He sat on the thin bed mat on the floor in the whores room naked and hard for his part, she bare breasted cloyed his erection to putty missing her fault.
“If you lay back I can bring you out.” The whore, who had a name, spit again, staying at his thin almost brittle waist. She bent to use her mouth forgetting. He reminded her, cringing from the nearness of her face.
“Just your hand.” He said. She began to speak but he hushed her. He relaxed himself to her forgiving the curl in her manner and placed his hand on hers. He pushed at her breast with the other and dug at the nipple with a warm finger. She turned away from him and he leaned into her, smelling in her hair for something, anything but the whore had no scent but what her life left her, sweat, fear, dirt, sex. He would find no arousal in her so conjured dark images of rape and death, something his mind could leap to but none answered.
The whore spit again, her hand not without its pleasures, he in search of something inside himself moved his head subtly about to find it. His fingers found and traced a knot in the seam under her breast. He pulled his fingertips across its length and knew what it was, what their torpor hid. He traced back and forth and the whore who lived a life of acting upon unexpressed needs knew the association of what he touched and what came over his face. With more spit now she worked him for her coin. Her other breast was free from wounds. He kept his hand hidden in that wealth of flesh and he came.
“Lay with me for another coin and let me hold it still.” The whore complied. His breath returned and he rolled over on top of her, heavier than he looked hunched and soft only moments before. The whore laughed, holding him steady upon her. When he drove his forearm down onto her throat she had no idea. She disbelieved the attack until the pain of her crushed throat kicked panic into her but he was already up and straddling her. Her tits near her chin were horrid, comical and stole the seriousness of her dying from him. Her screams however where material and flat. Her fists thudded into his chest and he bared it. She mashed his flesh in her hands and he hit her again in her throat, this time with his fist. Her arms leapt in front of her face, tardy in their reflex. Her head lolled sleepily, childlike. Her body worked out the fog of movements that suffocation expressed. Her vigor clouded, he put his elbow on her throat and pressed firmly until he felt the peculiarities of bone, tendon and hard pallet adjust beneath.
With her dead he sat there longer than he would have, amusing himself with the rude scar below her breast, some keepers punishment for who knows what grievance a whore could lodge. Hidden, but what wounds weren’t.
Downstairs his clothes were cold on him. He did not drink, instead, crossing the floor of the common room he took a cup from atop the water barrel and filled it moving to a window where the storm brakes were pushed and he watched that rain mix into mud. There was a fire on the west wall surrounded enough by men of certain types, it was still early. He smelled the water, swirled it and waited.
The skin of his waist was thick and pulsed with his heart’s heat for the damage the whore had done. A hurried man entered and moved upstairs then returned disappearing back into the kitchen from where he had come. The assassin thought of the corroboration death required. Place your hand on me. Feel the misplaced bones in my neck. Feel my cool skin now fearless. Tear my lips with your teeth and no warmth left in my breath to excuse the taste. He supposed her calm as if awake, refuting them, moving on now and more beautiful to watch herself as a ghost made equal to the men she had obeyed by death. Come in. I am here. My body still a work unfinished even for me, a death come too quick. How they would nod seeing her, apart, better now. Not being so, she was less to them yet in faults too vague to evade she had found some rest.
A large man entered led by the first and the two disappeared upstairs.
“She’s not sleeping.” He said too low then drank the water he had held until then, its clay taste an earth returned to himself. When the two of them had returned and come as near to him as the common water, he could hold back his smile no more. I am the one. But did he say it out loud? Did you do that? A question with eyes seeking only so much but the assassin only smiled and when the mans anger was no longer enough and the heat of his voice fell from a low sky like a dying arrow shunned by its own zenith to miss the target directly, and the finger on his chest provoked no more truth than could be guessed at by wishes the assassin reached out and put his arms around the larger man, holding him and lay his head upon his chest if just for the briefest of moments and tried to welcome the man home.
When they had beaten him to their own weakness he reached and found a leg of one of them and held it to himself with much of what remained of his strength, trying not to be gotten rid of but he was. They untied his sword belt, removed it, broke the sword against a beam. He thought of the work of it, the sheer house building work of breaking a man down, of killing him with fists and feet. Someone spit. Another stomp to his chest. More bones amiss.
His arm fell across a foot and was kicked back over himself. He wanted to sit up not to fight, did he accidently? Warm hands grabbed his cold bare ankles, over the wood transom, hands on his feet, you cannot destroy all the time. He fought open an eye to see the man holding his ankles, how like kindness, not being hurt by a touch felt. Out and off the back steps and onto and over a rock, rocks and finally cold water and a welcome mud. He rolled over onto his stomach but could not pull his arms up to pillow his face from the wet and all the while the shouts of his body, an ignored clamour and the shouts of the men who made them ignored, all of them. Of all of it his strength had left. It exhausts them to die he thought. He continued the roll, over to his other side. To think he could hear the scrape of his shorn ribs. In his mind the lane was fair, the land green if cloudy gray, the field open, the field empty. They tire he thought, and then they are just there, with you, keeping them from living.
The coins he had brought to be taken for her life had been taken for her life and his cheap sword, bought cheaply but bought because it should be, gone, in pieces and against the wall it was broken against, left by them all and there in the wet waste of his vitality he huffed at them though gone, and he now alone and face up in a rain he could feel only with is feet wandered. There were still those that helped him. Stood him or tried to, carried him when he would only fall. Where do you live? He took it in like the clayed water, a gift to himself before dying, a gift he would return as water spat and he did. He woke in a room of a home of people. He learned their faces absently. Names have never meant anything, ever. And then he left before he could, a young girl chasing. In a day he would find his way back after the Cane and thank them with cruelty. This takes the light away, but he fell. This or nothing does. But the blood he spit to say so dizzied him or the ground it spun towards, or the voice of the girl against him and when he fell complete he did not get back up and when the deep that he had seen or thought he had seen and the comforting gray that he had felt but not really felt engulfed him, he went.
“Your bones will heal.” His ribs creaked as he laughed. He thought the Cane away. He had the best bed in their house. She lanced his eyes. I will be rolled and wrapped, he thought. He was. No one is ever careful enough. Awake. You will reach out your hand and though I would I will not. Not yet. Food. They will not give water alone. He ate. He could see but wouldn’t. Singing and more food. But he is a dragon. I’ll have another go, will you? A sheet over the pantry covered nothing, the hearth hid cooked roots over a sidling, sly fire but all he wanted was water, or honeyed water and all they thought of was food with the Da a leg short of full work. He was begging. Sleep. If you cannot hide it with your eyes, do not hide it at all. Waking before walking he stayed asleep and when walking was all there was left he crawled out of that home towards what he called his and so the girl took him there alone.
Bones herself a crutch without complaint, wondering at a home and he thought too, freshened enough by others he felt afraid to trust as though he was weakened in agreement, even the kindnesses only coins purchased, sitting there at last, and her a shift of needs now unbent yet he drank not the Cane though guessing by healed skin ten days had distilled his ruin with pains as unnecessary as they were needed. She brought water knowing he drank from a skein. Head bowed, she had either not gotten tits or had them starved flat. He drank again.
“Food?” she asked. The assassin shook his head no.