Loading... Chapter Twelve
The town's church was large, like many in their time. The steeple reached high into the sky like it could touch heaven with its point. Daniel walked in with his head down. His shadowed face made him look even more reverent. The sun shined through stained glass windows, leaving spots of blue, green, and little bits of red on his white cloak.
Mass was already in session as Daniel took a seat in a back pew. He had to put Amilia to the test before he could trust her, and this was the most culture-clashing way he could think of doing it. On the altar stood a priest giving a sermon, backed up by statues of the saints. They silently prayed under a large stained glass window. While the church was well loved, the man was not. He was funneling funds into stockpiling weapons for the knights, and often supported bards who constantly outed thieves in the area.
Amilia had broken off from Daniel a while back. He approved, since this mission was all hers. She had slipped into the confessional near the front, deciding it would be a good spot to hide until mass ended. Allowing her to both keep out of sight and remain close to the inner rooms.
When mass was over a short time later, she snuck out like she didn't want even God to see her—or the bow on her back. Amilia ducked around a hallway that some altar servers walked into, catching a door that lead back to the room the priest went into first. She waited long enough for them to clear before ducking inside.
"How could the money not be ready yet?" the priest called from another room. A quarrel broke out between him and some other deep voice, but their voices were jumbled. The occasional word could be made out, but they were unfit for this hallowed place.
The mission had been to stop the priest by any means necessary. Preferably by taking the donations that were destined to become weapons, but Daniel had hinted that if it wasn't possible, other measures should be taken. Without the money being here, Amilia anxiously pulled her bow forward. Did that really only leave killing the man?
Amilia pressed herself against the wall as the priest stormed out of the room. Thankfully away from her, which was a mixed blessing. She wasn't caught, but her target was getting away. A choice had to be made. Now.
She pulled an arrow out and readied her shot. Breathing out slowly to steady herself as she released the string. A shallow gasp came from the man as the arrow entered his neck, and a spurt of blood fell to the floor. The man slumped to his knees as he failed to grab the arrow. Amilia stepped out of her hiding spot, feeling like she should catch him before he fell, but only ended up twitching where she was when he did.
Amilia crept back the way she came, even though her heart jumped around in her chest, urging her to run instead. She headed straight for the exit, unable to even think about looking for Daniel. Dread filled her to the brim. All she could think about was getting away.
While a bard could kill, ending someone who could help them would never appear on a list of acceptable behaviors from her uncle. They could have her head for this. For turning against them. Amilia didn't even want to think about what she just did. She was upset on every level for putting so much on the line. Maybe she should have taken to the rooftops, but she walked straight into the crowd, wanting to lose herself in everything.
Daniel had followed her from the second she passed. "Hey, slow down," he said once in earshot. "I know the first time is unnerving, but you can't keep running away from me."
Amilia didn't look at him, just kept making her way into the crowd. Finally boiling over, she turned into a seemingly empty alley. Spinning around to face Daniel so fast that he had to stop short so he didn't run into her.
Her jaw was tight as she stared at him for a moment longer, trying to keep herself from saying things she might regret. But it was no use. "Tell me something!" she yelled. "Why did you decide to let me be a part of this? Why did you decide to teach a stranger how to do this?"
"Because you asked!"
"Did you ever question what you were getting someone into? Do you enjoy making someone a killer? Do you believe turning someone into a monster is for the greater good? Whatever that is." Amilia shifted on her feet, only letting a moment pass to give the appearance of allowing him time to speak before she added even more. "You are a thief! How is killing even acceptable behavior?"
Each verbal assault made Daniel grimace. His eyes shined with the same sort of fire she was spitting at him. But he willed himself to stay silent until she at very least finished her rant.
She paused for a moment as her lungs seemed tight, but didn't stop. "Do you ever consider that people don't even recognize or care what you might have done? A crime in your guild's name. At best maybe a few will be happy one bastardo is gone."
"Why do you keep assuming any of us do this for the glory?" Daniel asked, unable to hold his tongue anymore. "Do you see any of us bragging about all the things we do?"
Despite Daniel showing up for the fight, she refused to back down. "Even stealing from the rich and giving to the poor doesn't fix anything. You don't even have faith or stories to back your guild's deeds. None of this changes even if you take the lives of the damned!"
Daniel groaned, fists balled up as if he wanted to shake her. "My name may never reach fame, but never, ever underestimate how important one person can be. You changed the lives of many people today. That church might even be able to do some good now that their donations aren't being stolen from within."
"If the thieves don't get to them first," she spat. Daniel's expression darkened in a fashion that only made her feel worse than she had before. Yelling and getting things off her chest was supposed to make her feel better, but all she could feel was hysteria and hate. Emotion was a powerful tool for a bard, but she struggled to get control over it.
Daniel patiently looked at her as a mixture of annoyance and concern tinted his expression. "Are you done?" he asked softly.
Amilia exhaled trying to let every emotion finally settle, until only a strong hint of sadness showed. Her eyes became heavy as if she was picturing more than the day's events. "Does everyone deserve to die?" she whispered.
"No," Daniel said breathlessly. "No, not everyone." He wanted to comfort her, and after fighting himself for a moment, reached out to touch her hand. "You must think of those you love and care about, and decide what you want to fight for. That will give you resolve to do anything you need. You made the choice though, Amilia. No one else. All I can promise you is that with us, you won't be forced to do anything you don't decide to."
Amilia's fingers moved to interlace with his without even thinking about it. She nodded, even though her head was lowered. The knights, bards, mercenaries, were all controlled by a strict set of rules laid down by the person with the most influence. The thieves, however, were free. They weren't confined to a black and white world.
"You just have to pick what you want," Daniel said. No matter what the guild wanted, or her family, he wouldn't force her to side with them. That wasn't loyalty at all.
The way he was looking at her now made him wonder if there was something more than the desires of others that brought them together. Amilia looked up enough to catch their hands that were still together. With a start, she pulled her hand back. "I..." she started, expression flinching at the war within herself. "I'll stay by you."
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