Stories : The story of Azrael
He never had felt this lost before, experienced the deepness of loosing that what was most precious and meaningful. A young man he had been, but one with strong beliefs in honor, strength, power and rightfulness. His strong beliefs and his skill in wielding steel had served his city more than once and he had earned great respect within the vanities of his City; The glorious City of Ar.
One evening that seemed to be darker than any he had seen before, it was fitting to how he felt now. The love of his life in his arms, dying because of another skirmish that could have been solved if one man just would have taken the Ubar of Treve to the city of Dust. The Ubar was a fool and in his foolishness he had taken more lives of innocent then claimed what he wanted.
Azrael kissed the lips of his companion for a last time, their eyes locked briefly and in them there seemed to be this promise. How he loved her and how much she had loved him, was simply sealed in this last kiss. Her fingers searched for his a last time while she took her last breath and made her own way to the city of Dust.
He held her, rocking her softly while his tears made their way to the soil of his beloved planet. One that might seem unfair to others, but made sense in his own existence. How could he know that far from him he was the subject of conversation.
In the Sardar mountains several Priest Kings had gathered, talking about a new idea that would make Gor a better planet, one that could exist in their view and their way of ruling it.
“He is a very special man, one with excellent skills, surely if this new caste should be found he would be the only one being able to give it what it needs.” said one of the Priest Kings gathered.
Another had nodded in agreement, even though the idea of starting a caste of killers, seemed to be so far from their peaceful existence. “How do we inform him of our wishes ?” he asks, there was no need to discuss the man himself, his skills were there without a doubt.
“The way we do all things, “ said the first moving his foreleg in a way that showed that the mother of the nest already was determined to make it happen as he had suggested.
The Priest Kings had agreed and in their own unique way the caste was born in that man that was called Azrael. A man that had lost everything he ever loved and cared for.
Azrael had never been aware that he had been watched, studied or observed. He was simply a warrior that understood that his speed and his excellence in strategic was one that was never met by another.
After taking his own moment of farewell he had placed his badge of the city in the same soil next to his companion and stood there in silence. His mind focused on the present, while his heart contained this nothingness.
Several hands had passed when he was taken to the chambers of the Ubar of Ar. His presence was demanded and after that one night he hadn’t taken his position near the gate or on the walls. He couldn’t return to his comrades or his position to defend or fight for something he lost at the same moment his companion had died. The reason for being taken, was surely to answer to him for abandoning his duties within the ranks of Ar.
“Tal Azrael.” Said the Ubar who turned when he entered.
“Tal Ubar.” Replied Azrael, expressionless and without any warmth.
“It has come to my attention you haven’t returned to your post, I understand you are still griefing but we need you there.” He said while his eyes regarded him.
“I will not return Ubar.” He stated flatly.
The ubar arched a brow and invited Azrael to take a seat “That would be a great loss, warrior.” He said after taking some time to understand the meaning of what the man just said.
“I never was a man that felt much for hypocrisy, it would be if I returned.” He said while he denied the invitation and kept his place.
The Ubar noticed the change the man had been making, perhaps now saw that Azrael was dressed in black and not the red he so often had worn with the pride that every Gorean men took in his caste colors.
“Perhaps this is just a phase, many men have lost their loved ones, Azreal. It will pass and perhaps someone else will take her place. “ he said in an attempt to show some empathy.
Azreal listened, but then shook his head “No, Ubar. What once was will never be again.” He responded his voice without any sign of emotion. “However I do have one request.”
The Ubar was stunned, the man he had known seemed not to be here. The voice of Azreal had never been this cold “What might that be ?”
“Let me go to Treve to kill the Ubar.” He said without anything that showed it would be about vengeance. There was no anger in his voice.
The Ubar frowned and lifted himself from his seat to step closer to Azreal, “You never stroked me as a man that would go for vengeance. I am surprised and in truth reluctant to let you go.”
Azreal stared at the Ubar, one that had been part of his training and narrowed his eyes “In truth, Ubar, it isn’t a request or about vengeance. It is about preventing far more dying. He has no honor striking down Children as well as warriors. I wish to prevent a massacre I believe this is simply the beginning. This has gone beyond another skirmish between cities.. he seeks to conquer all of Gor. He grows desperate and he has lost all reason.”
The Ubar surprised by the cold words that seemed to be in contrast to what the man was claiming. He took from his pouch a golden tarn double weight and started to flip it between his fingers. His thoughts perhaps to the man before him, he had seen as a son. A man that had promise to become perhaps an Ubar when his time came. It was quite clear that the man he had known so long, wasn’t the one he would ever see again. “How much I believe in your being capable of this, the less I look forward to sending you as one of my warriors to do so.” He mused.
Suddenly Azrael, unsheated his blade that he had been given by the Ubar when he was accepted in the ranks after extensive training. “I will not go as a warrior, Ubar. I will go as a killer.” He said while placing his last memorabilia before the Ubar.
The ubar’s eyes had widen, perhaps out of fear or just plain shock. After a moment he just nods, flipping the gold tarn towards Azrael “Let that be your payment, killer.”
Azrael had caught the coin and since he wasn’t wearing his normal kilt he had to place it in one of the pockets on his belt. How the idea had come to his mind, he didn’t know but when he had taken a piece of coal from the fireplace at the Ubars chambers and affixed a dagger shape on his forehead he had made visual that he no longer was a warrior in ranks of the Ubar, but simply a killer paid to do a job.
Azreal had left Ar and made his way to Treve, his mind focused on the job he was hired for. Cold, calculated he had made his own way in the city and had studied all he needed to know to make his final strike when the right moment would appear. He had been noticed by many since he had refused to wear his caste colors. Some had frowned when he made it known that he was just a killer.
The cold ways had made many slaves wary, Freewoman scared and men suspicious. Who was it that had this man’s attention. But when time passes by, people just accepted the man in the dark shadows, perhaps forgot what he had claimed. Some even said it was just a poor fool, that with words had made himself an outcaste.
When the final moment had come, none suspected it or saw it coming. Azrael had simply found the weakness and used for his moment to claim the life of the Ubar of Treve. Swift, without any hesitation he had taken it, giving the man a last moment of perhaps something honorable as a kill by steel.
When the City of Treve finaly found the Ubar dead in his quarters, Azrael had already made his way out of it. Unseen and without any cry of his victory.
It was several moons later when Azrael made his way back to Ar, to inform his client that the deed was done. And perhaps in those moons the first caste codes of Assassins were set into stone.
Perhaps it was the respect some men had found in the fact that Azrael never had lied about his intentions or that the death of the Ubar had given peace to a city. A city that had fought so many wars and had claimed many lives that had lost meaning since there was nothing to compensate their loss.
The Ubar of Ar, had heard the news and had demanded that the blacksmith of Ar would forge a black helmet for if Azrael would return. The weaver was set the task to create a cloak that would represent the black of the new found caste of Assassins.
“It has been done, Ubar of Ar.” Azrael said without any remorse or emotion.
“I’ve been informed, so.” The Ubar replied taking the helmet and cloak, placing them before the man that indeed would never claim his rightful position in the ranks of his city. “Killer, accept these gifts as extra payment for the job so well done.” He said tired and with regret. “I hope they will serve you, in your new found profession, Killer.”
Azrael had taken them, inclined his head and with that he left the chambers of the Ubar. Both men aware that for the coin he had earned he could come back to claim his life just the same.
Many years passed and in those years the reputation of Azrael made their way in the many tales that the caste of players loved to tell. And women used to scare their children into good behavior. The merciless killer, the man that would come from the shadows when you least expected it and could kill within the blink of an eye. Ubars and Admins feared to be his next mark and warriors feared when they were told the Killer Azrael would be within the city walls. When he carried the dagger on his forehead they couldn’t stop him, but somehow they felt their defeat when he again was able to take a life without their knowledge.
His strength, his skill and his demeanor made him almost a ghost, when you thought you saw him he already was gone.
In these years Azrael found men that had similar skills and started to train them, his knowledge and holy belief that the caste of Assassins indeed served a purpose started to become part of Gorean society. These men were feared, respected and yet there was always the knowledge that they were the lowest of castes, as they seemed to be the ones that were troubled by a job no other would take.
Stories travel fast and even faster when they involved these black men, who seemed to travel in secret and were hard to grasp. But every time when Azrael was mentioned there seemed to be an extra edge to it. In a way his excellence and example were unmatched even by those he trained. He was respected, carried in great respect within his own caste and feared outside it. Never had anyone been able to even see his shadow when another kill had been made by him.
How ironic that it had been the same dark night when Azrael had made his promise to his lost companion when he stood in the chambers of the Ubar of Ar. His hunt in his former homestone had been hard on him, even though nothing had been able to set him from his task. He had been paid 10 golden tarns to claim his life and would do so, without any regret or compassion.
He had been thorough during his hunt and knew the Ubar would be alone in his chamber when he stopped just outside his door. He had disguised himself as one of the guards for some moons now and none had recognized him or denied him access to these parts of the cylinder. In the dim light of the hallway he had dressed himself in black again, combed his hair from his forehead so the dagger would be seen. It was simply a matter of entering the room and take the life of a man that one time had been a great teacher and mentor for him.
Silent, focused and ready for anything that might happen he had stepped inside the room of the Ubar. The darkness inside it was just a matter of taking time to adjust. The little candle near the bed was the only thing that made shadows and indicated the place where the Ubar was asleep.
Azrael had unsheathed his blade silently; the blade that he had bought of the first piece of gold he ever earned. The steel casted a small glimmer of light when suddenly the door opened and a beautiful slavegirl entered the room. Her tiny feet made these little sounds of her steps on the marble stones towards the table with the candle.
Azrael alert as always instantly had moved to the darkest corner of the room, his breathing slow and silent, his senses alert and his muscles tensed so he could act swiftly if it came down to it.
The slave silently placed the tray she had been carrying to the floor and looked up briefly as if something whispered unheard words in her ear. Her face clearly visual by the candlelight was beautiful and serene. Surely a girl that was devoted and gifted with the grace that was hardly seen.
Azrael gasped when he saw the face that seemed to be that of his companion, in the darkness he rubbed his eyes almost sure this was some kind of flashback of a vision of so long ago. Perhaps a last game of his mind to make him aware of the act he was about to do.
The girl turned her attention back to her tray and started to arrange some things while Azrael silently moved to the door to silently lock it. In the back of his mind sure that he would overcome the game his mind was playing.
Slowly and measured he stepped closer to the girl, he could kill her swift and silent before he would take that of the Ubar. After all she would scream and alert the guards if he took a different approach.
When he was only three steps from the girl, she suddenly looked up again. She was smiling as if one secret thought had crossed her mind and had given joy to her heart. Azrael stopped in his track when the light again made her face visual to him. This wasn’t a game or some old memory that tried to torment him, this face was of the woman he had loved more than life itself.
Perhaps he had lost some of his carefulness when she finally seemed to be aware that there was someone else in the room. She turned to him and faced him, still smiling when she locked her eyes to his. He was struck and instantly filled with so many emotions that hadn’t existed for so many years. The one he had loved so dearly, the one that had stirred things in him he never had believed existed stared at him.
“You are alive?” he asked her
“Yes” said the confused girl. “It was my sister you companioned I was taken to a distant city in chain luck before your companionship.” She smiled yet he could see the fear in her eyes.
“I have come to kill the Ubar” Azrael said
“then you must kill me too for I love my master” said the girl “I would rather die than live without him” Her eyes showed such pain such fear. The same expression his companion had before she left him alone in this world. With only his cold heart.
In the same swiftness he had claimed so many lives, he grabbed the hilt of his blade in his two hands, turned the blade and poised the sword to his heart. “Then kill me girl drive the blade into my heart”
“I cannot kill you assassin, for my sister loved you so much I cannot take a life, I am but a slave”
Taking the hilt firmly into his hands his eyes locked onto hers. “I cannot kill the face of my companion. I will now join her in the city of dust . The shame of suicide I will choose instead”
With that he fell onto his blade. With the impact the Ubar awoke alarmed till the darkness ebbed away and he took in the scene before him. His heart and that of his slave saddened by the loss, even though the assassin had come to kill him the Ubar mourned the man he had once seen as a son and buried him on a hill by his companion.
Many years have passed, but still the story of Azrael facing the twin sister of his companion is told. The first killer that seemed to be the ideal of what a killer should be, fell on his blade and took his own life. Not because he failed his profession or a task, but simply because of one love that was more powerful than anything on this world. Unable to take the life of a slavegirl that had reminded him of the woman he had loved so deeply, he failed himself, his task and his caste.
Since that day Assassins have been taught that love is a dangerous enemy and to avoid such emotions.
To enjoy a slave but never to enter into companionship nor feel too greatly for a woman. It can be the end of an assassin if his heart now cold as stone found warmth and beat again.