Ptolema leaps with mute gracefulness on top of the silvery-tile, gripping the knife. It still dripped the maroon blood from the former casualty. Ptolema had executed Arden hours before coming here. Her veins raw adrenaline exploded with every stride she took. Warmer and tighter, Ptolema reached to her blade’s next victim: Rasja. The short black hair above his collarbone gives Ptolema plenty of accessibility for an easy kill. Rasja has cut his mane since the last time Ptolema saw Rasja. Since last occasion she saw him, Rasja’s hairstyle was in a high bun to play off his outstanding jawline.
Rasja stood in the presence of his sink while scrubbing dishes. The soap that smells of lilac and roses, causing Ptolema to want to sleep. Cursing herself with a silent voice, Rasja’s ears did not hear her at all. She kept creeping nearer him with a hushed death wish at her palm.
Rasja bony figure moved one bone at a time as he scrubbed then arrayed each fine dish set. The muscle on his bones can presume that food is not common in the household. Rasja’s house is full of paintings and a velvet carpet, that must be where he spends his money.
Water from the sink created pearl-silver clouds of steam launching them self in the air, creating arrows shooting from a bow. The arrows vanish in a blink of an eye. Ptolema swallowed her pride and took another stride towards him. She could smell him, the lavender did not cover up the stench that reeked on his skeletal frame.
He did not budge as Ptolema leapt between shadows before touching him with her own sighing. Her skills have improved since the last year she encountered Rasja. Though she won in skill to skill combat years ago. Today, she can slaughter him in two moves: a lunge and a swing.
She is only inches away from him, forcing her to skip a few breaths of nerves. She held her breathing to keep from creating any unnecessary noise as she flicked the knife between her fists and then... she swung at the brown collar on his frame. His skeleton build fell to the arrayed white brick she had stepped onto while coming into his house.
Blood covered the tiles in an instant, producing a dirty maroon color. He didn’t even groan when she murdered him. Not a noise broke from his mouth, but a low thump echoed through the apartment as his bones hit, now crimson, tile.
The way the thud had twisted into a squish, resulted in Ptolema’s heart pounding with success. She had forgotten the amusement of killing someone. That amusement changed to selfishness as the reward for his death flashed before Ptolema’s eyes. She had before set her feelings aside, for she is in the Gold Guild and cannot let a foolish man ruin her reputation. Ptolema does not reveal any sign of emotion. It shows too much of the vulnerability in a person (a lesson from Kolo).
Rasja is dead. His eyelids closed over the irises of, once a young man. Now, that youthful man lies lifeless in his warm blood, while his jaw hung limp, nearly touching the floor. His skull a few inches from his frame formed a red line making a connect the dots with his carcass.
Ptolema stuffs the head into her bag with a gentle roughness. She lifts her chin, set her mask back on, and left the apartment with no other disturbances.
She made sure not to make any commotion while she crept along the circularly winding staircase. The carpet that connected the entry to the floor was a purple-velvet color. How could anyone stand such bright paint near the front of their house?
Do guests like this? Ptolema thought as she looked at the velvet carpeting once again.
Ptolema’s hand reached for the exit when a wooden beam from the staircase - she had stepped off of - groaned. She spun around to try and spot who was there; what was there. In this town, magic became banned - forbidden! - which means more people use their witchery for killing. Her eyes gleamed as if something is watching her at the dawn of night. She saw nothing. Her dagger still dripping with the wet blood from Rasja, and the dry blood of Arden. Ptolema placed the blade at her side and slipped out of the apartment. She ran around the street and into the nearest alleyway. The moon pitied her as she runs towards Rohodly’s residence. The beam’s noise must have been a fat rat. Ptolema hopes it was a rodent that had gotten into the household. She prayed to Fril that it was only a rodent, for her face is plastered with a prize on every tree in every kingdom.
Maybe a witch was there.
Maybe a royal guard was waiting for the right moment.
Maybe, just maybe…
Sweat beads up on her forehead (underneath her mask) as she runs towards Rohodly’s household. Her breaths shortened to the same steady rhythm as her heartbeat. She turns toward another alleyway that is only lit by a single fire lamp. It lies outside a town’s person’s open window. They must have fallen asleep and forgot to blow the flame out. They might be up and looking at her through the fog’s heavy wall of his or her room. Though her mask covers most of her face, she still feels the stares of the townspeople. Her conscious took over her soul. She hears the people’s thoughts inside her mind, judging her, criticizing her, rating her. They have beaten most of Ptolema’s life upon her, yet it gets to her mind every time. Ptolema has not finally arranged her feelings for them, but she will (Kolo won’t let her forget that promise ever again).
She approaches the client’s mansion and knocks on the wooden door. The bronze door knob turns. The doorway gave way to a crevasse of darkness and a tiny green eye that squints at Ptolema. A soft chuckle arose as the eye looked her up and down. It stopped when it saw the bag in her hand, then raised its gaze to meet Ptolema’s half-hidden eye. The mask she wore covers most of her face, but still did not disguise her eyes or hair. She pulls the hood farther over her hair. On occasions, she displayed a mask that only covered half her face and not her full, ugly face.
Ptolema knocked herself out of her daze. “Mister Rohodly, I have the deaths you requested. May I come in?” Ptolema first gestured to the bag, before the door opened only wide enough to let her in. She has been in this mansion. The owner buys new gadgets and furniture every day because of how rich he is. Yui council representatives are always expensive.
“Please, let me see the true proof of my dead council members,” the mansion owner, Rohodly, insists while pointing at the bag. His finger shook from old age. He wore his too-tight night clothes that did not help hide he is over seventy years old. White hair has been growing on poor old Rohodly’s head since Ptolema worked for him, three years ago. Even the best potions nor witches in the universe can help with the wrinkles he has on his face. Ptolema stared at Rohodly while setting the bag, with the two heads in it, on top of the nearest glass table. She opened it when Rohodly set a stack of cash beside the bag and shoved it toward her. Her eyes widen after her mouth falls to the floor. It is double the money he told her he would pay her for the task. Fifty silver chiops. That could pay her rent for four months and extra for cheap food from an actual restaurant - not the guild.
“Thank you,” Ptolema says, then keeps opening the bag. She pulls out the head of the last victim she had killed first: Rasja. His eyes were closed, but his mouth hung wide open. Rasja’s brown skin still shines in the gleaned harsh house light, but it now covers his teeth in his own blood that leaked from his throat. Rohodly gave a cheerful clap with his hands that showed much joy. He motions her to pull out the next head: Arden. Still frozen his eyes in a face of fear, made Ptolema smirk. Since she killed him this morning, the blood dried up and stuck to the head. Ptolema held both heads in her bloody hands. She wanted to puke but held it in for the sake that might take back the doubled pay for her if she puked.
“Well done, sweetheart. Now, I will move up in the council, again, because of you, my dear!” the house owner cheered. Ptolema smiled and nodded- her usual gesture. Her mask became burning hot, which brought a feeling over another heat stroke. It is impossible for her to get another one after the last stroke. She knew too. The temperature seems to get hotter for Ptolema. While closing her eyes, she drew in a breath for some relaxation and calmed herself.
“Is that all for tonight?” she tried to ask as calm as she could sound while setting the heads back into the bag and handing them to the house owner. Rohodly took the bag and walked to the back wall of the room. He then opened a secret wooden plank that beheld storage area, and with careful hands, he set the bag into it. The rest of the other heads that Ptolema had killed for him are down in that deathly storage area. She almost choked on her own breath as Rohodly closed the storage area loudly.
“I doubled it this time because I feel you needed a raise, considering how long you’ve worked for me,” Rohodly answered Ptolema’s question without her having to ask. She had to hide her joy behind the mask. Ptolema drew in another breath. The air, she realized, is damp from the rain. Ptolema breathed in through her nose and out through her mouth, relaxing.
Rohodly grabs the chiops from the glass table and sticks out the hand to Ptolema. She held back a smile in her mask.
“Thank you, sir,” she bowed and took the money from the house owner’s hands. His hands were rough. Its scars from fights and wrinkles from old age made them occur clammy against Ptolema’s soft hand.
“Your next targets are Carmoc and Gunn from the Uri council. Got it?” the house owner informs Ptolema. She smiles and nods. Again. Her usual gesture has worked her entire life. Her trainer taught her this trick when she was five. He told her: “Never say too much, always listen too much.” He told her to smile and nod.
Ptolema turns around to leave the house. The old house owner quickly said before she left, “Be careful out there.
“She gave him a “Thank you” and leaves without a sound. The door did not even creak as she slipped out. The puddles make an obstacle course for her to dodge along the alleyways. She runs down the neighborhood to her guild with quiet and quick feet. The wind blows silent songs into her ears the entire way there.
Ptolema smiled as she walks past a clear window filled with decorations of all kinds. She remembered a time when the guild decorated the entire place for fun, like this rich family. Ptolema was not rich, and she is not ashamed of it. Not one bit. Her smile grew wider in the moon’s light as she ran faster into the night’s gaze. The guild appears in her vision-yes!- there it is. Home-sweet-home!
Ptolema’s feet move faster on the gravel as she runs as fast as she can to the guild for safety and a comfortable bed. Her mask lets the wind seep in through the edges. The lopiy lining has made the mask heavy ever since she sewed it in yesterday’s sundown. It is doing its job; making the mask breathable.
She reaches for the door, but it opens to a familiar face: Riker. He grins while pulling Ptolema by the wrist into the guild hall. A dozen people are in here (including Ptolema and Riker). The beer spilled all over the wooden floor by the drunks.
“I am tired and going to bed. I’ll party tomorrow,” Ptolema informs the eleven people who watched her sag her feet all the way to her room. Riker followed Ptolema all the way there.
“How many?” he asked while stopping Ptolema by the shoulder to turn her to face him. Their eyes met, but she looks away from his honey-colored eyes.
“Two. You?” Ptolema answers.
“Three. Ha, I destroyed you and there’s nothing you can do to change it now,” Riker laughed.
“Oh, yeah? How many targets do you have next?”
“One. You?” Ptolema chuckles before answering, “Two.”
Riker glares at her before giving a light punch to her shoulder. She punches him back in the stomach, hard. Riker let go of her to hold his stomach. Ptolema ran into her room and locked the door twice. Riker banged on the door for Ptolema to let him in, so he could kill her. She laughs while lying on her soft bed she bought last week with chiops from Tyli.
“You’re going to hell the next fighting match, Lema!” Riker roared through the door.
“I’m planning on it,” Ptolema goads. She smiled as the knocking on the door softened, it stopped. She starred out her window at the stars above her. They twinkled in the night sky. One fell from the sky. Every time a star falls, it means, a person died with a happy soul. That is what Ptolema’s mom explained to her when she was younger. Every night she looked up at the stars with her mom until her mom got murdered. Ptolema was only two and a half when her mom died. She tries to think of every memory she had with her mom, but she was so young to remember them all. Ptolema pushes away her tears.
She took off her mask, her clothes, her weapons, and changed into her nightgown. No one in the guild has seen her without a mask, or a half-mask, covering her face. Ptolema likes to keep her identity a secret because the entire royal guard is after her head.
Riker has only been an assassin for four years, the guards only know he exists. The royal guards know Ptolema exists and want her,-not captured- but dead. She knows her life is on the line with every murder she accomplishes. An upbeat knock on the door brings Ptolema out of her daze as she asks, “Who is it, and what do you want? Nevermind, just go away!”
“Room service!” A low voice answers.
“Go away, Riker!” Ptolema fumed.
“Oh, come on. Did I fool you at all?” Riker asks with a sounding voice.
“No, now go away!”
Ptolema could have a roommate but no one can trust anyone in an assassins’ guilds. Even a person walking along the street is not trustworthy. Someone can order an assassin to kill your friend, your roommate, your spouse, even your own family. Ptolema does not try to make new friends in case she must kill them. All her family is dead, she cannot help that. One day, Ptolema believes, she will capture the one responsible for their deaths and bring him to justice. She will rip off every limb, one at a time. Her murderous training has been only to avenge her family and others the killer has killed. Ptolema falls into a deep sleep with a dream about how she would kill the one responsible for her family’s deaths. She dreams about it all night while drooling on her pillow. Her snores were only loud enough for a person to hear if he or she walks close enough to her door. Ptolema has made sure to double lock her door every night since she has been in the Gold Guild. Riker is the only one that can hear her snores.