It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously. Kestrel LeStarre was outside, unwillingly, hesitating outside of the door which led to the home of the person she had been hired to kill. She wasn’t an assassin, didn’t even particularly enjoy killing, but when the letter from her old friend Thrust Ominous had come in the mail, asking her to kill someone, she was too intrigued to say no.
But she hesitated. Her hand on the wrought iron doorknob, rain cascading off the roof, and falling in torrents from the sky, she hesitated. The house belonged to a one Miss Jubilance Glee, and Miss Glee was rumoured to have a power that was so rare no one knew what it was. For all Kestrel knew, it could be the power to kill someone with a wink, or eat her enemies, or something equally ridiculous.
A car flew past, spraying her with rainwater, and she flinched. Why was there a car out at this time of night? She bent down once again, and pulled the hood of her cloak over her head, suddenly cold. She reached into her pocket, and withdrew a paperclip and a flathead screwdriver. The paperclip had been folded into a small right angle near the end, and was perfect for lock picking.
She carefully inserted the paperclip all the way through, placing the flathead screwdriver in the lock opening. She dragged the paperclip all the way back, using the screwdriver to turn the lock at the same time. The faint click of the lock being unlocked could be heard if she listened closely enough. She pushed the door open, and it creaked.
She winced. Her cloak was dripping water so she removed it and hung it carefully on the conveniently placed coat-rack by the door. She reached behind her and grabbed the doorknob, attempting to pull it closed silently behind her. The nearly inaudible creak it made sounded as loud as a gunshot in the darkness, and Kestrel bit her tongue to keep from cursing.
She stepped forward cautiously; making sure the soles of her boots wouldn’t clack against the hardwood floor. Her eyes were starting to adjust to the light, and ahead of her she saw a spiral staircase, and at the top she could barely make out a landing. The stairs appeared to be carpeted, so she took the few more steps required to reach the bottom one, and then placed the weight of her left foot on the centre of it. It too, let out a squeak.
Kestrel moved her foot over to the edge, where it was more strongly connected to the bannisters, and so less likely to creak, and brought her full weight up to stand on it. It held. She made her way up the stairs like this, freezing whenever a shadow moved across her range of vision, eyes scanning left, right, left.
Finally, she alighted on the landing of the second storey, and immediately knew that something was not right. She wasn’t a detective, but anyone could tell that the door leading to the bedroom wasn’t supposed to be off its hinges, wasn’t supposed to be open, and, most importantly, wasn’t supposed to have the words
Written in blood.
She froze. The house was silent, too silent. There were no quiet noises of sleep coming from the bedroom. It was almost as if…
No. That was unthinkable. You didn’t hire two assassins to do the same job, it simply wasn’t done. There was no official rule against it, of course, but it was bad manners. Hardly daring to breath, she walked to the door, every footstep echoing a hundred times louder than a cannon, heart in her chest. She looked through, and there on the bed was a corpse.
It was headless, so she couldn’t tell who it was, and had been stabbed multiple times. It was bloody and gruesome, not at all how Kestrel would have done things. Strangely, the sight seemed to calm her, even as she filled with anger. She walked to the body, knowing it was too much to hope that the killer would leave a link to his or herself. When she had crossed the room, she looked down, and there on the corpse’s chest was a note.
It was written on clean white paper, and had but a single word. A name.