The actual assassination had been easy. Poison, in the right hands, was as swift, deadly, and clean as killing with a blade. Her hands were not trained to wield a blade, but they knew the art of crafting potions and poisons well. They had a memory of their own, mixing and blending without straining her mind: it had become second nature. It proved to be no use to her now. One cannot poison her way out of prison. No one had told her that avoiding the law would be the difficult part. Stupid, she should have known. She had waited for her reward to come like a sitting duck, and had been rewarded instead by the presence of guards and a place in this cell. She was never cut out to be an assassin, but desperation can drive one to unthinkable acts. Funny, how in a land where prosperity was standard, so many people suffered and struggled to make ends meet. The scavengers, the street rats that roamed the alleys to beg for food. The rugged men that labored at the stone. The haggard, tired women that sold themselves for coin. She had been too proud to turn to that, but what help was her pride now? The date of her sentencing had not yet been given, thought the punishment wasn't hard to guess. She would receive no less than execution. Beheading? Perhaps, if she was lucky. She could only hope it would be swift. However, time wore on. Still, no date was given; no guards came to the cell.
Maybe they wished to draw it out, to let fear invade the mind of their prisoner. Break their mental guard, and let their own weakness humiliate them. Add insult to injury. When she would march to the guillotine, she would not be proud and guiltless. She would be broken, pitiful. A sight to be seen. She had waited patiently, shutting off her mind to the fear. She could not afford it, not now. She took simple pleasures at the sight of a guard passing or the humming of another captive. Simply knowing that there were others in the proximity was a strange comfort. Life is unforgiving, however. She started to sense something approaching after a week or two in her cell. A tension fell over the place. Guards whispered quietly about something happening on the outside, and she strained to hear them. Prisoners no longer called out or made crude remarks from their cages. There were on more struggles, fights, or conversations back and forth across the hall. Soon, she no longer witnessed the daily guard patrolling. Settling for only the sound of their footsteps, she continued to wait. The footsteps grew fainter over the days, until they no longer existed. Days went by with no sign of the guards or any general authority. Without the guards, the food also stopped coming. She could not fathom what had caused this. Not knowing what was going on outside their cramped existence bothered her more than anything. She hated being unaware. Still, time flowed steadily, and with it, her mind deteriorated. The shell that guarded her control cracked and chipped away. Her greatest fear, isolation, sat waiting in the recesses of her mind. It taunted and creeped closer to her core, but she fought it off and it receded. It could only last so long, however. As her strength weaned, the fear surfaced and took control. She panicked and ran around the confines of her cinder block box. She banged on walls until the skin of her knuckles gave way, shook bars, and unleashed frustrated cries from her throat. Two days this went on, fear overtaking her with a brutal force. Still, going crazy sucks a lot of energy from the body. When she could no longer stand the pressure of her fear, she surrendered. She abandoned it, and became docile once again at the price of her sanity. No longer did she wait for execution, for the guards, for any news. She waited for nothing. She slid to the floor, content to close her eyes and drift into the memories of her life.
A letter was shoved into her hands. "Who- "she started to say, but the delivery boy cut her off. "Sorry miss, lots of letters to deliver. Good day." He strode across the street and blended into the mass of commoners. "Alright, then." Muttering, she walked letter in hand back home. Weaving her way through the throngs of people was difficult, but she was practiced. It was an art to be able to glide through the masses without getting something knocked from the hands or slipped from the pocket. Mothers clenched the arms of children, herding them back to the neighborhood where it was safe and familiar. Men of all trades shuffled home under the weight of axes and iron tools, working muscles already weary from a long day. Some of the more well-to-do citizens lingered by the shops and chatted about politics, something the girl with the letter had no time to indulge in, though it piqued her interest. Her face turned upward, noticing the sky had become a subtle grey. Would there be rain today? Her steps quickened. A lone eagle descended to rest on the branch of a fur tree. "Such a beautiful creature," she mused. The birds had always fascinated her. They possessed a freedom none could have, escaping into the sky, far from the dirty streets and mull of daily life. Sometimes she drew them in her notebook when she had a moment to herself. There were illustrations of sparrows, blue jays, woodpeckers, even chickens. She had yet to draw an eagle though. She made a mental note of this and turned back to the street. Brown blurred her vision as her face collided with leather. In the next moment, she was on her butt, peering up at the man she walked into. A smith. "Watch it," he barked, brushing his apron and knocking her shoulder as he pushed by. "I could say the same to you," she hissed, and got up and continued on her path. Her hands were empty. The letter! She spun around; scanning the street, but her view was muddled by countless feet. Damn it all. She pushed against the current of commoners. Shoulders knocked into hers, and hands shoved her aside. "Hey!" "Be careful!" "Wrong way, kid." All of these voices reached her ears. She muttered sorry's and exscuse me's and continued her frantic search. Finally, her eyes rested on the now trampled envelope. She lunged and grasped it before her hand could be crushed by the steady flow of feet. Scuffed up, but still intact. A breath she didn't know she had been holding escaped her lips. "Alright," she concluded. "No more meandering."
Ten minutes later brought her to the door of Hobb's Herb Shop. Not bothering to knock, she walked in, welcomed by the soothing warmth of a fire. "You never were good with managing time. If you can't even fetch a few supplies, how will you ever manage to run this place?" Hobb straightened from his place at the counter and peered at her through crooked specs. The girl huffed and strode to the counter, resting her arms casually on the worn wood. "You send me out at rush hour? Your sense is dwindling more than I thought, old man." Her words were light in tone, and she gave a teasing smile as she reached into her pocket to retrieve a few vials. Handing them to him, she walked over to fire and plopped down on the rug. A welcomed relief, she rubbed the ache from her arms and legs. "Yes, well, I got a few last minute requests. The have to be ready by tomorrow." Hobb turned to the shelf stacked with flasks and jars behind his counter, tidying and fussing with the materials. He was conspicuously neat at all times. Throughout the years, even as his sight weakened, a certain part of his eyes stayed sharp against the test of time. His measuring was quick and spot on, his timing always perfect. She hadn't witnessed him make a mistake as long as she could remember, but then again, he had been doing this long before she came into the world. He worked on his potions and concoctions with a grace only experience could bring. A bit his grace rubbed off on her, but only a shard of it. She wasn't nearly as good as him yet. Yet. "Ahhh, let's see… where is that thickening root?" He mumbled. She had grown accustomed to his mumbling, for it took on a certain rhythm and provided her a sort of reassurance she wasn't completely aware of. "The day has almost left us. How long will you work tonight?" She inquired. He turned from the shelf and pushed his specs up with his fingers to rub at tired eyes. "Who knows. There's still so much work to be done…" he trailed off. The girl felt a pang of guilt. She had witnessed his tireless work, hours upon hours devoted to the tedious trade. Many a night she had gone to bed, knowing he was still pushing on, standing in a soft halo of light provided by a few candles, driven by devotion. Sometimes she worried about him, despite trying to hide it. "Hey, let me take over, alright? I need to practice anyway." She waited, seeing if he would accept her offer. He hesitated. "I guess… that would be fine. Don't be up too late, though. I need you to work the counter tomorrow, and you can't fall asleep on any more customers." His voice was tinged with humor, and she joined in. "No promises, ole Hobby. Now off to bed, and try not to throw out your back going up the stairs." He scoffed, but left regardless, mumbling a "you'll be old one day too." She felt her lips turn upwards as she got to work. She would never tell, but she enjoyed these moments between them. He had been a good guardian; stern, but fair. She would always be in debt to him for taking her in and saving her from a life of begging. Not that life now was easy by any means, but it was far better than her chances before. She worked, practiced, studied, and help bring in money to feed three mouths. Hobb, herself, and… ugh. That stupid boy. Many days she spent trying to convince Hobb he would be better in the army, and each time, she failed. "Marcus has as much a right to life here as you do," he would always reply. "Maybe if you two stopped bickering, you would learn something from each other." Ha, of course. He could teach her how to run around like an idiot, start trouble, and escape the relentless watch of the guards. He was an excellent free runner, she'd give him that. She wouldn't mind being able to scale walls or jump from roof to roof, but she would never humble herself to him, one of her bigger flaws. Pride could be a terrible thing. The fought, it's true, but they both shared a common thread of the past, and that brought some amount of understanding between the two. He had been orphaned as well, brought in by Hobb and given a fighting chance. He couldn't mix or craft like she could, but he was much more skilled at delivery. The shop's "special orders" were always given to him. Always. That is when his free running became most handy. All in all, she couldn't complain. Life was livable, and she was learning from one of the best. Coming back into reality, she turned to the forgotten letter on the counter. Opening it with little interest, she sat by the fire to read what was probably another run of the mill order.
It's been a while since we last spoke. I hope your memory still fares you well. You'll need it. The time has come, and we need to get to work immediately. Suspicions are on the rise. Send that delivery boy, Marcus, but be discreet. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
She jerked out of the memory, noticing how her finger nails had anchored into the concrete floor. A renewed gush of blood shot through her arms and colored her face with a subtle, but mounting, anger. That letter. She should have destroyed it, but it destroyed her first. That life was faded now, like the memory. Her fate had been sealed, and a future she was ignorant of loomed ever closer.
Hey, thanks for reading! This is my first time writing a fanfiction, and I know the first chapter is a bit slow, but bear with me. It will get more exciting. Yes, I have been playing Demon's Souls and it's growing on me. I think there's a lot of potential story plot to explore. I want to put a stronger emphasis on the npcs in the game, so they will play a large part in the story. More new characters will also appear. Reviews are always appreciated^^