Kera looked down and saw the side of the tower dropping away hundreds of feet below. She felt the familiar twist of sickness in her gut, a spasm of fear. It would soon pass, she thought. Arms shaking with the final effort, she pulled herself up onto the windowsill.
The alchemist sat on a low stool in the middle of the room. His face was bathed in the pasty yellow light of the candle beside him. All around the room were tattered books as thick as a man’s thigh, bottles and jars filled with all manner of foul-smelling ingredients. His desk was cluttered with glass tubes and coils of metal.
He did not seem surprised to see the figure in the dark purple cloak crawling down from the ledge like an overgrown spider. His face relaxed in a sigh of resignation.
“I don’t suppose I could persuade you to drink some tea?”
The alchemist’s long, delicate fingers indicated a small cup of amber liquid sitting on the far side of the table. Kera shook her head as she stood upright.
“Is there any point in calling my guards?”
Kera stepped towards the man, pulling her long blade free of its sheath. Sharp iron whispered against hardened leather.
“What’s your name, assassin?”
My father sat down beside me. I was crouched on the hard wooden floor of my mother’s kitchen, peeling potatoes with a dull knife.
“Are you ready to hear more about our family name?” He asked.
“Yes, I’m ready.” I replied. “Last time you said our name means death?”
Every part of my mind strained to hide the excitement which threatened to overpower me. It had been years since my father last spoke of the name Wraith. Scarcely a day had gone by when I did not long to barrage him with questions, but my father did not like to be pestered.
“Our family is older than any other. Your ancestors were heroes in ancient times and you carry their knowledge and their strength in your heart.”
“All families are the same age, otherwise where did they come from?”
His eyes bored deep into mine, searching for any sign that I was not serious, that I was teasing him. Finally, he seemed to be satisfied.
“You’re not ready yet. We’ll talk more later.”
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