Connor: the Last Assassin 16Chapter 16
Dragging himself to the wall, Connor crawled up it to sit with his back hard against its moist rough surface. He closed his eyes, focusing on drawing air in and pushing it out of his lungs. He licked his lips, his whole body sluggish and watery. This new beating had not done him any good, especially given the fact that his side had been reopened and was bleeding again. How much more blood could he lose, he wondered, before his body gave up entirely?
On his right, he was aware of Weems watching him, concern written all over his thin features. Weems had been profoundly affected by the failure of their plan. He had been in turn angry and depressed, raining invective against the treacherous warden and his own stupidity in equal measure. He should have known, he’d said two days ago, that his inter-prison spy network had been compromised. He had never thought that one of his contacts was a Templar. He had never even known who or what the Templars were until now. Connor, in h
Connor: the Last Assassin 1Chapter 1Connor: the Last Assassin 12 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The wolf ran easily over the springy turf, ears sharply pointed forward. Alert and ready for an attack or the sight of prey. The large animal exuded strength and grace, and the lithe body bunched as he ran faster to the river with the casual ease of a wild canine.
The grey animal slowed when the trees thinned, trotting, his ears flickering as once again he gave ear to the sounds of birds and rodents. He saw a beaver chomping at a tree not far away and passed him by, his hunting instinct tightly controlled. A snake slithered away across the dry ground aware of his approach. It too he majestically ignored.
The river bank opened up at the edge of the tall conifers and green-leaved trees. The large scarcely breathing wolf stopped and sat on his haunches surveying the rushing water with his yellow eyes. He was calm, unruffled. Only a slight breeze stirred his fur sluggishly. He seemed to be looking for something, his large eyes intent. Some time passed before he finally saw what i
Connor: the Last Assassin 11Chapter 11Connor: the Last Assassin 112 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“We are too late. The battle has been joined.”
Connor peered through the branches of the tree he was in. It was part of a little copse of trees out in the middle of nowhere behind the Patriot fort. No sentries patrolled it. The Patriots did not expect an attack from behind – an unpardonable oversight on the part of the garrison commander. Clearly he had decided that forting up would be a better way to save his forces.
A miscalculation. For there were ships disgorging troops onto the beachhead, all red, their muskets shining in the morning sun. The cannons were covering their disembarkment, keeping the Patriots away and destroying any chance of a sortie. The Patriots were penned and finished. They would not leave here alive.
Connor moved along the branch, his lupine friend keeping track from below. He had set out alone from Boston taking the back roads, staying out of sight. Jakob, Pierre and Clipper had wanted to come with him. He knew that that would have
Connor: Lessons of Compassion 2The sun had gone down before Connor had the few quiet moments to look to his own injuries. The blood had stopped flowing, unless he moved about. The Indian boy, a little cleaner and less hungry after his meal of rabbit stew, had rolled in the horse's saddle blanket and gone to sleep. Connor had watched him for a time, awash in sudden memories until the throbbing in his arm and leg had drawn his attention back to the present.Connor: Lessons of Compassion 23 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He flexed his arm the muscles were stiff, the body readjusting to the damage. He grunted taking off his over coat. The sleeve of the shirt beneath was covered in blood with a double hole one in the back and the other in the front burned black around the edges. One handed, he cut off the ruined portion of the sleeve. He had one bandage left using it on the leg would be impossible since the bullet was still lodged in his thigh. His breathing was ragged from loss of blood. He must be pale by now, the moon would cover the pallor of hi
Connor: the Last Assassin 17Chapter 17Connor: the Last Assassin 172 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Weems lowered the body to the blood-slicked floor and reached out a hand to gently close his eyes. He rocked back on his heels, looked up at Connor who stood near the storage room door looking through it for signs of pursuit.
“Sleep well, Gord,” the brown-haired man told the dead body. “We had some fun times.”
There was a crash across the anteroom and then the door banged open to reveal several reeling figures. One of them struggled and tossed a mane of red hair. An arm lashed out to catch one of the guards across the face, the momentum of the blow half turning him. Before the captive could strike again a burly man grabbed her other arm and twisted hard. She screamed unable to help herself. In the darkness of the storage room Mason saw Connor expand in anger. He had never thought to see a man do this, had believed it impossible.
”Connor,” he said warningly when he was interrupted by a bellow from a rough voice he knew too well. The masochi
Connor: the Last Assassin 2Chapter 2Connor: the Last Assassin 22 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The old man sat near the fire and watched his guest toss and turn on the bed. As he had feared the fever had set in before he’d had a chance to make the young man warm. With the amount of cold water that had come spilling out of his lungs, time had been a factor. Despite his apparently iron constitution the Native had taken sick quickly. There was evidence of wounds and his skin was so pale as to hide the fact he was only half Native. His eyes idly slid over the groaning form, noting numerous scars on his body. Clearly his guest did not live a life of ease. Here was a fighter, a hunter if that bow was anything to go by. The WolfMan had not tried to bend it. He would not touch another man’s weapons, just like he would not touch a wolf’s dinner.
His eyes strayed to the biggest wolf that had chosen that moment to move over to the restless man and sat by him. The other wolves watched their leader, glinting eyes seemingly lifeless. The old man knew better, though
Connor: Lesssons of Compassion 1He slithered to the top edge of the sloping ravine and peered over. A wide dirt road wound below, between the birches and the oaks green in the full summer leaf. The sun had turned the deep green into a shinier colour giving an eerie light to his surroundings. The grass and underbrush fed by the spring rain were tall and springy under his feet as he'd run lightly. He had not had any intention of coming here. He had just been out for a run, an exercise in escape, of subsuming his troubles in the simplicity of physical activity. Things had not gone well for him lately, not for the Assassin cause either. The British had seemed to have anticipated their many moves. His Indian allies had been either routed or rounded up as spies. Such concerted operations could only have come about as a result of the British spies and informants among the Assassins. The defeats and the consequent realignment of thought and plan had driven him to seek the solitude of the forest, the big primeval refuge thatConnor: Lesssons of Compassion 13 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Connor: Servant of the MasterChapter 2Connor: Servant of the Master2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The hold of the ship was dark, wet, and cold. It smelled of rotten algae and dead fish, not to mention the bodily smell of the other men sitting in the cold water up to their mid-shins. Few of them moved, if at all, their will drained of all emotion. They were no longer human but instead had given up, turned into breathing living cargo with beating hearts. But truly they were no longer living men.
They were shells.
They were slaves bound for the plantations to the south and the Caribbean islands where sugar cane, cotton and other products were grown to be shipped to Europe, to the hungry Old World that used the resources of the New. The plantation owners always needed men to work their fields and orchards. Criminals, escaped servants and men who were not needed anymore anywhere made perfect slaves. They were hopeless men, devoid of humanity, devoid of will. They were the walking dead: their bodies moving but their souls and spirits – all that had made them human –
Connor: the Liberty of Death“What is your name?” the gasping boy on the ground asked. The tall black-haired well-dressed man laughed heartily at such spirit and bent, hands on knees.Connor: the Liberty of Death2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“Charles Lee,” he introduced himself, lightly, his eyes holding those of the boy who regarded him with anger. The child's eyes were glinting dangerously and Lee found himself feeling a chill snake its way down his spine. This boy meant trouble, perhaps even meant to kill him. The next moment he dismissed the thought: silly really, to think that a four year old boy could make deadly promises... and yet... again that sense of familiarity tagged at him. Where, WHERE had he seen the boy's face before?
“Why do you ask?” he spoke, pushing the nagging feeling aside.
“So I can find you,” the boy replied, the dark promise reflected now in his tone.
Lee laughed again, unable to help him. What a fine pickle this was! A BOY, barely out of his linens, threatening HIM, a man grown! Incredible! Such p
Connor: The Stuff of LifeHe walked right into it. He grunted, confronted with five men. They were a hard faced sort, smudged skin and clothes. Their chins had not seen a razor in weeks, probably. Not that he was worried about their appearance. At least not in the hygienic sense. It was what they held in their hands that drew his attention. Pistols. Swords. One of them had a rifle but no bayonet. The long barrel was pointed at his chest.Connor: The Stuff of Life3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
With his feet in a wide stance, Connor stood, assessing. Retreat was still possible. He did not sense anything behind his back. He had never been one to fall back, however. Not from battle. Threats did not frighten him.
"And just where do you think you are going, friend?" one of the cutthroats asked, his dark eyes glinting dangerously.
Connor did not answer, just fixed him with a long hard stare. He held his hands carefully away from his weapons. Perhaps this was a mistake, possibly it was not him they really were waiting for. But then, he'd never believed in coincidence. There
Connor: Servant of the MasterChapter 1Connor: Servant of the Master2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Arms pinioned behind my back, legs kicked out from under me hard enough to cause me pain, I faced Charles Lee, the man I’d hunted for years. There he stood, not five feet away and might as well have been on the other side of the ocean for all I could do to finally kill him. I was bound and helpless, less than useless. Pathetic – I could read that in Charles Lee’s bulge-eyed gaze, the enormous contempt he felt for the Natives in general and myself in particular.
For you see, I had defied him, had dared to challenge him – not only that day in the forest when I had been four years old but later when I had almost gotten through to my father, had almost made my father see the truth he had been missing for such a long count of years. I had become a danger to Lee’s sway over my father.
And therefore I had to be eliminated.
“You have been a thorn in my side, boy,” Lee was saying pacing around me, my two handlers holding me by the
Connor: The Last AssassinPrologueConnor: The Last Assassin2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Glancing around the clearing, he panted, drawing in deep lungfuls of air. He swayed back slightly, eyes sliding over prone bodies, some in positions most unnatural. He exhaled sharply, his sword hanging by his side, red with blood, gobbets of brain and muscle still glued to the steel. The crimson colour reached to the hilt and even covered his hand and braces. His white-blue robes were stained in places. He wiped his arm across his face, sweat beading again on the olive coloured skin. He blinked it out of his eyes.
And that was why he did not see a man come up out of the bushes.
A single loud shot rang in the clearing. The tall Native staggered for a step. Then coughed, his hand going to his chest where a red stain was spreading. He grunted, blood spilling out of his mouth in a sluggish stream. The dirtied blade fell from his hand. He moaned, his knees giving way. With a hard impact that reverberated from the knees upwards, he fell. Struggling to draw air into his lungs he lif
Connor: the Last Assassin 7Chapter 7Connor: the Last Assassin 72 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“He did not wish to kill that wolf.”
The old man looked up sharply from his carving, his whittling knife held in a callused rough skinned hand. The boy – Sparrow’s Wing his name was, he’d said – was sitting across from him, watching the carving take shape. It would be a wolf, he thought. The old man had a certain lupine affinity. His eyes were those of a wolf: keen, penetrating, steady. They held you and did not let go.
“He did not?” the old man asked mildly, his hands immobile on the rough table surface. It was evening, a week after he’d met the boy. Tomorrow or the day after Connor should be back. He had felt the wolves moving, coming closer, their thoughts and dreams bent on home. Among them, a troubled human yet lupine soul.
The boy shook his head. His face was so open, so free of guile or ill intent that it was easy to believe his words. They rang with sincerity, conviction – just like the Assassin’s. Both
Connor: The Stuff of Life5They heard the angry noises coming from the frontier settlement before they'd reached the end of the woods. Connor turned off the road and headed in among the trees almost involuntarily, by force of instinct. Any unexplained activity demanded covert observation. Amy called after him and then followed, growling in exasperation at such inexplicable behaviour. Connor came as close to the edge of the wood as he dared while ensuring that they remained unobserved. He parted the branches of the budding bushes and peered out.Connor: The Stuff of Life53 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The frontier shanty town was in disarray. Men and horses and dogs were running all over the place in a disorganised mass. There were men in the drab colours of the frontier easily recognizable by their somewhat unshaven appearance and multi coloured skins. The others He muttered a chagrined oath. Red Coats. The British rounding up the frontiersmen. What for?
Amy stared at the scene dumbfounded. "What the ?" she wondered. He clamped a hand on her mouth and shook
Connor: The Stuff of Life3He lay staring up at the wooden cross beams on the ceiling for a long time before he realized that he was not dead. That in fact he was awake. Not quite pain free, though that was a definite improvement. At least his skull was not pounding with strange dreams and delirious thoughts. Indeed, he was clearheaded. Weak but his own man again. He sighed. His chest twinged, the bandages tightening across it. A reminder that his optimism had to be tempered.Connor: The Stuff of Life33 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
With great care, he turned his head, studying his surroundings. A simple wooden cabin, made of thick logs. A sturdy wooden table with four chairs around it, bare of any dishes at the moment. Shelves with pans and pots. A hearth for cooking. Spartan yet somehow conveying a sense of cosiness. Homey. This place was homey.
So far as he could tell there was no one else present. Not yet. He was alone. The woman whose chatter had penetrated his weary brain was not here. He'd held onto her voice all this time as to a lifeline. Back to sanity. Back
Connor: The Stuff of Life4In the event, Connor ended up staying at the frontier shanty town the entire winter. The roads were so clogged with snow and unsafe at this time that risking his neck getting out and going after the renegade again did not make sense. At times he wondered how the renegade was doing or even if he was still alive. The weather got colder how long could madness provide warmth? Periodically it would snow, for days on end sometimes. Men had to shovel snow to dig out their little huts with lots of cursing. They even had to go digging for the supplies of firewood piled at the back of their houses and buried under the cold fluffy snow.Connor: The Stuff of Life43 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It was the children who enjoyed the winter most, though. Connor was surprised to see so many of them this far out. The frontier was not the safest of places for a family. However, these children seemed not to care, or indeed to understand that there were other places to grow up. They played and invented new ways to get in trouble and that was fine by
Connor: The Stuff of Life2"You know," a voice drawled behind him. "I really hate it when someone kicks a man down."Connor: The Stuff of Life23 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The sound of a cocking pistol startled him. He jumped with an angry yelp. Turning around he glared at the intruder. A woman with a rather cold smile on her face. The barrel of her pistol was levelled at his forehead. Somewhere in the dark recesses of his fired brain he acknowledged that she must be a very good shot.
"Why don't you take your sorry rear end out of here while I am still in a generous mood?" she suggested sweetly, raising another pistol to point at his chest. She raised her eyebrows. "Well? What do you think?"
He opened his mouth to answer and then just shook his head like a stubborn mule. She sighed and fired off near his left boot.
"Scoot," she ordered while he shrieked, red faced, that the game was not fair. "I am not playing." She gestured with her other gun. "The next bullet will open a hole in your head so big that I will see your brain drizzling out." There was an undercurrent
Connor: The Stuff of Life6"This is sick," Amy remarked staring at the impaled owl. The hapless bird had been transfixed by a black arrow against the pine trunk. "This is just absolutely sickening."Connor: The Stuff of Life63 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Connor glanced at the avian corpse and turned away. "It's a sign from him. A warning."
She half turned. "You're joking, right?" Noting the serious expression on his face closed in of course as usual she added, "No, you're not. Humour is not part of your make up. Not right now." She walked over to where he stood morosely staring into space. "Hey," she said touching his arm. "This is going to get worse: the animals will get bigger, the longer we go on without responding. I think we need to take the time," she thumbed back the hammer on her gun. "to deal with this nutcase."
Slowly he turned to her, black eyes impassive. A frightening man. An Assassin in truth. She raised her chin higher. She would not be intimidated. After all she'd brought him back from the dead. She held up the loaded gun.
Connor: the Last Assassin 15Chapter 15Connor: the Last Assassin 152 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“Douse the lanterns,” Connor ordered softly, eyes straining into the moon-less night. Robert Faulkner beside him relayed the order and then stood staring at his captain who he could just distinguish as a darker shape.
“Captain,” he asked at last in a whisper – voices did carry on a silent night like this. “Are you sure about this? Taking a boat in the dark…”
Connor checked his pistol one last time and pulled up the white hood of his robes. “You forget, Mr. Faulkner, that I have some special abilities.”
Faulkner grunted. “You mean your night-vision, I take it,” he sounded doubtful. He stared across the intervening water at the prison tower with a single glowing window at the top. “This Weems fellow – he is waiting for you?”
Connor nodded, then realized his first mate could not see him in the darkness. Faulkner had no Eagle Vision to tell him the intent of someone’s thoughts.
Connor: the Last Assassin 3Chapter 3Connor: the Last Assassin 32 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The old man looked up from where he was grinding some roots for medicine and looked at his young friend in the semi-dark.
“You remember.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Yes,” the Assassin said setting aside his needle and gut thread. He had been mending his robes as best he’d been able to. He lifted the destroyed metal medallion from his chest and gazed at it for a little while. “His bullet was a dud. This,” he indicated the medallion in his hand. “This stopped a previous bullet – he’d fired from across the clearing.”
The WolfMan nodded gravely. That explanation made sense. So far as he’d been able to determine, this man, this enemy, had tried to fire point blank at the Native Assassin. Either his hammer had broken or his powder had become wet somehow and failed to work properly. Whatever the case, fortune had been with his friend that day.
“Who are these Templars?
Connor: the Last Assassin EpilogueEpilogueConnor: the Last Assassin Epilogue2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Connor stopped, panting, near a tall wide tree. Putting his hands on his knees he bent over, breathing hard, filling his lungs with warm summer air. Sweat rolled down his face and body, making his shirt stick to his skin. He wiped his arm across his face and straightened up, the scarred skin pulling a little. It had been several months since his ordeal with the Templar Marshall and afterwards with the warden. They had been quiet months of recuperation at the homestead, where routine matters took up most of his attention: the spring sowing, the calves and lambs being born in large numbers, weddings and babies being born. The ordinary run of life that perpetuated humanity, far from the bigger concerns of war and the secret societies that many did not know exist. For his people, Native and colonial alike, he was not an Assassin but Connor or Ratonhaketon – just a man who believed in justice and strove for it, sacrificing his body and any chance of a normal life so that they
Connor: the Last Assassin 8Chapter 8Connor: the Last Assassin 82 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The sun had just come over the top of the trees when he saw the cabin in the distance, among the waking trees. Hitching his pack higher on his shoulder, the Assassin pushed on, his tired legs moving of their own volition. He had chosen to walk through the night because his dreams the last week had not been of the resting kind. Quite the contrary. He saw jaws and clashing teeth, heard roars of rage and pain – and saw his mother again burning in the fire. He shut his eyes, driving the images of licking flames away. The recurring nightmare would come in moments of his greatest weakness, when his guard would be down and he’d be more vulnerable. He hated such weakness in himself. An Assassin had little room or time for self-doubt. He seldom allowed himself to dwell on or wallow in self pity. His work could not wait. The Templars did not sit on their hands but always plotted mischief to undermine the freedom that so few understood and fewer wanted. His father’s wo
Connor: the Last Assassin 4Chapter 4Connor: the Last Assassin 42 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He sighted along the arrow shaft, turning it in his fingers. The fletching seemed to be even which meant that the arrow would fly true. His fingertips slid along the wood to the arrow head and he probed the point. The arrowhead was sharpened to a fine edge. He put the completed arrow aside and was just about to pick up another one for inspection when he felt a lupine presence nearby, followed by the WolfMan’s scent.
The old man came around the corner of the hut, the big wolf ahead of him. The animal came over calmly and sat beside Connor. They looked at one another as the WolfMan shook his head, upset at something. Images passed between the wolf and the Assassin, thoughts couched not in words but in visions. A nighttime sky. A sliver of a moon. A moaning wind. And then the thunder of hooves as a big animal charged out of the forest across the small clearing that Connor saw in his mind’s eye and then disappeared, long antlers flashing between the tree branches. The
Connor: An Assassin's TrustReaching out to grab the redcoated soldier by the arm, the tall young man pushed the man’s back against himself as a shield and braced. The firing line had already discharged their muskets and so had to watch in horror as the bullets hit not their intended target but one of their own. The looks of chagrin under their tricorners would have been a source of jollity if not for the seriousness of the situation.Connor: An Assassin's Trust2 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
The dead man sighed and gurgled, sagging against the Assassin who let him drop to the paved ground of a New York street. He threw a challenging look at the firing line and then pointed his own gun to his left. Without even looking he shot another redcoated soldier who’d been trying to sneak up on him with a bayonet. The would be assassin’s face disintegrated in a bloody fountain, the bayonet clattering to the cobbles from nerveless hands.
The line of Red Coats that had tried to shoot him now discarded any semblance of ranged shooting and drawing their swords came a
Connor: Servant of the MasterChapter 3Connor: Servant of the Master2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“Charles!” Haytham's voice rose an octave. “I had said he was to be watched, kept close. Not sent out on a ship!”
Charles Lee lowered his eyes, mortified. Had he misunderstood his master's orders? Then the Assassin's sneering face appeared in his mind, the indifference with which his enemy had listened, had submitted, to his fate had been unsettling. Lee's face coloured at the insulting image and he raised his eyes to find the cold eyes of his master, waiting expectantly.
“Sir,” he tried and cleared his throat. Haytham's face was as cold as ice and expressed about as much of his emotion. Haytham was a man of cold ire: it did not blaze but smoulder for a long time. “Sir, I thought – I believed -...”
“You believed that letting him loose on a slaveship would solve our problem, Charles,” Haytham interrupted him coldly. “Now he is out there, alone.”
Haytham walked to the window and stared out for a momen