Twisted fates of the hands of Death (Nydanna & MasterWarlockTyr)

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  1. Kassina grunted with exertion, sweat dripping from her brow which was strained with a cinch of concentration above the blindfold covering her eyes. Her ears were keyed in for the sound of breathing, which her opponent was carefully monitoring from his distance. The hard wooden floor should have been idle to catch the soft squeaks of soles scrapping against the wood, and the tiny thud of footfalls as they approached. However, her partner for this training session was equally as skilled in controlling the telltale signs of approach as she was. He would not give his position away until he struck, and the young woman knew that if she did not catch him before that, she would be landing on her ass rather roughly.

    He was playing with her though. She felt a soft breeze trickle through her hair a few strands fluttering in the stirred up air before all was still again. Most people would have spun around instantly to make their attack, but not Kassina. Rather than turn to face her attacker, she pulled the wooden staff in her hands towards her spinning it until it was held against her side. With a sudden jerk of her arms, she swung the weapon to the right, smirking with satisfaction when the staff encountered a solid form. The blow was met with a loud growl, the wooden practice weapon stopped and tugged forward nearly knocking the blindfolded girl off balance. Her head was thrown back with a laugh and a wide grin, the blindfold ripped off to shoot her cousin Silicius an amused look. “Don’t be a sore loser, Sil. I’ve been training with you too long not to be able to predict your moves.”

    The dark haired male scoffed, his chiseled face softening into an arrogant smirk. “You catch on too fast for your own good. You’re going to get cocky one of these days and it’s going to throw you off your game.”

    The young woman returned the scoff with one of her own, her eyes rolling in their sockets skeptically. “Hardly. There hasn’t been anyone who has been able to catch me off my guard yet. Other than the people inside this castle, I don’t believe that anyone can.” Her chest puffed with pride, the same cocky grin her cousin sported crossing her lips. Kassina knew she had every right to feel confident, after all, she had been trained by the best. Her family would not be the ones to attack her, and although they had their enemies, the girl hardly worried about them at all. She had never crossed paths with any of them, never seen them at work, but she knew her family had caught enough of their members that their skills could not possibly rival her own. The Durand family were no match for her, and she had no concerns at all that they posed a threat to her or her family.

    The feud between the two families was over a century old, the final casualty of the bitter rivalry her beloved grandfather, whose body had been mercilessly quartered and disemboweled before being placed on display in front of their family home. That had been five years ago, and since then there had been several near misses on the parts of both families, a few of those resulting in the deaths of normal citizens that were unaware of the families’ true role within the kingdom.

    By all pretenses, the Montatraeus and Durnands were noble families, their lands passed down from generation to generation, and their wealthy established through various business dealings. What no one knew was that their lands were a part of their cover of sorts, but their wealth was accumulated through slaughter. Death was their business, and lately business had been very good. Their latest target, an ambassador from Eswelia, the country to their south, had brought them in quite a few coins, an assignment that Kassina had taken care of herself. The man’s crimes were numerous in both his country and her own, and it had been a joint decision between the two kings to end the man’s life. Kassina had been sent for one reason alone; her looks. She looked harmless, completely unthreatening to anyone who caught sight of her. Throw her in a gown, with her callused hands covered with gloves and her decorative tattoos hidden away and she was simply a young lady at the tender age of eighteen complete with dimpled smile and hazel eyes that sparkled with mischief, she blended in anywhere she went. The moment she was behind closed doors though, the act slipped away and the cold, heartless killer was unleashed. She had spent the majority of her life training, perfecting her skills and learning everything she needed to know to become the most notorious assassin in her family. She had not quite reached that goal yet, but she had certainly started to make a name for herself with the assassination of the ambassador. No one had even believed the man had been executed, her method of death completely undetectable. The news had been that the man had simply died comfortably in his sleep, but Kassina knew better than that. No, if anyone had given the body a thorough examination, they would have found the smallest mark between his toes, a venom toxic enough to paralyze every muscle in his body within minutes. Normally she hated such methods, preferring to get her hands dirty, but the situation called for a delicate touch, and she had delivered.

    A tapping against the training room door brought the two cousins to attention, their eyes moving to stare at the lord of the castle, her father. His thick, long brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck, his face stoic and unreadable. He was handsome with a square jaw, and straight roman nose, everything about him flawless save for the black patch covering his left eye. “Kassina. I require a word with you in private.” Was all that was said before he stalked off down the hallway, returning to his study where he would await her. The two cousins shared a look of confusion, the older of the two shrugging his shoulders. “Better go see what he wants. It must be important if he pulled you out of training.” That was her thought, and her fear. Her father rarely bothered her whenever she was in the training room, and the fact that he made a request while she was still there meant the news was of the utmost importance. “Perhaps I have another assignment. It would be a bit strange receiving one so soon after my last one.” She shrugged, and thrust her staff into her cousin’s hands. “You may want to clean up. If it’s bad I’m certain that the rest of the family will be hearing it shortly afterwards.

    With that she left, following the same path her father had taken before her. He was seated behind his desk when she arrived, a slip of parchment in one hand, and a look of deep contemplation in the other. He motioned for her to enter the room and close the door behind her, to which she complied a feeling of apprehension filling her once the door was closed behind her.

    An hour passed before the young woman emerge from the room, her face a mask of anger and her eyes wild and furious. “You can tell the king to go to hell! I’d rather slit my own throat than bare a child with that filth!” She stormed down the hall, oblivious to the rest of her family who had all gathered to watch Kassina’s tantrum, each one looking perplexed by her outburst. Normally the most obedient of the Montatraeu children, no one could believe that the girl was screaming at her father the way she was.

    She rushed to her room, the halls of the castle echoing with the thunderous sound of her door slamming closed behind her. Alexistar soon stepped out from his office, the others in the family attempting to scurry away before he could catch the staring, but the clearing of his throat held them still. “I would suggest that you all begin preparations. It seems there shall be a wedding in a month’s time.” The curiosity within the hallway was palpable, each person staring up at the head of the household eagerly for more details. The man pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed under the weight of the stares, his head shaking slowly. “The king has ordered that Kassina be married to the eldest Durand boy, or we all face banishment.” There was a murmur of outraged whispers, but the patriarch held his hand up to silence them all. “It will be discussed over the evening meal. For now, allow Kassina to cool off and come to her senses.”

    He left them to retreat back into his study, not missing the rush of excitement that his words had created. They had no say in the matter, and he would not listen to their suggestions for weaseling their way out of the decree. He would give them all time to let the news sink in and address them when they were all more reasonable. For now he had several messages that would need to be delivered including on to the king to comply with his wishes, and another to the Durand family to request a meeting between Kassina and her intended over dinner the following evening. Once the letters were handed off to his butler to be delivered, the man sank down behind his desk with a glass of whiskey and a cigar, hoping that the two luxuries would help prepare him for what he faced later on that evening.
  2. The small, rustic room was silent save for the crackling of wood burning dully on the hearth and the sharp ring of a knife being run across a whetstone. Charlot sat on the end of his bed, a blanket of sewn furs sitting beneath him as he ran the blade across the rock over and over again. To his right a quarter of a dozen blades sat there, already polished and worked to a fine point with a rag resting and a bottle of metal polish resting next to them. To his left, another quarter needed the treatment still. Once these were done he knew he'd need to do the same with his throwing knives, cleaning and edging them before checking that their weights hadn't shifted. Once that was all done he still had the small crossbow propped up in the corner that needed to be polished and tuned, the string replaced if need be and the trigger checked to make sure it pulled smoothly.

    Normally the grim faced young man would have taken such time to think, to plan for thee future, for whatever was to come next. He knew there were no more missions on the horizon. There wouldn't be for a while he'd expect. Not for him. Now all he had left to do was wait. He knew it'd come around one way or another. Only a fool would wait to bring him such news. He wish he could skip the entire forsaken process but he knew that wouldn't happen. He'd have to hear everything he already knew all over again.

    So deep into his brooding was he that he didn't hear the pitter patter of feet and the clicking of claws scraping wood coming down the halls, not until the door flew open. Charlot looked up to spot a familiar blur of shaggy grey come bursting in, something small, brown and bleeding clamped in his jaws. He slowed down, rubbing against his master's leg affectionately before making his way to the corner. The wood where the beast dropped his pray was stained with blood from many meals, stains the young man expected to never come out. Waren dropped the mangled rabbit and dug into it's belly, blood and entrails starting to slide out as he scarfed it down.

    A moment later another figure came through the door, a young and very tired girl with a very angry look in her ice blue eyes. She had her pale blonde hair done up in a ponytail and was wearing a simple light blue dress, a feature that clashed with her hiking boots and the splotches of mud on the hem of her clothes. Held close to her budding chest was a wolf pup wriggling on her grasp at the smell of food nearby. A small, warm smile spread across Charlot's face as she put the wolf babe. "You know mother doesn't like it when you go into the woods in your dresses," he says with a hint of a tease in his voice. The look on the girl's freckled face didn't show the same warmth as she looked to him, wiping her boots on the bear skin rug in front of the fire place before he turned to face him, hands on her hips as she spoke up.

    "Your stupid wolf stole my rabbit!" she shouts, her high pitched voice showing off her anger rather poorly. "It took me two weeks to figure out how to get those traps working right! I went out to check on them this morning and I -finally- caught one and then dumb old Waren came in and took it right out of my hands!" At the sound of his name being spoken the grey wolf looked up, licking at his blood covered muzzle as if waiting for something. When he hears his master's voice speaking in a calm tone, obviously not directed at him, he dug back into the rabbit, ignoring the tiny black pup that darted close enough to snag a bit of intestines in her maw before darting under the bed to enjoy her treat.

    "But you did get the trap to work then, didn't you?" Charlot put down the dagger and reached out, ruffling his sister's hair affectionately with a smile on his face. Though she shook the hand off and kept glaring daggers at him a sheepish smile made itself apparent on her lips as she mutters, "Yeah, I guess I did." She giggled at her own words, suddenly beaming with pride as she realized the silver lining of the whole ordeal. "Still mad at your stupid wolf," he adds, sticking her tongue out before letting a warm chuckle that rang like a bell.

    Charlot chortled along with her just before he noticed a movement at the door, his gaze catching sight of a tall, thin man standing in the doorway. After a curious cant of her head Lillian did the same, her smile fading at the sight of the master of the house, Ethan Durand. He was a pale man with a gaunt face, his raven black hair slicked back and his jaw line touched with a shadow of a beard. His features pointed and elongated, his nose hooked and eyes a dark blue that bordered on black. He wore a black leather tunic and brown pants, his black hunting boots spotless and shined. Despite both of his children staring right at him he tapped his knuckles against the open door before stepping into the room.

    There was a moment of tense silence before Charlot looked to his sister and pat her head again. "You should go wash up and change before Mother sees you and has a fit." Lillian's eyes were filled with uncertainty but she nodded, turning to her father and offering a quick curtsy before stepping out of the room, avoiding his gaze. The pup she'd left behind came bounding out from under the bed, trailing what meat she'd managed to snatch before behind her as she tried to catch up.

    Ethan closed the door once the wolf and her owner were gone, shutting it carefully to make sure it made no noise. Then he turned to his son. Despite the presence of his father Charlot was back to work, sharpening the knife as the man stayed looming over him without a word. It was an uncomfortable silence, the sharpening of the blade and the sound of Waren's teeth chewing on bone cutting out all other noise. Then Ethan spoke.

    "We received a letter from His Majesty," he said, his voice cold and formal as he kept his hands folded behind his back. Charlot nodded once, glancing up and simply stating, "I know." This answer made his father's brow furrow, his head nodding in turn. It was as he expected. "How long?" he asked, offering no context to the question. He didn't need to.

    "The night it arrived. I broke into your office and read it." Charlot spoke casually, his eyes settling back on the knife in his hand as he kept sharpening it. Ethan nodded again. Despite the grim situation he found himself in a weak smile of pride made it's way across his face. This boy was his son. He hadn't expected less from him. It didn't last as he continued to speak.

    "And so you know of what he asks of you." The sigh that left his son's answer before he'd even spoken. "Of course," he said, head shaking side to side as he kept working. Silence fell again, a solid ten seconds before Ethan asked, "And?"

    Charlot finally stopped his work, sighing as he put the stone and blade down before meeting and holding his father's gaze. The look in his light green eyes was difficult to read, uncertainty being the only thing that stood out. "It was not a request. The king has forced his hand in order to stem the flow of his people's blood. If I were any other man alive I would agree with him wholeheartedly. But I am not another man. I do not like my freedom being taken but..." He stops, gritting his teeth as he struggles to speak. He'd expected this for two days now. It'd been what he'd waited for. He'd made up his mind. Yet it didn't make it any easier for him to make it a reality. He took a deep breathe before continuing.

    "I will not damn this family out of selfish wants. I won't." Despite his downfallen expression his voice was backed with unwavering certainty now. "If the king demands peace then I shall give it to him. I will meet this girl and I will marry her if I must. If that's what it'll take."

    Ethan Durand nodded at the young man. After a moment he stepped forward, walking to the bed and putting a cold, rough hand on his son's shoulder. Without either saying so much as a word Charlot understood. The comforting touch was an apology. Ethan Durand was the sort of man who supported the ideals of freedom. To rob one of his children, his first born son and his pride and joy, of one of the most important choices of his life. Charlot knew he'd never forgive himself.

    There was nothing else to be said. The head of the Durand family had much work to do. A response to the king's demands would have to be written up as well as a half a dozen other things. A wedding had to be planned and balanced and a meeting with the Montatraeus had to be made. The mere thought filled Ethan's mouth with salt. Damn their eyes, ever last one of them.

    He marched out of the room, shutting the door just as carefully as he'd done before. Charlot was now alone save for Waren, the blissfully ignorant beast still enjoying his catch. The young man felt empty. Cold. Somehow getting this entire ordeal over and done with made him feel worse. What happened was so quick, so knee jerk that he wasn't fully aware of what happened until it had happened. He found himself staring at one of his knives, one from the pile he'd sharpened and cleaned, stuck in the wall where he'd thrown it in anger. Waren was looking up, body tense as he bares crimson fangs as if sensing danger. As the short burst of adrenaline burned through Charlot's veins, the wolf relaxed and kept gnawing on what was not but bones any longer. The assassin didn't feel any better after his outburst. He hadn't expect it to.

    Letting out a deep sigh, he stepped forward and pried the knife from the wall before sitting back down. Grabbing his whetstone, he began to work the blade over to get that fine edge back. He was waiting. Again. Still so much to get done in the mean time...
    #2 MasterWarlockTyr, Oct 12, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2014
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  3. “Kassina, you are being irrational. You cannot kill the entire family, the king would banish us all.” Silicius sighed loudly as he tried to convince his cousin that the marriage wasn’t the end of the world the way she was making it out to be. The young woman was hearing none of it, her temper flaring, fueling the heavy strikes of her practice weapon against a wooden post. The constant taps was giving him a migraine, and he was positive that the girl’s arm was probably sore, but she did not stop. He began to wonder who she was imagining she was hitting, the king, or the man she was being forced to marry. He chuckled at the evil glare his cousin shot in his direction, her hazel eyes dark and her jaw clenched tight enough he feared she may break it. “I bet if you wore that face at your wedding, the man would run away screaming. You won’t have to worry about killing anyone.” Kassina rolled her eyes, not at all amused by the mild insult. She had no reason to be amused, no reason to even find any mirth in anything.

    The staff was preparing for the meal that her intended was supposed to make an appearance at, the entire household a buzz with news of the young woman’s impending marriage, everyone carrying out tasks with a flare of excitement that made her want to scream at the top of her lungs. No one understood why the future bride was so upset, or why she stormed through the castle with her katana strapped to her hip dressed in her leather training attired. They whispered curiously as she passed by, questioning whether the lady would change her clothing before the man that was to be her husband arrived. Didn’t she want to make a good impression? Of course she didn’t, she wanted to scare the man until he called off the wedding. No one understood that, no one but Silicius, and he was doing everything in his power to try and talk her out of making a fool of herself.

    “Really Kassina, it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be. We all know that you could kill him with your eyes closed. Doesn’t that at least give you some comfort?” Again she shot him a look of disdain, her eyes narrowing at her cousin. “I don’t care if I could kill him. I am not allowed to kill him! What am I supposed to do if he attacks me? Stand there and take it?” No matter which way she looked at it, how many perspectives she viewed the problem from, Kassina could only come to one conclusion. Her ‘husband’ and his family would find a way to kill her, and in such a way that they would appear innocent. Her family would retaliate, and they would be the ones to lose everything. All night she had kept herself awake with those thoughts, her body tossing and turning in her bed constantly as she tried to battle away the feelings of apprehension over her forced engagement.

    “Kass, you’re making yourself worry about things that you shouldn’t. If something happens to you, even if it looks like an accident, the king is going to banish them. The same thing goes it something happens to him. He’s forcing an end of the truce, and he’s using you to do it. You should be glad that you have the opportunity to put this feud to an end.” Silicius spoke quietly, trying to plead with her to see things clearly through the veil of anger that was blinding her. He knew once the shock wore off and she was given a few days for the news to sink in she would understand the importance of what she was bound to. For now though, the best thing any of them could do was let her vent out her anger. He just hoped she got it out of her system before her intended turned up that evening.

    “Why don’t you go prepare for dinner? I know you are not ready for all of this. Marriage was never a part of your plans, and certainly not a marriage to one of our enemies, but this is a good thing Kass.” His cousin stubbornly squared off her shoulders, her jaw still clenched tightly, and her hands gripping her practice weapon with a white knuckled grip. Sighing heavily, he went another route, hoping to find something that would work to pull her out of her funk. “Besides, he might be handsome. At least you won’t have to worry about having ugly children, or weak ones.” The clatter of the wooden weapon hitting the floor startled him, but not nearly as much as the scathing look that shadowed her face. “Do NOT remind me of that. To have to….that is disgusting! The king may as well have asked me to mate with a pig.” Unable to help himself, Silicius laughed loudly, quickly covering his mouth with his fist to muffle the sound. Shaking his head, he stepped forward, snatching her weapon up from the ground before she could grab it. “Go, Kass. Your father’s going to be in here to chase you out in a minute anyway. You may as well get started before he forces you to. It’s really not going to be that bad. We’re all going to be there, and I seriously doubt he’ll want to make a bad impression.”

    Kassina’s lips pressed into a thin line with a look of determination, she was about to argue over the idea, but she knew it was a lost cause. Her father would be arriving in a moment to shoo her off to her room to get ready, and if he didn’t, her mother would be there. ‘Heaven knows that mother will be begging me to let her fix my hair and fussing over every gown in my closet.’ Nodding her head, her chest puffed up with a heavy sigh. “You are right. I will not be able to hide no matter how much I may want to.” It was one thing to argue, but a completely different thing to disobey completely. She would not dishonor herself in that way. She may not want this wedding, may hate the idea with every fiber of her being, but she would go through with it for her family’s honor.

    She needed all the encouraging words she could get, but Kassina had no time to listen to her cousin try to keep her spirits up. Returning to her room, she was greeted by Jinny, her handmaiden who had already selected her gown for the night, and was now bustling around her room gathering up accessories to go along with it. The older woman turned, dark brown eyes showing her disapproval at the younger woman’s current state. Kassina looked over herself, not bothered at all by the sheen of sweat the covered her, or the tangles that matted up her hair. “You need a bath my lady. Go wash up, so that I can help you get ready.” Shooed into the bathroom, the young woman took a quick bath, not long enough to relax the soreness of her muscles, but enough to wash the filth off of her and not have an offensive odor. To her dismay she wasn’t given even a moment to settle down once she was dried off, her maid already fussing over her hair.

    For over an hour Kassina was forced to sit still, letting Jinny do what needed to be done. Her hair was done up in a twist, several ornate combs holding it in place. The gown that had been selected was too frilly and feminine for Kassina’s taste, the color a pale rose, with a high waistline and low neckline, at least a bit too low for her; anything that did not reach her neck she considered indecent, and this certainly came nowhere near her neck. The worst part of it all was the lace that decorated the garment, framing the sleeves and dangling from her wrists. “This is torture.” The woman grumbled, looking at her sulking face in the mirror. “I don’t see why I need to dress so formally. If I am marrying him, he should become accustomed to how I normally dress for dinner.” Jinny gasped, clicking her tongue at the younger woman. “My lady, you must make a good impression! This is your future husband you will be meeting.” Rolling her eyes, Kassina shook her head, not at all caring what type of impression she made. As long as she made it through dinner without jumping across the table and slicing the man’s throat, she would consider it a success.

    A knock on the door ended the preparations, her father standing at the door way dressed in one of his formal suits. He held out his arm to escort her down to the foyer where the family would be lined up awaiting the arrival of their guest. “Perhaps we’ll be fortunate enough for him not to turn up.” Kassina said with a rueful smile, the look turning sheepish at the admonishing expression on her father’s face. “You look lovely tonight, Kassina. Please do not spoil it with a sour attitude. We are not asking you to like him right away, but at least give him a chance to prove himself. After all you are both in the same situation. I’m certain he does not wish to marry you any more than you want to marry him.” Her father lectured, and she knew that he was correct. There really was no point in being angry toward the man since he was as helpless in the situation as she was. That still didn’t mean she was going to like him.

    “Whatever you say, father. I will be polite, but I refuse to like him. Plenty of married couples do not like each other.” The squeeze of his arm against hers was her only chastisement for her words, hazel eyes peering mischievously up at Alexistar, but any further quips were kept silent once they arrived in the foyer.

    The entire family was there, everyone dressed in their formal attire, standing in order from oldest to youngest. Kassina was not forced to stand between her brother Anton and her sister, but instead stood in front of her parents. “This won’t be intimidating at all.” Enraku chimed, snickering loudly at his own jest. “Maybe we should all pull out our weapons and pose with them, he might feel more welcomed that way.” Her father shot Enraku a look, while Anton and Silicius joined in on his laughter. They were all attempting to try and lighten the mood, but Kassina’s tension alone was enough to thicken the air. Silence fell over the family as the clock in the hallway began to chime out the time, signaling that their guest would be arriving at any moment. They were all anxious to see the man who would soon become a member of their family, all but Kassina who was hoping that there would be no knock on the door and she could retire that evening without having to meet the man she was stuck marrying.
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