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Thread: [M] The Knife That Cuts the Deepest [BurningKirby & Ashen]

  1. #1
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    Default [M] The Knife That Cuts the Deepest [BurningKirby & Ashen]

    [The following roleplay is rated mature for reasons that may include but are not limited to strong language, sexual (inexplicit) themes, violence, and mild drug and alcohol use. Reader discretion is advised.]

    In all her days hunting men, Anne always hated the famous ones the most. Everyone always wanted them dead; she'd received bounties for priests, dukes, and even a king once, and she always turned them down. There were too many eyes turned towards popular men's every move, and the wizened assassin had no intentions of gambling her life so carelessly.

    Until this time. She stood from afar watching the home of Rolf and Ophelia Warde. The two-story home sat on a road on the border of this town, a place called Onryx. Neighbors bumbled about, their homes too near, another inconvenience, close enough to hear any screams.

    The Wardes were a married couple with an infant son. They lived alone in their sizable house, paid for with the husband's checks from the king himself. He'd been an armsman in a recent war, though now he diligently stood watch over this town. With how little was going on in town, he was probably doing a decent job of keeping the baddies out. Anne had to wonder why anyone would want this man dead.

    It wasn't her business to question her clients. Anne had accepted this deal out of desperation. The assassin was good, she'd taken many bounties before, but she was not perfect. Her last gig had landed her in a cell with her head inches from a silver platter. She'd escaped, but barely, and now she had a bounty on her own head. She had to lay low, but even that couldn't last long. She needed money, desperately, and plucking off the petty thieves she usually killed wasn't going to cut it this time. She needed someone big, someone who would be missed: she needed Rolf Warde.

    The man was sitting at home now, no doubt enjoying a supper his wife had made. Anne herself could feel her stomach growling under the folds of her dark blue tunic. She pulled a coinpurse from the pocket of her dark trousers and counted the coins inside. A light dinner tonight, perhaps, but it would probably be the last for days. She had to act on this bounty soon, or it would be her​ dying over this.

  2. #2
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    Ophelia carefully placed the soup bowl down in front of her husband, taking care not to disturb his arm, which rested with the elbow just off the edge of the table. She had made up dinner for him every night since they had married, but still was forced to make a conscious effort to avoid bumping into him as he sat in wait of his meal.

    To do so would likely result in no more than some snide comment from Rolf, as she had learned early on in their marriage. But even the most careless of his jeers sent her mind whirling, poring over every action, each minute movement of the hip she could have made to avoid upsetting him in the slightest. Yes, it was far easier to simply put a stop to that before it had any chance of happening.

    Her duty complete, she turned back to the pot, taking note of her husband's grunt of approval as she did so, and began to ladle another much smaller portion into a second bowl for their child, who sat upon the floor between the table and fireplace giggling as the light of the flames danced upon his face. She took care to keep an eye on the boy as she prepared the serving and then kneeled beside him with spoon in hand, sighing as she mentally prepared herself for the arduous task that would be getting the soup down his throat.

    As was routine, Rolf finished before Ophelia had succeeded in ridding their son's bowl of all it contained. He let out a yawn before leaning over to give her a kiss and mumbled "Goodnight" as he climbed the stairs to the bedroom above. She finished up feeding the baby and put him to bed, only then allowing herself to come back downstairs to get a bowl of her own.

    As she lazily pushed her spoon about the dish, she gazed out the window into the night. There was an unusual thickness to the air about her. A sort of palpable tension, almost. Nights like these came rarely. Usually she was able to eat quickly and would be half asleep by the time she was prepared for bed.

    It was not to be tonight. Ophelia sat in the wooden chair for quite a while longer, pondering this feeling. For just a moment, she thought she caught a glint somewhere in the darkness beyond the sturdy walls of her home. Perhaps some small bit of steel catching the light of one of the torches outside for just long enough to be noticed before the black enveloped it once more. This woke Ophelia from her haze, and instilled within her a peculiar sensation.

    It had been a long time since she felt as she did in this moment. A blurry sense of some memory began to creep its way into her head, but she pushed it away. She didn't have time for such frivolities. There was an air of change somewhere out there tonight. And she had more important things to tend to.

  3. #3
    The Ashen One
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    Anne stared blankly at the man before her. She was quickly growing irritated with this fellow. She jerked her hand forward, rattling the two silver pieces in it. "Would you be so kind as to stop asking questions, sir? I'm terribly hungry, and I've got matters to return to."

    As Anne stood before this discount chef, she regretted attempting to buy a quick snack. The mystery meat on a stick that he waved around didn't look worth the barrage of questions she got as soon as she tried to offer her coin: Ya not from around here, are ya? Where ya husband? Ya shopping for ya child? Don't know that I can sell to a woman. She was tempted to retrieve the dagger stored in her brassiere and cut this man down where he stood, but she did not need to attract more attention to herself than necessary, not yet. Anne shifted. "I'll be taking my coin elsewhere, then."

    The man shook his head. He took her coins and offered her the greasy, discolored treat in his hands. It had undoubtedly been out all day, but Anne had few choices; a town like this didn't have much to offer past sundown. The local inn probably had more appetizing meals, but Anne's wallet protested too loudly for her to dare venture there. She took the questionable food and bowed her thanks. As she walked away, she heard him mutter something about foreigners, and it took all of her energy to not slice his flesh.

    Anne was incredibly plain-looking. Her light brown hair fell in waves to her shoulder blades, though she often picked it up or braided it back so as not to get in the way. Her blue eyes were average, her nose a bit large, her cheeks a bit rosy. She was nothing special, but as soon as she opened her mouth, she was as distinguishable as a sore thumb. In all her years as an assassin, as a woman relying on stealth and the ability to fit in, she could never get rid of her cursed accent.

    After taking a bite of her food, Anne determined that the leather she'd just bit into was not worth the coin she'd paid for it. Sighing, she finished her food and turned her attention back to the Wardes' house. Now, so late at night, there was little she could do that wouldn't be suspicious. She lingered outside for a moment longer, telling herself she would devise a real plan in the morning, when her eye caught on someone inside. She caught sight of who must have been Ophelia Warde. She was a pretty woman, Anne realized, though even in this dark Anne could see the exhaustion masking her face, the longing of something in her gaze. An idea began to form, and as Anne watched the wife of her target creep up her own stairs, the assassin considered maybe this whole job wouldn't be so risky after all.

  4. #4
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    The crying of Ophelia's human alarm clock tore her from sleep as any other day, forcing her to bolt out of bed and to the side of her baby's. She dealt with him quickly and efficiently, so as not to give her husband reason to wake. To ensure she had done this adequately, Ophelia cast a glance over to the mattress she had just left only to find Rolf's roughly built body absent from its sheets.

    Her initial bewilderment dissipated when she recalled that he was to leave earlier than usual this morning and not return until late. Today, a search party was to set out for a missing guard with whom he had been close at work. In order to conduct a thorough investigation of the area within and around Onryx, the party would have to be out for the majority of the day.

    Ophelia's recollection brought with it a realization that she hadn't been awake to make up an early breakfast for Rolf. He'd be going the day without any food in his belly until supper-- all because of her absentmindedness.

    She pressed the base of her thin palm to her forehead, letting the fingertips only just graze the roots of her reddish-brown bangs which swept down over a lightly freckled face, and released a sigh of irritation. Her brow furrowed and she shut away from the world peridot buttons-- catalysts of teasing from siblings in her youth. They were the only part of herself she felt she could call pretty. But then why couldn't anyone else do the same? Her brothers' and sisters' jeers of Witch! faded away as she at last unleashed her eyes upon the world which had shunned them, ending the moment of self-reflection abruptly.

    She knew he wouldn't bring the lack of a meal up to her. He never did. Rolf understood that she'd ground herself better than he ever could. Maybe this time she wouldn't dwell on it for too long though. She had things to do.

    What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him, right?

  5. #5
    The Ashen One
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    Anne expected to wake with the sun. She slept on a bench tucked away into a corner of town under an open sky, so as soon as the sun rose she would rise with it. However, she was instead awoken by a man leaving his home all too early in the morning. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, Anne watched her target shuffle away from his house, where he had left a sleeping wife and child. He was up awfully early... A task for work, probably. Anne was awake in seconds, taking cover behind the nearest building and watching this man. There was something wrong, some irritation nagging at his face. Anne looked back to the house, dark and silent. It smelled of old wood and dust; no breakfast had been made that morning.

    Rolf Warde waded off, leaving Anne with a new opportunity. She had her target's wife alone in the house with her child. Would her husband be gone all day? Anne lingered by the door of their house, wondering what she could do now. Waking Ophelia or the baby would only raise suspicions. She'd have to wait, devising some kind of plan for how to go about this.

    It would be another couple hours before the child would wake. He screamed for his mother, and sure enough she was at his side in moments. Anne had dozed off sitting by their house, and she now cursed herself for leaving herself out in the open like that. You're better than this, she told herself. But Anne could sense it, could feel it in the way her breath caught and the way her hands kept shaking. There was too much on the line for this job, and the woman couldn't help it; her nerves were getting the best of her.

    She slunk away from the Wardes' front door. Now was the time to put her plan in action... Or, well, it would be if she'd had a plan. Anne shook her head, muttering swears under her breath. Get it together. She walked back to the door and, waiting for the footfalls within to subside, Anne knocked on the door. It was now or never, and she had to do something.

  6. #6
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    Ophelia's morning was noticeably lighter in work with her husband gone. Sure, the baby still needed to be taken care of, but she was accustomed to it, so he was easy without much else on her plate.

    It was then she found herself in an unusual predicament: Ophelia had free time. She couldn't remember when this had last happened. The lack of a goal, a driving force to keep her chugging along, was jarring, yet it brought with it a nostalgic comfort. She could do anything she wanted. Well, within reason, of course. Never being one to cause trouble for others, she wasn't about to change now on some whim.

    Ophelia's brain felt ready to burst from the multitude of possibilities swimming within it. She let herself fall into one of the wooden chairs at the dining table in the hopes that sitting would help her keep calm. I could knit! My needle must be around here somewhere, right? Or... or maybe I could go for a walk. It's fairly nice out, and I'm sure he could use the fresh air, she thought as she glanced at the child playing not far from her feet. No. He'll be fine. This is my day. But what to do...?

    Her thoughts were splintered by a knock with both the sharpness and power of an axe blade on the front door. The shock of the sudden interruption left her staring, nearly glaring, at the entrance to her home for what felt like hours.
    But such a deliberate knock demanded an answer.
    She drug herself from the chair over to the source of the sound and, hands slightly shaking, pulled the door open just enough to peer through the crack at the visitor. "H-Hello?"

    This was new. The person standing there looked nothing like what Ophelia had expected to see. A woman stood on her doorstep. A rather plain one at that. Could such a knock have come from her? It seemed impossible.

    Her doubts split just as cleanly as her focus had seconds ago the moment she heard that voice.
    Last edited by BurningKirby; 01-05-2019 at 09:50 PM.

  7. #7
    The Ashen One
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    For a few agonizing moments after her bare knuckles rapped against the wood, Anne debated running. She'd find another task, a small one, a series of smaller ones; she would earn her bounty another way. But even before the door opened, Anne knew that would not work. She was running out of time, and she needed Rolf Warde, and she needed his wife--

    Suddenly there she was. Anne was face-to-face with a dainty woman. She was about Anne's age, perhaps a bit older, but not nearly as plain-looking. Small spots covered her face, where her bangs where threatening to cover those shining green eyes. She had a memorable sort of face, and Anne found herself getting lost in those gems. So pale, yet so alluring... She'd never seen eyes quite like it. Such a pretty little lady, befitting the role of wife of an esteemed armsman. Beyond her looks, Anne was struck silent for other reason: What was she supposed to say? The second she spoke the woman would think her strange. Why did she not think this through?

    Anne cleared her throat. How long had she been just standing there? "Good morning," she said. Her voice had the tiniest quiver to it. She was a professional assassin, not a nervous schoolgirl talking to a crush. What was with her? She cleared her throat again. "My name is Anne, and I come from His Highness to the home of Rolf Warde... correct?" She rummaged in a rucksack for a scroll, which she pulled out and unrolled. She presented it to Ophelia, knowing full well she would be unable to read it. The intricate border surrounding the document, the regal red stamp at the bottom of it; it looked all too official and could have easily been from the king himself. Ophelia would never even know she were staring at the contract for her husband's assassination.

    Once the woman finished looking over the scroll, Anne re-rolled it and tucked it back into her bag. "I come with news of your husband. He is well, doing his job perfectly, as always. I come to tell you that his current task will take longer than expected. I am sent as a messenger, but also as a... babysitter. Mr. Warde was concerned that you would get lonely taking care of your son by yourself, so he arranged for me to come here to assist you in duties relating to that, and to whatever other chores you would have me do. I do look forward to assisting you."

    ...Really? Anne stood there with a hopeful smile, not sure what more she could say. It was the best lie she could come up with in the moment, and she wondered how it would even work. She would forge a letter to Rolf later, extending his duties, requesting his presence somewhere further. That would buy her time to come up with something, anything better than this. It was an unbelievable story, of course Ophelia would be skeptical... right? Was the contract convincing enough? Would her accent ruin the entire mission? The assassin was at this woman's mercy, and she waited with sweating palms to hear what she would say.

  8. #8
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    Ophelia couldn't remember the last time a woman had come to her doorstep without the company of a man. This day became more and more unusual with each passing hour. The woman's peculiar voice was shaky as she greeted her, and this nervousness pervaded every word she said. What could have this poor girl's nerves in such tatters? Something was off about this.

    As the woman introduced herself as Anne, Ophelia glanced around the neighborhood beyond her door cautiously to make sure nothing strange was afoot, but the mention of her husband's name and the upward inflection implying a question pulled her attention back to the speaker.

    "Yes... this is the house of Rolf Warde," She said cautiously.

    Upon hearing this, Anne began to look through the rucksack she carried in search of something. A knife? Is she going to threaten me in broad daylight? She seems almost desperate enough. Perhaps that's why she's so nervous. Ophelia closed the door slightly in case her suspicions proved true. Anne's eyes locked onto something inside the sack and she let out a small, satisfied sigh, then pulled from within some sort of white baton. No... it was a scroll. She carefully rolled it open and held it before Ophelia, as if she expected her to read it. The print made Ophelia's head swim and she did her best to make it seem as though she had some understanding of what it said. She traced her eyes along the page, nodding her head every so often and trying to look thoughtful. "Mhm!" She managed through pressed lips, eyes betraying only the tip of the panic which lay beneath the waters of her visage.

    The scroll was returned to the rucksack and Anne resumed speaking in her strange, anxious way. Her nerves were the same as before, but the words which fell from her lips seemed absurd. Rolf had never been concerned with Ophelia's ability to handle caring for their child before. In fact, it was expected that she be the best at it, and she damn well was! This was one thing she was sure of. She scanned the woman standing before her, who now had gone silent and was giving her a smile which seemed slightly forced. This all seemed wrong. But the scroll... For all she knew, that could be real. Or not. Though, Anne intrigued her. She considered all this for a moment, furrowing her brow. She couldn't trust this woman. But she knew what she wanted. She made her decision. And took the leap, consequences be damned.

    "Well, I don't expect to need much help today, with Rolf gone. But I couldn't just send you away like this. Here, why don't you come in for a little? Do you like tea?" Ophelia opened the door wide enough for Anne to enter and gestured for her to follow inside.

  9. #9
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    By gods she'd succeeded.

    Anne stared at the opened door to this house. Was Ophelia dense? Who would believe such a story? But, no, this woman knew. Anne saw it in the way she gestured so close to her torso, in the way her eyes did not move from this stranger entering her home. Ophelia was wary of her, and she had every right to be. Anne needed to be careful, to not screw this up. She'd made it this far by some miracle; now she needed to start acting like the assassin she was.

    Anne stepped into the home of her target. "Tea sounds lovely," she replied. When was the last time she'd had tea? "Please, I can prepare it for us both if you'd show me to your things." She removed her rucksack and set it by the door, hoping Ophelia would feel more at ease if she appeared unarmed. Of course she wasn't; Anne knew how to hide knives on her body, but not a single one would show through her layers of clothing. She wore simple garbs, though the blue of her tunic was an unusual shade for these parts. She had shirts underneath her tunic, a cream-colored long-sleeved shirt, an undershirt with pockets, a simple brassiere. Her dark leggings covered hidden shorts with even more pockets, and though she did not wear a skirt, she had a feminine charm about her, in the way her leggings hugged her curves and the way her tunic brought out her eyes. She wondered absently what she might wear in Ophelia's place, if she had money for dresses and perhaps even jewels--she had no time to think of such trivial matters as those.

    Anne turned back to Ophelia. She kept her hands visible at all times, trying to do all the things that would make her appear least threatening. Trust would be vital in this mission, at least until she figured out just how she would do this. "You are kind to offer a stranger tea," she commented. "I come from His Highness, but before I found employment at the castle, I was a poor peasant far form the west. Tea was a luxury to my family." She walked towards the fireplace in the room and searched for a kettle and tea leaves. "Oh, do forgive my intrusion. I think Mr. Warde wanted to ensure you would not be lonely. I am not privy to his tasks, of course, but it seemed that he would be gone for a while. There is trouble brewing in a border town to the east. I doubt his presence will be needed, but he does have the tendency to make people feel safer, doesn't he?"

    Looking over the cooking area, Anne realized she had no idea where anything was. She hadn't been in a kitchen in so long, let alone prepared her own food... Would she be able to do that here? She tried not to think on it, tried not to let the fascination meet her eye. She diverted her attention from the kitchen area, instead looking at the chubby-faced child sitting by himself on the floor. "What's his name?" she asked, casting a glance towards Ophelia. "He's a cute one, isn't he?" Was she asking too many questions? Anne made a mental note to slow down. As she talked, however, she could feel her body relaxing. She was inside their home; even if this didn't work how she wanted it to, she was already receiving precious intel for her task.

  10. #10
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    Anne's offer to make the tea herself surprised Ophelia. After all, she was the guest. Perhaps it was common for such duties to fall upon visitors where she was from, but here this was far from the norm.

    Ophelia watched the strange woman begin to look over the kitchen's counters and tools and promptly freeze as though she were a child expected to conduct a vital operation on some dying patient. She seemed so lost. This was... unusual for a woman. Could she not make something as simple as tea? Still, Ophelia found it difficult to keep her amusement at Anne's hesitancy from showing in her face.

    "No, thank you, that won't be necessary. Here, have a seat. I'll make it up for you myself." She pulled out a chair for Anne, gestured that she take it, and set about preparing the tea. The green in the leaves was just a few shades darker than that of the stone in the center of her necklace. Rolf had always preferred that she wear deep reds, such as in the maroon dress she wore now, adorned with gold trim; they were his favorite. But she had chosen the necklace herself because of the way it matched her eyes. She didn't like to bring too much attention to them, but she just couldn't help herself that day years ago in the market. The glint of the peridot locked her gaze and refused to release her until she found herself walking away from the merchant with it hanging from her neck and her sack a few dozens coins lighter. It never left her, and as such, had become somewhat worn over time. Yet the color of the gem never dulled.

    Ophelia realized Anne was speaking again and hurled herself back into the present, letting her hear just enough of what was said to craft a sensible response. "Oh, yes, men do have a way of protecting things they hold dear. Though... it is nice having the company of another woman every now and then. The neighbors around here really aren't social at all! Truly a shame, that." She had lost track of time. The tea was just about ready now. She poured two cups and gently laid them upon the table, one before each of the women, before taking the seat across Anne.

    When the question about her son came, Ophelia wasn't sure how to respond. She didn't know how to tell Anne about she and Rolf's struggles to come up with a name that suited the boy. She didn't know how to say that he really didn't have one, as strange as it seemed for one of his age. Not long ago, a friend of her husband's had visited and asked about their child while he sat at this very table, conversing with Rolf. Then, they had told him that the boy was named Milo, as it was the first name to come to mind, but they knew this wasn't right for him. Not permanently, anyway. She supposed it would do, for Anne.

    "Well, we call him Milo," She said casually. She paused, then blurted out, "But we don't like that name and plan to think of a better one."

    Why did she say that? There was no reason to give any more information than she had. Perhaps she was too trusting of Anne and had let her guard down. Surely, this would only lead to more questions, which would no doubt fluster Ophelia. She was digging her own hole! She disguised her frustration at herself behind a weak smile and waited for the woman before her, who, strangely, looked more comfortable now than she had at the door, to inevitably pelt her with the barrage of questions she deserved for her outburst.

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