The Retriever’s Body

Full Moon by Otávio Brito

“With a grim nod, he took the lead, carefully negotiating the rocky, mountainous terrain with the skill of a man who had moved more than a few bodies before that night.”

The assassin lay dead at her feet.  She had chosen the main roads specifically to avoid Ilhavin’s Retrievers, but they grew more bold with his deepening desperation.  If she hadn’t been desperate herself, she never would have set out at night in the first place.  She nudged the body with the toe of her boot, noting the complex Anovan leatherwork decorating what was otherwise simple attire, and frowned; he was expanding into the Eastern kingdoms.

Layen a’Ciah siawyn ne’kaieth tha li a’Rhune liatha,” she murmured, making the sign of the gods before kissing the thumb she had tucked into a loose fist.

“Why would you bless one of his agents,” Temur asked, settling his weight on one hip to the creaking accompaniment of his armor.  Temur refused to use Ilhavin’s name, out of spite he said, but she suspected it was superstitious fear that saying it would attract the powerful Bright Lord’s attention.

“Every soul deserves Ciah’s blessing in Rhune’s embrace,” she said, bending to rummage through the Retriever’s hidden pockets.  “However misguided we may think they are,” she continued to Temur’s disapproving grunt, “every soul deserves a blessing.”

She found the note she knew the Retriever would carry, and tucked it into a similar pocket hidden in her own vest, but made a show of confiscating the man’s coin purse and small valuables.  She could feel Temur’s eyes at her back, the mercenary’s gaze appraising.  Given his lack of comment, she figured she had guessed correctly; always search the body for more coin.  If she hadn’t, he would have, and the last thing she needed was a man like Temur having too much information.

“Help me move him,” she said, shifting to take up the dead man’s feet.

Wordlessly, Temur complied, his unspoken question hovering between them in the gloom.

“To the river.”

With a grim nod, he took the lead, carefully negotiating the rocky, mountainous terrain with the skill of a man who had moved more than a few bodies before that night.

Silence stretched as they made their way to the violent current of the Nimareth river, its black water churning white against hidden boulders and jagged rocks too stubborn to be worn smooth by the river’s eternal passage; by the time the Retriever’s body was found it would be unrecognizable — that is if the body was ever found.  They gave the body a great heave at the precipitous ledge several spans above the river.  She watched it disappear with a distant splash.

“I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure it out,” Temur said at great length.  “Who would send a sneaksword like that after a woman like you?”

“Politics,” she said, her gaze still locked on the dark, rushing river below.  “It’s just politics.  He wasn’t the first sneaksword to find me, and he won’t be the last.”

—–

AUTHOR’S SAY STUFF SECTION:

Flash Fiction Friday!  Hurrah!

If YOU have a flash fiction story you’d like to share with the untamed wilds of the internets, then send us a message at FlashFictionFriday.ci(at)gmail.com (the “[dot]ci” is very important, so don’t overlook it).  Submissions should be 500 words or less, but we’re willing to accept up to 1000.  Please make subject line “FLASH FICTION: <Story Title>”. All submissions must be written as flash, and may not be snipped from larger pieces. Please include word count in the body of your e-mail, preferably right after the title. Stories must be received by Wednesday to be considered for Friday inclusion. Please include any links to previous works, official pages, personal blogs, biographical material, or pictures of bunnies you may want linked or included at the end of your story to direct traffic back your way, or to make Adalind smile extra hard.

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Keep an eye out for “The Last Tower”, a surreal post-apocalyptic look at the last stronghold of humanity as it faces sun-scorched oblivion, due on Smashwords in September!

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11 thoughts on “The Retriever’s Body

  1. Erin says:

    I liked this, but it doesn’t feel complete to me — more of a scene from a larger work. If you write more, I’d like to read it. 🙂

    • Adalind says:

      Fair critique. It’s a glimpse into a moment with characters that are present in larger pieces, so I’m definitely glad you’d be interested in reading more. It’s tricky finding the right balance between brevity and that sense of completion, though. I’ll keep working on it.

  2. I actually like the brevity. It gives me ample room to imagine what the two are up to. I liked reading this.

    Ooh, but I wouldn’t mind reading more about your characters. You leave me wanting more…

    • Adalind says:

      That’s very much what I had hoped people would feel. Obviously I think it ends well where it is, but with all my fantasy pieces set in this world, I want the reader to feel as though life continues when they’re not looking, that the story doesn’t stop just because there aren’t words on the page. And might I add, thank you so much for the follow and Likes!

      • No problem, Adalind. 🙂 I’m quite enjoying your work.

        I used to write a lot of flash fic, as well, and wanted my readers to interpret it the same way, so I understand.

        Your story is still playing itself out in my head, and I love it!

      • Adalind says:

        That’s fantastic! I’m so glad. It’s always reassuring when what you aim for is at least close to the actual effect. I stopped by your blog in retaliation to your patronage with mine, and I have to admit that Xonyu sounds very intriguing. I don’t know of any modern writers, personally, who have attempted to resurrect the true Homeric epic. While I haven’t clicked through the chapters yet, you have my interest.

      • I appreciate the visit, Adalind. Thank you. 🙂

      • Adalind says:

        Absolutely. I’ll be dedicating some real quality time to reading what you have at the first available opportunity. Thank you so much for reading my work and commenting on it. I’m glad to have had the feedback, and the opportunity to discover new work.

  3. Brevity and only giving just enough information is a hard balance. I like how all the conflicts are woven and implied in this piece. I, too, would be interested in seeing more from these characters and world.

    • Adalind says:

      Your wish is easily and happily granted! This world and these characters have been intended for the world at large since I was quite young. Short stories, novels, you name it, they’ll be made.

      I really appreciate the comment, too. One of the things I strive for in my writing is imparting information to the reader without having to spell things out. Fill in the blanks, wonder, ask questions, but have enough information for the moment to know what’s going on. That’s what I love to read, so that’s what I love to write.

  4. […] you want to know what Skyrim inspiration looks like, go back and read The Retriever’s Body from Friday.  For contrast, here’s some unapologetic Skyrim fan fic.  You’ll love […]

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