now I see you’re back.
Haven’t seen you for a while,
kinda missed your deadly smile.On a windy night, on a windy night.
On a wicked night, on a wicked night.Hey my lady in death,
have you come for my last breath?
I never thought we were through,
I bet you knew I knew it too.
I never thought that we were through,
I bet you knew that I knew it too.On a windy night, on a windy night.
On a wicked night, on a wicked night.An Masaquani song about the Black Seven
Originally Published at Rob.BearSwarm.com on 2012-04-16.
Fifteen years ago the whole world feared the Black Seven. Mothers would whisper into their son’s ears, “Behave or the Black Wings will come on the night winds and take you.” We would descend from the tops of the tallest trees in the carroway forests in the dead of night, but only on nights when the winds blew strongest. We could travel for miles on a storm front in search of our prey and ride the currents back home when our job was completed. We were called the Black Seven, the Wings of the Carroway, the Black Atani, and a dozen other names. To each other, we were simply the forest that we lived in. I was the Wrath of Maroa, one of the great Atani assassins.
One of us lived in each carroway forest where we would take contracts through a series of mirrors and stand-ins. When someone had the desire, and means, to hire a Black Wing they would approach the nearest forest and pray to the Seven. Other Atani would relay the message through the village until it reached the local Sister. She would decide if the contract was honorable or not and have a messaged relayed back through the village down to the prayer. The prayer would leave their offering, a quarter of the total payment for the contract, and be on their way. The Black Wing would descend from their village only on the darkest, storm-filled nights, the better to catch strong winds, and seek out their target. Once the target was dispatched we would track down the prayer for the remainder of our payment and if the prayer couldn’t afford the service they would forfeit their lives.
Between prayers our lives were relaxed. We wanted for nothing as other Atani held us with the esteem of village elders. I would spend most of my days reading, a hobby traditionally reserved for only the wealthiest of Atani merchants. I was never an academic or a scholar, but written word allowed for me to live in worlds so different than my forest.
The system worked for hundreds of years, until Caribdus began to flood and the Kierans destroyed our forests.
As the massive carroway trees fell and the Seven were scattered. At first we tried to live in pairs but it only lead to trouble. The office of the Black Seven was a revered posting within the Atani. When two lived in the same trees the villages were split on their loyalty. The Atani couldn’t agree on who to contact and many prayers went unanswered. Eventually the other Sisters retired, most by taking their own lives. Now, I am the only Sister that remains but I am cursed to abandon my home and craft for survival. Over the last fifteen years I went from being one of the most respected and feared assassins in all of Caribdus to nothing more than the spook story for children.
I arrived at the docks of Fortune Favors three years ago and began working as a courier for incoming traffic. I would perch atop the tallest masts and watch for any inbound merchant ships that were aimed up river. I’d glide out to make contact with the ships and then return with either the iron or gold they sent back with me. The gold would part the sea of boats while the iron would be returned with interest. There were many nights where I slept hidden in a ship’s crow’s nest with only a book to keep me warm. Sleeping in masts was a common hiding spot for homeless Atani in the docks and there were many nights that I’d swoop down only to find my perch already claimed. I didn’t make friends in the docks, I simply didn’t know how. I had lived in seclusion and reverence for so many years I simply didn’t understand the concept of friendship. I kept my head down, I didn’t make trouble, and I saved until I had enough money to buy my way into Fortune Favors.
They say that all travelers are welcome, that Fortune Favors doesn’t bar it’s doors to anyone, but they don’t say that only applies to those with gold. I bribed the guards to let me slip quietly into Shade Street three months ago. I sunk the rest of my meager earnings into a small hovel a few stories up from the street. A place big enough to crawl into and stay warm but barely big enough to be called a home. I’ve yet to find work in Fortune Favors but I hold out hope. I spend most of my evenings in Singer’s Row reading the works of up-and-coming writers while I spend my days either in Marketside or Plaza Center trying to find someone to hire on an unskilled Atani.