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A note from Andur

Author's Comment:

If you find mistakes, pls tell, thx. I don't like mistakes.

Author's Comment:

I was asked about reading my work on other sites. The answer is simple:

Currently I am not active in any other networks than royalroadl.com. Only here, I correct mistakes and errors.

If you read it anywhere else and have to pay for it, or have to deal with an annoying amount of advertisement, You Are Being Betrayed. You would do good if you make other people in that network aware of it. This is a free project of mine for the purpose of having fun. And if people try to make money with it you shouldn't bother visiting their website.

I have no problem with translation and reposting of the story, as long as the person in question isn't doing it for money or stealing my identity.

The only one whom I actually allowed to have my work on his website is Armaell who invested the time to compile them into pdf.

(http://armaell-library.net/author/andur)

Books:

Until Death? http://royalroadl.com/fiction/629

Transcendence? http://royalroadl.com/fiction/1587

Beyond? http://royalroadl.com/fiction/2850

Coeus? http://royalroadl.com/fiction/4745

Court of Souls? http://royalroadl.com/fiction/6545

Agent of the Realm? http://royalroadl.com/fiction/7707

Law of Shadows http://royalroadl.com/fiction/9766

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If a government can’t solve a political dispute through negotiation, they resort to economic pressure. If that doesn’t yield the intended result, assassination and war are next on the list.”

 

***Union***

***Assassin***

 

 

... Why don’t you see me as an independent power? I always dreamt about opening an academy, so if you don’t piss me off, I might even share some knowledge with your younger generations.”

I line up my shot with the chest of the woman who is trying to negotiate with the Alliance’s government. My employers are interested in a quick and clean resolution of the ‘irregularity’, as they decided to call her. For that reason, they even provided me with a state of the art crossbow. It’s not often that I get my hands on military grade equipment from the Consortium.

From my position inside the ventilation shaft, I have a perfect view of the hall beneath me. The metal mesh in front of the shaft is a perfect concealment. A little mirror in the room’s left corner even allows me to watch the representatives of the various races. I had to go through great pains to place it there. It’s not like the security in this place is lax, but I take a certain pride in being worth the gold they pay me.

It took a lot of sneaking around and a few substantial bribes to get into this shaft. Add to that the fact that I was waiting for weeks to be here when they meet Joyce, this job is quickly becoming a badly paid undertaking.

Maximilian leans back in his chair. It looks like he is wrestling with lots of conflicting emotions. “We can’t have that. If we acknowledge your status as independent... It would be a precedent for all future negotiations with you.”

Now that I think about it, it’s highly likely that my employer is actually the Consortium itself. I got a very precise set of instructions. ‘Do not kill her if she is handed over to the Consortium, kill her if she goes free or makes a deal with the Alliance.’

“It’s the only way in which you may gain my cooperation. Apprehending me here and now wouldn’t only break several of your own laws, it would close off any chance that you may benefit from my abilities,” Joyce answers, completely unfazed by the fact that she is negotiating with some of the most powerful people on this continent. They are just the representatives of each race, but they are the direct spokespersons of each individual government.

My employers seem to be very interested in my success. They gave me an enchanted artefact which can’t be bought around the corner. It accelerates the crossbow bolt with force magic. The energy for doing so is stored inside the weapon. All the user has to do, is to charge the weapon beforehand.

Charging the weapon takes some time, but that’s of no concern in my case. Assassins aren’t interested in more than a single shot. If I miss, the mission is automatically a failure. The fact that I have to crawl backwards through the ventilation shaft will cost a significant amount of time. Time in which someone could find the origin of the attack and hunt me down. I have no intention to end my career early.

Maximilian tilts his head, silently considering his options. “We have no guarantee that you aren’t lying. Maybe it’s just a matter of taking control of the island. With you out of the picture, we would have all the time in the world to study Illum.”

Taking a deep breath, I make a final adjustment to the scope, another invention which points at the Consortium as the origin of this weapon. If I get caught with this baby, there will be no way to talk myself out of the situation.

Joyce smiles and shakes her head. “I am willing to swear an oath in order to prove that you would be empty handed at the end of the day. Like I said, the island is useless without me. And let’s assume that you can study Illum. Do you really think that other nations would just lean back and allow you to have such an artefact? Everyone would plot against the Alliance in order to return the balance of power.”

Having made sure that the sights are adjusted, I place the enchanted crossbow bolt in the holding mechanism. It secures the bolt, so that it doesn’t fall out if I have to move with the weapon.

The bolt itself is also a little artefact of its own. There are several stacked enchantments on it. In fact, I think that the creators of this ammunition overdid it. They stacked several layers of spells. Barrier penetration, armour piercing, fragmentation. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to be hit by this little beasty.

Maximilian nods slowly and scratches the base of his left horn. “The way you put it makes it seem like we only have bad choices to choose from.”

Down in the hall, they are still talking. Everyone is trying to assert their positions. It’s politics, the reason why people like me will never be without a job.

I aim at Joyce’s forehead and consider my options. There are some individuals with speed-type abilities who can move very fast. If she senses something, it wouldn’t be a problem for her to move her head by a few centimetres. I aim lower. It’s a lot harder to move her chest out of the way. The upper body has more mass and she is sitting in a chair, which makes it harder to respond quickly.

It would increase my chances to actually hit her. If the crossbow bolt works as advertised, then it won’t matter if I hit the head or the heart.

Joyce shrugs. “Life isn’t about good and bad choices. There are always drawbacks. All I can do, is to advise you to choose wisely. There is only one option which gains you something.”

I study the woman’s expression. Her demeanour is disconcerting me. In my line of work, I have to be extremely good with judging other people. More than once I had to disguise myself as a servant to gain access to my target. Doing so needs an extraordinary amount of acting talent, combined with the skill to predict the actions and thoughts of the people around you. Who are the ones I have to be wary of? Who are those who don’t pay attention to me and are easily tricked?

Maximilian reaches for his hammer. “The only way to solve this problem, is to call for a vote. Whatever the Alliance will do, as a whole, we have to take responsibility for our actions.”

Joyce doesn’t answer. Her smiling expression is like a mask. She is a beautiful woman with her black hair and those deep, grey eyes. It’s the eyes which betray her. They are dead and hollow. I have seen those eyes many times. They belong to people who have given up.

Those who know that death is inevitable and are fine with their fate… or those who simply don’t care. Such people are the most dangerous ones. They are willing to gamble everything on a small chance. All or nothing.

But that’s not all I see in Joyce’s eyes. There is one more thing. Without it, my impression of her wouldn’t fit the situation. That additional thing explains why she is able to face the council in such a relaxed manner. She is looking down on them. In her eyes, they aren’t even equals. She looks at them like someone would study an interesting bug and consider what to do with it. A shudder runs down my spine. This woman is dangerous.

Maximilian brings down his hammer to silence the room. “We’ll vote on how to proceed. There are three options. We apprehend Joyce and hand her to the Consortium. We simply take Joyce at her offer and hand the Illum to one of our factions. Lastly, we can treat Joyce like an independent power, which would mean that we also have to treat her like a noble. The Illum would be an independent state. We’ve heard the most important arguments for and against all those scenarios.”

The dwarves get to choose first. Their representative stands up and corrects his clothes. “It’s clear that the Illum can’t fall into the hands of anyone. And how long would Joyce be able to defend that flying castle of hers? I say that we hand Joyce to the Consortium and destroy the Illum. That will return everything to normal.”

A gnome from the table next to the dwarf gets the opportunity to voice his opinion. He represents one of the guilds, which also have a seat in the government. “The merchants are against it. It would violate the very foundations on which the Alliance was built. We have no other choice, but to acknowledge her independence.”

The humans and beastmen get their turn, voting for the option of adopting Joyce and her possession. Though, they clearly have different opinions on who should crew the Illum. It seems like they are willing to take the risk of losing that little game of influence.

Some of the minor factions get to vote until it’s the turn of the demons. Maximilian looks around and studies his peers. “Three factions are in favour of taking the Illum, for whatever end. Two votes for her independence. Two want to hand her to the Consortium.” He clears his throat. “The demons think that it would be best to regard Joyce as an independent power. It would cause the least disturbance among the members of the Alliance. I think that the elves have the last vote.”

The elven representative rubs her earlobe and tilts her head sideways. It’s clear that her oversized earring is a communication crystal. She is listening to instructions from someone higher up the chain. Maybe the elven king himself. The brunette beauty plays with her long hair and seals the newcomer’s fate. “Don’t interfere with her. Regard Joyce as an independent power.”

I release my breath slowly. My index finger curls around the crossbow’s trigger and the bolt is released with a silent ‘Twang!’

It breaks through the thin metal mesh which is covering the ventilation shaft. My target’s hand shoots upwards, placing her open palm in the line of fire. The bolt breaks through a barrier which suddenly shimmers into existence, surrounding Joyce. A second barrier is also pierced, slowing down the bolt.

The tip of the projectile impacts her palm and the fragmentation spell activates. Three fingers are blown off and a large part of Joyce’s hand disintegrates. The metal fragments spread out and impact the woman’s chest and throat. Her right hand comes up in a blur of motion and something thuds into the ceiling of the ventilation shaft. Two of the guards behind her go down as the woman is thrown backwards and out of sight.

The guard with the shield jumps forward, foiling any chance at taking a second shot. Reloading would take too much time anyway.

I curse and crawl backwards. Looking up, I find a glowing dagger stuck in the ventilation shaft’s ceiling. It must’ve missed my head by a few centimetres. Had I been just a little larger… I shudder and try to crawl faster. Even as I do so, the dagger starts eroding the material around it slowly, but steadily, so I double my efforts in getting away.

They definitely didn’t pay me enough for this job.

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Andur

  • Phantasm

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Misery's End @Misery's End ago

Cheers for the chapter!

It's assassin season, let the hunt begine and subsequent interrogation begine!

Attychu @Attychu ago

So this assassin is quite a big shot, who seemingly not a quick shot and betting everything on one shot? Interesting... 

Alaine @Alaine ago

After reading this the time until the next chapter will be torture...
But thanks for the chapter Tongue

omnerabdator @omnerabdator ago

really all that armor and barriers and a amplified arrow can still break through it, pretty stupid so much for all her knowledge with being immortal,completely useless

    Author

    Andur @Andur ago

    What does bulletproof equipment help if they shoot a tankbuster at you?

      Lazytophat @Lazytophat ago

      And considering the complete overkill of the enchantment, the now could probably go through the head of a powerful and thick scaled Dragon. Let alone a being with an immortal soul but weak as shit human body 

      SwiftC @SwiftC ago

      I'm just surprised that her figers ripped off, considering penetration damage is much harder to accomplish than impact damage with her 'scale' armor.

      OdnaropX @OdnaropX ago

      I agreed, there is no true bulletproof equipment because there isn't something that can stop all sort of bullets and other projectiles, max we can hope is projectile resistant (to work on various amount and type of ammunition).

      ThatOneGuy @ThatOneGuy ago

      Thats one slow projectile if she is able to raise her hands before it reached her.

      feha @feha ago

      Indeed, only option would be "because, magic!" letting him react & move in time Tongue Considering his skill at magic he should also have been able to not get hit (one of his standard barriers has to be ones that redirect projectiles to miss him even if it ends up managing to pierce the blocking ones), so with both things considered this has to have been intentional on his side.

      Whether he expected the bolt to be as damaging as it were or not, that's up in the air. I could imagine him expecting it to pierce any barriers made with that worlds knowledge, but act as a normal silly strong bolt after that and not a pimped up fragmentation grenade.

    Shance @Shance ago

    Destroying thing will always be easier than defending. And the arrow was op, her hands are reinforced in that dragon metal, and were still torn apart.

     

    Though she should have a magic that amplifies defenses or something. And probably does, but it still was too much to defend herself and save her bodyguards in an instant.

    Tetsuki @Tetsuki ago

    It's like you aren't even reading this story.... Here abilities are average now. She has "unlimited" mana but a limited output. So those two shilds were the maximum output. That she is still alive is already incriable...

     

    Go read something else.

    Misery's End @Misery's End ago

    Ahh yes.. The magical worlds answer to APFSDS rounds... That shit will fuck up armor in a hurry. You know, I've mentioned something about a enchated mithril version of a APFSDS before... Wonder if this is Andur's answer to that xD

Burningman @Burningman ago

I really like your works andur, but i cant like 'this' MC, angrod has a thing in him that is making me miss him so much, who cares if she is looking ugly? the important thing is she being alive at the end of the day not dying in a beautiful dress, her guards talking about using dress etc are they trying to kill her? i know looks is something but even kings used armor in the past when they're in nentral ocassions, dangerous? they would be protected even better with shields in front of him, hope this end this and she stop being 'pushover' and begin using armor and defense if she has her mask this would never have happened who cares if some nobles are butthurt? in the end of the day being alive is winning.

    OdnaropX @OdnaropX ago

    She saw the projectile when it was fired, so I pretty much think she don't need the mask anymore, maybe her tattoo double as her mask enchants.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Iirc the tattoo just boosts her magic power and defense against spells and abilities. The mask does that and much more. 

      As for her dressing nicely, it's about diplomacy. Showing up geared for war would have made the representatives extremely wary of Joyce. They would have assumed correctly she couldn't give two shots about stomping them flat giving a chance. That coupled with her "can't give a shit" personality would have condemned any efforts to keep her floating home as a neutral self government entity. However that shouldn't have stopped them from letting her enchant those robes, dresses, and jackets till they glowed. Heck I bet by now she could afford some of the most expensive and enchantable clothing(if not another sizeable chunk of dragonbone) in the capital by now.

      Thorminator @Thorminator ago

      Do you think it matters? They all are already extremely wary of her. So coming with armor that is supposed to defend you would not make anyone more 'wary'.

       

      Burningman @Burningman ago

      You're in hostile territory already they even sent a nice invation like a letter in a corrier to her to show their goodwill right? oh no they sent the fucking army and are prepared to attack her if she did not 'comply' or 'explain' so yeah dressing nicely i would understand if it was in her insland but when she was outside i was expecting her mask and her 'armor' against things that could happen what if they are just setting shit up so she can be where they have more power? and not her insland the other nobles did not act against her because they're weak same thing can be the captain what if after she is there they try to imprison or do something to her? what if they dont care about her wishes there so many things can go wrong that there is no way i'm going to speak of then all but you get it i'm not complaning about her choices before etc but this is where i find this mc lacking angrod was fun because he broke these things and wasn't suck a pushover of the enemy i understand he doind everything the family said because its family but going to a meeting with possible enemies without defense? i can't portrait him doing it and she did just that and even her 'guards' think its fine for her to do it... well like i said hope after it she stop listening to then.

      the tatoo i think boost her wariness against 'mind control' spells too since she did it after complaning endless about the thing the elf did.

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Killashard @Killashard ago

Thanks for the chapter!

Advice should be advise.

QuasiQuirky @QuasiQuirky ago

Thanks for the chapter! this is getting very good