Title: Into the Shadow
Author: Darksaviour03 (Justin and Nicole Prince)
Books: The Night Angel series
Characters: Durzo Blint, Kylar Stern, Cyras Covelli (Original Character)
Olessa, the world of Arathea, and Cyras is copyrighted to Nicole Prince (*DarkSaviour03) and Justin Prince (Dark Savior Fiction).
The Night Angel is copyright Brent Weeks. This story is licensed under the Creative Commons as derivative, noncommercial fiction.
Cyras Covelli rose as the sun set over Olessa, just as she had every day. It was a ritual for her, a habit of her life that she couldn't break. No, if she was honest with herself, she didn't want to break it.
She paced down the hallway of her estate in the city, her bare feet creating an echoing slap as she walked over the black marble tiles of the floor. She couldn't get the King of Olessa out of her mind. He plagued her as if he was a blight. Wherever she turned, she could see his silhouette. Memories flooded into her mind unabated.
Entering the foyer, she breathed in deeply and tried to take comfort in her surroundings. The woman smuggled in several expressionism paintings from the Great Empire to the west. Several large, leafy ferns lined the corners of the room.
Damn him, she thought, bitterly. He had rejected her. He'd been informed, by her master no less, of her true identity, that she was the Black Tigress, an infamous Olessan assassin. Vaene Arturis, the king of Olessa, had stripped her of lands and titles. He'd banished her from Olessa, a fate worse than death in both of their eyes.
She stepped towards a window and stared out it. Snow blanketed the branches of slumbering trees, and the rigid limps sagged beneath the heavy weight. Drifts of ivory met the ebony walls of the Luccian Villa, piling up against the sides and towered over the coat of ice.
Being away from Olessa in the winter months, the wintery weather was new to her. She never expected it to be so cold. When Vaene had gazed upon her in his bedchamber after her master's revelation, the icy glare in his grey eyes was a twin to the billowing winter breeze.
Like the swirling snow, her emotions clouded her vision. This was not like her. In fact, she used to pride herself for being emotionless. Cyras never allowed herself to be caught up in the feelings that her marks had. After all, once she thought like them, she wouldn't be able to perform her job. How could one kill someone when regret afflicted her heart?
Cyras sighed. Presently, how remorseful she was did not matter. She was given until nightfall to leave the city. Cyras would have complied, but she had unfinished business. Even if Vaene didn't care about her, even if he wanted nothing to do with her, she couldn't leave him to the fate that she knew her master had in store for him. In light of her failure, he would use her sister, the Viper, in her place. Though she wanted to be as far away from Vaene as possible right at that moment, she didn't want him dead.
She would pull off one more job in Olessa, then she would leave. Gladly.
Before she could go through with the job she was planning, Cyras had one desperate play left. She couldn't just ignore the possibility that Vaene would listen to reason before it became too late. If she could get him out of the city before her sister had a chance to kill him, then she couldn't afford to not take that chance.
Beyond the landscape of her former estate, she could see swirls of smoke lift from the rooftops of the other nobles estate. Under twinkling darkness, the city of Olessa slept. Still, there was an undercurrent to the city. A palpable surge of excitement raced through her streets. Politicians schemed their corrupted plans, lining their pocks with the fruits of the impending rebellion.
Guilt coalesced inside of her body and spread over her as if it were a thick sludge. If her master, the Grand Master of the Olessan Order of assassins, wouldn't have perverted their true cause, there wouldn't have been an insurgence.
When their ancestors escaped their oppressors, the order was founded to protect the kingdom. None of the assassins had their eyes on the throne. They ferreted out conspiracy, cleaving the head off any snake that threatened the monarchy from the shadows.
Cyras longed for such a time. She pondered for a moment if she wanted to save the king so badly because he was king or because the king was Vaene. Would any other monarch inspire such loyalty in her?
The answers taunted her, thrusting their intangible fingers forward and pressing them deeply into her mind. She followed the train of thoughts willingly.
Protecting the regency from outside (and the rare inside) assaults from her enemies was not enough. The Olessan Order of assassins wanted more. Niccolo and his master before him craved to rule all of the Olessan Empire. Cyras would even go as far as to say that Niccolo wanted to rule all of the free world.
He would use the brotherhood like pawns. Niccolo gave the contracts out to those who he knew would not question him. Her brothers and sisters protected the Shade's interest with their own blood and sweat. In return, he took a hefty portion of their dues.
As ambitious as she was, she would never conspire against the throne itself. She did not have the power to defy the Grand Master. Until now.
Pressing her lips together, she tried to think of an acceptable outcome to the looming situation. There was no way around what she had to do. Once more, Niccolo, the name that the Grand Master took, forced her hand against someone she cared for. Past eddied with the present as if the older events were a swift flowing river.
"Segan!" the man bellowed. His face tightened in a scowl. Bright eyes flared with the fury that roared inside of him.
A young boy squirmed. He raised his arms and placed his tiny hands around the muscled lowered arm of the assassin.
The glint of steel sparkled ominously in the moonlight. As Segan moved his head forward, blood blossomed on the gentle sweep of his neck.
"I have no choice," the assassin growled, huskily. She wouldn't apologize to the father and husband of her targets. There was much about his own situation that even he did not know. Yet, Tigress was privy to it all. In a way, she was doing him a favor.
With a quick movement of her wrist, she drew the dagger across the child's throat.
Blood splattered on her forest livery. It soaked her leather gloves. Bits of the fluid arced upward and sprinkled her face like drops of rain.
The great general collapsed to his knees, and blond hair swung forward into his face. He was brought down by a simple act. Despite deadening herself to the emotions, the Black Tigress felt a twinge of regret in her soul.
Feeling Segan's life drain out before her and seeing his father's reaction to it changed her. Regret blackened her soul as if a permanent darkness lurked inside of her. Even when his father looked upon her with murderous intents, she felt the sting of her betrayal.
Cyras sighed, pushing a puff of air out of her lungs. She knew she couldn't change the past. Only the Olessan Magae could do such a thing. There was only one thing she could do. Cyras would have to get him to leave the palace and, eventually, the Olessan Empire.
Dressing quickly, in somber silence, she prepared herself to be humble. If she came to Vaene with her usual arrogance, he would likely close her off immediately. She knew what she would have to do right away.
She narrowed her eyes. Arming herself, she slid two, twin daggers into the sheathes at her side. Cyras reached up and picked up the longsword on the wall. The king had called it “Quelanan”, meaning Hope in the old tongue. When Olessa was imprisoned by the people to the west, the sword helped the king led the mystics and his people to freedom. It drew the first blood from the Westerners and help forged a strong kingdom.
She had always found it humorous that it belonged in the hands of an assassin. Not only that, she thought to herself. It was in the hands of a person who had once conspired to usurp the throne.
Presently, it was only hope that drove the woman forward. The choice of betraying her sister or Vaene weighed heavily on her. Cyras would have to choose between the man she loved and her own sister. Blood was blood, but Vaene represented something that Cyras never had. She had chosen.