Yesalt is a horrid place.
The air reeks of filth and greed and something rancid, like rotten lettuce. Hitsu draws the upturned collar of his vest higher up to cover his nose. Heavens, he misses his scarf, left behind on his bedside desk back in his room.
“What rotten lettuce?” Kysa mutters, frowning. “Look around! This town isn’t one of the ghetto zones, you’re just being a jerk for no reason.” An officer passes them, decked out in the royal colours of blue and red. Then, almost as an afterthought, she adds, “Like usual.”
Silently, Hitsu contemplates abandoning her and carrying out the mission on his own. She’s everything he finds most frustrating in having group assignments. A loud, easily distracted, wasteful partner will only drag him down. Except he doesn’t have enough power on his own, not enough in his reserve to draw from.
Weak, a voice whispers in his mind. You’ve always been weak, boy.
“Argh, say something, you jerk! I can’t stand your-” Kysa cuts herself off with a huff, balling her hands into fists and twittering angrily under her breath. Despite his own spike of irritation, Hitsu keeps his cool and ignores her pointedly.
He reminds himself of why he’s doing all this, reminds himself of the promises he’s made. In the face of that, nothing comes close, and he cannot allow himself any room to slip up.
Their destination comes into view moments later. It’s the town’s antique centre, a sort of half-assed museum, from what Hitsu’s gathered. Kysa goes straight for the door handle.
“Don’t. It’s probably locked.”
Kysa tries turning the knob anyway. It makes a faint clicking sound, and Hitsu resists rolling his eyes. “Told you so.”
He senses, rather than sees the projectiles shooting their way. With a spark of power, his tattoos flare to life, but before he can even begin to unbind his dualswords, Kysa has her electrified barrier up. Once the dull thudding noises stop, she lets her power fade away.
Around them, dismembered arrows lie, wholly fried by her barrier. Hitsu doesn’t quite sigh, but the quiet exhale he lets out is close enough.
“I was going to pick the lock,” he says dryly. “That wouldn’t have set off the traps.”
“It’s faster this way!” Kysa protests, stomping over to the door and kicking it clean off its hinges. It clatters backwards, inside the inky darkness of the building, and she bounds after it. Hitsu follows wordlessly, lighting a torch as he does so. He’s not really in the mood to argue with her.
The orange glow from the torch casts shadows around the interior of the building. With its light, he can make out bookshelves and stands displaying traditional paintings and human skulls and clay sculptures. Already, Kysa is nowhere to be found, and he quickens his pace, striding forwards and down the hall.
He holds two fingers to his temple and concentrates until he senses her. He follows the trail of her power, and by the time he finds her, she’s already got a man - their target? - in a headlock.
Kysa’s holds up a bag with her free hand. “Here it is. This dinky looking bag.”
Hitsu steps closer, brandishing the torch in front of his face. Yes, it’s what they came here for, no doubt about it.
“That bag is worth more than our lives combined.”
The man in Kysa’s hold trashes. “And you’ll regret ever trying to-”
“Here, hold this.” Kysa blinks at his words, but doesn’t protest when he hands her the torch. In one clean movement, Hitsu unseals a dagger from the tattoo on his left arm and slices the man’s head off. There’s a wet, squelching thump that sounds when the decapitated head hits the ground and rolls to a halt.
“What the heck!” Kysa screeches, flailing wildly. “You- you didn’t have to kill him.” She pushes the headless body away from her.
The coppery scent of blood fills Hitsu’s head. Did this man have a wife, a child? Were his friends waiting for him to join them for drinks? Did he have hopes and dreams, like-
No. He cuts the thoughts off. It doesn’t matter. It never mattered.