The Republic of Heaven
The Archer
Bergen squeezed deeper into the shadow. A bell nearby heavily rang to announce two o'clock. He could see the guard clearly now, keeping near to the fire, seeking warmth. A heavy wind blew and this was what worried him most: he would be unable to tell in what direction the arrow would fly. He thought a moment and then slowly, not to make the faintest noise, he raised a hand over his shoulder and took two arrows from his quiver. Weighting them carefully with his hands, preparing the bow. He had to fire one first arrow to see how strong the wind was. Only then he could adjust the second one and be sure to hit the man at once.

But the ward would absolutely notice this first shot so the second one had to follow immediately, before the man would have time to set of the alarm.

He took both arrows and let them slip between two fingers of his right hand. Then he raised the bow. Carefully he slid one of the shafts on the string, adjusted, pulling, releasing. The arrow had not even reached full height when Bergen had already laid the second arrow on the string, pulled, fired again. His hands were perfectly calm and in the last moment before loosing the bow's string he turned the tip of the arrow around just a little bit to counter the wind and it met its target within the split of a second. Bergen stood up, carefully because he knew that the next watch was not far. Then he took a deep breath and jumped over the gap of the rooftops, landed on the wall. He hurried towards the ward and bowed down but certainly enough the man was dead, the shot had gone through his throat.

This moment made him remember the very first time he had killed. He could still feel the hot shame and even more the sickness that had steadily raised until it was too much and he had retched in the corner, long and violently until his stomach had been emptied and on even then, bitter bile. But after first time that he had quickly become used to the feeling of killing someone and now he felt almost nothing about it. He turned away and reflected his next steps. He had not much time left, the execution would take place in fifteen minutes from now on.

Bergen was happy to have very precise information because without them he would not even have known of the tragedy to take place tonight.

What tragedy? An execution. Three days ago they had kidnapped his Lady. He had felt at once that something was wrong when he had come back home that day and and his Lady was not there. Not that she would always be there, far from that. But something about the place was wrong. He had had other things to care about however, so he hadn't reacted until the next morning. When he awoke and the bed beside his was empty he just panicked.

His Lady's true name was Anastasia Fairwater but for Bergen she was a creature too special to be called ordinary names (even though her name might seem anything but ordinary to other people). She had always been "his Lady" since they both had been small children. Five years ago both their parents had been killed in a street fighting. Bergen had insisted to care for the homeless twelve year old girl although he himself was only one year older. His love for her had been far beyond measure, but it was always the love of an elder brother for his younger sister. Thus he had cared for her for four years as well as he could and to her was his full and only allegiance. For her only he would give his life gladly and with a smile on his lips.

He never knew how much the Lady responded this love (and in fact neither did she) but he didn't really care; he did not want to be loved, all he wanted was the Lady to be happy forever.

He opened a small door to his left and hurried down a dark corridor. He halted at the corner and listened but there was no noise. Nervous, yet fully concentrated he crossed a hall and opened another door with another dark corridor behind it. Left, right, another turn, another door. But no guards. Suspicion rose in Bergen, it was simply too quite, but then he saw the shimmering of a torch. Quickly he hid behind a statue and loosed his dagger. A man passed his not much of a hiding, heard a noise, turned his head and and broke down, his throat cut. Bergen dragged him into the shadow and continued on his path. He felt panic raise because now he heard the distant bells strike, it was time.

Bergen did not usually panic. His everyday business required him to be calm, cold-blooded. But here the Lady was involved and her lovely smile was constantly hovering in front of his inner eye, distracting his attention.

Voiced became audible, he took the next turn and found himself at one end of the large execution chamber, packed with people. The scaffold in the middle of the chamber was empty. Eased, Bergen stepped back into the shadow.

Something was wrong. The few people in the room, mainly officers, prepared to leave. Bergen heard doors clap and then there was silence. Did the execution not take place? Cautiously he stepped into the now empty room and approached the scaffold. Truly it was empty, covered with dried, brown blood of former victims. But then he saw a glittering on the floor. Red stains, leading away from the middle of the room the the east wall. And then Bergen's heart stopped. He had not seen it before because it was half concealed behind a wooden bench, but it on the wall a chain was fastened and on the other end of it a corpse clung. The head of the person had been so brutally smashed into small pieces by the pure fury of the butcher's axe that there was not much left of the face to recognise but Bergen knew the clothes at once, he knew the shape of the body, he knew the small bracelet that glittered in the dim light. He himself had once stolen it for her.

Without the slightest move in his face he turned and made his way silently to where he had come from. He met no living person on his way out, reached the outer wall, jumped down on the street and ran towards the city's gate. It was closed at night but he easily climbed over it. He ran some time more until the village had disappeared from view behind a hill, then he stopped on the border of a forest. Suddenly, he cried. He screamed and hurled, hot tears running down his cheeks and he threw himself down on the ground, banged his fists on his soil.

"Oh, Lady, my Lady, I have failed you."

Then he drew his dagger and thrust it deep into his body.

My Lady …

Too Emotinal. No-Will-nor-Lyra-that-aint-no-HDM.
Comments other than that are welcome. Bear in mind: English is not my mother tongue. Advice is gladly accepted if generously given. Scorn is rejected.