Deciding to have a little fun while he trained himself in stealth Gabriel was going to join the Kifnira games this year. That type of game would be the perfect place to practice in taking people by surprise. He wanted so badly to live up to his fathers legend and was proclaimed to be as good but he really wasn’t. His father could sneak up on any human being and most immortal creatures without the slightest bit of detection while he failed at this far too frequently for his liking. He was amazing in all other ways when it came to his job but he would keep trying until he could be like his father. He arrived at the normal gathering place for the yearly description and rules of the game that would be followed by their dragons picking them up. He kept to himself as the masses spoke to one another. Gabriel was actually glad nobody paid him any mind since when people recognized him they tended to act like he was some sort of god or thing to be terrified of. After the rules and goal of the game was explained they were called to collect colors. Gabriel received purple and therefore went to the purple dragon to wait for the others to be given their silk.
When a blonde girl with the tips of her hair dyed blue walked up he noticed how gorgeous her sword was and had to say somthing “that is some sword. Must have cost a fortune” she smiled and turned to speak, instantly knowing who he was but not saying anything. “thank you and we’re not sure how much it costs any longer. It’s been passed down atleast eleven generations. I’m to give it to my first born on their fourteenth birthday, so on and so forth”
‘yeah, I’ll miss this blade but I’ll enjoy passing it on at the same time.”
“Have you played this before?”
“Nope, have you?”
“Nope” She was already liking him and decided to let him know she knew who he was and also test him to see if he was pompous form all the riot about him. She didn’t like big headed people and hoped he’d pass. “So, If I’m correct you’re Gabriel Koopmann”
“Yes, and you are?”
“Tawny Portrice, I’m an assassin too”
“Oh sorry, god, I try to remember all assassins. i don’t know how my father does it. I hope I haven’t offended you.” she laughed “no you haven’t. I’m sort of new and picky about jobs I take. Do you want to be on a team? I believe in team work and though you probably aren’t very good despite the claims. It’s easy to be famous when you have such a legendary father” This was her test. if he got pissed off he obviously wasn’t someone she wanted to associate with and she’d take back her team invitation but if he laughed it off he was her kind of friend. She smiled when he chuckled “I like you, I’d also like to think I earned most of my reputation but its really nice to meet someone who doesn’t assume I walk on water because believe me, I’ve tried. I just sink. A little disappointing” she laughed at his response “you’re my kind of guy. I’m glad we ended up on the same team”
“Me too, I’m just hoping the other teams won’t shy away from challenging me. It wouldn’t be much fun if they tried avoiding me.”
“It’s not like they’ll have much of a choice. Even if they save you for last, they’ll still have to get your piece of cloth.”
He smiled. “True.”
Their dragons soared through the sky and spiraled down, landing next to them. Gabriel smiled when he saw the large black dragon that landed next to him, Tawny, and their teammates. “Uncle Irim, what are you doing here?” the dragon shifted shape and Gabriel gave him a hug.
“Your aunt asked me to volunteer so I did. I requested I be the one to drop you and your team off in the forest since I figured you would want a challenge. I have been over this region many times and I know the toughest spots to get out of. With your father’s training I knew you would appreciate it.”
“Of course and it will allow me to further perfect my techniques.” Irim shifted back to the large black dragon and allowed them to climb onto his back. The dragons were signaled to take flight and Irim’s powerful wings took them into the air.
“I can’t believe this dragon is your uncle.” Tawny said close to Gabriel’s ear.
“He might seem kind of intimidating, but he’s a really nice guy. He’s a real puppy dog when it comes to my aunt.” Irim did a barrel roll fast enough that no one fell off and Gabriel laughed. “Oh come now Uncle Irim, you know it’s true.”
Irim gave a small growl eliciting another joyous laugh from Gabriel. Tawny smiled, greatly enjoying his laugh. When they landed the rest of the team grumbled about the poor starting position but Irim didn’t care. He just took off again, leaving them in the dense, mud soaked part of the woods. “That jerk” one man complained while a girl whined about her new boots being ruined. Tawny rolled her eyes “lets get away from these babies” she whispered to Gabriel so she wouldn’t start a fight with her words.
“sounds good to me” they trudged through the mud and weaved through trees and even climbed over large rocks if the need arose. Logic to you may have said walk around them but things were so overgrown here that somtimes it was truly easier just to climb over the rock than climb around. “he was serious. This is so awesome. I love a good challenge” Tawny said in a tone that was as if Irim had given her a thousand pounds of gold. “I don’t know how hard you’ve trained since your new so let me know if you’d like to rest. I’d prefer us both at our best”
“ok, but I doubt I have much less stamina than you. I’ve been on so many adventures with my father”
“is he an assassin?”
“No but he is an escort. he’s fought and traveled a lot. My mom is one too so that they can always be together”
“Thats sweet, were they upset when you chose to be an assassin?”
“They weren’t thrilled but they’ve always been supportive of what makes me happy. I’m sure your dad was bursting with pride that you became one. You come from such a long line of assassins”
“Yes he was and is.”
“If it’s too personal let me know but I think this rumor may be true now that I know Irim is your Uncle. Are you and your family dragons now?”
“Thats amazing. Will you show me when this competition is over? I’d love it now but I know its against the rules for dragons and werewolves to use their powers in the games”
“Of course, you seem like a friend I’ll keep when this is all over”
“shame we live so far away from eachother’
“How far away”
“for a dragon that is nothing.”
“True, its going to be hard to sink into my head you are a dragon”
Tawny smiled at Gabriel with a playful glint in her eyes. Gabriel noticed this and smiled back. Tawny couldn’t wait until the competition was over so she could ask all the questions going through her brain. “That is if we survive” she muttered to herself as they started to cross a small stream using the rocks that raised above as stepping stones.
“we’re assassins, we’ll survive just fine.” Tawny giggled ‘you know I was joking. You have trained your hearing no doubt so me mumbling anything will catch your ears, especially since you are a dragon”
“You like to mess with people don’t you?’
“Love it” They made it across and were now in a nicer part of the mountain. “whew” tawny said making gabriel smile again. Somhow she was incredibly cute and beautiful constantly and he was really glad she wanted to play this game at his side. “do you want to rest atall after going through all that? I’m getting a little hungry”
“If we find food lets rest”
“I’ll use my dragons nose to find berries. It wont make us rest as long as meat. We’ll just do meat before we sleep if that’s cool with you tawny”
“sounds like a good plan” Tawny let Gabriel lead until they were surrounded by blue berries. They ate and relaxed then got to walking again. “can i hold your sword? I really want to see it up close” Gabriel asked so Tawny unsheathed it and handed it to him “wow” he said almost to himself. “I know, it’s a wonderful heirloom”
“it truly is. My father would love to see this sword. You need to come with me to my parents house somtime”
“It would be an honor to meet your father. Thank you”
He handed her her sword back and she sheathed it. “My parents always like visitors and as long as you do your work for a noble cause, they’ll both be fine with you.”
“Of course, I would never take a bad contract.”
He smiled. “Maybe we can work together some time.” He suddenly froze and grabbed her, pulling her down and signaling for her to listen.
“What is it?”
“A group of people are coming.”
“How do you know?”
He tapped his ear then touched his finger to his lips. They waited in silence and suddenly Tawny could hear the crunch of boots on dry leaves. They watched as the men came out of the forest, their eyes darting around. One of them was extremely nervous. As soon as all of their backs were turned she saw Gabriel’s muscles coil and he jumped out at the rear man like a jungle cat.
Tawny was impressed and shocked by how well Gabriel had managed this. She ran out to help him now that the other men in this group were fighting back against Gabriel. They each snagged a piece of pink silk and wordlessly made a run for it, hoping the men they had stolen the silk from would just admit defeat and not give chase. The one Tawny stole the pink silk from gave chase but the one Gabriel had pounced on by surprise was too wounded to follow. The man was relentless but their stamina as assassins was greater than that of an archer so they managed to run a lot longer than he ever could.
They ran until they were sure he wasn’t going to just appear and keep chasing then allowed themselves to sit in the grass while they caught their breath. When Tawny could speak she said “Dang that man could run. I’m glad the others in his group were uninterested in helping him get his silk back”
“Yeah” Gabriel said then Tawny added “that was amazing how you pounced like that. You’ll have to teach me. There’s probably a lot you could teach me since I’ve only been on five jobs”
“sure, we’re friends now and like I said, I think it would be fun to work together somtime” Tawny smiled then silently finished catching her breath. “well, those other six colors aren’t going to collect themselves. You ready?”
“always” Gabriel said as he stood.
“So how did you jump like that?” Tawny asked a few minutes later.
“My dad says assassins have to be like cats, silent, stealthy, agile and flexible. That jump is pretty much all in the legs and it’s amazing for taking down sentries. It took a lot of practice and strengthening every part of my body to accomplish such a feat. Since I’ve been a dragon I’ve gotten a strength and speed boost so I can jump farther.”
“Your movements seem to defy the laws of nature.”
“If you think that was impressive then you’ll definitely have to see the things my dad can do. I mean it’s like he controls the laws of nature, like they dare not disobey him. He’s amazing.”
She giggled. “He’s your hero isn’t he?”
“Yes and I always go to him for guidance. He’s highly intelligent and when he hunts he hounds his prey like a hungry wolf.”
“Is that why people fear and respect him, because he’s ruthless?”
“He’s only like that when he’s on the hunt. He’s the sweetest man in the world when he’s home, I mean you wouldn’t believe he was a natural born killer if you saw him with my mom.”
“So, he only kills those who do evil right?”
“Yeah and so do I. We get paid, but we don’t do it for profit, we do it to make the world a little safer. Neither of us lives for the kill, but we know it is necessary and don’t hesitate to carry out justice.”
“I hear he loves your mother very much and people who like living shouldn’t mess with her” Gabriel laughed ‘now that is true. He’s very protective of my mom and it’s a foolish thing to try and harm her. Belle is an amazing woman and I’m proud to call her my mother. I was truly blessed with two amazing parents. I hear so many people complain about who they grew up with and it only impresses upon me more how lucky I am to be the son of Belle and Zane Koopmann.”
“we’re both lucky in that way. I have awesome parents who were very loving.”
“do you have siblings?”
“Nope, you have three right?”
“Yep, Ediva, Ambrose and Ryan. I’m very close to Ediva and Ryan. My relationship with Ambrose is far better than it used to be but he still has a tendancy to rub me the wrong way”
“He tries to be better now but in general he’s a pretty self centered guy. I don’t want to get in a foul mood so I’ll just say that most the time he’s an asshole”
“Yikes, I’m sorry.”
“He’s trying so I try to be patient with him. I just have a hard time when he’s mean to my mother or younger sister. Especially mom, she’s dealt with his shit for so long and she deserves better, even better than he’s made himself be”
“It takes awhile to change, even when you really want to”
‘I know, thats what my mother reminds my father and I of. She also frequently points out all the progress he’s made but thats just my mom. She’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet”
“Your brother just needs woman to straighten him out, one that’ll kick his ass when he needs it.”
He chuckled. “Bernadette has that pretty much covered, but I know what you mean. Someday he’ll meet his match and he’ll change his tune real quick.”
They walked a little further and he stopped her. “What is it?” He suddenly pulled her to the ground as three electrified arrows flew at them, embedding themselves in a tree instead of their bodies. Gabriel growled, a dagger suddenly in his hand as he jumped quickly to his feet. He threw it and Tawny heard a scream of pain. Another person came running out of the woods at her and she pulled her sword from its sheath, blocking her attackers swing. She shoved the woman back, her sword up.
“Not as sneaky as you hoped?” Gabriel said, another dagger in his hand. He wasn’t worried about the magic archer, he or she was wounded and he could hear the person crying and cursing.
“Just give me your silk and we’ll be on our way.” The woman said as she circled to their left.
“Where is the rest of your team?” Tawny asked.
“Wouldn’t you like to know.”
“There’s one in that tree.” Gabriel pointed to a tree behind the woman and there’s one behind us hiding behind a boulder. Maybe they should come out and fight instead of hiding.”
“You’re one to talk assassin.” The woman attacked Tawny and the other two jumped out, attacking Gabriel.
This woman was skilled but nothing Tawny couldn’t handle. Their blades met repeatedly as Gabriel handled the two men. She hadn’t been able to pay attention to Gabriel and the other men since she was busy fighting someone else so was surprised at how quickly Gabriel had knocked the two men out and now had Tawnys attackers pulled back against him with a blade at her throat. “Give up” Gabriel said seriously, almost angrily. She growled in frustration “Fine but let me keep my silk. You only need two and I am atleast conscious. The knocked out ones deserve to lose theirs more than I”
“What do you think Tawny”
“she has a good point. Let her go Gabriel” he released her and she ran. Gabriel untied the white silk from the two men then handed Tawny hers before walking on. “How’d you knock those two men out?”
“There’s a few points on the body that if you hit just the right way it will make someone lose consciousness. When I was first learning under my dad he taught me them since the rest of my skills weren’t sharp yet. He wanted to be sure if I was in a tight situation I wouldn’t be killed. I typically don’t knock people out because I don’t feel like I really won but..well..I don’t know. I guess they needed to be. I’ll teach you. We can have weekly lessons and of course I’ll teach you on the job aswell.”
They walked in silence as Gabriel tried to figure out why he had become so upset about that woman fighting with Tawny, why he had felt such a deep need to protect her. That was what they were here to do. The whole game was about fighting, it was why he came but he couldn’t stand to see, even got angry seeing someone fighting with Tawny. He had watched many people fight, had plenty of friends fight at his side. He only ever felt the way he did about Tawny in that moment if his family was at risk of being hurt.
It wasn’t much longer before night hit them. “You have the fire while I try to find us some meat?”
“Scream as loud as you can if you need me”
“I can take care of myself. Go on” Tawny had a fire blazing by the time Gabriel came back with two squirrels” Tawny prepared hers while Gabriel prepared his. When the squirrels were cooking Tawny said “I think we did pretty good earning two silk in one day without loseing our own color. You seemed to lose your temper a bit in that last fight. You must have really not liked those two men hiding at first”
“I had no problem with them hiding, the whole point is to get all the pieces of silk and besides, that woman was right. I hide a lot being an assassin so if I got angry at them it would make me a hypocrite.”
“Then why were yo about ready to kill that woman?”
He glanced at her. “It was something else, something that makes no sense.”
“Oh really and what would that be exactly?”
“Well, I felt this overwhelming need to protect you and my temper flared up, it was an odd feeling. It won’t happen again.”
She started laughing. “You look so embarrassed, it’s cute. It’s fine, besides it definitely makes you a more fierce warrior, I mean you were on her faster than I could blink. I can see why people treat you like a god, you’re truly amazing.”
He smiled. “Well at least you and my family know I’m just a man that happens to be good at what I do. That and I had the best teacher.”
“you did, it’s been hard for me since I don’t truly have a teacher. I learned a lot of skills escorting with my parents but that’s it. I really appreciate that you’re willing to teach me”
“It wont be a job. I’ve already said as much” They finished their food then put out the fire since they didn’t need it. “we should get some sleep after all we went through today. I think we can both wake easily enough to rest without fears”
“yeah, I think that was the hardest thing I was taught, how to sleep without fully going to sleep. You were taught that?’
“My parents say a good guardian never leaves his post, even when he or she needs rest”
“Coudl i meet your parents too somtime”
“Of course but dont mind if my moms weird. Assassins make her uncomfortable due to dealing with a horrible one once.”
“I understand, the shady ones mar us good ones”
“will your dad trust me?”
“Youre an assassin, he knows all about you, I can promise you that. I trust your word that you are good so my father will know your deeds and know himself you are good. It’s crazy how well he keeps track of all other assassins. You’ve done one job and you’re on his radar”
“That’s kind of terrifying. Zane is like the boogeyman for assassins. Don’t ever kill anyone who didn’t deserve it or Zane Koopman will come after you.”
Gabriel laughed. “Parents probably use him to make their kids mind. Go to sleep or Zane Koopman will get you, clean your room because you never know if Zane Koopman is watching.”
They both laughed, their hands over their mouths to muffle the sound. “Alright, we should get some sleep.” Tawny said as she made herself comfortable on the ground. “Aren’t you going to lay down too?” She asked when she saw him still setting up.
“No, this is how my father sleeps on the road and how I was taught to sleep. It’s better for defending yourself.”
“And you don’t fall over?”
“I’m leaning on a tree.”
“But still, you could fall to the side.”
“And I did when I was still learning. I hit my head on a rock once and had quite the goose egg.”
“Just another thing you’ll have to teach me then.”
Gabriel smiled and closed his eyes, allowing himself to fall asleep. He was completely alert to every sound and smell, his hand on his dagger to defend them if they were attacked. He forced himself not to focus on Tawny’s breathing or heart beat so he wouldn’t be distracted. The next morning Zane woke first and sat still for a minute just listening. When he didn’t hear anyone he got to his feet and stepped around the fire then gently shook Tawny. She reflexively grabbed him, kicking his left foot out from under him and pulling him so he hit the ground. She tried to get on top of him and he grabbed her around the waste, throwing her over him and pinning her down.
“Well good morning to you too.” He said with a big grin.
“I’m sorry.” She replied embarrassed.
“Don’t be, it’s good your reflexes are so good.”
She remained blushing as he kept her pinned “we..we should start off shouldn’t we?”
“Oh, sorry” Gabriel got up and offered Tawny his hand. She accepted it and allowed him to pull her to her feet. “you wont be hard to teach atall. You’d have my skill if we shared the same teacher” She smiled ‘thanks”
“It’s just the truth. I’ll be prepared the next time i wake you.” Tawny tightened the silk tied to her then walked leisurely at Gabriels side. They traveled but couldn’t find another opponent so Gabriel decided to ask “what started you dying your tips blue? It’s very beautiful so don’t take my question the wrong way”
“I almost had a brother when I was eleven. My mother miscarried and I began doing it for him I guess, as a memorial. My mom hasn’t been able to get pregnant again which really upset her at first but she’s moved on. They have told me a few times that the lord gave them such a wonderful child on the first try he thinks it wouldn’t be fair for them to get another”
“I’m sorry, the blue tips look nice though”
“Thanks, I hate my mother lost that baby. We were all so excited”
“Did the healers or midwives figure out why she lost her little boy?”
“No, she wasn’t even working. She stayed home as she did when she was pregnant with me. Nothing was different so nobody understood”
“I’m glad she’s moved past it. Are you okay since you still dye your hair?”
“Oh yes, I like it and as I said, it’s just his memorial. maybe thats weird.” she said at the end, hoping he didn’t think she was weird. Gabriel smiled “It’s not weird”
“does your dad have a reason for dyeing his hair like he does?”
“Not that I’m aware of”
“I think it looks nice on him”
“You’ve seen him?’
“Paintings” Gabriel stopped tawny, she instantly becoming silenced.”theres five coming Tawny. You start with the women and I’ll start with the men. I dislike fighting women and avoid it when I can” She nodded and soon was also aware of the three women and two men.
The group of five came to a halt when they saw Tawny and it was only when they started to advance that Tawny realized Gabriel was no longer standing beside her. She drew her sword, her eyes searching for Gabriel. “What are you doing out here all alone?” One of the men asked. “Did your team abandon you?”
“I abandoned them actually, too many whiners.” She replied, her sword up.
“That’s too bad girly, how about you just hand over your silk now and save yourself the trouble.”
“How about I don’t.”
The man glared at her and took another step. As soon as he did Gabriel pounced, jumping out of a tree and driving the man to the ground. The others were so surprised that it took them a full minute to react, giving Tawny time to attack the women and separate them from the men. The other man attacked Gabriel, trying to help his companion who was unconscious, his silk taken. Gabriel fought the man, glancing in Tawny’s direction to make sure she still had the upper hand. One of the women knew magic and was pulling lightening down from the sky so Tawny dodged then drove forward through her opponent’s guard.
Tawny kicked the magic user in her stomach, driving the air from her lungs and making the girl give up as she fell to her knees. The other girls werent giving up and didn’t give Tawny the time to untie the colors she wanted from this woman so she fought two against one until Gabriel had the other man giving up. They guessed the three they had already beaten were closer than the two because the weakened man and the breathless woman drug the unconscious man away, leaving the two girls alone with the two assassins.
As Tawny pinned one women to the ground with her blade to their neck Gabriel slop dropped the other girl and pinned her down painfully so she’d tap out. They both gave in but these girls had once less color than the magic user “damn, we let the good on get away”
“It’s fine, you and I work well together. We’re kicking this games ass” Upon leaving them alone Gabriel had purple, pink, two whites, orange, and red. While Tawny had purple, pink, white, and orange. Tawny noticed Gabriel had taken more from the man than needed so asked “Why did you take another white when you had one?”
“He was an asshole. It pissed me off how condescendingly he was speaking to you before we began fighting. I decided before I pounced to claim all his silk so he’d have to start over or call on their dragon and give up” Tawny smiled “He was just trying to intimidate me since I was alone.”
“well, as I explained before. I have this need to protect you.” Tawnys smile became softer, actually liking that he felt that way even though if anybody else tried protecting her she’d slug them. She was really enjoying their talks and being around him. “How did you slip away so easily? I didn’t realize i was alone at first”
“Be patient for when we aren’t here. I will teach you everything my father has taught me”
“I’ll try, it’s just exciting that you have so much to teach me.” Gabriel felt a tug at his heart when he looked over at her. Her face was so soft and kind, her smile gorgeous. He was surprised at himself when the want to stop and kiss her arose in him. Gabriel blushed and quickly began another conversation “what colors do we still need?”
“You need black, yellow and blue. I need red, black, yellow and blue. If I would have been faster at snatching form that girl i would have been even with you”
“Just makes this game a little longer and gives us more time together”
“So you like spending time with me?”
“Well yeah, even though you make me want to rip the hearts out of anyone who tries to hurt you or disrespects you.”
She laughed and he smiled. “Don’t go killing anyone who doesn’t deserve it, at least not here. This is a competition, albeit not always a friendly one.”
“I know, doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“Lets see if we can find the three that got away.”
The three that had run from them had left a very clear trail in their panic. Boot prints, broken plants, and even a little bit of blood led them straight to their opponents camp. The one Gabriel had jumped on was still unconscious and the other two jumped up, pulling out their weapons. “Look we don’t want any trouble, we’re just waiting for Iordan to wake up and then we’re out of here.” The man said.
“Are you sure, you haven’t been in the competition that long.” Gabriel asked.
“We’re definitely sure, you two whipped us good.” The woman added. “Here, take our silk.”
“you’re truly giving up that easily on the whole game? This is the second day. This competition has gone on months before”
“We know but we’re tired and just want to get back to the comforts of our lavish homes and sleep in our soft beds” the man said then the women answered ‘yeah, last night was rough”
“Oh, Melanie and Harvey. You are high class. I’ve escorted your parents. I didn’t recognize you two at first since all I saw was you waving goodbye”
“Oh, yeah, the one knocked out is too. He lives near us. We all came together to show our regular friends we werent wimps but I call defeat. I like my cushy life style.” They handed Gabriel and Tawny the silks they had then the two left them. “Now we’re evenly matched and have extras of some of our colors” Tawny said happily. “How was guiding their parents?”
“Boring, they didn’t want us speaking”
“why would your parents work for someone that would give a command as not to talk?”
“money is money and work is work, we didn’t mind. Assassins can be as chosey as they wish since they make so much but escorts dont make near the money. it’s still good money but you cant be as picky as an assassin can afford to be”
“Laura does well”
“Laura Henri? Shes the equivalent of your father in her field though. She comes from a long line of escorts and has never lost a single person she signed a contract to protect”
“I never thought of that”
“You are truly blessed Gabriel, to have so many amazing people in your family, so many amazing teachers.”
“Stick around and you can spend just as much time with them as I do.”
“I’m not going anywhere, at least not until I get this promised training.”
“That could take months.”
“Then I hope you have room in your home for me to hunker down for awhile.”
They both smiled as they picked their way carefully through the forest, both of them alert, Gabriel even more so with his superhuman hearing and sense of smell. There was no way anyone could sneak up on them, not with his training. “You know, people are going to be coming for us.” Gabriel said as they veered off their path to find food and water.
“Yeah, especially since we have extra colors.” Gabriel found them more berries and they ate their fill before moving on. He found a river that ran through the woods and they both drank until their thirst vanished.
“It also depends on how many have given up I guess. Some of them were like those two who gave up, Melanie and Harvey, not used to this sort of thing. So we can count on them either giving up or getting lost. They’ll be easy to find or at least bump into. That’s where we should start. Now the soldiers and hunters and people like us will come looking for us, they’ll try to stalk us.”
“So what do you propose for the ones like us?”
“Let them think they’re the predator then make them the prey. We’ll let them stalk us then we’ll flank them, they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
“Pleasantly surprised?” Gabriel smiled ‘well my dad likes when his pray is clever, adds excitement”
“Its nice hearing about your dad from you. Alot of people talk about him like hes some crazed beast that can kill anything just looking at it” Gabriel laughed “he’s a nice guy and reasonable. The only time he ever gets unreasonable is when somebody hurts my mom or threatens his relationship with her in somway. He loves my siblings and I too but you don’t mess with my mom unless you want to suffer serious consequences”
“That I know very well from the stories I’ve heard”
“I doubt anybody alive is dumb enough to try anything with her at this point” tawny giggled “I don’t think so either” It became night again and they found a nice spot to rest. “same as last night? I do the fire and you do the catching or would you like reversed roles?”
“You made a magnificent fire. You take care of that and I’ll find us some small animals to eat. You’re fine with that aren’t you? I hate to kill big things since theres a chance it’ll go to waste”
“I’m glad you find small things. Squirrel, rabbit or other small animal is plenty” Gabriel felt the temptation again to kiss her before he walked away which had him blushing again so he walked with a quick stride away from where Tawny sat. She smiled, thinking it was cute then began readying a fire to cook whatever Gabriel brought back.
“Got a rabbit.” He said when he came back and held up his catch.
“And a big one at that.”
“I’m pretty hungry.”
He set to skinning and gutting it then placed it over the fire, turning it when it was cooked enough on one side. Once it was done he cut strips off, handing her some before cutting himself some off. “This is good, too bad we don’t have any seasonings. I would love to cook this with some cloves and garlic.”
“Stop, you’re making me miss home. I always got to my parents’ for dinner and my mom makes the best food. I mean you can never eat anything else and say it tastes as good as her food.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s what all children say about their mothers.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, you’re probably right, but I’m telling you her food is delicious.”
“I can’t wait to try some when I’m there.”
“are you really going to stay with me until I’ve taught you everything?”
“Of course, You’re being nice enough to teach me so I’m not going to make you fly five hours for a lesson or however long it would take a dragon to fly whats five hours on a horse”
“You definitely need to stay with me. I mean, my wings could get very tired doing all that flying” Tawny gave a short giggle “Earlier you said that flight was nothing”
“well it depends on whats convenient for me to say at the time. I want you to stay with me while i teach you so in this instance it’s a big hassle but if I needed to fly to see you then it would be nothing” Tawny gave a longer laugh which cause Gabriel to show a toothy smile. “You’re very honest, so which one is actually true. No fears, I want to stay with you” he smiled “I could make that flight easily and in far less time than a five hour horse ride. So if you decide to go back to your home town when I’m done teaching you I’ll visit as often as you’ll have me.” Gabriels happy expression faded a little prompting Tawny to ask “what’s wrong?”
“I don’t really want to say”
“I’ve only known you two days”
“just say what’s on your mind” Gabriel sighed “I like having you with me. I enjoy your company so much. I don’t like thinking of you not being with me” he blushed then swallowed before continuing “You’re just so beautiful and nice. I could talk to you all day, we have been talking all day between battles for silk. I keep wanting to kiss you and it isn’t even a lustful thing. I feel for you somthing I havent felt before and I can only assume it’s love growing in me for you. I at the least care for you deeply Tawny. It’s why I couldn’t stand that man for talking down to you or the thought of someone hurting you. I just hope that doesn’t make you uncomfortable”
Tawny set her food down then went over to hug him. He dropped what was left of his and hugged back “I like you too Gabriel. I mean, if you’d like I can be your live in girlfriend since I was already planning to live with you for awhile while you taught me the skills your father passed to you. I’ll need to go to king and queen Henri since they will be the nearest nobles so they can alert everyone I will be working with you now and just to send any job requests to your house” he held tighter and she smiled. “That sounds perfect. I mean it when I tell you no other woman has made me feel this way Tawny.” She kissed his cheek then asked him ‘do you want to really kiss me because I’ve also been dieing to kiss you”
Gabriel pulled back then pressed their lips together. The slow moving of opening and closing lips turned into a french kiss as Gabriel couldn’t resist sliding his tongue in. His heart gave a stutter when she just kept kissing him. They both became warm and pulled back, having nearly the same thought at the same time. “we better stop before we end up all over eachother”
She smiled “I know, and you said it wasn’t sexual”
“It wasn’t until I felt how good it was to kiss you. I want to experience how good it is to really explore you but I dont want to out here”
“thats good because I don’t sleep with men I’ve only just met anyway. I’m not a virgin but I’ve only ever been with one man and it took him awhile to get into my pants”
“That’s fine with me. I’m not either by the way incase you wanted to know. When i was a teen I shamefully took advantage of the fact as an assassin women tend to throw themselves at you that aren’t afraid of you”
“I doubt take advantage is the right term atall. I’ve seen how women practically dry hump male assassins” Gabriel laughed happily and kissed her again “You aren’t grossed out or anything. It truly wasn’t many”
“I wouldn’t hold somthing you did as a teenager against you regardless. I don’t care. I’m sure you’ve washed yourself since then and you seem like too decent of a guy to have slept with even half the women that throw themselves at you. I will however remove your manhood from your body if you ever cheat on me” Gabriel laughed again “that definitely wont happen. You’ll be with me on every job anyway so you can just stab the women yourself who try”
“gladly” she said against his lips since he had pulled her into a kiss again. They finished their food.”Tawny?”
“Do you want to sleep against me while I sleep against the tree? I’ll be holding you so you wont fall over. It’ll be good practice to do it by yourself if you are ever sleeping outside by yourself again” she smiled “that sounds nice”
Tawny sat down between his legs and he wrapped one arm tightly around her waist while the other gripped his dagger. She relaxed against him, giving a happy sigh. “Sleep well Tawny.”
They both closed their eyes, Tawny falling asleep first. The sound of snapping branches woke her and before she could move Gabriel’s arm tightened around her. “Pretend to be sleeping.” He whispered in her ear and she closed her eyes, listening. “They saw our fire I’m sure so just be still and breathe easy. There’s one coming from behind the tree, he’s going to press a knife to my throat.” She stayed as relaxed as she could and a moment later she felt the blunt end of a blade against the back of her head.
“Wake up assassins.” A female voice said and they both slowly opened their eyes. “I can’t believe we caught the great Gabriel Koopman off guard.” The woman had bright green eyes and hair to match, her look of smug satisfaction pissing Tawny off.
“We all have our bad days.” Gabriel shot back, his voice calm.
“Get up, slowly.” The woman had a black powder rifle, a scope mounted on top. Gabriel had been intrigued by them, but had never had the urge to use one. His job required silence and guns sounded like thunder. It was completely counter productive unless you were deer hunting and even them he preferred using a bow. Both he and Tawny stood up slowly, the man moving from around the tree, knife still pressed to Gabriel’s throat. “Now, we’ll be taking your silk.”
“I don’t think so.” Gabriel replied.
“Oh really and what do you plan to do?” He grinned and quickly disarmed the man behind him then threw him at his friends. The woman raised the gun and Gabriel moved quickly forward, grabbing the barrel before she had time to pull the hammer back. He jerked it out of her hands and pointed it at her.
“If any of you move I’ll put a bullet in you. You won’t die, but at this range you’ll be in a lot of pain. I know you Helia, bounty hunter extraordinaire. I hear you’re quite the shot, but obviously no good at close quarters.” She glared and he chuckled. “Now, now calm down. Tawny take what we need and leave the rest.”
Tawny untied the colors they needed, then backed up toward Gabriel. “So what now?” Helia asked.
“Now we leave.” He kicked dirt onto the fire, smothering it. He grabbed Tawny’s hand and pulled her away, knowing Helia and her group would not be able to follow them in the dark.
Tawny handed Gabriel a black and a yellow “we only need blue now” he smiled and gave her a quick kiss “I’m glad you decided to trust me.”
“Of course I’m going to trust you. You’ve grown up with Zane Koopmann. I’m pretty sure your plans will always be better than mine”
“don’t say that. I’m sure you could have figured out somthing.”
“I always have but rest assured if you have a plan I’ll follow it”
“are you still tired?”
“Are you kidding?’ Gabriel grinned again “you truly are amazing Tawny’
“for not being tired?”
“For everything” He kept her hand as they walked along in search of more players. Gabriel was now ready to hurry up and get home so he could introduce Tawny to his mother and of course the rest of his family. He knew she was going to fit right in and couldn’t wait to be with her in more of a calm setting where they could just talk and be close more without the tension of this game. They thought they might be lucky when they saw two people sleeping but neither had a blue “damn” Gabriel said in his head as they moved silently passed the sleeping players.
It was near dawn when Tawny froze “what?’
“Look in front of me” Gabriel looked down and to where Tawny had been walking and noticed a trap, he smiled, proud of her. “that means someone is near and they actually have a brain” Tawny wanted to laugh but held it in. “we see your trap, come on out” A group of three men came out. “should have known assassins would cross our path and actually see this thing. It’s been easy getting our silks so far”
“You going to fight us or do the smart thing? All we want is blue and we’ll give you all our extras in return” None really wanted to challenge Gabriel so they accepted the trade. “finally.” Gabriel said then called on Irim since he wasnt allowed to fly them off the mountain. Irim shifted when he landed “I’m proud of you two but I knew you wouldn’t leave anything but a winner” irim shifted back and took them to where the feast would be held when the competition ended but Gabriel requested they be given their medals and allowed to go ahead and go home since his mothers cooking was better than anything they’d make anyway.
They agreed and gave them their reward money and medals so they could head home. “do I get to see you in dragon form now?” Tawny asked once outside. “yes” Tawny actually gasped in surprised when she saw how large of a dragon Gabriel was. His blue scales were incredibly beautiful. She gave him one long stroke before climbing on. he took her up and flew much more carefully than normal, nervous carrying Tawny so high up.
His landing wasn’t very graceful but he had carried her all the way to the village by the castle with no incidents. He shifted back into human form and hugged her “you seemed to enjoy it”
“I want to go up often, please” Gabriel leaned in and gave her a long kiss before saying anything for you but now i really want you to meet my family”
“Could I go buy some clothes first and shower? I don’t want them to meet me like this” They quickly bought her some clothing, already getting whispers from people since nobody had seen Gabriel with a girl that wasn’t related to him before. He then guided her to his home and showed her the working of his bathroom before leaving her to it. He was hungry but knew his mother would insist on cooking for them so he would get food soon and Tawny could try his mothers amazing cooking.
When Tawny came out she left Gabriel breathless and staring. She smiled happily “You going to shower too or are we going over now?”
“I’ll shower too, god, I cant stay like this while you’re just…wow Tawny” She laughed whole heartedly. “yeah, i went through a lot just getting to the competition so I didn’t look my best when I first met you”
“You’ve been gorgeous since the second I laid eyes on you. More of your beauty just shows now”
“You don’t need to clean up.”
“but I really want to. I’ll be fast” Gabriel had barely been in there five minuets before he came out. Tawny kissed his cheek “and now you look even more handsome. Lets go before you explode with excitement”
“I’m sorry, I’m just so happy to be with you and I want everyone to know” Gabriel took Tawnys hand then left to go to his parents house. They were outside playing with Ediva and Ryan, the latter of whom had only just learn to walk. The two of them instantly caught their attention. They especially caught Belles because she noticed her son holding Tawnys hand. She very nearly let out a squeal of delight. “hey! Welcome back” Belle said enthusiastically, Zane smiling from ear to ear at his wife and the fact he had also noticed Gabriel holding Tawnys hand.
Gabriel hugged his mother and then his father and his siblings. “So, introduce us to your girlfriend.” Zane said and Gabriel grabbed Tawny’s hand again.
“This is Tawny, Tawny this is my mother Belle, my father Zane, and my siblings Ediva and Ryan.”
“It’s very nice to meet you all. This is such a shock, meeting the Zane Koopman. You are what all assassins aspire to be.”
“I’m alright.” Zane replied, making everyone laugh.
“So mom, do you have some food for us, we’re starving for some home cooking.” Gabriel said and Belle just smiled and shook her head.
“Of course I do, I already have a nice fish stew on the stove.” They all headed inside, Zane lifting Ryan off the ground and taking him to his high chair. Belle filled bowls and Zane sat them on the table while Gabriel poured juice for everyone.
“Oh god mom, this is so much better than anything I could ever make. I think I might move back in.” Gabriel said jokingly.
“You’d be sleeping on the couch.”
“Don’t care, good food.”
Belle laughed then tawny said “this really is incredible. When he was telling me about your cooking I thought he felt that way because all children tend to think that way about their mothers cooking. Gabriel says he comes here for dinner every night, would you be interested in letting me come early to learn from you? I can cook, just nowhere near as good as you” Belle smiled ‘I’d love that. It’ll give us girl time to get to know eachother” Belle turned her attention back to her oldest son “see, she’s going to learn from me so you don’t need to live here”
Gabriel smiled happily “when do you need us to come over?”
“You live so close I’ll just come and get her when I’m starting to cook” Zane of course having just as much interest in blades as Gabriel had noticed Tawnys gorgeous sword just as fast as Gabriel had at the tournament. “where did you find a sword like that Tawny?” He asked. “Your son asked me the very same question. It’s what actually got us talking and on a team together. It’s a family heirloom. It’s been passed down eleven generation so we don’t know where it came from any longer. I’m to give it to my firstborn child on their fourteenth birthday. I’ll miss this beauty but it’ll feel good to pass it on. Especially remembering how excited i was when it finally became mine. Gabriel says you know everything about other assassins. I’m surprised you didnt know about my sword”
“Not everything everything, I know the basics. I know enough about you to be happy with my sons choice in girlfriend.” Tawny smiled, feeling happy Gabriels parents seemed to like her. It had been a little nerve wracking thinking about meeting the legendary Zane Koopmann. “what made you want to be an assassin?” Zane asked. “Being an escort is a nice job and all but I’d rather be protecting people from murderers and rapists like assassins do, well the good assassins anyway. My parents weren’t very happy about the idea of me chasing people like that down but they supported my decision.”
“I can understand that. Belle was the same way when Gabriel wanted to be an assassin. It wasn’t somthing she was excited about but wanted him to be happy. My son will be great at honing your skills and teaching you things you may not know since your parents aren’t assassins but I’ll be happy to teach you from time to time too. Just let me know”
“You are with my son. You getting hurt by a scum bag isn’t somthing I want to risk” Tawny giggled ‘not with the lunatic your son becomes when he feels I’m threatened. I swear he was ready to murder some of the players in the game. This one man was only condescending to me and Gabriel hurt him pretty badly”
“That’s my boy” Zane said proudly. Since Tawny and Gabriel had just spent the past couple of days fighting they left right after dinner. Both Belle and Zane gave Tawny a long hug and told her how great it was to meet her again before they left. “they are so nice” Tawny said on the way back to Gabriels “you fit in perfectly. I’m glad you want to learn to cook from my mother”
“I would pay to learn from her. That food was incredible.”
“My moms mother was a great cook and thankfully she passed it down to my mother and lucky for me you want it passed down to you” Tawny giggled and Gabriel kissed her cheek before lifting her into a cradle. He sighed “You are so beautiful and astounding Tawny. You don’t know how happy I am you want to be mine”
“You and your family are pretty amazing too. i can’t wait for you to meet mine”
“lets rest a few days then head over.”
“sounds good to me”
~ The End ~
~ Stacy Meyer contributed to this story.