Hey, guys, Blackbird here! We had decided that we weren’t posting any one-shots here, but the closer we get to finishing episode one of Shadows Rise, the more I want to share little snippets and teasers with you guys. Thing is, the chapters still need a round or two more of edits and I don’t want to share too much rough material before launch. That’d spoil things a little bit. So I’m sharing something else instead.
This here isn’t a part of the story, but a one-shot piece I wrote on my deviant art as a commission example. It’s supposed to act as a character introduction and it in a way fits today’s Daily Prompt (Mercy), so I thought it was the perfect thing to share with our potential readers. Not to mention we got some lovely artwork for this character that I need, need, to show off. 😉
So, without further ado, meet the leader of the Wolf Hunters: Gabrielle Porter.
Artwork by Ankonox
The blistering summer sun flooded the crowded streets of Newhaven. The push-pull of people fighting for space between the merchant stalls was near unbearable. The heat, the suffocating sea of bodies fighting for dominance, the cacophony of voices shouting cheerful and unintelligible words from every direction… The open market was, to put it mildly, a disorienting experience in its busiest times of the day. Most citizens were used to the hustle, some of them even preferred it over the quieter; dullest, moments. In truth, for some people, the chaos and excitement of a sunny day at the market was the highlight of an otherwise dreary routine. For others, it was more of a necessary evil.
Amongst the sea of people, a tall woman observed the movement from underneath the brim of a worn leather hat, her form static, her dark grey eyes focused on one particular form; just the trail of a forest-green cloak slithering past the groups of shoppers. Its movements were fluid; effortless, like water flowing through seemingly impenetrable stone. The woman narrowed her eyes, her right hand tensing beside the hilt of a sheathed hunting knife, and she waited for her target to gain just a little bit more distance on her. Once the cloaked figure had moved far enough she began to follow, meandering through the crowds, her body twisting to accommodate the movement, gaze locked on her mark. Her ears were filled with idle chatter and in the back of her mind, she registered the lack of any awkward pauses or questioning tones. No one seemed to be batting an eye to the events unfolding right in the middle of the market. She and the target were two drops of water in a restless ocean. No one noticed them there. No one would notice them gone. And the world would be all the better for it.
The small distance she had allowed the target was slowly, but steadily, cut short. There was a small fraction of a second where she hesitated, searching for any sign of recognition; even the tiniest one. There was none. Satisfied that the mark remained unaware of her presence she pushed a bit further into the crowd, the fingers of her right hand finally reaching for the hilt of the knife.
And then it happened. At the exact moment she pulled the knife from its sheath, something brushed against her left side. It didn’t feel like just another shopper pushing their way to a merchant stall, it was a softer, more calculated motion. Her body responded to the touch before her mind had the time to properly weigh her options. She spun around to face the perceived threat only to find herself grabbing the collar of a young boy’s shirt. The child didn’t look older than ten and, despite staring up at her with wide-eyed panic, the coin purse clenched in his right hand was most definitely not his own. She glared at the little thief for a second in a silent warning not to move before peering over her shoulder. The green cloak had disappeared.
Her fingers clenched tight around the collar of the boy’s shirt as well as the hilt of her knife, her expression twisting into an angry scowl for only a brief moment. Someone’s life would be lost on account of this mistake. She breathed a heavy sigh, slipping her knife back into its sheath as she turned to face the child. All color had drained from the boy’s face and he was trembling where he stood. It was apparent, even to him, that he’d gotten himself involved in something extremely dangerous. She knelt down in front of the boy, her dark grey eyes piercing straight into him, cold as steel. “Do you have someone waiting at home?” she asked.
The boy just nodded. His eyes darted from side to side in a silent plea for help but the surrounding swarm of people was completely oblivious to his predicament.
The woman pulled the boy closer by the shirt to make sure he was listening. “Don’t ever stick your hands in anyone’s pockets unless you’re sure you can get away with it. Do you understand me?” Once he nodded in confirmation, she released him. “Go straight home.”
The little thief didn’t have to be told twice. In the time it took her to stand up from her knees, he had already scurried away as fast as his legs would carry him. The woman snorted a slight hint of aggravation and turned away, slowly pushing past the masses and away from the center square. Whether the assassin had spotted her or not, she wouldn’t find him again after this. There was no point in staying.
“The day is still young,” a quiet voice sounded in her ears as she took the road leading to the city gates. There was a long pause while the owner of the voice ran to catch up with her pace, slowing down once they were side by side. “We could have tea somewhere.”
She didn’t turn to look at the woman. “I’m not in the mood for tea.”
“Porter,” A man called, joining them a few steps down the path. “What happened? I thought you had him.”
“Sometimes luck favors the hunter, sometimes it favors the prey,” she stated.
The edge in her voice would have gone unnoticed to most people, but immediately caused a flinch on her companion. “We can still find him,” he argued.
“No, Tucker. If he saw me, it’s not safe.” She sighed and stopped for a moment in front of the city gates, turning to face the man. “And I already warned you, we’ll never be able to kill them all.”
They stared at each other in the midst of a heavy silence until, finally, he sighed. “I know.”
“There’ll be other days. Other Wolves,” she added, leading the group across the city gates. “Their luck can’t last forever.”
There you have it guys. The mighty Wolf Hunters foiled by a little kid. And the reason I chose to post this under this prompt is just that. Mercy and when and where to apply it is a very important part of Shadows Rise. Especially since this isn’t a battle of good versus evil, rather a conflict between two groups of people trying to do what they believe to be right, or in the very least what’s best for themselves.
Hope you enjoyed this little one-shot. If you did and would like to read more in the future, gives us a follow. Stick around. There is so much more on the horizon.