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The First Time
“The first time?” I crumbled the last of my bread into tiny pieces, scattering it on the rocks around me. I looked over at Garth while settling down among the stones. “It wasn’t like I’d thought it would be.” I gave a soft laugh.
“How so?” he asked, pulling his saddle across his lap. He pulled out a mending kit from Vittoria’s saddle bag and began looking it over for any damage. He’d taken on this task himself, to mend our leather goods, as I’d taken over all the cooking. Of course my choice was sheer self preservation, Vittoria could only reliably make tea. Garth really did try to cook, and it was technically edible I suppose, but we were all happier with me on the job.
“I suppose I thought it would be harder. I mean it was difficult in the actual doing of it, because it wasn’t something I’d planned, but I thought the emotional impact would,” I waved a hand in the air, “you know, I’d worried it would bother me to take someone’s life.”
He grinned, “You’d make a terrible assassin moralizing every time you killed someone.”
Vittoria walked into the little hollow and began adding to the small pile of dry wood beside what would be the fire pit come nightfall. I was very pleased that we didn’t have to skulk across the countryside, at least not yet. Fires and hot food every night, at least when it didn’t rain, was something to look forward to.
“What are we talking about?” Vittoria asked, shoving her short blonde hair out of her face impatiently as she pulled a small spade from our collective pile of equipment and began scratching a clear space for the fire.
“The first time she killed someone.” Garth said, flapping a buffing cloth at me before going back to work on the saddle. I couldn’t see any dirt on the leather let along anything to buff out but I didn’t say anything. Garth loved horses, and found some aesthetic pleasure in caring for their tack.
“Oh, interesting?” she asked.
“Not really,” I said, “It was just two idiots who tried to rob me. It didn’t bother me in the way I’d thought it would.” I’d had a few uneasy dreams about it, in fact, but not about killing them. It was the way they’d touched me, especially the one whose throat I’d cut first. “One of them had made some remarks, about what he’d like to do with me after they had my money. He figured they might as well take my pretty clothes and the rest of me too.”
“Shit.” Garth grimaced, with the ladies of his acquaintance he was a perfect gentleman.
Vittoria showed all of her straight white teeth in a grin that had no humor in it, “What did you do to them?”
“I got to the knife in the back of my belt and sliced the one holding me in the gut. It wasn’t a very long blade, I could just barely get it out of the sheath and it barely nicked him really, but let me go.” I watched as a small bird landed on the rocks and began pecking at the crumbs. “I hadn’t seen him as the real threat, he’d gotten very tense when his friend had casually mentioned raping me, so I went for that bastard first. I got him across one eye and then slit his throat but it wasn’t quite deep enough. His friend started babbling and backed down the alley and I had to do him too. I made it quicker for him, getting robbed wouldn’t have bothered me if it was just about money and I don’t think he’d had anything more in mind. I just didn’t want any witnesses. I had to go back and finish off his friend.”
“That was good thinking,” Vittoria growled, “How old were you?”
“How did you get away? You’d have had to have blood all over you. Throat-slitting is messy.” Garth asked, heaving the saddle aside and waving a hand at my sword and sheath to go over the leather of the scabbard and belt. I handed it over and looked up at the sky.
It wasn’t anywhere near time to start cooking but I needed to do something with my hands so I began rummaging through the saddlebag by my feet to decide what I was going to make. It really depended on what game I got in a little while, which I’d probably not get until twilight, but I could probably make a guess that it would be either rabbit or some sort of game bird. The stream near the picketed horses wasn’t deep enough for much more than crayfish.
“One of them had a dark cape sort of thing, it was fashionable at the time and didn’t show the blood very well. I just walked back home wrapped up in it. I expected any moment for a constable to grab me and go ‘Aha!’ or something stupid like that. I don’t think I even heard anyone talking about the murder, so I guess they weren’t anyone’s favorite pair of lads.” I scooped up my bow and began to string it. “I’m going hunting, when I get back its one of you who has to tell yours.”