The Blood Rose Assassin – Part 10
His name was Bartholomew.
With the whole kingdom alert on the return of vampires, or at least one, Isolde was in hiding. Her own estate felt empty and haunted, and her dead heart continued mourning whilst anger and bloodthirst tried to dominate her being as best as it could.
She left after tormenting herself by spying on the mournful, lost expressions on Klaus’s parents’ faces at the blacksmith shop. The guilt and pain crushed her. She had to leave, at least this part of the kingdom. She ventured far, towards the south, where land was fertile for farming and the sea was a stunning blue-green.
She stayed hidden amongst the trees, perched on branches and looking for a creature—or human—of considerable size to feast on, when she came across a small cottage and a barn, almost reminiscent of the blacksmith shop. There were several animals fenced in—cows, goats, geese, and chickens. Isolde looked in amazement as she jumped from tree to tree to see the front of the cottage without being noticed.
A small, yet bountiful farm of crops seemed ready to be picked. Isolde smiled, remembering the delectable tastes of normal food, when two people came out from the barn. The father was shouting at his son, who looked to be about five years old. The boy cowered and apologized profusely, and the father hit him so hard that he fell.
Isolde felt something inside her. Her hand held her stomach where her unborn child had been and she hissed lightly. When the man went inside the cottage, leaving the boy on the ground, Isolde jumped down to his side, perched like a cat, and he jumped in surprise with a small cry.
“Who-who are you?”
Isolde put her index finger to her lips. “Whisper,” she said. “I’m Isolde. What’s your name, boy?”
“Does he always hit you like that? Blink once for yes and twice for no.” The boy blinked once. “Do you have a mother?” He blinked twice. “Does he love you?” He blinked twice. “Does he tell you he hates you?” He blinked once. “Do you hate him, too?”
Bartholomew hesitated, but his eyes watered. After a while, he sniffled, and nodded carefully.
Isolde couldn’t stand the idea of this child being harmed by his only parent. Who would harm a child? Why have a child when you won’t love them? It infuriated her. She smiled sadly and nodded. “I can make him disappear if you want.”
“Forever?” Bartholomew asked.
“What would happen to me?”
Isolde took a deep breath and looked away, thoughtfully. She bit her lip. She’d made it this far. It seemed no one knew her here well enough. It was secluded. And she felt as if Bartholomew needed her. After killing her way here, through animal and human alike, she certainly wanted a place to stay temporarily.
She looked at Bartholomew, and saw a frightened child in need of love. There were bruises and dirt all over him and he needed care. Isolde had been wrenched from the opportunity to give her own child love and care. Perhaps she wasn’t too far gone to do the same for Bartholomew.
“I’ll take care of you, Bartholomew,” Isolde said. “If you’re okay with that.”
His bright brown eyes went wide and he teared up again before nodding.
“Okay. I’m going to ask you to close your eyes and cover your ears. I’ll be right back. I’m going to make your father disappear. Okay?” Isolde took Bartholomew’s hands and placed them over his ears. “There.”
Standing up, Isolde let herself into the cottage. Bartholomew’s father stood up quickly at the sight of her. “Who are you? Get out of my house, you wench!”
“This is my house now,” Isolde said, and with her inhuman speed, she appeared right in front of the man and snapped his neck. She bent down and drank from him, and then went out the window with the body. Finding a shovel, she dug a hole and buried him, once again in mere seconds. Isolde sighed in relief when the job was done, and she walked around the cottage to see Bartholomew sitting cross-legged with his hands over his ears and eyes closed still.
Isolde crouched in front of Bartholomew and poked his nose. He opened his eyes. She gave him a thumbs up and he smiled brighter than the sun. The boy had dark, messy hair, a missing tooth, and dimples. “He won’t be bothering you ever again.”
“Do you promise?”
“He’s really gone?”
Isolde giggled. “Really, really gone.”
Bartholomew’s eyes shone and he let out a soft breath before leaning in to wrap his small arms around her.
“Thank you for saving me.”
Isolde thought that her dead heart had been revived, if just for a moment.
Raising Bartholomew was all she could’ve ever dreamed of. She adored taking care of him and giving him affection. She taught him right from wrong, told him stories, and supported anything he dreamed of doing. He was young, and the child attended school, which was when Isolde took the opportunity to venture into the local pub to find someone to lure so she could drain them of blood.
She couldn’t continue on without a job, either. Isolde needed to make money somehow. It was stressing her out, deep inside, but she wouldn’t dare let it show. It was only when she sat down at the bar without a drink that she overheard people talking, whispering to each other, about needing to hire an assassin.
It seemed more than ideal. She thoroughly enjoyed the act of killing. She still had her weapon tucked away under her bed in the cottage. She definitely would like to get more weapons sometime, too, but the money was scarce. Isolde risked walking towards the table where two large men stood hunched over their pale ales. They both looked over at her with dubious expressions, but Isolde only smirked.
“I heard,” she whispered, grabbing a chair and sitting so her legs straddled it and her forearms rested on the back of it, “you’re looking for an assassin.”
They stared at her quietly and one of them sniffed. “Yeah. Know of one?”
“You’re looking at one.”
They both laughed, but Isolde didn’t. Although, she wasn’t all that surprised at them. “Either you lot stop laughing or I’ll make an example of one of you. I don’t care which one, that’s your choice.”
The men stopped laughing, but one of them looked smugly at her. “You? A puny lil’ thing like you? You’re about the size of my pinky.”
“I will break all of your fingers right now. Do I look scared that I’m in a pub with several men, with you two, who are bigger than me? Do I look intimidated at all? You can try to do anything you want to me. The funny thing is, you couldn’t, because you’d be dead before you even lifted a finger.”
For a moment, the men were quiet, and the other said, “All right. Name your price.”
“Nope. Tell me who, then I will.”
The men glanced at each other and then one whispered, “Earl Wagon.”
She narrowed her eyes. “More details, will you? I’m not a fucking mind reader.”
“Alright, alright! Owns the tailor shop in the center, y’know. He—”
“I don’t need to know why. Now my price,” I told them. One of them whistled and the other smiled.
“You can’t be that good.”
“You want to bet?”
The men looked at each other again and nodded. “Price is fine. We’ll be here every day ‘til you do the job.”
“I’ll be back tomorrow.”
One of the men had taken a sip of his pale ale and spit it out, getting the liquid all on the other men. “You can’t be serious?”
Isolde got up and left the two men. In a way, she did find someone’s blood to drain. Earl Wagon was simply not at the bar.
Luckily, ever since she left the North, she’d been wearing her cloak everywhere with her hood up. Now, it would be more than necessary. She made her way to the square where all the shops were and ventured into the tailor shop.
There were two other people in the shop. Mr. Wagon himself and the client he was pinning up. “Hello!”
“Oh! Wrong shop, so sorry, I meant to go next door.” Isolde giggled and hurried outside, where, curiously, a white rose lay on the ground. She snatched it up and tied it with her hood’s drawstrings. It was pretty, and maybe she’d give it to Bartholomew.
She slipped away and ran behind the building where she carefully climbed up it onto the roof. She crawled over to the edge of the front of the shop’s roof. So many people could be heard in the square, but she finally managed to tune it all out except the sounds beneath her.
Eventually, the door opened and a bell sounded. Isolde peered down again to see the client leaving. Isolde climbed down carefully from the back of the building and walked along casually before she entered the tailor shop again.
“Hello! Oh, you again!” Earl Wagon said, a man with a funny mustache and almost no hair, but fine clothing.
“Earl Wagon, is it?” Isolde asked.
“Yes, what can I do for you?”
Isolde sped toward him and sliced his body in half from head to groin in one swift slice of her sword. She let him bleed out before speedily drawing all the curtains and turning off the lights. She was careful to bite close to the wound where he was sliced so no one would cry out that a vampire was around, and while she didn’t get all of his blood, the crime was done.
“Oh fuck,” Isolde whispered to herself. The rose got all bloody from the mess. Isolde groaned and tossed it, before disappearing through a window and vanishing in a flash. She returned to the bar, received her pay, and used it to buy food and toys for Bartholomew.
The next day, the town crier rang his bell. “Hear ye, Hear ye! Earl Wagon found sliced in half at the tailor shop! Only evidence found was a bloodied white rose! If anyone has any information, please come forward.”
“Sliced in half?” Bartholomew asked Isolde that morning as she walked him to school.
“Sliced in half,” Isolde said, smiling to herself.
To be continued.
Featured photo taken by Mathilda Khoo from Unsplash. Altered by Valeria Silva in Adobe Spark.