Akitis and the Poison Blade, Part 1

Here is a second look at Akitis, the assassin known as the Shadowknives. She's just had a run-in with an old, experienced vampire fighter named Nyria, which ended in a draw. Akitis is headed for the Poison Blade, a group that runs the crime and tracks the bounties in the land. This is a story I'm currently writing with another author, and I'm very excited to see where it will go. All the pieces posted here are parts I have written, so they will mostly focus on my character (Akitis) for a while.

(Also, as a side note, I am smack in the middle of heavy editing for Even Unto Death, so the postings here have been a bit thin. But don't worry - I'll post what I can, and in the meantime, know that I'm working hard to get the story ready to send out!)

 

 

Akitis swore vehemently as Nyria ran off. She had gotten too close, that one, with her sword against Akitis' throat. It was insulting.

But Nyria was an old vampire - a legend of her own, with stories as varied as the Shadowknives' own. In a way, Akitis was happy to have drawn her out. Maybe she would finally have a decent rivalry. And what was all that about, anyway? This Nyria character definitely didn't belong in a crap vampire town like Delt'Ini. Nor was she exactly welcome there, from the looks of the fight. Akitis smirked. That could likely be used to her advantage. If this vampire was an outcast among her own kind, perhaps Akitis could convince the vampires on the council to raise her bounty.

The council. Bounties. Akitis' smile widened and she began rifling through the dead, collecting their medallions. The Poison Blade, the overlords of the crime world, would have to give her something just for the sheer amount of death she brought with her tonight. Soon, Akitis would have enough gold to buy some more of the items she needed to finish her latest project: a demon-slaying blade. The do-gooders living inside the Monastery doubtless had what she needed, locked away somewhere "for the good of the people" - but if Akitis knew anything, it was that anything could be bought for the right price.

One of the medallions was snagged, its chain pinned beneath part of the metal doorframe that had collapsed during the battle. Akitis wasted no time trying to move it; instead, she pulled a shimmering orange knife from the sheath at her hip and pressed the edge of the blade against the offending metal. Hissing filled the air and the metal began to glow cherry red. The knife slid through it effortlessly and bit into the flesh of the dead vampire below. Skin and muscle burned instantly, sending a foul stench up to Akitis' sensitive nose. She withdrew the knife and retrieved the medallion with a scowl - although she couldn't really complain. Things like that happened when you cut into flesh with the power of raw flame.

Akitis took one last scan of the room, her eyes pausing only briefly at the door through which Nyria had fled. "Luck has nothing to do with it, vampire," she said, a dark laugh in her voice as she remembered Nyria's last words. "You did the right thing, to run from me, but it will not save you."

***

The Poison Blade met in a cavern deep underground, where all eleven members could claim sanctuary from the dangers of the natural world. Akitis hated walking the long tunnel to reach them. Her footsteps echoed in the smallish cave, and the whole place felt black and confining. There were torches scattered throughout the length of the tunnel, but the Poison Blade had been either too dumb or too lazy to keep the entire walkway lit. Large chunks fell in darkness, where any number of other creatures, bounty hunters, or other annoyances could hide, waiting for a chance to strike. Akitis had been attacked like this only once, and the culprit's head outside the Blade's door, one of the Shadowknives' signature blades stuck through the top of the skull, quickly discouraged any more attempts. However, apparently that hunter had been a favorite for some members of the Blade, and Akitis had to shut up their rants with the threat of the Monastery finding them. It was a dangerous game, being on no one's side, and Akitis thrived on it. The looks of disbelief, fear, and annoyance on the members' faces had nearly made Akitis laugh right there, which would most certainly have ruined the dramatic tension.

The heavy door was open. Akitis sauntered in, a dark smile on her face. "Glad to see me?" she asked.

"Shadowknives." The man who spoke had a permanent frown etched onto his face. Loranus, one of two humans on the council, held only bitterness toward the assassin, but he was far too smart to act upon it.

"You have the proof of Dailon's death?" hissed another voice - female this time. She was a changeling. Akitis longed to see her other form, to battle her and measure her strength... and, of course, to kill her.

The other changeling shifted in his seat but said nothing. Akitis did not give him a second glance. Corroth never said anything.

Nor did the trio of demons, but they unnerved Akitis in a way she would never admit aloud. They were creatures who had been most touched by the Dark Magick, the evil power that gave life to the unnatural creatures of the world... and she would be damned if the council, or anyone, found out her dangerous vulnerability with the Dark Magick. Her eyes took in the fact that they were present before pointedly settling on the three vampires seated at the end of the room. She heard the werewolf growl but ignored him - he had nothing to do with these particular bounties.

"Of course I have the proof," Akitis spat, answering the changeling's question. "The question is, do you have enough payment?" She pulled out the medallions she had collected from the night's festivities.

"We hired you only for Dailon," said one vampire, a man called Namryn. "Why should we pay you for these?"

Akitis dangled the chains in front of the vampires with one hand and ran a finger along the edge of one disc with the other. "Check the records. If there are bounties on these, I will be paid for their blood." She sneered as Namryn sighed and pulled a heavy book in front of him and began to flip through the pages. "And it might also interest you to know that the vampire Nyria is in town."

"What?" Sheila, another vampire, asked.

"Nyria. The vampire. In Delt'Ini," Akitis said slowly - and very mockingly.

Sheila growled low in her throat. "Do not patronize me, hunter," she muttered. "I do not fear you, or your strange blades."

Akitis barked out a laugh. "Do you think I care if you fear me?" she asked. "Fear me or not - your attitude towards me won't save your life when I come to cut you down."

"You forget your place, mortal!" Sheila snapped.

"And you forget your facts, vampire!" Akitis retaliated, her eyes flashing. Inside, she was still laughing. "I'm half-blood tainted, remember? Not a mortal. Or has it been so long since you have truly hunted that you forget mortals require a beating heart?"