One Quirk Later // when your assassination victim overrides your plans

August 25, 2021

Happy Wednesday!
yes I am aware that this is not Sunday. I couldn't get this post ready by last Sunday. XD

Today I'm finally participating in Jem Jones' One Quirk Later story prompt madness! I've been meaning to participate for the longest time, but I didn't have the time or energy. 

Not that I have the time or energy now, but oh well, I needed to write something this month. 

So, before we jump into the story, you should probably check out Jem's post and see this month's prompt. I'm not including the prompt here (a) because you should go see Jem's post, and (b) because my story kind of went off the rails and doesn't fit the prompt that well anymore. XD

I apologize, it's a bit of a long story (1.5k words), and I haven't edited it that much. But the deadline is almost upon me, so here you go XD.

Send letter to target.

Obtain tower floor plan.

Order flowers for target’s grave.

Sharpen knife.


Callum stared at his checklist in satisfaction. He’d cut its completion a bit close. The flower company was lacking their usual selection, and he’d mulled over their options for far too long. It was nearly midnight before he’d returned to his dwelling, flower order placed, to sharpen his knife.

But all was going well thus far – all that was left was to sneak into the tower and assassinate his target, and his day would officially be successful.

He would worry another day about whether her family liked the flowers.

He touched the knives sheathed at his thighs and double-checked his tool belt. He always brought a variety of weapons to an assassination: knives, poisons, even small explosives. But he drew the line at large weapons. Swords were too conspicuous, and axes were just heavy. 

Rubbing the back of his neck with a gloved hand, he examined the thin file he’d received of his next target: a seventeen-year-old girl named Elspeth. Of the nobility, though it wasn’t uncommon for targets to be among that class. Based on the time he’d sent her the letter, she would have had twelve hours to prepare for her death. 

He almost smiled. But he was an assassin, trained to be brutal and emotionless. And just because he was known as the Kindly Assassin didn’t mean he smiled. 

He was ahead of schedule on this assassination. That never happened. Maybe he’d get a day off after this.

Callum donned his mask - black as the shadows, covering the top half of his face - and left his dwelling. No one frequented the streets at this time of night – at least, no one with an innocent profession. But Callum knew thieves, assassins, and other such workers hid in the shadowy alleys, wearing similar masks as his own. He, however, walked openly down the street. No one would pick him out of a crowd anyways. His simple dark clothes showed nothing suspicious at a glance, and his plain appearance didn't draw more attention than anyone else's.

Besides, the only people who would mess with him were other assassins. And those would never approach him while he was on the job. Standard assassin conduct.

He darted down a few empty streets, and his target’s home, a lone tower in the middle of the city, rose into view. Stone blocks formed its outer wall, but its conic roof was comprised of thick wooden beams. Callum couldn’t see most of the tower now – just vague shapes and colors – but he remembered enough about its structure to know that there was exactly one practical way in that didn't involve additional death.

He sighed. Stars, why did all the well-paying jobs involve climbing? He’d never invested in climbing gear – it was too confusing. But climbing without that was terrifying, and that was his challenge now. There was precisely one window on the side of his target: the one belonging to the target herself. 

Breath catching, he hoisted himself off the ground and began scaling the wall quickly, not letting himself think of the growing distance between himself and the ground. The unsmoothed stone poked at his hands, despite his gloves. The air grew cooler as he ascended.

Somehow he managed to reach the window without panicking, but the hardest part was ahead. He hoped against hope that the window was unlocked. If not, things were about to get noisy.

But his worries were unfounded. The window was already open. 

Odd that a window should be open this late. 

But he’d seen stranger things happen, and he was grateful he didn't have to mess with it. He took his chance and clambered in.

Any other night, Callum would have glanced around the room, made note of the surrounding features, and planned a method of escape within seconds. But now his attention was drawn to the figure in the center of the room, clothed in a black dress and with a hood over her head, a burning candle on the desk next to her. Underneath the hood, a girl’s face could faintly be seen.

He cocked his head and touched one of the knives at his side. “You must be the lady Elspeth. I see you got my letter. Have you gotten your affairs in order? I’d hate for you to leave this life with any regrets.”

She stood stiffly in front of him, arms crossed. "I apologize in advance for the inconvenience my murder is going to have on your life."

Callum paused for a moment, confused. Then it clicked, and he nearly choked trying to suppress his laughter. "Wait, did you rehearse that?"

"Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware I was here to entertain you." Callum imagined her scowling. "I wanted to have a strong opening statement."

"Well," he said, "it's not the worst I've ever heard." He couldn’t forget the time one of his targets, a noblewoman, had performed a three-act play all by herself. In addition to its lengthiness, the woman also couldn't act.

“Excuse me," Elspeth shot back, "it’s rather difficult to act calm when you get a letter saying that you’ll die in twelve hours.”

Callum shrugged. “Aren’t you glad you got the news, though? If I hadn’t told you, you’d already be dead.”

“Am I supposed to be thanking the man trying to kill me?” She threw her hood off, revealing frizzy brown hair that was pulled into a loose ponytail.

“At least I’m letting you choose the manner of your death.” He unsheathed the knife on his left side. “So, what will it be? I’ve got knives, bombs, a whole variety of poisons –”

“Excuse me, I wasn’t done with my speech,” Elspeth said, interrupting him (rather rudely, Callum thought). “Instead of murdering me, I thought you might be interested in a business opportunity. You are the Kindly Assassin, after all.”

Callum raised an eyebrow. Watching as the candle’s light danced across the knife’s blade, he said, “Curious. What makes you think the Kindly Assassin would help you with anything?” 

“Because I don’t think you’re as ruthless as you claim to be – not counting the name.”

“My lady, the Kindly Assassin is one of the most intimidating names in the city today.”

“Maybe for weak-minded people,” she scoffed. “I am no such person, and I think you, mister kindly assassin, have promise for me.”

Callum sheathed his knife, withholding a smile. “All right, my lady. Let’s hear what you have to say. But I warn you, I’ll probably kill you afterwards anyways.” At the very least, this should give him an entertaining story. He’d had people bargain for their lives before, but not like this.

Clearing her throat, Elspeth strode to her desk, pulled out a thick book, and held it up for Callum to see. “I’ve got my proposition for you in here.” She threw it at him from across the room, and he nearly dropped his knife trying to catch it. In all his years in the assassination business, he’d never had anyone throw something at him. “Read it tonight. Send me another letter tomorrow. Let me know if you’re in.”

Callum examined the book, a worn leather-bound notebook. Pages stuck out of it like sticks in unshaved wood blocks. He didn’t even bother opening it. “And how do you know I won’t kill you now and take this notebook with me?”

She shrugged. “Simple. I’ve got guards on standby outside my bedroom door. If you even think about it, I’ll yell as loudly as I can.”

“They would be too slow.”

“But I’d take you down with me.”

They stared daggers at each other, neither moving.

Finally, Callum sighed. “Fine. I’ll give it a look-over. But on one condition.”

“Do tell.” She crossed her arms again. “But make it quick. I’ve spent too much time negotiating with you already.”

Stars, did this girl ever think about another person?

“The condition is this.” Callum held his blade parallel with his face. “While I’m considering whatever is in here, you don’t tell a soul about tonight.”

She snorted. “Oh. That’s all? I was planning that from the beginning. Glad to hear we’re on the same page. Now, get going. I have other matters to attend to.”

Callum tucked the notebook in the back of his belt and sheathed his knife. “You’re lucky I still have time before your assassination due date.”

“I was counting on it.”

He rolled his eyes. “Well, have a good night, my lady.” He bit off another sarcastic comment and climbed out the window. 

It wasn’t until he was halfway down the tower that he realized what had just happened.

He had let a target successfully convince him not to kill her.

Well, he thought, the faintest smirk touching his face. This could be interesting

And that's that! I'm hoping to make this a serial of sorts - one installment per Quirk - but we'll see if that happens. College does tend to drain the life out of you, after all. XD

I hope you enjoyed this story! And if you didn't, thanks for reading anyways!

And now I must return to the wonderful world that is homework deadlines. *vanishes*

-Nicole <3

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  1. Not fair. You can't leave us hanging like that!

  2. OH. MY. GOODNESS. GRACIOUS. There are not enough words in the English language to express how much I completely and utterly ADORED this!!! THE SASS. THE ARROGANCE. THE HILARITY. This was absolutely everything! I was literally in love with this "Kindly Assassin" by THE FIRST SENTENCE. And ELSPETH. Oh wow, she was a queeeen. I love how she threw a book at him and it took him so off guard. XD This was just gold from start to finish.

    I am SO HAPPY to hear you're planning more! I was screaming by the end because I NEEDED MORE. So that was a relief when I saw you DO have more planned. BECAUSE I LVOED THIS. SO SO MUCH.

  3. Goodness, I am now extremely invested in this! And you left us on a cliffhanger!! I NEED TO KNOW WHAT'S IN THE NOTEBOOK NICOLE IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?
    This was a brilliant interpretation of the Quirk, and I can't wait to read what comes next!

    Oh, and good luck with homework. ;)

  4. Notorious assassin: she interrupts me and throws things at me and argues, does this girl ever think about anyone but herself uGh-

    ...I love it x'D Sassy people who get grumpy when they (and/or their sass) are not respected are the best.

    This is such an exciting start. ("This could be interesting" well you're not wrong, Callum!!) So excited to see what you do with these characters, Nicole!!

  5. The target apologizing to the assassin then bargaining with him. Fantastic, I love this!

  6. A Kindly Assassin?? A SASSY assassin?? I AM IN LOVE AND I WANT MORE.

  7. This was not long enough AT ALL. I can't wait for more!!! So brilliant!


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