Fictober, Prompt 13 – “The things you make me do…”
Warnings: violence, brief, unsuccessful attempt at sexual assault, vaguely implied civil unrest.
It was all anyone could talk about. Every mansion, every tavern, every market was the same, ‘The Shadow Blade’ this and ‘The Shadow Blade’ that, and what would the Shadow Blade do next?
I was doubly glad that I’d been able to arrive quietly, without telling anyone about my encounter with the person calling themselves the Shadow Blade. Not that I could be sure…but the mere fact that I was alive and unharmed made a strong argument in favor of the claim.
“Oh, but you just came in from Astaba,” Madam Staralon unfortunately remembered as I was halfway through putting up her hair for a garden party later that afternoon. “Did you run into any trouble on the way? They say the Emperor’s men aren’t letting anyone out at all, but that’s obviously not the case if you’re here.”
“I did,” I admitted, keeping my eyes on the strand of hair I was carefully heating into a curl and choosing my words with equal care. “There has been some trouble in Astaba. I got here and am fine. I was glad to find work right away.”
“And in such a good salon, too!” Madam Staralon agreed. “But with your skill, it’s not surprising. Did Lady Torfel stop by? I recommended you to her.”
“She did,” I said, grateful for a change in topic, “and thank you very much for the recommendation.”
“But you say there is unrest in Astaba?” asked one of the other ladies perched nearby. “Have you heard anything of this Shadow Blade?”
“There is unrest.” I sighed internally, having hoped the other topic would stick. It was pointless to deny the unrest, even if the full extent of it wasn’t known here yet. Things were worst at the heart of the Empire, but that only encouraged other kinds of trouble in the outer lands. “I’ve heard of the Shadow Blade, but couldn’t say that I know much about them.”
That was a borderline untruth, but not quite over the line.
“One hears so many wild things, of course,” Madam Staralon put in, “but he does sound like quite the dashing hero!”
“If even half his exploits are true, I’d positively swoon over him!” agreed a third woman, seated at the next chair over. “They say he’s the most handsome man you’ll ever meet…if you can get a look under his mask!”Continue reading