Ok. I actually created this assignment just so I could have a writing assignment that would be able to expand upon The Winter Association. :3
Marcus let out a tired sigh, hand moving to scratch the back of his head. He had to admire the Association for their atmospherics. The dim lighting and the candle lit lanterns along the hallway were a nice touch. Even the four men surrounding him were shroud in dark robes, making them blend into the darkness of the corridor. However, these theatrics weren’t going to phase him. He knew why he was here and he knew who he was being led to see.
This wasn’t the first time he paid a visit to the Association. The cult’s Utopian ideals required Marcus’ special skills when it came to disposing of “those of darker intentions”. Though, he didn’t understand why he was still alive given the fact that he kills people for a living. Perhaps The Association would use him until he wasn’t needed anymore. Then they would deal with him themselves. Regardless, he wouldn’t be going down without a fight.
“So, I understand that you boys enjoy a long dark hallway but it needs to end at some point. Are we getting there soon?” He sighed.
It was a while before one of them replied. It was the one to the left. “Yes.”
“Good because I think I aged about 10 years going through this tunnel of time over here.”
True to their word, they arrived to their destination a few minutes later. They emerged into a large chamber akin to that of an abandoned opera house. It was domed in shape with its high ceiling converging into a small glass overhang. Continuing with their lovely aesthetics, the room was adorned with lanterns around the perimeter with a high chandelier danging from the top. A circular table sat underneath the chandelier and with it sat five men all clad in robes as blue as ice. To Marcus, they looked like wannabe knights of the round table a la Monty Python.
“Gentlemen,” Marcus dramatically bowed before the table once he was relieved of his guards. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this kind visit?”
All five of them stood at the same time. The rush of air and fabric were the only things heard as they turned towards him. One by one they moved away from their seats and stood before him. Marcus watched in amusement as the last finally settled into his spot along the line of men.
“Council members,” He greeted with a slight wave of his hand.
“Marcus Harvard,” The first said.
“You had been tasked to eliminate one of the Defilers.” Said the second.
“And you have yet to complete your mission.” The third continued.
“We had high expectations of your skills.” The fourth added.
“Well you can’t just off someone the moment you get a contract. There’s a lot that goes into–”
“And that was four years ago.” The fifth finished.
Marcus narrowed his eyes at the men. Long, deep hoods were cast over their faces, creating a shadow over their features and making them look more like grim reapers than mortals. He let out an airy sigh, scratching the back of his neck as he shifted slightly. “Contracts take time. You need to get to know the target before you can kill em.”
“Yes, Mr. Harvard, but that is where we have concerns.” A voice echoed from behind him. Marcus closed his eyes in exasperation and let him continue to speak. “We think that you’ve grown too close to this particular target.”
Marcus heard the man move closer, circling him so that he was between him and the jumble of men in front of him. He snapped his eyes open and scowled at the man. The owner of the voice was a tall, domineering man. His features were sharp and defined, lips the source of his overpowering charm. Even now he had a slight curl to them, one that told Marcus that he had something up his sleeve. Tufts of grey sprinkled his dark hair, trickling down to his beard and casting himself in a false sense of maturity.
“And what gives you that idea, Winter?” Marcus frowned, crossing his arms.
Winter nodded his head slightly and drew his hands behind his back. “It’s been four years since we’ve given you that contract and every time we reach out for a status update, you present us with a reason as to your hesitation to finish the job. There has been plenty an opportunity for you to do the deed and yet you do not. We know her charm, Mr. Harvard. She could have easily put you under her spell. So, I will ask this one final time. Why haven’t you killed Layla Arkwood?”
Marcus looked away, eyes skyward as he trained them on the chandelier. He dropped his arms to his side and pulled his hands behind his back, mirroring Winter’s. In all honesty, Marcus wanted to say that they were right. Layla did put him under her spell. He was in love with her and 10,000% of him knew that she loved him back. But these men were the reason that he couldn’t be with her. If he didn’t kill her someone else would be tasked to do it. Marcus wanted to prolong her life for as long as he could and if that meant the end of his, then he would gladly do it.
His hand touched the handle of his pistol and he let out a sigh. He could kill Arnold Winter right now and save Layla a lot of trouble. Him getting out would be another story. The others would surely be alerted and they would do anything to destroy the man who murdered their leader. It would be a blood bath and one that had a low probability of Marcus’ survival. It was a chance he would have to take.
“I’d do anything for you, babe.” Marcus said.
His fingers curled around the gun beneath his shirt.
“That’s the problem. You’ll do too much for me.” Layla frowned. He always hated it when she did that.
He leveled his gaze with Winter, meeting his cold blue eyes.
“I thought you loved dedication.”
His fingers tightened around the gun’s handle.
“Not when it means your death. What makes you think I’d want you dead?” Layla hissed. She turned her head away and that was how he knew he had hurt her.
His heartbeat quickened as he slid the pistol from his belt.
“You said you’d do anything for me, right? Well, I want you to do one thing for me, Marcus.”
The air around him thickened as the adrenaline pooled into his veins.
“Live. I want you to live, Marcus. Do whatever it takes to live. Do whatever it takes to see me again because I couldn’t bear for you to die. Live to look into my eyes. Live to see me smile. Live to see me in your arms. Live so that we can be together. Because I love you now.”
He let out a deep breath.
“And I’ll love you later too.” He finished softly.
“OK.” He said rigidly. “You want to know why I haven’t killed her yet? Those two dumb Russian bodyguards of hers may have caught on to me. I’ve been around the main building too many times and I’ve decided to lay low until I fade from their minds. Those two are very good at their jobs and I know if I slip up now they’ll know.”
Silence filled the air as Marcus finished. Winter narrowed his eyes at him, tilting his head slightly as if to gauge his response. Marcus lowered his hands to his sides and the cult leader watched the motion in intense interest. Then, suddenly, he smiled.
“Why didn’t you say that earlier?” He grinned, grabbing Marcus by the shoulders gently. “From the stories I’ve heard of those two, they’re very meticulous. I understand why you want to be so careful around them.”
“Yeah. They already know what I look like and I’m trying to keep my appearance a minimum. Layla doesn’t often go out in the public so I have to be in the building.”
“Good luck to you, my boy. Now that you’ve explained the situation, I’ll let you get back to work. Gentlemen?”
The group of men behind Winter bowed and Marcus’ bodyguards returned to his side. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he was led away. That was too easy.
As he watched Marcus disappear into the corridor, Winter’s smile slowly curled into a frown. “Just then, he was going to kill me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Indeed.” He replied. “Though it is of no matter. I knew he would be unable to do it. Do not worry. He will be taken care of. Though, not now. His usefulness is still rather apparent.”
Winter grinned again and it seemed like the lights flickered the moment he did it. He nodded goodbye to his council members and retired to his study. There are more people that will need to be removed from existence for Utopia to thrive and Marcus will be of use in this process. Once that is done, however, Winter will personally take care of him.