Losses are losses, he’s made peace with this fact. Even two weeks out, he’s getting more done than he had in the same amount of time, but at the cost of being run ragged and dealing with his handler. The word still leaves a bad taste in his mouth. The charr they had lost the day before wasn’t a complete setback, just the easiest path towards quelling some of the fears and concerns surrounding Jennah and the current political climate. What happens next is beyond his jurisdiction, and whatever plans the Blades have laid out don’t involve him — it’s a wonder that Soha comes to speak with him directly, days after the fact. 

“I don’t know what you want me to tell them” she huffs, spreading the incident report out on the table, all neatly done in her perfect script. He lounges at the other end of the room, arms crossed and pointedly ignoring it. 

“You’ve never skimped on the truth before, I don’t know why you’d start now”

“Because it’s my word and my neck on the line for your stupidity”

Boots drop to the floor. The captain glances her way. “We were being attacked, if you don’t remember” he spits, resting his elbows at the knee.  “I found the target and I attempted to engage, if you want to go by what the reports said”

“If you had stayed with your mark we wouldn’t have to rig a new shadowplay over things in Ebonhawke. You better start caring about what you say and do, Ironwood, or I’m going to be the one swinging you from a yard arm at the Garenhoff docks”

“Truly a vision of diplomacy, Soha. What would the kingdom do without you threatening old pirates?”

She throws a pen at him in a rare unleashing of her self control and storms out, composing herself just past his window and striding back towards the door. He refrains from laughing, knowing that whatever indignation she’s just suffered is enough to have him under house arrest for weeks. 

Still, he supposes that wouldn’t be so bad. A week without her would be ideal considering his circumstances, and whatever relief he gains from that would be… welcomed. But there’s an emptiness that sits aching in his chest, the horrible loneliness of this isolation. He misses his corner in the Hollow. He misses his guild, strangely enough. Through all his moaning and groaning in joining, in participating, Jesse is upset, and hurting at the thought of never seeing them again — if Soha had been correct in her threats, that was seeming all too real a possibility. 

She’d detailed it out very explicitly. Until the day he died, he would be a ward of the Shining Blade in penance for his crimes against Kryta and her people. Useful, until he wasn’t. He settles in with a growing nausea that hangs on his shoulders. 

In the quiet of the evening, his hair begins to stand on end, and that sliver of feeling from three days prior returns, sends him reeling. He stands. He puts a hand on his hip.

The figure at his door is shrouded in black and deep reds, cloaked in a hood that obscures their face and bears the quiet hallmarks of someone he does not want there. He pulls a knife and flings it, it hits the doorframe behind the figure with a resounding, resonating thud. It’s moved, but only slightly. 

“Civilization has made you jumpy, Captain” the hooded figure says with a mocking lilt. He snorts and reaches for his pistol, but by the time the barrel sight finds his mark, she’s wisping away into shadow, and his mark never reaches his intended target. Even worse than an intruder is one he can’t see, and one with a voice that was all too familiar. 

A knife in the back that’s all too familiar.
               A knife point barely digging in above his kidney. 

“Thought you died” she hums, “Drop the gun”

“Didn’t take to it” he refuses to release the stock of the pistol, “Could say the same about you, Corine”

A laugh, his eyes are focused ahead of him and he struggles not to vomit all of the front of himself. “Oh, you’d believe a lot of things that aren’t true” The dagger digs in a little further, he takes the breaking of the skin quietly. “It took me long enough to find you, Captain”

“Well then you weren’t trying too hard, were you?” 

“You’re not in a position to be making jokes”

It’s his turn to laugh, his fingers gripping the stock of the pistol just a little tighter. “You’re not in a position to be threatening me, Beltine. If you were here to kill me, you should have done it already”

Without giving her space to speak, he squeezes the trigger rapid fire, blowing his six shots into the floorboards, exploding the wood beneath his feet. She panics, the knife plunges in and he shouts, backing up into her before she can pull it out, and given the proximity to the upper reaches and the closeness of the palace–

          — shouting outside. He grins wickedly, and whirls around with a deadly glint, a fistful of the front of her clothes. She looks on with fear growing in those amber eyes. 

How did you–

            “– I hope you don’t mind my holding onto this” he hisses, but she’s gone. DIsappearing into wisps, and he tries to follow in shadow, but the pain hobbles him considerably. He gets no more than a few feet before he phases back in, the knife clattering to the floor where he’d disappeared, gripping the table and succumbing to gravity. He lowers himself to the floor as two Seraph guards and Soha enter. He catches her eye and looks away, hiding the strained, grim smile he finds himself wearing in this situation. One of the Seraph kneels beside him, and puts a healing hand over the wound. 

“Why is it that you are the source of all my problems?” Soha sighs, quietly realizing the gravity of what must have happened here. 

“It’s what I do” he grunts, leaning back into the hand. “I have our next mark, if you’re willing”

        His eye itches, and the pulsing headache, the blood cycling back into his body begins to thrum with the hunt. 

Author quorgi
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