Until a faint noise drifted in Ricks ear. The buzz of a fly. Immediately he sprang to conciousness, his dagger in hand. He rarely slept with out it. Despite his rude awakening he made sure not to open eyes, move, or even disrupt his breathing. Slowly he opened one eye to a squint and peered about. The fly had apparently stopped buzzing about, and he couldn't locate it. He lay motionless, pushing his hearing almost beyond the point of his endurance.
A moment later he heard it again. It was close, just off the left side of his bed. With out wasting another moment he dove into the inner most reaches of his soul, calling upon the gift he was born with. All light was drained from his room. Not even the best eyes in the world could see in total absence of light.
Next, Rick moved to his feet and slid off his bed. He was careful with his wieght distribution, but the springs still made a little noise. Once on his feet he made no noise at all. He was still barefoot and the hard stone floor was the perfect surface for silent movement.
Somewhere in the darkness the fly buzzed about some more. Rick stayed on the move, not even allowing his assailant the ability to guess his location. This game of sound played on for quite awhile, until finally the silence was broken.
Somewhere to Ricks right, where he had been a few moments earlier, he heard the distinct swish of a blade missing its target followed by the shuffle of feet. Quickly he allowed light to return to the room. The attack was an elderly man, hunched over with a dagger in hand. Rick then used more Magick, focusing all the light in the room directly into the mans eyes. The elder man dropped his dagger and groaned in pain. Rick was careful to shield his own eyes to avoid blinding.
Once again alowing the light ot return to normal, Rick sprang from his position and brought his own blade to the attackers throat, pinning him against the wall.
"What the bloody hell are you doing here Rufus?" He scowled, obviously annoyed by his disturbed sleep.
"You are here three months ahead of schedule Rick, we had to make sure you didn't fail to obtain the sceptre." The old man croaked back, still rubbing his eyes.
Rick stepped back and sheathed his dagger. "Are these tests really necesary mate? I mean, I'm tired of getting attacked every few days. Rattles my nerves..."
"We have to test our own, you know. We can't have any failures. Always on your toes, as we say."
"I'm not one of your own. I'm an independent contractor. Lay off." Rick sat back down on his bed and watched the crooked old man grope about the room, still blind.
"Still... the sceptre Rick. What of the sceptre."
"So soon, you weren't supposed to be here until late fall, and we haven't heard any reports..."
Rick cut Rufus off. "When I say I'll get the giddy job done, I mean it. Do you blame me for being far faster and twice as efficient than your own kind? The story will probably hit the papers in a couple weeks time. Lay off you old git!"
"I come for another reason as well. There are many in this school who can delve into minds. You need the proper serums to block out them out."
"My mate in Dublin helped me out. It took him awhile to get the ingredients, but its done."
Rufus had finally followed Ricks voice and now sat on the bed next to him. It even appeared as if his vision was returning a bit. His crackled voice was already making Rick feel sick. "We don't trust your matie in Dublin. You will drink our own serum." The old man produced a vile. It contained a blueish liquid.
"Demanding the morning aren't we?" Rick said sarcastically as he took the vile. Before drinking it he sniffed it. "Poison. Wyvern blood. I'm disappointed mate, thats the best you can do?"
"Rick your the stuff of legends." Croaked Rufus.
"...and your a pain in the ever-lovin' ass." Replied Rick with a grin. He handed the vile back. "Would you care to stop trying to test me, or kill me as I call it. Its right rude you know..."
"Very well." Rufus put the poison vile away and produced a second one and handed it over. Rick smelled it, and swirled it around a bit. Once satisfied he quaffed it in one gulp. He twisted his face for a moment, as it tasted vile. "Good, good!" Rufus started again. "My business is done here. Tread carefully Rick. There are wise witches here. Send word when your job is done."
"Right, off you go then. When I'm done you'll hear straight away."
Rufus, an animagi, morphed back into a fly and buzzed away.
The Downwinders aren't what they used to be.... and they wonder why their numbers are so small. Those bloody tests are right burtal. Thought Rick as he changed into cleaner clothes from his pack. His meeting was still an hour off, but there was no sense in sleeping again.
I just hope this job goes off with out a hitch. Then I can retire in style at the age of twenty five.