Title Unknown – Part One

Nathaniel walked into the grand hall of a mansion that sat on the outskirts of the city. It was a building of dark stone shipped in from over the twenty oceans. It was built to be impressive and imposing, and as far as Nathaniel was concerned it worked on both levels.

The interior was darker than the exterior. A few torches flickered in the gloom, casting strange shadows across the floors and walls of the grand hall. An icy wind danced across the hall causing Nathaniel to shiver and wrap his arms around himself. Haltingly he walked across the grand hall, his nerves growing with every step.

“May I help you?”

A small voice whispered behind Nathaniel causing him to freeze in place. The cloaked figure walked around him, revealing nothing of their face or body. To Nathaniel the voice sounded more male, but not enough for him to be sure. He tried hard to find his voice, but all he found was a squeak and a stammer. The cloaked figure seemed to deflate a little.

“Follow me.”

The cloaked figure walked away and Nathaniel followed in the figures shadow. He found himself wringing his hands, hearing nothing but his heartbeat in his ears, and trying his hardest not to look at anything but the back of the cloaked figure.

The figure walked them into a small room, motioning for Nathaniel to sit on a simple wooden chair.

“Someone will be with you soon.”

The figure left, leaving Nathaniel to look around the room. It was small and bare, furnished with a desk and two simple chairs. The walls were stone, as were the floors. Although the desk and chairs were simple in design, the wood looked like aged dark oak, a simple statement of wealth and power to be used to make such simple furniture. Somehow this simple statement of power was more intimidating to Nathaniel than any of the grandiose and tawdry displays of the grand palace where he worked. It was this time that he also noticed there were no doors in the walls.

A man appeared in the room, seemingly blinking into existence. Strangely this did not make Nathaniel jump. Not because the fact was strange, but because the mere presence of this man seemed to comfort him somehow. This fact again was strange, for Nathaniel was sure this mans sharp features and deep, dark eyes should have unnerved him. Nathaniel wondered if this man was exuding some kind of magic on him, and realised he probably was.

“Hello sir, and welcome to the home of the Termination Guild here in Apaco. My name is Gerald and I have been given the pleasure of being your assistant here today. Please be aware that spells are cast upon you to make you feel more comfortable and to ensure you speak only the truth. If you are not happy with these spells then please leave now before a word is uttered by yourself. I will give you some time before we continue.”

Nathaniel wanted to leave, but he knew he could not. His mission here was vital, his master had ingrained that into him over the years. Still, he knew that his master valued his life over the mission, so he knew he could leave if he felt staying would cost him his life.

“As you are still staying here I will assume we can continue. There are a few questions I must ask you, and remember if you speak you can only speak the truth. If speaking the truth breaks any bonds of secrecy over you I suggest you stay silent. A silent answer does not mean you can use our services, but equally all truthful answers do not mean you will be guaranteed access. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” Nathaniel squeaked out.

“Due to your nervousness I must ask if you are here against your will? A silent answer will stop these proceedings, so I suggest you speak the truth on this one.”

“No, I am not here against my will.”

“Good. Then we can continue. Are you here on your own bidding, or by request of another?”

“Request of another.”

“Master or equal?”

“Master.”

“Are you able to reveal their identity to us?”

“My master would wish to remain anonymous in this exchange, but I can reveal their identity to you if required.”

“By that reply I am assuming your master has used our services before. For now you can keep that secret, but I may require an answer later on. Before we continue, and due to your place of work, I must stress that any royal family member, or person of importance in their lives, is protected from our services. Can you confirm your target will not be protected under this clause?”

“I know he is not a member of the royal family, and as far as I know he not considered of importance in any of their lives, but they are connected to the royal family in that they work in the palace also.”

“I see. We ask for no names of victims for none is necessary. I believe you are not trying to break our rules so we can continue. I will stress now that I am concerned by your age. Young people are known to act rashly and many have passed through here and regretted their actions later. Taking a life, by your own hand or by pointing the hand of another, will leave a mark on your soul. Are you sure you wish to proceed?”

“I am sure.”

“Very well. The fee is 100 gold upfront. On receipt of payment we will pass you a small wooden box. Once you place a small amount of blood from the victim in the box the contract is sealed and cannot be broken. If at anytime before blood is placed in the box you wish to cancel the contract just burn the box in a fire, at which point your money will be refunded. Are these terms acceptable to you?”

“They are.”

“Very well. Please pass me the payment.”

Nathaniel reached into his pocket and removed a golden ridged piece of paper, worth exactly 100 gold. He crinkled it under his fingers, knowing he was unlikely to ever hold as much money again. He passed it over, receiving a small wooden box in return. He was amazed to see it too was made of aged dark oak.

“Our deal here is done. You now have two weeks to either place blood in the box or destroy it for a refund. After the two weeks the box will destroy itself and your payment will be forfeit. We here at the Termination Guild appreciate your patronage and hope our service has been friendly and efficient. Good day to you sir.”

With that Gerald vanished from existence. Nathaniel looked around for a door, amazed to see one slowly fading into the wall. As soon as he touched the door handle he felt the buzz of teleportation magic grab him. He was flung through space, appearing in his small room in the palace. He hid the box in a small hole in his bedpost, then collapsed on his bed, happy to be back on familiar ground and proud of a successful mission. Sleep came to him easy that night.

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