House of Daggers

The night air was heavy and oppressive, with no promise of the relief of even the slightest breeze. Such cloud as there was drifted silently across the tiniest last sliver of the waning moon. In the shadows, a figure moved, swift, precise, economical movements, from the shelter of one tree to another. The figure paused by the last tree, closest to the building that was its destination, looking up at the one solitary window that still held a light. That light briefly illuminated the figure’s face, hidden as it was below a dark cowl. A face that would have struck terror into the heart of the intended victim, had he been able to see it. For then he would have known he was doomed, because nobody, but nobody, was safe from… Aoibheann the Assassin…

It isn’t often that I get to tease Aoibheann. This is mostly because she doesn’t seem to understand the concept, and takes things rather too literally. Given recent discussions about music, and later, about weaponry, I could not resist making up the above story fragment.

The previous night, we had spoken of music, and Wren’s suggestion that she and I should sing together. She wasn’t so sure of the idea, and was also doubtful about Wren’s compliments, saying that Wren thought she could play the piano, even though she had only really touched one once. We both agreed it would be nice to have more music around, and I started thinking of ways we could achieve that. It also reminded me I needed to check on the progress of drying out Wren’s violin. I wasn’t sure what I could do after that. While I am moderately skilled in woodwork, making and repairing stringed instruments is another matter entirely.

Tonight, Wren, Aoibheann and I spoke of weaponry. They were both still learning the bow, although I had heard that Aoibheann had unwisely tried using magic on her arrows, causing one to shatter as it left the string, hence the nasty cut on her face. Aoibheann seemed a little dissatisfied with the archery and was wondering if she should take up other weapons, the sword or the dagger. While I had reservations about Aoibheann being on the blunt end of any edged weapon (or, come to that, being on the pointy end), and did not entirely fancy her chances in close quarter combat, I did feel it would be good if she had some skills in self-defence. Wren, I knew had some previous experience with the sword, so I suggested that maybe one of the guards, Kustav perhaps, should teach them some basic sword skills. I said that I was taking lessons myself, so there was no shame in doing so. I added that she should still keep up with the archery though.

Wren was keen that they should learn swordsmanship, saying they could be warriors together, but Aoibheann wasn’t so sure. I suggested that she should learn how to use a dagger, for self-defence. She complained that she wasn’t wearing boots, so had nowhere to put a dagger, as if that was the only place to conceal a dagger. It was a place, but impractical in her case, even if she were to be wearing boots, because of the long dress. I suggested all sorts of other places she could wear one – at her waist in a conventional sheath, strapped to her forearm, down her back etc. She was still worried about having such a thing near Ardan, so I suggested that maybe Hobbs, the smith, could make a bronze dagger for her.

Wren liked the suggestions I was making about places for concealing a dagger and suggested a couple more. Somebody remarked that it all sounded a bit like the sort of thing an assassin would do, which was when I made up the little story above. As ever, Aoibheann was not amused, threatening to strangle me with her chains if I ever tried telling that story to anyone. She was no assassin, she insisted. I just had to laugh at the idea of being strangled and told her she was getting into character already. Wren tried to appease her by saying that she would make a very good assassin, since nobody would expect it from her, because she was so nice. She was slightly mollified by this and did admit that Maric had been telling her it was important she learn to defend herself. She also admitted that she was a little too fond of going off adventuring (and here, I had to restrain myself from the eye-rolling) to be completely defenceless. I told her that I could show her the basics of using a dagger, having had to carry one myself when in foreign ports; although I admitted I had no great skill there. I suggested Galyanna might teach her, but that was not well received. I guess she didn’t get along with Galyanna’s style of teaching. I would have pressed the point further, but there were other duties pressing upon me. I left them, promising to take Wren to Hobbs and get her measured up for a sword. Aoibheann too, if she would want to have one.

House of Daggers


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