Eugenides woke at 3:00 am for his daily reconnaissance of the palace. He reached for his hook on his bedside table but couldn’t find it. A closer inspection of his room revealed the hook pinned to his wooden desk. Caught between his hook and the desk was a slip of paper. On it was a note from a stranger.
I have come to assassinate you. Yet, I hear that you are a swordsman who has no match. I am loath to kill you before having a chance to witness your prowess. Meet me outside of the city in the forest where your wife captured you. Meet me there tonight, and we will find out who is truly the better swordsman.
Eugenides was not surprised that the assassin had managed to enter his room without alerting his guards. After all, he couldn’t be the only person who was able to move about undetected. But he was disappointed in himself for not waking when this person, Valek, came so close to him. He resolved to stop eating heavy foods at his nighttime meals, so he wouldn’t fall so deeply asleep. And who was this Valek anyway? His name was unfamiliar, sounding as though he came from a country far away.
Early light found Eugenides sitting in Relius’s room waiting for the spy to awake. When Relius finally opened his eyes Eugenides spoke to him.
“What do you know about Valek?”
“He is the personal assassin for the commander of the distant country, Ixia. He killed the previous king of Ixia and the king’s entire family. He is stealthy and cunning. He kind of reminds me of your Majesty actually. He has a great knowledge of many things including poisons. Oh, and he can also climb through trees with ease. ” Relius looked at Eugenides with suspicion. He knew the king would never tell him his secrets, and he was worried that the king might someday be the assassin’s target.
“I must warn you that he’s an expert assassin. If you ever chance to meet him, I beg you to take it seriously and kill him at once. You might not get a second chance.”
“Thank you for your assistance.” And with that, Eugenides disappeared.
That night, Eugenides sneaked out of the castle and made his way to the forest. He quietly walked through the trees and was surprised to find a form swinging down noiselessly from a tree to land opposite him, a sword already making an advance. Eugenides had no time to grab his own sword, and when Valek’s sword came speeding toward him, he had no choice but to stop it with his hand.
“You’ll have to do better than that if you want to beat me.”
“No problem,” said Valek reaching for his knife tied to his belt. But there was nothing there. He reached for the knife attached to his thigh, but there was nothing there. He reached for all his knives, but they were all gone. He looked at Eugenides who was holding eight knives in his hand. Valek was surprised. He has heard stories about Eugenides’ the famous knife stealer, but he had just checked on his knives not 5 minutes ago.
He sighed and said aloud “I had hoped I wouldn’t have to resort to this” as he pulled one more knife out of his mouth.
Gen looked at him as if he were crazy.
“I have 8 of your knives as well as my sword and hook. You have only one knife.”
“True, but this knife has been treated with curare, a poison that will leave you paralyzed until I can finish you off. All I need is one accurate throw. But I would really prefer to duel with our swords. I want to see what your reputation is worth.”
Eugenides agreed to the duel. At first the two seemed evenly matched. But then Eugenides’ old injuries as well as the new one to his hand seemed to catch up with him. But still Eugenides persevered and the fight continued for many minutes. Finally with a flash of sparks both swords flew from their owners’ grasps. Eugenides immediately placed his hook against Valek’s throat.
“One thing you should know about me,” said Eugenides.”The fight in never over until I come out on top. That’s why I never lose a fight. And while I hate to kill you, I prefer to kill than be killed.”
And with that he slit Valek’s throat.