The wind is bitterly cold, the rattle of tree branches against window panes and gates echoing. My uniformis a flimsy gown, hardly any thicker than a nightgown, and it does little to protect me from the harshness of nature.
But I will endure it. We have come too far for me to let a bit of frostbite destroy our work. The Resistance has worked too long, too hard, for this to fall through.
I hear the muffled clatter of a cart coming up the cobbles to the castle’s back gate, and peer out from where i hid in the shadow of the inspection tower. A tall figure approaches slowly. They are blurry, but I can just make out the colour of the Resistance band around their neck, a vibrant blue even in the deep night.
The trade is quick. A long, heavy blade is pulled from under a rug in the cart, and pushed into my hand. I give my brother in arms a panicked look. He can only apologise, tells me this was all they gould steal before the Authority’s soldiers surrounding the Hellfire Club found them out. He squeezes my shoulder once, then leaves, as quietly as he came.
I make my way back into the castle. The heat inside is almost too much against my frozen skin. It lights something within me. A new energy buzzes in my skin. I wander slowly back up the staff passage. The building is silent, all its inhabitants long since retired to their beds.
I pass our dorm and as I look in at the pale faces of its sleepers, I feel a hot anger bubble in me. Countless people of all ages, all packed into one tine room, as though we are nothing but cattle. Some lay on top of one another to avoid the cold, unforgiving stone floor.
I hold my head high, shoulders right, my blad glinting in the dim light of the torches. My footsteps become silent as I step onto the lush carpet of the Authority’s private corridor.
I should be terrified. I should be shaking. Yet as I turn the gilded door handle of the Authority’s bedroom door, I have never felt more powerful.
He lies in his bed, sleeping peacefully, as though he has not destroyed the lives of countless innocents. His wife, a slim, neat-looking woman, lies next to him, her makeup perfectly applied even in sleep.
She cries out as I grab her arm and drag her from the bed. She stumbles as I pull her to me, waking her husband in the commotion. He stares at me, fat face glistening with sweat. A cruel part of me is delighted that he will watch this happen, and I bare my teeth in a manic grin as I slit his wife’s throat wide open. Her blood is warm as it gushes over my arm. She drops to the floor like a sack of potatoes.
The Authority has never once thought to learn how to fight. He is defenseless, having always relied on his guards. But now, I hold this power, his life in my hands, secure in the knowledge that no one in this castle will come to his aid.
I stab his stomach first. It is the easiest target. And then I keep going. I stab frantically, painting the room with him. Something warm and wet rolls down my face. I am unsure if it is blood or tears. I think I might be screaming.
When I am done I pile their bodies on top of each other and pull one of his warm, furred cloaks from his wardrobe. I hang it over my shoulders. As I pass the mirror, I see that I am no longer the frightened waif I was years, months, even mere days ago. My skin is red both flushed with pride and splattered with my success. My muscles are strong under my slip of a uniform and my eyes are bright with energy.
I storm back through the halls, calling to everyone, summoning them to the main hall.
Within 30 minutes the hall is full with chattering, worried staff. They are thin, underfed and shaking as I step out onto the Authority’s podium, cloaked and gory. I hear them gasp, I look out over them, then slowly raise my painted sword.
“The Authority is dead”.