Part 14 – Sin Eater.

The Knight crouched upon the rooftop and stared down into the street below, her eyes blinking rapidly in the torrent of rain. She could see, down in the street, people moving along the sidewalk. It was too late for them to be good people. They were filth. Scum. The canker that infested the earth. The knight shifted restlessly and her hand fell down to the sniper rifle that rested beside her on the roof. But no… it  would do no good to be hasty.

Zeal. That was what she was good at. Sure, it had got her kicked out of the police force, it had meant that she’d had to hunt down crime in more… subtle ways. But look where it had got her! Now she was a vigilante, doing what she loved. Cleaning up the city, cleansing it of its grime and its dirt. She was its Bright Knight, its defender against the darkness that sought to smother it.

The rain was intensifying. Digging in her pocket the Knight brought out a pair of binoculars. Peering through them she scrutinised the faces of those below, watching the tired, weary faces of those wicked, wicked men and women. She was to be careful. Her employer had made that very clear. She was to be careful, and cautious and oh so quiet.

Detaching herself from the shadows the Knight moved across the roof. She was silent against the pattering of the rain. She had no more presence than a fleeting dream, scudding through the night as quickly and quietly as if she didn’t exist. Oh, but she did exist. Soon they would learn that the nightmare that haunted them was all too real.

Down on the street a man with his hands in the pockets of a large coat was wandering without purpose. His breath misted in the air, sending up a great plume of steam. Odd, since it was August and the night had a muggy heat. The Knight narrowed her eyes.

When he turned off into a side street she dropped down off the rooftops, sliding down the drainpipe with the ease of an acrobat. Ducking down she strapped her sniper rifle to her back with a single fluid motion and moved off in pursuit. Her hand fell to her belt and came up spinning a knife between flickering, dextrous fingers.

The man had stopped in the side street and the Knight paused behind him, observing him from a distance as she slunk through the shadows. He was just standing there, head down, steam pouring from his mouth. As she closed in she could feel the temperature beginning to drop. He had a certain chill about him. An aura of cold that he seemed to exude.

With the speed of a snake she lunged forward and grabbed him, holding the knife to his throat. His strangled scream was chocked by her attack. He tried to twist in her grasp, his hands coming out of his pockets and going for her face. Even through the gloves she could feel their cold, a life leeching, deadening chill. She pulled her head out of the way of their touch and he ducked out of her grasp, then ran away from her down the street.

The Knight sighed to herself and unstrapped her sniper rifle from her back. The street was deserted. Good. Still she glanced around at the windows of the houses. She didn’t want there to be any witnesses. Witnesses only caused trouble.

Forgive me for what I am about to do. She asked the night. There was no response. There was never any response. She dropped down to one knee and brought the rifle up to her shoulder. Peering down the scope she saw the fleeing man. He was quite distant now. That was fine. The Knight was good at this.

The shot rang out, piercing the night’s muffling quiet. But the man kept on running. The bullet had flown wide. Damn. The Knight cursed herself as she got to her feet. She hadn’t missed for, what, twenty years? She must be getting old. Lights flickered on in the houses on either side of her. The Knight looked up at them with annoyance. Fine. She’d leave.

Striding away down the street, hooking the rifle back onto her back and stowing her knife, the Knight stared into the night sky. Her employer would not be pleased. This little mess up would not go unnoticed, she’d have to lie low for a few days. Time, though was not on her side. The terms had been strict.

Shinning up a drain pipe at a street corner she continued along the roof. The rain had abated a little but a wind had begun to blow faster and harder. She stuck to the flat tops of the buildings on the high street. Slates were hard to run on and slippery when wet. The Knight remembered her first jaunt. That had been back in Vienna, so many years ago. She’d slipped and broken her leg, it had hurt like hell and she’d been out of action for a few weeks. That wouldn’t do, not only could the streets not guard themselves, there was also her assignment to think about.

Dropping back into the shadow cast by a chimney pot, the Knight hunkered down in the darkness and caught her breath. Rummaging around in her pocket she produced a handkerchief and mopped her forehead. Removing it she stared at it for a few seconds. Stared at the embroidered initials on it. Blinking rapidly she stood up and stuffed the rag away again. Then she turned and stared out into the vastness of the city. Sometimes it quite took her breath away. The knowledge that it was so riddled with maggots, so infested with vice, it made her sick to her very heart.

The Knight set out across the rooftops again, her breathing deep and regular. It was a good thing that the city had such a defender as her.

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