Rise and Fall

Pilar held the tip of her sword to the assassin’s throat. “How much?” she hissed.

He swallowed, his eyes crossed from looking at the weapon. An amateur, she thought. The bounty must have gone up.

“I will not ask again.” She pressed the sword down, drawing blood.

“Ten thousand,” he whispered.

Her stomach clenched. That would feed a family for years. A large family. She hadn’t thought she had any tears left, but her eyes managed to uncover a few.

“This isn’t my fault, you know.” Pilar’s hand didn’t waver, though her voice did. “I was cursed. They set the spell on me and sent me off to where I would cause the most damage.”

She leaned closer to the man, who tried to squirm away and earned himself another cut. Not that it mattered; he would be dead from the curse in a few days if she didn’t kill him now. Like everyone in Tremont, and Fairhaven, and Port Royal with its tall white towers and fabled hanging gardens. Like the people of all the other cities she had passed through in the three empires that were no more.

“I’m trying to find a cure,” she said. She wasn’t sure why, but she wanted him to understand. “Is my life worth less than any other? Can you justify murdering one innocent person to save a hundred more? A thousand?”

“I don’t care about them,” the man said, gritting his teeth. “You killed my family. I was across the sea on business and–”

“But it wasn’t me!” she screamed. “Those damn mages did this! Why don’t you go after them instead!”

“Because,” he muttered, avoiding her gaze. “This is easier.”

Her eyes dried. “Not as easy as it will be to slide this into your throat. For what it’s worth, I am sorry.”

“So am I,” the man said.

Pilar frowned. “Why?”

“He’s only a decoy,” said a voice behind her.

She felt a sharp pain in her chest and suddenly couldn’t breathe. Was that a sword? Try as she might, she couldn’t turn to see who had done it. Not that it mattered. She hadn’t seen most of the people she had killed, so it only seemed fair that she couldn’t see her own killer.

Not my fault, she tried to say, but all she could do was mouth the words as she stared at the man beneath her. He stared back as she fell to the cold ground, with what might have been pity in his eyes, and then she saw no more.

The man stood up, holding his injured throat. “Is it over, then?”

“We’ll know soon enough,” his partner said, wiping his sword clean on Pilar’s clothes. “If the curse doesn’t die with her, then we are all doomed.”

4 Responses to “Rise and Fall”

  1. Very good, very gritty story. Sounds like a neat fantasy world you have here. I wonder if this curse will end with her death…

  2. Brilliant! I loved this. Made me jump when the decoy spoke. And you fitted so much story into so few words. Great stuff xx

  3. Ooh! Nicely done. Welcome back to #fridyflash!

  4. Zaiure says:

    Very interesting story! I’d love to know more about the curse and what happened before this scene. 🙂

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