(A/N): This fic was orignially Tom Valor's idea but he's so busy with his fics that I asked him if I can handle the fic for him. He said yes so it's up to me to expand on it. Yeah, it's priestess/assassin, Tom's hated pairing. He thought up this idea to show that there were still ways to use this far too common pairing and still come out with something unique. I hope you enjoy it!

"A sword that shines within a display case, covered with jewels and polished like a mirror is as useless to its owner as the lump of metal it was forged from. Lucky is the owner of a sword stained with the blood of enemies and covered with the notches of a hundred blows. He has a weapon that has served well and will continue to serve well. Among servants of God, the same truth applies…"

-High Priestess Isis-

Photophobia

Prologue: A simple assignment

"I want her dead as quickly as possible. Bring he her head as proof and you will be paid handsomely."

The priest dropped the purse he was holding. It did not take an assassin's sharpened hearing to detect the metallic and heavy clink of coin hitting coin. Still, it was an assassin who heard it and he knew full well what the gesture meant. His client, a fat, middle-aged priest, wiped his oily hands on his robes and smiled crookedly. It was not an offer to be refused so easily.

"There are five hundred gold zenny coins in that purse. Take it as down payment; there will be another one just like it waiting for you when you finish the assignment."

The assassin shifted his sleepy stare from the plate of half-eaten pecopeco roast next to the purse to the piece of paper that contained the description and whereabouts of the target and finally to his client. He was naturally suspicious of the entire deal. Five hundred gold zenny coins…fifty thousand zenny all in all. That was just half of the promised money. A total of a hundred thousand zenny was a small fortune already. What bothered him was the target…

"This is a lot of money for the life of a lone priestess. Perhaps there are details that you are not sharing with me, Marlos Khaivan; I do not like surprises popping up during a mission."

The priest sweated profusely, a sign to the assassin, Retzel Kizue, that there were things about the assignment that he'd rather not tell. While Morroc was in the middle of a desert and was naturally hot, the nights were an entirely different matter. People did not sweat during a desert night because of heat.

"Well…there's nothing so special about her…just your average priestess who…"

The assassin turned around and walked away…

"I'm leaving. Take your money and find some other assassin to do your ecclesiastical backstabbing for you."

The priest tried to rise quickly to stop Retzel and stumbled on the table. The platter fell to the floor and broke, causing the meat to roll on the marble.

"Retzel, wait! Alright, I'll tell you…"

The assassin stopped and turned around.

"Don't bother lying, I can see right through you, Marlos. You can start by at least giving me a name and why she's scaring you to desperation."

The priest sat down and put on a subdued face, much to Retzel's annoyance. There were few things he hated more than groveling and Marlos had a face that took naturally to that task.

"Her name is Kerari Phanaea, she's an inquisitor sent by the Church to check up on me. If she finds out about my activities…"

Retzel already understood the implications. Marlos was a dutiful priest only from outside appearances. While he pretended to help the poor in Morroc, he took part in illegal slave trading and drug smuggling. Crate upon crate of awakening and verserk potions slipped past the pronteran guard because of his involvement.

"I've never heard of an inquisitor. What are they, some new profession offshoot from priests?"

Marlos shook his head and looked about nervously.

"Inquisitors are members of the Church so they could be crusaders, monks or priests. They root out corruption inside the Church and stamp them out. High-ranking inquisitors can kill offenders on the spot…"

Retzel shrugged his shoulders.

"So you want me to kill her before she kills you, correct? Fine, I'll do you dirty work for you, Marlos."

The assassin's hand swooped over the table and picked up the purse.

"Don't forget the other one…"

With those words, Retzel edged near an open window and vanished. Marlos went over the spilled food and picked up a pecopeco leg. After examining it for a while, he shrugged his shoulders and took a bite.

'A thousand gold zenny coins is a small price to pay for an inquisitor's assassination, Retzel, I'll do anything to make sure they stay off my back…'

Marlos looked out the window and smiled. The assassin he had hired was reputed to be among the best in the business. He was a freelance assassin; one of the very few who dared to ply their trade despite NightKnife's monopoly. He had an air around him that reminded the priest of a stereotypical swashbuckler; graceful, charismatic and confident. He kept his black hair carefully brushed back and at an even length, allowing it to reach only the nape of his neck. Like most morrocan assassins, he was thin and brown-skinned. He also had a slightly pointed chin, dark blue eyes and a sharp nose. His thinness exposed his cheekbones somewhat but did little to mar his physical appearance. There were rumors that he often charmed women before he killed them on their beds…

'You're going to need all the charm you can get with this woman, Retzel…'

······

In Morroc, the night was, perhaps, more busy than the day. The shadows that lay in wait in the back alleys and taverns moved freely now. It was often that an assassin, out for a mission, would meet some of his fellows on a different mission. This was where things would get complicated. If they were of rival guilds then a battle would take place. Before NightKnife took over, it often rained blood and corpses during the nights. The citizenry would find them in the morning, strewn about by the main square or on their rooftops. Right before Trynis Eviskrae's take over, the killings had escalated to war. Among the morrocan assassins and rogues, it was known as "The Night of all Knives". When the carnage had settled, more than a hundred assassins and rogues were found piled up by the center of the city. NightKnife had just destroyed all of its strongest rivals, ensuring its position as the strongest thieves' guild, not just in Morroc, but throughout Rune-Midgard.as well. Retzel moved swiftly among the shadows of the rooftops. He did not want to encounter NightKnife for this mission. Though the guild mistress, Trynis Eviskrae, was still just a thief, it was rumored that she possessed fighting abilities that could take out a careless assassin or rogue. Her "co-founder", Makaelthos Solcry, was rumored to be the same. What made them truly dangerous were their devious minds and control over squad upon squad of assassins and rogues.

'The inn of The Broken Horn…she's here…'

Retzel crouched on the roof of a nearby building. He had to plan this out carefully. Assassinating a member of the Church was always dangerous. If he got himself implicated, he'd have a squad of crusaders, monks and priests on his trail.

'A lone priestess …even if she is an inquisitor, this shouldn't prove difficult…'

The assassin leapt off the roof and into the window of his target's room. It was a sign of her inexperience in Morroc that she would leave a window open…

"Hello, there. I thought you'd never come…"

The voice surprised Retzel as soon as he landed on the balcony of the inn's upper rooms. His landing was cat-like in its silence. He wasn't heard, that was for sure. For some reason, someone was expecting him. He stood up and found himself staring at his target…

Retzel knew that his target was unusual when Marlos showed him the description. Her most prominent features were "One-eyed and a long, leather glove on her left hand". This priestess matched the description perfectly. Her right eye was covered by an eye patch. A long, vertical scar ran down the right side of her forehead, down the eye and all the way to the right side of her jaw. It was a battle scar that any warrior would have been proud of. Retzel wondered what the priestess faced to get that scar. As for her left hand…it was exactly as Marlos described it. She was wearing a single glove that reached all the way to her elbow. Her left forearm was completely covered. She had long, blonde hair that reached beyond her shoulders. Her pale skin showed her heritage as a pronteran and her hazel left eye glared with enough intensity to make up for her missing eye. Her words did not disguise the intensity behind them.

"Were you expecting a dainty, little priestess who'd be taking a bath at this hour? I suppose you'd stalk her in the bath, enjoy the view for a while and then murder her. I'm sorry if I disappoint you…"

Retzel drew his katars and raised them in a crossed position parallel to his chest. His half-lidded eyes did not reveal any trace of emotion but he was somewhat hoping for that. The eye patch marred her looks somewhat but this priestess was not completely unattractive. She had a slim figure and well-formed breasts. The sinews around her neck and right forearm showed that she was more than just physically fit.

"I was hoping for either that or a challenge, priestess. Since you're not the former, I hope you're the latter…"

The priestess did not bother replying. Instead she brought her palms together, closed her eye and began chanting a prayer. Retzel moved swiftly towards her, his katars came down swiftly towards her throat. Suddenly her eye opened. Before Retzel could even react, her left hand shot forward and grabbed his face. Retzel felt the air whoosh from his lungs as the left hand drove him to the inn's wooden floor hard. His katars reached their target nonetheless, only to bounce back before they could hit. It was as if they had hit an invisible barrier.

"Kyrie Eleison…"

The words left Retzel's lips as he grabbed the priestess's left arm and tried to break her grip on his face. His eyes widened as the arm didn't budge. The priestess pushed his head against the floor boards and began to squeeze mercilessly. The assassin struggled harder and tried to pull the arm away. It was as if the priestess's arm was a bar of solid oridecon. His skull started to throb from the pressure. The priestess was exerting enough force the break his head apart. Suddenly the grip loosened slightly…

"Did Marlos send you?"

There was no malice or even anger behind the priestess's words. She was interrogating him already…

"Why should I tell you?"

The priestess smiled and increased the pressure of her left hand's grip.

"Because I'm going to pop your head like grape if you don't, assassin. I'd rather know of your brain's contents than watch them stain this inn's floor and if you don't toss away your katars I'll do so anyway."

Retzel tossed his weapons aside and relaxed. In response, the priestess loosened her grip.

"It's unprofessional for me to reveal my employer."

The priestess's smile widened.

"Your naïve, little profession does not interest me, assassin. Still, I'll offer you a better deal. Tell me who sent you and I'll pay you double what he offered. Surely your opportunism can't pass that up?"

Retzel's eyes showed no emotion but his words showed how he felt about the entire matter. He hated that fat bastard, Marlos anyway.

"Fine, it was Marlos."

The priestess let go and stood up. She was grinning with satisfaction now. Her left hand clenched and unclenched as if waiting in anticipation for the time it would close its fingers on Marlos's head. Retzel's eyes narrowed. It was about time anyway…

Kerari Phanaea did not flinch when the assassin dove for his weapons, tumbled on the floor, pushed at the wall with his feet and sprung at her. His katars glinted in the candle light of her room as they descended on her. In response she raised her left arm and allowed the blades to strike her wrist. The katars struck true, slashing through her leather glove and to the arm beneath. Kerari raised an eyebrow as the assassin's eyes widened when he stepped back…

Retzel Kizue stared at the priestess's arm. He felt his weapons bite deep into her wrist but he had struck something solid and unyielding. For one thing, he had aimed for a vital vein in her wrist but it wasn't shedding even a drop of blood.

"What kind of magic is this?"

The priestess turned around and walked away.

"There is no need for you to know, assassin, I was going to pay you but I think I'll do that some other time. After I kill Marlos that is…"

Retzel watched the priestess leave the room before leaving through the window. He had decided to see how Marlos was going to react to this priestess. For some reason, he wanted to see more of her…

'So much for this assignment…I'll gain something from it anyway…'

(A/N): This will be my first multi-chaptered fic, wish me luck!