Nimari sneered as she watched her target, certain that she had found him only after he opened the sealed parchment delivered by the dwarven soldier. She knew at once that the man was Mirodon Bergilion by the suddenly noble bearing on his countenance and the decisive answer which he gave to the dwarf once he had finished reading the message’s contents. Her target clapped the dwarf on the shoulder and the two exchanged words and a laugh. This was him, then. Three wasted days.
She would have hardly believed this man was her target had she not seen it with her own eyes. A trusted functionary as she assumed? Yes. A Merchant-Prince? Hardly. He didn’t dress in the ostentatious finery of the merchants of Tharbad, nor in the more subtle courtly attire of Ost Erindyrn. He hardly looked any different than a common traveler. He seldom gave orders to those around him, but instead made polite requests. He acted the role of a guest in this town rather than the owner of several of it’s more lucrative enterprises. Her target was not haughty, arrogant, cruel, nor entitled. He did not command respect, but it was given to him freely. Why?
She had found the man easily and had been following him for several days now, sure that he would lead her to his cowardly master hiding away from his enemies. She had watched him as he met with various craftsmen, oversaw work on a small dam along a nearby waterway, bartered goods in the local market, all while she waited for him to lead her to her true target. Now she felt a fool. She had wasted precious time. She felt as if she had been tricked. Anger welled up inside her. For that, Mirodon Bergilion would die slowly.
The message she had had delivered was a false one, sealed with a stolen signet ring that it’s previous owner had died to protect. It would lead her target straight to his death. Her sneer shifted to a scowl at how easy it had been. Disappointing. How could this man be the one causing her father so much vexation? Lord Ilkhor had been clear: Mirodon Bergilion must die. Her father’s will would be done.
“Ohtar, I have come. What is so urgent that…” The fool must have sensed something because he began to draw his sword. It didn’t matter. She was on him before he could react. In three quick strikes he was on his back with his sword spinning harmlessly along the floor. Pitiful. She raised her blade to deliver the killing stroke.
An armored barrel crashed into her with jarring force and she just managed to avoid an axe blow which would have separated her jaw from the rest of her face. The dwarf had overextending himself. He had missed his opportunity. She would not. Nimari spun using the momentum of her dodge and slid her blade deftly between the gap in the armor underneath the dwarf’s arm. The dwarf gave a painful scream and crumpled. He wasn’t dead, but he would be momentarily.
“No,” her target shouted as she raised her blade to finish the dwarf. “No! Not him. Me. You came for my life. Take it, but spare his.”
She turned to catch her target’s eyes with her own. She wasn’t sure why. Everything she had learned in her life told her it was a bad idea, but she did it anyway.
His eyes held no fear. He did not cower, or beg. He did not offer riches for his life as all men did, though he had much more than most. He met her gaze defiantly. Hurried footsteps rumbled like thunder from nearby. The fool would get his wish if only due to necessity.
She crossed the room into two quick strides, snatched his head back with her gloved fist, and placed her blade at his throat.
He continued to meet her gaze. She had to give it to him. He played the noble soul right up until the end. But he wasn’t so noble. He was a madman and a fool. Who else could squander such power? This man who had been given so much and earned more? He didn’t lord his power, his status. He…shared it. She had seen it with her own eyes. Such a man didn’t deserve what he had been given…did he?
“You don’t want to do this,” he said calmly. He was not pleading. He said it as plainly as one might report the weather. But he was wrong. She did want to kill him. He had to die. For being such a fool and because it was Ilkhor’s will. Her father’s will must be done. It didn’t matter how warm this man was on her skin. Nimari glanced down. His left hand rested on her right. When had he moved? Why could she feel the warmth of his touch even through her gloves? He didn’t grip her or try to pull the sword away from his throat. Her grip on the hilt tightened. He did not look away. Outside the footsteps continued to thunder. Now was her last chance. He had to die.
Nimari screamed in anger and drove her boot into the man’s stomach with as much force as she could muster. He doubled over and very nearly vomited. She added one more kick for good measure just as a tattooed dwarf with a gleaming axe charged through the door. Nimari bolted for the window and disappeared into the night, but not without one final glance behind her. Not at the dwarf hot on her heels, but at the man lying in a heap trying, defiantly, to rise.
“Been sharin’ sheets that you shouldn’t ’ave?,” Fjorin asked him later.
“Excuse me,” Mirodon replied caught off guard by the question.
“Play innocent if you want, laddie, but there’s only one reason a woman looks at you like that,” the dwarf answered.
Mirodon shook his head hardly believing what the dwarf was implying, “Even with the mask, I’m sure I’ve never met that woman before.”
“I’d be willing to bet you’ll be meeting her again,” Fjorin added.
Mirodon placed a hand protectively over his bruised ribs and abdomen, “I think I am going to take you up on that mail coat you’ve been trying to get me to wear.”