Have I changed all that much?

Five years ago:

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley closes the door behind him and proceeds to hang his coat on the coat hanger, pulling off his gloves as well. He looks pale and tired.

Narrowed almond-shaped eyes watch you from the darkness. Sunflower barely breathes as she waits for the right moment to announce her presence.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley wanders into his study and more falls than sits down in his chair. He reaches for the brandy decanter on the desk and pours himself a generous pickerupper.

Sunflower’s face registers no emotion; it is expressionless. She waits. Alcohol is good for numbing the senses.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley seems to be aware of this too; keenly, in fact. Lighting a cigarette as well he leans back, eyes half closed, enjoying the absence of sound and activity.

Sunflower wrinkles her nose. Why, why, why must men smoke?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley puts his feet up on the desk.

Sunflower emerges from her shadow, and into your line of vision, moving with slow grace, her long ninjato raised, held so she is wielding it underhanded. The blade has been blackened, and the square tsuba is black leather. Clearly a very young woman, perhaps in her late teens, she is dressed in a kimono, and her hair frames her small face. Her expression is calm, and her eyes are focused unblinkingly on you.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley freezes. He does a double-take. Then, slowly, in flawless Agatean, “Who the hell are you?”

Sunflower’s expression doesn’t change. Her response is in Agatean. “Sir Andrew d’Ackerley is your name. Am I correct?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley is keenly aware that he is more or less unarmed and cornered. A sudden flexing of muscles and the brandy goes flying in the direction of your face and eyes while he leaps to his feet and outside of strike range — you know, except not, because in the moment he sort of forgot about the ten stitches in his side and ends up leaning on the desk, one hand pressed against them as his vision goes all black with stars and fireworks.

Sunflower’s quick reflexes allow her to dodge the brandy and the glass. Her face is expressionless as she moves towards the desk and leaps onto it, her small foot flying out with lethal speed towards your shoulder. She looks down at you. “Sunflower Oita, daughter of Lord Oita, whom you ruthlessly murdered three years ago”, she spits, emotion finally registering on her face. “I come to repay the favour.”

Sunflower exclaims: Stand up!

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley’s jaw clenches as he does indeed make the attempt to straighten up, without much success. “My pleasure,” he manages to grit out.

Sunflower looks down at you. “I will kill you quickly.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley smirks in spite of the pain of torn stitches. “You talk too much,” he points out.

Sunflower flexes her fingers around the tsuba. “Why did you kill my father?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley leans against the desk with one hand, the other still pressed firmly against his side. Now all he needs is a third, invisible hand to get the crossbow in the desk drawer. “Maybe a little flying starfish told me to.”

Sunflower leaps over your head to land behind you, and a foot lands in the small of your back. “My father’s death is a joke to you. You pig!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley’s kneecaps make unpleasant sounds as they hit the floor. Still smirking, the man. “Actually, the joke is on you.”

Sunflower’s eyes move to the door and the window before looking at you with scorn. “Really? With only an old woman to run to for help? There is nobody in this house.” She nudges you with a foot. “Stand up! Get to your feet!” Her mouth twists. “What a pretty picture your little woman will make when she stands beside your grave.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley laughs softly and studies the damp red stains on his shirt. “Oh, but it is amusing, my little butterfly. So much sound and fury, to kill a dying man. Do they not teach you to move in silence?” Also, he fails to get up.

Sunflower exclaims: Tell me why you killed my father! What did he do to you? Stand up!

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley leans against the desk, displaying no intention of getting to his feet. “Aren’t you a little young to carry a big knife like that?”

Sunflower is furious, her face pale. “Stand up! Get up and die like a man! Why did you kill my father? Tell me! Why did you kill my father? Who paid you?” She grits her teeth, furious. “Get up! You thought yourself so clever. Well, I was home that day. I saw you. I was thirteen years old. I’ve waited for this for three years and I will – NOT – ALLOW – YOU – TO – NOT – ANSWER – ME!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley reaches up with his free hand, ever so slowly so that you can see what he is doing, and gets a cigarette which he proceeds to light, still keeping his other hand pressed against the red stains on his shirt, features still marble white. “And you’re going to make me answer how exactly?”

Sunflower moves her sword, the blade making a silken sound. “Do not underestimate me. I can make you suffer before you die.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley manages a dry little laugh. “Better hurry up a bit then.”

Sunflower smiles. “And when I am finished with you, perhaps I will move to your little woman. She can join you in the afterlife.” She moves swiftly. “Sit down. Sit down and tell me who paid you. Who paid you to kill my father? If you tell me I will leave her alone. Speak. Quickly.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley blows a smoke ring, features completely neutral, even mask-like. “You have not exactly done your homework, have you, little butterfly? If you had you would know that Assassins do not disclose contract information.”

Sunflower moves a finger to indicate your monocole. “Stupid. Your glasses were better.” She brings the blade down swiftly to mark the desk between your hands. “I am aware of this rule. You will tell me.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley leans his head against the desk. “I think I shall not.”

Sunflower’s breathing, already quick and irregular, now indicates her frustration and anger. “I do not wish to make you suffer. I wish to know. You took my father from me. I only want to serve those who did this to us in kind. It is about honour. You understand that.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks tired in spite of his attempts to keep his features schooled. “Then I suggest you find out who might hire an Assassin, butterfly.”

Sunflower spits: Do not call me that.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley can clearly not be bothered to dignify this with a response. He’s a little preoccupied bleeding, smoking, and watching a single bead of sweat run down his brow and further along down his nose.

Sunflower considers her next move, while watching the blood soak through your shirt. Her face is pale and furious as she looks down at you; her thoughts race furiously on. She brings her blade down swiftly and cuts your cigarette in half. “TALK!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks dejectedly at his remaining cigarette half. “It is customary to allow a dying man a last cigarette,” he points out.

Sunflower’s mouth curls. “Did you ask my father what he wanted? No, you did not. He told you to give a message to his children. You refused. I heard you. Why should I let you have a cigarette?” She flexes her fingers on the tsuba again. A small sound from downstairs makes her snap her head toward the attic stairs. Mrs. Ethel is clearly moving around on the lower floor.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley’s hand darts to the desk drawer and then cuts a sweeping arc during which a tiny dart flies across the room. Prick.

Sunflower’s hand uncurls from around the tsuba as her ninjato clatters to the floor. One hand flies to her neck and she pulls out the dart, with effort. Her eyes stare at you in horror as she falls gracefully backwards, slumping in a motionless little heap as she does.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley crawls towards you on hands and knees, coming to sit next to you. “You realise,” he points out, voice strained from the effort, “that if an Assassin let your father -see- him then that fellow was a bloody incompetent. Also, boom, you’re dead.”

Sunflower can only blink her eyes, which she does. Minus sword, she looks her age. Her eyes indicate that she is straining to move, but her body is clearly not responding to orders.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley lies down on his back next to you. “But then, I suppose I might as well just tell you that I have no damn idea who you are or who your father was, anyway.”

Sunflower focuses on her little finger. Move. Move. MOVE.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley studies the ceiling through half-closed eyelids. “Also, you talk too much. If you’d just gone for it I’d already be dead.”

A small breath escapes Sunflower’s body. Whatever that was, it’s probably starting to wear off.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley murmurs as if on a final note, “Better get it right this time, flutterby.”

Sunflower’s finger moves. One. And then another.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley waits.

Sunflower’s legs finally respond to orders. She tenses, the spring coiling, as she arches her back and leaps almost vertically up to stand from a horizontal position. She swirls around and uses her foot to raise her sword to hold. She is flushed as she looks down at you pityingly. “Stupid! You should have killed me!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley’s lips twitch into a tired smile. “I could have.”

Sunflower looks down at you. “I thought you taller. I thought you were more well built. How the light and emotion plays tricks with one’s eyes.” She circles, sword upraised. “I do not know if I believe you. But you did not kill me. You should have.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley points out, “You didn’t pay me.”

Sunflower raises an eyebrow. “Is everything a joke to you?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley tiredly says: A fairly poor joke, even.

Sunflower appears to come to a decision and sheathes her sword. She looks down at you.

Sunflower says: A life for a life.

Sunflower says: If I find out it was you, I will come back. And you had better kill me then, because I will kill you.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley doesn’t open his eyes. “Yes, yes. Promises, promises.”

Sunflower strides noiselessly to the attic window, opens it while avoiding the sweeping blade mechanism embedded in it, and looks back at you, the wind whipping her hair around. She drops out of the window, and out of sight, leaving the window open, and the spring rain blowing in.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley decides to just stay where he is until he either gets tired of that or passes out, whichever happens to come first. Meh.

Now:

Sunflower walks quietly into the room, and gives you a sideways glance, on her way to the room with the book. She nods.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods politely back, not recognising the pink haired exotic.

Sunflower says: It’s been a while, Sir Andrew.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says with a Morporkian accent: I’m afraid you have the advantage of me, miss.

Sunflower allows herself the luxury of looking mildly amused. “Have I changed all that much?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely asks with a Morporkian accent: You must have, miss. I do not quite recall…?

Sunflower looks at you, head tilted. “Tell me, do you still have that wallpaper in your study?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says with a Morporkian accent: That likely depends upon which study you are referring to, miss.

Sunflower leans against the wall, although her back is ramrod straight. “Your – townhouse.” She smiles. “It’s the only one of your studies I’ve had the pleasure of – visiting.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley thinks back, resting a fingertip on his lip.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Ah. No. I fear I sold that house some years back.

Sunflower examines a small hand. “I know.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly asks with a Morporkian accent: You are the little girl who tried to kill me with two sharp swords once, aren’t you?

Sunflower smiles, but not with her eyes. “You finally remember.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says with a Morporkian accent: You have changed a fair bit since.

Sunflower says: In essence, no.

Sunflower says: In other ways, perhaps.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: In appearance, certainly.

Sunflower asks: Who can say?

Sunflower says: I’m not fifteen any more.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Obviously. You also have very… bright hair.

Sunflower shakes it back. “A pretty picture. I will not get away with this for very long. Youth must be enjoyed when it can.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley agrees goodnaturedly. “Certainly. It is fleeting enough.”

Sunflower asks: And how was your – cruise?

Sunflower meditatively says: You were gone for a long time.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly asks with a Morporkian accent: Quiet. Peaceful. And very, very far from here. Did you ever find the man you were looking for?

Sunflower shakes that ombre pink mane. “No.” She pauses. “Or maybe I did.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks with a Morporkian accent: Aye?

Sunflower asks: So. How is your wife?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Very well. You did not answer my question, though.

Sunflower says: Didn’t I? How very rude of me.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks with a Morporkian accent: I’m sure you did not mean to be rude, miss. Did you find him?

Sunflower says: I did find him.

Sunflower says: But alas, I had to let him go.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: And were your business — ah. That is regrettable.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks Sunflower with a Morporkian accent: I take it you still hold me as the guilty party?

Sunflower says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Arguing with a fact is like howling into the wind.

Sunflower says: Pointless.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says with a Morporkian accent: Our code does prevent me from answering your inquiry, little miss. Otherwise I should.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Sunflower with a Morporkian accent: Perhaps I should encourage you to consider whom might have purchased our services to begin with.

Sunflower puts her hands on her slim hips. “And there, esteemed sir, we come to a stop, for there is no such person.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says with a Morporkian accent: Assassins do not kill without payment, miss.

Sunflower says: And daughters do not fail to avenge the deaths of their fathers.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: If a member of this guild rendered our services to your father, then somebody paid the guild a considerable sum of money to do so.

Sunflower says: Quite.

Sunflower says: We spoke of all this five years ago.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says with a Morporkian accent: Yes. Yet you do not seem to believe me then, nor now.

Sunflower says: Oh, I believe you.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Sunflower with a Morporkian accent: I am afraid I do not quite follow.

Sunflower’s face is carefully expressionless. “Let us talk of nicer things.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Sunflower with a Morporkian accent: You agree that somebody paid us, but you disagree that somebody would do so.

Sunflower sticks her hands into the pockets of her skintight jacket. “I do not think you or I could agree on many things.”

Sunflower says: Let us agree, however, that it is pleasant to run into each other.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks with a Morporkian accent: Is it?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: As I recall, I got stabbed last time. I don’t particularly hold that as pleasant.

Sunflower says: Indeed it is. Now you know that I live in Ankh-Morpork, and I have confirmation that you are returned.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley gently says with a Morporkian accent: My dear miss, no one is offering me payment for killing you. Your address is… not of consequence.

Sunflower amusedly says: You poisoned me. Let us wipe the slate clean.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: I assure you that I shall meet any attempt at my wife’s life with a quite more… potent poison.

Sunflower suddenly asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Tell me. You have a brother do you not, who is a member of this guild?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: I do, yes.

Sunflower softly says: How lovely.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: He is no longer an active member, however. He has retired from duty.

Sunflower shrugs her small shoulders. “If only we could all retire from our past sins; why, how merry we would be.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says with a Morporkian accent: You should have arrived a week ago, my dear little lady, I should have supplied you his address and a key to the front door.

Sunflower asks: And now?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: And now I need him to live long enough to raise his son.

Sunflower’s lips thin. “I should have liked my father to have lived long enough to raise me.”

Sunflower says: We don’t always get what we want.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Quite. It still puzzles me why you chase the dagger but not the hand that wielded it. Your desire for revenge must be… yielding to your desire to live in the city, perhaps. Being young and all that.

Sunflower says: You do not know what I chase.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: I know that if you are still chasing members of this organisation, then you are chasing the dagger and not the hand that wielded it.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley shrugs lightly.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Perhaps you are just not very clever.

Sunflower considers this. “Perhaps.”

Sunflower says: Or perhaps I know that this quest, like others, has always had two parts.

Sunflower says: And perhaps I have solved one half.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley studies her a moment, then shakes his head lightly. “No, I do not think so.”

Sunflower laughs. “Tell me when you know so.”

Sunflower inclines her head. “Until next time.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says with a Morporkian accent: Indeed.

Sunflower stalks out.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley resumes reading his newspaper.

About Sunflower

After her father, Lord Oita, was assassinated by an Ankh-Morporkian assassin who didn't know he was being watched by a little Sunflower hiding under her father's couch, she swore revenge against the person who contracted him, and against the assassin who fulfilled the contract. But will she succeed?
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