Heaven Beside You(Hell Within)
Each such paper was a well of information, the physical embodiment of the Professional’s attention to detail. On one side, a top-down sketch of the layout of each Thread’s home, ranging from a room within an inn to a respectably large manor with small, neat notations: Total number, number of guards, how well trained they were, how they were equipped, what their experience was, and what shifts they worked in. He noted how many slept at their employer’s home, how many were nestled amongst the day-to-day servants as a contingency for the unwary.
Lastly, any and each potential warding glyph or aura generator was marked clearly along with its purpose, if it had to deactivate for recharging and how often, the times of day and how long each lasted.
The back of each paper was covered in its entirely in a concise script, the minutiae. It was not enough to know how much time someone spent at a place, how much of their family also stayed there; or when and where they slept, when they took their meals and in which rooms. Details ranged from those and more. History of any illnesses. Who shared their bed most frequently and with whom, what each tastes in food consisted of, the spices the favored. Drinks were given similar treatment, how many preferred their tea bitter or with a sprinkling mana dust. Which favored exotic pets, how many of those may be poisonous or deadly. Which enjoyed riding, how their choice mounts were kept and where. People were often blind to the risks they took in anything that was not directly life threatening.
Details stretched from edge to edge, but his attentions focused on the employed houseguards. Some could be bought, others held on to their loyalty for other reasons. The Shadow knew any on duty when he chose to make his play would lose their jobs and likely find it difficult to be hired by another House.
Better to kill them, a pleased murmur lilted in the cusp of his ear, growing in its insistence. The growing darkness dimmed his vision, purring its husked reverberations of bittersweet promises. Bleed them, break them. You have been called to account. They desire an end. Deliver it. Kill them all. Tear out their throats, dash the skulls of their children upon the walls, drown them in their own refuse and vomit. Unworthy. End their lines. Topple their Houses. They will be pleased. You will be pl-
He closed his eyes and schooled his mind to silence, breathing softly until he was joined by another warm, rhythmic breath. The darkness receded when her arms circled beneath his own, one palm splayed over his heart while the other rested at his core.
Appreciatively, he allowed himself to be guided by her warmth, quieting the tempest. He was the half-drawn blade, but there was no direction chosen yet.. She knew it - knew him and when he needed her - and her hands sheathed the blade. Not because she wanted to restrain him, nor to leash or domesticate him. She quelled the hunger that blackened his soul, filled in the fractures that threatened to blur the lines. With her near, that steep, sheer edge in the back of his mind became more defined. He became more aware of his ever-present perch upon it.
“They want to see a monster.”
She snorted softly, but pressed her face into his hair and murmured, “Will you show them? Do you want to show them?”
“I was not given a choice.”