Viktor unlocked the balcony door and slid into the bedchamber like a nightmare. The room was silent save for the gentle snoring of the bed’s lone occupant. Viktor couldn’t contain his malicious smile as he crept forward, slow and breathless. In the dark, Viktor could make out the contours of the baron between his sheets, sleeping in child-like innocence.
With each step, his prey came closer and closer. Viktor’s eyes adjusted to the darkness as they had done so many times before. He could see the opulent paintings or the impressive oak drawing table. Behind the closed doors of aristocracy, it was the décor and the private trappings that revealed the heart of a man. With a trained eye, you could discover everything you needed to know about a man of the court from the books on his nightstand. With a sharpened ear in the right room, you could peel away layers of masquerade from a single conversation. All it required was a hunter’s sense.
Viktor’s senses were well honed.
From within his coat, he produced a thin blade. A needle of a dagger; with just the right exertion of pressure, it could slip through skin, muscle and bone. Viktor looked over this sleeping body in the bed before him, already imagining where he could insert his blade. He pictured the warm pool of crimson spreading slowly across the white linen sheets. One swift motion and this query would never wake from his sleep.
It would certainly send a message to those who had the impudence to plot or scheme against their sovereign. The baron and his cohorts, making secret meetings in secluded places while smiling and attending the meetings of their king. Viktor felt a spark of anger at the thought of their deception. They thought themselves so clever. They thought themselves above suspicion. Perhaps if one of them were to never wake up again, it would convince them otherwise.
Viktor was close enough to touch the sleeping victim. The sheer ease of the kill was beckoning Viktor’s hand forward. This man, fast asleep and comfortably unaware of the predator so close, was practically inviting his demise. Viktor stared at the body the way a man may stare at his lover when she appears before him in red silk. With the delicacy of a painter, Viktor traced the outline of the baron’s figure, blade hanging mere inches from his body.
Viktor leaned in towards the baron’s head.
“Such a sound sleeper. You must feel so safe,” Viktor said, quieter than a whisper.
“But what you should know is you’re never safe. There’s nowhere you can run, nowhere you can hide that I cannot reach you,” Each word hung in the air. Viktor felt empowered, standing over this man. With a single moment, he could steal away this man’s life. The power to dispense death and judgment a breath away from him. Viktor could feel the opportunity taking a momentum of its own.
He took careful aim of his weapon. He couldn’t afford to be imprecise.
With practiced motion, Viktor lifted his arm and brought the knife down hard.
Baron Charles Surridge woke up with start. It was as if a starter’s pistol had gone off next to his ear. He sat up in bed and fumbled for the matchbox he kept on his nightstand. As he felt about in the dark, his hand brushed against something cold and metal. Charles found the matchbox and quickly struck a match. The room was as empty as when he had gotten into bed. He turned his attention back to his nightstand only to find a dagger standing upright on the nightstand with the blade embedded. A thin piece of parchment was tied to the hilt. Charles turned white as he read the words.
Treason is Always Punished.