Memoirs of an Assassin || Hope

Written in response to: Write a story about an afternoon picnic gone wrong.... view prompt

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Crime Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I had led a life of a commoner for five years and in those years my fighting skills had enhanced significantly. Everytime I felt I was abandoned or I had  failed in my task, I was given the next one. I had practised "one mind" as much as I could. It was a tradition and a skill taught by our nameless creed. It meant exactly as the name implied, which is to be of one mind. It was not to be distracted by the past or the future. It is to be attentive to self and attentive to others. It was to be attentive in all senses. One mind could only manifest with a purpose. One mind is not possible for the aimless.  Many legends were told about the miracles one caused because of their mastery of one mind. 

Through my interactions with the creed members who came to find me as they were tasked, they shared the stories of the creed. Our creed had shaped society through history even though it had no interest in the society's evolution. It lived for the art of killing and to seek power over life itself. The yearning was to face death over and over again, and the ability to survive, brought appreciation to life. Sometimes I would lose my senses feeling the feeling of sprialing madness.  In those moments of madness, I would wonder if the elders were sound of mind, and if they were not going around ruining every one’s mind as well. I wanted to let out my anger, but I found myself drowning in fear. Unlike others I wanted to live. I wanted love, and I wanted to know life. So, I fought one more day. 

No one knew my inner mind, for showing weakness would mean the end of me. There were more ways to die than being eaten by ravens, and more ways to be abandoned than one could imagine. I was always mediocre at what I did, and the fact that I did not stand out was the only thing that saved me thus far. I cannot help but feel that it was mediocrity that phased me into oblivion. I became a non person and an object to be pushed around. I did everything to believe, but as Rosin, my mare-horse carried me to the creed temple I was in turmoil. 

I did not want to answer the call back to the temple. Added to my reluctance was a worry that it came a little earlier than my time. Whether it is a reason to rejoice or to resign I was not sure. I was raided on my way back by thieves. I could not show my assassin skills, and so I fought the best I could with someone who had mediocre martial arts training. I survived with the help of strangers but Rosin gave her life, as she tried to carry me away. I was enraged, but there was nothing I could do, for I had sworn loyalty to the unknown clan. 

There were  elders integrated into the society, and rumour was that they were philosophers who worked in normative ranks. If they were very high ranking, we didn’t know. Nothing was confirmed or denied. Since one was never sure one could never act in one direction or the other. The dilemma was chewing away on my soul. No one seemed to be bothered as I was, no one cared. It was a way of life and a privileged one. Such life was my nature, but when I had too much time and nothing to focus on, I would wonder if life could have been different, would I embrace life differently. 

****

No one was ever welcomed or sent off from the temple. We simply went about our duty. Our way of life was to embrace our senses fully to see beyond them. The quest of death was never ending and we were the privileged ones to know a life that many others would not fathom in the worst of their nightmares. Sometimes when I faced death, and my body calmed from the adrenaline, I would wonder who I was. I would wonder if it was worth it to live such a life. 

I did not have time to waste. The encounter with the bandits had eaten my time. The pain of many breaking bones seared through my body with every step I took. 

I reported to the elder on time.  

She signalled me to sit. Accompanying her was an elder in training. We know from their stance and movement. I knew the nature of this place better now, than when I had first arrived. In a strange way the allowance to belong, made me feel comfort of safety and a place I had come to think of as home. 

The elder told me curtly that I had lived up to the expectations the clan had of me, and I was going to be assigned a longer task that involved infiltrating a family. A young prodigy who could be growing to be of great influence. They were to be monitored. Whether  they were a threat needed to be determined. To what they would pose a threat and in which way was unknown. When we failed to understand the briefing we never asked an elder questions. I listened. 

I was to be his personal maid, and everything was on the table for that. Whatever he needed I was not to refuse him. She asked if I understood, and I simply nodded my head. She dismissed me. 

I needed to eat and get some rest. The creed worked like a puzzle. It was a practice not to ask, but things were orchestrated for us to get answers. My body was broken and my mind distraught. As I received no instructions, I focussed on healing, resting, attending to my desires. I needed a horse, but I could not find another one like Rosin. Before I could get attached, it was time to leave. It had been a month. 

***

The scheme was elaborate and I would be on my own. I would have to finish many tasks while I was there. It took me more than an year to find a slave seller and for me to be bought into the masters house hold. It took me another year to work through the ranks and reach the group that served his house. Whenever I saw him he did not notice me so there was no hope that he would ask for me and help with accession in household help ranks. I had one more level to grow into and after that if he did not choose me, there was nothing I could do.

***

It had been six months since I received my formal promotion. I was allowed to enter his chambers. We were to enter only in his absence and always in a  group for cleaning. A single girl was never allowed to linger. The group was well organised and specifically tasked and we were to finish and get out. 

I had grown to love this life, It was predictable and peaceful. The perils of life were centred around dust. I found a way to practise, and my movements acquired more fluidity. I could react to the same threat in multiple ways.  I started to think of martial arts more as a dance. I started to smile. I could be joking and laughing at silly things at times. Some girls became my friends and we would talk about nothing. It left a good feeling in me. Life became predictable. If we met expectations we were rewarded and if we didn't, we were corrected and sometimes punished. Life was simple and I started to want this life. No matter who we were, we were treated as humans. I started to feel like a human being, and I wanted to live like one. My old life and training nagged me in my dreams. If I did not feel guilt for being a threat to their safety maybe I could have gotten away with it. The guilt gnawed at me at night. I had earned their trust with the intent to betray them. My heart had started to change. But I did not have the power to change my life.  

***

While working one day, the master walked in. He was young but he ran the entire business and the household. He could have a court of women at his disposal, but he chose not to. While he handled complex matters he himself seemed a simple man. We could, as workers feel the impact. 

We were all stunned. We dropped our work immediately, and stood to honour his presence. For the first time he greeted us directly without the supervisor being present. He pointed to five of us in the group and declared that we would help him in the upcoming festival next month. He pointed to me and asked me to let my supervisor know and if he had any questions to ask the master directly. Then he ordered us to finish our work as usual, while he settled himself for tea and paperwork. 

I heard that he had become influential at a very young age. He was gaining recognition for potentially being a man that could give a new direction to how society was evolving. There were vested interests that didn't want any change. They needed things to remain as they were. 

***

The festival was elaborate and I made it to his inner circle. This was a cue. He was going to be assassinated at the festival. 

As I worked closely with him I started to compare him to my brother's and elders at the temple. It didn't take long for feelings of admiration to develop into a crush and a crush perhaps into love. I was practical and knew that this love could never be realised but I was glad to be able to feel something, anything. Even though I knew that my reality was a lie I wanted to pretend that this was my life for one more day. I kept extending it day by day… when days turned into months and months into years, I did not realise

I was changing and I wanted to stop the killing. I wanted to stop being part of that. But there was no hope for me. If I let on anything I will get caught. My creed had its ways, and I was not naive.  I had to let the master know. Only given my status even though I was working directly under him I could not approach him directly. I reckon this rule was made as much for our safety as it was made for his. 

Thankfully there were occasions where he would address me directly for a task. Our lives fell into a new routine, where our supervisor received detailed instructions in the evening and distributed it to all of us first thing in the morning. Our supervisor needed to inspect the work done and report to the young master and receive the next set of instructions. If he needed anything to be done at the spur of the moment then he instructed one of us. He gave me the most instructions compared to any others, and I indulged in a sense of pride in my accomplishments. I did the tasks with everything I had in me. 

I did not seek to be trusted, but for some reason the young master wanted to check if he could trust me. The decorations and preparations were on track. While an army was allocated to make the venue functional he personally focussed on inviting people. 

***

I was sometimes allocated the task of serving him food, appetisers and something to drink. I had also become the official taster. If I did not die after eating the food, it was served to the master. 

On one of the days I saw an opportunity, where the master was available, and I had been entrusted with his food again. The loyalty turned into indignation. That day in the morning, I had been informed of the assasination. My behaviour may be a little odd. The master did not lose his semblance. He seemed aware of my feelings for him, but never once did he let on. Whether he reciprocated was beyond any possibility I could fathom. 

He put his scroll down and looked at me as I interrupted him. It was clear that I had crossed a line but there was no going back now. I told him that he was a well known man, and told him that his life was not safe. I begged him to keep it hidden that I helped him. I did not say more than that, he ordered for me to be confined. The creed found out of my betrayal and all the evidence pointed to me being guilty of intending to kill him. 

The master looked sad and extremely disappointed. Was he heartbroken I dared to wonder. I tried begging him. I told him I could choose not to tell him but I did. He asked me how I knew and who was a threat. Years of training and fear made me keep quiet. I said eventually it did not matter who, what mattered is that he was vulnerable and he must do whatever is necessary to be safe. 

I was thrown into the mansion's dungeon. Although I tried to cover it up and made it seemingly look like I was innocent, it did not work. Whatever the end turned out to be, I held deeply in my heart the possibility of a normal life. First time in my life I had taken a step to protect someone's life. I felt the kind of pride I never felt before. As for what would become of me I did not know. 

March 19, 2022 18:21

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