Once upon a time, there were two kingdoms, Xandria and Trelia, each one just as powerful as the other. For hundreds of years, these kingdoms worked side by side in perfect harmony. That was until the fairies arrived in Trelia to celebrate the birth of the Trelian princess. Now, the land finds itself locked in a curse that can only be broken by true love’s kiss.
Chapter One: An Occasion
The lush lands of Trelia greeted the early morning sun as it danced over the lands. The fairies’ wings glittered off the sun’s light and dew that littered the grounds. Normally, these fairies would have stopped to enjoy such a lovely day, but today was different. There was no time to waste. They had to get to the castle.
The lead fairy, Amberfall, turned and looked back at her sisters. “We have to hurry!”
“Amberfall,” Purpleflash huffed at her sister, “we are not going to late!”
Amberfall’s wings flashed an angry red at Purpleflash. “We cannot be the last ones there! The king has personally invited us to this event and it just would not be good taste to be late!”
Honeylashes, the youngest of the fairies, stared up at the sky. “Are you sure we can’t stop and dance in the sun? It’s good for us, you know. It will be a good chance for us to renew our powers.”
“There’s no time!” Amberfall exclaimed. “The king asked us to be there and we are going to be there!”
Honeylashes sighed. “But they say the first sunrise of summer is the most important. It will bring us closer to the nature of summer.”
Amberfall rolled her eyes. “Why was I cursed with sisters such as these? Are the gods really that cruel?”
Purpleflash shot Amberfall a dirty look. “We often wonder the same thing about you!”
Amberfall shook her head as she flew along the great waterfall. They were so close to the palace; it did not do well to fight amongst themselves. Besides, today was supposed to be a happy day. For it was today that Trelia would pick the name of their new princess. All of the leaders of the kingdoms had been invited to this special event.
The three fairies flew to the very top of the waterfall, watching as the fish jumped out of the water in greeting. Today was just a perfect day. Everything was in perfect harmony, just the way Amberfall liked it. Even the darkest of the creatures were not showing their faces.
Amberfall flapped her wings even harder. They were so close that she could almost taste the palace’s famous chocolate cake. Ah, chocolate cake and cameras to take pictures of all of the lovely clothes. What more could a fairy ask for?
“Amberfall!” Purpleflash yelled. “If you don’t slow down, you are going to be all sweaty for the party!”
Amberfall slowed. Sweatiness meant there would be stains on her dress and stains just were not proper. She was a queen after all. A queen must always present herself with the grace of one, no matter how excited she was.
Honeylashes flapped her wings alongside Amberfall. “What do you think they will name her?” she dreamily asked.
Amberfall shrugged. To be honest, she really hadn’t given much thought about what the princess’s name would be.
Purpleflash wrapped her arms around herself. “I’m sure that it will be a lovely name. Royalty always picks the most precious ones!”
Amberfall flapped her wings even faster. “Which is another reason why we have to get there now!”
The other two fairies exchanged long looks before flying after their sister.
Ahead of them, a long, dark shadow appeared, coming so quickly as death itself. Amberfall stopped and watched as the shadow slowly began to creep closer to her and her sisters. She pulled her thin clothes closer around herself as the warm air turned to a chill. The wind began to speed up, so much that the poor trees were shaking so hard that their leaves were starting to come off. She winced as the warmth left her wings, leaving them nothing more than cold limbs.
They tried to turn, but the shadow’s powers were sucking the very magic out of them. Sparks struck clear around, but did not reach them. Amberfall watched hopelessly as something in shinning purple and black stepped through the shadow.
She narrowed her eyes in icy terror… trying not to cry…trying to show that whatever was in front of them that she was stronger. However, the object did not take full shape…Amberfall shook her head. It was still bad enough.
“Ah, little fairies, where might we be going?” the shadow asked, her cold voice ringing out of the darkened landscape like ice.
Amberfall stared down the shadow. “Nightstone,” she breathed. The fairy Nightstone was considered to be the most evil fairy of modern times. Every land that she had entered has turned to rot, but an unknown kingdom had put a curse on her that left had left her weakened. It was this curse that had allowed for the Iron Fairies defeat in the Warynian Wars.
Nightstone’s laughter filled the air. “Ah, so you aren’t as dumb as you look. So, tell me, my fellow fairies, where might thee be going?”
Amberfall tried to flap her wings and turn around, but she couldn’t. The Iron Magic was overpowering her Nature Magic. Nightstone’s laughter only grew louder at her feeble attempts to get away. Purpleflash and Honeylashes hid behind Amberfall with their hands over their eyes.
Nightstone’s shadow shook as she drew closer to the three fairies. “I think that you are going to the palace.” Her voice dropped. “Come on, we’re sisters, aren’t we?”
Amberfall shook her head. “We are not the same and we never will be!” Her wings grew colder and heavier as the words came out of her mouth. Purpleflash and Honeylashes screamed as their tiny bodies started to turn a light shade of blue and their lips grew white. She just had to find a way to get Nightstone off their backs or they would all freeze to death.
Nightstone shook her head. “I think you are and it’s not very nice to turn away your fellow fairy.”
Amberfall sighed. “Fine, we are going to the princess’s Naming, but it’s not at the palace.” She had to fight down the bit of vile that was forming in the back of her mouth as she spoke the words.
Nightstone’s frown deepened. It was well known that fairies could never lie, so every word that came out of a fairy’s mouth had to be true. “Then, where it is?”
Amberfall’s throat was getting tighter and tighter. She swallowed. “It’s near the Xandrian border. The queen decided to move it last minute. There were too many people showing up to have it in the palace. Besides, the weather has been simply lovely, so why not have it outdoors?”
Nightstone’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, that would make more sense.”
Amberfall allowed her eyes to shift toward the ground. “So, can we expect to see you there?”
Nightstone nodded. “Yes, after all, this is going to be the event of the century.” The shadow turned and disappeared.
Amberfall shook as her wings slowly started to regain feeling. She could not believe that she had managed to pull that one off. She just hoped that Nightstone did actually go the border into of the castle. She flapped her wings. Ah, that felt so much better. Now, she just had to get to the palace before Nightstone.
Queen Iseut Eveneye of Trelia stared down at her sleeping daughter’s form. She was simply the most beautiful baby that Iseut had ever seen. The princess’s skin was so white and fair that it looked like the purest of snow. Her golden brown hair curled around the edges of her face as the warm, fresh sun hit it. Her eyes, when open, stared back with innocence and purity. Every day it never seized to amaze Iseut that she had given birth to something so precious.
” Rauffe,” Iseut called into the dressing room. “We are going to be late if you don’t get moving.”
King Rauffe Eveneye grumbled unintelligible from inside the dressing room.
Iseut got to her feet and stepped into the massive room. “This is the most important day of our daughter’s live and you are not going to miss it.”
Rauffe stared up at his wife. He was not one for formal gatherings; he would rather be leading his troop across a battlefield. “I’ve seemed to have misplaced my gloves.”
Iseut sighed as she started to look through the drawers. Her husband seemed to do this every time there was a public gathering.
Rauffe started pulling open the drawers around him. “So, how is she today?”
“Sleeping,” Iseut replied. “I’ve never seen a baby act so calm before.”
Rauffe came over to his wife, wrapping his arms around her waist. “You mustn’t worry. Some babies just are calm.”
Iseut closed her eyes, remembering all of the children that she had birthed who had not made it to this special day. “I suppose you’re right.”
Rauffe began making small circles on his wife’s waist. “You know I’m right. She’s fine; everything is going to be fine.” He kissed his wife’s sweet neck. “Try not to worry about it.”
Iseut moaned as she leaned into her husband’s kisses. Everything was going to be okay. She just had to believe it.
Smiling, Rauffe pulled away from his wife and pulled out a pair of gloves from the open drawer. “Come on, let’s go give our daughter her name.”
Iseut slid her hand into her husband’s. “I think I have the perfect name in mind.” She pulled him into the main room.
Rauffe smiled as he looked down at his daughter. “I’m sure that no matter what you have picked, it will be fitting for a princess.”
Iseut smiled. “Are you just agreeing with me or do you really like my name choices?”
Rauffe kissed his wife on the mouth in a way that would have caused most people to start blushing. “I’m just saying that because I fully trust everything that you do and have faith in everything that you do.”
Iseut giggled. “That doesn’t even make sense.”
The king smiled. “Well, we are just going to have to work on that later, but right now, the kingdom awaits.” He bent down and scooped up his giggling daughter. “And you are going to be to the light of our kingdom. No one is going to hurt you.”
The princess reached up and touched her father’s cheek. The warmth of the touch left an imprint of love on his cheek. She was way too good to be his.
Iseut picked up the ceremonial robes, handing them to a maid who quickly left. “Shall we?”
Rauffe nodded as he followed her wife out of their chambers. Nothing was going to go wrong today.
The roar of the crowds could be heard from even this level of deepness in the palace. It seemed like everyone was out to see the princess for the first time. Iseut and Rauffe laughed along with their daughter as they were lead down narrow, never ending stairs by the palace guards.
The crowd roared as they caught a glimpse of the happy royal family every now and then again in one of the tiny windows. Iseut looked at her husband, whose own smile was so large that she feared that his jaws would break. She was glad to be a member of this family, who was loved rather than feared.
Rauffe took his long robe from Isake Dayfist, the captain of the guard. Isake was so young that many of the other guards did not obey him, but Rauffe considered him to be something like a son and would put his trust in another man. “Thank you.”
Isake nodded. “Anything for you.”
Iseut rubbed her hand over Isake’s arm. “You’re looking rather peaky. Maybe you should take a day off.”
Isake snorted. “No offense, my Queen, but I cannot allow something as common as a cold stop me from doing my job.”
Rauffe smiled. “Your health does need to come before me. I shall send my personal Healer to look after you?”
Isake bowed his head. “Thank you. You are too kind.”
“Nonsense, I would not be the man I am if I did not care for you.” Rauffe leaned in closer. “Besides, you have covered for me more than once.”
Iseut gave her husband a look. “What are you two talking about?” Though she tried to be harsh, the question came out way too good-natured.
Rauffe smiled at his wife. “That is between the captain and me.”
Isake shrugged. “Sorry, my Queen.”
Iseut shook her head. “Isake, how many times have I asked you to stop being so formal?” She smiled. “It’s Iseut.”
Isake blushed and looked down at his boots.
Rauffe laughed. “Now, look what you have done.”
Isake shook his head. “It’s no problem.” He looked at his watch. “We really should be leaving or we are going to be late.”
Iseut peered out the window, sending another round of cheers up through the castle. “Today your fairy tale starts,” she whispered to her daughter. “Today is your chance to lighten up our world and bring in even more goodness.”
The princess giggled as she reached up and touched her mother’s cheek.
“Yes,” Iseut whispered as she followed Rauffe and Isake down the steps. “Yes, you are going to be light that our kingdom needs. It’s not as if we are dark nation, but you can never have too much goodness. We need to remind people that the Iron Fairies really are gone.”
Isake stopped outside the main doors. The guards standing on either side of the massive doors all stood in attention as they realized who was standing in front of them. “Whenever you are ready, Your Majesties.”
Iseut and Rauffe exchanged warm looks.
“I think we are ready, Captain,” Rauffe said.
Isake nodded to his men. The man on the far right started to turn the wheel and the doors came whirling to life. Iseut watched as the little crystal lights on the doors danced off her daughter’s skin. A few times, the princess tried to touch the lights, only to look at her mother with a frown whenever she could touch them.
The crowd roared as the doors opened, revealing the royal family in their finest clothes surrounded by the best soldiers in Trelia. Banners of all the noble houses of Trelia proudly stood in the sunlight. There was nothing in the world that could divide them, not today and not ever.
Amberfall flew out way ahead of her sisters, ignoring their cries for her to slow down. She had sent a Fire Message, but no one had answered. She really hadn’t expected anyone to be staying by the fire on a day like today, but it still had been worth the shot.
“Amberfall!” Purpleflash screamed as Amberfall almost flew into a tree for the third time that day. “Getting yourself killed will not solve any of our troubles!”
“Nightstone is coming and we must warn the court!” Amberfall screamed as she picked up her pace. “It will not take her long to figure that we tricked her!”
Honeylashes sighed. “Purpleflash is right! Dying before we can get to the palace is not the answer!”
Amberfall ignored them as she flapped her wings as hard as she could. “Nightstone is not good news for the kingdom! I don’t care what she claims to be! She’s still mad about losing the war!”
“We know that and the court knows that!” Purpleflash flew beside Amberfall. “They are not going to fall for her tricks!”
Amberfall rounded her sisters. “Nightstone can transform into anything! She could be in the court before they even realize that she’s even in the area!”
Honeylashes dodged a bird. “We know, but it’s still not worth it! What good are you to anyone if you are dead?”
Amberfall rolled her eyes, kicking her wings into high gear. Everything was going to be okay, she just had to believe it. However, she still could not allow herself to slow down. Nightstone was still far more dangerous than anyone could ever imagine. The Iron Fairies’ defeat in the Warynian Wars had only added to her anger.
The outline of the palace appeared over the next hill. Amberfall let out the breath of air that she had been holding. Even from this distance, she could hear the cheers of the crowd. Cheers were far better than screams.
Honeylashes stopped next to Amberfall. “See, you had nothing to fear.”
Amberfall flapped her wings, heading toward the growing cheers. “It’s not over yet!”
The colours started to get brighter as she flapped herself forward. The wonderful banners of all of the great Houses lined the crowd, beating ever so gently in the calm winds. Up on the arms of adults, the children held balloons the princess’s face drawn on them.
Amberfall pushed her way above the crowd. The great doors were already open and the royal family stood in front, waving at the crowd.
Amberfall’s eyes scanned the crowd as she dug into her magic. The only fairies that she could sense were herself and her sisters. She could not be sure that Nightstone was not able to hide her magic, but she just could not be sure.
King Rauffe raised his hand as the crowd grew quiet. “Honourable guests! We have gathered here today in honour of my daughter’s naming. We thank you for taking time out of your bust schedule to be here with us on this amazing occasion.” He paused and smiled warmly at his family. “It is our wish that you will all follow us into the throne room to greet the new princess and to hear the announcement of her name!”
The crowd roared as it pushed forward.
Honeylashes put an arm out to stop Amberfall from flying forward. “You must remember that we are also here to give the princess our gifts.”
Amberfall gave her sister a long look. “I know that, but we first must save them!”
Purpleflash sighed as she followed her sisters into the castle.
Amberfall flew high above the crowd. The number of guards began to thicken the closer she got to the throne room. However, none of them noticed the three fairies. Amberfall was about to curse at them whenever she caught eye of the cameras following her every movement.
Good, at least there was some kind of protection besides these useless guards.
The king and queen were just settling into their seats when Amberfall landed in front of them. “Forgive me,” she whispered.
King Rauffe’s eyes widened as the sight of her.
Queen Iseut smiled kindly at her. “What can we do for you, Queen Amberfall?”
Amberfall bowed low as she sisters fluttered behind her. “We come here with not only gifts, but a warning.” She looked the king and queen in the eye. “Nightstone is coming!”
The man closest to the king frowned. “King Rauffe, you really aren’t going to believe the word of a fairy, are you?”
“Fairies cannot lie,” King Rauffe said, holding his hand up. “She is also a queen and an ally.”
The man who Amberfall now recognized as Duke Metody Honoraxe shook his head. “That may not be true about not being able to lie, but it doesn’t stop them for bending the truth. Allies change sides all the time.”
Purpleflash flew forward. “Please, let us show you our loyalty by giving your beautiful daughter our gifts. If you find our gifts fitting, then you will know that we speak the truth.” Her voice was so small as she spoke the words.
The duke rolled his eyes. “Your Majesty, there have been rumours of Nightstone for years and, yet, no one has seen her. She lost the war and knows she’s been beaten.”
King Rauffe looked kindly down at the three fairies. “Nevertheless, let them see if they can pass the test.”
“Oh, yes!” Purpleflash exclaimed.
Ambefall gave her sister a dark look, but Purpleflash just shook it off.
Honeylashes pulled her out her small wand and waved it over the princess. “To you, my little one, I give you the gift of song. May your beautiful voice bring joy to all of those who live in the kingdom for many, many years.” Small green sparks flew out of the wand, landing on the princess, who giggled.
Purpleflash flew forward, her own pink wand gripped tightly in her hand. “Your Highness, I give you the gift of beauty. May your beauty allow you to see the truth and kindness in everyone.” She waved her wand, allowing the sparks the dance over the princess in a wave of wonder.
King Rauffe and Queen Iseut smiled as they nodded to Amberfall.
Amberfall flew forward, gripping her blue wand. So far, her sisters had given the princess such wonderful gifts, but she just couldn’t think of anything. If she messed this up, there would be no going back. The court had to believe her. They just had too, not only for their sakes, but all of fairy kind. The word of the fairies would be considered nothing more than the human word.
She looked up at the king and queen. “Can I have her name?” She mentally winced as the shaking of her own voice. “It will make the gift mean more if I could have it.”
Queen Iseut leaned down next to Amberfall. “Her name is Jessimond,” she whispered. “I will give you the honour of being the first to publically speak her name.”
Ambefall nodded, staring down at Jessimond as she laid in her mother’s arms.
“Well, well, well, what is this?”
The entire room turned just as the entry way filled with a shadow that extended out into the main room. Those closest to the shadow, stepped back, knocking into the people behind them.
“Are we having a party and didn’t dare to invite me?” The shadow laughed. “I really am hoping that my invitation was just lost in the post.”
“Nightstone,” Duke Metody Honoraxe breathed.
The guards all pulled their guns, pointing then at Nightstone.
With one final laugh, the shadow slowly crept back toward the entryway, into the shape of a human. Ambefall’s eyes widened as the wingless fairy started creeping toward them. She had heard the legends that Nightstone had lost her wings during a great battle after the Warynian Wars with the dark god, Astus, but did not actually believe it until now. Nightstone slowly walked forward, using a large tree-like staff that pounded on the floor like a death march. Her purple and black gown reminded Amberfall of the darkest time of night. Nightstone’s hair was piled up on top of her head in bumps that looked like horns.
Purpleflash and Honeyflash ducked behind Ambefall as Nightstone stopped in front of the royal families.
The entire guard moved as one, with their guns pointed at Nightstone, who only laughed. “Really, is this the kind of greeting you give everyone?” She shook her head at the guards. “This is really what Trelia calls its’ the finest men?” She looked the closest guard up and down. “They are not men. They are boys and boys can be defeated.” She waved her arm, sending those closest to her flying back into the crowd. They did not get up.
King Rauffe got to his feet. “Be gone, Nightstone!” He pulled a gun out of his robe and pointed it at her. “You are not welcome here!”
Nightstone’s laughter rang out over the screams as little black fairies began to circle the hall. “I am just here to give your daughter a gift!” She pointed her finger at the princess. “Sure, the princess will grow in song and beauty! She will beloved to everyone she meets, but it is time for this kingdom to be punished!”
A guard moved to Nightstone’s side, his finger resting on the trigger.
“I don’t think so!” Nightstone screamed as she forced the guard to turn his gun on himself. The guard’s eyes widened as his finger began to apply more pressure. The explosion caused screams as the guard fell to the ground.
Nightstone shook her head as she turned back to the princess. “Now, where was I?” She paused. “Ah, yes! On the night of her sixteenth birthday, right before the sun sets, the princess will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die!”
Another guard tried to lunge for Nightstone, but with a clap of her hands, the fairy disappeared.
Queen Iseut got to her feet, holding Princess Jessimond even closer to her. “Get rid of the spinning wheels!”
The crowd made a great rush toward the doors.
“WAIT!” Amberfall screamed.
Everyone turned to look at the tiny fairy.
“I have not given my gift to the princess.”
King Rauffe gave Amberfall a small smile. “Please, don’t take this the wrong way, but I think we have had enough gifts for today.”
Amberfall tugged on the queen’s robe. “Please, it can only help.”
The king and queen exchanged looks.
“Okay,” King Rauffe sighed. “Just make it quick.”
Amberfall flew up to Princess Jessimond. “I will not hurt you.”
Princess Jessimond smiled and reached up for Amberfall.
Amberfall smiled warmly down at the baby. ” While I cannot undo the curse that has been placed upon you, I can weaken its effects.” She pulled out her blue wand and waved it above Princess Jessimond’s head. “The curse will not kill you. You will still prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel before the sun sets on your sixteenth birthday, but you will not die.” She tried to control her shaking voice, but failed. “You will fall into a deep sleep until you are awoken by true’s love kiss.” Amberfall waved her wand and blue sparks hit the princess.
King Rauffe smiled.
“It’s the best I can do,” Amberfall whispered. “I’m sorry that I can’t do more.”
Queen Iseut knelt down to Amberfall’s level. “I know, but it is still better than death. True love does exist and I have no doubt Jessimond will find true love.”
Amberfall nodded. “I hope you are right for everyone’s sake.”
Chapter Two: The Assassin and the Captain
Once upon a time, there were two kingdoms, Xandria and Trelia; each one just as powerful as the other. For hundreds of years, these kingdoms worked side by side in perfect harmony, fighting wars together and supplying each other with resources. That was until the fairies arrived in Trelia to celebrate the birth of their princess.
Three of the four fairies gave the princess great gifts, but the last did not. This fairy placed a curse on the land claiming that on her sixteenth birthday, she would pick her finger with a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. The only way to break the curse would be through true love’s kiss. The royal family did everything in their power to prevent the curse from happening, but in the end, they failed.
A great thorn barrier surrounded Trelia, cutting it off from Xandria. Xandria sent legions to try to break the barrier, but each time, they came back defeated.
Panic arose in the once peaceful kingdom of Xandria. Differences in class and lifestyle created unfixable holes between the rich, the poor, and the nonhumans. For the first time in the history of Xandria, assassins roamed the streets supported by the rich and backed by the infamous Assassin’s Guild. The only problem was that no one knew who was friend and who was foe.
What made everything worse was the fact that the fairy known as Nightstone is still at large.
Ryanon Cinderspear closed the book as she got to her feet. The noise outside her window made it next to impossible to focus. Besides, she had read this book so many times that she pretty much had it memorized.
She peered out the window, watching the street urchins beg some rich merchant for scarps, only to be pushed away. Shaking her head, she let the curtain fall. She had been like those children before-before Karlen had found her and shown her the better life.
Ryanon tied her brown hair back into a lose braid. Speaking of Karlen, there was still the matter of her payment.
The Assassin’s Guild was not a terribly large place, but it was still plenty big enough that it made keeping track of where everyone was rather difficult. The guild was spread out over three warehouses, each one as old and wretched looking as the next. Karlen tried to keep the buildings looking as proper as necessary while trying not to draw attention to themselves. Besides, it did not do well to have a well put together mansion in the slums of the city.
As Ryanon rounded the corner of yet another creaking stairwell, voices echoed up from the bottom.
“Are you saying that the rumours are true then?” Karlen was asking.
“Yes, my father told the council that he believes all the riches are still there, untouched and rotting away. You know how my father is about his wealth,” a male said, lowering his voice.
Ryanon carefully made her way around the steps that she knew would creak. Sometimes it really pay to live in the same house your entire life. The other assassins did not know the secrets of the guild like she did.
“Yes,” Karlen said. Through the floor’s cracks, Ryanon could see her boss run her hand through her thick blond hair. “I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to personally rob it himself before.” She paused. “So, he believes that Trelia was a wealthy as the Duke bragged about?”
“Yes, he does. Throughout history, it appears that Trelia did always have more than Xandria.” The dark haired assassin stepped into view. His dark hair and heavy features made him stand out in the crowd. His beauty made it even easier for him to get wives to tell him of their husbands business. Being the captain of the guard made him the prefect assassin. He was supposed to be the Crown Prince of Xandria, but due to a reading problem, his father had forced him out of the position in favour of his younger brother. His mother hadn’t taken too kindly to her favourite son being ousted and had sent him to train with Karlen.
Karlen smiled at Dak. “And our cut?”
Dak smiled a sinister smile. “My mother assures me that we will be paid greatly when my father doesn’t return for this mission. She would like more than anything in the world for the man to have some kind of freak accident.”
Karlen pulled Dak closer and whispered something in his ear. Nodding, Dak turned and walked out the front door. Ryanon held her breath until the Leader of the Assassins disappeared into her study.
Ryanon got to her feet and rushed back up the steps without even bothering to hide the thudding of her boots. She paused at the third floor landing, forcing the window open. With one final glance over her shoulder, she darted out the window, stepping onto a small window sill. She forced the window back shut, before turning to look down at the street.
It stank far worse out here than she had thought. The winds were driving the fishy smell form the harbours into everything. Pulling her cloak up to her nose, she jumped down off the sill and onto the neighbouring roof.
Tucking in, she landed as smooth as a cat. Getting to her feet, she peered down over the edge. Dak was making his way slowly through the crowds, in clear line of the cameras. Even though he wasn’t in uniform, the people around clearly recognized him. Shaking her head and keeping low, she ran across the building to a fire escape on the other end of the roof.
Gripping the ladder tightly, she began her short climb down. If she had timed everything correctly, which she knew she had, she would intercept him at the next alley. He really was being downright mental for being out here in the middle of the day. It would do him some good to get roughed up a little bit.
Ryanon stepped out into the busy streets. People were crazy for thinking there was no life Skalavik’s slums. In fact, she thought that the slums had more life to them than the rich sector. Her eyes darted around as she took in the many sights. Treasures from all over Eaken were right in front of her. Most people could never afford the goods, but it did not hurt to dream.
She was going to have to come shopping as soon as she got her payment from Karlen.
Dak was still walking in a prefect straight line in front of her. The crowd just seemed to part as he made through them. Knowing that kind of people that worked the street, Ryanon really couldn’t blame them for getting out of the captain of the guard’s way.
Ryanon winced as yet another person stepped on her foot. People should be getting out of her way; she was a lady after all. Plus, if this kept up, she was going to lose Dak.
As soon as she was able too, Ryanon ducked down an alley. While this alley was normally busy after hours, it was empty now. Running, not even bothering to hide her footsteps, she darted around the corner to the connecting alley.
The cameras in these parts were trained not to look at anyone in the alleys. It was the only way that the elites could get away with their illegal activities.
Ryanon skidded to a stop at the end of the alley, scanning the thick crowds, wincing as a raw fish went flying right in front of her nose. Dak had to around here someplace.
She moved further out into the street, wincing once again as fish guts caked her boots. She shook her head. Well, that was another thing that she was going to have to buy.
Ah, there he was. Ryanon kept her head down as Dak moved closer to her. His hand was resting on his sword, as he glared at the courtesan who was slowly making her way toward him. The known drug lords disappeared into their holes as he walked past them.
Ryanon kept walking. Dak still hadn’t realized that she was almost right in front of him. Some captain of the guard he was.
With a jerk of her arm, she reached out and grabbed onto him, slowly pulling him closer to her. He reached for his sword, but stopped once he got a true look at her face. “You,” he hissed, as he allowed her to pull him into the alley.
“Yes, me,” Ryanon hissed back.
Dak twisted his arm around so that his nails digging into her skin. “What do you want?”
Wincing, Ryanon attempted her best to glare at him. “I want you to tell me what you are doing.”
“And why would I do that?”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “Because we are supposed to be partners.”
He snorted. “Yeah, right. When have we ever told each other everything?”
Ryanon eyed him. “I could be of some help to you.”
“Or you could just get in the way. Women are not supposed to be assassins.”
She drew back her foot and brought it back hard between his legs. Yelping, Dak fell to the ground. Raising a foot, she placed on it his back. “Don’t ever say anything to me like that,” she growling, placing a knife under his chin.”You would never think about saying anything like that to Karlen and I expect you to show me the same respect.”
Dak tried to rear up, but her boot was positioned in the just the right place that made it impossible for him to do so. “You bitch,” he hissed.
Ryanon dug her knife down a little harder on him. It would do him some good to lose some blood. “That is not nearly as bad as what you called me earlier. I can do anything better than you can, so you just remember that.” She removed her boot and knife, letting him up.
He got to his feet, rubbing his throat. Ryanon smirked at the sight of blood when he removed his hand. “I don’t have to tell you anything. If I turn up dead, people will come looking for you.”
She wiped her knife off on a fold in her cloak. “You may think you don’t, but you will.” She paused. “You know why? You cannot stand to have a job when I don’t.”
Dak frowned at her. “And you know what?” He wiped some more blood off his chin. “You can’t stand not knowing something.”
Ryanon glared at him. “Just tell me so I don’t have to kill you.”
“You and I both know that you won’t.” He shook his head. “I never took you for a fool and, yet, here you are, picking a fight with a man in close quarters.”
“I can take you,” she hissed, “and you know it. That’s why you haven’t tried anything. Besides, I don’t think you have the nerve to do it anyway.”
“Do what?” He moved closer to it. “Go ahead and say it.”
“To kill your father.”
Dak’s hand came up so quickly and she found herself pinned to the brick wall before she even had the chance to react. “Who told you?” His voice was dangerously low.
Ryanon struggled underneath his tight grasp. He had better not leave any bruises on her or there was going to be hell to pay. “Why? Are you worried that they might give the job to me?”
Ryanon seized the moment by kicking him in the knees. Though he didn’t drop, his death grip did lighten up just enough for her get free. “You are playing a dangerous game, you know that? Why do you put so much trust in your mother? She could be the death of you.”
Dak glared at her, gasping. “I thought this was about my father.”
“And your messed up family.” She paused. “Come on, Dak, you really can’t believe that there are still riches in Trelia. It’s been how long since the curse? It’s not like you can just walk in there anyway. Not even the drones have survived a mission there.”
“There are things that you don’t understand.” He straightened his uniform. “Now, I have a job to get back to, so I suggest you get out of my way before I have you arrested.”
Ryanon snorted as she stepped to the side. “You do know that I will get to the bottom of this.”
He turned and smiled. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’m not going to make it easy for you.”
She watched as he walked out into the crowd, giving him until the count of ten before stepping back out. By the time she emerged, he was gone. She really didn’t expect him to hang around, but she had kind of expected him to linger to make sure that she got back to the guild okay. Granted, she could take care of herself, but Dak had this kind of honour that made it impossible to him to see a female walk home alone.
Sighing, she turned and started walking back to the guild. She hadn’t meant to make him that mad.
Still, he was mental for thinking that they could break through the walls of Trelia. The land, though once rich, was completely surrounded by a wall of thorns that destroyed anything that came within their reach. The things that did actually manage to make it over the wall came back so brunt that they were almost unrecognizable. Many had hinted at the possibility of there being some kind of dragon on the other side.
Even for all the riches in the world, Ryanon could not see King Teodric Morninghelm risking everything for money. No, there had to be something else and she was going to find out.
She pushed open the guild’s doors. Silence greeted her and she hoped that everyone was on a mission or just simply gone. There was work to be done.
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Alyson Serena Stone hails from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She began her writing career in 2010 on fanfiction.net and fictionpress.com. She has published over two hundred stories on those sites. When not writing, she came be found reading, watching bad movies, and listening to heavy metal music.
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