Contest under 2000 words. Story must start with this: Things got out of hand that night.
Things got out of hand that night. Though it is hard to see why because I had planned every detail down to how short I was going to clip my fingernails. But then, the night wasn't over yet.
I waited carelessly, or at least tried to appear careless. The rags covering my body were working well to soak up the sour water which leaked in from somewhere and never left the floor. My bare feet and ankles were freezing in their nakedness, but at least they were not cramped up in the dark and surrounded by moisture all the time, like they would be if I were wearing shoes. That would be worse. Much better to let them free and air out. Even the chain binding me to each ankle had its use. I just had to shake it once and it would scare the rats away that would creep in to eat my hard bread shoved under the door on a plate. See, I can still be optimistic despite my situation.
An orange glow reflecting off the pools of water under the door blossomed as it approached. I forced myself to be finally relieved at the fraction of freedom at leaving this cell. I sat up straighter and put on an expression of unbroken defiance as the thick oaken door swung open to reveal three guards wearing masks across their faces.
So I wouldn't know who to kill if I escaped. I was flattered that they would see my sixteen year old self that dangerous.
Two of the men held loaded crossbows on her while the third produced a rusty pair of hard iron manacles. I complied and stood, turning my back to them and put my hands behind my back. I watched tiny pairs of lights reflecting the fire from the torch as the rats bobbed heads in curiosity.
The manacles pinched the soft skin about my wrists and I tensed. An arm pressed against my back, pushing me into the wall.
"Lift your foot," commanded the gruff voice behind me. I lifted my bare ,foot and the shackle was released, dropping to the stone floor with a loud clang. The tiny pairs of lights vanished.
A hand grasped my upper arm and directed me around. I followed without complaint. The two bowman walked behind me. I could feel the intensity of their stares on my back.
We walked down the dank stone hallway, more prisoners pressed into cells on both sides as I passed. Not one of them made eye contact with me. I was ushered into a stair well and the air became slightly warmer, slightly thicker as we rose. It made me cough. Exiting the stairs, I followed the lead of the man who still had a vice-like grip on my arm down a straight hallway where two more masked men stood guard to either side of the iron door at the end. As we approached, one of them knocked on the door. A moment later, it was pulled open by another guard on the other side. Due to the exertion he expended to get it open all the way, I assumed the door was very heavy. We walked through.
Immediately ahead of me was the raised dais where the magistrate and his coop of crows sat. All in black robes, the seven men to include the magistrate himself also wore masks across the lower half of their faces. A single window showed a glimpse of freedom behind the dais. Empty pews spilled outward from the pulpit like an empty wave.
I was led to stand directly beneath and center the pulpit. Once I was positioned with the 3 men behind me, the men with bows on either side, the magistrate stood and approached the pulpit. His nose and mouth were shrouded with the black cloth but his blue eyes looked at me firmly, as if trying to stab me in the same matter I was going to attempted on him earlier in the evening. Bushy white eyebrows shrouded the wrinkles about his eyes.
The room waited.
"What is your birth name?" The magistrate looked right through me.
"Whisper," I replied confidently.
Mumbling voices murmured behind the magistrate from his six council members.
The magistrate leaned forward across the pulpit as if to make sure his question penetrated deeper into me. "What is your BIRTH name?"
"Silent Whisper," I said, trying to keep my smile into a thin, serious line.
The cloth over the magistrate's mouth shifted gently in what I believed to be a sneer. He stood straighter again. "I will not call you by a name that the devil gave you. For the purpose of this court session, I will call you assassin, since that is what you are being charged with. Does that suit you?"
"We all must do what must be done, your honor." I held my tone in a perfect pitch of regretted understanding.
The magistrate shifted uncomfortably and continued. "You, assassin, are being charged with attempted murder, on myself, Garyd Fornsear. Just six hours ago, you entered upon my house with many tools about you which could serve death. You defeated seventeen of my twenty locks about my house and if it weren't for your delaying killing my guard which apprehended you, you would have been successful."
"You think that highly of me, your honor?" I looked him in the eye, tossing my head to the side to throw my dirty black hair out of my vision. "Just because I defeated seventeen of your twenty locks does not mean I could get the last three. To be honest, I tried. But those last three were locks I had never seen before and my tools could not get me in."
The magistrate's mask shifted. It appeared that he was smiling.
"And I will even volunteer that it is one of my greatest desires to kill you. You won't remember, but you freed a man six years ago for an inexcusable crime, and he killed my parents upon his release."
I watched steadily for any expression from him. It was hard to tell if my words had any power over his conscience.
"But then I ask myself," I continued, giving myself time, "if I am any better than that man that murdered my parents for desiring to kill you, but I think that if I can save at least two lives by slaying your incompetency, then I can be counted as a hero. And another thing, I still have to find that murderer and kill him myself."
The magistrate shifted and mindlessly toyed with the pawl on the pulpit. "I suppose you can haunt him, because when you leave here, you will be dead." He leaned forward and bore into my with eyes as hot as a fire poker. "Is there anything else the assassin would like to say?"
"Actually, yes," I said, relieved as I finally felt the satisfying click against my wrists. "I was wondering, magistrate, why I was put in these shackles."
"I'm sorry... was it not obvious?"
"Very obvious. Just not well thought of. You see, if I defeated seventeen of your twenty locks into your house. What makes you think this one lock on the shackle is going to keep me bound?"
Silence thickened the room, deadly realization setting in. I dropped the pick I had smuggled under my skin and my wrists came apart. I spun to the guard with the crossbow to my right. Taking advantage of the half second before he could react, I raised the crossbow to the magistrate and pulled the trigger. The bolt sunk into the man's chest and he disappeared behind the pulpit with a heavy thud. The seven crows behind the pulpit jumped to their feet in a flurry of flying black robes.
The guard reached for me with a giant arm. I danced out of the way and ducked as the second guard shot a bolt at me. The bolt zipped over my head and into the guard's body on my right. With a gurgle he fell backward. I retrieved his bow and pulled the trigger on the remaining two guards. The other guard managed to get a bolt off before mine plunged into his neck. His bolt pierced through my side and stuck there. I cried in shock and leapt backward. The two guards at the only door in the room charged at me and I ended them both with the crossbow. I had two bolts left, but I had effectively stopped every armed member in the room. I felt bad about it, wondering if all these deaths were worth the cost of my revenge. A sinking feeling in my gut told me no. So I had to continue to make it worth it.
Now that most of the adrenaline had worn off, pain zapped up my body from the bolt under my skin. I would leave it for now. It was keeping the blood at bay until I could get to a place to take it out.
I aimed the crossbow at the crows behind the pulpit blocking the only window as I moved cautiously to it, wincing with every step as the bolt pulled against the torn muscle. They all sidled away, watching the point of the loaded bolt in the bow. The way to the window was clear. Taking the two last bolts off the crossbow, I left the bow on the ground and opened the window. Looking back at the six astonished men behind the masks, I casually made my escape into the sunlight.
Things had gotten out of hand that night. But it was supposed to.
WORD COUNT: 1,619