The Night Watchers story belongs to AvalonTheQuin. This is a collection of short stories about my Night Watchers OC, Khione.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Khione: My name is Khione, I am twenty-one years of age, and I am a Night Watcher.
Q: But in terms of your personality...how would you describe yourself?
Khione: Well, I suppose one could say that I am reserved, efficient, and intelligent. I wouldn’t consider myself to be any more or less talented than my fellow Night Watchers, however. All of us are here for a reason.
Q: What would you say are your talents?
Khione: (pause) I suppose I am good with most weapons but with my talents in stealth I tend to spend most of my time in the shadows.
Q: And why do you wear that glass on your eye?
Khione: It’s for strategy, mostly. (Glances around the room) A lot of people think it’s a crutch, and it is. You can't tell when I'm wearing it, but I’m blind in my left eye and the glass gives me artificial vision and clarity. I do practice without it for scenarios where I might lose it, but yes...
Q: Were you born blind?
Q: How did you--?
Khione: I don’t want to talk about my past. That was my only caveat for doing this interview. Look, I know it's your job to ask these questions, but nothing good comes from my past. I don't want to tell it, you don't want to hear it.
Q: But certainly you must have a family.
Khione: (eyes narrowing; in a low, icy tone) I don't have a family. (stands up) If you can't refrain from asking questions about my personal life, I'll just leave.
Q: All right! (urges Khione to sit) Sorry. Ehm...what do you think of your fellow Night Watchers?
Khione: (Sits reluctantly) All of them in general or specifically?
Q: Specifically would be great.
Khione: I don’t know any of them well. I mean, I prefer to work alone and I hardly spend any time socializing. But I would say that Leselia seems very intelligent and independent. Personally I think her bow is a bit ostentatious, but that’s my opinion. It’s difficult for me to make a judgment on Alina because I know so little about her, but her skills with a sword are impressive. Sasaki is a bit too intense for my liking but I think she acts so confidently and ( )ashly because of her difficult past. I don’t care for Effne. Mira is fine. Evanne is fine. And Elman is fine too, I suppose, but there’s something about him I don’t like.
Q: (slight chuckle) That’s the longest I’ve heard you speak.
Khione: (unamused) Don’t get used to it.
Q: (clears throat) Well, it certainly doesn’t seem that there’s anyone you particularly like.
Khione: I wouldn’t say that’s true.
Khione: (leaning forward a bit) I don’t have many friends, that’s true, but it’s only because I have a difficult time trusting people. I always feel that there’s something fake, something dark and secretive lurking behind their eyes. Call me paranoid, but I have enough experience to know that I’m not crazy. (Sighs slightly and rubs a hand over her face) Oh, look, you’ve gotten me to talk about my feelings. Next question.
Q: Actually, I think that will be all for now. Thank you.
The Night Watchers story belongs to AvalonTheQuin. These short stories are about my Night Watcher OC, Khione.
Khione: Consulting Callidum
Late afternoon, Night Watchers Academy
Khione strode down the hallway of the academy, her dark cloak fluttering behind her and her violet eyes fixed straight ahead. The other Night Watchers carried on conversation in small groups, little circles of companions dotting the hall. Khione turned and came into a narrower hall that was dimly lit and entirely empty. Khione crossed through that hallway and turned again, this time pulling open a set of heavy doors to come into a silent, empty training room. This is where Khione spent most of her free time every day; she was either here or practicing espionage from the roof. Khione pulled her twin swords from their sheaths on her back and strode toward the automated dummies set up at the end of the room. It would be better to practice with a real person, but this would have to suffice. Khione reached a hand up to her face and plucked a curved piece of glass from its place over her eye. The sight in her left eye went blank and dark, and Khione tried to focus. The dummy swung its arm toward Khione, and her blades gleamed as she parried the strike and lunged forward. A few of the other dummies activated and raised their weapons as well. Khione dodged an arrow from one of them, which lodged itself in the chest of the first dummy she had been dueling. Back and forth went Khione’s swords, flashing like silver ribbons that Khione held in a complicated dance. Then, with one strike, Khione decapitated the dummies and watched them crumple to the ground.
“Your swordsmanship is like art,” a lyrical, soothing voice said.
Khione turned and found that one of the academy teachers, Callidum, was standing close by. “You managed to sneak up on me without me hearing you. That’s quite a feat,” Khione remarked.
The tall elf approached, his white hair gleaming like moonlight. He was quite young but he had the eyes of someone with a thousand years’ knowledge. “In your defense, you were preoccupied.”
“I still should have heard you.” Khione sheathed her swords and reached into her pocket to pull out the glass. Callidum stopped her from putting the glass to her eye, however, by taking her wrist lightly in his hand.
“You don’t need that glass as much as you think you do.” From where Callidum stood, he could make out the faint gnarled line that ran across Khione’s pale left eye.
“I don’t know about that,” Khione replied. She would have normally hated being touched but she couldn’t quite ( )ing herself to yank her hand away. Callidum let go and Khione pocketed the glass hesitantly. “Is there a particular reason you’re here?” she inquired.
“I have noticed that you spend quite a lot of time alone.”
Khione shrugged. “That’s my concern.”
“Perhaps,” Callidum said with a slight smile, “but I know better than most that solitude does not result in contentment.”
“Maybe for some people, but I’ve had a lifetime of solitude and I’m contented enough.”
“I see all of my pupils not merely as students, but people who are trying to discover their place in the world. You of all people have little need to be trained in the arts of weaponry and secrecy, but there is still much you have to learn when it comes to people and relationships.”
Khione tried to think of a cold, sarcastic comeback but nothing came to mind. “I’ve never thought relationships to be overly important for someone such as myself. I was born to be someone’s soldier, someone’s assassin. I’m not meant for true happiness, I think.”
Callidum’s pale, moonstone eyes shone keenly. “Whenever you have the time, you can find me in my office or the observatory. Perhaps having someone to speak with will ease your soul. I believe that everyone has the chance to have true happiness. All it takes is a willing mind and a dutiful, persistent search.”
Twilight, Night Watchers Academy
Khione slipped into the observatory just as purple twilight was draping its curtains of night across the land and the moon rose overhead. Callidum stood on the edge of the balcony, his pale hair and red coat rippling softly in the ( )eeze.
“I keep to myself because I’m the only person I can completely trust.”
Callidum glanced back at Khione and smiled. “Your stealth is quite a gift. I did not hear your approach.” He turned to face the Night Watcher. She was clothed in black rather than her usual shades of purple.
“There is always something behind their eyes, the tone of their voices,” Khione continued, coming to stand beside Callidum at the balcony. “Everyone has an agenda, and since I’m not a mind-reader I can never truly tell if someone is on my side. I live in a world of soldiers and spies; how am I to trust any one of my peers?”
“You may not trust them, but perhaps one of the best ways to learn someone’s true nature is to actively engage with them. You might find that you learn more about a person at the dinner table than on the battlefield.”
Khione tilted her head slightly, a rare smile playing across her lips. “True.” Her expression darkened slightly. “Unfortunately, however, I’m terribly unfit for social situations. An arrow to the knee, a knife to the throat. That is what I know. You should understand that, what with being the ‘arts of assassination’ teacher. At the dinner table I either contribute silence or unwelcome opinions.”
“And yet you have been speaking to me with perfect ease,” Callidum pointed out.
Khione’s eyes flicked up to Callidum’s face but quickly returned to staring ahead. “I can’t explain it, but your eyes have no dishonesty to them. I am unwillingly finding myself being able to trust you.”
Night had fallen over the scene by now, the stars peering out from their places in the sky next to the radiant full moon. Callidum was silent for a moment before saying, “I myself have been betrayed a number of times by those I thought were most trustworthy.”
Khione now looked Callidum directly in the eyes. “Really?”
“I have been engaged to a few different women now, but all of them ( )oke off the engagement to pursue other men.”
“I suppose you must have sworn off love by now, then,” Khione remarked.
“On the contrary, I am more determined than ever to find true love.”
“And what if you never do?”
“Then I will have lived life knowing I at least tried. If I closed myself off to the rest of the world as you have done, I would miss every opportunity.”
Khione couldn’t think of how to reply for a moment. “Out of all the people I have spoken to in my life, you make the most sense, Callidum. And you don’t pity me for this,” she said, gesturing to her scarred eye. “Not many people seem to realize that I don’t want their pity. Nor do I need it.”
“Look up there for a moment,” Callidum answered, pointing toward a bit of velvet sky. “I come to this observatory nearly every evening to watch the stars and the moon. Each one of the stars has a pattern to the way they move, a predictable and calculated motion. But there is one star up there that does not follow a pattern. It’s fairly small, with a slight blue tint. Do you see it?” Khione nodded, her eyes fixed on the faint, glittering star. “That star changes position each night with no discernable path. While it is small and goes unnoticed by most stargazers, I find that it is the most beautiful of the stars.”
WARNING: Khione has a fairly graphic past (in terms of violence). Don't read this story if you think it will disturb you in any way. It's basically about the murder of Khione's family, so keep that in mind.
A jaunty tune was playing in the tavern that evening, the whole crowded building filled with warmth and laughter as the snow fell silently in the dark outside. The innkeeper, a loud, boisterous woman by the name of Eve, was passing around another round of drinks at the bar. “Ruby, be a dear and fetch some fresh water from the well,” she said to one of the kitchen maids. The dark-haired girl bobbed her head and hurried through the sweltering kitchen and out into the frostbitten night. Shivering, Ruby pulled her shawl closer about her and grabbed up the empty pail sitting by the back steps. She stepped into the street, and as she glanced to the left she noticed that there was a small child standing perfectly still near the front door of the tavern. Ruby approached curiously and said, “You shouldn’t be standin’ still out here, you’ll catch your death.”
The girl didn’t reply, clouds of condensed air puffing steadily from her nose. Ruby tilted her head and put the pail down. “Are you lost, lass?”
Ruby knelt in front of the girl and placed a hand on her shoulder. The girl suddenly jumped in fright, her eyes widening and her hood falling from her head. A great length of tangled white hair appeared, and Ruby noticed that there were dark patches all across her hair, skin, and clothes. “What have you got on you? You fell in the mud, probably. Come on, we’ll get you cleaned up and then we’ll find your parents.”
The girl tried to say something but it came out as a muffled squeak. Ruby took the child’s hand and dragged her along to the back door. “Marda? Could you fetch a rag with some warm water? I found a little girl freezin’ to death outside.”
Ruby released the child and felt that something wet had been left behind on her hand. She glanced at her palm and thrill of horror rushed through her at the sight of sticky crimson blood. She whirled around and examined the child properly in the warm firelight. The girl was covered in patches of blood from head to foot. Ruby clapped a hand over her mouth and backed away slightly. “My gods,” she murmured. “What happened to you?”
Look further into the past. Sunset, just as the moon was beginning to rise.
A small girl was lying on her back in a great field, her curly white hair strewn about her face. She was holding a purple flower in her hand and tilting it back and forth in the ruddy light of the sunset. She heard the distant rattling of a cart and leapt to her feet. The cart came rolling over the hill, pulled by a dark chestnut horse, with a man sitting in the back. He wore a dark, heavy coat and a hat swung low over his eyes. The girl ran toward her cottage in the near distance, hoping that this man was the doctor Papa had sent for. The girl reached the cottage and flung open the door, hurrying to Mama where she sat at the kitchen table. At least she had managed to make it out of bed that morning. “Mama, there’s a man coming down the hill!”
“Is it the doctor?” the pale woman inquired. Her lips were white and chapped, and one could see her blue veins prominently winding under her skin.
“I don’t know.”
“Go fetch Lief. I want the doctor to take a look at his rash while he’s here.”
The girl nodded and leapt away, heading into the bedroom where her younger ( )other Lief sat on the bed next to his twin, Jess. “Lief, the doctor’s here and Mama wants him to look at your rash.”
Lief and Jess rose together and followed the oldest girl back into the kitchen. Mama had just opened the door for the man. “Hello, sir. I expect that you’re the doctor.”
The man laughed roughly, a mirthless laugh that set the girl on edge. “That’s what your husband probably told you, I expect. Left town saying that he’d fetch a doctor for his ailing wife.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Listen, woman, your husband’s moved on. He’s skipped town, off with some rich elven lady. He hired me to take care of some legal matters.”
And then, before anyone could react, the man whipped out a knife and the air turned scarlet with Mama’s blood. The frail woman fell to the floor and the man stepped over her corpse. “I was told there were three kids as well. They must be you three.”
The oldest girl’s pulse shot skyward. “Run!” she screamed to her siblings, turning and bolting for the bedroom. She vaulted over the beds and threw open the window, clambering out and falling into the grass. Lief came out close behind, his eyes wide and petrified. “Jess!” the girl shouted, leaping to her feet and peering through the window. Too late. The man had already cast aside Jess’s limp body and was coming for the window. He tossed one of his knives toward the girl’s head, and she ducked instinctively. The blade nicked Lief on the shoulder but it wasn’t a serious wound. Tears streaming down her face, the girl grabbed Lief’s hand. “We have to go.”
“But Mama! Jess!” the little boy sobbed.
“There’s nothing we can do for them now. Come on!”
The two children streaked off through the night, the older dragging the younger in her wake. “Hurry!” she cried to Lief.
“I can’t run that fast!” Lief protested. The man was gaining on them. Why didn’t he just go away?
Then, a silver streak whirled through the air and Lief fell forward. As a result, the girl fell into the grass too and she felt trickles of her ( )other’s blood running across her skin. She screamed, holding Lief in her arms as his life drained away and watching the man approach. Perhaps it would be better if he killed her too. There was no one left. Nowhere to go.
No. She had to survive. The girl gritted her teeth and pulled the blade out of Lief’s small back and, as the man came upon them, she jabbed the knife into the man’s leg. He cried out in pain and stumbled backward, giving the girl time to jump up and run. She left the knife and her ( )other behind in the grass, fleeing across the plain with the swiftness of a hawk and the silence of an owl. She ran until fiery pain spread up her ribs, and even then she kept running. The night deepened and stars came out overhead, and still the girl ran. She only stopped when she came into a town, the closest bit of civilization to her home. Silver smoke rose in curls from chimneys and golden light spilled like butter through the windows and onto the streets. Snow was beginning to fall lightly, and the girl shivered in the cold. She numbly approached one of the buildings and slumped against the wall, clutching her coat about her and staring vaguely into the distance. Papa...had betrayed her.
Khione: Dinner at Dusk
Afternoon, Night Watchers Academy
Khione was just leaving her last class for the day, her mind whirling with ideas and a list of things to do, when she turned a corner and nearly ran straight into another Night Watcher. A new one, Khione considered as she sidestepped the boy. “Sorry about that,” he said with a casual sort of laugh. “Didn’t mean to ruffle your gorgeous feathers.”
“Next time, watch where you’re going or you might come to harm,” Khione said coldly. She already disliked the boy; he was much worse than the others here.
The new Night Watcher fell into step alongside Khione. “So, my name is James. And you?”
“Oh, I see. I know your type, all standoffish and uptight. Well, I--”
Khione stopped in her tracks and grabbed the boy by the collar of his uniform. “You need to get something straight, James. Everyone else around here has figured out that if I don’t want to talk to you, I won’t. Get on anyone’s bad side, and you end up with a black eye or a ( )oken wrist. Now, leave me alone.”
Khione released the boy and strode away, finding thankfully that he decided to take her advice and hurry in the opposite direction. She could hear his loud and confident tone addressing Alina and Evanne, however, and rolled her eyes. Then, her senses sharpened and she turned. Callidum was just coming down one of the adjoining hallways with another one of the teachers, though after saying a quick farewell he met Khione at the junction between the halls.
“You seem agitated,” he noted.
“That might be because I’ve just met the newest Night Watcher.”
Callidum smiled. “He is quite a handful, isn’t he? I just hope that he avoided pickpocketing you when you were speaking with him.”
Khione shrugged. “Even if I hadn’t noticed the theft, I don’t have anything valuable on my person apart from my swords.”
“Well, in any case I was hoping that you might join me for dinner in the hanging gardens. It is a beautiful place in the evening and I trust you have never ventured there before.”
“I spend most of my free time either training or completing my extensive history homework,” Khione remarked, giving Callidum a pointed look. “But I’m sure that I could spare a few hours.”
“I will meet you there at sunset, then.”
Sunset, the hanging gardens
Dusk was falling, the sun having just slipped beneath the horizon. The air was filled with lavender and saffron light and the Night Watchers Academy was just barely visible in the distance. Khione made her way through the extensive maze of hanging flowers and shrubs, taking in the scent of damp peonies and jasmine. Finally, she came into a small clearing where a small, elegant table had been placed with a chair set up on either side. Callidum was already standing there, looking especially refined. “You look lovely this evening,” he remarked to Khione as she approached. “Especially with a smile playing about your lips.”
Khione realized that she had indeed been smiling and twisted her fingers together hesitantly. “It still feels a bit strange, you know? Meeting you here. I mean, I’m technically your student.”
“We are both people as well. Outside the walls of the Academy, I am no longer your teacher. I am simply an elf.”
“An elf with a gift for words and weaponry,” Khione added. Callidum pulled out one of the chairs for Khione to sit and then took a seat himself after she had taken her place.
“How did you come by your gown? It does not seem like something you would keep in your closet.”
“I suppose that there are some things about me that might surprise you, Callidum, because this has been sitting in my closet for months now. It was a gift.”
“Well, I have a feeling that there are many things I do not know about you. As there are many things you have yet to learn about me.” A waiter appeared and gave them each a glass of sparkling water before disappearing again into the lilac shrubbery.
“You have certainly gone to great lengths. Who is the waiter?”
“He is a friend of mine, someone I can trust not to spread ridiculous rumors about. I am sure that you would prefer to keep our meetings private for a time, anyway.”
“You’re right. I wouldn’t like the other Night Watchers thinking that I had developed a heart.”
Callidum couldn’t tell if Khione was serious or not so he smiled slightly. “Even for a friend?”
“If that friend happened to also be a teacher, no.”
“You focus too often on labels, I believe. I am more than a history teacher.”
“Yes, you’re also a teacher of the arts of assassination.”
“You know what I mean. And you are more than a Night Watcher.”
“But really, I’m not. All of the other Night Watchers might be; they have a life outside of those walls. They have a family and a history of love and loss. I joined the Night Watchers because I didn’t have any of that.”
“But that is not the only reason you joined,” Callidum surmised.
Khione deliberated for a moment. “Many years ago, my mother was terminally ill. It wasn’t contagious, so me and my siblings weren’t in danger, but my mother was slowly dying. She and my father had always had a bit of a rough relationship but when my mother received the diagnosis he became increasingly distant. One days he simply left, claiming that he was sending for the doctor. In reality, he was busy running off with a wealthy woman and hiring a man to kill my family in order to take care of the legality of everything. He couldn’t simply kill off my mother; no, he had to murder us as well because we were liabilities. I watched my entire family die that day, and I survived. I live with the guilt of not being able to do more to save them, of being the only one to live while the rest of them died.”
Callidum took Khione’s hand and she distantly wondered if he had the ability to manipulate emotions by the way she immediately felt calmer. “I’m very sorry,” he said. “I am sure that you have heard that countless times before, but it does not make the hurt any less. You should not feel guilty that you survived, Khione. You carry on the memory of your family and with your life they will not be forgotten. The injustice of those deeds will not be forgotten.”
“I went looking for my father once, trying to unearth his actions and have him arrested,” Khione said. “That’s what gave me this.” She gestured to her left eye. “My own father claimed to not know me and had his guards gave me this as a punishment for trespassing on his estate. I joined the Night Watchers because they are a symbol of justice that I can stand for. I trained on my own for years before joining simply because I wanted to be able to defend myself, but now I can do more than that. I can avenge the wrongs done to everyone I have cared about.”
“Be careful of blind vengeance. You have the power to ( )ing down everyone who has harmed you and your family, but you have the responsibility to know the difference between justice and merciless cruelty.”
“I know,” Khione said, a shadow crossing her expression. “I have thought about that for a long time. Let’s speak of something else.”
“I was once engaged to a woman who reminds me a bit of yourself, though then I was too blindly enamored with her to realize that she was as cold and heartless as a silver blade. When she left me to court another man I finally recognized that she had never truly been in love with me at all; she had simply been toying with my affections only to throw me away later when she became bored.”
Khione felt that she should offer some consoling words of wisdom as Callidum had but her mind went blank. “She didn’t deserve you, then,” was all she could come up with. “Anyone who is foolish enough to play with emotions ends up incredibly unhappy. My father certainly is; when I last saw him he seemed perfectly miserable.”
“Which made you happy, I’m certain.”
Khione smirked. “A bit, yes.”
By now, the light was fading from the sky and fireflies had begun to light up the scene, drifting through the air and winking at one another. The delicate scent of roses, jasmine, and lilac lingered and created a velvety finish to the scene. Khione sighed softly. “I feel...at peace, for once.” Everything was so quiet and simple, soothing Khione’s usually painfully busy ( )ain. “How do you know so many beautiful places?”
“I search for them. And yes, while there may be places of intense darkness in your life that you cannot and should not forget, there are times like this in which all of that fades and you realize that life can be beautiful as well.”
Khione fixed Callidum with her soft lavender eyes. “You amaze me.”
Callidum flushed modestly and was spared a response by the arrival of their meal. They remained fairly silent throughout the rest of their meeting, occasionally interjecting an opinion of the food or the Night Watchers. Khione found that Callidum was quite insightful when it came to reading into people’s characters, though she had guessed that already. Finally, as the fireflies danced about them and the moon rose overhead, Khione and Callidum returned to the Night Watchers Academy and parted ways in the courtyard. “Thank you for everything,” Khione said. “Not just dinner.”
“You’re welcome. And, now that we have returned, I must add...I would not have gone to dinner with just any student.”