A False Promise
I entered the bar in the tough part of town, and as usual, the wizard was right. There was someone sitting in the darkest corner of the bar, trying not to be seen. I walked towards her, careful to put my hands nowhere near anything she could interpret as drawing a weapon.
— Moin, I greeted her, but I couldn't for the life of it make it sound confident, or that I was delighted to be sent as cannon fodder to my wizard's probably-future assassin.
— I don't want anything to do with you, she replied.
— I know, Mortred. But you want something to do with my client, and I cannot allow that to happen.
Mortred jolted hearing her name from another person. She quickly grabbed me, her hand already was worryingly translucent, and dragged me closer to her, into the darkness.
— If you and your client know everything already, you already know my answer and can fuck right off. Have I been clear?
— Killing the wizard isn't going to bring you closer to your goal!
— Interesting to hear you say that, because it actually is bringing me closer.
— But... The multiverse is infinitely large. You can't kill everyone!
— If he's gone, that's one target less I have to care about.
— Stop calling me that, she hissed, pressing me against the smutty wall.
— You are going to lose yourself in this madness. You will become the very thing you're trying to break free of!
— Says your trouser-wetting wizard who won't even come down himself to tell me his wisdoms directly.
I didn't respond.
After a while, she let go of me and I fell down onto the bench.
— Listen, little one, she said. — I'm on a mission to kill everyone who is threatening to kill the Oracle. If the wizard wasn't a killer himself, I wouldn't harm him. I try to avoid killing innocent people wherever I can, and no, I'm definitely not mad.
— Assassin, I replied and collected my thoughts. — You don't understand the situation you're in. There's an infinite amount of worlds. Traversing all these worlds is going to take forever, literally.
— My patience is not infinite. Come to the point.
— We have evidence that the Nerif, the Oracle, is the one dictating the targets to the sisters of the veil. So you still are a regular phantom assassin, except he gave you a strong motivation to get the job done.
Mortred was silent.
— You have been given a false promise that you'll know the answers once you're done. But you never will be done. And travelling between worlds takes a toll on you, just look at your hands. Eventually there won't be enough Mortred left to remember this name, and instead you'll become a murderous spectre.
— How do you know that this is my future?
— While we, I mean, the wizard, can't see the future, he can observe the world as it currently is in great detail and extrapolate from there. He is watching everything to help in the right situations for maximum impact.
Mortred hesitated. — So, what am I to do?
— Can you break the contract?
— Of course not, it's a magical one.
— Maybe circumvent it?
— I don't know how to circumvent "kill every last one of those who try to kill the Oracle".
We sat there, quietly discussing all options, until dusk turned our dark corner completely black. There was no solution to this problem. The contract forced Mortred to kill herself if she wanted to go after the Oracle, and kill me if I wanted to. Running away from the contract would steadily drain her life force while also not letting her die, turning her into the spectre even faster. And straight-up suicide couldn't be the solution.
As midnight approached, Mortred handed me her manifold paradox, the sword that couldn't stop the inevitable, but maybe make it more bearable.