The Keeper and the Dragons - Cover

The Keeper and the Dragons

Copyright© 2023 by Charly Young

Chapter 2

Northmarket District Oldtown

The assassin known as Wraith lurked in the shadows atop a roof just off Northmarket Street in Oldtown. She appeared to be a teen in certain lights, mid-twenties in others. In reality, she had the talent to make herself appear any age. She’d had so many names she’d lost the memory of her original one. She cared little about what others called her; to her, giving a being a name was an attempt to own them. Never again. In the past, she’d had many owners. The curse of her magic, the uncommon beauty of her elfin features and her huge lavender eyes had seen to that. They had all wanted to own her from her very first nanny, who had stolen her from a long-forgotten home to a host of others, all of whom wanted to “protect” her. That is until a more powerful being came along and took her away. That was the way life was—until Master had seen her potential and purchased her at an Oldtown slave market when she was twelve years old.

Master had turned her into a killer without peer.

As she waited for her target, she absently played with the braid she had twisted into her long green hair. She was uncharacteristically tense. This job felt rushed—the planning slipshod., she never felt comfortable in the northern sector. It was too crowded. While it was easy to be invisible here, it was difficult to be unnoticed. To make matters worse, it was too close to the border of Lachlan Quinn’s world. She never took a contract in his world. There was always a risk of running into him. She had escaped him once. He thought her retired. She wanted to keep it that way.

She hated him. She had to force herself to stay away from him. All men fell at her feet—all men except him. All men and some women were bedazzled by her beauty—except him. Her slightest whims made all men easy fools—all men except him. And she’d found that men were liars and cheats—all men except him.

Master had trained her—taught her to wield all the tricks and artifice of a courtesan-crafter. Then, to round out her training, placed her with a sadistic renegade shadow walker with one eye to learn the tricks of the assassin. Then sent her after Lachlan Quinn. But he turned the tables and had “rescued” her. Killed her master with effortless ease. She hated him for freeing her. Debt made her feel helpless and she feared helplessness above all things.

She mentally shook herself. Her targets arrived. It was time for action.

The tall female who was the eldest of the Dragon’s daughters emerged into out of an alley with three mountain troll enforcers as bodyguards. They were for show, the assassin knew, no being with any sense messed with a dragon shifter. The trolls fanned out and secured the street against any gawkers foolish enough to involve themselves in Dragon Bank business. She languidly took a seat across from the waiting vampire.

The assassin took a couple of beats to admire the colorful silk robes the two women wore.

A fat grizzled dwarf wearing a stained leather apron appeared, bearing a serving tray with two bone china cups and a teapot. He placed the tray on the table with a grunt and returned with a platter of assorted pastries.

The vampire waved him away, leaned in and began to speak.

It was time.

She ran through a practiced breath exercise to center herself and muttered a prayer to her dead master’s god, as she had done a hundred times before. Good routines made for successful missions. She gingerly selected one of the carefully prepared shurikens from her pouch. She silently arose from her hiding spot, took a step and kicked over her water bottle. The sound was slight but enough to alert one of the vampire’s amazon bodyguards who looked up and spotted her. She instantly leaped to push the two diners apart, only to take the loosed star in her side. The amazon began convulsing immediately as the powerful toxin that coated the point took effect. She collapsed seconds later.

The assassin cursed softly. She’d been doing these sorts of jobs for years and understood that mistakes happened. She planned for them, but that bit of poor housekeeping could well be her death. Her new client harshly punished failure. She considered tonguing aside the false tooth she’d had installed years ago and biting into the tiny glass vial it contained, but instantly dismissed the thought. They held her son. Her mind shifted to her fallback plan. Like a wisp of smoke from a dying fire, the assassin slid from the rooftop into the night.

The source of this story is Finestories

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