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E - Everyone

God's Assassin ★ 4

by Lightsong


Kestari turned to his men. ‘Take the mother and daughter to the church. These corpses will go to the mortuary. Come with me, little one,’ he said, taking her by the hand to his horse. She readily allowed him to.

Her mother took another horse and they went to Brother Gods Church. Rila had long been abandoning her duty to worship her god - it seemed useless to her if nothing changed - but this turn of event seemed to shake her inner self. Maybe there was such thing as miracle and you just had to wait for it.

The scene blurred again, and Rila felt something extremely ticklish in her throat before she was thrown to the real world again. She breathed hard, air seemingly difficult to enter her body. Ilami dominated Rila’s view, expressionless.

‘Why did you do that?’ Rila said, aware of the blade still pointed to her throat. ‘Why don’t you just kill me? You know you can and - and you know I’ll kill you if you don’t.’ Kill or be killed. It was obvious at this point she was to be killed.

‘I’m not an assassin,’ Ilami said, surprising RIla with the sharp edge of her tone. ‘I don’t kill when instructed. I’d know my victim before I decide she should be killed or not. Even if I’m forced to kill, I’ll never escape the nightmares the corpses reward me every time I sleep.’ She tilted her head. ‘Which reminds me, assassin. What is your worst nightmare?’

Rila took a sharp breath. ‘No. No, no, no, no -’

The world faded again.

Kestari trained Rila in the art of fire; how to attack, defense, and maneuver. He also taught her spells from other elements. Apparently, while one was attuned to an element, it didn’t hinder one to practice other, minor elemental spells.

A year later, Kestari gave her a mission. ‘Assassinate this man,’ he said, pointing to a bearded man drawn on a paper lying on the table. They were in his study room. ‘He’s been promoting acceptance among the sinners - the murderers, the rapists, and so on. We can’t have that. Those who sin must be punished.’

She gulped. ‘Assassinate?’

Kestari stared at her. ‘Yes. I’ve told you, Rila. You will serve Xesar and Lio, and as the priest of Xesar, He has told me to finish this man’s life. And I give this mission to you to prove your worth to the Church.’ He leaned against the wall. ‘My kindness can only go so far. If you do nothing to help the Church, the others would no see no reason for you to stay here. I couldn’t defend you.’

Rila inspected the drawing. It was clear what she had to do. She nodded. ‘I’ll take this mission.’

The world blurred again, colours turning to water before they stayed in their positions.

Rila was in a crowd facing Danizen - her target. He was giving a speech about how love was universal and that gender should not be a reason to limit it. As she listened to him, she wondered if it was possible for a man to love a man and a woman to love a woman. She never heard of such thing and the people that represented it. She shook her head. Curiosity shouldn’t be in her way to kill the man. She walked to the nearby tree, deserted, casting a shadow on the afternoon grass.

Seresta erventa, firenzi or cornanza,’ she uttered, remembering the spell she had learned to render herself invisible. ‘Seleste revana or denize es farar.’ Threads of light circled around her until too much of them made a cocoon of light before it disappeared, completing the spell.

She held up her hand, palm open, and whispered, ‘Firenzi arwe.’ A tiny ball of fire formed on it and changed shape into an arrow. She directed it to the man. Now, for the command spell. ‘Lari -’

Someone’s shoulder brushed hers, affecting her balance as well as her aim.

‘-za.’ The arrow launched itself to Danizen, but it wasn’t precise. Instead, it hit one of his guards on the shoulder.

Rila’s eyes widened as the person who had accidentally stumbled on her passed by. She failed. Chaos spread through out the crowd as people screamed and yelled, scattering like madmen. The guard clutched his shoulder. He didn’t take out the arrow as it would only worsen the damage. Healers had already rushed towards him, preparing themselves to start the treatment process.

Rila looked around, panicked people would see her, but the spell still held. Her attention shifted to Danizen, and she gritted her teeth. She needed to finish the mission. But she didn’t know if attacking in a close distance was a risk worth taking. She still hadn’t trained herself melee combat. All the spells she’d learned were long-ranged, made to ensure her safety. Plus, wizard guard had already put up a shield, a dome of glowing pentagons, around Denizen.

In the midst of the disorganization, a figure passed. They wore loose garment, white as the colour of death. Their face was hidden by a cloth mask, and they wore a black conical hat. They approached Danizen and turned to a blur that attacked his guards and healers. As the wizard guard fell down, the shield surrounding Danizen disappeared. They passed him in a flash. Danizen collapsed. Rila could see blood soaking his blue tunic. The assassin exited the scene.

‘You failed,’ someone whispered to RIla’s ear, causing her to jump. Behind her was a woman wearing the exact same garment as the previous assassin. It was only her long hair that betrayed her gender. ‘Kestari won’t be pleased, but at least he’d know you have the capacity to kill. We only need to train you in hand-to-hand combat. Come with me.’ With that, the woman walked away, not waiting for her.

Rila followed her, worry settling in her chest like rocks. What would Kestari do now that she failed? What was her punishment? She rubbed her arm, watching the woman. Would she be like her when she became a full-fledged assassin?

The day after, Rila was denied food and water.

Her vision changed, Ilumi’s face dominating the scenery. ‘I see more,’ she whispered. ‘The first man you killed after that, who fight the same cause as Danizen. His wife and two daughters you slaughtered as well as they get into your way. The act of killing is as natural to you as breathing is. But the effect - you couldn’t escape them. Their faces were your nightmare every night. Sometimes you wondered if those people you killed deserved to die in such manner. Sometimes you wondered if you were doing the right thing.

‘What do you think now, Rila?’ Ilami’s gaze didn’t waver. ‘Do you still want to be an assassin?’


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Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:52 pm
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Lavvie wrote a review...



Hi Lightsong! I'm back to review.

Of all the parts to this short story that I've read so far, this is by far my favourite. I feel like all of the action was getting a little old, and it was not the best medium when it came to trying to convey important story/background information to the reader. In this instalment, I very much enjoyed getting more insight into Rila's past, and particularly a more multi-faceted look at her character, by way of seeing her past doubts about being an assassin.

The biggest thing for me now is that I think you have spent a lot of time on what I might call the surface plot, which is Rila's mission to kill Gael. However, with this part, the real plot is actually the inner conflict Rila experiences as an assassin and her questioning of the missions she is assigned and the people she assassinates. There's only one instalment of the story left for me to read, and I fear that you have waited too long to introduce this plot, or at least explicitly introduce it. In my opinion, this makes the past three instalments mere exposition, which is a bit too long.

Ultimately, I'm really pleased that you have delved more in Rila's character and the reader is gaining so much more insight into her motives, but also knows now that she is not entirely convinced in what she does. I think you bring up a very interesting and very common moral and ethical dilemma that real people in our real world experience and grapple with. This is an exciting chapter because of the change of pace and you've delivered this new information in a much more effective and refreshing way than before. I'm looking forward to reading the next part.

Best,
Lavvie




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Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:31 am
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Kaylaa wrote a review...



This is Nikayla here dropping in for a review a little late!

The opening here is pretty cool. How we get a glimpse of Rila's past through the italics for a couple more paragraphs then we shift back into the main storyline, which I found interesting.

‘Why did you do that?’ Rila said, aware of the blade still pointed to her throat. ‘Why don’t you just kill me? You know you can and - and you know I’ll kill you if you don’t.’ Kill or be killed. It was obvious at this point she was to be killed.


I don't see the point of the dash in this line of dialogue? What I don't get is that this doesn't change much with or without the dash although that dash can be used to show weakness or a break in her voice. The problem is, I don't expect this from Rila. Maybe this is believable now because she's been exposed, though we haven't been shown anyone else able to break down her mental fortress. I'd say we haven't even seen anyone else able to leave a scratch on her mental state.

‘I’m not an assassin,’ Ilami said, surprising RIla with the sharp edge of her tone. ‘I don’t kill when instructed. I’d know my victim before I decide she should be killed or not. Even if I’m forced to kill, I’ll never escape the nightmares the corpses reward me every time I sleep.’ She tilted her head. ‘Which reminds me, assassin. What is your worst nightmare?’

Rila took a sharp breath. ‘No. No, no, no, no -’

The world faded again.


Not so tough after all, huh? I suppose I understand because this is a form of powerful magic that's pulling out her worst memories and assassins are sure to have a couple of those and are also sure to have a couple regrets. I still have to say that this part tops the rest. Finally we're receiving more character development on both of them. This is what I wanted earlier on, though I'm glad that we're getting this now.

Rila is almost being deconstructed into her roots. Roots and memories that form her character and while we mainly get flashbacks in this chapter, I don't mind that too much. I enjoy how the flashbacks are made just as interesting as the main story, if not even more. The majority of this is a look into Rila's past with tiny sections that bring her back to reality such as the couple of paragraphs near the beginning of this part and the paragraph near the end. The psychological aspects of this and of being an assassin to me are a lot stronger than the actual fight scenes or battles. Not much I can actually comment on for critique this chapter though if you're worried--this chapter is mostly made up of flashbacks and I wish I was equally as captivated by what's going on in the present but the past takes over. Just make sure to even the past and present out when writing! Both are important to this short story.

If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! I hope I helped and have a great day.

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Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:51 am
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Mea wrote a review...



I'm finally here to review!

I do really love this part. I love the insight we get into both Rila and Ilumi's characters, and the choice that she is presented with at the end is so great in terms of drama. I can't wait to see what she chooses.

The action sequences are great, and I love the spells in particular - some of them you can guess at their meaning, but others are just foreign. And you transistion quite well between the flashback and the present, especially in terms of the horror Ilumi feels as she's forced to relieve these things.

I have two main suggestions:

1. I feel like you could condense most of Rila's dialogue (and some of Ilumi's, but mostly Rila's) and that would make it a lot more dramatic and streamlined. It's already dramatic, but it could be less clunky.

2. "Worst nightmare" more implies something in the future that could happen that the person is terrified of, rather than something in that persons past that haunts them, so when Ilumi's "worst nightmare" turns out to be something in her past, it feels a little odd. I think you're trying to allude more to literally "what are the things in her bad dreams," so I think if you had Rila say something like "What haunts your dreams?" rather than "What is your worst nightmare?" that would work better.


They wore loose garment, white as the colour of death. Their face was hidden by a cloth mask, and they wore a black conical hat. They approached Danizen and turned to a blur that attacked his guards and healers. As the wizard guard fell down, the shield surrounding Danizen disappeared. They passed him in a flash.

This threw me off a bit, because using 'they' as a pronoun for a single person whose gender is not known is technically not correct English (although we use it in speech all the time), and so you wouldn't find this in the narration of most English novels unless there was a specific reason (like in Hidden Entity where Ilal is... whatever gender Ilal is). Instead, since you refer to a "figure," you might actually use "it," or otherwise avoid using pronouns at all. Or go with whichever gender the character assumes it to be (in this case I would guess male, since in the paragraph after you basically describe the other woman as looking like the figure, but female).

And those are all the nitpicks I have for you! Sorry for taking a while to get around to this, and I can't wait for the next part!




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Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:31 pm
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TheSilverFox wrote a review...



Hey there! It took me a bit to get this point, thanks to my other commitments, but I'm finally here to provide a review.

Personally, I think this is one of my favorite parts thus far (if not my favorite). The pacing is exceptional; details on character's appearances, spells, and the setting are established appropriately and without slowing down the story; and the action scenes are well-written and complex. Ilami's personality fascinates me, as she seems to be a rather hesitant assassin plagued by her violent past. Thus, all of these flashbacks, I surmise, are for Ilami to pull out Rila's worst demons and lead her to realize that the two of them aren't different; both of them have been driven, to some extent, by their duty to commit horrible acts, each being consumed with guilt afterward. Given Rila's horror at relieving these memories/having her actions being commented on, and the way that they've worn her down to where it would be easy for Ilami to kill her, it's working.

The flashbacks themselves are impressive. I like how you establish them by describing a shift in color and scenery, thus (along with italics) separating them from the part of the text set in the present day. They also answer some of my questions on the nature of the Brother Gods Church and why Rila became an assassin, specifying it as an aspect of her service to the gods and to a church that demands servitude among those hoping to stay within it. The assassination demonstrates Rila's past inexperience and struggles with close-quarters combat, showing (rather accurately) that she had a hard time as an up-and-coming assassin. Admittedly, under those circumstances, the strictness and anger of the Church against her is a little ill-founded. I mean, she would've been able to kill Denizen were it not for an inopportune push, and further training could've allowed her to do what the other assassin masterfully did. As such, I can see the cruelty and toughness of the Church, why Rila is fearful of failing as an assassin, and comprehend Ilami's psychological attack by conjuring the memory of that event. However, considering that Rila has less angst over killing the equivalent of a hippie, but over the Church's punishing her, I'm not sure Ilami's pointing out Rila's subsequent guilt and sorrow will be all that effective. In the end, Rila may decide that she'd rather kill than earn the fury of the Church, and thus attack and assassinate Ilami while she continues her psychological battle. I'm still definitely curious to see what happens next, as I feel that Rila's fight between her internal guilt and devotion to the Church has good odds of ending up in favor of one or the other, so I praise you for keeping your readers curious and interested in the story.

On the whole, this is a fantastic, well-written part. I mean, as a side note, I'd like to mention that you misspelled her name as Ilumi in the final paragraph. Nevertheless, I don't have any other criticisms that I haven't stated before, and I enjoyed reading this story from start to finish. Great job!





Too often we crave the extraordinary in life, without even learning how to cherish the ordinary first. Friend, I promise you this: if you can learn to take joy in the simple mundane things in life, the extraordinary will take care of itself, it'll be on its way, hurrying towards you. But if you skip the first part, it'll ever evade you.
— Arcticus