《The House of Wolves》[The House of Wolves] - The Assassin and the Politician

”My mask? ” Questioned Ardos. ”You mean those odd animal disguises that I see everywhere around here? ”

”Don play dumb with me ” snarled the voice. It had a feminine quality to it, so Ardos presumed that the individual threatening him was most likely a female.

e quite feisty aren you? Whats your name lass? ”

”Im not telling you you son of a… ” The girl paused, grappling to regain her composure. ”This is not a conversation, this is not a casual discussion. I am demanding that you give me your mask. ”

”How boring. But fine…let me tell you now, I don have a mask. I just came to this city, so youll gain nothing from me. ”

The girl sighed impatiently, before suddenly prodding the knife at Ardoss side even deeper.

e not fooling me. I know you
e one of those wealthy shits, even though you wear that stupid cloak of yours. And I know you
e not some foreigner…so where is your mask? ”

”First of all girl ” Ardos said, pretending to be offended. ”I am a noble, not a wealthy shit…and second of all, how can you be so sure that I don come from another city or even another country? ”

”Cause the bastards who do come here from other places never leave their houses, and certainly not without escorts. They
e too cowardly and too haughty to do so. ”

”And these supposed businessmen are not? ”

”Oh they are all right, but they simply care more about flaunting their looks and wealth…whilst everybody already knows how rich a noble is the moment they see em. ”

”Ahhh…I see. Thank you for the valuable information, youve proven to be very helpful ” Said Ardos with false sweetness.

The girl made a ”huh? ” sound before realizing that she was being played by Ardos.

”Im done playing around with you! Do you not realize you
e literally on the verge of death? I have a knife inches away from cleaving through your skin! Now just give me the damn mask! ”

”So profane ” Ardos grumbled with a sigh. ”First off…you
e in a public area and- ”

”Oh please…this is Corvachia. Stabbings happen all the time! Y hink Im afraid of spilling your guts here and now? ”

”Never mind then. Second of all though, Im not the only inches away from death. I advise you to look at your abdomen. ”

Right above her solar plexus was a curved blade aimed to slice through her. She would most likely get him first if things came to it, but Ardos trusted in himself to take her down with him in that scenario.

And he trusted her to calculate such a possibility. Which she decided, seeing as she let out a firm ”tch ”. Despite that she still chose to pressure Ardos.

”Thats a rather odd angle you
e holding your blade at. Its almost guaranteed that Ill stab you first. ”

”Care to test that possibility? ” inquired Ardos, with the same falsely sweet tone. The two stood there in that deadlock for several long moments, and Ardos feared she would actually go through with it and puncture him.

She could be one of those nameless assassin people after all. The kind who as long as they take down their target are content with losing their lives. But still, this person seems rather tentative. Shes not doing this to kill me, but to take the mask she thinks I have. So I should be safe….hopefully.

Thankfully, the girl lowered her knife, and at the same Ardos lowered his. He even let her place a hand on the dull edge of the blade to press it down. A sign of mutual trust, if you will. Though it can be hardly be said that either trusted the other in any way.

”Come with me ” Said Ardos suddenly.

The girl raised here eyebrows and scoffed, before pulling her dagger out again. It was a beautiful danger, very well made and despite its purpose, lacking in crudeness. Additionally, it lacked any sort of bluntness, indicating the it was very well maintained by its owner.

Thank god I was able to escape that situation. That knife would have been fatal! thought Ardos to himself.

The girl in question looked rather young. He could hardly see her face because just like him, she was wearing a cloak. Hers was far more distinguished however. It was made of smooth black leather and came with shoulder pads and all sorts of additional protective components. Despite that it had a very sleek look to it, as if it were easy to travel in.

Her eyes were a beautiful hue of purple, and her skin was a radiant copper. Almost as if she was made of bronze and not a living, breathing human being. Her eyes was raven black just like her cloak, he could tell because strands of it fell before her face. There were traces of white dye at the ends however, which only served to further intrigue Ardos.

She looked far too young for Ardoss taste however. He hardly found any interest in women anyways, and this girl couldn be older than fourteen. She was pretty, but Ardos couldn bring himself to be attracted to her and didn intend to bring himself to that point either.

Some other nobles however…most of them are far too fat to fight back anyways, but still…I shiver to think about their twisted fantasies.

Almost as if she had been reading his thoughts, the girl tightened her stance. This irritated Ardos. She had nothing to fear, and he wasn hostile, he simply wanted to talk. He was sorely lacking and this girl seemed to be interesting.

”Im just trying to make conversation, I can assure you. Just come with me and we can talk. ”

”Why would I do that? ”

”Because you
e interesting. Ive never seen someone like you before…whats the term again? Rogue is the word I believe. ”

”I don care about the generalizations you highborn scum use! ”

”Fair enough. Still, I want to talk with you. Its not everyday that you get threatened by a child. ”

”Im not a child! ” the girl exclaimed.

In response Ardos raised his eyebrow questioningly and gave a scoff of his own.

”Fine…how about, you talk with me for thirty minutes and I shall personally see to it that you get paid handsomely. ”

The girl wavered..before shakily asking how much Ardos would give her.

Ardos thought about it for a second, and in that timespan came to realize the gravity of the proposal he was making. But he was too intrigued to back away now.

”How about…thirty gold coins? ”

The girl was practically watering at the mouth now. For Ardos that was hardly anything, but for her that must have for money than she had ever seen in her life. He almost felt compelled to give it to her free of charge. But then, she shook her head and attempted to reroute the conversation.

”Ive heard promises like those far too many times before! I know what grimy nobles like you do. Even if you aren one of those lecherous masked merchants, doesn mean you
e any better! ”

Ardos adopted a puzzled expression, urging her to continue.

”Don play coy with me! We both know what men like you do! I know your real plan is to take me to your mansion and- ”

”Oy, oy, oy, oy…Im not like that, I promise. I swear it on the name of the Calastres and even the king himself. I simply want to talk with you. ”

”And what if I refuse to go with you? ”

”Well, I am offering you quite a large sum of money. I can swear that on my family name as well. But…..if we
e talking about hypotheticals here, then I could use my influence and send every armed man in the city after you. ”

The girls eye twitched, as if she didn like being threatened herself. Without thinking about it she snapped back by saying:

”Or I could kill you right here and now you stupid- ” she winced. Her hand quickly went to cover her side so that Ardos wouldn notice, but that only made her handicap more distinguishable.

”Really? With an injury like that? I can see it very well but it seems rather recent. If you were at full strength perhaps but I too am trained in combat and as you are I simply don see you obtaining victory. ”

”Shut up ” the girl snapped back viciously. But Ardos could tell she was losing her leverage, and was aware of it too.

”And besides…you look like you need to talk ”.

The girls eyes softened immediately and her lip quivered. She was still young after all, meaning that therefore she could be manipulated rather easily when put under pressure. It wasn something that Ardos enjoyed doing, but it simply came so easy to him. He was best at using his status as leverage, but he was also unnervingly good at toying with peoples emotions in other ways.

”Why would someone like you care for what I have to say. And besides, I don even have time! Seeing as you are a noble, I c