Chapter 21 - Revelation

When they arrived at Aron's flat, they sat down in the armchairs as always, but today he didn't roll a cigarette, he looked at her seriously. “About Raemur is a problem. He seems seriously upset and I should speak to Ed about it. If our boss doesn't speak a word of power, you're in danger."

Meyja shrugged her shoulders and replied, “He didn't do anything to me, although he would have had the opportunity. I think he just wanted to intimidate me."

"Possible, yes. But I don't want to risk anything, you understand?” he asked worriedly.

Groaning in exasperation, she slapped her forehead and grumbled: “Don't you always worry so much about me. I can defend myself well now."

“I know that, but you can't stop me. Put up with it,” he replied crossing his arms.

She couldn't think of an answer to that either, so she just kept quiet and looked at her knees which she had drawn to her chest.

"I didn't mean to embarrass you yesterday, sorry," Aron muttered after a while.

She just shrugged her shoulders again and put on a meaningless smile. "What do you want to hear now?"

"How about the truth?" he suggested. "Actually, your training is almost complete and I wanted to practice with you how to lie well and hide your identity, but in this respect you have so much ahead of me that I’d have to learn from you rather."

She stared angrily at him and growled, “You have no right to learn anything about me, Aron. If I can't or won't tell anything, you have to come to terms with it. Learn to deal with it, or we've been friends for the longest time.” 

It pained her to say such a thing, but she would be more willing to lose him than give anything away, and make herself vulnerable. Although she had never revealed anything to him, he had known her for more than a year now, and was halfway able to assess her. In spite of all the secrecy, she had never been able to hide the subliminal information about herself, and he had been able to figure something out with regard to her reaction in different situations.

He chose his words accordingly. “I know, Meyja. But at least try to understand me, too – before you run away again. As I told you, I like you, and I believe it’s mutual. Imagine the situation the other way around, and imagine how you would feel, if I didn't tell you about myself. And how you would react, if you discovered marks on me that clearly indicate that I was subjected to physical violence of unimaginable proportions. I know that it must be incredibly difficult for you to open up, and I understand that. But I won't like you any less because of that, let alone use any of it against you. I just want to help you, and be there for you. And I just don't get why you won't let me. What are you afraid of?"

She had remained seated because he had challenged her about running away so often and she wanted to show him that she wasn't a coward. But now she felt the urge to flee all the more and it cost her all strength to defend herself against it.

“I just don't want to have to talk about it, Aron. I like you too, very much. But I just can't do it. And I'm sorry.” What else she should have said in response to this lecture, she didn't know, especially because she knew how right he was about it.

He sighed and mumbled, "It's okay." Then he turned two tubes with more Philos than usual and handed her one.

Meanwhile, Meyja had already poured wine into the cups that were still on the table from yesterday. "Thanks," she said quietly, clinking glasses with him, and lighting her cigarette.

They smoked in silence for a few minutes, and when Meyja was already feeling numb again, she continued, “You know, I would really like to tell you everything about myself, and I would like to be by your side, but in this respect, I am not like all the other women. You can't just touch me and have fun with me. You couldn't even help me with my chest strap without turning it into a drama. I'm just not quite right in my head."

He remained silent for a moment and nodded. “I am aware that you are not like everyone else. That is, among other things, the reason that I like you so much. And I feel that you are very scared and I would like to take it away from you. You trust me to a certain extent – at least I assume so – but not far enough to tell me what it looks like inside you. Instead of giving anything away, you'd rather die, or send me away. But I think I know one thing... someone must have tormented you terribly in the past."

Before he could continue, tears welled up in her eyes, and she nodded. She couldn't tell him what was going on, but her need to at least roughly let him know why he couldn't have her increased significantly because of the Philosopher's herb.
Aron was surprised because he hadn't expected that she would confirm any of his theories. "A man?" he asked softly.

She nodded again and whispered, "My husband.”

Aron, dismayed, covered his mouth with his hands. "You're married?"

"I don't think he's still alive," she replied crying.

“Ed suspected that you lied when you said you were from Northaven. Instead, he assumed that you are Voyneress. Is that right?” he asked further.

After another nod, she said, "But I'm not a traitor."

"How could you? You were a child when the alliance of Destrothos broke up," Aron remarked understandingly and reached for the herb jar again. "Would you like another one, too?"

"Yes, please," she agreed gratefully.

"These are not light tubes, but massive tubes," he said with a low smile and handed her one of the cigarettes.

"Good thing," she mumbled and lit her glow stalk.

They smoked in silence for a minute and when Meyja already felt as if she was floating, Aron asked, "How old were you at your wedding?"

"Thirteen," she replied emotionless. The urge to talk became overwhelming, and she finally began to answer all the questions he had had. “Shortly after I turned thirteen, my parents sold me to a twelve years older man, and they even paid his family to do the marriage. I had to live in his house where he abused and beat me almost every day. After about a year, I was so numbed that I no longer felt pain when he attacked me. So, he started cutting me because I wasn't screaming voluntarily. After six years my brother took me out of there when my husband wasn't home. Shortly afterwards Voynar fell and I fled to Northaven. I stayed there for a while until one day a ship cast off that took me to Easthaven."

Aron had listened startled, now the corners of his eyes were shining, and he blinked a few times. "I'm... I'm so sorry, Meyja," he whispered in a halting voice. “Also, I forced you into this position. If only I had respected your wish and just left you alone. I don't know what else to say about it. I am so incredibly sorry."

The unusually large amount of Philosopher's herb which uninhibitedly clouded her senses made her stand up. "Are you promising me something?" she asked while she held on to the chair, as she could almost no longer stand on her feet.

"Of course," he replied without hesitation, looking up at her. He, too, was so intoxicated that he didn't notice how much she was actually standing next to herself.

"Don't touch me," she mumbled darkly.

Aron nodded vigorously and replied, "I promise."

He hastily covered his eyes as she took off her shirt without warning and turned her back to him at the same time.

"What are you doing?" he exclaimed.

Then she surprisingly sat down on his lap. “Take a look at it. And please be honest. How bad is it?"

Reluctantly, he took his hands from his face and did as he was told. What he saw brought the tears back to his eyes, her back had been badly damaged, the scars stretched across her skin like a pattern of former cuts, and yet it fascinated him in a morbid way.

"Do you believe me when I promise you are still beautiful?" he asked softly, his hands clenched in fists to keep himself from touching her.

Meyja opened her mouth, but she couldn't think of anything to reply to, so she just stayed silent. But inside she noticed again the nervous flutter that almost drove her mad.

Aron continued, “I found you beautiful from the moment I saw you for the first time. Even these scars cannot change that. May... may I touch them?"

"Just the back," she whispered.

When she felt Aron's hands caressing her back lovingly, feeling the marks, she closed her eyes, just kept still and enjoyed his touch.

“They are soft. So tender…" he muttered absently.

Meyja had apparently also opened the button of her pants so that he could see the full extent of her injuries, and the waistband of her silk underwear peeked out from under the loosened leather.

Aron took a deep breath and stammered, "That... what you are wearing... is also beautiful."

She hit her forehead gently, and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “I went to buy clothes today and the traderess talked me into it until I agreed to take these things. I don't usually wear something like that,” she explained embarrassed.

“Still, it's nice. And a little frivolous,” he said with a smile, and took his hands from her again so that she knew that this was not why he had touched her.

She straightened up again, looked at him over her shoulder, and he, too, immediately noticed the amorous fluttering in his stomach. “That's why I usually only wear linen. After all, I'm not a whore,” she replied amused.

“And you have to be a whore for silk?” he asked puzzled.

She yawned before giggling, shaking her head, and saying, “It's not about the material, you silly. It's about the cut."

He shrugged helplessly. “I'm sorry, I have little idea about underwear, and about the kind of underwear for women, even less. But do you want to lie down?” he asked thoughtfully.

Nodding, she tried to get up, but her lack of balance due to the intoxication, and the slipping trousers made her stumble so that he had to catch her.

"Are you okay?" he mumbled worried.

She was laying back on him and he looked up at the ceiling, seeing more of her than he could handle for the moment.

"I'm just so tired..." she whispered absently, a few seconds later she began to snore softly.

'Bloody heck...' he thought.

He had promised not to touch her, but now she was lying half-naked on top of him, and he had no choice but to carefully lift her into his arms and carry her to the bed where he gently laid her down, as he had done before. Her trousers were now hanging in the back of her knees, and the attempt to pull them up again failed, so he pulled them off her legs, carefully loosened her chest strap without looking too closely, and then covered her carefully. Shaking his head, he looked at the sleeping woman in his bed, whom he loved so much, and who repeatedly brought him into such precarious situations. But that was exactly one of the reasons why he no longer wanted to be without her because he appreciated this chaos and the hustle and bustle that she had brought into his otherwise monotonous life.

Although, what she had finally revealed to him that evening had been anything but pleasant, and he would now constantly worry about not getting too close to her, it was no reason for him to simply drop her. He had suffered, too, if not as much as Meyja, but he longed to be around her more than anything else, even if he was never allowed to touch her.

When he undressed himself, he swayed alarmingly, too, but he managed to undress down to his underpants and lie down next to her without falling over, although this time he made sure that there was enough space between them. He was already thinking with a smile on how she had snuggled up against him the last time, he felt her disoriented hands again, and her cool body which snuggled up against him.

"Sleep well," he whispered knowing she couldn't hear him.

Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep too.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 22 - Shame

When Aron woke up the next day, Meyja was still cuddled up next to him, but the sheet had slipped away, and revealed her almost naked body, so that he hastily closed his eyes again.
"Meyja, wake up," he whispered.
She didn't move, just continued to sleep with her head on his shoulder, and her arm across his chest. So, he was forced to lie there, his eyes closed, and enjoying her presence until she rolled over on her back. He looked at her again, and couldn't help but look at her, her flat stomach, and her small, shapely breasts, the slender legs, one of which she had erected. His left arm was still on her neck, and he couldn't get up without roughly waking her, so he stroked her cheek with his right hand, and made another attempt to gently wake her up.
"Good morning sleepyhead. We're late, wake up,” he whispered.
Mumbling, she turned around until she was lying with her back to him, and his gaze fell involuntarily on her bottom, half covered with the silk panties made Aron's cheeks blush.
By all heavens...‘ he thought.
Aron felt the subliminal wish to just touch her, to feel her wonderful body under his fingers, and he was shocked to see that the sight of her had been enough to lift the fabric of his underpants. The hug in front of Ed's shop had also caused his middle to swell annoyingly, but fortunately the leather trousers could hide such impulses so that Meyja hadn't noticed. If she woke up now, however, she would see it, and certainly draw the wrong conclusions, so he tried to calm down, closed his eyes again, and thought of various unpleasant things.
After a few seconds she suddenly moved, sighed, and sat up on her elbows, and Aron put the leg facing her up, hoping to hide his excitement.
She lay down on her stomach and rubbed her face a little disoriented before looking at him and realizing where she was. "What happened?" she asked softly.
"I took on a little too much Philos yesterday evening, I'm afraid," he replied. "And before you get scared... I'm pretty hard right now, so you better not look."
He tried to cover the bump with his hand, but by then Meyja's gaze had flickered down, and she startled up. "Crap, Aron! Why?!” That's when she noticed that she wasn't wearing anything but her silk panties and hastily reached for the sheet.
Aron turned away, and sat on the edge of the bed with his back to her. "Are you serious? Look at you and you will know why! I'm a man, Meyja! Only a dead person would not react if they woke up next to you! And you undressed yourself yesterday! You're embarrassing me, too!" he replied angrily.
Then he got up, and crossed the room to the next room to put some distance between himself and Meyja.
"Wait! You're right and I'm sorry!" she shouted forgetting the sheet and all her shame, and ran after him.
She reached him as he was walking through the door and grabbed his hand.
"Please forgive me," she mumbled embarrassed.
Reluctantly, he turned to her and looked at her. The next moment he lost control, pulled her close, and kissed her passionately on the mouth.
Meyja put her hands on his chest startled, but then she noticed the taste of his lips. She just forgot all concerns, returned the kiss, and pressed against him, even if she felt his centre against her stomach.
Aron let go of her surprisingly quickly, took a step back, and looked down at her in dismay. "I'm... sorry, I didn't mean to..." he stammered shocked.
She didn't know what to say, but when her gaze fell on the huge bulge in his underpants, she instinctively knew how to make this messy situation better. She had been forced so often that she thought she knew what men liked, so she stepped up to Aron again, and kissed him tenderly while her nervously trembling fingers wandered into his underwear, and embraced him.
Aron released the kiss and asked confused, "What... what are you going to do?" His voice trembled with excitement.
"Do you like that?" she whispered, and when he nodded in embarrassment, she went down on her knees in front of him, and revealed his centre.
She paused for a second, then remembered that she was already tainted and the phallus in her hand belonged to none other than the man she was in love with. In addition, she trusted Aron like no one else in the world, and thus knew that nothing could happen to her.
Slowly she moved her head forward, and he held on to the door frame against which he had leaned, panting. His conscience screamed to stop her, but he couldn't. Her caresses felt better than anything he had ever felt before.
"By all..." he exclaimed and groaned softly.
She continued undeterred as he opened his eyes, and looked down. He had been very worried about getting too close to her, even after kissing her he wanted to slap himself for it. But now she knelt before him, and looked up at him, the forbidden fruit that he had not dared to taste. And yet she was just tasting him, one hand around his shaft, and the tip in her mouth.
The sight brought him to ecstasy, and he gently pushed her back when he realised that he could no longer hold on to himself. With a pained groan he discharged himself as he slid down the door frame to the floor. Breathing hard he looked at her and the guilty conscience hit him like a blow.
"Please forgive me..." he whispered and stroked her soiled cheek.
She gently shook her head and said embarrassed, "I was to blame for this situation, so it was the least I could do."
“It's not about guilt at all, Meyja. You don't have to do anything you don't want,” he replied quietly.
“But I wanted to. And I trust you,” she replied.
"It's just that I've put you in a serious position, after all, you've been abused for years," he said sadly.
"Not from you," she objected. "Didn't you like it?"
“Yes, of course. Just look at you," he replied still worried. "It was amazing."
She looked down at herself, and saw that his effusion had hit her upper body, and stomach. "Not that wild," she mumbled and covered her breasts with her arms ashamed.
Aron remembered they had already wasted way too much time and he said shocked, “Don't you have to go? Ed is sure to rip your head off."
"No, he doesn't need me today, I already took care of everything yesterday," she replied and waved him off.
He nodded in relief and asked, “Do you want to stay? I don't have to leave the house till the evening."
"Yes, I would like that," she whispered and lowered her arms again.
The false shame suddenly seemed more than inappropriate, after all, they had just had a very intimate moment with each other, and he had already seen her, so there was nothing more to hide anyway.
He got up and put on his underwear embarrassed before reaching out to her, and helping her up. "Would you like breakfast?" he asked brushing his tangled black hair back from his face.
"Only if it doesn't make any circumstances," she replied cautiously.
"Of course not. But first let me fix this mess,” he said.
Then he took a clean linen towel which he normally used to dry dishes from the shelf behind her and gently wiped the spill from her body.
Meanwhile she looked at him, felt the fluttering in her stomach again, and when he had put the rag aside, she snuggled up against him again.
He put his arms around her, found her lips with his own, kissed her deeply, and at the same time he could hardly believe how close they had actually come.
When she took a breath, he whispered breathlessly, “This moment is just perfect. Nowhere would I prefer to be right here. With you."
"I have to confess something to you, Aron," she replied softly and her cheeks turned bright red. “I think... I fell in love with you. There's this weird tingling sensation in my stomach when you look at me. And I miss you when you are not with me."
"Then you are just like me," he admitted quietly and hugged her tightly. "Since we met on the tree for the first time."
"So long already?" she exclaimed in surprise.
He just nodded, enjoyed her soft skin on his, and her hands which were constantly caressing his back.
“I only wanted to admit it late. One day after we smoked for the first time, I suddenly realised it. Right before Ed warned me about you," she said.
Aron let go of her with a frown and looked at her with cocked head. "He warned you about me? What did he say then?"
“That you would change your friends almost every day. And that nothing is important to you but Crowns and whores," she answered truthfully. 
“Well, in some ways he wasn't lying about it. However, you still have to know something about me. And about the relationship between Ed and me. Just let me prepare something to eat in the meantime, otherwise you will starve to death before I even get there,” he replied with a smile and kissed her again. Then he started frying scrambled eggs and slicing bread while telling, “Ed is like a father to me. My parents died very early and I grew up in an orphanage. At some point I decided it was time to get out of there, so I ran away, and hit the store looking for work with Ed. He let me do the errands you're doing today. I even cleaned, just did anything for a few coins. And Ed was the father to me all these years, whom I never had. We have a very close relationship to this day; I even have to be educated sometimes.” He grinned and pointed at his black. "And as for the Crowns, and the whores... well... Ed just doesn't like the fact that I buy Philosopher's herb because it's very expensive, so that remark is far-fetched. He's true about the whores though, I never held back when it came to women. And when I couldn't find a lady for one night, I used the services of one of the easy girls. In fact, I had a certain reputation in that regard. The whores liked me because I was one of the polite customers, but at some point, I lost interest in them. That was when you came into my life.” Leaning sideways against the stove, he smiled at her, and she felt the tingling in her stomach again.
"Why are you telling me this? You could have just denied it," she said.
He shook his head, pulled the pan off the hearth, and put the finished scrambled eggs on two plates while he replied, "No, that would have been dishonest, and you are far too important to me to even think about lying to you. You are more valuable than anything else and I never want to keep secrets from you."
She looked somewhat embarrassed at her feet. “I don't want to keep any secrets from you either. I just have a past that I can't talk about. These scars... They are part of something very dark that happened to me..."
"But I already know where the scars come from," he replied puzzled.
"What? Where from?” she asked startled.
Aron just left the breakfast and went to her before he answered, “From you. You told me last night."
"Oh dear." Her nose went a little pale.
"All right. I just thought you remembered. But it was really too much Philos that I put on you,” he replied with an apologetic smile.
"Looks like it, yeah..." she said softly. "What exactly did I tell you?"
“That at thirteen you were married against your will to an older man who abused and beat you. After six years your brother has you…" Aron began, but then he had to pause, and take a deep breath because tears welled up in his eyes, and he didn't want to cry.
"It's okay. You don't have to repeat it. But that's the short version, yes," she confirmed and hugged him comfortingly. “I didn't mean to burden you with it. I feel good today. And I haven't felt as good as I do now in what felt like an eternity. In my whole life I have never been as happy as at this moment."
He returned the hug and smiled at her. "For real?"
She nodded and huddled against his chest. "You're the first man I wouldn't want to run away from screaming," she remarked with a giggle.
“Well, in a way, I feel the same way. At least when it comes to feelings. I never loved the women in whose bed I lay. But with you everything is different...“ he whispered and hugged her tightly.
Meyja's heart pounded when he indicated that he felt love because for her it was a huge word and she was far from sure, if something like love for someone other than her brother would ever be felt in her suspicious heart.
They lay in each other's arms for a few minutes and petted each other cautiously when Meyja looked up and said, "The breakfast..."
Aron laughed softly. “Are you still hungry? I can fry eggs again if you want."
“You don't just have to do it for me. I also eat that stuff cold,” she laughed.
"Me too," he replied with a grin and went to get the two plates.
Then he put on something decent, sat down in the armchair across from each other and ate the cold scrambled eggs while he laughed incessantly because of the chaotic situation in which they were once again.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 23 - Touch

They spent the whole day together, only in the early afternoon did they go to the Workshop together where Meyja picked up her new shirts and linen underwear from the laundry then they made themselves comfortable in Aron's apartment in the armchairs, talked, and smoked weed until it got dark.
"May I ask you something else?" Aron mumbled hesitantly at some point and she nodded. He took a drag on his cigarette and asked further, "Have you ever touched yourself, Meyja?"
"Touched myself?" she repeated, frowning.
A little embarrassed, he tried to explain, "Well... by caressing yourself until you come?"
"Come? Where to? You speak in riddles..." she replied confused.
He writhed inwardly because he had never intended to address this subject so openly, since it was mostly unnecessary, but now he didn't want to leave her in the dark either. “When a man comes, he pours his semen. It's not that obvious with a woman, but women can come, too. You just call it that. When you reach a physical climax, it feels incredibly beautiful. Either by touching yourself, or by sharing the bed with someone,” he explained patiently.
“No, I never touched myself. And when I shared the bed with him, I always felt pain, and disgust. There was absolutely nothing nice about that,” she muttered.
"I'm very sorry," he said sadly, but then hurried on so as not to ruin the mood again. “It is one of the most beautiful feelings there is, if not the most beautiful of all. When you earlier... well... when I came, it was the most incredible feeling I ever had because it was you with whom I was allowed to experience it."
“But it wasn't nice. And certainly not the nicest feeling there is,” she replied confused.
"That may be because he was a filthy rapist, and not someone you like," he said.
Meyja sat up with a frown and asked, “Aron, do you want to persuade me to do some things with you out of curiosity? Looking for a feeling that I don't know, just because I like you, and you want to use me?"
“You wouldn't trust me to do that, would you? Meyja, I would never do that!” he shouted shaken. "I've never loved a woman as much as you, so why should I do this to you?"
"I'm sorry... This topic is just confusing and I don't know about this. I don't know anything about lust, or highlights, or anything,” she replied meekly and suddenly felt incredibly stupid.
“It's okay, I can understand you. Let's not argue about this please. I'm just afraid of putting you in any situation that you could blame me for that's why I asked," he apologized and stood up when she was silent. “I'm hungry and I would like to get something to eat. Do you want something, too? "
"As long as you promise not to worry," she replied with a nod.
"I promise, Your Highness," he replied with a grin, bowed, and went into the next room laughing.
Meyja lounged in the armchair, put her legs over the armrest, and thought about what Aron had just said. It would never have occurred to her to touch herself; her body had become so strange to her when her breasts began to grow, and she had noticed the dark hair in her lap. When she bled for the first time, she really didn't want to touch herself down there any more, she had even found washing uncomfortable, she had disgusted herself so much. Fortunately, the bleeding soon stopped, and since then she had been able to make friends a little more with herself.
In her growing curiosity, she undid the button of her trousers, and slipped her hand in under the waistband of her silk underwear to her lap. She began to feel herself with her eyes closed, exploring for the first time what was between her legs when she was twenty. Aron had spoken of caressing, so she caressed herself hesitantly, but she felt absolutely nothing.
"Oh, sorry," said Aron who had just come back through the door and hastily turned around. "The food is ready. Should... should I wait for it?"
She had been so focused that she hadn't even noticed him, but now she had ripped her hand out of her pants, hurriedly closed the button, and sat up with a bright red head.
"No, no. I'm sorry," she muttered and looked down at her knees embarrassed. "I was only curious."
Aron looked briefly over his shoulder before turning back to her and putting a bowl of soup in front of her. "Do not worry. It's far from bad to see. But surprising and disturbing someone is a bit uncomfortable.”
She could see that he, too, had blushed. "You couldn't see anything and you didn't bother me either because I didn't feel anything," she replied and giggled in embarrassment.
"Not? Well, that's... a shame... I don't know…" he stammered and smacked his forehead laughing. “You keep bringing me into such strange situations that I am simply speechless. And I'm usually very quick-witted and am having the gift of gab."
"Forgive me," she apologized and grabbed the bowl.
"All right. Enjoy it,” he replied with a smile.
She nodded and replied, “Thank you. Bon Appetit."
After trying, he remarked: "Oh dear... I really can't cook."
"I can't do better," she said with a giggle.
“Our talents lie elsewhere. So be it,” he muttered and grinned.
Played thoughtful she frowned and teased, "So? Where are your talents?"
He snorted into his soup and replied in a dark voice, "Maybe I'll show you someday…"
She immediately turned bright red again and mumbled, “I don't know how to understand that. But I do without for the time being, I think."
“At least until I come back, you have to go without it. You'd better stay here because of the Raemur affair, but I'm afraid I'll have to leave you alone for about an hour. An order is waiting,” he apologized and slurped the last of the soup out of the bowl.
"Do you need help?" she wanted to know and started to get up.
He waved it off, put the bowl on the table, and replied, “No, that would be too dangerous. But I promise it won't take me long.” Then he got up, armed himself, and put on his boots.
She let herself sink back into the upholstery. “Okay. Take care of yourself and good luck."
"As always. Don't open the door to anyone until I'm back.” He winked at her again and left the flat.
Standing at the window, she watched him walk down the street at night, just before he disappeared from view, he turned around, and threw her a kiss. She returned the gesture, and sauntered over to the bed where she undressed and lay down on her back.
With Aron's pillow behind her head, and his scent in her nose, she let her hands slide over her naked body, touched her breasts, and caressed them gently. She found that they felt good, even if the left was a little bigger than the right. Before her fingers reached her lap, she paused for a moment, reached for the sheet, and covered herself because she did not know when Aron was returning, and did not want him to see her immediately, should he surprise her with what she was up to now. A little hesitantly she moved her hand over her pubic area and first felt the outside before she spread her legs, and ran a finger between the soft labia. As she touched her pearl, she instinctively realised that this was a point that felt good, and she began to rub gently.

Aron knocked on the door and waited impatiently for steps to approach. When he was about to hammer again on the wood, the entrance was torn open.
"What is it?" Raemur growled annoyed, but when he recognised Aron, his expression brightened. "You're the one. Always walked in.” He closed the door behind his guest, sat down with him at the table, and offered him something to drink, but Aron declined with thanks.
“I don't plan to stay long. Actually, I just wanted to do one thing… tell you to leave Meyja alone,” Aron said impatiently.
"So? Just say you won our little bet,” Raemur exclaimed in disbelief.
Aron closed his eyes for a moment, and was ashamed when Raemur reminded him that he had acted like an asshole in a rush of madness. The two men had secretly made the bet shortly after the meeting in the store when Meyja had asked to get another teacher.
Raemur had challenged him by saying that it was his turn now, and that he would surely have greater success with 'the little one' than Aron. The man in turn had felt attacked in his manhood and bet that he would manage to get Meyja into bed before Raemur.
When Aron was silent for a second too long, Raemur tore his eyes open. "You fucked her, didn't you?"
"No, I have not. But she's mine and you leave her alone from now on, get it? No attacks, no suggestive looks, and no threats,” said Aron angrily.
Raemur smiled. “You know the rules, Aron. As long as you haven't been in bed with each other, she doesn't belong to you either, and I still have the chance to win."
“You lost, and even if nothing had happened… that stupid bet is void. Keep your money, but keep your dirty fingers off of her,” Aron replied angrily.
"Only if you tell me what you've done to her," Raemur replied firmly and crossed his arms over his chest.
Aron sighed softly. "Just let it be okay, please."
Raemur laughed and poured schnapps into two glasses, one of which he pushed over to Aron. “Well, come on. After all, I want to know what we're toasting to."
Shaking his head, Aron rejected him, and was silent with a sombre expression on his face.
"If you haven't fucked her, it must be something else..." Raemur mused aloud then his face brightened even more. "How does she taste?"
“Raemur, finally stop. I beg you,“ Aron replied, pushed his glass against Raemur’s, and drank it off in one gulp. “I didn't touch her. Think of the rest."
With a low scream, Raemur hit his knee. “So, she gave head. Was it good?"
Aron burped loudly and laughed. "Shit, what kind of stuff was that? Usually I can take more…"
"Well, tell me. Better than Iryna?” Raemur asked and ignored Aron's question completely while he sipped his schnapps.
"Forget Iryna." Aron giggled exuberantly. He had overdone himself and felt unusually drunk which was not at all good when he went straight back to Meyja and obviously hadn't just done one job as claimed.
"Insanity. Now I'm honestly jealous, brother,” remarked Raemur in awe. “Better than Iryna, a woman has to do it. Whores do nothing else for half the day and have practice."
"Don't talk so derogatory, that's downright disgusting," growled Aron. "You'd better help me get sober again, after all you filled me up and I have to be back right away."
"She is waiting for you? Is she in your apartment, or are you going to see her? What did you tell her?” Raemur whispered amused. "Let me guess... you made her believe you had a job to do, didn't you?"
“Yes, she is in my flat and is waiting for me there. I said it would only take me an hour to kill a guy," Aron admitted. "And now finally stop before I lose my mind."
But Raemur didn't even think about it. "She's probably lying completely naked in your bed and you're sitting here with me instead of... damn it, just the idea if she'd be waiting for me without a piece of cloth..." He whistled softly through his teeth.
“She's guaranteed not to lie naked in my bed, but rather she smokes all of my Philos on her own. And so that I have an excuse for this shit, you come with me now. Then you can apologise for your threat and say you stopped me,” Aron growled and pulled Raemur up by the arm. “But not a word about Iryna. I haven't seen her for over a year."
Together they made their way to Aron's flat who was getting increasingly nervous and was constantly wondering whether it was a good idea to have taken Raemur with him.
When they arrived, he whispered. “Be decent, and honestly apologise, I mean it. If you don't pull yourself together, you'll get one too.” He pointed to his black eye then unlocked the door and looked around for Meyja.
She was neither in bed nor sat in one of the armchairs, there was no trace of her in the next room either, and her daggers and boots were gone.
"So much for that," remarked Raemur dryly.
Fear germinated in Aron, he went to all the windows, but these were still tightly closed, so she must have gone through the door. Finally, under the metal box, he discovered a scrap of parchment with two words on it.
City wall
"Crap, what does that mean?" Aron scolded confused.
Raemur looked over his shoulder. “City wall. Can you not read?"
"You idiot. I see that, too. But the city wall is infinitely long and what part of the damn wall does she mean? On top, or at the foot of it? We've never been there together and I have no idea how to find her. Damn shit," Aron continued to moan.
“Then we'll just look together. Maybe I can find one or the other of the men,” suggested Raemur.
“You try Eralion, Thom, and Sully. The others will be out somewhere for sure. I'm on my way and start looking," answered Aron and locked the door.
When they stepped out into the street, Aron put his hand on Raemur's shoulder. "Thank you, brother."
Then he ran away, and Raemur strolled calmly down the alley in the direction of the Old Town, back to his flat.
Despite the vague news, Aron still checked the room in the Drunken Beggar to which he could easily gain access with a lock pick, but there was no sign of Meyja either. However, he did see the silk panties hanging over the chair, and her bag, so she probably hadn't left the city. A little calmer than before, he considered where he might get on the wall, and after he had thought of a possible possibility, he left the inn, and hurried away through the streets.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 24 - Tobacco

Meyja blew the smoke that had just filled her lungs into the pleasantly cool night air and looked down at the city into which she had so desperately tried to get. Sharaya was only really beautiful at night, but during the day the streets were overcrowded and noisy, and it was not just in the gutter at the foot of the mountain that it stank terribly.
Still, she didn't know where else to go, to take a step across the border to Destrothos was almost like suicide, and she didn't know any other towns and villages in Abarglen, so only the capital of Jevarish remained. Even if she had felt at home in Northaven, her chances of building something up there had been vanishingly slim.
Here in Sharaya, she had a roof over her head, was able to buy food, and clothing with the coins Ed paid her, and she worked ambitiously to become an assassin. All in all, she was happy with the chances she had – but not with herself.
It had been sheer curiosity when she touched herself, but after realising the feeling she had also become aware of some things. Something was wrong with her. She had felt lust and also a hot desire for Aron which shook her deeply. Had he been around, she would surely have offered herself to him, which, in her opinion, would hardly have been sensible. Of course, she liked Aron, and was in love with him, but she wasn't ready to become one of his achievements.
He, on the other hand, had already put the word love into his mouth and she had completely misunderstood it. She trusted him on a friendly, emotionally distant level, but when it came to more what had been done to her made her not only suspicious, but downright paranoid.
She just couldn't shake off her fear that he just wanted to get her into bed, and she would like to scourge herself for it because she had already satisfied him without thinking about it properly.
But only the realisation that a feeling that other people perceived as breathtakingly wonderful and beautiful caused her such discomfort, had led to her running away again. With her past, she would certainly never be able to live a normal, fulfilling, and happy life, thanks to her parents and Ethan.
Not only her back was marked by the terrible experiences that had started in her childhood and now extended into her adulthood. But now she could finally run away when she felt the urge to give in to it for the first time in her life. Even if she had at least left a message this time so that Aron didn't worry too much and knew where to find her.
And now she was sitting on the city wall and smoking simple cigarettes because she didn't know where to get her own philosopher's herb, and she probably wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway. And yet she enjoyed the freedom she had because she could go where she wanted, run away whenever she wanted, and surround herself with the people she valued.
And the simple tobacco and the cheap schnapps weren't that bad either.
She looked up when she saw someone next to her, but contrary to what she expected, it wasn't Aron who stepped next to her.
"You?" asked the dark-haired man in amazement and looked at her in astonishment.
Her look was no less surprised because it was the Voynarian who had saved her life when she arrived in Sharaya, even if she had forgotten his name. But this time he wasn't wearing shiny armour but street clothes like ordinary men.
"I could ask you that as well," she mumbled cautiously before throwing the cigarette from the wall and getting up.
"As I can see, you have taken my advice to heart, and adapted yourselves to the southern rabble here," whispered the guard and looked around briefly, but there was no one around who could have heard him. "But only as far as the external appearance is concerned, I hope."
She just ignored his words. “Thank you for not betraying me. Back then at the gate.“ Meyja sat down next to him after he was simply taking a seat on the wall.
He smiled unfathomably. "After all, we have to stick together so we can get back to our home someday, don't we?"
"Is that why you're here?" she wanted to know.
With a gentle shake of his head he explained, “No, it was rather the events in the Ice Lands that forced this decision on me. And as a major in the Sharaya City Guard, there are opportunities for me to do something for the Kingdom of Voynar, such as saving you. What are your names?"
"Blake. In Voynar I was called Eadda, but I've taken on the name Meyja now. And you?” she replied.
"They call me Darius Bryce here, but my name is actually Cayden Kavanagh," he replied with a smile.
“Kavanagh? Are you... are you... the son of King Roarke Kavanagh?” she stammered aghast.
“I am. And you're the daughter of Faegan Blake, aren't you?” Kavanagh asked back.
She just nodded with her mouth open before pulling herself together and humbly bowing her head. "I had no idea. Forgive me, Your Highness," she mumbled embarrassed.
He laughed softly. "Stop it. Just call me Darius, that's enough."
“Alright, Darius. I'm Meyja,“ she introduced herself a little cautiously and considered whether she should offer him her hand.
Cayden made the decision for her by holding out his while she gently nudged his shoulder with her shoulder, the way they do in the north.
"Well, we should refrain from doing that from now on, not that anyone can see us." Then he nodded grinning with his chin in her direction and asked, "Do you still have cigarettes?"
"Of course," she answered hastily, took the tobacco, and the fine rolling paper out of her pocket, and rolled two cigarettes, one of which she handed to Cayden who sighed, and thanked her.
"The men in the barracks always pretend they don't smoke secretly just because I'm their superior and they're afraid that I might chastise them," he explained amused and lit his glowing stick before he lit Meyja, too. "And since I'm too clumsy myself to roll some myself, I usually get nothing."
“A friend showed me a simple trick that makes it very easy. Look here,” she said and demonstrated.
He raised his eyebrows in amazement and when he tried it himself he made it on the first try. "A wonder. And I was already thinking that I was completely free of talent,” he said with a chuckle and took a leisurely puff on the still smouldering cigarette.
"May I ask you something?" she began carefully.
"Go ahead. Please don't treat me differently just because I told you who I am. Unless I'm wearing my armour, then of course you have to salute,” he replied with a wink.
“I was aware of that. I'm silent like a grave and nobody will find out a word from me,” she whispered. "But please tell me how did you get those dark eyes?"
“There are eye drops that colour the iris dark. I don't know, if I'll ever get the blue back, but right now my survival is more important than the colour of my eyes,” he said. "I can't see your eyes in this darkness right now, but they were a very dark blue, do I remember correctly?"
She nodded. "Yes, they are more like water than ice."
“You are in no great danger with that. Your red hair was overly noticeable,” he muttered and flicked his cigarette butt from the wall. Then he lit the glow stick that he had rolled himself and grimaced. “You can do better than that. I still have to practice a little, it seems to me."
"Give it to me." When he handed her his cigarette, she took a drag on it. "Put in a little more tobacco and screw it in harder, then you'll be perfect."
“What are you doing to earn yourself in Sharaya? You don't sell tobacco, do you?” he asked amused.
Meyja gently shook her head. “No, far from it. At the moment I'm still running errands, but I was trained on the side. If all goes well, I'll soon be an assassin."
He raised his eyebrows in amazement. “You are cutting, Meyja. A strong girl, as befits a Voyneress. What do you kill with?"
She pulled one of her daggers from her back and showed it to Cayden before putting her weapon back away. “I have two of them and a stiletto in my boot. But the blades have never tasted blood, I'm not that far,” she admitted.
The tower clock struck midnight and Cayden jumped up quickly. “Damn it, I'm late. But I come here every other evening at the same time as today, maybe we'll see each other again, and smoke together once more,” he said goodbye with a wink then disappeared over the edge of the wall down.
Cayden Kavanagh made an appointment with a budding criminal in the enemy's capital, she could hardly believe it. And she could understand even less that she liked him, after all, he was the son of the man who had driven the Ares to the edge of the Ice Lands. She would have wanted to ask him so many more questions, but now she had unfortunately not gotten around to it which meant that she would have to meet him again.
But she had to worry about that on another day because Aron just climbed up to her and let himself fall next to her.
"Are you alright? Who was that?” he asked breathlessly and looked at her worriedly.
She nodded briefly. “I'm fine, don't worry. He was a city guard and he wanted a cigarette. Do you want one, too?"
Aron just nodded confused and Meyja rolled two cigarettes which she lit and handed him one of them.
They smoked in silence for a few minutes while he stared at her, trying not to show how upset he actually still was.
"What am I to you, Meyja?" he quietly asked.
"My teacher and my best friend," she replied puzzled. "Why do you ask?"
He struggled inside, she could see it and when he looked up again, and found hers, she recognised pain in it. “Because I ran halfway through the city looking for you. Finally, I find you sitting around with some guy who also belongs to the city guard, and you call me someone you know in front of him," he whispered with suppressed anger in his voice.
"You eavesdropped on us?!" she exclaimed louder than intended.
Aron nodded. “At least briefly. From the moment he begged you for a cigarette."
"I just didn't want to reveal too much about you, that's all," she grumbled a little indignantly.
“But you reveal that you are about to become an assassin? Do you know that that's why I would have to kill you, Meyja? If Ed knew about it..." he replied and covered his face with his hands.
“I'm sorry, Aron. But I know something about him that would be even more deadly, if it ever was revealed,” she replied.
When Aron took his hands off his face, she saw that he was crying. "That's not what it is about. At first you disappeared and I'm looking for you for half an eternity. Then I'll find you with some bastard who obviously makes you look good. You tell him the most secrets that you could have given away, and, last but not least, you also meet up with each other."
“But he's not some bastard by all heavens. Do you think otherwise I would have told him what I said? Do you really think that I would talk to someone who happened to walk along about something like that?” she hissed.
"Oh, excuse me. He's not just any bastard, he's a Voynarian bastard. That changes the situation, of course,” he replied scornfully.
Meyja got up abruptly. “It's enough. See you tomorrow. Either to practise or I come to my execution. Think about it. Good night."
"Now don't run away again..." he grumbled, but by then she had silently jumped down from the wall, and disappeared around a corner of the Old Town.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 25 - Blood

Aron got up and because he wasn't brave enough to just jump from the four-meter-high city wall like Meyja, he climbed down and ran after her. She walked briskly, and he only reached her five streets away when she was just heading for the entrance of the Drunken Beggar.
"Wait, please," he whispered to her and grabbed her shoulder to turn her around.
Her fist hit him in the face and he let go of her with a groan. "I said you shouldn't touch me!" When she saw blood gushing out of his nose, she covered her mouth with her aching hand. "That... I didn't mean... I'm sorry."
"Are you feeling better now, at least?" he asked in a nasal voice and lifted his shirt to stop the bleeding.
She just nodded silently and looked at his bare belly before hesitantly running her fingers over it, she didn't know why exactly she did that, but she couldn't help it, he was just too handsome, even if his face was smeared with blood right now.
"Meyja, what the..." Aron began confused.
He was cut short when she pressed her mouth greedily over his and kissed him demanding while she pressed against him. His skin was so soft and warm just like his lips and his own taste mixed with the metallic blood almost drove her crazy.
"Wait..." he wanted to protest, but she paid no attention to him, instead pulling him backwards towards the door of the Drunken Beggar, still pounding his mouth with kisses.
Meyja pushed the door open, and Aron lifted her onto his hips so she clung to him with arms and legs while he carried her up the stairs. Those present in the guest room who cheered them on, they didn’t even notice. The room wasn't locked, and they stumbled in, finally stopped, and Aron kicked the door so that it fell shut before he paused and freed himself from Meyja.
"What are you going to do?" he whispered nervously.
Instead of an answer, he got another kiss and her fingers unbuttoned his pants, which made him realise what she was up to.
Again, he pushed her away, and looked at her seriously before he asked gently, “Are you in your right mind? Do you know what you're about to do?” He didn't even wait for her answer, but rather hastily lit the lamp on the table before looking at her again.
Her big blue eyes met his gaze and he realised that she knew exactly what she was doing. His blood was on her face, but he didn't care that only made her more attractive than ever.
His fingers trembled with excitement as he slowly pulled the shirt off her head and for the first time was able to look openly at her. The leather belt framed her contours and accentuated her small firm bosom which he gently touched before bowing his head and kissing her nipples.
Meyja gasped with relish and reached into his tangled hair while she surrendered to his touch, and felt wetness seep into her underwear.
He picked her up again and carried her to the bed where he set her down, took a step back, and first stripped off his shirt before he pushed down his already open pants and underwear.
Her breath caught at the sight of his muscular, naked body, which was adorned here and there with a stain of his blood. Even if she had already seen him undressed, and even touched him, at that moment she realised again how handsome he was, and how much she wanted him. His towering centre and the also bloody lips for which she was responsible.
He pulled her boots off her feet, knelt in front of her on the bed, and slowly undid the button of her pants before he pushed the leather down over her slender legs, and looked at her again.
"You are so beautiful..." he whispered.
She smiled and answered quietly, "You are no less beautiful, Aron."
He propped himself up on one hand over her and gently stroked her breasts and belly down where he repeatedly stroked the wet silk fabric that separated him from her lap with two fingers. When she sighed softly and expressed her favour and repeatedly held out her pelvis to him, he also pulled off her underwear over her thighs, and looked at her delicate only slightly overgrown pubic area.
She could feel his hand trembling when he gently touched her, but he didn't let go of her, instead moving the tip of his finger up, and down until she winced with a loud moan.
Then he gently stroked her pearl which she honoured by pulling him close until he leaned over her and pressed his lips to hers.
She caressed his broad chest, ran one hand back to his back, and ran her nails over his skin which sent a pleasant shiver down his back while her other hand wandered down, and grasped his shaft. Contrary to her expectation, it also was damp when she carefully began to rub it. With one arm wrapped around his neck and continuing to rub his penis gently with the other hand, she kissed him again, and felt his tongue gently pushing between her lips, and into her mouth. At the same time, he dipped one finger into her, and she groaned in a suppressed way while the tip of her tongue played around his, and his taste made her even more hungry to finally feel him, her lap pressed impatiently against his hand.
"Relax," he whispered.
She nodded briefly and took a deep breath while she smiled at him with embarrassed flushed cheeks, he winked at her then his lips found hers again.
Linked in another demanding kiss, he knelt between her legs, took his hard member in his hand, and gently penetrated her with the tip.
Meyja gasped for air and wrapped her legs around him, so he slowly pushed himself deeper until he filled her. He watched her carefully to notice immediately if he hurt her, but she was visibly enjoying it, and hugged him, so he began to move gently.
She almost couldn't believe how good he felt, clinging to him, and at the same time hugging her own lust which she had been so afraid of before. Now she actually slept with Aron and it was even more beautiful than she had ever dreamed, more beautiful than he could describe it in words. With every further movement it felt even more wonderful than before and before Meyja could even grasp it, she climaxed with a drawn out, tortured sound.
When she looked up at Aron disoriented, he smiled happily, and kissed her lovingly on the forehead. Then he withdrew from her and rolled over onto his back in a powerful, flowing motion, taking her with him so that she was sitting on top of him. 
She puckered her blood-encrusted nose for a moment then felt for his phallus and sank down on it with a sigh. Supported with both hands on his chest, she began to ride him, moved along him, and immediately felt the intense feeling again which made her speed up.
Aron memorised the delighted expression on her face while he caressed her thighs and cupped her bottom with both hands. When the tension increased in his midst, announcing that he would no longer be able to hold it, he pressed her hard on his loins again, and poured his semen into her, groaning loudly, and convulsively. Meyja, too, carried away by the force of his ejaculation, gave another light sigh, and then lay down on his chest, breathing heavily, and sweating.
He also wrapped his arms around her breathlessly, hugged her briefly, and stroked her back which rose and fell rapidly.
"How are you now?" he asked quietly.
She was silent for a moment then lifted her head and smiled at him embarrassed. "I've never felt better," she whispered and kissed him deeply.
He kissed her back before mumbling blissfully, "I'm very happy to hear... really..." Then he gave her a tight hug.
"Does it still hurt a lot?" she asked depressed and looked at his nose.
Fortunately, it hadn't broken, but the blow had been hard, and he had bled heavily which is why Meyja's face was crusted reddish brown.
"What do you think? Of course, it hurts, but it was absolutely worth it,” he replied with an amused chuckle. "Besides, you're gorgeous with blood on your face."
She stuck her tongue out at him ashamed then pressed another deep kiss on his lips and slid down from him to lie down next to him.
"That was amazing," she breathed with a smile and covered her mouth with one hand. In the next moment she began to sob and Aron took her tenderly in his arms.
"Is everything okay?" he asked worried.
She nodded and wiped her eyes impatiently before saying in a husky voice, "I'm just so relieved and happy that I can hardly believe it."
Then she got a crying fit and he just held her in his arms while he kept stroking her back.
Minutes later, when she was finally able to speak again, she mumbled, "I'm sorry. It's just a lot of incredible feelings at once. I've never felt anything so beautiful before."
"It's the same for me," he whispered with a grin and hugged her tightly again. Then he sighed and remarked dryly. "I didn't even know that you had such a cosy room."
She giggled softly. "If you want to, and there is no more job waiting for you, we can go straight to your flat."
He nodded briefly. "Gladly. Just give me a minute, I have to get rid of the blood."
She watched him with a guilty feel as he got up and went to the wash tub where he carefully washed his nose and then winked at her.
“Don't look so sad, I've had much worse injuries. And as I said, it was worth it," he whispered with a smile and pulled her from the bed to her feet.
"Oh," she mumbled softly and looked down to see where it was starting to drip from her centre.
Aron hit his forehead. "Damned. If we're not careful, we will become unplanned parents."
"Don't you have to bleed every now and then to be able to conceive a child?" she asked with a frown.
"I'm not a woman, but I think so," he replied thoughtfully. “Even if it's safer to pull it out first, there are certain rules that men tell each other. So many days after the bleeding... so be it. But how do you even come up with it? Aren't you bleeding?"
"No, not more. I bled for the first time when I was eleven years old, but it stopped after about a year,” she said with a shrug.
Aron looked at her worried. “That sounds anything, but healthy. Bleeding at the age of eleven seems pretty early to me. Perhaps you should consult one of the healing priests in the High City, not that it’s something serious.” He sat back on the edge of the bed, and pulled her with him.
“That doesn't work, I might give myself away. It was common practice in Voynar to give young girls tea before marriage so they could reach sexual maturity earlier. At least that was the case in the upper classes of society. But it can lead to the fact that at some point you just stop bleeding. Many girls had long since given birth to several children, so it was hardly noticed, and was not a problem in most families,” she explained quietly.
“Did I hear you right? In your home country it was the order of the day to give little girls tea, so that they could be married off earlier, and the subsequent assaults would result in offspring?” Aron repeated in disbelief.
Meyja nodded sadly. “Among the aristocrats, yes. I don't know how it was with ordinary people, but in those circles that included my family, that was quite normal. Wife training began early and was never completed. The longer a girl was at home with her parents, the more expensive it became for the family because you had to pay the teachers."
"It almost sounds like you're defending this shit," he muttered stunned.
“No, I never would. I've only been allowed to hear often that I would be Voynar's most expensive girl, if I once again didn't do what I should. That's why I know so well. My parents also had to pay a large sum of gold just to find a husband for me. A lot of families weren't interested because I was so rebellious, and I took advantage of that for a long time, so I didn't have to get married,” she continued. “I didn't understand all the connections until much later, but today I know that no one in Voynar was of as little value as the girls who were born into aristocratic circumstances. And yet... you know... I don't care, even if I can't carry a child anymore. I could never imagine becoming a mother, and in any case no child would fit into the life I am working towards."
He looked at her for a long time and when he realised that she was telling the truth, he took her in his arms and hugged her again. "I'm so sorry for you that you had to experience all of this," he whispered sadly.
She pulled away from him, smiled into his eyes, and gently stroked his cheek. “Thank you for your compassion, but now I am fine. I feel downright fantastic because I've never been so free and happy as I am with you right now."
Aron kissed her long and deeply again before they got dressed and went to his flat where the tin of fragrant weed was waiting for them. The people in the drunken beggar's guest room applauded them as they went down the stairs arm in arm, but the two just laughed exuberantly and walked off together through the dark alleys of Sharaya.

Chapter 26 - Anger

The next morning Meyja woke up when Aron got up quietly and went into the next room. She lay on her stomach and watched him come back with a bottle of water. 

She still couldn't believe what had happened yesterday, but she saw him and he was naked, so she hadn't just dreamed. After they returned to Aron's apartment, he had satisfied her again, only with the help of his tongue, and that time she had enjoyed it beyond measure, too.

He stopped by the bed, looked down at her with a smile, and examined her body before he said softly, “Good morning."

"Also, good morning. I couldn't miss this sight," she remarked with a grin and winked at him.

"The sight of me?" Aron frowned down at himself, shook his head jokingly in disgust, and then looked again at Meyja's naked body which despite the scars was more beautiful than anything he had seen before. “If only you could see yourself laying there. You're incredibly beautiful.” He crouched down in front of her and kissed her lovingly.

"Even though my back looks so horrible?" she asked seriously.

"I don't care, you are still beautiful, Meyja." He kissed her again. “What I would give for never having to leave these four walls again. But it's getting late and Ed doesn't like to wait. Otherwise, he’ll spank my buttocks."
Laughing, he got up again, and emptied half of the bottle in one gulp then passed it on to Meyja who got up and drank, too. When she had put the water bottle aside, he pulled her close, and gave her a big hug.

A long kiss later he whispered, "Shall we keep Ed waiting a little longer? What do you mean?"
Meyja nodded with a smile and Aron gently pushed her back onto the bed then they made love intensely for the third time.

At some point, after they were finally able to break away from each other, they quickly got dressed, and made their way to their boss together.

Arriving in front of the store, Aron kissed her again. "We'd better try to keep it a secret from Ed, it sure wouldn't amuse him. After the warning he gave you, it would be the wisest."

"I agree. Hopefully we'll escape his perception,” Meyja nodded.

Aron was right, and at the same time Meyja's hope was disappointed because when Ed saw the two, he knew immediately.

"You two! Backwards!” he ordered gruffly.

They went into the back room while Ed locked the shop door, Meyja looked fearfully at Aron.

He nodded to her and took her hand before whispering, "Don't be afraid, I'll be with you."

Ed swept through the curtain and stood up in front of them as best his small size would allow. "What do you guys actually think?! Not only are you two fucking now! No! That's one of the reasons why you're too late! The delivery for Sid should have been with him long ago! Didn't I warn you about Aron, Meyja?! Where would we be if everyone did what they wanted! Come on, girl! Take the package and run! To Sid, are you listening?!"

Annoyed, Ed threw a package into the arms of the young woman, and chased her through the curtain, but she could still catch a last look at Aron. He looked calmly at his boss and winked at her.

She could hear Ed shouting as she stepped out into the street. “And you went even further, Aron! Do something like that again and you can find another fool to pass the orders on to you! Up! You live to see something!"

Then the shop door closed behind her and with a bad feeling in her stomach she hurried off into the Old Town.

Sid was upset, too, but not nearly as much as Ed and she could just wrap him around her finger with an exaggerated apology and a smile. When she got back on the street, she was still worried about Aron. Their mutual boss was often in a bad mood, but she had never been afraid of him, whereas Aron just didn't seem to have worried about the outburst of anger.

Today the earth shook under Ed for the first time and Meyja hoped Aron would still be there when she returned to the shop. She quickly made her way back and when she turned the corner, he was actually at the door.

He pushed away from the wall he was leaning against and smiled at her.

"What did he do to you?" she asked worried and gently took his face in her hands.
His eye which was healthy an hour ago was slightly swollen and was turning black. 

"He wasn't thrilled when I told him that I was by you and that he had to put up with the idea that it wasn't just a one-off slip," he said and smiled sheepishly.

"Why does he even care?" she wanted to know because she didn't understand the excitement. "Isn't that our business?"

"Well, Ed thinks that it makes us vulnerable and since we both work for him, even more vulnerable than we are anyway," he explained with a shrug.

"Is that true?" she asked further, still no light had dawned on her.

“Let's talk about it later. If you let him wait one more time, you will also get a rub.” Then he added with a chuckle. “Now I don't just look daring anymore, but I am too. Two blue eyes and a bruised nose.” He shook his head in amusement and laughed softly.

Meyja pulled herself together and also shook her head. “Where can I find you? I'll come to you as soon as I can and then I'll take care of your audacity."

"At home. I only got a few jobs and nothing more to do until tonight.” He kissed her tenderly on the lips and reluctantly pulled away from her. "I'm waiting for you," he added before turning around, smiling, and walking away.

She watched him go for a moment and then entered the shop where Ed just came out of the back room and still looked incredibly angry even if the storm had apparently passed.

“That was the only delivery for today. Come upstairs, girl,” he snapped at her sullenly then went through the curtain and up the stairs to his flat.

With a pounding heart and sweaty palms she followed him inwardly, she had already prepared for a rub, but Ed pointed to a chair at the table, and took a seat across from her.

“Actually, you don't even deserve it. When I accepted the assignment for you, I assumed that you wouldn't disappoint me so much beforehand,” he began giving her a disapproving look.

"Assignment?" she perked up.

Ed nodded and passed her a roll of parchment. "Your first job. That's why you're here, isn't it?"

Meyja also nodded slowly and nervously unrolled the parchment.

“An easy goal to start with, of course. Accordingly, the reward is not particularly high either. Everything you need to know about it is written on it. The deadline expires in two weeks. Can you do it?” he wanted to know.

"Do you think I'm really ready already?" she asked and looked up uncertainly.

“I asked Aron, and he said so you are. Sign here,” Ed replied and pushed another roll of parchment over to her.

Mechanically she took the pen he handed her and wrote her name in the line he pointed to.

"Good luck, child," he wished impassively.

She was still sitting in front of him perplexed when he continued.

“Why Aron? Couldn't you have found some tailor or blacksmith, huh?” he asked her seriously.

"I... we just like each other, Ed," Meyja tried to explain.

He shook his head and cut her off. “Aron only likes himself. And whores and Crowns. If you start to bore him, he will dispose of you like an old boot. "

"I know about the whores, Ed. Let it be my worry. But why are you interested in all of this? Explain it to me, please,” she asked him a little impatiently. She had hit a nerve; she could see that when Ed looked away and rubbed his cheek. He was silent, however, so she had to dig. There was something and she wanted to know what it was. "I just want to understand why you act like that…"

Eventually Ed gave up and began to say in a low voice, “I had a daughter. She wasn't unlike you. Young and naive. A pretty, carefree thing. Then she fell in love with a good-for-nothing. First, he put the world at her feet, bought her everything she wanted. She seemed happy with that and I let her go. She even packed her things and left home. After a while she came back and was not as happy and carefree as before. He had started beating her. So, she came back home. I have never felt such anger before. He broke her. She could no longer sleep or eat, so great was her fear of him. I went out one night to find him and do the same thing he did to her, but I couldn't find him. And when I came back home that morning, she was dead in her room. He cut her throat." Ed swallowed, tears glistened in the corners of his eyes then his features hardened, he looked at her menacingly, and whispered, "At some point I found him. Not much was left of him. I'll tell you."

Meyja had listened quietly then nodded in dismay. “And Aron and I remind you of her now. I understand. I am deeply saddened by your loss, Ed. I am very sorry. But let me tell you something, too. I was married for almost six years. I experienced the same thing as your daughter, if not worse. I've carried this fear around with me ever since. But Aron is different, I know. If I wasn't absolutely sure about him, I would never have gotten involved with him. I know what I am doing. For the first time in many years, I can live without this fear. I'm finally free," she explained, got up, and looked at him firmly then took the parchment from the table and pushed it into her waistband.

"Do not get caught. It would be a shame for you. If you need help, ask Aron,” he muttered without looking at her.

"Thank you, I will. I'll see you tomorrow, Ed,” she said goodbye.

He nodded and she turned to go.


"Yes?" She turned around again.

"Not a word to Aron," he ordered and looked at her seriously.

"About what?" she asked with a smile over her shoulder, then she made her way to Aron's flat.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 27 - Fear

Meyja carefully hid her first assignment under her clothes in an attempt to mislead Aron. Only when one couldn't tell that she was wearing parchment on her body did she knock on the door and Aron opened it a few seconds later. His eye didn't look so bad anymore, he smiled when he saw her, and pulled her close.

"You were fast. So little to do?” he wanted to know and kissed her gently on the cheek.

She nodded. "No more deliveries today."

"But?" he asked hypocritically before taking her hand, and walking with her to the two armchairs.

She sat down with a smile. “You have known for a long time. Ed betrayed you."

"How could he?" Aron grinned in mock indignation and held a glass bottle to his freshly blue eye to cool it down before he asked, "Do you feel ready for it?"

“Ed said you think I'm ready. If you are convinced of it, I will rise to the challenge,” she replied and nodded.

"What else did you talk about? Did he ask you about the two of us? At least he tried it with me,” he said and Meyja nodded again.

“I actually talked to him about it. But I was able to calm him down. He now knows what's going on and will certainly not cause us any further problems,” she replied calmly.

He looked at her astonished. "How the heck did you manage that?"

She just waved it off. “Honesty and a touch of feminine charm. Not worth talking about."

"You are a daring woman," laughed Aron, shaking his head.

With a grin, she pulled the order out of her waistband and unrolled it to study it more thoroughly. Her target was a businessman who had apparently often enjoyed himself with someone else's wife, and now that was going to be his undoing because for the horned it was not enough that his rival only got a beating, so he had asked Ed to do it to get him out of the way.

Aron explained to Meyja the structures behind her company. Ed acted as a go-between, his business actually only existed for a pretence, a kind of headquarters, and meeting place. He took the orders, and passed them on to his co-workers who sort of did the dirty work, and eliminated the target. But Aron couldn't answer exactly where Ed got the orders from because customers never came to the store. The business of death was an elaborate system, human lives were just rolls of parchment, and in the end, it came down to the reward.

Meyja only got twenty percent of the gold at the beginning and Ed the rest, but if she put her skills to the test, the risk for her boss decreased with which she would earn a larger share.

Aron told her that he could now pocket two thirds of the reward while Ed was satisfied with the remaining third. The most difficult jobs which the other men were not up to always went to Aron. In addition, he made sure in their interests no rival gangs got in their way. Sometimes he even had to take out someone in their own ranks if they were unreliable or made other missteps. If one was caught and wanted in public, he didn't have to venture back to Ed either.

The greatest danger was that their structures would become known because if Ed was exposed, they would all be exposed, so they had to protect their boss. And he took care of them in a way, by giving them work, and getting equipment. One hand washed the other.

"That's why Ed is worried about both of us. Should you ever threaten our business, it would be my job to kill you. There is no question that I would never do that. I would protect you, and nobody would get near you, Ed is aware of that," Aron explained seriously.

She frowned. "Why should I?"

“It is not a question of will, and conscious decision. Sometimes circumstances change without you wanting to and that could bring down everything Ed built up. I can understand that he's worried," said Aron quietly.

Meyja nodded thoughtfully, finally understood the reason for all the excitement, but as long as they played reliably there was no danger in her opinion. She looked at Aron with a confident smile and said resolutely, "Then we will show Ed that his suspicions are unfounded and we will pull together with him."

Aron had to smile too. “If you only knew how much you impress me over and over again, Meyja. You just won't let yourself be put off. When a problem arises, you crush it under your boot, and move on. It's so refreshing."

Meyja just smiled, got up, and walked over to him.

"Show me your eye. Does it hurt?" she asked, kneeling on the floor in front of him.
Aron took the bottle aside, shook his head, and grinned. "No not more. The little grim man doesn't hit that hard either."

"And the nose?" She looked at him embarrassed and bit her lower lip.

He pulled her onto his lap and kissed her long and deep before he whispered, “You hit harder than some of the men who also work for Ed. But I embrace the pain and enjoy the memory of what followed."

"You're crazy," she remarked giggling softly and shook her head.

He grinned broadly. “I never denied that.” Then he nodded to the roll of parchment on the table and asked with interest: “How do you plan to approach your assignment? Have you already thought about that?"

She picked up the parchment and nodded. “It says here that my target person has a warehouse in the Workshop, that's where I would start. When he's there, I'll have a face to the name. Tonight, I would watch the building he lives in, the address is also here. From a roof opposite I could see which window belongs to his bedroom. As soon as he leaves the house tomorrow, I'll break in there, and look around. Maybe there will even be an opportunity to hide there before he goes to bed. As soon as he sleeps, I'll strike. I either come in through a window, or I leave my hiding place to kill him. If he should leave the window open tonight, I'll think about killing him right away,” she explained and looked at Aron who nodded satisfied.

“A good plan, you are careful, if not overly. Do you want me to accompany you? I won't do it for you, but I can give you a little help, and draw your attention to details that you might be overlooking," he offered.

Meyja nodded gratefully. "I’d be happy, yes. I feel a little queasy when I think about the fact that I'm about to kill someone."

“You will have problems the first few times, I'm sure of that. But after that you get used to it,” he replied with a wink.

He looked anything but calm, even though he tried hard not to show her, so she drew her conclusions and was silent.

An hour later they made their way together to the Workshop to the address of the camp and while Aron walked on unobtrusively, Meyja hid behind a high stack of boxes. The wide, double-leaf gate was open and she could watch a few workers sorting goods. A well-dressed man sat at a table over his papers. That had to be her target! Meyja memorized his face before she strolled away and met Aron again at the next corner who had been waiting for her.

"Was he there?" he wanted to know in a casual tone.

“I suppose it was him. Well-groomed, well-dressed, just a typical merchant, "she answered just as flatly.

Aron nodded appreciatively. “We still have a little time until tonight. What would you think, if we got your things from the room in the Drunken Beggar?” he asked with a smile.

She looked back confused then understood. "You want me to live with you?"

He winked at her embarrassed. "If you want that, I’d be happy to have you with me."

Meyja's heart leaped happily at the thought of waking up next to him every morning. "Of course, I would!" She fell around his neck beaming.

Aron laughed and picked her up briefly then they walked hand in hand towards the Old Town.

There were only a few guests in Drunken Beggar at this time of day, but Aron knew one of them and looked over at him septically.

"Get your things from above, yes? In the meantime, I'll pay for the room,” he whispered to Meyja who immediately made her way upstairs.

He went to the bar and gave the landlord a few gold coins, then went to the table where the guest he knew was sitting, and greeted him in an unfriendly tone, "Long time no see, Deny."

Deny inclined his head in a slight bow. "Aron. What makes me the honour?” He asked ironically.

“I could ask you that as well. What are you doing here?" Aron wanted to know, sat down next to him at the table, and eyed his counterpart with hostility.

Deny had not changed outwardly, certainly rows of women fell for his beautiful face, but Aron almost gave anything to never have to see this face again.

"This and that... At the moment I'm drinking beer, as you can see." Deny briefly lifted the mug in front of him, and grinned in wait before he noticed, "Sweet thing, that's just up the stairs. Belongs to you?"

Aron could hardly contain his anger; his hand already held a dagger. “Let her out of there. She has nothing to do with it, "he pressed out between clenched teeth, could hardly speak softly while he stared at Deny warningly.

But he just laughed. "Aron, Aron... What do you think of me?"

"That you're a lousy, insidious rat. And I don't just think that, it's a fact,” Aron replied flatly.

At that moment Meyja came down the stairs with her bag over her shoulder and Aron indicated with a simple gesture that she should sit down at the counter.

She did as she was told and he turned back to Deny. “If you do something to her, then I swear by everything that is dear to you, I will find you, and take care of you. And you don't want to experience that, believe me."

With these words Aron got up and without taking his eyes off Deny he waved Meyja to the exit.

After she passed him, he followed her outside, pulling her with him when she tried to stop.

"What is it, Aron? Who is that?” she asked worriedly.

His look spoke volumes, she had never seen him so upset and angry.

He just shook his head. “I have to get you to safety. He’s dangerous."

Then he took the bag from her as he walked, glanced over his shoulder at the tavern, and hurried ahead while she easily kept pace with him. Since there were topics that they couldn't discuss in the street, she stopped asking, knowing that he was about to tell her what it was about.

After they had walked a bit, however, she noticed that Aron was not on his way to his flat.

"Where are we going?"

"To Ed," he replied curtly.

When they got to the shop, Aron slammed the door behind her, locked it, and yelled. "Ed!" Then he went back through the curtain without waiting and Meyja hurried after him.

Their mutual boss came running down the stairs and asked, "What happened, Aron?"

"Deny happened!" Aron shouted still angry.

Ed turned pale and waved them both upstairs to his flat where he first poured each of them a whole mug of schnapps. Meyja who still had no idea what was going on and was slowly getting scared sat down with trembling knees while her gaze followed Aron who was pacing incessantly up and down like an animal in a cage.

Ed sat down next to the young woman at the table, still pale as a sheet. "What did he say?"

Aron walked up to him, put his hands on the table top, and brought his face close to Eds. "What he said?" Aron repeated softly, then he raised a hand, and pointed his finger at Meyja. "He wants her."

Now Meyja turned pale, too. “M-me? But we don't even know each other."

Aron turned his head to look at her and she realised that he wasn't angry at all, but was also afraid, tears ran down his cheeks. “He doesn't care. He only wants to kill you because you belong to me," replied Aron then he also sat down with them and drank his cup in one gulp.

"How do you know that he just wants Meyja?" Ed asked.

“Because he saw us together. We just got her things from the Drunken Beggar and there he sat and drank beer. I spoke to him briefly then we came here straight away," said Aron a little more composed then looked at his boss pleadingly. “Can you take care of Meyja, Ed? I have to find Deny before he finds her. Please..."

“Sure, I'll call the others together, too. If that's not an emergency, I don't know either.” Ed took a long swig of schnapps and stood up.

From a shelf he took a large metal horn with which he went to the window where he leaned out, took a deep breath, and blew into it twice for a long time.

The sound echoed deafeningly over the city, deep and threatening.

Ed looked over at the two of them, shut the window, and put the horn back. "You have safely locked the shop, haven't you Aron?" When Aron nodded silently, he went down the stairs to open the door again.

Meyja was still sitting shocked in the midst of all the hustle and bustle then she said in a thin voice, "I don't want you to go... He'll kill you the same way..."

Aron shook his head. “No, he wouldn't do that. Deny wants to see me suffer, destroy me, take away what I love. If he just kills me, he can't do it anymore. He's sick, a sadist, a psychopath. Physical pain means nothing to him unless that pain agonises someone else. Torment right here... ", he whispered and put a hand on her chest – where her heart was beating in fear.

“But why you? And why didn't you kill him right away?” she asked in dismay.

"I was afraid. Also, there were too many people there to have a fight. You were there too; I couldn't put you in danger either. So, I fled – for now. But we'll find him and I'll slaughter him just for the thought of harming you,” Aron muttered and clenched his hand as anger flared up inside him.

Before he could answer the second question, they heard footsteps on the stairs, and Ed came back followed by seven men, one of whom Meyja had seen come out of the store and thought was a customer, and she already knew Raemur.

They nodded silently to Aron and the small room became cramped. Meyja was examined with interest and was about to free her place at the table, but Aron held her back by briefly putting a hand on her shoulder.

Then he started to speak. "Deny is probably known to all of you." A mutual murmur could be heard, the looks of some people present twitched in shock to Aron who was already saying, "He is back in the city, half an hour ago he was in the Drunken Beggar, there I last saw him. We have to split up, comb through the whole city, and find him as quickly as possible."

"Do we already know who, or what his goal is this time?" asked one of the men who was standing right next to Aron.

"Apparently he's after me," Meyja mumbled.

A second later she realised that she had just admitted there was more than just a business connection between Aron and her when she saw the surprised faces. She lowered her eyes to her knees and bit her tongue, but Aron took her hand that was on the table and showed her he was standing by her before everyone else. She almost burst into tears, with emotion and fear.

Meanwhile Aron got up. “I know what I ask of you. Chasing one person in broad daylight is risky and dangerous. But you all belong in our ranks and we have sworn to protect one another. I would do the same for each and every one of you. If someone still wants to stay out of here, he should get in touch."

There was silence for a few seconds, but then a young guy who was standing in the back raised his hand. “Eh, Aron, I would like to be there, but I've never met Deny in person before. So, I would probably not be of much help with the search. Should I do anything else?” He looked apologetically at Aron, who nodded seriously.

“It's okay, Thom. Then you stay here and take care of Meyja together with Ed. Is that okay, Ed?“ Aron asked the boss.

“Sure, two are better than one. And I can't fight particularly well anyway,” Ed admitted.

Aron nodded again and continued, "We'll discuss the rest downstairs." Then he turned to Meyja, pulled her into his arms, and kissed her deeply before looking into her eyes, and stroking her hair. “When he shows up, blow the horn. We'll try to find him before he can harm you. Ed and Thom will take good care of you. I love you, Meyja."

“Please be careful,” she whispered.

Tears welled up in his eyes again and he kissed her again before nodding. Finally, he was able to tear himself away from her and went down the stairs after the other men.

Thom stood there, rocking on the balls of his feet, somewhat embarrassed, and smiled shyly when she looked at him briefly, and then sat down again.

"So, you and Aron, huh?" he asked and took a seat next to her.

Meyja nodded and took a sip of schnapps before she remarked dryly. “Yes, Aron and me. And I know about the whores, tell me something new."

Ed and Thom immediately burst out laughing, but Meyja managed nothing more than a tired smile.

For a while they sat in the small room in silence and drank schnapps then she asked softly, "Why are you doing this for me?"

"Well, strictly speaking, we're not doing this for you, but for Aron," Ed admitted. “Deny also killed a few men from our ranks before he disappeared. So, we all have an interest in getting him out of the way once and for all. Even if it won't be easy because he is dangerous and unpredictable. Like trying to lock smoke in a glass. We tried to kill him back then, but then he disappeared. That was a few years ago."

Meyja nodded thoughtfully. “But why Aron? Deny's only out on me to see him suffer. At least that's what Aron told me earlier."

Ed took a short breath and gave Thom a short, uncomfortable look, the young man apparently knew the answer, too, then he said hesitantly, "Well... the men who killed Deny back then... One of them was Aron's brother Alleon. He was also one of my men." Meyja gave Ed a startled look and only nodded briefly so that he could tell more. “Aron was devastated. Understandable, because such a loss would hit everyone very hard. But Aron suffered differently, more obviously. As if he felt the pain more intensely than other people. And Deny delighted himself with it, wallowed with relish in Aron's suffering, and began to terrorise him. Every time Aron found something that gave his life meaning again, Deny took it from him. Aron suffered again and again. Well, normally people like us who aren't that close to him wouldn't even notice. But by the way he suffered, we could see it.” Ed blinked a few times and quickly took a sip of his schnapps.

While he was talking Meyja had already started crying, but after he had finished, she leaned forward on the table, and sobbed uncontrollably. "I... had no... idea," she pressed out.

She could now imagine how Aron had to feel since Deny's appearance and how much he had to love her that the danger she was in at the moment took him so much in.

Thom looked at her pityingly and Ed reached out to stroke her back comfortingly. "Child, as long as you are alive, everything is fine," he said softly.

At some point she was able to calm down again, she sat up, and looked at Ed with puffy eyes. “You weren't worried about me and that's why you warned me about Aron. You were worried about him, weren't you?” she wanted to know.

Suddenly everything that she had experienced in the last few days came together in one picture.

Ed nodded and she asked further, "And your daughter? Was that true?"

“I've never had a daughter, to be honest. The story was only there to test you. I'm sorry," he apologised. “Aron, on the other hand is like a son to me. When he showed up with his little brother in tow and asked me about work...", Ed said and had to smile at the thought. “Two orphans who did anything for a meal. They cleaned the shop and delivered goods to customers. Later both got into the real business."
Ed continued to tell stories from Aron's childhood for a while, but of the oppressive atmosphere he couldn't get rid of.

When night fell, he even offered Meyja his bed, but she didn't want to sleep, not as long as Aron hadn't returned, so Thom lay down in the next room, after all, they could wake him up at any time, if something happened.

In the early hours of the morning Meyja and Ed fell asleep at the table from exhaustion.

Nobody heard the window was slowly being pushed open. And nobody noticed the dark hooded figure that pushed its way through and crept towards the sleeping young woman.

An overwhelming pain in their midst let Meyja wake up from sleep. She couldn't even hear herself screaming, not even when her body reared up and threw her to the ground she felt the impact.

She tried to escape the pain on all fours, but could only roll over onto her back.

Flashes of light flashed in front of her eyes and when she looked down at herself, she could see blood, and the dagger stuck in her abdomen.

'A dream... Ethan...' she thought.

She had dreamed it so many times. If she went back to sleep, it would eventually stop.

Everything moved away from her.

Loud shouting and a deafening loud sound around them.

The pain all over her body.

Ed's face in front of her.

Then Thom's face.

Then darkness.

The voices echoed strangely, sounded far away. Meyja tried to move, but her body was heavy... So heavy...

She managed to open her eyes a tiny crack. Glaring light shone towards her, so that she hastily closed her eyelids again.

'I can't be dead, no... Aron...' she thought.

She tried to call him. "Aron!" But only a low gasp came from her lips. Again, the echoing voices, but now a little closer. The bright light even shone through her closed eyelids. So bright... But suddenly not anymore, it was almost dark, and she felt an uncomfortable shock, someone shook her, and screamed, screamed so loud... She wanted to cover her ears, but she couldn't, her body was still too heavy.

Then the loud voices and the light moved away from her and the darkness enveloped her again.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 28 - Life

Sharaya, Kingdom of Jevarish, Javar of the year 67

Meyja opened her eyes, startled, but closed them again immediately. It was too light in here wherever she was. But at least it was quiet. Her head pounded.
She carefully tried to open her eyelids again, but her eyes only slowly got used to the light, and it took what felt like an eternity before she could look around.
To her right were a few low loungers and someone was lying on one of them. It was a man, but she couldn't see him properly, her vision was still too blurry and she felt dizzy. Her hands groped down her body when they reached her centre, a sharp pain flashed through her and she gasped.
“By Medelya! You’re awake!"
She looked to the left and saw a woman hurrying towards her who wore a white robe and looked friendly but Meyja did not know her.
As if the stranger had heard her thoughts, she introduced herself, “I am priestess Helivia. How do you feel?"
"It hurts. What happened? Where am I?“ Meyja asked confused.
“You’ve been wounded, and you are in the cathedral of the High City of Sharaya. Take a sip of water then I'll get something that will relieve your pain,” the priestess explained and supported Meyja's head while she slowly drank a few sips of water.
Then Helivia hurried out the door, only to come back a short time later with a tiny vial.
"Please open your mouth," she asked and Meyja did as she was told. "It won't take long then you will feel better."
'Aron…' she thought.
"Where's Aron?" asked Meyja.
Helivia replied with a smile, “You mean the worried gentleman who watched next to your bed almost the whole time? He left just before I realised you were awake. But he should come back soon. After all, he couldn't even be persuaded to go to a real bed to sleep. He just didn't want to leave your side." Meyja had just closed her eyes again when she heard the priestess say, “There he is."
She quickly looked towards the door and saw Aron coming towards her.
"Meyja... you're awake... finally," he whispered crying and kissed her carefully on the forehead. "I was so worried about you."
Smiling, she reached her hand out to him, and gently stroked the cheek of the face that she loved so much. He looked terribly unkempt and had probably hardly slept the whole time as indicated by the deep circles under his eyes.
"How long have I been here?" she asked him quietly.
Aron wiped away his tears of joy. "Almost one week. I was afraid you'd never wake up again. Your injury was really bad," he muttered and looked at her sadly, tears still running down his cheeks.
“What happened anyway? I can't remember anything,” Meyja asked and continued to stroke his face incessantly.
“I was with the men on the hunt for Deny and you were in Ed's flat. Ed, Thom and you. They should take care of you, but Thom slept in the next room. You and Ed must have fell asleep at the table at some point, at least none of you noticed that Deny came in the window. He stabbed you in the stomach with a dagger and you screamed. Thom woke up and was just able to overwhelm Deny before he could kill Ed," said Aron, and stroked her hair. “Thom brought you here immediately. And Ed blew the horn to call us. When I arrived, he told me where you are, and I got here as fast as I could. But you weren't on your mind. The priests were fighting for your life. I... I couldn't do anything... just watch... You lay there... and bled like a pig... So much blood…" Aron cried at the thought, his shoulders shrugged uncontrollably while he was sobbing.
“But I am alive. And you're with me, Aron.” Meyja was crying too, but she smiled, and continued to stroke his cheek.
“Yes, you’re alive. And you are so strong, Meyja. It borders on a miracle that you survived. But you live and you smile..." he whispered touched.
It took a while before they could stop crying, finally Helivia came back to help Meyja drink.
“When can I get up?” she asked the priestess.
“Well, actually right away, the wound has already been closed. But you are weak, little lady. And it will take a while before you get rid of the pain. Take care when you get up,” Helivia replied seriously.
“I promise I'll be careful. But I want to get up. After all, I was lying around long enough," said Meyja with a smile and held out her hand to Aron.
"Are you sure? You were so badly injured...“ Aron asked worried, but she nodded with vigour.
So, Aron and Helivia helped her to get up and finally Meyja stood on her legs, laughing happily without anyone having to support her. She could even walk without any problems, even if the pain inside had still not faded. It was only when she looked down that she noticed that she was wearing a simple white linen robe. Also, her ponytail which she usually wore when sleeping had been loosened and the hair was loose over her shoulders. With flushed cheeks she turned to Aron who had never seen her like this before and smiled.
"I assume that my own clothes were no longer usable, right?" she asked uncertainly and Aron gently shook his head.
"You can keep the robe, if you want," Helivia replied.
Meyja stepped up to her, held out her hand, and said softly, “I thank you for everything you have done for me. And I owe you my life. If you allow me, I’d still like to go home now."
“The Heavenly Ones enlighten all those who need their help. I myself am only a humble servant. But I will mention you in my prayer. Of course, you can go home if you wish,” Helivia replied with a smile.
Aron gently lifted Meyja in his arms, carried her out of the cathedral, and down the wide steps in front of the entrance.
There he asked her, "Where is your home now?"
Meyja frowned. “There was this one flat. With the two armchairs and the comfortable bed. Do you remember it, too, or was it just a dream?"
They both had to laugh until Meyja grimaced in pain.
"Maybe we should reduce the jokes a bit," said Aron and continued on towards the Workshop.
"Not a bad idea, at least for the next few days," she agreed. “But I wonder how much longer I have to take it easy. Eventually, an order is waiting for me."
He shook his head. “Forget the job, Thom has already done it. My assignments were also shared with the others. Ed will keep our backs free until you feel better."
The people on the street looked at them in amazement as they passed, an elderly man wished them all the luck in the world, apparently because of the white robe he thought Aron would carry his bride home, and they giggled again. Even if the occasion was different, they were still happy about the congratulations.
Meyja slowly began to remember everything, and suddenly became very serious. "You know, Aron... Ed told me a lot. About what Deny did to you."
Aron gently shook his head. “Deny is dead, it's over. I just want to forget and continue to live without fear of him. Together with you."
He stopped and kissed her affectionately then he carried her into the four walls they shared where he carefully set her down and then went into the next room to get her a bottle of water.
When he returned, she had lifted the skirt of her robe, and was studying her stomach. Aron remained standing in the doorway and watched her run her finger over the fine wound that ran diagonally a hand's breadth above her pubic area.
She noticed him and let the fabric fall back down. "I'm drawn."
He went to her and took her in his arms. “You are still beautiful, Meyja. The most beautiful woman I have ever seen. See the scar as a sign that even a stab in the back can't tear you from my side. And for me it is a symbol that I don't have to be afraid anymore.” He kissed her hair gently and they sat arm in arm on the bed.
There was a knock and Aron jumped up went to the door with drawn dagger. "Who is there?"
"Ed and Thom!" came the answer from the other side and Aron opened the door in astonishment.
"What are you doing here?", he wanted to know amazed, he really hadn't expected visitors.
“We wanted to see Meyja, but we were told she had gone home. So, we picked some flowers and came here,” Ed explained holding up a small bouquet of wild flowers.
She got up with a grin and happily approached the two visitors.
“We want to apologise, Meyja. If we hadn't fallen asleep..." Ed started, but she interrupted him.
“I fell asleep too. I might as well be blamed, but that's not the point. Glad to see you both doing well. The whole thing could have been worse if Thom hadn't killed Deny,” she replied.
Ed and Thom nodded in dismay then handed over the bouquet, wished her a good recovery, and left the apartment. After all, work didn't wait.
Meyja recovered quickly from her injury, the pain had only bothered her for a few days, and Aron could eventually no longer hold her in bed, so they went for walks, spent the days together in their flat, or at their tree. For a week she willingly let himself be reined in by him and was content with the walks, but then she became restless. Even if she wasn't particularly keen on killing people, she didn't want to sit around idly; she didn't like that kind of quiet.

Aron opened the door to the shop, Meyja entered, and Ed who had been standing behind the counter came up to them smiling.
"Welcome back. I guess it's not just a chaperone visit?” he smirked and waved them into his flat after him.
They sat down at the table and Ed picked up a few orders, leafed through them.
"Well, if I had known that you two would return so early, the pile would be bigger," he muttered, put three of the parchment rolls in front of Aron, and then hesitated. "This is an easy job, but I don't think this is a suitable first assignment."
He handed the parchment to Aron and looked at him questioningly who unrolled the document, looked at it and handed it back to Ed, shaking his head. "No, that's way too much to ask for a first job," said Aron dismissively.
Meyja frowned and grabbed the roll before the men could stop her, then looked at it, and slowly nodded.
It was about a family, father and mother with their two children.
"I'll do it." She rolled up her first assignment and slid it under her shirt.
Ed gave Aron a meaningful look and poured them schnapps.
"Why?" asked Aron and looked at her seriously. "Why do you want to do that?"
“Well, you said yourself that there is no place in our ranks for pity. On the day of our first lesson,” Meyja replied and took a sip of schnapps.
"I remember." Aron didn't like her determination in this matter. "Then at least let me come with you, just in case."
"All right." She gave him a smile that made him immediately forget any doubts.
Then they toasted Meyja's first assignment and Aron looked through his own roles before they signed for acceptance of their assignments, said goodbye to Ed, and set off.
When they got back home and he closed the door behind them, he asked, "When is the deadline?"
Meyja sat down in an armchair and unrolled the order. "In four days."
“Feasible.” He took a seat across from her, examined her, and said softly, “You are truly inflexible, Meyja. Nothing and nobody can stop you."
“I know someone who can do that,” she replied. “You stopped me when I wanted to give in to my fear. And you stopped me when I reached out my hand to death. It's only because of you that I'm still sitting here."
He barely noticeably shook his head and smiled touched. "Never mind."
Then he pulled her to the bed and they made themselves comfortable with some philosopher's herb.
“It's not late yet and we've got a mountain of work,” Meyja mentioned at some point.
Aron nodded thoughtfully. "You're right. One of my deadlines is in two days and it's a job I would come in very handy with your help with to be honest,” he said thoughtfully.
"Tell me about it," she asked curiously.
“It's one of the more difficult jobs. But I know the guy and know about his weak points. He belongs to a rival gang. In this case, the deadline is more of a formality, Ed just wants to get rid of him and has set the period himself,” explained Aron.
"And where do I come in?", she wanted to know, turned on her stomach, and looked at him.
Aron replied hesitantly, “Well, I'm not sure if it might not be too dangerous for you. But the target person cannot resist a woman, no matter how ugly she is, at least that is what he is said to be. And a stunning woman like you could easily lure him into a quiet corner. You just had to make him look good and he would already follow you. If he's distracted, I can sneak up on him, and finish him off."
He had great scruples about bringing her into this situation, but on the other hand he couldn't spare her forever. If she had practice, she would undoubtedly get good, and if she was good, she would be less in danger. However, it was also known from his target person that he did not think too much, if a woman withdrew from him.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked because she had noticed his thoughtful look.
She wouldn't back down anyway and would insist even more, if she knew the guy had become violent towards other women, so he decided not to let her know in order to be able to change her mind – if necessary.
"Nothing, I was just thinking about the other two jobs which are ridiculously easy," he mumbled with a wink.
She grinned a little distant and curiously continued. "What is it about?"
"A city guard and one of the harbour masters down by the bay," he replied tersely.
"Which city guard? What's his name?” she asked, being clearly alarmed.
Aron let out a derogatory snort. “You are of course very interested in that. You haven't forgotten your friend from the city wall, how could I have assumed?"
“I ask you, Aron. There is no need to be jealous, I have no interest in him. However, we share a home and that is why I would like to know, if he’s in any danger,” she explained trying to adopt a conciliatory tone.
“If I tell you, and it should actually be him, what are you going to do? Are you sticking to me, or are you trying to save him from me?” he asked indignantly.
"I wouldn't save him." Meyja gently shook her head. “First of all, I don't know how to do it and you are the most important person to me. I just don't want to sit on this damn wall for hours and wait."
If a bounty was offered on Cayden, she would never let him run into an open knife. Either way, she would warn him and try to find a way to get him out of danger. Even if that meant she had to do it behind Aron's back.
“The name is on the parchment. Just see, if you feel better,” Aron mumbled offended and pointed to the table between the armchairs.
She got up and walked over to the two papers one of which contained the truth she was seeking. The first roll of parchment she unfolded showed the harbour master, so she picked up the other. Panicked, she scanned the words and when she discovered the name, a cold feeling spread inside her because the name was Darius Bryce.
"Is it him?", Aron wanted to know.
In retrospect, she didn’t know how exactly she did it, but she put on a mock relieved smile, and shook her head. "No, it's not him."
"That would have been a nice coincidence," he grumbled.
She quickly changed the subject. "Now what about the assignment I'm supposed to help you with?"
He nodded briefly. “First of all we should get some sexy clothes so that you will undoubtedly attract his attention. And then we'll see again, okay?"
"Sounds good, let's do it like that," said Meyja nodding.
Half an hour later they stepped out of a shop into the street, they had bought two robes in which Meyja's advantages came into their own, in his opinion she didn't need to, but you could never be sure.
"How are you going to do it now?" she asked.
“He'll probably be in the Gravelpath Tavern tonight where he eats and drinks almost every evening. He's more of a loner, but he's cautious. When he comes out of the tavern you will run into him by chance and he will surely speak to you. At this point it could get dangerous. You look for a quiet corner where he will want to take you. Before it gets that far, however, it will be over for him. My concerns are mainly based on the fact that he will touch you," explained Aron, but then he shook his head. "That's too much to ask... I don't want you to let a guy touch you for me. I love you. How did I come up with this crazy idea? This is madness. Just that we've already bought the robes... I'll get him another way, too. I'm sorry that I even considered it, Meyja."
“I love you too, Aron. And it's not a crazy idea – it will work. He'll pay with his life for his touch, do you hear? We'll do it.” She looked him in the eye until she could see his doubts dissipate.
"Okay. Let's go. I know where we can prepare,” he muttered resignedly.

The Gravelpath Tavern was in a remote corner of the Workshop where they arrived when it had just got dark and hid in an alcove. Aron would hide in another place as soon as Meyja had the victim on the hook, and tried to lure it here.
Her plan seemed to be perfectly prepared, Meyja undressed except for her boots and underwear, and put on one of the robes, the black, shimmering fabric of which clung to her body, and the deep neckline showed that she was not wearing a shirt underneath. In an emergency, she wore her stiletto hidden in her boot, but Aron didn't want to let it get that far.
Examining her again from top to bottom, he nodded appreciatively before kissing her again deeply, picking up the bag with her things, and peering around the corner in the direction of the inn.
"He comes. Black clothes,” he whispered. Then he pulled his mask up to under his eyes, and crept silently away through the darkness.
Meyja took a deep breath, then stepped out onto the path, and slowly walked in the direction from which the target person was approaching, looking around while they came towards each other.
“Are you looking for something, my lady? Can I help you?” the man asked helpfully while his gaze passed over her body. As Aron had just mentioned, he wore black clothes, his face looked inconspicuous, and he had short, dark hair.
“I am afraid I have lost my companion. Didn't you happen to see a tall, strong man? He has long, straight hair, and is extremely handsome,” Meyja replied with a desperate undertone in her voice.
The guy shook his head. "No, I'm sorry. I haven't seen him, but if you are satisfied with another companion, I'll be at your service."
She pretended to keep looking for a moment then shrugged. "Why not? You're much statelier anyway," she cooed and hooked herself up with him.
Together they went in the direction from which she had just come.
"What's your name, beautiful woman?" He continued to slim.
"Sala. And yours?” she asked.
"You can call me what you want, baby, if you like," he whispered to her with a disgusting grin on his face.
She couldn't wait for him to be silent forever.
Meyja stopped and gave him an ambiguous smile. "You know... I don't like unimportant empty phrases to be honest. A handsome man like you certainly still has some hidden qualities. I know this place, just around the corner where we won't be seen.” Meyja winked at him and immediately recognised the greed in his eyes when he nodded.
"Go ahead, lead me there, and I'll show my gratitude for it," he asked.
"I can hardly wait," she purred on and kept smiling at her victim as she led him into the alcove.
Once there, she turned her back on him with a queasy feeling, and leaned forward.
"Show what you can do", she asked him and supported herself with her hands on the wall.
'Where is Aron...?' she thought.
The guy was already lifting her robe, pushing the skirt onto her back. When he tampered with his own trousers, Meyja unobserved pulled the stiletto out of her boot, and hid it in front of her chest.
He fondled her bum and then pulled down her underwear. Panicked, she mumbled a few words that he certainly couldn't understand, so he leaned down to her.
"What did you say?" he asked. "It was a little quiet, sorry."
Meyja sat up smiling and turned to him, the skirt of her robe slipped back down.
He was standing right in front of her and looked at her questioningly when she repeated sweetly, "I'll bathe in your blood."
With that, she rammed the stiletto into his throat and jerked the blade around, cutting his throat which immediately spilled dark blood and tainted her before knocking him away with one hard kick.
The moment he fell backwards, Aron came silently around the corner. Stunned, he looked down at his target person, pulled his mask from his face, and looked at Meyja.
"What happened? Are you well?” he asked worriedly.
"Sure. But where have you been?” she replied.
“A city guard came by and cut my way. I'm so sorry,” he said softly.
“Really, everything is fine. He never got around to doing anything to me. But we have to go,” she urged him panicked.
Aron looked down at the dead man once more and nodded. “Take it easy, you are covered in blood over and over. First get changed, I'll take care for so long,” he whispered, handed her the bag, and peeked around the corner again.
Meyja dressed in no time and wiped away the remaining blood with the black robe.
"Let's go," she said calmly as she stepped next to him.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 29 – Title

It was still early morning, but Aron was already grinning and bowing when he opened the door, Meyja returned his gesture with a perfect curtsey and entered the shop with a grin as well, they giggled exuberantly when Ed came through the curtain and greeted them.
"Good morning. What's the matter with you two? Did you smoke Philos again last night, huh?” their boss asked suspiciously.
“That's not the reason. We're just in a good mood," replied Aron happily.
"Ed, why don't we go upstairs first and you pour us all schnapps like you always do?" suggested Meyja with a wink.
"Better do what she says, she’s not to be trifled with," advised Aron.
Ed looked back and forth between them and then shrugged with a sigh. "Well. You won't tell me what's going on beforehand anyway."
When they were sitting at the table, each with a cup of schnapps, Aron put a roll of parchment in front of Ed, and remarked shortly, "Done."
Ed unrolled the document and nodded before he asked, "And that's why you two are in such a good mood?"
"Tell him, Aron," Meyja asked and took a sip of schnapps.
Ed leaned back in his chair, waiting, and crossed his arms over his chest.
"I didn't kill him," said Aron evasively.
"But? You?" Ed asked and looked at Meyja amused because he thought Aron was joking.
Meyja just nodded and grinned into her mug.
"That's a joke." Ed looked at Aron in disbelief.
"That's the truth. She was faster than me,” Aron confirmed proudly.
Then they reported together to their boss what had happened the previous evening.
"I'll bathe in your blood?" Ed repeated, roaring with laughter.
Aron also chuckled in amusement.
Meyja twisted her mouth, offended, and mumbled, "You are mean. I had to say something."
“Don't get me wrong, Meyja. It's the best story I've ever been told. Your first one dead. And you acted like you've been doing this forever," said Ed, still laughing.
Aron pulled the black robe out of the pouch he was carrying. "And she didn't promise her victim too much," he remarked and laid the cloth which was stiff with dried blood on the table.
Ed opened his eyes and looked back and forth between the robe and Meyja. "You took a bath, girl. I take my hat off to you," he whispered, and indicated that he would take off his non-existent headgear. "Incomprehensible."
Then he got up and took a large leather bag from the next room, put it on the table in front of Meyja, and said solemnly, "You really deserve it."
“Why is it such a big deal? I cut the throat of an impertinent bastard, so what?” asked Meyja. "He was disgusting and deserved it."
The two men exchanged meaningful looks.
"You didn't tell her?" asked Ed Aron.
Aron shook his head. "I wanted to leave that to you."
“This wasn't just some disgusting guy, but an absolutely deadly man who worked for a guild. Somebody like Aron, only that he didn't belong to us,” Ed explained with a smile.
"I hope that Aron cannot be killed so easily because everything else was really difficult," said Meyja seriously.
"You will undoubtedly make a name for yourself quickly, Meyja," Ed remarked appreciatively.
"I already know one," Aron mumbled thoughtfully.
"What do you mean?" she wanted to know.
"Well, some of us are not known by their actual name, but have a kind of title that we use to speak of them," explained Aron. “I call myself The Unseen because none of my victims has ever seen my face when I brought them to death. It has something to do with prestige. Many appreciate anonymity and don't want a title. And mostly you don't know who is actually behind such a title. It's something of an alias. Usually, when it becomes known that one of us killed another, we all know the title of the killer. If you tell someone your name is Meyja, no one will associate you with your victims. But if you were to introduce yourself with your title, it would be immediately clear which actions are to be assigned to you. Of course, you would never do that because it would reveal your identity, and be afraid that someone will seek revenge. Do you understand?"
Meyja nodded slowly. “And how can you already know now which title I will one day bear? I don't have a... trademark, or something like that."
"You choose the title yourself and we will announce that you have taken care of this guy," said Ed tapping the roll of parchment that was still on the table with his finger.
“Not your name, of course, but your title. I didn't get mine until later, but I didn't get off to a start like you did. But your potential is already so great that you should give yourself a title. In my opinion, you shouldn't hide,” Aron advised with a smile.
Meyja hesitated, she was still far from convinced and all the information about the murder and any title made her think. “You just said that you usually don't know who is behind a title. But what if it becomes known who you are? Because someone reveals it?"
"If it became known, you would probably have to leave the city and not be able to set foot in Sharaya for many years," answered Aron seriously. “That is also the reason why we never reveal our titles to others. Only the closest people you know would never betray you are allowed to know your title."
"And what title did you think of?" she asked further.
Aron savoured the tension for a moment while Ed and Meyja stared at him waiting.
Finally, he said in a dark voice, "The Indomitable."
Ed clapped his hands and said happily, "That fits."
Meyja and Aron paid no attention to him and smiled at each other, only they both knew the true meaning.
Finally, Meyja took a deep breath and announced, "Then I am the Indomitable."
Aron smiled contentedly and Ed held out his hand to her.
She struck and her boss sounded solemnly, "Congratulations on your title and welcome to the ranks of the Deathshade."
She repeated. “The Deathshade?”
“Sure, child. Did you think our bunch didn't have a name?” Ed laughed.
Aron got up and went over to her, pulled her to her feet, and took her in his arms. “Also, my congratulations. Now you are one of us,” he whispered.
“Of course, this name will also remain a secret. Nobody should know that you belong to us,” Ed babbled, and scurried through the room, searching. "Where did I...?"
"Oh dear, now it starts again..." Aron moaned and covered his face with one hand.
“Hold the edge, Aron! Now get out of here! You can come back in an hour, until then – get out!" Ed snapped at him, but he seemed rather happy.
They made it out anyway. When they stood in the street in front of the shop, Meyja looked at Aron with a frown.
"What was going on now?" she asked puzzled.
“Ed is looking for the good parchment. For the invitations,” he replied with a smile.
"Why does each of you always have such a joy to leave me in the dark?" she mumbled offended.
"Come on, we're going home then I'll explain everything to you," he said forgivingly and took her hand.
They had made themselves comfortable on the bed, Aron was leaning against the wall, and Meyja was laying with her head in his lap.
He stroked her hair gently as he spoke. “It is a great event for someone new to join the ranks of the Deathshade. That hasn't happened in several years, and you're the first woman to have done it so far. That's why Ed is so excited, he's probably just writing the invitations to our men. Tomorrow evening there will be a big celebration in your honour and everyone will be there. Well... to be honest, it will be more of a drinking bout of gigantic proportions. In a sense, time stands still for a day so we can celebrate. The deadlines for the orders are also extended by one day."
"And all because of me? Because of a single stab in the back?" Meyja asked incredulously.
“You are one of us now, don't forget that. You belong to our ranks and are a Deathshade, Meyja. I knew you would make it one day, but like this…” He puffed his cheeks before letting the air noisily escape. “A title and entry into the guild at once. So far none of the Deathshade has managed that, no one. I'm curious to see the faces of the others when they find out." He laughed before he got a little more serious again and said quietly, "I'm so incredibly proud of you. And on the fact that you chose my side and let me into your life. I love you, Meyja.” He leaned down to her and kissed her hungrily.
“And I love you, Aron, very much. And without you I would never have made it all," she whispered.
They loved each other passionately then lay tightly embraced in bed and enjoyed the togetherness, but at some point, Aron lifted his head and cursed.
"What's going on?" asked Meyja startled.
“We have to get back to Ed. The invitations…” he replied curtly and jumped out of bed to get dressed.
"Is that our job?" she asked reaching for her weapons and clothing.
“In fact, it's yours. But of course, I'll come with you, otherwise you will look for the holes in which the men live forever,” he remarked and put on his boots.
Then they hurried back to Ed's shop, Meyja expected trouble for being late, but Ed still greeted the two in a good mood and handed the invitations to the newcomer.
“Please send Eralion over to me, if he's at home. Otherwise, someone else will do the same,” he asked her. "Oh yes! And order something to eat in the Golden Cogwheel. I almost forgot…” He made a really distracted impression and kept running from left to right.
"Poor Ed," grinned Meyja when the shop door closed behind them and Aron laughed softly.
They had run away before their boss could think of any more tasks for them. Eralion lived a few houses further and they climbed the stairwell to under the roof there Aron knocked noisily.
"It's me! Aron! And Meyja!“ he called through the still closed door which opened a few seconds later.
"Has something happened?" Eralion asked when he let them in.
"You could say that," said Aron and Meyja handed over an invitation.
Eralion looked astonished at the rolled parchment. "You aren’t...?" he began and opened the scroll.
"Yeah, exactly that. She's in," Aron confirmed the unfinished sentence.
"Then my congratulations, Meyja," said Eralion with a smile and she thanked him cautiously.
“You are about to lose your good mood. Ed needs you in the shop,” Aron told him and Eralion groaned in annoyance.
“Not after all... the tables. Can't you say I wasn't home? Please, Aron,” he pleaded, but Aron shook his head mercilessly.
“I'm sorry, he asked for you specifically, brother. And someone has to do it,” said Aron.
"But I have something good with you for that," Eralion grumbled.
Aron put a hand briefly on his shoulder. "Sure. I'll see you tonight,” they said goodbye and went on.
After leaving the house where Eralion lived, they brought an invitation to Raemur who was not at home, so they carefully flattened the parchment roll, and slid it under the door of his flat. Then they wandered across the Lower City where Thom, Will, Sully, and Deval lived. The latter was the only one of the four who did not live in a dirty dump, but lived in a large, surprisingly bright flat like Aron and Meyja. Deval was a little scary to Meyja, he radiated something dark and threatening that she was unable to interpret, and she was secretly happy when they stepped back into the street, and started the long climb into the Workshop.
There they ordered a veritable feast at the Golden Cogwheel inn which would be delivered to Ed's shop the next evening. Aron and Meyja were the only ones of the Deathshade who lived in the Workshop and the last invitation would go to Tasim who lived in a large room in the High City before they went back down the mountain.
Despite the long walk, it had only taken them two hours, and they made their way back to the store. As they passed the city wall into the Old Town, Aron spotted Raemur from afar.
"I'll see you at Ed's! Go ahead, I'll follow you immediately!" Aron shouted over his shoulder as he was already running after Raemur.
Meyja laughed, shaking her head, and went on calmly, she opened the door to the shop and met Eralion who had just been behind it.
"Hey!" be bleated, rubbing his elbow with a grim expression on his face.
“Oh, I'm really sorry, Eralion. I haven’t..." she already started to apologise, but then he had to grin. "Very funny." She smirked and punched him lightly in the side.
"I already had you!" he laughed.
Meyja only giggled softly and looked around Ed's shop which looked very different than usual. The shelves and sparsely stocked displays had disappeared, instead a few tables were pushed together in the middle of the room, the counter had been placed against the wall, countless bottles of schnapps, beer, and other alcohol were on it.
Tomorrow nobody will stay sober here…' she thought.
When the door opened again, Meyja jumped aside in a flash, and Aron rushed into the room.
"Good reflexes," said Eralion with an appreciative nod.
"There you are," smiled Aron and gave her a cocky kiss. "Where's Ed?"
"Above. He's looking for something again," answered Eralion and rolled his eyes with a grin. “But if you're here now, I'd better get out of the field quickly. You will make it. See you tomorrow night."
Eralion hurried past them out the door and Aron shook his head with a grin.
"What clothes are we going to wear for the celebration?" asked Meyja. She was getting increasingly nervous and didn't want to be embarrassed when all eyes were on her.
“We usually wear what we usually wear, there are no guidelines. But of course, you are free to wear something else," answered Aron with a low laugh. “It would be fun if we came up with something special in this regard. A kind of new tradition, after all, you are the first woman who has made it this far."
“You've come up with something a long time ago, haven't you?” she inquired.
Aron nodded with a big grin.
Since Ed had nothing more to do for them, he let them go for the rest of the day, so they went out to get new clothes and then made their way to their home, where they pelted each other hungrily, and again passionately loved.
Breathing heavily Meyja turned on her back and grinned. "Will I ever get enough of this?"
"Hopefully not," muttered Aron and gently stroked her stomach.
She couldn't believe how far it had come. Not long ago she wouldn't even have considered giving herself to someone and now it almost seemed to her as if she was already addicted to his touch and the feeling that she had otherwise shied away from.
"I rather hope that you can never get enough of me," she replied softly and kissed him gently on the lips.
He shook his head. “No, I won't get that. I know. But I still have to leave you alone, the harbour master is waiting for his death and I don't have much time to turn him off. I'm really sorry that I have to go again now."
"It's okay. After all, I also have someone to shadow,” she remarked with a wink.
“Don't do anything without me, please. Anyway, I'm not comfortable with the fact that you have to get four people out of the way for the first job. And then also a family... That can quickly become overwhelming and I feel better when I'm with you,” he said doubtfully.
She sighed softly before getting up, and reaching for her clothes. “Have a little more faith in me. If I had any qualms, this job would have gone to someone else. But I don't have them, even if it may seem strange to you."
He also got dressed, routinely applied poison to his daggers, and then slipped them into his belt while he replied, “Still, I sometimes have the impression that you are taking all of this lightly. And I am not only your partner, but also your teacher. Neither would you just let me run off and murder on my own."
“And yet I already murdered on my own. Because my partner and teacher didn't come on time. Not that I blame you, on the contrary. My first blood made me want to do it again. I guess it's something like my destiny, at least that's what it feels like. Even if it's not a nice feeling.” She let her poisoned weapons circle once around her index finger and brought them in one flowing movement onto her back then she crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked at him seriously.
"You are as attractive as you are dangerous," murmured Aron and pulled her close to kiss her again. “Just gorgeous. Take good care of yourself, okay?"
She nodded, kissed back, and then put her mask in her pocket to have it ready to hand. "Be careful. You never know," she whispered.
Since they had to take the same route out of town, they walked to the main road, and down the mountain together.
After they had reached the Old Town Meyja swore softly and explained that she still needed something from the shop and they parted. While Aron continued to follow the main street, Meyja turned to the alley in which Ed's shop was located. But instead of going in, she looked around again, and then disappeared between the buildings in the opposite direction.

Copyright: Larissa Doe

Chapter 30 - Limits

When Meyja looked up at the city wall, she could see a pair of feet that dangled over the edge, and that probably belonged to the person she had to meet. She had to lie to Aron in order to be able to come here and, moreover, still little time, so she quickly began to climb up the masonry.
Breathlessly she heaved herself over the top edge and was eyed in amazement when she turned on her back with a groan.
"What happened then? Why in such a hurry?” Cayden asked with a smile.
Gasping she straightened up and sat down next to him. "I don't have a lot of time... I'm sorry to be returning now, and with such bad news. But there was a development because of which I sneaked away to tell you about it."
Without a word he handed her a cigarette and nodded invitingly.
"Thanks. Well, I saw something disturbing that affects you directly. My partner got the order to kill you," she said curtly, lit the glow stalk, and inhaled deeply.
Cayden looked at her startled and asked, "Who gave this assignment?"
"I don't know and I can't find out either. Nobody knows where our boss got all the murder assignments from, but I saw the document with my own eyes and it said Darius Bryce. Aron knows your face; he observed us at our last meeting, and therefore also knows that you are Voynarian. Of course, I deliberately kept your true identity secret, as well as the fact that you are behind the name Darius Bryce. But it's only a matter of time before he finds out I lied and everything is exposed. So, we have to come up with something to get you out of the line of fire in time,” she explained seriously.
“Not just me. You also can get in trouble if they find out that you helped me, right?” he wanted to know.
She nodded seriously. “I am now officially an assassin and I belong to a guild. If it turns out that I have thwarted one of our assignments, I too have to flee, otherwise they will kill me as well."
"So, we have to make it look like the murder happened according to plan?" Cayden continued.
Meyja nodded again. "And afterwards you definitely have to disappear or assume a different identity."
He was silent for a minute, looking down at the city thoughtfully. “It won't be easy, I think. But I saw a man in the Lower City a while ago who looked a lot like me. It was one of the beggars and probably nobody would miss him. We could use him to fake my death. Certainly, nobody would ask questions, if a dead person was found in my armour."
“That would at least make the assignment obsolete. But you have to leave anyway, if we don't want to run the risk that it all comes out afterwards,” she replied. "Aron is suspicious and jealous of you anyway. Should he investigate, he must have the impression that you’re really dead."
"Jealous? Why then? I didn't touch you after all," he replied with a frown.
She looked somewhat embarrassed on her knees. "He heard that I called him a friend in your presence, Aron and I are much more than that. And now he calls you my friend from the city wall in return."
Cayden admitted, somewhat embarrassed, “You know, Meyja... I would have expressed an interest in you, but before that I also noticed that your heart already belongs to someone else. Even if he doesn't seem too good to you when he tries to make you feel guilty, just..."
"You’re wrong. He's very good to me and since I've had him by my side, I've been rid of some of my worries. Worries I owed Voynar,” she replied accusingly.
“That almost sounds like I could do something for your worries. Then why are you meeting me at all?” he asked, puzzled.
She took a deep breath, and opened her mouth, but then she shrugged again, and let the air escape, shaking her head. “I'm not sure to be honest. In spite of everything, Voynar is my home, and Jevarish will probably remain dangerous for us forever. See it as an offer of peace on my part to my unloved homeland.” She stood up. "Thanks for the cigarette."
Cayden took hold of her hand and also got up. “Wait, Meyja. Whatever happened to you in the north, I'm very sorry, really."
"There is no excuse for that. But let's leave that. It's a thing of the past, and can't be changed,” she admitted with mock generosity and wriggled her hand out of his grasp.
Even if she was now forgiving, it pissed her off that Cayden took it upon himself to apologise to her. But at the same time, she didn't feel like talking to him about Voynar longer than necessary, although there were a lot of things, she would have liked to throw at him, so she just shut up.
"Yet. Maybe we can talk about it sometime when you have more time. I know my father did a lot of things wrong and I would like to do better now that he…" he said quietly, but he broke off his words and avoided her gaze.
"Since he what?" she asked.
He shook his head briefly before he admitted, “I'm not just the heir to the throne, Meyja. I am the rightful king. My father died while helping me to escape."
"I'm sorry," she muttered flatly.
So, they had something in common – besides their origins.
'Ah, wonderful…' she thought.
"Thanks," he replied quietly, looking a little absent-minded.
Meyja was uncomfortable with the situation, so she quickly changed the subject. "What can I help you with now, Cayden?"
"Well... by finding this man, getting him out of the way, and hiding him somewhere. Then we'll meet again and put my armour on him so that they'll keep him for me when I'm gone. There is a cellar under the great city wall at the very front. Here's the key,” he replied, handing her said item. “You can find it three streets away from the main street, to the south. Right across from a tannery. Hardly anyone goes there and we have to hurry anyway so that the corpse does not decompose too quickly and the story remains believable. Put him in, lock it, and let me know, then I'll come and we'll put the armour on him."
She gave him back the key and said, “I don't need it. I can open a simple lock with a lock pick. But how am I supposed to reach you? After all, I can't just walk into the barracks."
“Just disguise yourself as a messenger and drop a message for me at the guards who are cordoning off the military district. I'll write a document that looks like an official letter and put it in the basement. Then just say you came from the main gate, that it was an urgent matter, and you didn't know any more about it. If I am not in the barracks, they will send you on. They always know where I am and the document will also help to make my death plausible by pretending to be commanded from a higher authority to the Lower City,” he explained.
Meyja nodded. “I don't know how quickly I can do it. Aron and I live together, and he also always knows where I'm hanging out. So, I'll have to wait for him to go to tail you. So be careful until things are over. He is absolutely deadly and the best in our ranks. "
"Alright. Thanks, Meyja,” Cayden muttered.
Before she knew what was happening, he pulled her to his chest, and hugged her tightly.
Even if he let go of her after a second, her cheeks glowed red, and she stammered, “It's okay, Cayden. See you."
She took a step over the edge, disappeared into the depths where she landed silently on the ground, and hurried away through the alleys.
He looked after her, and felt a longing tug in his bowels because she had left after all, but he was in love with her. She was a pure-blood Voynarian, brave, and determined to do so.
Ten minutes later, and just as dusk fell over Jevarish, Meyja was sitting behind a bush, and watching the house where the family she was supposed to kill lived. They lived not far from the pumpkin field and were evidently nothing more than a few farmers who had probably got in someone's way unsuspectingly. In two windows she could still see the glow of a log fire, so someone was still awake, even if no one had been seen outside since she had been here.
Nevertheless, she waited another half hour and was about to sneak up to the building when someone from behind put a hand to her mouth and held her.
"Take it easy," whispered a familiar voice and she nodded briefly.
After Deval had let go of her, she turned to him, and hissed, "What is this?"
He smiled. "I came by coincidentally, discovered you, and thought I'll see what you're doing here."
“I'm watching the building. A family lives there and I should turn them off,” she explained shortly and looked back at the house. "Actually, I was just about to sneak to a window when you distracted me."
Deval asked, "A family?"
She nodded silently, annoyed that he'd exposed her for the rookie she was.
“Is Ed abandoned by all good spirits? He's sending a child to slaughter a family?” he repeated amused.
'It is enough...' she thought.
With one quick movement she kicked Deval's legs away, and since he was only squatting on the balls of his feet he lost his balance and reflexively pulled her with him so that she came to lie on top of him.
She wanted to roll off him, but he held her tight, her arms pressed against her sides, so she twisted, and yanked her knee up as soon as they were on his side. Deval groaned in agony as Meyja's knee went between his legs, and she was finally able to free herself.
"Call me child again," she growled menacingly and glared at him.
"It's okay, it's okay," he replied with a quiet laugh. “I was just kidding. Ouch, that really sat."
Why did such events pile up again and again? First Cayden hugged her without being asked and now Deval allowed himself to have fun with her she found anything but funny. Couldn't men just imagine that women were uncomfortable just touching them? Or did she just overreact every time? But no matter which explanation was correct, she was not sorry that she had caused Deval pain, he could get to know her borderline.
"Now get out of here and let me do my work," she replied through clenched teeth.
In the meantime, he had picked himself up again. “Don't do anything stupid. It's not an easy task and even someone like me who has been doing this for over ten years, still has to be extremely careful not to get caught. Especially when you try to kill them in their sleep, you never know how easily the other people who are resting in the same room wake up."
“I am aware of that. I don't plan to do it tonight, I'm just here to peek, and get a picture,” she replied quietly.
Deval nodded. “Then I wish you all the best. See you tomorrow at your welcome party. Good night."
"Likewise. See you soon,” she replied also nodding.
He got up, and crept away through the night while Meyja without even looking at him remained seated and waited.
Two hours later, Aron suddenly dropped into the grass next to her and asked, "How does it look?"
“They seem to have gone to bed a few minutes ago, at least turned off the light. Actually, I wanted to get closer, and watch through a window, but Deval was here, and somehow throwing me off the hook,” she replied quietly and eyed him as best she could in the dark. "Did everything go smoothly for you?"
He nodded. “Yes, the harbour master is history. What did Deval want from you?"
She waved her hand gruffly. "Apparently, he just wanted to annoy me. He succeeded. As if it wasn't scary enough for me at times."
“Deval is something special. He's worked for Ed a long time, but he's still a loner. Still, he mostly stays decent, and only harasses you with his strange jokes," replied Aron. "What did he do?"
“He said something about Ed being out of his mind sending a child to kill a family. Then I pushed him so that he fell and he pulled me with him until I was on top of him. He only let go of me when he had my knee in the crotch,” she said.
"He deserves that," remarked Aron. “You have to show them how far they can go, and pain is one of the lessons that always works. Not just with the Deathshade, but with all men in Sharaya. In this country women are treated with little or no respect, if they don’t defend themselves. Don't be afraid to let them know what it feels like to piss off the In-... Sorry. Word will get around that it is better not to mess with you, and at some point, you will have peace at least within the guild."
"Don't you have to take care of the job with the city guard too?" she asked.
He frowned briefly. “I planned to watch him during the day. In the evenings, the high-ranking guards are usually in the barracks anyway where I can't get to them that easily. And then there is also a celebration we cannot miss."
"I almost forgot..." she mumbled softly.
Smiling he pulled her close, pushed the cloth from her mouth, and kissed her before whispering, “I'm so incredibly proud that you are one of us. And on the fact that I can be by your side."
“You are just wonderful, Aron. I owe all of this to you. It was only because of you I was able to become an assassin. And I was finally able to open up to someone,” she replied with a smile, and stroked his half-long hair.
"Let's go home," he suggested in a dark voice.
Meyja nodded with red cheeks, knowing what he was after, and could hardly wait to land back in his bed.

Copyright: Larissa Doe