It was a Coup de Foudre, the viewing of the ring. The sumptuous coil of gold, melded with subtle hints of silver. This was no mere souvenir of the journey to Venice, but a true Renaissance masterpiece of a long-dead master.
Hillary could just imagine him in his leggings and pantaloons, proudly holding his creation between thumb and forefinger to accentuate its lustre to his patron.
How the craftsman would have smiled as patted the coins tucked into his no longer empty pouch. The smile clearly mirrored by Hillary as she slid the crisp Euros across the counter to make the magnificent ring her own.
It came as no surprise to anyone when she entered the church and found it inhabited by winged predators. They knew she was coming, and had prepared carefully. Minions had arrived in advance of the fiends, and removed everything that might serve her. Crosses and relics had been disposed of and holy water flushed away. Even the wooden slats of the altar rail had been burned. Sister Sally, vampire slayer, was entering an ambush on her own turf.
But as I have said, it was a surprise to no one, not even Sally. The nun had seen Boris Wyldmane, a known consort of the dark powers entering into the sacred space hours before. This uncharacteristic departure from his usual habit of only entering black doors had alerted Sally to the danger.
As she began down the aisle, several blood sucking menaces stepped from the cabinet before her. Then bearing true malice and exuding evil, their leader, Domcumula stepped front and centre, followed by his sycophant Wyldmane.
“Prepare to die, slayer,” Domcumula spat.
“Not today,” Sally retorted, “I have come equipped with a mask, and the daylight of ‘real’ scientific advice.”
This isn’t right, the black-clad ninja thought as he opened his eyes.
He vaguely remembered mounting the battlements, and then being pushed backwards off of the wall. In desperation he had grabbed hold of the warrior that had shoved him, and the two fell together to the ground below. Somehow, he had managed to land on top of the soldier, who was definitely dead, his head turned at a grotesque angle.
As the ninja came to his senses, he could tell that the defenders were combing through the bodies at the base of the wall, retrieving their fallen and mercilessly dispatching their foes.
The assassin quickly began to undress and to strip the armour and equipment from the man who had accompanied him on his fall. As he removed his own britches, agonising pain shot through his entire body, and he could see the jagged bone of his left leg protruding through the skin. He nevertheless completed the task at hand, and donned the garb of the other man. His ribs also gave him pain, as he pulled on the jerkin. He pulled his own clothes onto the corpse, and then feigned unconsciousness on top of the body.
A few moments later, he let out an uncontrolled scream, when he was nudged in the leg by the boot of one of the burial party.
“Call the medic,” the man shouted. “We have a live one.”
The man then stooped down over the ninja.
“Who are you?” the man asked in Ralulee, gazing uncertainly at the ninja’s features.
“I Sealandian Mercenary,” he replied, doing his best to remember the Ralulee phrase for ‘soldier of fortune.’
“You took a hell of a fall,” the man said, lightening up a little.
“He grab me – take down me,” he replied, trying to stress a Sea-Land’s accent.”
“Well help is coming,” the man said. “We will get you to the infirmary in no time.”
The ‘mercenary’ only really understood the word ‘help’, and ‘infirmary,’ but under the circumstances it sounded perfect to him.
Soon, he was being carried on a stretcher through the gates, into the fortress that he had attempted to storm the night before. What are the chances, he thought to himself. Why didn’t I think of something like this in the first place?