Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Winding Road: Old Friends

by Frank Gori

Bellany released her bowstring a couple of seconds before the seemingly innocent carpenter expertly turned into a throwing motion. The arrow struck just above his collarbone just as his arm started forward.

Bellany already had another arrow knocked as she scanned the street for the other three Tradesmen. From the peripheral she saw Dab’s massive form charging the assassin carpenter down, just as she noticed the gardener’s hedge trimmers were actually double edged. She fired another arrow in his direction just before she felt a sting then telltale cold numbness on her right shoulder blade.
Without hesitation Bellany leapt off her third story perch and twisted around midair for a look at her assassin. She almost missed placing her feet correctly at the first intervals as she repelled rapidly down to the street.

A scream from the street confirmed the Tradesmen struck while she was distracted but the poison in her shoulder wasn’t the only thing making Ballany feel numb at the moment. Jax sent Galladee after her!

Galladee was a Krishtog female with an unfortunate singing voice. She could dance in a manner that would take your breath away and she was one of the most skilled infiltrators in the guild. Galladee took her natural talents and developed her skills as sharp as any blacksmith. She was one of the guild’s top earners and invested that income right back into her craft.

Bellany and Galladee trained under the same guild masters. They learned the art of dance and the 
precision of inches together. Theirs was a friendship forged by sharing the same kind of scars and succeeding in the same demanding difficult trade. They cried together as girls, shared drinks and contracts together as adults. Bellany felt stung by the betrayal, she’d never have taken a contract on Galladee.

Bellany locked her rope harness about a floor short of the ground and dropped her bow. It landed in the net Gallade had enchanted invisible. Galladee was one of the few people Bellany confided in, she knew Bellany’s tricks and Bellany knew hers. Unfortunately they were somewhat evenly matched under normal circumstances, but hanging from a rope with her right arm rapidly going numb Bellany had the unsettling feeling she was out matched. It left her with one play.

“Really Galladee, you’re going to side with my ex,” Bellany kept her voice casual, despite the rising heat she felt from her womb. Her son to be had a temper.

“I’m going to take you in Bell, you can make it easy on both of us and just give up,” Galladee replied in her croaking tones. Three limbs casually braced the roof top ledge and she had one of her javelins in her free hand.

Bellany did her best to tune out the commotion on the street. Without her spotting, those Workman Guild hack assassins called the Tradesmen were going to take a toll. Unfortunately, Bellany had her own problems at the moment.

“You shadowed them, Bellany nodded toward the street. Followed that quad knowing I’d set up to cover,” Bellany didn’t have to try hard to sound impressed. “Why’d you take the job, I thought we were friends?”

“Couldn’t resist, Bell. You were always the favorite, and I wanted to know who was better. Besides 
it’s a non-lethal, boss wants you alive. Now give up, I got you lined up for a good throw, dart poison has you down an arm, you’re dangling on a line I can cut, and that net there below you is made of enchanted spidersilk. Face it you’re caught.” Galladee was confident, even pleased with herself. Bellany wondered if they had ever truly been friends or if she was just too isolated in her old life.

“Yeah, seems like you got me, but you forgot about something,” Bellany smiled a tight malice laced smile at her old friend.

“What’s that,” she replied.

“I made new friends,” Bellany replied.

Galladee turned just in time to look her death in the face. Bellany felt some of the warm splatter of her old friend’s blood as Zool’s blade struck true. Her head fell into her own net trap, and Zool caught the body and dragged it onto the roof. The fire of emotions swept over Bellany for a long moment. She felt angry at the betrayal, worried about the poison and if it’d effect the child in her womb, but mostly she felt the shock of loss.

Bellany wept as Zool pulled her back up the building, her tears mixing with the blood splattered across her face.