With trembling hands, Lila cleaned the blade of her dagger on an unstained section of the dead man’s shirt- a wasted effort, as her own dress was already filthy with his blood. Damn it, she whispered to the empty air.
That man...he’d come from the darkness, from behind her- she’d heard him at the last minute. If she hadn’t had her dagger in her hand when he charged- if she hadn’t been about to kill that rabbit...
No, she warned herself. Don’t think that. Just concentrate on the task at hand. If you hide the body well, and do what they told you, nothing will happen. </i>Steeling herself, she took a deep breath, sheathed her dagger and began her Observations.
The man- the corpse- was a little taller than than six and a half feet. He had seemed to tower over her when he.... His clothes were close to tatters. On his feet were worn black boots with miss-matching laces, one grey, one brown. His hands were empty. But they were huge.
Fighting back nausea and the image of those hands around her own neck, Lila began to undo the buttons running down the man’s shirt. She felt the inside of the cloth, the curve of the collar, and even his blood spattered, hairy chest, finally finding a tiny, folded piece of paper. Quickly, she removed it and placed it swiftly inside her left boot, allowing a small smile of triumph. She'd soon know what he intended and who he was.
"Who are you?" came a man's voice behind Lila and a blade appeared on her throat.
Her heart exploded in fear and she barely stifled a scream. For a split, she even thought the dead man had come back to life. But no. This was his partner come to kill her, or worse. Concentrate, something warned from within, and she struggled fiercely to suppress her raw terror.
“Who are you?” The partner demanded again. “Who is he?”
So, maybe he doesn't know who I am, and who the dead man is. Or maybe he is just trying to trick me. I don't know. I must be careful. “My name is Lila,” she replied smoothly, “And I do not know who the man is.”
“You’re lying!” the voice growled, and pushed the blade closer into her throat.
“No, I am not,” she whispered, afraid to speak to louder less the blade penetrate her flesh.
“Then why did you kill him?” There was the slightest tremble in the voice, not of grief but as if the speaker was suddenly less sure of himself. Lila pursued her advantage, praying to whatever gods existed that he did not see her hide that note.
“He attacked me. I was very fortunate to have my knife out to kill that rabbit.” Very slowly, Lila gestured to her right where the rabbit had been trapped. “It must have freed itself. But as I live and breathe,” Lila said with all the fervent intensity she could muster, “I killed him only to protect my own life.”
“I don’t believe you,” said the unseen man, but it he most likely did.
“Yes you do,” Lila retorted calmly, “Otherwise you would have killed me by now.”
The sword point trembled, then was cleanly removed from her throat. A hand grabbed her short hair and roughly whirled her around to meet the piercing grey eyes of sternly handsome young man with a strong jaw, patrician nose, and lips pursed in indecision.
“Do not lie. If you lie I will kill you. Did you kill that man?”
Lila sighed. “Yes. I did. I already told you that.” He’s as new at this as I am, a stray thought whispered through Lila’s mind.
“But only because he attacked you.”
“Are you sure?”
“You don’t act like a woman who has just killed a man,” he said, his hand tightening on his sword and scowling.
Lila shrugged “I’m sorry.”
The man glared at her for a minute, then let her go. “All right. I believe you. But don’t try anything.”
“I won’t,” Lila promised earnestly, while backing safely away from her potential threat. There was an awkward silence. The man looked at the body, frowned grimly, then back at Lila. “My name is Calder Redlack,” he stated. “Hello, Calder,” she said, smiling politely. There was another awkward silence as she took another step back. "Can I...can I go?"