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The Contract

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Sara came to the kingdom on a transfer, eager to prove herself and get out of the shadow of Lord Green. She quickly fell in with the other Knights and made herself home eventually leading a squad of her own.

One night they were enjoying some off time sharing ale from a confiscated keg.

Vic took a gulp before gesturing to Sara with her mug. “Oh yeah and you best be extra nice to the blacksmith in the shop at the end of Starling District. Nyssa makes great stuff for a price but can also kick your ass if you piss her off.”

Sara looked intrigued, capping off the woman's mug with more ale. “Oh?”

She nodded, taking a drink. “Yeah, except she doesn’t get pissed off or at least I've never seen her get mad. She’ll just wallop you to the ground with that annoyingly calm face. What about you, Gibson?”

Gibson raising his mug in agreement. “Nope on the mad, but yes on the beatings. Damn, it was great to see Lord what’s his face, the one with the giant mustache, get knocked out.”

“Yeah, so far none of the lords say anything ‘cause they’re too embarrassed to be beaten by a lowly blacksmith, and a lady one at that. Though rumor has it the King has a soft spot for her and that’s why he turns a blind eye to their complaints.”

“Either that, or whatever thing she has with the Spymaster."

Vic rolled her eyes. "Oh don't start with that thing again, Gibson. You were drunk off your ass."

"Hey, just because I couldn't walk in straight line doesn't mean I wouldn't recognize her or the Spymaster! They're scary and very hard to forget."

Vic punched Gibson in the arm and then turned to Sara. "So yeah, you be extra nice to her, Captain, unless you wanna get your ass kicked.”

Sara took a drink and made a note to visit the infamous blacksmith. 

Several weeks later and as she was making rounds, Sara heard an angry raised voice coming from a shop and she approached it, curious. A pompous Lord with two men behind him was gesturing wildly at a woman wielding a hammer.

“Do you who I am? I’m not paying for this!” The man yelled at a woman who looking unimpressed.

“Than you’re not getting the sword.”


Before he could land a fist on her, the woman countered with her hammer to his stomach making him topple over. “Honestly Lord Pendalton, this behavior is beneath your station.”

The other men approached her threateningly but before Sara could even run over to confront them, they were all flat on their back, groaning in pain.

The woman looked down at all of the men, crossing her arms again. “Really, just pay what you owe me and you will have your family sword back. Otherwise, I will crush something you value.”

She tossed her hammer which landed dangerously close to the Lord’s hip. He begrudgingly dug out his money pouch and threw it at her. The blacksmith caught it and, after checking it was the right amount, retrieved a box with the Lord’s sword. “Pleasure doing business, sir.”

The man gingerly got up and grabbed the box. “This isn’t over, blacksmith!”

She smiled. “Next time send at least ten men. The five you sent the other day were barely a warm up.”

He scrambled away with his goons. After a moment of watching them run away, she shook her head and went back into her shop.

Sara picked her jaw back up and approached the shop.

The blacksmith looked up to see Sara enter. “Hello. You’re the new knight, I presume?”

"Yes, I'm Sara. What fighting style was that? I've never seen anything like it."

Sara stuck her hand out in greeting. The blacksmith looked at it before shaking it with a strong firm grip.

"Well met. I'm Nyssa and as for my style it' old family style. Useful against bandits and the like."

"Would you be willing to teach me some of it?"

Nyssa tilted her head, a surprised and amused smile on her face. "You're the first knight to ask me that. But sure, why not."

Sara huffed as she ended up on her back again while Nyssa grinned down at her. "Not bad, for a beginner."

"Oh shut up."

Nyssa laughed as she helped Sara up. The two had been meeting every now and than for a few months. At first it was only sparring but soon led to conversation during breaks though Sara noticed Nyssa was extremely reluctant to say anything about her past before she moved to the kingdom. 

Not keen on driving the woman away, Sara stuck to safe topics. "So I saw Lord Pendalton sporting another black eye the other day."

Nyssa rolled her eyes as she let out an exasperated huff. "That idiot again tried to insist he didn't need to pay for his weapons."

As Sara moved back to a neutral position, she enjoyed listening to Nyssa tell the whole story while observing the other woman's gestures. Nyssa ended her story with a satisfied nod. 

"With the kind of training you have clearly have, how come you never joined the guard?"

Nyssa scoffed. "Not interest in fighting anymore than I have to and I don't want to deal with even more bruised egos."

Sara grinned. "You seem to enjoy tossing me and my ego onto the ground though."

Nyssa shrugged shamelessly. "You asked for it."

She cracked her neck and rolled her shoulders before gesturing to Sara. "So, round two?"

With Sara's increased duties, the training and sparring sections became fewer in between but Sara still found excuses to visit the blacksmith. 

"Hiya Nyssa, whatcha doing?"

Nyssa looked up with a smile before frowning as she observed the Knight favoring her right side. "What happened to you?"

"Nothing!" At Nyssa's skeptical gaze she caved. "Okay fine, I got kicked by a spooked horse. Doc said I'll heal up fine with rest."

Nyssa placed her tools down and started rummaging in her cupboard. "Sit down. If you insist on visiting me as often as you do, I rather you be well."

Sara winced as she sat down on the chair, her ribs not appreciating the movements.

Nyssa finally found the small container of ointment. "Here, should help you heal faster."

Sara shook her head. "I'm fine."

Nyssa pressed the container into Sara's hands. "I insist. I can't teach you anything if you crumble after a single punch."

"I don't-"

Nyssa shook her head. "No arguments from you or I'm banning you from my shop, Sir Knight."

Sara huffed and took the container. She opened it and quickly closed it. "Whew, that stinks!"

Nyssa picked her tools back up and got to work. "You get used to it."

"I think it's a bit concerning you're actually used to this smell."

Nyssa stiffened before shrugging. "I deal with hot metal and heavy tools as my trade. Accidents happen."

Sara noticed her hesitation and changed the subject. "So were you the one who knocked out Pendalton's tooth?"

Nyssa was irritated. The king had put in a new order for swords with an impossible deadline. She was not looking forward to the conversation where she would only be able to turn in half of the ordered swords.

Nyssa took the heavy hammer and pounded on the hot blade this and that to beat the impurities out of the metal.

Nyssa was so absorbed in her work she didn’t notice the blonde watching her and startled when she finally noticed the knight leaning against the wall. Placing the unfinished blade to the side, she wiped the sweat from her brow. “I didn’t realize I worked so slow that the King needed to send someone to observe me.”

Sara raised her hands up. “He didn’t send me, my practice is done for the day.”

Nyssa breathed in deeply before responding, forcing her fists to open. It wasn’t the blonde’s fault after all. She gestured to the quarter filled crate. “Well, what do you want? As you can see, I am far behind schedule.”

The knight approached the blacksmith cautiously. “Nyssa.”

The dark haired woman took a deep breath again. “Sorry, sorry. I’m just, this would have been much easier if - nevermind. Was there something you need?”

Sara paused for a moment before pulling out her dagger sheepishly.


Nyssa took the blade and looked at all the dents and scratches. “What have you been up to, Sir Knight? Fighting a dragon would have done less damage than this!”

Sara scratched the back of her head and looked elsewhere. “Missions.”

Nyssa continued to grumble as she proceeded to repair the blade as best she could, ignoring the very important order from the King. “This is the fourth time in a month that you’ve brought me such a damaged weapon! What is the King sending you knights against that would result in this type of damage? Nevermind, secrets or something else probably. I don’t need to know.”

Sara hung back, leaning against the wall again. She was quite certain that Nyssa had nearly forgotten her existence now that she was entirely absorbed in her work.

“There, almost good as new.” Nyssa returned the dagger to Sara."Try not to fight a tree again.”

She turned back to the unfinished sword she was working on earlier.

“Thanks,” Sara took a breath. “you know the grand tournament’s in two weeks time.”

“Yes, business will be quite busy then. I shall be up to my eyeballs of dented blades, panicked squires, and rude newcomers.”

Sara deflated a bit. “Oh, you won’t be able to make it?”

Nyssa shrugged as she beat the blade into submission with her hammer. “I’m usually much too busy. Some drunk nobleman will attempt to burn down my shop if I’m not here to fix his armor or whatnot and I would rather that not happen again.”


Nyssa shook her head. “It was before you came here, Sara. Nothing to worry about. Besides, I can take care of myself.”


“Shouldn’t you go beat up some training dummies or whatever you knights do?”

Sara huffed.”I have one more request.”

“No free swords.”

Sara laughed and paused to take a breath. “May I have your favor.”

Nyssa’s dropped her the hammer and turned around quickly, looking at the nervous knight. “What?”

“The real reason the dagger is always busted is because I had been hacking at a tree with it.”

“A tree?!”

“I just really wanted to see you.”

“But, a tree?!”

“Not one of my finer ideas, but you know how hard it is to find excuses to see you without becoming suspicious? Though I suspect half my squad knows anyway given they tease me all the time.”

Nyssa used her hand to cover her face, a chuckle surfacing. “I’m flattered, but I’m sure you have many ladies more then willing to throw their favors and themselves at you.”

“True, but none of them are you.”

The blacksmith rolled her eyes and turned around, picking up the fallen hammer. “Now I know you’re teasing me.”

Nyssa stiffened when she felt the knight place a hand on her shoulder. “At least consider coming? Even for a little bit. Anyhow, I’ll leave you to it. Good day, Nyssa.”

Nyssa worked absentmindedly as she turned the offer in her head. She finally nodded to herself to allot two hours to the tournament. That should give her time to watch several of the Knight’s matches and get back to her shop before someone tried to burn it down again.

The blacksmith froze momentarily before she shook her head and released a huff of frustration. Nyssa turned around slowly facing the dozen swords facing her. “This is ridiculous.”

“Hello, daughter.”

She rolled her eyes at her father, who was watching her with an infuriating smirk, and crossed her arms. Her hand tightened around the hammer’s handle, anticipating an attack.

“If you’re going to kill me, can you get on with it? I’ve had a very tiring day and wouldn’t mind taking seven of you with me.”

Her father smiled and signaled to the rest of the assassins to sheathed their weapons and leave them. Once they were alone, he chuckled. “Seven only? My my, you have grown rusty. But no, this not a contract. Consider this a courtesy call since I was in the area about a different matter. A contract has been drawn against the king of this land, not one of our own.”

Nyssa shrugged. “There have always been attempts on his life and all have failed. The king has an excellent spymaster. Why is this one different?”

“Ah, but this one is lead by the Magician.”

Nyssa stiffened, her arms falling to her side. “He still lives?”

“Unfortunately. Here’s the information we were able to extract from one of his agents before he expired.”

He placed a scroll on a table. Nyssa frowned though did not move to take it. “Why are you telling me this? I’m no longer one of your instruments to command.”

Her Father’s smile turned a bit sad. “You were always one of my best. I’m only letting you know since you’ve decided to settle here as I’m sure a king’s death would be quite disruptive to your business. Good night and good hunting, Daughter.”

He left the scroll on a table and the League disappeared as quietly as they came. Nyssa stared at the rolled up parchment for a long moment before shaking her head with an annoyed huff and snatched the document up.

“Damn him.”

At the tournament while they were waiting for the signal for the parade of contestants to start, Sara looked expectantly at the stands searching for a certain dark haired woman.

“I think you should really pay more attention to who your opponents are, Cap, rather than your missing lady love. This pining is getting so sad to watch.”

She rolled her eyes at the snickering among her squad. “Shut up, I’m not pining.”

“That would have almost been convincing if you didn’t mope for the rest of the day after coming back empty handed from the pretty blacksmith.”

The snickering morphed into full laughter as Sara huffed. She was saved from replying as the horns sounded announcing the start of the parade.

“Go get ‘em, Captain! Make a good show so your lady love regrets rejecting you!”

Sara gave them all the middle finger as she rode away.

Nyssa carefully made her way through the crowd, closer to where the noblemen were seated and more importantly, the king. She had quietly dispatched several of the assassins she found mingled in the crowd, carefully staging the still warm corpses as if they were passed out drunk. If her Father’s information was still accurate, they would strike him at the pinnacle of the tournament when the king would award the winner. It was so typical for the Magician to make his assassinations as loud and flashy as possible. She paused to watch Sara as she rode on her horse, waving at the crowd. Nyssa faintly grinned at the woman before she shook her head and continued on her mission. She still had much to do.

Sara made quick work of her first several opponents while giving the audience the show they craved. Her next match was against an unknown fighter dressed completely in black and unknown crest on his shield. His fighting style was an unusual one she had only encountered with one other person. They circled each other warily, testing each other’s defenses. She furrowed her brow recognizing the attack style and wondered if he knew Nyssa. He suddenly lunged and Sara, recognizing the move, countered his sword and barely avoided the hidden blade popping out of his side.

“What the hell, that's against the rules!”

The man sighed exasperatedly. “Well, I guess the cat is out of the bag now. And it was going so well too.”

He raised his sword high in the air.

Arrows released aiming right for the King.

They slammed harmlessly into the throne as Nyssa yanked the King off the throne. She threw him to the floor and dodged several more arrows shot at them. “Go!”

Sara’s instincts kicked in and she rushed at the man, shield up. He gave up all pretense of holding back and they fought fiercely. The spectators fled as the man’s followers lit fires in the stands causing chaos and confusion.

Nyssa’s eyes widened when she saw Sara engage with the Magician and quickly parried a blade retaliating with her wrist blade into her enemy’s chest. She ran through the flaming platform, ducking and slicing through enemies to get to the edge of the seating platform and jumped down into the fighting area, rolling to disperse her momentum.

Sara held her own admirably though she was wary of more hidden blades. She jumped back to avoid the knife attached to his boot when he tried to kick her.

The man threw reached into his pocket only to cry out in pain as a dagger lodged into his back.

Sara quickly followed by stabbing him in the chest. His followers cried out in disbelief that their Lord dropped his weapon, his hands scrabbling futilely at the sword impaling him.

She yanked her blade out of the dying man to face the woman running toward her, but lowered her sword as her jaw dropped. “Nyssa?!”

“Later, Sara. We have a small army to defeat right now!”

Nyssa grabbed another dagger from her belt and quickly jammed it into the Magician’s skull, killing him instantly and making his followers roar even louder.

Nyssa and Sara stood back to back, surrounded by fire, smoke, and angry assassins all looking for revenge. 

“Oh, we’re definitely going to talk about this, Nyssa!”

“Careful of their blades, they’re coated in poison.”

Nyssa leaned back to avoid an assassin’s blade  and jammed upwards with her wrist knife into the assassin’s neck.

“Good to know! How the fuck do they have so many hidden blades and where are they hiding them them all?!”

Sara raised her shield to block another sword before using it to push the assassin away and stabbing the man in the stomach.

“Wrist, side, boots, three spares- get down!”

The knight ducked as Nyssa threw another a dagger that flew over the blonde’s head to bury deep into another assassin’s head.

“Little too close for comfort there, Nyssa! I already had my haircut a fortnight ago!”

“Oh hush!”

Together, the two made quick work of the rest of the assassins as the arena burned around them.

“Nyssa, we gotta go!”

“One moment.”

Nyssa crouched by the Magician’s corpse and yanked out the knife from his skull. She wrapped it in a strip of clothing and nodded to Sara. They raced through the burning masonry and made it out of a side door.

It was pure chaos outside as everyone scrambled to put out the fire before it spread and to treat the various injuries.

Nyssa moved to blend in with the crowd when she felt a hand grasp her wrist. “Wait, Nyssa.”

The blacksmith looked down at the hand holding her. She could break out of the hold quite easily. Nyssa looked up. “Later, Sara. I'll contact you.”

The knight paused before nodding and letting go. “I’ll hold you to it, Nyssa.”

She briefly watched Nyssa disappear into the crowd before running toward her squad and taking control of the situation.

Two weeks later, Sara found herself on a narrow path going up a mountain. She looked down at the map and note she founded in the abandoned blacksmith shop. The knight placed her hand on the hilt of her sword as she reached the ridge. At the edge, she could see the castle.

“I must admit, I’m surprised to see you here, Sara.”

Sara looked to her side to see Nyssa standing next to her. “Who are you?”

Nyssa shrugged. “Nyssa Raatko, a simple blacksmith who moved into the kingdom about seven years ago.”

“And the truth?”

There was a long silence as Nyssa wrestled with what to say. Finally, she reached a decision. “Nyssa Al Ghul, former assassin in service to Ra’s Al Ghul, the Demon.”

Sara froze as she stared at Nyssa. Everyone had heard of the elusive Demon and his elite company of assassins.

Nyssa nodded at the reaction and turned to leave. “I will leave the kingdom immediately. As far as I know, there are no further contracts on your King’s head so he should be safe for the time being. The persons who commissioned the contract have been dealt with and it is voided.”

She paused when Sara asked her, “Why did you save the King?”

“This kingdom was my home and I have no grievance against him. I see no reason for him to die.”

“Than stay?”

Nyssa turned to face Sara who gave a cautious smile. “Former right? I’m still wrapping my head around that someone could actually leave the Demon’s company. It’d be better for the Kingdom to have someone with your skills as an ally. So Nyssa Raatko, could we maybe take conversation to somewhere warmer?”

Sara presented a hand to Nyssa who, after a moment, grasped the other woman’s hand. “I’d like that.”