Prologue: The Art of Seduction

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The Art of Seduction

The night before Good Friday, a cold front moving in and tendrils of fog lapping at the windows- Roslyn only sixteen- Mr. Pamuk tried to sleep with her. Not in the unpredictable future, in which a drunken Pamuk would arrive, late, boorish, and headlong at the Citadel, but right then and there- locked with his poor victim in the upstairs chamber of Northanger Castle. 

Roslyn knew her undoing. It was the wine she had played into Mr. Pamuk before this sudden change of events. She didn’t know what had happened. Usually, she played the game just right- offering men a forbidden glance of the underside of her forearm, bending down at just the right moments when on the ballroom floor, bumping thighs with whatever young chap she was payed to bewitch. Always by accident, of course.

Roslyn’s fragile beauty was unique to her, but valued as a commodity. She had yet to find a man, other than that spiteful Mercurio, who wasn’t ready with his life to hand over. Thus, her deadly routine was born- of seducing young (but mostly old) men into dazed states of mind, of throwing them into glasses of champagne, of rubbing her skin against theirs- and then, of killing them. Roslyn, with the red dagger strapped to her thigh, had her chance when Pamuk was bent over trying to wrestle off his shirt. But she let it slide, and there he stood, a monument to her atrocities, glowing with anticipation. Roslyn was disgusted.

Slowly, she retraced her steps. Where was the slip-up? Where was the fatal error that led to both of them, locked in the bedroom, seconds away from sinning? She recalled the night.

Her dress, a baby blue, showing her body in half moons. A ribbon in her ebony black hair. Ivory skin, blushed ‘til crimson perfection. And her eyes. The queerest eyes in the world, everyone said. They were blue, but cold and hard. They looked almost misty, with their silver filaments and speckles of uncolored gray. Yes, the eyes. Roslyn had overdone on the eyes- batting her eyelashes a tad too much, seductively leering at Mr. Pamuk a little less ladylike.

Roslyn couldn’t afford a screw-up. Her standing with The Citadel was already small and hard-pressed. Sure, the boss had simply loved the idea- seduction in place of stealth- but she had quickly gotten the name of ‘Scarlet Woman.’ It wasn’t her fault. Roslyn couldn’t help that her beauty was that of a goddess, that the whiteness of her cupid’s bow and the thickness of her black hair was unmatched, that she had no real, romantic feelings toward men of any kind. It was The Citadel’s fault. They had woken her up, made her realize that murdering her ex-boyfriend by hacking and slicing was not the thing to do. At that point, she wanted to kill her beauty. She had raised a dagger to her face, but it was Pippa who convinced her she could get back at mankind.

Pippa, her best friend in the Citadel, was the only reason she remained alive today. It was Pippa who convinced The Citadel that letting Roslyn rot and die in her little orphanage was a waste of pure, hard assassin’s talent. Since then, Roslyn was looked down upon by most of The Citadel’s Assassin Women, treated as an outcast- a prostitute. The men had a wary respect for her. Roslyn, of course, was unable to kill a woman. But she could kill any man under her charm- which was every man- without any moral guilt.

Anyway, back to Northanger Castle. While I may be a somewhat tricky narrator, I am at least reliable. Don’t worry- everything will be clear, shortly.

Roslyn had gotten her latest contact, her client, her target, whatever your tongue wishes to say. Jacques Pamuk, a leading figurehead of the factories. Under his reign, workers were afraid to rebel like they did elsewhere. But his inventions were amazing, all the same. Machines that launched into the air and zoomed around, floating simply because of their heavy magnetic prowess. Steaming, honking, blaring automobiles that trundled over buildings and could climb sheer cliffs. Unlike the famous Bolts, Pamuk was unwilling to help the assassin guilds with his inventions. He needed to die, so The Citadel could scrape up his work, blueprints, ideas, whatnot. He needed to die.

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