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- I -
I walked slowly, making sure that my steps were absolutely silent. My fingers were caressing the hilt of my sword. I wasn't worrying at all, my reaction was more than fine, I never had any problems with it. "Come out, come out wherever you are…" I sang inside my head. I remembered the first time I got hold of my sword. It was like magic - the minute my fingers touched the blade, I felt something like a weak electric current shooting through my body. I knew immediately that this particular blade was mine. It hasn't left my side ever since.
I walked slowly, my black boots breaking shadows on the floor of the church into something alien. Thin fingerless gloves hugged my hands with sensual leather. He is here, I knew that much. I couldn't figure out the exact spot where he was hiding and it bothered me slightly. Usually I could always sense the presence of the other but today was different. I slowed my pace and took a silent deep breath, tasting the air, trying to hear his breathing, trying to taste the sound of his heartbeat in my mouth.
The ray of sunshine sneaked through the multicolored windows of the church and the mosaics twinkled in the curious light. Suddenly there was something almost unnoticeable in the air flow and I smiled. There you are. I kept my pace and my fingers stroked the hilt of my sword with sensual and almost obscene care. As if it wasn't metal but flesh and blood instead. I knew exactly where he was hiding, crouching behind one of the large cherry colored benches, right in front of the altar.
There was some flapping noise above my head and I risked a glance towards the high molded ceiling. Well, what do you know… A dove was flapping it's white wings almost lazily right beneath the ceiling and I grinned. A dove in the church, how predictable. I sensed a movement right ahead of me. Slight movement, almost unnoticeable. I kept my pace. He was trying to distract me with a dove? Come on! Pathetic! I knew that this
church was his territory but I can play this game on anybody's turf.
I kept walking soundlessly, my hand and my sword one entity by now and this time I could taste his fear. I almost laughed at that. He played pretty well up until now. To finish this whole thing so incompetently - it was disappointing. I knew exactly what he was going to do - try and sneak up on me from the left, thinking that since I am right handed, then the left side would be my weakest one. Idiot. Just because I am more comfortable writing with my right hand doesn't mean that I can't use my left with the same skill.
I didn't even bother taking my sunglasses off. I kept walking slowly until I could feel his breath on my left shoulder. I never believed in long sleeves, I liked my arms bare. My sword split the air without any noise, my body turned swiftly, following my blade's perfect arch. I unwrapped the fingers of my right hand from the hilt and for a split second my sword was flying free in the air. My left hand caught it almost immediately and the blade went into the flesh of my wanna-be assassin smoothly as if he was made out of butter. I grinned when I saw raw surprise in his dying eyes and pulled my blade out of his useless by now body. He fell on the floor and I took a step back, making sure that I didn't get any blood on my boots. Cleaning blood off the leather is a bitch.
I wiped my blade on the dead guy's cloak and slid it back into my scabbard. I looked up and smiled when I saw a white dove circling slowly under the ceiling. It started to come down and soon enough it was sitting on the dead body, bathing it's perfect white wings in the dark blood. I walked towards the altar and grabbed a dark silver goblet that was sitting in the middle of it. I drank that wine in one gulp, not caring that some of it ran down my chin and neck. Mission accomplished. Immortality achieved. Was too easy if you ask me.
I glanced at the corpse on the cold stone floor. It was as solid as ever. I frowned. It should've been much more transparent by now. Something wasn't right. This whole place should've been coming apart by now since its creator is dead. Be still my heart, is there something more interesting and challenging here after all? Excellent. I sat the goblet back on the table. Was it a fake? Poison? No, too trivial. Plus it tasted just fine. Probably, just simple wine, to trick me into thinking that I drank the Wine of the Atlantis. Okay, you got my attention. I stood very still, tasting the air, listening to the silence. There was nobody in this church, I knew that. And yet, something felt wrong.
I couldn't figure out what felt out of place. I was alone in this church, I knew that for sure. Could it be just old simple paranoia? Might be. But I always trusted my instincts. Hell, I wouldn't survive for as long as I have if I didn't trust my instincts. I looked around more careful. Goblet… Just an object. Corpse… Just a dead body that is still bloody solid. Empty church… Just a building. Dove… Just a bird that keeps sitting in the bloody wound and seems content with that… Wait a minute. Dove… Oh son of a bitch! Okay, I have to admit, you almost got me. I didn't even glance at the bird twice. No need to tip it off, right? I moved my fingers ever so slightly, as if resting them on my hilt again. I do it all the time, nothing new.
The dove kept sitting on the dead body, it's black eyes staring at me. Nice touch, really. I straightened up and started walking towards the exit slowly. I knew that my entire posture was relaxed as if I didn't suspect a thing. I almost made it to the corpse on the stone floor when the dove suddenly spread its wings and screamed in almost human screech of agony and triumph. Don't celebrate too soon, I thought indifferently when the bird started to change into something. I was almost tempted to wait and see its final shape. I was quite curious what form it would take but then I thought, nah. Screw this. I don't have time. My blade split the bird in two even halves and this time I knew it was the final touch.
The church shook and the dead body on the floor started to become transparent. I knew that I had ten minutes at the most to find the real Wine of the Atlantis and this time I didn't move slowly. I knew it had something to do with the bird so I grabbed both halves from the floor and tore them apart. I was never squeamish and blood never bothered me. As I expected, the bird held the answer. Actually it held a key. I pulled it out of the bird's still warm intestines - another nice believable touch - and frantically looked around, trying to find the keyhole.
The church shook again and I swore through my clenched teeth. If the building collapses on me before I find the damn thing, everything is wasted. I'll have to start all over again and I hated the very thought of that. I spent several months to get to this church. Come on, Luther! Think! Think, dammit! I ran towards the table and threw everything off of it. The top of the table was solid, no keyholes, no nothing. Son of a bitch. I glanced at the corpse. It was almost gone. The dove's remains were still solid though. That meant I had at least seven minutes left. I looked around and couldn't see anything. I swore and kicked the silver goblet as hard as I could. It flew away and hit the wall of the church. I blinked behind my sunglasses when suddenly it broke into pieces. What the hell? I ran towards it and picked up the biggest chunk. There was that keyhole, right in the middle of the goblet. I swiftly turned the key and started to laugh. A red button? Oh please! Joke or lack of imagination? Whatever. I didn't have enough time left to think that the button might be a trap. I pushed it. It wasn't a trap. The altar shook and moved aside. I dashed towards it.
Right there, underneath it, there was another silver goblet, this time smaller. I knew immediately it was the real thing. The wine inside it sparkled like a ruby. If I had more time, I would probably admire it. But I had maybe four minutes left. Maybe less. So I grabbed the goblet, thinking that if the wine is actually a poisoned trap, then I am screwed, and drank it in one gulp. It wasn't a trap. God, it felt amazing. I licked the ruby drops off my lips and shoved the goblet into the bag that was hanging on my hip. Can always use it later. Or sell it for a small fortune. The church shook again and I looked on the stone floor.
Goddammit! The corpse was gone and the remains of the dove were so transparent that they were almost invisible. I had to move it and quick. I ran towards the door and I almost made it when the church started to collapse. Something heavy hit me on the head and I bit my tongue, taste of my own blood making me shiver. I knew that now I wouldn't die, no matter what, but the idea of climbing out of all these debris wasn't tempting at all. Plus, immortal or not, I could still feel pain. I leaped towards the door and ignored whatever scraped all the skin off my bare shoulder. Maybe I should consider long sleeves after all.
I jumped out of the door and landed on the ground at the same minute when the church collapsed all the way. I hit something pretty hard with my head and I didn't care. I jumped on my feet and ran towards the small safe garden ten feet ahead of me. I honestly thought I wouldn't make it and fall through the ground along with the debris that used to be the church when my feet crossed the safety line and I fell onto the cool ground, panting. I laid there for several minutes, gulping air, and finally I made myself to get up. All right, the mission is accomplished. Immortality achieved. And it was actually quite entertaining. I smiled, thinking that now I became number one mercenary in the goddamn World. I knew there were several more who achieved the immortality but I also knew that my skills and reaction made me… Well, number one.
I ran my fingers through my hair and thought with regret that I have to get out of here or I will be late for dinner. I knew that this place was completely safe so I sat on the ground, closed my eyes and made an exit. Just in time too. Because the minute I pulled my headgear off, there was my mother's voice:
"Dinner is ready, Chloe! Come down!"
"Coming!" I yelled back and sighed.
Oh man… From immortal number one mercenary in the World back to this stupid high-school life, dinners, classes, contests… I put my headgear on my desk and turned off my computer. Okay, Luther, let's go have some mashed potatoes.