The Last Assassin is probably my favorite of my stories, and I look forward to having the other two Dark War books caught up so I can keep writing it. In the meantime, I’ll welcome a chance to look back at some of my favorite scenes, and this is one of them. “Tibessa” is the most-shipped relationship in the trilogy according to Allegra and Siberia, and I pretend I’m not part of the fandom… but I really am. ‘Cause these two are awesome. (I’m totally not the one who came up with their ship name in the first place… *cough*)
Anyway, without further ado, let me introduce you to Catessa and Tiberius. :)
Someone took the stool next to hers and she didn’t glance up.
“This seat taken?” the newcomer asked, voice deep and rich.
She shook her head, still not looking up from her bowl.
“Something wrong, beautiful?”
She grabbed a dagger and whipped it up to his neck in an instant. “No one calls me ‘beautiful’ unless I let them,” she growled.
He held his hands up in surrender. “Sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“I should hope not.” She tucked her dagger away slowly and looked him over. Steel grey eyes, black hair shaved short on the sides, a neatly trimmed beard, and enough rings on his fingers to pay for a year’s worth of ale.
“Tiberius Alister,” he said, extending a hand.
She didn’t bother to shake it. “Catessa Regan.”
“Nice to meet you. Are you new around here?”
“I come here regularly, but I live at sea. Where are you from?”
She hesitated before answering, trying to decide if it was wise to tell him or not. “Kaloris.”
He nodded. “I’ve been there a few times. It’s a nice place.” His gaze swept over her once. “You’re pretty good with that knife of yours.”
“I’ve been practicing a long time.”
“I believe it. Assassin?”
Catessa narrowed her eyes at him a bit. “What makes you think that?”
He smiled. “There are very few people as well-skilled with knives. Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.” He leaned close and whispered. “I’m a pirate.”
“I thought so.”
He leaned back. “You came in on a merchant vessel?”
“My ship passed yours several days ago.”
“The fast ship with the skull standard?”
He nodded. “The Speed Demon, I call her. The fastest ship on the sea.”
“Fitting. Where was she made?”
“Here in Roenor. I’m good friends with a shipwright here in Vanore. I’m friends with lots of people here, actually. You’d be surprised how many are accepting of pirates.”
“Then why whisper to me?”
Tiberius nodded discreetly toward Pellan. “Your friend over there. I don’t much like the looks of him. Not that I doubt he already knows what I am. An attentive fellow, that one.”
“He’s an ambassador. I’m his escort.”
“Ah. Most may think it’s the other way around.”
“That’s safer for us. They’ll attack me thinking I’m the target and never know what hit them.”
Tiberius smiled a bit. “I don’t doubt that.” He glanced over at an uneven target painted on one of the tavern walls. “How about a contest? Best of three.” He pointed.
Catessa followed his point and nodded. “Sounds good. Prepare to be beaten.”
“Cocky.” He grinned. “I like that.”
She arched an eyebrow. “Careful, or you might just end up the target.”
Tiberius laughed and got up from his place, standing a ways back from the target. Catessa followed him. The pirate gestured toward the target. “Ladies first.”
Catessa took out one of her daggers and threw it end over end straight into the bull’s eye with a rewarding thud.
Tiberius stepped forward and pulled a knife of his own from his boot, throwing it so that it landed right next to hers, with barely a hair’s breadth between them.
“Impressive,” Catessa said with a hint of a smirk. She drew out a second dagger and landed it right between the two knives. It wedged both outward with its handle.
“Don’t mangle my knife,” Tiberius warned. He grabbed a second blade, this one from his long coat, and threw it directly under Catessa’s first dagger.
She stepped forward with a third dagger and threw it a hair’s breadth away from Tiberius’ second knife.
Tiberius’ last throw mirrored Catessa’s, jamming right between his and hers.
“I believe that would be a tie,” Tiberius said, grinning.
“That was an impressive display,” Catessa admitted.
“As was yours. I have never before met my equal in knife throwing.” He bowed and rose back up, still grinning. “Tell me, do you know any stories?”
“A few.” She regarded him curiously. “Why?”
“Well, I happen to know that the people who frequent this tavern are fans of story. I like to entertain them when I’m here. But something fresh from a new face… I believe they’d like that better than something from an old salt like me.” He winked.