A Past Not Forgotten
The ExecutionChapter One
She strode boldly up the stairs knowing that she was walking into her death. The wood beneath her boots creaked loudly. The noose hung lone among the hundreds of people ready to see the deserving criminal get what she so gratefully deserved. Her long black cloak blew around her thin body. Her hood blackened her face, but everyone could tell she was not afraid.
The constable walked heavily over to her as she stood under the noose. She stared down to the floor as he aggressively tightened the noose around her neck. Her gold locket glistened in the afternoon light. He did not remove her hood because of ridiculous rumors about her face. They said that if you saw her face your eyes would melt out of their sockets. She was humored by these rumors. The judge, dressed in his very best clothes, strolled up the stairs. He kept his distance from her; they all knew what she was capable of.
“The Hooded Assassin,” the judge began, not knowing her real name. “You are guilty for the murder of our beloved queen, Annabella. Your sentence is death. Any last words before we rid the world of your evil?”
The crowd was silent. People were eager to see this wicked being put to death but, they all knew what she could do. Two guards stepped up behind her, making sure that she would not get away or attack the judge. Still, she stared at the floor, not even seeming to notice the guards, but she did. She noticed everything. The constable’s black mask prevented everyone from seeing his true emotions but his eyes told it all, he was scared. The judge shook as she ceased to move. The guards still acted confident in their skills.
Finally, the hooded assassin slowly peered up. She stared deeply into the souls of every person in the crowd. It seemed as if she was torturing them from the scaffold. All she did was stare. Queen Annabella’s husband, Sir Ethan, stood up front. He wanted to see the noose tighten around that appalling creature’s neck and watch her feet sway where there is no floor. His hate for her was greater than the hate of anyone or thing in the entire world. If she wouldn’t have been found, he would have tracked her down and skinned her alive himself. She took away the only thing he had to live for besides his children. He glared at her with such disgust that it seemed to pierce her skin. “Die,” he whispered.
The hooded assassin lowered her head.
This is it, thought Ethan; I finally get to see the pale, lifeless body of this iniquitous woman.
The constable clenched the wood lever with his fat hand. He closed his eyes for a moment. He counted to three and pulled the lever. The hooded assassin suddenly extracted two knives, which protruded from her sleeves. The knives cut through the thick rope like butter. As the floor fell she whipped her arm above her head. She sliced through the noose and fell stealthily on the ground in a squatting position.
“No!” Ethan shouted.
People screamed with terror and fled the scene. This had gone terribly wrong. The constable and the judge rushed down the stairs. A foolish man approached the hooded assassin, sword drawn. He lashed at her. She caught his blade with the knife in her right hand. Then she flipped around and gashed her knife right into his skull. He fell to the cold ground, lifeless. She quickly ducked as the constable and judge darted towards her.
“You evil savage! You will die tonight, whether it’s by rope or by the steal of my sword!” The constable shouted in a deep voice.
His stout body had difficulties moving quickly, she noticed this weakness. The hooded assassin snatched the dead man’s sword, spun around, and faced the judge and the constable. Swords clashed as she used quick footing to maneuver around the terrain. The judge coward behind the constable as he fought towards her. He threw his blade at her and she slashed back creating a loud clank.
He pushed her back. She watched her footing; one wrong move and she knew that she would meet her final judgment. She backed up as he flung forward in a furious onslaught. She whipped her sword back and forth. He hit her sword with such a great force that she dropped it and he continued to thrash at her. She bent and jumped to avoid the blade. All of the sudden, her back hit something.
Tree, she said to herself. How could she have made such and amateur mistake? This would be a tough match. The constable let out a hardy laugh.
“You are not as good as they say you are,” he bragged as he raised his sword high over his head. He would enjoy this kill. The hooded assassin closed her eyes. He thought she was scared, he was wrong.
He let out a powerful roar. She hunched down as soon as the sword reached where her head once lied. She saw her sword between his legs. She swiftly reached for it as the constable tried desperately to remove his sword from the tree.
Sir Ethan stood in terror as blood gushed out the top of the constable’s head, her sword protruding from his skull. The judge darted away in horror. The constable fell to the ground hard as she extracted the sword from his limp head. Blood sprayed on her face. She didn’t care, that always happened. Gore dripped from the steal. As she rose from her crouch the knight drew his sword and peered right at her. She licked the deep red blood of the sword and then spit on the limp constable. She struggled to catch her breath as she noticed the Judge running away. Swiftly, she withdrew a knife within her cloak and threw it with great force toward him.
The judge’s head flew forward as the dagger projected into his neck. He clenched it as a fountain of blood sprayed over the green grass. They could hear the bones in his skull shatter as if they where as fragile as glass. First he fell to his knees then to his face.
“You fowl being, tonight you will meet the only thing more vile than you, the devil!”
Without showing any signs of emotion she replied, “Death no longer intimidates me.”
Sir Ethan clenched his teeth as he sprinted towards her. She met him half way with a dash. His skills were almost equal to hers. He had a steeled defense. He took a low blow at her thigh but she narrowly escaped its steal. He took swings to her but she refused to take one towards him.
Why would she do that? She kills anyone who gets in her way? Why was Ethan any different than the constable or the judge?
This only angered him more he wanted nothing more than her blood upon his falchion. He raised his sword high and howled as he brought it firmly back down to the hooded assassin. Their swords met and he pushed his sword against hers with all his might, she did the same. His long, handsome brown hair blew into his face. The veins on his brawny neck and arms popped out viscously. Her hood fell slightly and the light showed the top of her face. Ethan gaped into her beautiful light blue eyes. Suddenly his dark brown eyes filled with despise, lightened.
Where have I seen those eyes? Those alluring eyes?
He knew the uniqueness of those eyes; he had seen those eyes before! As he thought hard about whom she was he let his guard down slightly, the hooded assassin turned, and ran away. She pulled the hood over her face hoping he hadn’t recognized her. He stood baffled as she disappeared into the trees.
“What’s going on? Where is everyone?” Simon, the royal advisor, asked his roommate, Edmond. Simon worked for Queen Annabella for the short time she was sovereign and he worked for her brother when he was the monarch. He had served the kingdom well but he was put up with the hardest challenge of all, solving a series of unsolved crimes in Bernicia.
Edmond, who was a former constructer for Queen Annabella’s great wall that she was erecting around the Kingdom, joined Simon at the window. She told Bernicia that this would protect them from any enemy attack. Now that she was dead, the construction process had ceased. “Today was the execution of The Hooded Assassin,” he responded with a smile, knowing that if it weren’t for them that monstrous hit woman would still be lurking in the kingdom.
Simon’s tight, red, velvet coat fit him perfectly it made his brown eyes and hair pop out. His glasses sat low on his nose. He unbuttoned one of the silver buttons and announced confidentially, “We deserve a reward for our arduous work, wouldn’t you say so, Edmond? How about a drink?”
“That sounds splendid.”
They both turned and began to plod to the door. Before they could make it a young soldier burst through the doors, “Sir, she escaped.” He put his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
“What?!” Shouted Edmond and Simon simultaneously.
“She killed the Judge, the constable, and a citizen.” He paused to take a breath. “We don’t know where she is.” He inhaled again. “She and Sir Ethan exchanged blows.” He closed his eyes as sweat dripped from his red hair.
“Is he alright?” Asked Simon, knowing how many people she killed to get to the Queen.
“That’s the matter, sir. She spared him.”
Edmond and Simon’s face was marked with confusion. Was all they concluded about The Hooded Assassin false? Simon stood speechless. Edmond spoke up, “But she kills anyone who is unlucky enough to cross her path.”
“We know, sir. We don’t understand it either. Every guard in Bernicia is searching for her. They stripped the house, no sign of her.”
Simon flopped into a chair and put his hands on his forehead.
Edmond moved to the direction of Simon. He waved his hand at the soldier and said, “Dismissed.” He waited for him to leave and completely shut the door before he started again. He rested his hands on the table and his blonde curly hair began to come out of his ponytail. His gray eyes where stricken with fear. He knew that if she were to go free, the lives of citizens would be to pay. “She is more skillful than we ever anticipated.”
“I know, that’s only half of what I am fretting about.”
“Why didn’t she kill Ethan?”
“I don’t know,” he explained in a deep, shaky voice as he finally looked up.
“Do you think she’s waiting for something?”
“Well, maybe we where incorrect.”
“About her longing to kill Ethan?”
“No! The reports all say the same. She made two bowls of poison food. One for Queen Annabella and one for Ethan!” Simon’s frustration with this case was rising.
“Okay, okay. Your right.”
He took a deep breath, unbuttoning his coat the rest of the way. “Let’s back track. She scaled up the east side of the building’s walls and snuck through a window. As she was in there she-“
“Came face to face with a guard. She took a candle stick and beat him to death with it.”
“Than she snuck into the kitchen and found the Queen and her husband’s food lying in the larder. She extracted her poison and poured it into each bowl.”
“She set them on the table. That way the monarch would believe that the maid set supper out for them.”
“Two guards entered. And she, uh, uh.. What did she do again?” Edmond inquired, trying to recall their former conclusion.
“She threw down some potion that made the whole room fill with smoke. The two guards weren’t able to spot her, and in their perplexity, they where both stabbed.”
“Oh right! And one of the guards didn’t pass on until the next day.”
“Yes, he’s the one who informed us about what took place.”
He thought back to the day many months ago that he interviewed this guard, his name was Borin Achard.
“She approached me with her cloak completely blackening her body. She was like the grim reaper coming forth to take me to the Inferno of persecution, but she was much, much more terrifying. She removed her cloak after towering over me for many minutes. Hair as black as death and eyes as blue as ice were revealed to me. The horror of the situation seemed dimmed by those eyes, so beautiful. Her unmistakable beauty seemed to be masked by melancholy and remorse. She may be a killer, but she is not the demon we perceive her to be, you can see it in her eyes,” Borin said in his dying breath.
He died shortly after that. The spiel confused Simon. At the beginning of the speech he told of how she was more terrifying than the Grim Reaper, but by the end he said that she was not the fiend we had thought her to be. Simon shooed away the notion of it meaning something. He figured that Borin was delusional from being so close to death.
Simon rolled his eyes rudely at Edmond. He sometimes was unsatisfied with Edmond’s detective work. His memory wasn’t the greatest and his problem solving skills didn’t always serve him the best. Although him and Edmond where best friends he sometimes wished he was as dedicated to serving the kingdom as he was.
“Then she dragged them into a closet. That’s the last time we saw her, correct?”
“Yes. Then the Monarch entered and ate the poisoned food. The next morning she never awoke. Ethan had some military business as regard to that he had to tend to that night.”
“That’s why he never returned home and ate the poison.”
“Indeed. I still feel like we are missing something. She should have killed him! I mean, not should have but- you understand what I am attempting to say? Don’t you?”
Edmond nodded. “We must find her before she gets to Ethan.”
Ethan barged into his two-room home; the door hit the wall hard. He trudged over to the circular table that was filled with assorted documents and papers. Three lit candles stood on stacked books; the wax dripped down onto the table. Ethan clamped together his fist and ground his teeth in rage. He took his muscular arm and threw his arm at the table, sending all the papers into the air. He yelled loudly. Two of the candle sticks his the wall and it made a thundering bang. Hot wax made a blob on the wood wall. His hands dropped to his sides and heaved.
The house was a major downgrade from the magnificent castle. The walls were made of wattle and daub. A stone hearth sat in the middle of the room giving off a faint glow of hot coils. A bookshelf sat to the right of the room filled with various books on them. Some of them where fighting tactics, history, and fiction novels about war. A twin bed rested on bricks on the far end. The sheets where tattered and stained. Maps hung from the walls and a chest sat on the floor next to the bookshelf. The chest was overflowing with clothes, blankets, and other cloth items. Another twin bed resigned in the loft where his two sons, Rowan and Joseph. Rowan was six and Joseph was eight. They didn’t understand everything about their mother’s murder or about being kicked out of the castle. The two children were having trouble adjusting to their new life.
Ethan thought back to when him and Annabella where together, in the castle. happy. He turned around and jumped as he saw Rowan and Joseph standing at the bottom of the ladder leading to the loft, crying. His shoulders relaxed and his head fell. He was embarrassed; he didn’t want his kids to think that this was what you should do when you are angry.
“Daddy?” Rowan whimpered. “I want mommy to come home?”
Ethan looked away from his children as a tear of his own drizzled down his cheek. He glanced back toward them. The two boys ran over to their dad. He hugged them as they wept. Ethan got down on his knees to be at their level. “Now, mother, she-“ Ethan clenched his eyes closed trying to gather the right words. This was the hardest thing he’d ever had to say. Even though Annabella had died almost a year ago, he still had to explain that she was gone, forever, from time to time. “Mother is dead, she is with the angels now. Remember what I told you about the angels?”
“They look over us! They live in heaven,” Joseph remembered.
“Yep.” His eyes filled with tears but he wouldn’t let them fall.
“Does that mean momma is in heaven?”
“Do you think she’s happy?” Joseph tried not to cry like his dad; he always looked up to him. He wanted to be just like him.
“I know she is,” Ethan put his hand to his cheek and pushed his black hair out of his young face.
Rowan used the sleeve of his nightgown to wipe his eyes. “Does she miss us?”
“Of course,” Ethan sniffled and let one more tear fall. “Let’s get back to bed.” Ethan tucked both of the boys into bed and kissed each of them on the cheek. He returned to the main floor and looked at the mess all over the floor and wall. He plopped down in a wooden chair, folded his arms on the table, and put his head down. He immediately let his emotions free. He wept hysterically.
He finally thought that the death of his wife would be avenged. Why couldn’t he kill The Hooded Assassin? Ethan had fought in the war between and Bernicia but he couldn’t kill the one person he loathed the most? He was frustrated with himself and the world. Those eyes, those eyes where so familiar. The way she looked at him, it was like she knew him. Ethan wanted nothing more than his wife back. Now that she was gone his children had to live in a scanty house, with little education, and less opportunities than they would have in the castle.
The Hooded Assassin not only ruined his life but his children’s as well. Being a knight wasn’t a steady job, he wasn’t always in combat. He had taken on a job at the local market, that he hated, to help make ends meet. Ethan was bewildered at their government’s way of settling the matter of the Queen’s death. He expected them to at least give him some recognition for their loss but instead they just threw him out. They threw him out as if he was just another peasant in Bernicia, instead of a magnificent war leader.
Ethan half wished that he would have ate the poisoned stew that the assassin had made for them. Maybe if he had, he wouldn’t have to feel the excruciating pain of being a failure, alone, and unappreciated.
“He almost recognized me! You have no idea how close that was!” The assassin exclaimed to her pet falcon, Vendetta.
She removed her cloak and lit a few more candles to brighten up the cluttered basement a bit. As she turned backward, she made sure she had locked the secret entrance to her underground hideaway. She knew that everyone in Bernicia was after her.
Books where stacked up on all sides of the room with candles sitting on top of them. Maps and documents covered the stone walls like paint. An octagonal table sat in the middle of the room with an entire army of hand carved, wood warriors were placed strategically on a large territorial map that doubled as a tablecloth. The figures looked as if they where about to come to life and begin battle. Various rugs spread all over the floor, each of them had a design all its own. A cauldron stood on the far side of the room in the corner. A rickety bench, doubled as a napping spot next to the cauldron.
A crude wood shelf hung on the wall above a couple of blanket-draped chairs. Assorted beakers and glass containers contain positions sat on the shelf. Drapes of red and purple hung from all corners of the room. She had made this her sanctuary almost nine and a half years ago.
“He looked me right in the eye. I don’t know what happened, I couldn’t kill him and he couldn’t kill me.”
Vendetta squawked on her post. She knew that squawk. She fed her a cracker.
“Yah, yah you don’t care.”
“Well, look who it is?” A familiar voice sounded from the bottom of the stairs.
The Hooded Assassin smiled and turned toward her. A woman with dark brown hair and a pirate hat stood, arms crossed, against the wall. She was wearing a short dress with a low collar. The outside fabric was a thick black fabric and the inside and sleeves where made of a loose white cloth. The sleeves fell beneath her shoulders. A gold belt wrapped around her waste with holsters for her rapier and daggers. She wore red tights with black lace tied around them. Her signature black knee high boots finished off her look.
“It’s the fabled Ada Pathou. How did you manage to survive this one?” She asked.
“Hello, Thecla.” The Hooded Spy, Ada Pathou, had run into her old friend, Captain Thecla Challenge. Captain Thecla was the person she trusted most, which still was very little. Thecla was the only person that saw her without her cloak or knew where her hide out was. “It wasn’t simple, I’ll make you aware of that much.”
“Well we brought down the Canderian leader and set the people free earlier than expected.” Thecla wasn’t an average pirate; she did things to ensure justice, not to find treasure. The Canderian King didn’t allow the Canderians any form of freedom and practically controlled their entire lives. He taxed them so high that no one could ever escape from poverty. You could not speak a single word against him other wise you would be sent to the gallows. She didn’t go searching for money but was always given a hefty reward for her kind actions. She also would steal whatever money the person she killed or overthrew had, unless it belonged to someone else. Something had happened to Thecla when she was really young; something made her obsessed with the sea. Ada wasn’t sure what it was, but they avoided talking about their past for both their sakes. “I heard that you where getting the rope. I thought I’d stop by and say hello.” Thecla and Ada often used this type of humor. Thecla had had her fair share of death sentences. Sure she did good things, but she did her share of stealing as well. “What did you do this time?”
Thecla pulled up a chair and sat down at the table. She propped her feet up on the table; Ada did the same. “I killed Queen Annabella.”
“¡Guau!” Thecla grew up on a ship with many Spanish pirates so she threw random Spanish words into her speech. It was a force of habit. “Wait- what did she do?”
“Did you hear about the wall starting to erect around the island?”
“Si. What was the purpose of that?”
“She told everyone in the kingdom that this wall was for security to keep enemies out. Well, of course everyone loved the idea of more safety. But something about it didn’t seem right to me. I spied on her for weeks and watched her leave a letter in a secret place in the forest. When she left, I read it. It was too the captain of The Cursed Gold.” Which was an evil pirate ship, Thecla’s worst enemy. “She wrote that this wall that she was having all these people build was to keep them in, not keep others out. These people where literally constructing their own grave. She was going to enslave the whole kingdom.”
Thecla suddenly removed her feet from the table and leaned in towards her. “¡Ese brtuto mavado! How could she do that to her own kingdom?!”
“I don’t know. You have to have a sick and twisted mind to do something as ghastly as that.”
“I’ll say. How did you do it?”
“Poison in her supper.”
“Hmm… That’s not like you. What does this potion do exactly?” Thecla knew her all to well to believe that she would give simply a potion that killed; she always made the deserving suffer.
Ada smiled. “It completely paralyzes you as the poison burns your insides.”
“That sounds more like you. But am I missing something?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why would they send you to the gallows for saving their life? ¡Ada Pathou, no otravez!” She slammed her hands on the table. “You didn’t tell them why, did you?!”
“No, they just think I murdered her.”
“Why didn’t you tell them? If you told them why you’d be a saint!”
“They would never believe me anyway!”
Thecla read the headline of a paper on the table. “Look, The Hooded Assassin, the Devil’s Accomplice. You don’t really want to be remembered like this do you? All you’ve ever done is good for this place, everything they think is wrong.”
“So, let them think it. I couldn’t care less about what they think. “
“Are you just going to live your whole life running? Christ, Ada! You are so much more than this!” She stood up, picked up the paper, and pointed to the headline. Ada sat there with her head down emotionless. Thecla dropped her arms and sighed. “Lo siento. I shouldn’t be bringing this all down on you right now, we haven’t seen each other in ages. Anyway how was the fight?”
Ada had zoned out and thought back to a few hours ago when she had run into Sir Ethan.
“Well how was it?” She repeated.
“Esimado dios! The fight, Ada!” She laughed.
“Quite a challenge, actually.”
“Yes, the constable, anyway. The judge, not so much. Good target practice.”
“What about the knight?”
Ada peered up in alarm. How had she known? “What?”
“Adelantado. That is all anyone is speaking of. You spared the knight’s life, why?” Ada’s began to feel light headed and her heart started to race.
She looked around the room in panic and spat, “It wasn’t like that-“
Thecla glanced down at the paper again. “It reads that you tried to poison him too, why didn’t you finish the job?” Her questions echoed in Ada’s mind.
Sweat dripped down her forehead. She couldn’t even tell her best friend why she hadn’t murdered him. Finally in bit of anxiety she exclaimed, “It wasn’t for him!”
They both stopped. Thecla didn’t say a word, she only starred at her in puzzlement. “Then, who?” She asked quietly.
Ada was about to say something when she heard a loud bang from upstairs. She had hopped that Thecla had locked the door when she came in. She had given her a key to her lair two years before, telling her that her door was always open, with the right key of course.
“Did you lock the door?” Ada whispered.
Ada gave a sigh of relief, but she knew they weren’t out of the woods yet. Ada crept up the stone stairs quietly and listened for voices.
“They already searched this place for her!” She heard someone murmur loudly.
“I’m not convinced,” she heard another man say in a normal tone.
“Simon, you are doing it again.” Ada took a mental note of the name Simon.
“Doing what?” She took in what he said deeply so that she would remember it for later reference.
“Trying to do other peoples professions.”
“Well, if they cannot do it properly, I will have to.” As Simon said this he began to search the main floor.
Ada knew that they would be disappointed with her search. She kept the upstairs like a normal peasant home; little did they know that all the action happened down stairs. Simon stepped onto the place where the floor lifted up to enter the basement. Instead of a hard sound it, it made a hollow noise. Ada closed her eyes and prepared for the man on the other side to notice.
Simon looked down, but didn’t think too much of it.
Edmond sighed and slumped down on a bench. “Simon there isn’t anything here. It’s getting late, can we please, just stop for tonight.”
Simon grunted, unsatisfied with his work. “Fine.” He replied firmly. “But meet me at the castle, at the fourth bell.” Edmond and Simon turned and left the house.
Ada exhaled and trudge back down the stairs. Thecla made herself comfortable once again and groaned.
“¿Por qué? Just when you think you are relaxed some dankish, rough-hewn, scuts intrude on your good time!” Ada laughed, she loved her random insults. Even though she hadn’t ever head the term, dankish, rough-hewn, scut, she still somehow knew what she meant.
“It’s atrocious, is it not? No time to unbend.”
They sat silently for a bit, thinking about what may have happened if they had normal life. A pirate ship had taken in Thecla by the name of The Red Howl when she was only four years old. She was found swimming for her dear life in the icy cold waters. Captain Benito de Soto saw the small child flailing about and ordered his men to save her. She said that she had told him that her father had pushed her over board after concluding that she was spawned from the devil. Thecla didn’t remember this event in her life, being only four.
“How long are you staying?”
“A week or so. I sent my first mate and crew to get supplies.”
“Do you have a place to sleep?”
“I figured that I would make due.”
This wasn’t the first time Thecla had come without a plan. She was good at winging things. She knew that she would resort to sleeping in a tree if she had to. Ada shook her head and smiled, “I suppose you could stay here.”
“I knew I could count on you.”
Ada turned serious for a moment. “You must be careful, though. No one can see you come here.”
Thecla rolled her eyes, hearing this spell a million times before. “Yes, yes I know. This isn’t the first time I had to sneak around, you know. Soy pirata después de todos.”
Ada smirked, knowing she was being too cautious. “I am aware.”