The House of Wolves
The Assassin and the Politician
an get a mask from you…so I need to go. ”
”Youll find that Im a little different from other nobles ” Ardos said reassuringly. ”And additionally, it is only noon…a little discourse can be harmful…especially when there is money involved ”
They continued like this for several minutes, and before he knew it Ardos and her were on top of the roof to a rather wide building. Their legs hanging over the edge and their weapons put away.
The view they had was astounding. He could see the full scope of the market up here, every stall, every person. The surrounding architecture of the city was gorgeous as well. The looming clock towers, the pubs, the mansions, there merchants banks, even the bridges stretching across the canal were enamoring.
But yet, even with this new angle to look upon the city, Ardos still felt that hollow tinge he had felt down below.
Now is not the time for such things, Ardos thought to himself resolutely. Instead he decided to focus on his conversation with the girl next to him.
”So…who are you? ”
The girl glared at him response but after a few awkward moments of that turned her head sharply away from Ardos.
”Im only doing this for the thirty gold coins alright! And only for thirty minutes. After that I vanish and you never hear from me again. I have a job to get to, so I can afford to waste any more time on you than necessary. ”
Ardos shrugged. That was the compromise they had come to. She had been rather adamant about the conditions, but it made Ardos happy. It was rare to see someone who had been attempting to steal from him only ten minutes prior now cooperating with him and actively engaging in a discussion with him.
Yes, to do so he had threatened to send men chasing after her if she didn cooperate, and sweet talked her by taking advantage of her vulnerable age, and offered her money she most likely desperately needed; and of course pointed out the injury she had and still did try to hide…but those were all unnecessary details were they not?
The point was, she was cooperating.
”Well you have to actually talk to me to get the money. So tell me…what is this job you speak of. ”
”Im- ” she paused and frowned. ”I don really know? Im a lot of things I suppose. ”
”What is that supposed to mean? ”
”Well…I do assassin work, thieving jobs, I work as a waitress or a dancer sometimes down at the pubs. Anything I can that pays. Theres far worse but I get paid well enough so I don do that kind of stuff. ”
”You say it rather nonchalantly. How long have you been doing this? ”
”Nonchalantly ay? If you couldn tell Im terrified of all of this stuff! ”
The girl turned to Ardos and he could see indeed that her face had a rather solemn expression on it, and she was shaking her hands unconsciously whilst talking.
”I apologize for my insolence then. ”
”As for how long Ive been doing this….about six years or so? My parents sort of just vanished one day and so I had to do this to care for my little brother. ”
”Your little brother? ”
”Indeed. Hes an annoying little creature, but hes very innocent too. Only eight years old! Somehow Ive managed to keep him in the dark about what I do all this time ” she chuckled as if it were an accomplishment.
”Ah, what a pleasant feeling that must be….having a little brother I mean. Im the youngest in my family, but Im the only son. My father had children with seven different women and six of them produced nothing but females. ”
”So you must be the favorite child eh? Ive always wondered what that must feel like…since my parents died before I could even really experience their love. ”
Her eyes became downcast upon saying those words, and Ardos could see her curl her legs and wrap herself into a ball off sorts. In that innocent position, the girl hardly looked like a trained assassin or robber, she just looked like a sad, lonely child.
And that saddened Ardos. Which surprised him for some reason. It was as if that hollow isolation began to close somewhat upon sharing the girls sadness.
”Well actually…Im probably my fathers least favorite child ”
The girl shot him a look of confusion, which Ardos found rather amusing.
”I know, strange isn it? But yes, my father absolutely hates me. How could he not, when I killed his favorite wife, my mother, on my way out. ”
”Your mother…died during childbirth? ”
”Indeed she did, and from that point on, from the very day I was born…my father treated me like an alien. The only reason he even keeps me around is because Im a Calastre and have a duty to fulfill as his only son. And unless Im acting in a way that is fitting of nobility, he doesn even look at me. ”
”How awful? How can you even smile about something like that? ”
”Well…I have a dream, thats the only thing that keeps me going. ”
”A dream? ”
”Yes…a dream. You see, I want to be the kind of noble who actually does something. Who actually lives up to their title instead of hiding like a coward beyond their ancestors feats and riches! ” said Ardos with conviction. In this moment he felt so empowered that he rose to his feet and stood on the precipice of the rooftop.
”I don want to be like the other nobles who waste their lives away on hedonistic pursuits and entertain themselves with senseless bloodshed. And when they
e not doing that the only thing they get scared, and start conspiring to kill each other. Im surprised they haven torn each other apart already ” he spat bitterly.
”How…impassioned. ” said the girl with a chuckle. The chuckle grew into a laugh, and Ardos noticed that she had become less closed off.
Thats what I like to see thought Ardos contentedly. He liked helping people change and open up, after all how could he be a worthy noble if he didn assist those around him?
”Anyways…we were talking about something else before this to that intrigued me. Your brother I believe… ”
”What about him? ”
”You said he doesn know what you do, how did you manage to accomplish that? ”
”Well…Im just a really good liar I suppose. Everyone who does my kind of work is. But it helps that hes also a very gullible child….only ten years old. He believes anything I tell him! I feel bad about it..but its all for his benefit you see? ”
”How so? ”
”Well…if he knew what I was doing, he might just break. A-and ” her hands started shaking again, ”I don want something like that to happen to him. I don want him to know what I do or who I am. ”
”So your solution was to keep him ignorant? ” asked Ardos.
He sounded rather callous, but he simply couldn understand the sentiment. That was the very same mentality that bred the supposed nobility he had been with his whole life. He had to force himself to realize that in this scenario the circumstances were different, but still, he had trouble grasping what she was trying to convey.
”Its selfish I know…but I simply can bear to lose him. Hell have to find out when he gets older, and I can just tell hell hate me for it. But for now I want to keep him hidden. From all this shit, from the rest of the world for all I care! ” the girl was practically screaming at this point.
”Wait….does he even know about this part of the city? ”
At this point he had simply become a full on inquisitor, but he simply had to know more about this scenario. It was like reading a book, where this dynamic was like a plot point which provided more perspective on the world. He simply had to know more!
The girls interactions with her brother and her decision to keep him sheltered was not an approach Ardos agreed with, but nevertheless he found it very engaging to hear about.
”No…he doesn . If I told him about a place like this, who knows what would happen! He might get lost or even… ” she gagged ”killed ”.
It was strange to see an individual who admitted to committing murder for money be so shaken by mentioning the word killed.
Shes just a child you idiot, regardless of what shes done in order to provide for her family, it doesn change the fact that death is undoubtedly a scary concept for a girl her age.
Ardos liked this girl, polarizing as she was. Even if he never saw her after this conversation, he wouldn mind knowing her name.
”Say…girl, this is rather abrupt, but I never got your name did I? ”
The girl looked almost relieved that he was asking the question, and despite her tension only a few minutes prior cheerily said:
”My name is Aurelia. Just Aurelia. ”
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