A Needle's First Prick in Derkomai | World Anvil

A Needle's First Prick

In the gloom of a dark night, Six slipped from moonshadow to moonshadow through the manor, like a ghostly apparition, his dark gray cloak and hood hiding him in the blackness. The drowsy guards saw nothing as he made his way to the back entrance of the main courtyard and into the building. He snuffed the few flickering candles still lit.   Silently, Six slipped into the sleeping chambers of the chief castrator, the one that had mutilated Six when he was just fourteen years old. The new blade presented to him by the Emperor, The Silver Needle of Azazala, whispered from his sleeve into his hand. He hesitated, his rage overwhelming him for a moment, then drove it through the sleeping castrator's throat and into his brain. Blood spurted from the wound and the man gurgled and shuddered, but he was already dead. Six pulled the knife free, then plunged it into the man's groin. "You took my life. Now I have taken yours. I am a eunuch in this life. Now you will be a eunuch in the next, cursed bastard!" Blood covered his hands and cloak. He wiped his hands on the bedcovers, then slipped out of the manor, leaving his stained cloak behind.
The next day, the Emperor worked through the memorials presented to him by court officers, generals of the military, and government officials and bureaucrats. Six attended to him, as usual, grinding the imperial red ink as the Emperor made notes and comments and wrote orders to be carried out. The Emperor picked up the next memorial on the stack and quickly read through it. He frowned slightly and said, "Well, Six, this is disturbing. It seems the chief castrator was brutally murdered last night in his sleeping chambers. The assassin was exceptionally skilled. No one in the manor saw or heard anything, but investigators did find a finely-made hooded cloak, apparently left behind by the assassin."   Six said without a hint of emotion, "Yes, Your Highness, that is disturbing indeed. No doubt his family is grieving."   The Emperor glanced at Six and said, "No doubt. A man like him must make a lot of enemies."   Six replied, "Surely that is true, Your Majesty. Many filled with hatred and rage driving them to take revenge."   The Emperor said, "Hatred in such circumstances is understandable, but We certainly hope We don't lose any more castrators. Skilled ones are very difficult to find."   Six said, "Yes, I believe they must be quite difficult to find, but I think Your Majesty can rest assured that such assassinations are unlikely to occur in the future. The guards will no doubt increase their vigilance."   The Emperor said, "We are encouraged by your words, Six. We hope that what you have said is true, and that We need not take further action to prevent such disturbing matters from occurring again." He made a note on the memorial in his red ink, "Acknowledged. Case closed."

Cover image: by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)


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