Niabi: 12 Years Ago
The Gate of Tayborne was underutilized and forgotten by most Northerners. She knew it would not be difficult to infiltrate, even on her own. Her green eyes glistened in the moonlight as she scaled the forty-foot-tall, white stone wall. As she neared the top, she hugged the wall to ensure the guards would not see her.
She expected a small company of guards to be on duty, but there were only six. Six was foolish. Six would require little effort to kill.
Slithering to the cobblestone street, the hooded intruder strutted up to the soldiers huddled by a flickering fire in the bailey.
“Halt,” their captain stepped forward. “Who are you?” The soldiers drew their swords and encircled her when she did not answer. “I will ask you once more,” he growled. “Who are you?”
Again, she did not speak, but she stretched her arms wide, level with her shoulders, fists closed and unarmed. Confused, the soldiers lowered their weapons. Then she struck.
With the flick of her wrists, she launched twin daggers in opposite directions, slicing the necks of two guards.
Two charged her. She whipped two lightweight blades from the holsters on her back, closed her eyes, and waited for them to reach her. The first soldier to get close enough swung his sword, but she dodged his blow, and as she rose stabbed him through his chest in one swift motion. She opened her eyes as the second soldier lunged toward her and blocked the incoming blow with her second blade. He thrust his weapon again but was unable to keep up with her speed. Losing control of his longsword, she sliced through his neck, nearly decapitating him.
Two remained. Both trembled at the sight of the assassin covered in blood.
“Who are you?” the soldier’s voice cracked.
“One the North wished to forget.” Her raspy voice caught them by surprise.
“A demon,” spat the taller soldier. “Come closer, so I might send you back to hell.”
Even though she wore a black mask covering the bottom half of her face, the guards could see her smirk as she sprinted toward them. The tall soldier braced himself. She was quick. Their weapons clashed loudly as they dueled. The other soldier jumped in to take her down, but she ducked, dodged, and tumbled to elude them. They stood on opposite sides of her, one in front, the other behind. She remained very still as they circled her. With a nod signaling to attack, both Northmen charged. She waited until they were near and when they swung their swords, she dropped to the ground in a front split and watched as they struck one another down.
She retrieved her daggers and opened the gate where her elite squad of warriors, the Shadows, was waiting. Marching in four rows, their black robes concealed their leather armor and their black masks made them look more like executioners than a rival army.
“That didn’t take you very long.” Tala the Andrago kicked over one of the dead bodies.
“The Northmen have grown weak hiding behind their white walls.” She sneered. She caught a glimpse of the ivory stone White Keep perched on a hill in the center of the city of Northwind.
For a moment, everything was quiet; everything was peaceful. She closed her eyes. She inhaled the crisp mountain air and listened as the waves of the Ignacia Sea crashed in the harbor. The white stone buildings and cobblestone streets glistened under the moon’s glow. It was always a magical sight; it was just as she had remembered.
“Just six?” Tala rubbed his clean-shaven, bronze face. He never wore a mask. He wanted his enemies to know exactly who was about to kill them. “Why just six?”
“He always did underestimate me.” She wiped her blades clean against her black leather pants. “Give the signal.”
Tala reached for the war horn that hung from his hip. “You’re sure about this?”
“I have come too far to turn back now.” Her eyes narrowed as the horn sounded. “Now to kill the King.”