“Any news, sir?”
The mercenary named Matthew said, stalking up beside Khadir. It had been a few weeks since they had discovered that Mary's disappearance - and all the elves and sea-transport with her.
“I can not believe that she would do this,” Khadir muttered, “I knew it was a bad idea to wait for that elf! And after everything I said to her...”
Matthew stood astride him and watched the rippling water lap at the banks of the Guild. Mary was like a little sister to him. He had been worried ever since she had gone missing, “She could've been abducted by 'em.”
“Yes. But for what purpose?” Khadir grunted, “She was shook by Mariqah's passing. It only makes sense that she would go off with them.”
Matthew paused, “Ain't you shook, sir?”
Khadir sighed, “Yes. But not so much that I would disobey my sister,” he looked at Matthew, “My heart may weep, but my mind cannot afford to.”
“Your mind seems stingy.”
Khadir raised his brows, “Why do you say this?”
“The humiliation that Mariqah faced, Khadir. Killed by a woman who was made to be stabbed in the face,” Matthew looked away, “With a fork. Repeatedly. Don't you think... don't you think some sort of retribution is in call?”
“Of course, Mister O'Connor. Of course it is,” Khadir conceded, “But she was our commander. She gave us all that we sought and kept from us all that would harm us. She would have scrubbed the floor with her face if it meant betterment for us. She didn't deserve disobedience when she was alive,” Khadir regarded Matthew, “Would you award her with it, now that she is dead?”
“I...” Matthew looked at the ground, “I just... I wish...”
“We all do.”
“Ships've been sighted, sir!” one of the mercenaries called from below.
Khadir kept a calm face and put out a hand. Matthew passed him a spyglass.
Khadir muttered an Arabic curse under his breath.
“What is it, sir?” asked Matthew, “Are they comin' home?”
“Brimonian ships,” said Khadir, handing the spyglass back to Matthew and walking away. He climbed down a set of steps and continued, “Tell everyone to find their posts in and around the island. Hide where you can.”
“Yes, Mister O'Connor,” said Khadir, “The enemy is on its way. Let them see no man. Let them believe that the island is deserted. Let them feel safe. And when they do, we will catch them all unawares.”
* * * * *
“Nothing here, ma'am!” cried one of the sentries.
Commander Anglia of Brimone scowled. She didn't like the fact that the Dead Man had entrusted her with the assassination of all the leaders of the Guild. She disliked the fact that the whole island seemed completely deserted since they'd docked.
“Where's the other scout I sent out?” she asked, her voice a little more than a grumble.
“Don't know, ma'am,” replied the sentry.
“Hmm,” Anglia looked at the stooped, crippled buildings, “They must have left someone... Come with me,” she barked some orders to her other men - asking them to set up camp and leaving one of them in-charge.
The sentry then inclined his head and followed her into the empty city, one hand on his sheathed sword.
Anglia wrinkled her nose as she went by, frowning at the pitiful works of architecture around her.
“It's a bloody wreck, this place,” she mumbled.
“Indeed, ma'am,” said the sentry.
“What was that?” said Anglia all of a sudden.
“What was what?”
She gave him a look - something in between fear and annoyance, “You didn't hear something creak?”
The sentry shook his head.
They stood in the same spot, pausing, listening.
“I'm sure it was just a rodent, ma'am,” offered the sentry.
Anglia didn't buy it, “Who's there?” she called, a hand on the hilt of her blade, “Show yourself!”
Before she could turn around, the scream of the sentry rang in her ears, only preceded by a quick snick of a blade and short whoosh of someone dropping down.
The thickset, bearded man that crouched upon the now-dead sentry looked at her with interest.
Anglia drew her sword, the man rose to catch the descending blade with his own. He threw the elf-woman off and slapped her hard with the back of his hand. She landed on the floor painfully, holding the side of her face.
“You should know better than to wander around on your own,” said the man.
Other men crept out of the buildings, their swords drawn.
Anglia looked at the man, “Humans...?" her hand twitched across the hilt of her fallen sword, “I don't understand. What are you doing here?”
The man squatted next to Anglia, “Where are your men camped?”
Anglia spat in his face. The man's expression didn't change, nor did his composure.
Another man with fairer hair came into view, “This here is Khadir, the former-lieutenant of the recently-deceased Commander Mariqah de Saint-Omer,” said the second man, gesturing to Khadir, “I wouldn't tempt his anger, if I were you.”
Anglia looked from one man to the next, “I have no quarrel with you,” she said, “I wasn't sent here to kill you. Any of you. I was sent here to kill the leaders of the Guild.”
“Where are your men camped?” Khadir repeated.
“Please, sir,” said Anglia, “They've no intention in harming you.”
Something changed in Khadir's face. He felt it and looked away.
“I...” Khadir paused.
God help me... he thought, “I have no intention in harming them. Just tell me where they are.”
Anglia paused, before saying, “Along the beach, sir, setting up camp.”
Khadir nodded, as of he'd made sense of something, “Go back to them and lead them all away from your ships,” he stood up, “You dare to turn against me and you will die from it. Am I clear?”
“Then get going before I change my mind.”
Anglia scrambled up, picked up her sword and went back to where her men were setting up camp.
Khadir stared after her for a long while.
“Everything alright, sir?” Matthew asked.
“I want you to follow them,” he said in a quiet voice, “all of you. Kill each and every one of them.”
Matthew raised a brow, “Sir?”
“Mariqah taught me mercy - a characteristic I never knew and never had until I met her. But now...?” Khadir said, “I have none left.”
Matthew nodded solemnly, “You 'eard the man! Get goin'!”
“We'll take the ships, then, and find Mary,” Khadir then said.
“You know where she might be?” Matthew said, as the mercenaries began to stalk through the city, hidden and watching as the Brimonian soldiers moved around the beach.
“If Mary is going after Britney, there's only one place she can go. Mariqah mentioned that Britney would chance an attack on the Earth-realm. They're heading for the Gateway.”