RWWP: Act Two!
As promised, here’s a short scene from act two of Rephaim. I’ve made a few minor edits, but it’s still mostly in its NaNo state. Certain parts of it irk me, but I’ll let you come to a verdict on which. I know a lot of people are really busy right now so don’t fret if you can’t get to the critiques right away. RWWP is meant to be relaxed, so don’t stress over it. Just have fun.
Act 2 – Scene 23
Selwyn and Runa left out the back door. Passing through the lower room was hardly as awkward as the first time. Elvira and Katharina entertained separate groups of girls while others talked amongst themselves. A few read books while others slept on each others laps. Selwyn caught Katharina’s eye. She smiled at him.
“I trust you can walk silently.” Runa said once they were outside
“You remember I am–was–a professional murderer, right?” he found himself smiling despite the company. He never considered himself much of an assassin, but he did find a certain exhilaration in disappearing into the night. Now he could do that quite literally. He was completely invisible in the dark night, but Runa didn’t seem to have a problem knowing exactly where he was.
They took the back alleys to the Ryder manse to avoid the brightly-lit streets. The street lamps weren’t yet upgraded to gas. The elderly man who was in charge of lighting every post along the street was long gone, but that was no promise of safety.
The estate itself was much of how Selwyn recalled it. The security was a lax as ever, with just two guards at the main entrance. One looked asleep. The other didn’t look far off from it.
“How do you propose we get in?” Selwyn asked Runa. They had hid themselves behind a nearby house, though it wasn’t necessary; Selwyn was invisible and Runa might as well have been in her cloak.
“Walk.” She made no attempt to keep her voice low.
“And what of the guards?” Selwyn kept his a whisper.
“They’re already dead.” She stepped past him and continued to the estate. “Their life clocks have stopped.”
“What?” Selwyn paused a moment to process what she said and continued behind her. As Selwyn neared the two guards, he realized the red adorning their chests wasn’t decoration. It was blood.
Both guards were dead. The one slouched on the ground looked like someone had run him through with a spear, into his mouth and out the back of his head. The one that still stood did so precariously, leaning against the wall. His windpipe was severed.
“Oddly precise for a Shadow,” Selwyn said.
“Yes, it is, though the fatal wounds are appropriate.”
“Katharina told me about that. They go for whatever causes breath.” Selwyn picked the weapons off the slumped guard. Not that there was much to be had, but he found a shinier replacement for his lost dagger.
“But they don’t usually stop there. These deaths are clean. These men didn’t fight.” Runa looked back at Selwyn.
“What if they were asleep?”
“Didn’t you say you saw Shadow victims?”
“Good point.” Selwyn stood as Runa gazed around the interior of the estate. Everything seemed as normal, which only bothered Selwyn more. There was eerie stillness to the night similar to that of Sheol where the wind did not reach. Perhaps it was the freshly-dead bodies, but something had put him on edge.
“By Selena’s grace. Everything,” Runa broke the silence, “everyone who was once living is now dead. Everyone that I can see.”
“How do you know?” Selwyn couldn’t see anyone else across the estate.
“Remember the candles?”
“How could I forget?”
“The remaining life on the candle is the remaining life on a person. I can see that clock on every living thing, counting down to the end of their lives.” Runa stared intently as Selwyn. For a moment, he thought he could actually see her eyes. “Everything I can see across this estate has run out of time. They’re all dead. Their candles no longer burn.”
“So whatever killed these guards, killed everyone else.” Selwyn stared back at Runa, the unsettling feeling growing in his heart. “Do you think it was to hide something?”
“Are you up for an investigation?” She held her hand out in front of her, no longer looking at Selwyn.
“Infiltrate an estate whose inhabitants recently died of unknown yet murderous causes? Sounds like fun, when do we start?”
“Now.” a sword materialized in her hand. She tossed it hilt-first to Selwyn.
The sword was short, perhaps really just a long dagger. The blade curved to a point and was sharp on only one side. The hilt itself was a loop handle, meant to circle the hand. Selwyn had never seen such a blade before, let alone use it. Still, he liked the weight of it, and looked forward to using it.
He didn’t consider the Ryder estate a major loss, but chances are, whoever or whatever killed everyone inside of it had something to do with the Shadows and Aaron Ryder. That made it Selwyn’s target.
“I’ll expect that blade back after this,” Runa told him before walking off, “So no more stabbing Shadows at will.”
The looped handle was Runa’s way of putting the blade on a leash. The blade would be harder to let go of. Selwyn scowled and followed her toward the manse.