Disclaimer: All FFIV characters are the property of Square-Enix.
The form that slowly slinked out of the unlit room, down a flight of stairs, past a room full of people, and out into the night was barely noticed to others, let alone himself All he knew was that the height of night was now upon him, and while the drunken ones wasted away in the space behind him, he would go out to sanction the work he was given to do.
I must remember that I am he now, it thought, peering up into the spectra of the sky. Not the traveler. Not the boy. Not myself. Just...
He couldn't remember the last time he had gazed up into the sky, eyes enamored with the thousands of little white diamonds that stared back at him, twinkling in their own silent harmony that he had once claimed as 'calming.'
It did little to soothe him now.
Or maybe it was because he knew their verdict.
Or, perhaps, he just didn't want to care.
The wind felt vaguely familiar though, as summoned by his thoughts. It washed over him, invisible fingertips lightly brushing over the black cowl pulled roughly across his unshapely head, winding down to the mask slapped tight across his lips, then trailing down to fiddle with the cloak that had restrained him, marking his demeanor as someone who was all too comfortable with walking into nighttime's bane.
He reached out a gloved hand as he continued down the steps that lead him away from the light behind, stopped briefly against the wall of a building, as though to catch the reminiscence the cool night-tide had blown in. Like a butterfly to winter, it had dissipated in an instant, leading his mind back to the task at hand, and the dangers that were adding up.
Angered at the opening he might've left for one as furtive as himself, he readjusted his cloak, and fell back deeper into the shadows, fingertips grazing the wall behind him. Light was nowhere to be seen at the moment, save for the soft glow of the magically hued lampposts scattered here and there on the city's citizen-desolate streets. Some buildings in the distance, save for the one he had already evaded, retained solid blocks of light emanating from windows from personal quarters, but they were of little concern to him at the moment.
He, under the prename of 'Vagabond,' under the prename of 'Cassius,' to those who had inquired, had been within the city's boundaries since the start of the day. The streets hadn't posed much of a threat when he entered, a tired and weary traveler seeking a canteen of water and a comfortable bed. No one had suspected that he, then free of the garments of black he wore now in exchange for that of a peasant, already had a previous standing connection with the city itself. Little did they know as well that the weakened smile worn on a sun-bleached visage, behind unkempt black mustache and beard, could pull into one of murderous intent.
Vagabond wasn't out to get the municipal's inhabitants - he knew that any he might've encountered could possibly fell him with a flick of the wrist, and some soft chanting to complete it. There was no telling what the citizens of Mysidia, each and then some a skilled magician to their own rights, might do to him should they of figured out his true demeanor, and the reasoning for his coming.
But that's not going to happen, he reminded himself calmly, hand reaching down to the dagger stowed away at his side, his leg twisting to an angle to pinpoint the exact location of its twin hidden in his boot. He figured, though foolish, that he had an advantage at nighttime. Rumors went by way of mouth, and his gatherings, that the custodians patrolling the streets were of no magical descent. How easy would it be to fell them through explicit use of the shadows, should one of them just happen to get in his way, in more ways than two? The thought danced through his head wildly, temptation dancing in begging.
Foolish. They only said to kill per rate nata, as dead bodies would become of an uproar, Vagabond thought, reality returning to him in a snap, and dismissed the thought away.
Certain the danger of the guardians weren't in his immediate area, the cloaked one returned, grace dipping and rolling through the boundaries of the shadows like the ocean waves crashing against the sand. Focused now, he hadn't even noticed the beauty of Mysidia: the glow of the aforementioned street lamps, in combination with the sidereal enthrall of the sky, intermixed with the quiet streets. Many streams of water interlaced, branched throughout her boundaries, propelled by intricate waterfalls around the various walls that shielded the kingdom from ill met animated materials. Blessed by the Water Crystal, a denizen of the goddess of Earth herself, it was no wonder beauty had purposefully chosen this to grace with her jewels, crowned at Solar's peak, and Luna's rising.
He ignored all of it, his eyes only seeing one thing amid the beauty that protested and pouted: payment and compensation for the dark deeds that were ahead.
In no time flat, Vagabond was standing before the grand cathedral commonly spoken of as the 'House of Prayers.' Blocks of light weren't guarding the fortress, save for the soft hues of illumination that stood behind streaming shards of more waterfalls gracing the sanctuary's front. Such nearly threw him off, but he knew somehow, somewhere, this particular clandestine had been prearranged for him.
Or had it?
"You are late," came a low voice from the shadows. Vagabond quickly whipped around, fingers clutched tight around the handle of the dagger that had previously been holstered at his side.
It chuckled. "At ease, Montgomery. It is only I," the voice, male, resolved, it coming forth from the shadows to eventually take a shape.
Vagabond relaxed. Though the voice hadn't stepped close enough for him to make out a face, the outlining of the body retained the contact he had been waiting to see. "I thought I told you never to call me by that name under these pretenses," he replied, dryly, and then adding, twirling the dagger within his fingers, "Mother wouldn't like it if we were found out, would she.. Norbert?"
Shoulders drooped. "I suppose she wouldn't," he said with a sigh. It straightened up again, as though out of memory. "Have you brought what we asked?"
"I have," Vagabond replied, the dagger quickly exchanged for another material, this stored in a pocket. "Five cubic-centimeters. Opiates are very dangerous, especially to a young child," he muttered. His fingers were closed around a vial, which glinted inconspicuously, even against his black gloves, upon it being exposed to his contact.
"Yes, yes. Of course I do. You forget that I, too, have practiced apothecary," Norbert replied, almost in a grump, fingers inching out to retrieve the vial from the cloaked one.
The other man remained rooted, as though steel. "Payment?" he bade, fingers curling up and around the palm of his hand to enclose the vial once more. "Though we have provided the drug, and the agreement that you carry out this deed, our druggist requires her due fees," he explained, smirking to the feral snarl Norbert had produced. He was almost tempted to yank off the mask to show him. "We will not pay her out of your hatred."
"Cheap blackmailers," Norbert snarled again, "I was hoping we might avoid this." The outstretched hand was retracted, dug apparently to a pocket on his person. Some jingling, and Vagabond knew that he hadn't forgotten the previous agreement. Norbert would've been stupid not to.
"We thank you," Vagabond said after a moment, coin passed, and the vial given in compensation. "At long last will there be a gain for us both. But use it wisely," he then reiterated, watching the other man turn away from him. Seeing as he had his attention again, his hand rose up, this time tugging the mask off of his face. Even though what little light, a hardened expression had formed through his lips, mustache angular in threatening poses.
"Should anything backfire, know that my matron has given me full permission to kill you," Vagabond continued, his voice as cold and razor-sharp as the daggers he wielded. "We will not be made a fool of in your petty gain."
Norbert started, faltered, and determined to not pose fright. The name of Montgomery - famed as the Vagabond - seeped through various lips in those who played a different form of the Dark Arts. Though imbued himself with the power of a highly skilled magician, he was sure that the cold-blooded wanderer could do more in the time it'd take for him to conjure an injuring spell.
"We can take care of them ourselves, without your aid," Vagabond continued, drowning out the other man's argument. "You are, after all, just a ploy for us. Don't you forget that," he finished, and thus, had nothing more to say. He ruffled his cloak, straightened his mask back over his lips, and began his descent back into the outer darkness.
"Make sure the matron enjoys her payment," Norbert called after him, as high as his voice might dare. "We will not be needing her services again!"
The cloaked one stopped, determined to kill him then and there. The scuffling of booted limbs back into the adjacent shadows told him he would just be wasting his time.
Soon after, Vagabond was out of the city limits. Using the shadows, he had managed to escape the boundaries and the guardians without raising so much as a brow. His belongings had already been pre-packed in a bag on his shoulders, underneath his cloak, so that a fuss back to the inn wouldn't be necessary.
Now open in the natural night of the light, the mask off his lips once more, the cowl off to reveal an even messier nest of black hair, he walked along to the shores, where soon he knew a carrier would pick him up from the land, and take him to yet another destination; this time, he hoped, home.
He lowered himself to the sandy ground, one knee cocked to allow his arm to be set atop, and the other crossed underneath it, its accompanying arm poised, fingers scraping absentmindedly in the sand, sketching that of what was lost, and what was found.
Vagabond couldn't look up at the sky, and Montgomery was ashamed to. Though he knew they still went on twinkling, calling out to the moon to join them in their harmony, he knew that they would likely soon witness the horrible acts of what was to come.
But a thought that kept him between destiny's tears: Montgomery was Vagabond - cold, murderous - now, whether the judgmental night liked it, or not. Even if the part that wanted to be Montgomery once more - a carefree, innocent youth unmarred by the revenge his mother so desired - knew that a child as innocent as he had been would die this night.