This is a test.

Contrary to popular belief, killing was rarely a loud, explosive event. Even when there was a fight — even when people were clawing for their lives with every ounce of their animal strength. Even when they begged. Even when they screamed, or tried. 

Even then, if you were good, it was quiet. 

And Ivie was the best. 

The fourth man fell to the ground, heavy, like a sack of potatoes. The slurred hiss of the pouring ran against the cobblestones nearly drowned out the sound, warping it just like it warped the blood around her feet, warped tendrils of her black hair to the back of her neck. Her clothing stuck to her skin.

She looked down. Her knife was clutched in one hand. Four large bodies on the ground, just shadows in the night. And a growing pool of crimson at her feet, unfurling between the cobblestones like a ten-legged monster,  growing and growing. Always reaching for more, more, more. 

You always want more, Inor had said to her once. And you’d tear this world apart with your teeth to get it.

Then, those words had seemed like an honor. How naive she had been. How stupid. They weren’t a compliment. They were a warning. 

Her breath heaved. Pain split her vision. One hand clamped around her stomach. She pulled it away and stared at the red coating her palm. Then at her abdomen. 

Oh, she noted, calmly. I think those are intensines. 

And then her legs gave out. 

She lay there among those dead bodies for what could have been minutes or hours or days, face pressed to the cobblestones, watching that bloody monster slurp her life from her with ravenous gulps. 

When a pair of arms wrapped around her and she felt the ground fall from beneath her, for the first time in her short, vicious life, she was ready to surrender.