This is actually the first scene of my titular WIP novel, The Assassin's Mercy. I had to edit it a bit, of course, but I'd love your overall opinions. The story is about how Dorlin's rival, Servus Strife, comes back from the dead as a Nair (not this one) and he must unite with unseemly friends and face his fear of fire to accept his place as Flameweaver--and destroy the Emperor, who wishes to conquer time itself. Eventually he must have mercy on Servus so that he can save the world, and Servus himself must forget the shame that shrouds his now warped figure. It's really my first actual novel, as it's the first one I will hopefully finish, and thus I'm looking for any and all feedback. Thanks!
Written By: jasonstarlight
June 7, 2015
The assassin poised silently over the sleeping figure, dagger pointing downward as he tried to fight the accursed fear. Waiting. Listening. His heart threatened to thump its way out of his ribs, his chest loath to give in to the terror the Emperor had prepared so pleasurably for him. The sharp needles poked his face, but he tried to pay them no heed. Not again, not anymore. Behind him, the sound of crunch of twigs and gravel made him almost drop the dagger. His heart leapt into his mouth.
You fool, Dorlin!
The ghastly roar filled the forest, and for a moment he thought the creature was gone. Then the crazed beast snapped its jaws and smashed into the tree, rocking the rickety wood below him. Hel had sent the Nair to personally taunt him, of that he was sure, and perhaps even now she gloated from her throne of bones in the Underworld. But now was no time for that. He stumbled, falling to the ground and almost tumbling out of the tree-house. His breath was coming fast and shallow, and he couldn’t help it…
No! You must not feel fear! Don’t think about that night!
He glanced at the figure. Still asleep. Good. The dagger had fallen to the ground, and he quickly grabbed it and stumbled away from the figure. But he couldn’t stop it. Terror blossomed once again in his chest as his mind flashed back to the Nair attacks the night of the arson. The assassin stumbled, his hands shaking.
A roar. Snapped to his senses, Dorlin dashed away from the figure and slid down the tree, cursing. The Nair could smell terror, and anger too, probably. Why the Forest? Why?!
Damned goddess of the underworld. To make his life miserable, no doubt.
The moon slid out of the clouds. The beast of death howled, and there was a flash of blood and pain. He fell to the ground sword drawn. The roaring beast stood inches away from his face now. It had taken the shape of a shaggy, snarling vulture, and Dorlin could see the murder in its eyes. He could smell its breath, a putrid combination of rotting feathers and blood. Those wide eyes that twinkled with hate. Strangely enough, they reminded him of the Emperor. He twisted away and stabbed the creature in the stomach. It merely grinned.
He cursed and leapt to his feet, his heart thudding in his chest. The Nair hurled itself at him, blood dripping from its wings. The assassin’s eyes widened, fear paralyzing him once more as it crashed into him, hurling him into a tree. His sword dropped from his grasp. He groaned, and the Nair changed back to it's natural form, a huge, haggard werewolf with shining fangs.
Pushing the wolf away from him, Dorlin sneered, drawing a dagger and stabbing the creature in the neck. It roared and wavered on the ground, then wailing, it's cry unnaturally like a ghost's. But Nair are ghosts. The beast had rejuvenated somehow, and its wounds had disappeared. The blood dripping from its midriff had dried. Dorlin’s eyes widened in horror. Fear gripped his heart, but he tossed it aside. The screaming beast had worked itself up; it leapt into the air and dived at him, its wicked claws talons aiming for his heart. Dorlin lunged aside and the Nair missed him by an inch, scraping his side and smashing into a tree. Its loud screech grazed Dorlin’s ears and he bit back a cry as he collapsed to the ground once more. The Nair tore itself apart from the bundle of leaves and roared at him defiantly. Dorlin scrambled to his feet.
What has that crazy goddess done? If it was her.
He grabbed another dagger form his cloak, gasping frantically. The Nair lunged at him; he dodged and threw the dagger at the beast. It embedded itself into the wolf's head and the Nair snarled a roar that smelled like death. Dorlin scrambled to the ground, searching frantically in the grass for his sword…
As his hand closed around the warm hilt, Dorlin leapt to his feet and leapt onto a low branch. The Nair was still roaring in agony, and he felt like he was going to faint. His heart thudded loudly, but somewhere amidst the fear an old memory rose to the surface, glimmering like something long forgotten…
He grabbed the tree’s rough bark and sheathing his sword, climbed up the foliage. The Nair looked confused; his stealth training had paid off. He fingered the pouch of gunpowder in his pocket. With the right amount of shot, this place could blow sky high. Every elfish city, even in the forest, had a store where it kept ammo. Elfish. He smiled grimly. What an irony. Slowly, carefully, he drew an arrow from his quiver and sheathed his sword. He grabbed the bow slung on his back and scanned the trees like a hawk. There, that tree with the word powder inscribed on it…
He glanced at the Nair. The beast looked quite angry now, as if it wasn’t already, and it had changed shape again, this time a griffin. Dorlin grimaced. Those round, all-seeing eyes were scanning the trees and he didn’t have much time. He grabbed the lighter in his pocket and lit the already-soaked gasoline arrow. Almost…
The griffin launched itself into the air with a roar, and at the same time he let go of the bowstring. The arrow flew high into the air and smacked into the trunk. Dorlin quickly jumped down the tree, rolling to his feet while gasping for breath. The griffin had crashed into the tree, and the foliage was already on fire. He swung his bow on his back and took off, his heart pounding in his chest.
Behind him, the Vostol Forest erupted into fire.