Chela: Chapter I
Chapter I: In which Malthrin and Chela exchange pleasantries, and Chela ponders her former master and mistress. She also reminisces her first meeting with Malthrin and how she came to be his pupil.

'Remember Chela, I own you.'

Sneering contempt filled his voice, and she unconsciously shuttered knowing full well the height of his cruelty. She bowed her head and played the demure part, while vowing in her heart to one day destroy him. He closed the door behind him and left her alone. Her face stinging and throbbing with the swell of his abuse, she ignored it.

'One day I will hold the dagger at your throat Malthrin, and you will beg for my mercies', she silently promised.

Life was like hell, and yet she knew firsthand how much worse it could be. Before Malthrin there was Halous, and although not cruel, his touch was lecherous having deflowered and abused her before she had shown signs of womanhood. He had used her as his plaything, and having known no love before she welcomed it, and felt at once loved, if it were a twisted love.

And before Halous there was Crastia, the mistress of the House of Unwanted. She was the one who had sold her to Halous, for who knows what price, perhaps just to be rid of her. But Crastia's cruelty had been the worse, for at least with the men they were straightforward. Crastia had deluded her as being her friend, and then used her over and over again. Each time she abused beyond measure the trust engendered to her by the townspeople, her job being to care and guide their wayward youth. If the truth be known, Crastia was the most evil person she had known, destroying innocent hearts and dreams before they had even begun. Ok, so maybe Malthrin was evil also, but then again in many ways she was kindred to him. He let nothing stand in his way, as did she.

She sighed. 'Ahh once again reminiscing about my lovely childhood', she murmured. And yet she was not much more than a child still. But life had hardened her into a full adult mind, her childhood long since lost if it had ever been at all.

She turned over the map in her hands. Malthrin really wasn't so bad. She tried to convince herself. Sure he was cruel and punished her severely for things she did not feel were her fault. But she was just learning the trade of murder. And considering he was a killer for hire, one would not expect someone of the murders trade to be the most loving of individuals. Halous her former master had found that out for sure.

She still remembered the day she had been liberated from him. Halous lying face down in a pool of blood, the knife wound in his back gushing forth his life. Above him loomed her redeemer, black cloth covering his features, except for a single streak of red sown into the collar of his shirt. She had not known it then but this marked him as an assassin, and for most people meant leave him be. Assassins were known to only kill those they were hired to kill. Most did at least with Malthrin being one of the few exceptions. One thing the local people would agree upon is that if you were the one the assassin was hired for, you would probably already be dead.

He looked up at me in surprise, not knowing that Halous lived with anyone. Halous had not paraded me around, in fact only a few people even knew I lived with him in his basement apartments. I was his slave girl, his plaything. Usually clad in nothing, serving his needs and his meals. But even Halous didn't know that I had also plotted his death. I had recently hidden a sharp kitchen knife under the floorboard where I slept. I had yet to work up the courage to actually use it, perhaps one night after he was through with me. I would have tiptoed to his bed and ended his life while he slept. But as hard as I tried to convince myself it would have been just, Halous had treated me far better than anyone ever had. In a strange way I probably loved him, although he would never return that love. I was his toy, something he had bought and used for his own enjoyment.

I looked up at Malthrin as the knife dropped from his hand landing at the side of Halous’ still form. To him I must have been a sorry sight indeed. I bowed my head to him, for man I assumed, and thanked him for destroying Halous. His cold eyes looked through me, and I know now he contemplated killing me and putting me out of misery. I remembered those eyes behind the dark cloth, the strange look in them as of not caring about life. His regard for me was as if I were nothing, just merely something in his way. That look I was surely used to.

It was then that I realized the knife had fallen very close to me. It lay on the floor, bloody tipped. Without looking up something seized me and I grabbed for it. Startled Malthrin backed up in alarm, and before he could react, I lifted the knife. But he had never been my target and I plunged it into Halous' back, over and over as the rage flew over me. Blood splattered everywhere, including my own naked body. I am not sure how long until my rage subsided. I felt my heart breaking over like waves to a shore flowing out of me in sheer bestial violence. When finally I was in control of myself again, I looked up for the killer through sprayed hair and tears. But he was not there. I turned my head looking for him and found that he had sat himself on a chair across from me. He was again regarding me with those cold gray eyes.

'Your rage has impressed me', he said as if stating the obvious. He put out his hand to me and spoke calm and deliberate, 'If you take my hand I will teach you. Otherwise you die now.' He said this all matter of factly, as if he were discussing the local news with a friend. But his eyes showed his real feelings. They remained unmoving, uncaring. I could just stare at his hand, barely conscious of the words, but the knife felt good in my hand, and the bloodlust of stabbing my master had given me euphoria like nothing I had ever experienced before. I released my grip from the dripping knife still sticking from Halous' now red ribboned back and I said three simple words as I touched his outstretched hand, 'I will live.' My life changed then. He moved with such sudden swiftness that I didn't even react as his fist left me unconscious, a fitting and lasting remember of more to come.

I turned the map again. ‘Hmmmm if Malthrin approached from the south instead, he could be on the target before his guardsmen knew he was there. But it would be a hard climb,’ I thought. Maybe an impossible task for most men, but I had witnessed Malthrin before and knew that his strengths and agility were amazing. I doubted he would have much trouble ascending the walls without sound and unseen. It sure was better than my earlier idea, that one that caused my punishment.

Malthrin had laughed at it, 'You will have to find a better way to kill me my Chela.'
I despised his name for me. Chela being a name commonly used for the rodents that lived in the sewers of the city, the rats. They came out at night and roamed the streets, eating scraps of whatever food was to be found, some inhabiting the inner walls of the seedier buildings. They were considered a pestilence, a form of life that lived only to torment man, a scourge. ‘Perhaps one day I would be a scourge also, at least to Malthrin,’ I pondered.

‘Enough of this, if I would be a scourge I would certainly find a better name for myself,’ I chuckled. I went over the map again and again, designing the plan in my head. When it was at last finalized I put it aside and lay on the soft cot in my room. I was determined to prove to Malthrin that I could do this on my own. Perhaps one day even do the deed itself.