“You know what to do, child.” “Yes, master.”
The old man moves further back into the shadows he had emerged from, his dry voice but a whisper against her neck. “Don’t fail me!” “I would not dare, master.”
He disappears, leaving her alone in the empty, wide corridor. She rests not, hasting towards her target, as fast as this too tight dress allows. Sure, it is beautiful, elegant, and of finest craft, but still she hates it. She hates the combed, plaited hair, the high heel shoes, the golden bracelets, the long sleeves.
Only the distinct friendly touch of cold steel on her left thigh feels comforting.
After a short walk through the seemingly endless labyrinth of polished, obsidian hallways, she reaches the heavy double door entrance to the fest hall. A few no name aristocrats stand in front, exchanging irrelevant chatter.
The tall, muscular, masked guards in their decorative armor bow deeply as they recognize her, afterwards opening the heavy, ornate doors. She passes them without gifting them any attention.
The hall is full.
Approximately a hundred and fifty people are trying to fit in here. They all are so boring, so unimportant, so unnecessary. It would be so easy to break them, make them fall, and never stand up again.
She slides through the crowd with an elegance they would never posses even with all their money and influence. Her stride through the minor aristocrats seems like a dance. Many recognize her, try to approach her, bore her with their pointless talks, and gain her favor, but she ignores them, leaving them standing, feasting on their felt failure.
She makes her way towards the high windows, which reach up all the way from the floor to the nine meters high ceiling, partially covered by the blood red drapes; Her favorite color.
The laughter, babbling, and insignificant exchange of the rich and wealthy disgust her.
She hurries and arrives at her target soon. A big, glass door leads outside onto one of the wide balconies. It creaks marginally, but she slips through it without being noticed and closes it behind her again.
It is raining.
The small, seemingly ice cold droplets land on her naked shoulders and forehead. She enjoys the contrast to the pressing heat inside.
There he stands, his upper torso already soaked. Yet his short, grey, parted, full hair is flawless, his muscular, tall body with the military posture full of pride, and his black and golden uniform so much more fitting to him than the dress could ever at any time be to her.
He does not turn around, but stiffens marginally. “Good evening, young lady.” “General.”, she replies briefly. The few words of his are powerful and honest.
“What a waste to meet you again like this.” A Hint of sadness swings in this sentence.
He turns around. His old face is rather attractive, with hard, edged jaws, a compact nose, dense, grey eyebrows, a harsh, small mouth, and sharp blue eyes which seem to pierce through the rain and the night right into her mind.
“Did he send you?” “Yes.”, she answers hesitant. The old man nods. “I was expecting something like this.”
Her instincts send adrenaline through her body immediately. Her hand reaches down to the too short skirt of the dress, ready to defend herself with the sharp blade underneath it.
She cannot help but be confused. It is not the smile of victory. It rather reminds her of her father when she was a lot younger.
The general eyes her neutrally. “The last time I had seen you, you could barely speak your first words, and now look at yourself: A young, beautiful, strong woman, if not slightly to energetic. How long has it been?” She relaxes her hand slightly, though she still is suspicious. “Twelve years, general.”
He nods, the rain running down his fine, old face. “You look so much like your mother.”
He smiles again, this time turning away slightly, watching the nightly city far below them. “You know, I love this nation. I think, I served it well. When I was your age, many decades ago, war was the only option we had. I never liked it. Many good men and women, I sent into their doom and ever so many were even thankful for it. I figured my efforts for peace were not taken lightly, but I regret nothing.” He rests his strong, wrinkled hands on the cold balustrade. “I sense that war is upon us again and I certainly know that your arrival here is its herald.”
A short pause follows.
The rain slowly drenches her silken dress, lets it stick to her slender body, but she does not dare to move while this deep, soothing voice talks. She has not felt like this ever before. She had seen anger, panic, hatred, and sorrow, but never acceptance.
“You know, young lady Cuteau, it is the fate all of us in this nation awaits. The young and hungry will take the places of the old and tired. I am no exception.”
She steps forth slowly, carefully unsheathing her blade without a noise.
“Mark my words, young lady. There will come the day where your master will become your worst enemy. You must not fear that day. You must face him like you faced me.”
The old man raises his hands dramatically. “And when you strike him down, slaughter him like your greatest tribute, then you will have it: Your war!”
She rests the tip of the long thin blade on his spine.
He does not move. “Farewell, young miss. Farewell…”
His arms fall back to his sides.
Half a second later he does.
She waits for a few moments. Her hands are calm. She watches the blood getting washed off by the pouring rain.
She turns away.
She walks back to the glass doors.
She opens them and vanishes in the crowd.