by Ricardo Markland
I remember my last job as a soldier of fortune and the scar it left. Compared to watching my best friend get shot by a cop this one had to have been my second greatest wound.
Ten years ago I led a team of globe-trotting mercenaries called, the Sirens. At the behest of the Xerxes crime syndicate, my team and I have been searching for a man named Damian Arwel, one of their former assassins, master sky mage and expert knife wielder. Our employer, Johnathan Xerxes said Damian discovered something about a recent assignment that he didn’t like, and he wanted his head.
I had two of my teammates guard Johnathan at all times, while me and another member searched for him.
It didn’t take too long to find Damian. We tracked him down to Soho, a place I was familiar with as a kid. He started robbing sex stores in the area at knifepoint. My gut kept telling me that robbing sex stores was a little random. It was like he was luring us there. Like an idiot, I went to the district ahead of my partner and staked one of them out. He was hiding nearby, and he drugged me with chloroform. It sucked to be right.
Later on, I woke up in the middle of Brompton Cemetery. Tall pearl white aqueducts surrounded me, and an Anglican Chapel was behind me.
“What game is he playing at?” I wondered. “Why did he bring me here of all places?”
Normally when you kidnap someone you decrease their chances of escaping by immobilizing them, cutting off their forms of communication, take away their weapons, and blind them. The only rule Damian followed was cutting off my communications by smashing my ear piece. As I looked around, there were no signs of him. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t watching me from the shadows.
Out of nowhere a voice with a British accent echoed disrupting the night’s silence.
“Did you sleep well, Anya Sylvestris?”
The voice came from my left on top of the aqueduct. The man stood clad in his white zip up jacket covering his lean build, his long black hair braided with a gold pattern swaying in the wind, and with boyish looks, a laid back smile came across his face.
“How do you know my name?” I asked.
“I might’ve gone through your pockets and found your driver’s license.”
“Great. You’re an assassin, a pervert, and a thief.”
I reached into my quiver, hastily looking for my flare arrow. Then Damian said,
“Looking for this?” He said while snapping it in two.
“You know what they say, love. It takes two to tango. Your friends would only interrupt our little dance in the moonlight.”
He drew his knives and descended from the aqueduct as if he were walking down invisible stairs. When he touched the ground, he took an offensive looking stance.
Other than his name and his set of skills I knew virtually nothing about his capabilities as a combatant. I needed to gauge him to form a proper strategy.
“I’ll tell you what Ms. Sylvestris. The first move is yours.”
“What a gentleman you are.”
Reaching over my back, I pulled an arrow out from my quiver and quickly fired it at his chest. Without much effort, he dodged it and took cover behind a gravestone. Then he used his sky magic to dart towards me at such a high speed his appearance blurred. The biggest advantage a mage of that element had is that they could increase their mobility and speed making it nearly impossible to dodge them.
With little time to react, I used my bladed bow to block his strikes. It was like trying to defend against a baseball being shot from a pitching machine. Going on the offensive was too risky, due to his superior speed. I struggled to create some distance between the two of us. With what little distance I gained I simultaneously shot two explosive arrows in his direction. He realized that they were meant to explode upon impact and jumped ten feet in the air, avoiding the blast. Then he stood in mid-air again as if there was something solid beneath him.
“It appears that you do have some skill after all. But now I think we should wrap this up before the cops arrive and ruin our little rendezvous.” He said.
He landed on the ground and used the wind to dart at me once again. I didn’t have time to guard against him. His kick was powerful enough to send me flying through the air like a bird.
From what I have seen so far, he outclassed me in magic ability and martial arts.
It was painfully obvious that I had no chance of beating him by myself. I needed to retreat and live to fight another day. The chapel was the quickest and safest way out of the cemetery. Without hesitation, I ran inside, but at the same time, a thought crossed my mind.
“What’s to stop him from just charging in and stabbing me in the back?”
Luckily for me, I was an ice mage. All I had to do was block the doorway with a wall of ice. By reducing the kinetic energy of atoms surrounding that area, I froze it shut.
The plan was to lose Damian and find a way to call the rest of my team. I thought I was home free for a minute. But a sharp pain ran through my left leg. To be more precise there was a knife in my Achilles Tendon.
He stood on top of the chapel with his right arm outstretched. Then he took a huge leap towards my position.
“Don’t worry love I’m confident that the tendon isn’t damaged too badly. But I’m also certain you won’t be able to fight with that injury.” Damian said.
He stood over me and said,
“Now that I have your undivided attention I want you to know something.”
His tone changed from laidback to serious. “Tonight was just a warning. I could’ve killed you at least three times back there. But I don’t like killing women for any reason. I’m going to kill Johnathan Xerxes, and if you and your friends get in my way again, I will make what I did to your leg seem like a volleyball game and cripple the rest of you. Sweet dreams!” He stood back up and stomped my face in with his combat boots.
The mission was a failure. He eventually killed our employer by turning him into a pin cushion. I was still recovering in the hospital when it happened. The tendon is intact enough for me to walk without much trouble, but if I did anything strenuous, then my leg will be rendered useless. After that my days as a Siren came to an end.
For a while, I drowned out my depression with expensive alcohol and isolation. But eventually, I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and find another way to support myself financially. My only option was to become a private archery instructor, teaching talentless rich people how to wield a damn bow properly.
I kept telling myself,
“At least the pay is good.”
But it wasn’t enough to quell my desire for something ‘more’.
As a Siren, my life was more fulfilling than a go-nowhere job like an instructor. The sense of accomplishment, the excitement, I wanted to feel it again.
Regardless I had no choice but to accept the fact that those days were dead and gone.
I’m a siren that lost its ability to sing.