The village was dead quiet as the three took their leave of the inn. It could have just been the fact that it was the wee hours of the morning, or it could have been the fact that word of the world famous assassin Snowyl Aomidori had set foot in their honest town.
Once they had left the village behind at the town gate, Anwil turned on Aomidori. "Who are you?" he yelled in her face, his pretty-boy face contorted in an emotion he hadn't felt before. It was fear. Fear had never struck him before, with his big ego and his natural Elfborn swagger: he hadn't known what it felt like until now.
Aomidori's silence was menacing, but she answered. "My family has been trained since birth in the subtle art of killing," she said simply. "There is no right or wrong, Elf. There is only those weak and those strong. My main purpose is to protect, and if I die doing that, I have fulfilled my purpose." She slid her blood-soaked sword into its sheath.
"So you don't care about anyone?!" shouted Anwil. "No one's well-being, no one's life?!"
"Only the one I was born to protect," she said curtly, holding Shii's hand. The poor child was still shaking, and some of the blood from Aomidori's sleeves had stained Shii's.
"You know what?" said Anwil angrily, "You're not fit to protect a child. Just let me take her to the orphanage. Then I'll leave you to your bloody ways, okay?!" he attempted to grab Shii's shoulders, but Aomidori was on him in a second, eyes flashing.
"You touch her, and I'll kill you," she said.
Anwil struggled for his sword, but Aomidori's weight held him down. His gaze snapped back to hers, and for the first time he was forced to look at her. The only things he had noticed about her before was her slim build, hungry battle-hardened eyes, and almost-white teal waist-length hair, but now he saw much more.
Her eyes were a shade lighter than Shii's, but still as blue-green as an ocean on a clear day. Her face reminded him of a child's, albeit a rather blood-thirsty one. Her bangs covered her eyes slightly, and a scar ran across the side of one of her cheeks. The last thing he noticed was small red crescent moon tattooed under her left eye, with a white-outlined black dagger crossing over it.
"Blood Moon," hissed Anwil.
She smiled, her lips drawn tightly over her teeth. "Hmmm," she said, and for a moment her eyes flashed blood red. "I wonder how much money I could get killing you. You're the best hunter in Jayorid? Well, whatever, who cares. If I kill you, your hometown goes without food, so, well, many people die for the price of one." Her eyes flashed, and she brought up her blade. "Goodbye, Anwil."
Shii grabbed Aomidori's arm. "Stop it!" she pleaded. "Don't let them control you. You're to only kill enemies!"
Aomidori blinked, and the red drained away from her eyes as if someone had placed a bloody wound into a river: it seemed to flow away like water. Her normal color returned, and she spat at Anwil,
"Get up, then!"
He scrambled to his feet.
"Shii," Aomidori said to the little girl, "Would you rather stay with me, or go with him?"
Shii's eyes brightened, as if this was the first time she had been given a choice. She appeared thoughtful, as if weighing both possibilities. "Can you protect me?" she asked Anwil, and he nodded. Facing Aomidori, she said, "I want to live a normal childhood. Am I allowed to do that?"
A brief moment of humanity flittered across Aomidori's face. "I'm an assassin," she said. "I was taught not to let any enemy go. I was taught to protect the Eyus, and never let them die or leave my services." she sighed.
"She changes emotions like a whirlwind," Anwil muttered.
"Shii," Aomidori said, "I can't let you go. I only live as long as my client does. If you die, I die rather by suicide or a well-timed hit by a lucky soul in battle. We feel the death, and it's like we die ourselves." she sighed once again. "So is the way of the Liyau."
Shii pondered for a minute, desperation for having a shot at a normal life and love for her guardian wrestling in her mind. "What if you came?" she asked brightly.
Aomidori shook her head and smiled. "They would never let me in, Shii."
"What if I took defense classes?" Shii said suddenly. "What if you teach me, and then after, Anwil can take me to the orphanage? That way, I can defend myself! And you won't die!"
Aomidori glanced at Anwil. "Fine," she said dejectedly.
"But where will you go when I leave?" asked Shii.
"I'll probably go see the White Raven gang," said Aomidori.
"Why do you want to go there?" asked Anwil. While they were talking, they had crossed a bridge, and by this time Anwil had sat on the spindle at the end, searching his sack. He was still quite weary of Aomidori, and made sure he had his sword hitched properly on his hip this time, just in case.
"They can clear me," said Aomidori. "My bounty. Then I can start a new life there as a thief, or even join some small militia. Who knows?" she said. "But nothing can clean me of all the blood, of my memories, or of my skills. I am always going to be Snowyl Aomidori, nothing else. I'll still be a murderer." She smiled. "That's the way it's always been, and that's the way I like it."
Anwil rubbed his forehead. "Let's set up camp," he said. "But I'll be sleeping far away from you."