Never mind the bounty that would hang over his anonymous head, after he was finished. He would never be able to return here, but he didn't need to. He had his rules. No attachments, no residency. Permanence was a jail cell with endless boundaries. He couldn't afford the risk.
His reward was the big prize. Whoever or whatever this client was, they had a limitless supply of eons. And he didn't ask questions with so much to gain.
He picked up the pace. Time was not on his side today. Neither was the weather. He had a job, and he was going to fulfill it to the best of his ability. His brisk steps were hardly quiet, and the slush and ice and snow was the least of his concerns, even though he was already getting soaked from his boots to the ends of his black trousers. If someone saw, or heard him, they might suspect his treacherous intentions.
The crowds began to form several minutes before the cutting block, as it was so commonly called, came into view. The area stood in stark contrast to the dirty slush-filled streets it lay above. It was black-coated slate rock cleaned of dirt, but still wet from its snow covered base. Rumors were going round that Prince Deidrich was too much of a miser, and too lazy to waste his money on his town, or even the execution block he was so fond of. Sometimes he came to the executions, but mainly the ones that involved the King's traitors and caught fugitives.
He watched as a pudgy speaker came to the podium attached to the block. The man cleared his throat. Everyone grew silent. It was mandatory to hear what he had to say. If not…..well it wasn't good. This was a new man. But he supposed the late General Garson wasn't going to stay posted here forever. He had more important things to handle. Like, for instance, the unspoken matter of war with one of the outer territories. It was futile to prevent the war.
Bardsville wasn't power-hungry like Arsentya was, nor were they as well funded by the other allied territories. They were hardly a threat, and it was a poor choice to waste their resources on a battle they wouldn't be able to win. All scouts reported normal behavior, so there were no concerns.
"Everyone that is hereby present for this execution, must understand that this is no regular petty criminal," the speaker's theatrical voice carried through the sullied town center. No one was surprised by the notion. There was a common pattern here, it seemed. Three amateurs, followed by a dangerous traitor. It never failed to amaze him at how straight-forward the process was.
"And a woman, no less." Everyone, except for him, gasped at this. What kind of lady could be so dangerous, and such a threat to the throne? Noble-women weren't natural born fighters. But he knew this already. The little bit of information he got from his client had mentioned he was to save the girl from this execution. And how hard could that be?
There was a stir in the crowd, and he strained his neck to see over the people gathered in front of him. Why on earth did tall people think it okay to stand in front of people of average height. He muttered a curse as people ran into, poked, or prodded him and didn't even utter an apology.
Suddenly, he was shoved to the foot of the stage. He watched, intrigued, as two imperial guards walked towards the stage, dragging under their arms a girl with a black bag covering her head. Her arms were shackled, but her feet didn't quite seem to work. There was no way she could do any harm, how was she dangerous? His question was answered, as the speaker spoke again.
"Now, everyone, I bring you a person who not only lived near, but tried to assassinate the King in his own home." A hushed silence fell over the crowd, and they watched as the guards carried the limp girl up the steps and unto the block. Now was the time to act.
"Excuse me, pardon me," he muttered apologies as he cut his way through the crowd and out onto the empty streets. He cut left, memorizing his days of watching the streets. He knew them like the back of his hand now. He turned dark corners, finding each turn with ease and efficiency.
The snow had begun to melt, and he tried hard not to slip. Finally he found his spot. There was a back entrance, and it led to under the stage. He would have to act quickly, but he would be able to get the girl well before they realized what was happening, and then, then he'd have to run.
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