The roof terrace of her apartment building, which no one but her used, had an excellent view of the castle, or more precisely the army quarters. From where she sat on the corner sharpening a dagger, feet dangling over the edge, Branna had a perfect view of the trainee soldiers. They did, however, look like ants due to her being seventy feet up—but she had a telescope at her side that she looked through every so often.
The trainees, from what she could see with her bare eyes, were standing still in what she guessed was an endurance task. She’d done the same thing when she’d been twelve, but instead of being surrounded by the courtyard she’d been standing on top of the highest of the Snow Mountains. These soldiers had it easy.
But she also found it rather amusing, because she’d been watching the trainees and established soldiers for the past few days. Training had been ramped up, and she knew it was because of her. From whispers on the wind and her two spies in the castle—when you’re the most notorious assassin in Britannia you can buy the loyalty of spies—she’d learnt that the army thought she’d only been in the city a few days at most. In reality, she’d been renting her apartment for a week and a half, and had been in Eborakon for three weeks.
Movement in the courtyard caught her eye, and she moved to kneel behind her telescope. She’d dragged the thing up four flights of stairs, and that was the reason that she sometimes—well, always—wished that her half-bionic left eye had the ability to zoom in like a camera—but, no, the only thing it could do was switch to night vision (and really, who needed night vision in only one bloody eye?) and x-ray vision.
So that was why she hefted her telescope about with her. As she glanced into it with her right eye and closed her left, she saw that the movement was one of the Majors. She could tell he was a Major because of his outfit, a black velvet jacket adorned with medals. There was a sword by his side and a gun in a thigh holster. His blonde hair curled in the wind.
He was rather handsome, not that she cared. Every day she found at least two men handsome, and they were just that. Just physically appealing. She didn’t care. They’d wink at her, or smile, and she’d smile back but they were just there. They could be missions for her in the next moment.
An assassins life was a lonely life sometimes, but she rather liked being alone. Being alone let her think, let her breath, let her do what had to be done without looking out for someone else. She didn’t have to worry when she was alone, didn’t have to care.
She carried on watching the Major, moving her telescope as he moved with the messenger down a hall full of windows. She watched until he turned a corner and she couldn’t see him anymore, leaving her scowling for a moment.
But then realisation hit her, and as she pulled away a smile crossed the features of her face, reaching her dark eyes. She went back to sit on the corner of the terraced, the streets quite a bit way down and the river running through the city spottable from her perch, she started to plan her next move as she went back to sharpening her dagger.
Capturing and taking a Major of the Royal Army could work in her favour, could get her into the castle. Or she could use him to pry information by torture, because even the deepest of fealties started to crumble after a few fingers and . . . more precious body parts started to be removed. She’d done it before and she could do it again.
She needed to get into the castle, needed to kill the King. She hadn’t known why the Sept had wanted the King dead, but then they’d made her a deal she couldn’t resist: if she killed the King and got away with it, the Sept would make her Queen of the Assassins. They would all bow to her, the assassins who’d teased her and taunted that she’d never amount to anything in their world, the ones she’d proven wrong, all her enemies . . . they would all bow to her, as soon as she plunged a dagger in the heart or a bullet in the head of the King of Britannia.
Her future depended on this mission. A mission that could well be her last.
A faint ringing broke her from her daydreaming, a low vibration in her jeans pocket. She wasn’t planning on fighting today, so it had been out with the jumpsuit and in with black jeans and a white top. She fished the short silver bar that was making the sound out of her pocket and placed it on the ledge, pressing the answer button on the left-side.
A holographic projection screen popped up from the centre, shimmering slightly in the wind. There was a woman sat in a chair on the screen, on the other side of the call, her white hair scrapped back in a bun. Her green eyes locked with Branna’s.
She was the High Mistress, the head of the Sept.
“Good morning, Matilda,” Branna said with a small bow of her head in respect. Assassin she may be, but she still had manners.
“It’s afternoon, Branna,” Matilda replied.
“Is it?” the assassin asked just as the bells of the clock tower in the cathedral start chiming. She counted—it was noon. “Well, it seems Eborakon runs a little slower than the Ruins of Londinium.”
“How is it in the capital, in the North?”
“Cold,” Branna sighed, “but the cold has never bothered me.” Which was why she wasn’t wearing a coat, or even her cloak. “And the North is hilly. So many hills. Do you know how many hills there are? A lot—too many. And don’t even get me started on moorland!”
Matilda just looked at her before changing the subject. “I bet you’re wondering why I called you today?”
“I figured you were missing me or worrying over me. How caring of you if that is the case, I might start calling you mother.”
The High Mistress frowned. “Please don’t.”
Branna smiled, flashing her pearly white teeth. “I believe you’ll have done so to inquire as to how my mission is going.”
“Yes, I have. And how is it going?”
“Swimmingly.” The assassin put down her now sharpened-to-a-tip dagger and stretched. “I do believe I found myself a way into the castle about five minutes ago, it’s just a case of . . . procuring him.”
“A Major in the Royal Army.”
Matilda looked at the assassin as if she had gone mad. “And how do you suppose as Major, of the Royal Army, will agree to smuggle you into the castle? Their loyalty runs deep, almost to the point in which they’d rather die than spill secrets.”
Branna smiled wider, inspecting the nails of her right hand. “I’ll use my womanly charms. And if that doesn’t work torture usually breaks even the strongest-willed man down eventually.”
Matilda laughed and said, “You sound like me.”
“Well, I was trained by you.” Inside Branna was cringing, if there was one person she’d never wanted to be like it was Matilda Stoker, because then it made her sound misandristic. Which was definitely something Branna wasn’t. She’d had a few male lovers in the past, but most of them had been mere flings and none of them had ever managed to melt the deadly assassin’s heart of ice. Only one young man had ever gotten close to that prospect, for their relationship had not been love but something more than mutual like—or so she’d thought at the time, but it had turned out to have been a plot to capture her. Needless to say, she didn’t really trust men anymore, and her heart was like a mini iceberg in her chest.
“That you were,” the High Mistress murmured, breaking Branna from quite memories of her recent past. From Matilda’s side of the call came a crash followed swiftly by a smash and shouting. Matilda looked up, over the edge of the screen, to something that only she could see. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut our conversation short, my darling,” she continued, looking directly at Branna and only just missing the assassin’s physical bristle at being called ‘my darling’. “Only call me if in dire need.”
“I won’t need your help.”
Matilda’s eyes narrowed for a minute second before she composed herself and smiled, if not a little venomously. “Then only call once you have completed your mission. Have fun with this Major you’ve taken an interest in.”
Branna ignored the comment on ‘interest’ and moved her metal hand to press the red button to end the call, but was halted by Matilda’s continuation of speech, albeit a short one at that. “Remember, there’s a crown waiting here to be placed on your head, and a throne to be sat on,” she said and ended the call herself, the projection screen zapping down and cutting off.
The young assassin stared in the direction of the screen long after it had shut off, before moving to stand up on the edge of the terrace to get a better look at the castle.
After the civil war had split the country apart and Eborakon, or York as it had used to have known, had become the capital, the castle had been built as a statement to show that the country was getting better and prospering once more. It had been fashioned upon the Palace of Versailles, with all the grandeur that that building had had to offer, but even though it looked like it was simply for decoration it had the highest security in all the country and all the modern appliances. It was like a safe house, extremely had to get into.
She had never seen the defences the castle had to offer in person, but she’d heard along the grapevine that, if under attack or simply testing defences, the slabs of stone that made the pathways slid away and a giant electric wall raised up from underneath, shutters fell down over the windows and doors, and beyond the electric wall the pathways there slid away and a completely electrified moat raised to surround it. Those were just a few of the defences. But the headquarters of the Sept were more fortified—nothing could match that.
Branna looked back at the army quarters through the telescope, but the Major was still gone. Where is he?
She needed that Major. And she needed him to cooperate.
A/N: yeah, hi, it's me. Yeah, I know, you probably weren't expecting to see me, but let me talk very briefly about the whole Branna/Alek friendship:
Branna - no remember, evident enough from the fact she watches him and just sees him as 'Major guy who will assist in my plans willingly or unwillingly, idc'
Alek - remember everything, misses her *cries because poor baby*
this = their friendship is similar to Steve&Bucky during Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which some of you might have seen - if you haven't, I ask this: why the hell not? It's bloody perfection and BUCKY AND STEVE FEELS OMFG I'M GONNA DROWN IN THE PUDDLE OF MY OWN TEARS!