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The Assassin's Redemption Chapter 1- Redrafted
Dracon rocked back on his heels as he caught the blunt of the attack with his blade. He glanced up, quickly scanning the scene. Five men surrounded him, swords brandished, his long knife locked with one of them. Taking a deep breath, he focused. As always when he fought, time slowed to a crawl, and his mind began racing, registering everything from the caches in the men’s armors to the sweat beading down their faces. This ability was what made so good in a fight.
Jolting himself back to reality, Dracon brought his boot down hard just above his opponent’s kneecap. The man’s leg buckled and he went crashing to the ground. Two other stepped forward to take his place, and Dracon rushed to meet them. Catching a descending sword with his knife, Dracon spun, striking one of the men in the temple with his fist and knocking him unconscious. As the man fell to the ground, Dracon turned his attention to the next one.
Seconds later, Dracon stood alone in the sparring circle. His attackers lay on the ground; two unconscious, one grasping his knee in pain, and the others trying unsuccessfully to get to their feet. His old master, the High Assassin Ramar, stood on the outskirts of the circle, a grin plastered on his wrinkled, aged face. Clasping his hands together in a slow applause, the man walked forward to meet him.
“Well done, Master Renoir. Well done,” the old man said, still smiling.
“Thank you, master,” he replied. Ramar had been his master since he was ten, teaching him the ways of the Assassins. Seeing as he was the High Assassin, the Leader of the Order and protector of King Jairon, it was an honor. But the man was more than just a master; he was like a father to him.
“Stop calling me master. You past outa my care eight years ago. You’re my First Lieutenant now, not my apprentice. Start acting like it.”
“Yes Ramar.” Funny, he thought to himself, there was a time when he would have gotten a beating for calling his master by his first name. Now it just sounded unnatural.
As they spoke, the men passed out of the circle and through the crowd of boys that had formed to watch the fight. The training area was large, two hundred yards in length and width. It consisted of straw dummies and wooden targets. Soldiers, squires, and assassin apprentices fought hard around them, some hacking away at dummies and others sparring each other with wooden swords. Until they received rank, knighthood, or completely admitted to the Order, the boys weren’t allowed to use sharpened weapons. They were not even allowed metal weapons till they were deemed ready.
While Ramar and he walked, Dracon heard hard grunts and cries coming from off to the left. Looking, he saw Lu’nac, Ramar’s Second Lieutenants and Dracon’s rival, trying to impart some knowledge to an apprentice through a wailing. The boy tried feebly to defend himself, but to no avail. Ramar, who’d been speaking about the uprisings, stopped, following Dracon’s gaze. Dracon stepped forward and spoke.
“Excuse me, Master Lu’nac, but I believe that the boy has had enough.” Lu’nac stopped his onslaught of attacks and turned, glaring at Dracon harshly. Then, seeing Ramar, he smiled.
“Master Ramar. Master Dracon. I was just giving this lad a few lessons in our art,” Lu’nac said boastingly.
“We can see that. But I don’t think you’re going to get much more out of the boy today.”
“Oh!” Lu’nac said, as if he was just now seeing the boy’s fatigue. “Yes, you may go. Be back here tomorrow.” The boy, giving Dracon a grateful look, crawled off towards the Healer’s Tower. The two men continued walking.
Dracon had never liked Lu’nac. They’d been enemies since apprenticeship, with Dracon always having an upper hand on the man. They were opposites, each deadly in their own way. Where Dracon was merciful and thought things through before he did them, Lu’nac was rash and preferred to make a show of killing, making it slow, painful, and bloody, drawing it out. He had never understood what had possessed Ramar to make Lu’nac one of his Lieutenants, but he had.
They were on the edge of the training area when Ramar spoke again.
“The Duke of Caldrae’s son is being knight by the King tonight. Jairon will be needing protection. I want you and Lu’nac there.”
“Very well Ma… Ramar,” Dracon said, trying to hide his disdain. The parties were boring and fool of rich, obnoxious people. Ramar stuck his nose in the air and sniffed.
“Go wash up. I don’t want you showing up to a party smellin like that.” Dracon ran off, and Ramar watched him go, smiling and shaking his head.