My name is Alistaire. My father gave me this name because he knew I was destined for both good and bad. Throughout my life it has been evident to all who've known me that my actions have leaned towards the latter.
One of these actions earned me my title, Alistaire the Assassin.
Not long into my fourteenth year my mother and I were gathering herbs in the forest. It was something we often enjoyed doing. It was not only a time of bonding, but an opportunity for me to practice my tracking, stealth, climbing and tumbling skills.
My mother would screech when I finally learned to approach her undetected. She would playfully say, "Alistaire you rapscallion! Stop your incessant habit of startling me!" I knew well how it irritated her, but I could also see the pride in her eyes at how proficient I was becoming.
On this particular outing I was doing just that, stalking my mother from a distance determined to make her jump and screech, when I noticed something that made my blood boil. I was not the only one stalking her.
Two bandits, filthy and half starved, were creeping up on her and she was oblivious to their presence. I knew I had to act immediately.
I turned my stalking towards the brigands with the intent of turning Hunter into hunted. The smaller of the two trailed what was obviously the dominant of the two by six or seven paces. As I moved down wind behind them, their stench sickened me. I had to stifle a gag as I neared and their odor intensified. As the larger of the two edged closer to my mother, I slipped up behind the smaller source of stench.
With movements rehearsed untold times upon the training dummy in my home, I deftly placed my hand across his mouth and slid my misery chord into his spine, I nearly vomited. I felt the instantaneous desire to shed my clothing and cleanse myself.
As I slowly lowered his body to the ground, I realized that the other bandit was within arms reach of my mother, weapon raised.
I quickly pulled my dagger from the dead man, it's long and nearly needle like blade dripping the life blood of my first kill, and sent it hurtling end over end towards my mother's would be assailant. It sunk to it's hilt between his shoulders.
My mother had been kneeling, collecting mandrake root when the fool dropped his rusty blade and began screaming. Her screams soon joined his as his arms began to search in vain for the cause of his agony.
By the time he rotated around towards me I was upon him, scimitar in hand. In one swift, practiced movement, I opened his throat.
I had seen animals slaughrered. I had seen beheadings. I had seen men torn apart by horses, I have never been squeamish. However, nothing I had seen could have prepared me for having my face covered in arterial spray. My mouth had been open in a visage of my rage, and I was sickened as it filled with my victim's blood.
As he fell to his knees grasping his throat, I spat the foul ichor onto his face. It wasn't until I watched the life leave his eyes that I once again heard my mother's cries.
I dropped my blade and moved towards her, only to witness her retreat from me and see the fear and disgust in her eyes.
"Mother!" I pleaded. "Why do you cower? I have saved you! I defended you! I took lives so that you may keep yours!"
"Assassin!" She exclaimed in a high, cracking voice. "This is not what you were raised to do! What would your honorable father think? You were taught to face enemies in open battle, not to steal life like a common thief!"
Though she shamed me that day, I have never felt the sting of her words. I vowed then to embrace the idea that killing an enemy from the shadows was just as acceptable as facing them in open combat, if not smarter. Let others worry about leaving this life with honor, their hate only fuels my ambition. By any means necessary I will one day rule these lands. They can hate all they wish, so long as they fear. I will become fear.
Even as I perfected my lithe, five foot, eight inch frame, I also sharpened my mind. In addition to combat, archery, horsemanship, climbing, swimming, running and exercise, I studied.
I had the blacksmith forge all manner of locks to practice picking and observed him as he did, desiring an intimate knowledge of their inner workings. I apprenticed with the local apothecary, learning the uses of all manner of herbs and minerals and their preparation. I spent endless hours in our modest library, studying history, military tactics, geography and philosophy. I spent years picking the pockets of our servants, always returning the items and being cursed for an imp. It became rather bothersome being blamed for everything that was lost until they realized I had always returned what I'd taken.
I also became known as somewhat of a rake. Forever exuding my charms and taking advantage of my comely appearance on the local girls. Many a family member of some conquest of mine did I have to exhibit my talents on, both running and fighting.
Now I sit here in this tavern, the day after such a ceremony marking my sixteenth year. My mother murdered and my future uncertain save but this, there will be much blood on my rise to my rightful place as ruler of these lands.
Much blood and much fear.
It wasn't long into my bodyguard job that I had a distinct feeling that I was being stalked.
I continued along my client's patrol route, taking all precautions not to let on that I had figured out I was being followed.
I bided my time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. After turning a corner around an outlying building on my route I stopped, pushed myself back against the wall and slipped my misery chord from it's sheath.
There I waited, listening. Soon the sound of footsteps approached. They slowed as they neared, their gate revealing the apprehension of their source. Slowly, a bald, age spotted head emerged from around the corner.
I pounced, grabbing his black tunic, placing my dagger to his throat and spinning, pinning his aged body to the wall.
His eyes grew as large as gobblets and I had to quickly cover his mouth to stifle the coming screams.
I pushed my dagger into the pale flesh of his throat just enough to draw a drop of blood. Though I didn't think it possible his eyes grew even wider and began to brim with budding tears. Pressed against his trembling form I felt his body go rigid with fear.
In a voice half hiss, half whisper I told him, "If you make a noise over a whisper, if you try to call out or I even think you are trying to move a finger I will shove this steel through the back of your neck. Blink twice if you understand."
The old man blinked, sending warm tears streaming down his weathered face, and then blinked again.
I nodded and slowly removed my hand from his mouth and stepped back to arm's length, the tip of my dagger still piercing his aged flesh. He began to softly stammer and I ceased him with a wave of my hand.
"Shut your mouth. I ask questions, you answer. If you speak without prompt I will kill you." I then took the time to scrutinize this wretch that made the mistake of stalking me.
The man had ice blue eyes and was clean shaven. It was hard to tell exactly, but Alistaire doubted the man had seen less than fifty five years. Around his neck was a golden braided chain adorned with a ruby amulet which rested against a black doublet with white ruffles and golden stitching. Across his shoulders was a black cape with gold clasps. A grey leather belt circled his waist, from it dangled a fine brown silk coin purse. On his hands were a few modest rings, inlayed with semi precious stones, and a ring of office. It seemed that I had a magistrate trembling at the end of my dagger. A magistrate who's grey breeches had a clear path of moisture leading from his groin to his fine leather boots.
This could become quite the issue. I had no idea why an appointed official would be following me, but I knew my dagger was in his throat. This is a man who's absence would be missed. If anyone had witnessed him following me, I would be the first suspect. Could I afford to let him go? Not only have I physically harmed the man, but he had pissed himself adding insult to injury. The shame of that would be far worse an offense. I had to be smart about this.
"Who are you?", I hissed at him.
The man swallowed and seemed to regain some composure. His quick recovery surprised me, this was not the first dagger he'd had held to his throat. "Alistaire, I am Archimedes the Politician." His voice was soft and he spoke eloquently, a quick recovery indeed and by a man who knows my name.
"How do you know my name and why are you following me?" I allowed some of the venom to leave my voice and pulled the dagger from his flesh, watching the ruby droplets slide down to his ruffled collar, staining it crimson, and rested the daggers tip against the age pronounced hollow just above the collar bones.
He visibly relaxed, much of the tension leaving his posture.
"Both queries, young master Alistaire, can be resolved with one answer. I have been observing your progress for many years now at the behest of your noble father. If anything ever happened to he and your mother I am charged with assuming the position of advisor and confidant. To assist you with all of my resources I have available to me. After you earned your title, your father approached me because of certain "contacts" that I have at my disposal. He never approved of your nature and demeanor, but he loved you greatly and even his principles would not allow you to be left alone in the world without someone on which to rely. After your mother's unfortunate demise came to my attention I sought you out. I did not wish, as I'm certain you will agree, that the entirety of the populace know that we are to be associates. It could, erm, compromise us both."
I saw the truth in his eyes as he spoke. That would be exactly the tactics my parents would use. They would do, and did, their best to keep me away from such influences while they could, but made them readily available once gone, to help ensure my survival.
I slowly lowered and sheathed my dagger. I then reached into my cloak and tossed him my kerchief. "It isn't a strong flow but you may want to cover that wound before all your clothing is ruined. "
Archimedes mumbled a thank you and pressed the cloth to his throat with one hand, with the other he reached into his doublet and produced a key.
"Never seek me at my offices. This is the key to the servants entrance of my home. If you are ever in need seek me there, my servants are discreet and have been made aware that you will be seeking audience on occasion. My estate is a few leagues north of town, I'm sure you've seen it. Now, if I may, I need to fetch my carriage. I'm in need of a physician and a hot bath."
Archimedes didn't appear to be ashamed or angry and if he was he hid it well.
"I'm certain you can understand my actions, though somewhat regrettable now. Keep the key, I won't need it and best a key to the magistrate's home not be found on my person, best for us both I think. Would you like my cloak? It's the least I can do to assist in your, predicament."
Archimedes nodded slowly and a slight grin played on his face as he closed the extended hand holding the key. "You are every bit as impressive as I'd hoped young master. I appreciate the offer of your cloak but that won't be necessary."
Archimedes returned the key from where he produced it and made a hand gesture in the air.
Much to my surprise, two cloaked and masked figures dropped from the roof of the house to his back, another two walked silently from my back around to flank me. Faint sounds of hoofbeats and the clanking of wheels on stone and squeaking of springs could be heard in the distance.
"It was a pleasure making your acquaintance Alistaire. I'm pleased our introduction ended .... .productively. "
With that he bowed with a flourish and alacrity that in no way reflected his age and strode off with his men to his now slowing carriage.
I can clearly remember the smile on my face as he disappeared into the distance.
My father clearly had chosen well.
Reflections on your mother
The only regret I had after earning my title was how different my relationship with my mother became.
I had often, before that fateful day, chided her over protective nature. She was always frightened of the possibility that I would injure myself in my training.
"Don't climb so high! Don't swim out so far! Why did you have to chase after the guard captain's daughter? You know how he dotes on her? Must you practice with actual swords? Why not use the wooden swords like you used to?"
Her well intentioned nagging had followed me all my life, until "that" day. The day I saved her life and she named me an assassin. The day she stopped worrying about me getting hurt and started worrying about me harming others.
From that day forward, until the day of her death, if she wasn't watching my every move she had a servant assigned to follow me. Privacy, something I cherished, became a memory.
After she told anyone who would listen of my actions in saving her life, everyone cast their eyes upon me in nervous glances only. Servants I had known my entire life wouldn't look me in the eye.
Still, I could not resent my mother. I cannot resent her. I miss her. I miss everything about her. I will find out who murdered her and when I do, their death will not come quickly.
Most beautiful lady of Alistaire
As usual, the village reeked of piss, [crap] and the unwashed plebes filling it's streets.
As I passed near the fish monger, a choke point on this particular bustling lane, my eyes fell upon the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen.
Curly raven lochs cascaded onto her shoulders to frame her beautiful ivory flesh. Oh that skin! She had stained her lips black and had darkened her eyes. The onyx stood in stark contrast to that flesh as pale as fresh cream, the darkness around her eyes causing their violet orbs to leap out.
She wore a richly embroidered ankle length dress dyed to match the hue of her eyes. I was frozen to the spot, entranced. As she neared me her eyes met mine, I would have fallen to my knees then and there if she'd only have asked.
Her plump black lips parted in a slow smile as she passed me. Her dress was open in the back, revealing it's creamy flesh in entirety. I trembled at the sight.
She paused and turned her heavenly face in my direction once more, taking her fingers through the hair by her temple, revealing the pointed tips of her ears before blessing me with another smile and continuing on her path.
My heart was drumming in my ears, I must have this beautiful elf!.
Why Am I Alistaire?
The child's words rang in my head. "Why art thou evil?"
I have never stopped to consider why I am the way I am. I simply am, always have been, as long as I can remember. I've never had use for honor and never pursued a spiritual path. I've never set foot inside a temple, never perused the books and scrolls of the righteous.
I've always been revolted and repulsed by anything spewing forth from a pulpit. Such things just aren't palatable to my nature.
I had no problem stepping through that dark portal and accepting the blessing of that horned, winged devil woman, however. I had been drawn to that portal, pulled like an infant to it's mother's breast. I am connected somehow to the darkness, it is a part of me and I relish it.
I am not overtly cruel to others. I have been known to show kindness to those in need, but those acts of kindness are empty. I am never more alive than when on the hunt, never more satisfied than when I feel my blades enter flesh.
Why am I evil? Because evil is what I've always been.