Flickering firelight from wall sconces cast dancing shadows on the ornamental tapestries hanging on the wall. These tapestries contained within them the stories of all who had previously resided in the room— that is what anyone would have said. In reality nobody left knew the true meaning of the vicious images underscored by scrawled glyphs which scholars could no longer comprehend. Rather, the tapestries served as an excellent means to cover the roughly-cut stone from which the walls were made while providing some small degree of insulation.
In the middle of the room, on a finely-threaded carpet made from kavilash fur, a small woman reclined on a stately poster bed. Sheer gossamer edged with ruffled lace draped around the bed in voluminous but carefully restrained masses of fabric. Soft pillows filled with downy feathers from young pidjeons supported the lady’s back as she idly played with the silky sheets. At the end of the bed, the queen rested her feet on a bolster covered with the finest needlework.
All her handmaidens had flown into an uproar when her ladyship expressed a desire to sew the bolster case, but, though small in stature, she was large in determination. Casting aside propriety, she worked for a month with a combination of embroidery and appliqué and finished with a product of the highest quality. Her actions had led to the high-born ladies in the kingdom to adapt certain forms of needlework into their own repertoires, and it elevated seamstresses to a much higher standing.
But the mind of the royal lady rested on other things as she gazed unwaveringly at the intricately carved door that led into the bedroom. A certain promise that her husband had made to her earlier that day with a smile and a twinkle in his eye repeatedly came to mind, causing the corners of her mouth to lift slightly. So, it was with no small amount of anticipation with which she awaited the arrival of her beloved.
Footsteps echoed in the hall outside, and she thrilled with anticipation as she heard the guards salute to the Flamelord. The latch lifted, the door swung open, and the monarch of Vithr, the Warhammer Warlord, her loving husband, entered.
His eyes ever bright, he glanced up and down her body before settling on her face. Their eyes locked, and they read in each other what they felt. Shutting the door, the king, who was as large as his wife was small, strode towards the bed, casting off his fur-lined robe and undoing the laces on his silken shirt.
In response, his wife rose from her reclining position, robe slipping off her shoulders as she extended slender arms towards her hero. He grasped her small hands in his own and kissed them both in the customary Vith gesture of respect. With a light laugh, the queen pulled her husband towards her, and their lips met in a passionate kiss.
Climbing on the bed, the king carefully positioned himself to avoid crushing the delicate person beneath him. While his near hundred stone of muscle served him well in battle, it did make certain other matters more difficult. But with a practiced motion, he gently laid his wife back on the bed, following her with more kisses.
Outside, the two guards stared evenly at the opposite wall of the hallway, years of training helping them ignore the obvious sounds of lovemaking from the room they guarded. Unfortunately, it was also this training which led to their downfall.
So careful were they to make sure they held their perfect posture, they did not notice the figure slip between the shadows cast by flamelight. Kish, Disciple of Kel, Son of the Seventh Kin passed right under the noses of the two best trained guards in the palace.
A safe distance down the corridor, where he was sure they could not see, he exhaled some of the smoke contained in his lungs. Pushing it forward with his hands, he looked through the wall and saw the king, back facing him quite fixated on his current task. Satisfied, Kish exhaled enough smoke to cover his entire body. Then he passed through the wall.
Regaining his physicality on the other side, Kish quietly approached the grunting king and his prostrate wife. He averted his eyes, wishing not to taint himself further, and instead exhaled more smoke onto his hand. The black substance coalesced around his fist, which he then plunged into the broad back of the Vith ruler.
In a few seconds, the assassin found his target, the heart. Pulling some of the smoke around his hand back up his arm, he allowed his hand to materialize inside the Flamelord’s chest, and squeezed. He held this vice-like grip for three seconds as the body of the large man went into a series of panicked spasms.
His companion started to utter something, but was cut off as the large body of the Flamelord collapsed onto her. Willing the smoke back around his hand, Kish extracted it from the dead king’s body. Underneath his heavy frame, the woman struggled, slowly getting smothered by the sheer weight of the man.
Despite how muffled the screams of the woman were, Kish still heard them, and he turned away in shame. In doing so, he caught sight of the tapestries. He focused in on a small corner of one where a man in black stood over the dead body of a king.
Kish looked down at his own black robes, then at his tainted hands. He had just disobeyed two core tenants of his people. He glanced over his shoulder, back at the spasming hand of the suffering woman as she clutched at her last shreds of life. His eyes flicked back to the tapestry, and he stared at the man in black. Darker than the clothes we wear, are we not?
Exhaling the last of the smoke contained in his lungs, Kish masked all but the soles of his boots in it. With a few steps, he sprinted forward and leapt out a window. He fell, arms spread, smoke trailing behind him, and landed a hundred cords down.
Pausing, he looked back up and whispered an apology, “I am compelled.”
Then Kish, Disciple of Kel, Son of the Seventh Kin, walked out into moonlight and disappeared.
What can I say? I got tired of waiting for the countdown to finish.