Tomas, pt. 14

The cool night breeze brushed across his face. His arms taunt, holding him close to the wall. Two figures had paused to converse just below him and he froze where he was, lest his motion cause them to look up. The window was only a few feet away, yet he dare not continue. A moment stretched into minutes that felt like hours. His muscles screamed impatiently and threatened to cramp. He would not move, not fall, not ruin this one opportunity. The figures nodded to each other and started walking away. He reached along the wall carefully, the pain of moving almost as bad as holding still. Fingers found the edge of the window, explored, and felt the light brush of a sheer fabric. The window covers. It was open, good.

He eased himself over and slowly to the floor, silent as a cat. Nothing stirred in the room. This would be easy. He strode across the room, the fine rug padding his steps. An ornate desk was against the wall, just as he was told it would be. The one drawer it had opened smoothly. In the dim light he could see a stack of papers, the hilt of a dagger, and a small dark figurine. Such a small thing to command such a price, but it was not for him to worry why someone wanted it so badly. Holding it up, it balanced easily in the palm of his hand. The carved stone radiated surprising warmth. A small thing indeed. He wrapped it in a cotton cloth and tucked it into the pouch on his belt.

“I hope what he is paying you is worth your life.”

He spun around to see an old man in his nightshirt, holding a crossbow pointed levelly at his heart. He froze, hands resting on the edge of the desk. The old man waited across the room, eyes never wavering.

“It’s a simple job, for a simple trinket.” He stalled, heart racing. The window beckoned to him, but a jump from this height would likely break a leg. He inched his hands forward, one sliding down into the drawer.

“A trinket?” the old man nearly laughed. “You really have no idea, do you? I suppose he’d not want to tell you lest you keep it for yourself.”

He shook his head, using the motion to keep the old man looking at his face. His fingers quested out and found the hilt he was looking for. It slid quietly over the papers as he brought it up behind his back.

“No. He doesn’t have to worry about you any more than I do.”

He could sense it, in that moment, as the old man steadied his grip on the bow and pulled the trigger. The bolt shot out, but he wasn’t there. Desperately he had dropped to his knees. As the air parted above his head he rolled forward. There was a loud thunk behind him as the bolt was imbedded in the desk, but he was already coming to his feet under the old man. The dagger thrust up and he caught his target in the belly, pushing him back and into the wall. He pressed in harder, and the crossbow dropped.

There was a shocked gasp. “… why?…”

Tomas looked up, eyes widening as he stared into others soft and gentle. “Raynah?” He couldn’t move. Her hands slid forward to his, where the dagger had driven into her. They clasped around his, slick with hot blood, but already growing cold. Her eyes held an unspoken plea. Tomas shook his head. “No…” and then her smooth skin began to peel and flake away revealing a white skull underneath. Bony hands held his in an iron grip. “NO.” They pulled the dagger out and raised it between them so they could both see it, and each other.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Tomas woke with a start. “No!” He was outside. Alone. His breath came in short gasps as if he had been running. When he looked down, his right hand was covered in blood. He had slept near a stream, and scrambled towards the water plunging his hand in, scrubbing at it viciously. The red flowed away from him, leaving him clean. He sat on the bank for a long while, never closing his eyes.

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