With a couple of pats on the back, Figaro and Bantam went forward, down into the clearing. Crossing it swiftly up to the wall, then placing their backs gently against the building. The other four watched from the high ground, checking for movement at the periphery. If someone saw those two, they could move to intervene, but no one was out there. Figaro and Bantam moved, keeping their back to the wall, to either side of the building. They took their positions at the corner, ready to strike if anyone came around.

Next up were Keppe and Enrique, with two pats on the back, they stormed forward like the other two. Taking their place on the wall. A flash of lightning shone down as Heratio checked the sides, still no one. Heratio and Gillivan lunged forward, allowing the sounds of the thunder to mask their footsteps. Heratio’s feet felt the grass tear underfoot from the violent force of his long strides. After the thunder passed, he reached the wall, with Gillivan arriving a count after. The slight overhang of the building’s roof provided them with respite from the rain. The two old friends separated, each heading to a different side of the building.

Heratio arrived at his corner, where Keppe and Figaro were waiting, with Figaro peeking around the corner. Heratio placed his hand on Keppe's shoulder blade and he moved aside, then he did the same to Figaro. Figaro looked back from his post, before giving way to allow Heratio to see the view for himself. When he peeked around the corner, he saw the entranceway. A roofed area where arriving carriages could conveniently disembark their guests. There were two guards, both dressed in a red and white uniform under leather armour and a helmet. They kept themselves dry near lit lanterns on either side of the front door. Their weapons were sheathed, medium-length blades by the look of it. The landscape provided no cover, a cobblestone road beset on either side by shrubbery too small to be of any use.

Heratio gave a signal to the other two and they lined up, ready to pounce at the right moment. They waited. Lightning came again, one, two, and they were off. Three, four, and the thunder rang through the air. They broke from sneaky into a run. And as the thunder subsided, they burst through the streams of rainwater in a leap. The guards were caught unaware. They couldn’t even unsheath their weapons in time. Heratio’s sword plunged deep into one guard’s throat. Keppe and Figaro managed to insert their blades in the gap of the other guard’s armour. Figaro placed his hand firmly on the man’s mouth, holding it shut as the guard tried to voice his anguish. Another cut with Figaro’s blade, slicing the guard’s neck, and he was silenced.

Their weapons disappeared in the formlessness of their dark ponchos. Two guards lay dead on the ground, their blood spilling out and mixing with the rainwater flowing across the ground. Heratio hoped that the guard’s dying, muffled, scream didn’t rise above the sound of the rain, and those inside the building still had no suspicion of the fate that awaited them.

He knew there might be two guards just inside the main doors. Even unaware, they would be harder to dispatch. Heratio knew the inner-working of how an estates security was handled. With Giovannus away at the dinner party, they were sure to keep two guards at the entrance, in case Giovannus returned unexpectedly. These two were probably the most junior guards. But, with the master away, depending on who ran the household, things might have gotten more relaxed inside the estate. Why waste an evening waiting at a door, if no one would notice that the post was empty.

They dragged the bodies to the side, even though they were still in the open, someone looking out from the door wouldn’t see them. Then with his sword sheathed, he began carefully climbing the entrance decorations. The detail work made small recesses in the wall that allowed him to place his feet. He gripped wet crimps and pulled himself up onto the roof overhanging the entranceway, without making too much of a sound. Figaro and Keppe stood to watch below as Heratio skulked across the roof. He looked for some unguarded entry. The windows up there were barred shut, obviously. But one of them emitted no light at all.

He waited for lightning, once again. Then with the thunder, he slammed his foot into the door with all his weight, until it burst open. He entered. The room was dark, only now illuminated by what little dark came through the busted window. He moved by feel until he found a door. As quietly as he could, he opened the door just a slit. Just enough to see the dimly lit hallway, it was empty.

He pulled the door all the way open. He kept himself crouched as he moved into the hallway, keeping his eyes on the doors, ready to attack if any should open. He heard the banging of moving furniture coming from one door. The door handle didn’t budge when he tried to move it, so he continued down the hallway. At the stairway, Heratio planted his shoulder against the wall and took quiet steps down each step.

He heard a maid at the bottom of the stairs and he paused. She came around the bend of the stairs and Heratio pounced for his attack. The silhouette of a formless spectre barreled down the stairs and landed against her, only exposing a steel blade. It pierced her heart. At the same time, a hand emerged from the form to grab her jaw, forcing it shut.

Heratio let go of the blade, leaving it still skewering the maid, so he could support her head as it fell, allowing for a softer landing. Looked around, checked the lower hallway, no witnesses. No time to hide the body, he thought, best to just continue and hope for the best. He started moving again, faster than before, now with a sense of urgency.

Haphazardly he checked his corners. A quick glance, then he moved. He found a door leading to a room on the perimeter of the building. The room seemed to be unlit, from checking the slit between the door and frame, and there were no sounds coming from the other side. He turned the handle and opened the door.

It revealed a bedroom. In the center of the room a large bed with its four wooden posts going to a wooden bed ceiling. The bed curtains, allowing an occupant to close away the rest of the room, were drawn. Revealing the young boy, dressed in a nightgown, stirring under the sheets. The boy sat up in the bed, staring at the drenched dark shape that obstructed some light from the doorway.

He didn't scream. Some people don't scream even when they really should. The comprehension of a situation comes slowly, and when it finally hits someone, that fear could freeze them in shocked silence. Heratio, nonetheless, moved forward and struck without mercy, right through the throat. He wiped off his blade on the bed sheets then moved to the closed window, undid the latch, and opened them, letting the rain and whatever else in.

He sent a whistle into the darkness, calling forth nightmares. Three figures appeared outside. Figures he knew well. Gillivan, Bantam and Enrique entered, getting the rug on the floor unreasonably wet.

For only a moment, Gillivan stood over the dead boy in the bed, before taking out his dagger and plunging it into the top of his thorax, where the chest indents. He cut down toward the stomach, and deep enough to touch the inner organs. He took out a sprig of rosemary and placed it into the wound he carved, then mumbled the words to himself that he memorized, a prayer to help guide a spirit after death. Once Gillivan returned his focus from that task, Heratio waved everyone over to the door.

He heard a lady shriek, coming from the stairs he came down. Must have seen the dead maid. With the plot discovered, their attempts to sneak vanished. The four rushed out of the room with their swords drawn. They rushed out in all directions. As doors opened for people to peer out into the hallway out in curiosity, they were met with sharp steel. They cut into the defenceless without mercy. They had the numbers, but neither the weapons nor the preparation to put up much of a fight. While being stabbed, a man-made a fist and hit Bantam as often and quickly as he could. But the battle-hardened warrior ignored the pain and just kept plunging his sword into the man’s torso until he finally went limp.

Then the guards arrived, coming from the front entrance. Holding weapons and wearing light armour. Enrique was the closest to them, he pointed his sword toward them and began deflecting the strikes as they came. He defended while retreating, backing toward Gillivan who finished up an old lady. A small girl ran away from the carnage Gillivan inflicted, but Gillivan was quick. He grabbed onto her long hair and pulled. She swung into the wall in a crash, and with a single movement of his sabre, Gillivan ended her, too.

Gillivan turned his attention to the oncoming threat and moved to aid his comrade. Heratio would have loved to watch that fight, but he had more pressing concerns. He needed to ensure no one would live to tell the tale. He left the chaotic scene to search for those that would flee. Two were still outside, watching the perimeter, but there was a good chance they could miss someone sneaking away. He kicked down a door that remained locked and searched for occupants. A young naked lady occupied the bed, shivering in fear. He entered, without the time to properly check the corner, and paid for that negligence. A metal rod slammed against his arm. Heratio rolled to the side, wincing at the pain. He angled his sabre for battle from his now kneeling position.

The man holding the metal rod stood there naked. His body, though old, had a tone that showed his acclimation to fighting, and his scars showed his familiarity with the battlefield. They clashed their weapons together, sword against a metal rod. And in their new position, Heratio noticed the mole on the man’s neck.

A note from TaxReligion

Hey, I am looking for all kinds of feedback.  I would be extremely grateful to anybody willing to come to my discord to give me useful constructive criticism.  I plan on eventually doing a big rewrite and getting a professional editor to turn this into an E-book.  I have been known to give a sneak preview of the next chapter to those who have given useful feedback... just saying.

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About the author


Bio: I like trains

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