in training, there had been well over twenty new members. The guild seemed to be cutting back, though. For that, Kavil was actually grateful.

    He kept quiet for a few moments, noticing that Aze was looking at him. That was making him feel somewhat uncomfortable, but he didn't show it. Instead he just said, "You should get settled in. I'll return later. Be ready for the presentation." With that said he turned and left the room, shutting the door behind him.

    It was a handful of hours before Kavil returned, wearing a different outfit than before. The tunic he wore was still blue, but it had fancy silver trim. His black hair wasn't tied back now, allowing it to flow unhindered down to the small of his back. He didn't appear to have any weapons on him this time, but that was hardly the case. He never went anywhere unarmed.

    He knocked on the door before letting himself into Aze's room. "The presentation will begin soon. Are you prepared?" he asked.
  15. "Yeah," Aze said, looking around the room. Settle in. What was there even to settle in. "Thanks." But when he was left alone, he went through all the drawers and the closet. He tried out the bed and looked out the window. It was weird to think it was his, but it was stranger yet to think that this had been forced upon him.

    Eventually, he pulled out the nicest looking tunic and breeches and pulled them on. They were brown and still plain, but the coloring was deep. There wasn't much else to make himself look presentable. His hair was short enough that it was never a mess.

    It wasn't long before he heard the knock, but before he could go to the door and pull it open, Kavil was standing there. Aze stood, tugging his tunic straight. "Sure. Anything I should know about this presentation?"
  16. Kavil looked over Aze briefly, almost like a parent would before taking their kid out in public. He didn't find any fault with what Aze was wearing, though. That was probably good for the recruit. Kavil actually did care about his own appearance, particularly when he knew he was going to be around Loraziah. He had some very good reasons for looking as composed and close to perfection as possible around the man.

    "It is just to introduce you to the other members of this guild," he answered. "You are not expected to do anything other than give your name when it is asked for." So no pressure. Sure he'd be doing it in front of the entire guild, but... Well, it wouldn't be an issue if Aze had no problem speaking in front of crowds.

    Kavil motioned for Aze to follow him before heading toward the far stairwell. Their destination was the grand hall, which Aze would probably figure out before they reached the place. Even if he didn't, it became clear enough when they made for the set of doors that led to the aforementioned hall.

    "Go in first," he instructed, pushing open a door for his student. "Stand on the mosaic in the middle of the room."

    It was easy enough to see where that mosaic was. The center of the floor was clear of obstacles, and a circular mosaic that looked very much like a stylized moon rested halfway between the door and the far end of the hall where the guild master and a few others sat at a long table. There were other tables in the room, long and filled with the guild members. All of their eyes were on the doors now, awaiting Kavil and Aze's arrival.

    Kavil strode into the room after Aze, though he didn't follow him past the doors. He just took a position next to the doors, as though standing guard there. Aze was on his own from here, being watched by dozens of pairs of eyes.
  17. Well, he supposed he would have a lower bound for how many people were part of the guild soon. He followed Kavil closely down the stairs. If it was before the entire guild, he figured it had to be in the grand hall or outside. They came to a stop right outside the doors of the hall.

    Aze nodded at the instructions. They weren't hard. As he strode in, he made sure to keep his back up and his head forward, trying his best to look as though he belonged in such a place rather than look around in bewilderment, and fighting the urge to look back at the only person he had interacted with other than Loraziah, the guild master. Though he didn't look left or right, he could see all the guild members around him seated at the long tables. It wasn't hard to see where exactly he was supposed to stand. In some ways, this was grander than he had ever imagined his life could be. It was almost easy to forget where he was.

    He stopped at the center of the mosaic, feet comfortably apart and arms by his side. Kavil had said it wouldn't be much, just saying his name, but Aze still couldn't help but feel nervous. He did his best to hide it, though. Perhaps not all eyes were on him, but enough were, and these would be the people he lived with now. Killers. Killers for money. The worst sort. Aze had his morals, but even just standing there, he felt as though they were being ripped from him. Would it have been more moral to let them kill him rather than become a trainee? So far, other than having been taken from his old life, he had been treated politely. That was worth something, right? In any case, Aze waited to speak his name.
  18. Loraziah rose from his seat to acknowledge the presence of the guild's newest member. There was a young woman sitting beside him, with wavy brown hair and the same eyes the guild master had. She was obviously related to him, and going by ages it wouldn't be difficult to figure out that she was the guild master's daughter. This daughter was smiling rather kindly at Aze, though her gaze quickly slid over to Kavil. His gaze had been on Loraziah, but when he noticed the daughter looking at him, he instead looked at her.

    The guild master cleared his throat before speaking loudly enough for everyone in the grand hall to hear him clearly. "Honored members of the Order of Moonlight," he announced, "standing before you here is one who has been selected to join your ranks. If you find him worthy, he will be welcomed among you as a brother. Is there a one among you who vouches for him?"

    "We do," came a declaration in unison from the far end of one of the tables. It came from a trio of cloaked figures, and it didn't surprise anyone in the least that they had spoken up.

    "The Seekers have vouched for him," Loraziah announced. "Is there a one among you who can offer reason for him to be sent away?" No one spoke, and Loraziah moved on. "You have been found worthy of becoming one of us. State your name so that we all may acknowledge you."
  19. Aze's eyes wandered slightly up and down the long table. Somehow those sitting there had deserved a place there. Somehow, each one was important. Aze did his best to commit their faces to memory, but he had a feeling the only face he would remember would be Loraziah's, who was now addressing the grand hall.

    Vouch? And perhaps more surprising was that there were voices that did vouch as he only knew two names here. Aze turned to see who it was, attempting to hide his curiosity as an acknowledgement, only to find cloaked figures. How could they know he was worthy? And was he glad to be worthy? Oh, the Seekers. Had they watched him prior to his being taken here? There were a lot of questions, but perhaps it would be best to never know those answers. It would be a lie, though, to say he didn't want to know.

    Aze took a breath as the guild master called him worthy and asked his name. "My name," he projected, trying his best to match the guild master in volume, "is Azedal." Would he be seated now? Having not turned back, yet, he had no idea whether Kavil would be easy to find.
  20. "Welcome to the Order of Moonlight, Azedal," Loraziah declared. "Have a seat amongst your new family." There were cheers from the assassins as Loraziah motioned to either side of Aze, inviting him to sit where he pleased. The assassins at those tables moved aside to make room for Aze, acting perfectly welcoming now.

    Kavil still lingered at the door, watching Aze. He didn't expect the recruit to even give him a second thought. He expected Aze to go ahead and sit down, make some friends among the people he'd be living with from now on.