danceofflame_import: (LJ Idol)
[personal profile] danceofflame_import
I sat, looking across my desk at my twin sister. We were speaking of the recent betrayal in the family…had just found out that the contamination to the nodes underneath her home, and mine, was ordered by one who had been loved as family by us. I watched the gathering folk some fifty-odd feet behind her, all dressed in the same familiar black leather that hung in my closet behind me. She couldn’t see them, of course, she was lounging in her own chair, merely watching my face. The one now acting against us, thanks to a perceived slight, had been my fiancee, and I was reeling from it. The gentleman lurking behind her and watching us both had followed my gaze the moment it left desk, and flickered over my sister’s face, and I nodded to the yard behind her.

“There will be war for this.”

She blinked at me, confused, and so I gestured further to the space behind her back. “I didn’t call it, and I didn’t call them.” She finally turned, after understanding, and watched them with me. She would approach later when the crowd had thinned a bit. There was a table there, full of scrolls bound with the standard official green and silver seals which always contained orders. I knew that there were many scrolls being sent to the families of each scroll holder, green replaced with scarlet, notifying them of their work. There were many I recognized and many I did not, all who lived nearby, all coming for the same purpose. Some of them saw me. The ones I had fought with before nodded at me, faces set and grim as they read their scrolls. All had stars of black and silver on their right hands, as I did, all were comrades of mine. The usual orders consisted of at most four or six for a hit…this group here was too large for anything but a small war, as I preferred to call them.

I moved around my quarters, knowing I had a scroll to pick up as soon as I was armed. “Armor…” I ran through my standard list in my mind, and strapped on my familiar black leathers, straps hissing and snapping at the speed I buckled them with.

It had only been a short few weeks since the last small war-for miniature condensed wars these hits were-like this one I saw forming. That one had taken between one to two months, and had left its warriors and healers drained, exhausted, and reeling. The aftermath was, indeed, not even over yet. Tyraelia was risking much by ordering this now.

“Poisons…bottles…where are my healing jars…pouches…damn these boots!”

 Most of the people that I could see in this crowd-or at least most of the capable-had fought in the last one. I  had done so also. It earned me the name Firedancer, chosen for my flaming battle-dances, and the small amount of work that I’d done had earnt me the rank of a minor officer. I would be summoned. I had ended the war healing from torture that left me barely alive, and shortly after had given birth to my twins, Aiden and Anna. Their father had them hidden in his care, as they were being hunted and thus were unsafe with me…I had no reason to be hindered be it for health or family now. Tyraelia, the commander of the assassins I was amongst the ranks of, would call.

“Bracers, shield, hammer, scimitar, spear…where are my throwing sharps?”

My sister was still speaking to me, the lurker in the shadows still watching me, while I prepared. I was now braiding my hair out of my face and weaving in small poison-filled silver pins, and longer pins to hold my long hair up in a twist, as I’d strapped all my standard sheathes to thighs, calves, torso, back, and arms. I barely heard her as I retrieved the matching weapons and slid them home, giving testament to the turmoil truly in my mind. My twin has the voice of a songbird, she entrances those who listen even to mere speech unknowing, haunting and magnetic as the Sirens of Greek myth…simply less deadly, unless in battle, as a rule. It takes much preoccupation to brush off her effect without trying, but I truly do not remember what we said. I merely answered her absentmindedly. I could not afford to give less attention to my arming. I would apologize to her later…she’d understand, fellow assassin that she is, and remind me of what we said.

Light flickered off metal as star’s fire off wet glass while I inspected my favorite blades in the night, wicked and curved as the waning crescent moon above. I paused in my arming of myself, having noticed my scroll had been dropped on my desk. I obliged Tyraelia and read it before I finished…and shuddered, but finished my preparations. After I’d secured the smooth hard pouches always found next to my sheathes to my hips, donned my armour and soft laced and buckled boots, read my orders, and finished with all details, I opened the swinging door in my desk to pass her and the lurking one in time to hear her ask “But who will lead?”

I paused, tensed, bowed my head. “We need you. Come.”, said Tyraelia, my commanding goddess. “Don’t go…it will destroy you…please!“, plead Freyja, weeping, trying to protect me. I cursed my gift as a Seer, hated it once again, for I saw the loss of innocent millions if I refused, saw the los of myself, my family, my home, my beloved deities all too glaringly close if I did not. I looked up, saw The Brown and the Shadowsong watching me, one my lover, one my dear friend, both too keenly aware of the torment flickering across my face…sympathy and fear in their own. Of all they would know what was in my mind. They knew me well…and they have both led under such straining circumstances. An unasked question in my eyes, they answered with a nod. I looked up at Freyja, pain and sorrow in my face. “I’m sorry…”. Her face turned from one of tear-streaked pain and fear to one of pain and fury, and She sharply turned and stormed away, keering. I watched Her retreating feathered back, and I cringed, tears now in my own mind. I turned, and answered my twin. She had, apparently, not read her own orders yet. She would not know.

“It’s me.”

Her face turned stricken, but I allowed a small, if saddened, smile to grace mine, and I turned to walk to what were now my men, sending a silent prayer sent to those who would aid me, a silent curse sent to those who created me. My face was hard; I donned the mask of a warrior and leader. No more room for emotion. No more room for weakness, no flaws could I reveal. I was strong…a perfect, walking weapon. Trained and forged to be the perfect tool to those who owned me. To protect is in my nature, but all I knew was being trained to kill. I had to keep my men alive, and so I would not allow them to see any flaws. A flaw in myself is a flaw in them, it leaves gaping holes that could get them killed.

But I am not perfect. I am no walking weapon. I am not indestructible, and I am not an endless pillar of strength. I am a person, a sentient being broken but whole, and not even the gods are perfect…I certainly am not. Day one of the war ended with the knowledge of this…and the knowledge that I would thus likely fail to win this little war, failing everything and everyone I loved. I was chosen as the commanding officer for this small war not for rank, or experience-I had only remembered three organized combats under my belt since leaving Muspellheim, and only one was for Tyraelia-but for nothing more or less than I had skill…and a unique proficiency with fighting our foe. My family and company’s blood on my hands…the day ended in consuming terror. I was preparing to risk everything I held dear to adhere to the codes I swore myself to, and I was faced with the knowledge that if I failed I had been cursed to survive them to live with that failure. And that even if I succeeded, I may pay a high price for my honor.

I greeted my fellow assassins, now under my command and thus protection. And as I watched them gain hope after looking at me, I knew I wore my mask with the perfection I was forged to have.

Mission 68: Begin.

**This entry was written for LJ Idol.**
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March 2011

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