Chapter One: Cash For Kill -- REVISED--

Chapter One: Cash For Kill -- REVISED--

A Chapter by Skai Rain
"

Revised, first chapter of The Black Arrow. Please nit-pick any left over issues in case an agent responds to one of my queries asking for the first chapter. In return for help I'll review 3 works.

"

Chapter One: Cash For Kill

   They looked like two star-crossed teenagers in love for the first time the way they cradled their hands within each others’. You would never guess that he was a middle-aged man cheating on his wife and that she was just days away from taking the Oath of Varadation. If you’re wondering what that is it’s like becoming a nun, but instead you worship Vara; the child goddess of innocence. Don’t you just love how this kind of stuff all works out?

   Lightning raged a war outside as rain poured down onto the roof, crashing almost as loud as the thunder. The sky hadn’t stopped crying for weeks. The weather in Firchek had been bipolar like that recently. One month draught had reigned over the region, and the next it was like living under a waterfall.

    The woman pushed herself tighter into the man every time the thunder boomed. She swooned and sighed as the man kissed up and down her neck. It made me almost give away my position as I swear to God, situations like this made me feel like vomiting. I knelt in silence, I crouched behind a couple giant sacks of rice and corn. The man was obviously a farmer. Why he felt the need to scatter random portions of his harvest around the house was beyond me. Not that I was complaining, if anything it just made my job easier.  I readied my bow and peeked it around one of the large sacks.

   This was going to be my last kill.

   You see, I had taken on the life of an assassin very young; around the age of eleven. I was so young that no one really suspected me. Not to mention the pay. At this point I had enough saved up that I didn’t need to take any more lives. I could move to the countryside and start a brand new life. One that I had always dreamed of. Alone. God, I hated the annoying chatter of idiots that constantly surrounded public areas.

 “What about your wife?” She looked up at him, “she said that if she saw us together again that she would kill us both.”

 “Those are just empty threats,” he scoffed. “Forget about Helena. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

 “But she does know! And I’m more afraid she is going to hurt us.” Her voice began to crack, “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you.”

  Mental Vomit.

  “My dear, I promise to never leave you.” He said.

   I rolled my eyes. The cheesy banter was overwhelming.

 “I don’t want to keep sneaking around like this.”  She cried, “Just leave her for me, we can run away together! It’s not like you have any children to speak of. We can take my son and get out of here.”

 "Your son hates me," he brushed the dark hair from her face.

 "Roran is just acting out," she said. "He just does not understand what is going on. With all the talk of those nonsense rebels, the people he loves being killed left and right by assassins, and his mother being in a relationship with a married man... he thinks everyone is out to get him."

 "But-"

 "Please, think about this?" Tears welled up in the woman's eyes.

 The tedious job of waiting for just the right moment was probably the thing I would be glad the most to be rid of. You would think the life of an assassin to be exciting and dramatic, but it is honestly the most boring career you could ever think of. Keep in mind I’ve never had another career.

 He rested his forehead against that of his mistress and leaned in for a kiss, “Okay. I promise to try leaving her again.”

 “And what if this shot doesn’t work?” She said.

“I promise this will be my one last shot.” He whispered right before kissing her lips.

  As it will be mine, I thought right before letting my fingers loose of the string and sending my arrow flying through both of their heads with perfect precision. So perfect in fact that the two didn’t even fall over. The arrow held them together so that they were supporting each other. Hopefully they died on impact; I hate hearing morons cry.

 I scurried out into the open. The house smelled of booze and mold; a smell I knew all too well from my childhood. The bodies stood up-right near the table where the man’s wife had told me I could find the second half of my pay. I glanced under the thin wood and noticed a small pocket taped to the underside. I took it and opened the pouch to find fifteen gold coins.

 My frozen heart began to thaw itself when I thought about how the woman had mentioned a son... oh well, maybe he would end up as self-assured as me.

   I smiled. I found that helped blanket all unpleasant thoughts; it made them go away. Putting the coins into my pocket, I comforted myself with the thought that I was finished. That was my last kill. The Black Arrow was now nothing more than a legend.

   I trudged out the curtain door with confidence in my step. The dirt road had turned into a pure mud path, flooded in various sections with enough puddles to grow a rice farm. I hadn’t even bothered cleaning up the scene of the crime. There was no blood on my clothing, which meant there was no need to worry. I figured if I hadn’t been caught after six years than it was doubtful I ever would be. That is not just my ego talking. The crown had bigger things to worry about, which I could tell with just one glance down the road.

 The guards of Firchek had no idea how to deal with a murder, much less a murderer. If I was caught, I know it would be easy to escape. No one could catch me. You could even ask anyone, resort to any poster, and listen in on the chitter-chatter of the guards. I was The Black Arrow and my identity will forever remain a mystery. Here, I’ll ask someone just to prove it to you.

 “Excuse me, miss.” I tapped a small old lady on the shoulder.

 She stopped walking and looked up at me, “Yes?”

 “I was just wondering, who is this Black Arrow that everyone keeps talking about?” I asked her. For your sake, not just because I enjoy talking about myself.

  “You don’t know of him?” She gasped, “You don’t know of him? Some say he isn’t even human. They say his heart is made of ice as cold as the God Siofo and that those who hire him are even colder.”

  “Hire him?” I asked with my superb acting ability.

  She nodded, “They’ve been after him for years but no one has ever even seen him. He must live in constant hiding because not a single person has any idea what he looks like. I believe him to be the worst creature to ever happen to Firchek. So be careful young lad, if you mess around with anyone they may just summon the Black Arrow on you. They aren’t just empty threats. I’ve heard he’s around.”

  “Wow, that’s scary.”

 She put her finger to her lips, “no more talk of murderers. If the guards catch wind there will be trouble.”

 “Yes ma’ me, of course.” I pulled one of the silver coins out of my pocket and slipped it into the lady’s hands. “Thank you for your time.”

 “Aw, you’re such a sweet young man. Thank you.” She smiled before walking off with turtle-like speed.

  And that’s my point. I was infamous. One of the most famous people of my era, but no one knew who I was. There were posters lining up and down all the streets without my name or face, but anyone with true information would be showered in gold. Only no one had any information. Whenever someone came to meet with me, I wore a mask. I barely spoke to anyone in my spare time. If I did, I paid them for their time so they would think of me as a kind citizen with no ulterior motive. When my mask was off, that’s who I was. And that mask was never going on my face again.

   “Young man!” A religious soapboxer grabbed my arm and it took everything in my body not to punch him in the throat.

  I let out a sigh, “I am busy…”

 “Too busy to be saved?” He asked, “Have you allowed God into your life, yet?”

 He asked as if it was even an option. There were three main religions in Firchek at the moment. Hatsui, the longest-running religion that harbored many different gods. There were The Blood Brothers, which is the hands-down dumbest religion I’d ever heard of. And the final, as well as the only one currently legal to worship publicly, was the Catholic Church. This was a new religion on our continent, but apparently had a long-standing in far off lands. Lands full of idiots.

  And then there were people like me who just thought everyone was stupid.

 “Don’t trust him, it is all lies!” Another, much dirtier man ran up to me and pushed the preacher out of the way.

  “No, s**t.” I muttered.

 “For crying out loud… Guards!” Yelped the scrawny preacher and his calls were instantly answered when a trio of heavily-armed a******s snatched the dirty man’s arms to subdue him.

  “Everyone! Listen to me!” He cried to the streets, “This world isn’t even real! You are not real! You’re all just pawns in a story made to entertain introverted teenagers! You're all results of some b***h's imagination who has too much time on her hands!”

   I had to force back a chuckle. This man was definitely the craziest among the religious freaks. However, you didn’t have to look only at the religious phenomenon to find the crazy in this Country.

  Starving peasants begged in the streets, small children ran up and down the way snatching whatever tiny valuables they could get their grubby hands on for their parents to sell, smaller huts were beginning to flood out from the constant rain, women were constantly being raped by guards of the crown and giving birth to babies that were just being left in the woods for carnivores, and worst of all, The Blood Brothers were running amok.

   Oh, The Blood Brothers… how do I even begin to explain these freaks? Well, we all know what an infamous badass I am, yes? Okay, good. The Blood Brothers are a cult that formed around four years ago in tribute to my awesome self. The s****y thing is that I never condoned this. They literally are just a bunch of crazy people who inject blood into their eyes in my name and steal my kills all the time.

   Oh well, the career path of assassinations was all theirs now.

   I continued stepping on my merry way when a small little boy with greasy blonde hair and mud crusted on his face held a small top hat out to the crowd. He was being ignored by every passer-by. This was not unusual. I had never known people to think of anyone else. I know I wasn’t often one to.

   I walked up to him in silence. His eyes were red and yellow with disease. I pulled the last few coins I had in my pocket and dropped them in his hat.

 His lips quivered as he looked at the coin he had received, "gold?"

 "Those are for you," I told him. "Do not give them to your parents."

 "I have never seen gold before..." with those words he dropped the hat and went to hug me.

  "Stop!" I pushed the diseased child back, "people don't touch me."

  He nodded his head ferociously before picking up his hat again. I rolled my eyes and turned away.

  “Good morning, sir!” A man interrupted my steps.

  For f**k sakes, why was I having so much social interaction today? I swear this bullshit is all happening because you’re reading. I blame you. Screw your mother in the ear with a frog.

   He was one of the many merchandisers that sold their wares in the town center. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what town I was currently in. I moved around so much to keep from holding eyes that it had become impossible to keep track of where I was all the time.

   I nodded politely in his direction and kept on my way. This may have been many others’ opinions of a good morning, but not mine. The clouds loomed overhead, raindrops streamed down my neck from my soaked hair. My drenched clothing presented me with the uncomfortable idea to strip and just walk around naked for the rest of the day. It would be a lot better than carrying a soaked  leather vest over a long white tunic that just adored retaining water without my permission. And the pants… for god’s sake, it felt like my clothing had gained twenty pounds!

  In case you couldn’t figure it out for yourself, I hate drastic weather.S**t a*s Country to live in then, I know.

 “Hey, you look uncomfortable.” The man placed his hand on my shoulder and turned me around. “You know what would make you feel better? This gorgeous hat! Keep the sun out of your eyes and look fancy at the same time.”

  I rolled my eyes, “Sorry, I’m good.”

 “What’s your name? I’m Timothy.” The man force-shook my hand. His skin was wrinkly and he sported a long brown beard that made him look too sophisticated and wise to be selling merchandise, Maybe that was part of the gig?

“Cedric,” I lied. “Look, I don’t want a hat.”

 “Oh, come on!” The man placed the hat on my head, knocking my forehead in the process.

 I took it off and glanced at it. It was a bright magenta with a ridiculous amount of fake feather layering the fabric.

  “Isn’t this a girl’s hat?” I asked.

  “And don’t girls look lovely in them?” He seemed almost too excited, “Buy it for your girlfriend! Surely a handsome lad like you has a pretty lady he could spoil with such fashion.”

  “No.” I placed the hat on top of his head, perhaps with a little more pressure than a kind citizen would.

  “Oh, sorry!” He stumbled back and muttered to himself, “Must be that red hair… the hat would probably do you good.”

 And my arrow through your skull would probably do you good, I thought to myself before turning to walk away.

  “Wait! If it’s love you want then you should read this!” He pulled me over to his cart and shoved a large book into my arms. “If you dream of feelings, here is your answer!”

    I shoved it back into his hands, “Look…I don’t love. I don’t feel. And I don’t read.”

    “Well, now is as good a time as ever to start.” He shoved it back.

    I looked down at the cover. The symbols made my head spin and I could only guess what they said. Realistically, my guess probably wouldn’t have been right…

    “No, I mean… I can’t…” I muttered to myself as he went on a rant about how reading was like candy for the soul and cake for the brain. I’ve tried reading before when I was young, but I never could figure out the symbols. When most young boys played with education enhancing toys, I was protecting my sister. When they went to school, I was killing for money. When they were graduating, I became an infamous murderer. That’s just how I lived.

  I placed the book back onto his cart. That’s when I noticed a small pendant hanging from one of the wooden frames. It showed a black arrow shooting directly through the center of a circular swirl, which I knew for sure was supposed to be mist. This was the symbol of The Black Arrow.  My followers would carry them around as an insult to King Walter and his family. These were worn often by the less extreme followers. I had one on a piece of rope wrapped around my neck, hidden underneath my shirt. They were not legal. I used to find them so cool when I was younger, and so I stole the first one I found. I was becoming famous and at the age of twelve I don’t think I fully understood the life that meant for me; The life of loneliness. But hey, that’s what I asked for.

 The man’s eyes widened, “Sorry, I can’t believe I left that out. It’s not mine, I swear! Please, don’t tell anyone…”

 "Don't-"

 "I know it is illegal to follow any religion besides the Catholic church, but I have a family. A little girl, barely knee high. If you rat me out she will go hungry like the rest of this street." I could practically see his heart beating through his chest, "We just need someone to believe in... you know? Someone other than the King... and... and God will not answer our prayers but with just a few gold and a note in an alleyway, The Black Arrow helps. Maybe not in a way that is socially acceptable-"

   I lifted my hand and motioned for him to shut the hell up. I had heard these rumors before. The Black Arrow was a revolutionary. Someone unafraid to defy the government; inspiring. Of course this was complete horse dung. I enjoyed making money. That was all I ever wanted to do. In my opinion, these were just some cowardly people too afraid to think for themselves. It was an annoyance because this man just didn't shut up about it like everyone else I had met who believed this hypocrisy. The Black Arrow is the answer to all the strife of the people. It was bullshit.

 “Thank you for your time,” I said just before walking away.

  I only made it a few steps before a guard grabbed my arm, “Are you Sebastion Clauss?”

 I blinked. I hadn’t heard that name in so many years I almost forgot I had it. Not going to lie to you, but the very fact that he knew such a name made my heart race like a drunken rat.

 “No,” I ripped my arm away. “My name is Rulf.”

 “Funny. I heard you tell that man just two minutes ago that your name is Cedric.” His voice sounded almost inhuman from inside his metal helmet. In fact, his suit of armor probably weighed more than he did. Simple enough to out-run.

 “I have many names.” I told him, “Now, sir, I’m sorry to waste your time but I must go tend to my mother. She is very ill.”

 “I see. Does one of those names happen to be, Sebastion? Or perhaps…” He leaned down and whispered into my ear, “The Black Arrow?”

  I stepped back. My heart was practically beating out of my chest and I could feel the hair on my arms shoot up like the men in the local strip club. No one had ever accused me before. I braced myself to run, but my body was in shock and refused to move. I tried to make a sound, but words refused to escape my mouth.

  “I’ll take that as a yes?” He asked in the metallic voice his helmet created. “Good.”

  Just then a large sack was pulled over my head and a large pair of hands wrenched my arms behind my back. My body instantly went into fight mode and before I could give my legs the order, my foot jerked up and slammed into the knee of the person behind me. A sharp pain went up my thigh as my foot collided with the steel of a metal suit. I twisted onto my back and ripped free of the guard’s hands. The sack was dark and faded, and you could hear the chatter of citizens gathering around to watch the scene. I almost slipped out when I felt a sharp pain in my hip sending my blood to a boil. I had just been stabbed with something small, but the pain felt like a scythe was peeling off my skin. That is when everything went black.



© 2015 Skai Rain


Author's Note

Skai Rain
I have been offline for a while do to a stalker. One good thing has come of this, I have had enough free time to not only finish, but completely re-write my novel. I have even sent out queries. This is why I ask a big favor, I need the first chapter to be perfect so please critique and pick this chapter apart -- be brutally honest. For every person who helps me out with this I will review three of your works. Thank you so much!

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Reviews

I am sorry but I'm in the third paragraph and I still don't know whats going on- Would you mine slowing down and tell me more about what you are talk about. I know a lot of people here are wanting to support each other but it feels like these days all people want to say is good job. AND yes its not a bad job it's hard to be a writer and its hard to get things on paper- some people never try. I am also sorry you have a stalker problem (Me too) and i am powerful and you are too enough to over come it!

Posted 4 Years Ago


Skai Rain

3 Years Ago

This is a very old story. I appreciate the constructive criticism more than just positive feedback. .. read more
The Coffee Vampire.

3 Years Ago

I am glad I could help. :)
I'm a fan of first-person narration directly addressing the reader in a casual way, which was done very well here. It gives me the feeling that I'm right next to him, like we're in this together. The best example of this was when he asked a passerby about the Black Arrow just to prove a point to me. Great stuff, very cheeky! I lost this feeling at the end, though, maybe you should include a little "you have no idea how much it hurts to be stabbed - well, maybe you do, I won't pretend to know who you are" in the closing paragraph to make sure I'm in that sack with him.

Most of your dialogue (especially the inner dialogue) was great, but a lot of lines were a little blocky. Saying this line out loud feels a bit awkward: "If the guards catch wind there will be trouble." I don't know if you do or not, but reading through everything out loud is a great way to self-edit your dialogue. Instead, a better wording to this might go "If the guards catch on, we'll have trouble".

I'm not sure if the street he was on was supposed to be crowded or not. You've done well in describing who/whatever he's pointedly interacting with, but the scenery needs some love, too. I would assume it was a crowded street, in order for whoever had the sack to be able to sneak up on him.

One last critique: The crazy man blathering about everyone being characters, wirtten by a b***h with no time for teenagers was a tad TOO specific, like you're trying a little too hard to get me to get it. I totally get what you're doing, and appreciate it, but I feel like just leaving it at "we're not real, we're all just characters" does that just fine without losing the integrity of the joke.

I'm being blunt, like you asked, otherwise, I'd call myself nitpicky. I really did enjoy this chapter! The opening scene was great, and really set the tone for the rest of the chapter. You covered the setting and many underlying conflicts very organically, using the narrator's surroundings as a vehicle to narrate the exposition, instead of just giving me a few paragraphs of bland setup. Well done, I'd definitely read more!

Posted 4 Years Ago


Skai Rain

3 Years Ago

Thank you for reviewing me old work and for all your assistance! I will keep all in mind for future .. read more
i seriously enjoy your writing. great stuff yet again. good narrative with the perfect blend of dialogue. just great!

Posted 4 Years Ago


The story has a wonderful start, but one thing bugged me that is which period have you based it on, because some of the expressions seem modern rest give away a medieval impression. If you could work on that it's going to be a treat for the readers. Im already fan of your protagonist :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


I love it!
Well done!
Keep going with it!

Posted 5 Years Ago


LOVE IT!!!!!! I was gripped until the end line! Keep it up xxx

Posted 5 Years Ago


Ooh, talk about an interesting story! Overall, I really enjoyed this first chapter. It is well written, and I think you did an excellent job with writing Sebastion's character. He seems very interesting, and you gave him the perfect amount of frustrated humor to make the chapter all the more enjoyable. If this is the standard for every chapter to come, I can't wait to read the next one!

There were one or two things I noticed though that may need correcting. The first one was a typo in the sentence, "which I could tell with just once glance down the road." You put "once" when you meant to put "one". Also, is this story suppose to be set in the old days(the time between I don't know, 1600-1800?). If so, then I'm not sure the sentence, "You’re all just pawns in a story made to entertain nerdy teenagers!” really works. I'm not an expert, but I don't think that "nerdy" is a word they had back then(If I'm wrong, and you know I'm wrong, I apologize, and just disregard this part of the review). That was about as far as noticeable errors are concerned. I seriously am impressed by how well written this piece is, and if the rest of the chapters are written as well as this one is, I doubt you'll have any trouble getting this published. Go for it, and good luck! :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


Skai Rain

5 Years Ago

Thank you so much for helping with your critiques and I greatly appreciate the compliment. Much appr.. read more
DoormanDan

5 Years Ago

You are welcome :)

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Added on June 17, 2015
Last Updated on June 18, 2015


Author

Skai Rain
Skai Rain

Canada



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My name is Brit and I've been writing since I was about eleven. My skill still isn't magnificent, but that's why I have come to this site. So please give me as much support as you can and I shall do .. more..

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