Assassin's Accomplice

Lady Rachel Whitely finds her entire world flipped upside down when her father is assassinated. Forced to flee, she seeks vengeance against the man she believed killed her father; the King. Rachel finds herself slipping into the castle walls, obscured as a maid, with a hidden agenda. To find the King and make him pay. Her plan seems to be working perfectly, until she is fed another shocking piece of information. Rachel, under the guidance of a former King's assassin, must travel across the land in order to save everyone from a violent ruler and a terrible fate. Will she make it in time, or will she be condemned to a life of servitude while watching her country fall apart right before her emerald eyes?


2. Chapter One

The wind whispered sorrows of the past as the trees danced to a silent beat of whimpers in the cold empty night. The woman's cowl protected her face considerably well from the bitter, unyielding gale. The hidden figure stretched her back, her tired joints aching with each movement. She allotted herself time to regret her decision to leave early in spite of the oncoming storm. Her lips pursed in frustration as her horse slowly came to a stop, its exhausted bones aching with the need for rest. The woman swung down from her saddle, her body stiff and rigid. The horse stumbled a few feet as the woman persuaded her muscles into movement. She shuffled over to the horse, efficiently tying him to a tree before turning away to light a fire. Her nimble fingers moved quickly in a feeble attempt to create flames from the two sticks. She leaned backwards in shock as a bright fire spluttered to life in her hands, the flames licking eagerly at the tinder dry sticks. Rachel Whitely scowled at the timber as though cursing it for surprising her. The auburn haired girl threw the burning wood into a previously made fireplace before brushing the ashes off her dirtied hands. She settled into a restless sleep, tossing and turning dangerously close to the scorching open flame. A sheen of sweat broke across her forehead as she mumbled in a fitful rest. Rachel's horse stumbled backwards into the tree, pawing at the ground, stressed to see its mistress in such a state. Rachel's emerald eyes flittered behind her eyelids, memories playing on repeat in her mind. 

"Rachel, could you go and retrieve our dinner from the maids?" 
Rachel gave a tiny bow of her head, a soft smile playing across her face. "Of course, father." she left the room in a swirl of colour, her skirts swishing behind her as she descended the stairs. The petite teen was thrown to the side, her back slamming against the rail. 
"Sorry love." the man said, giving her a grin with crooked, yellowed teeth. He extended his hand and pulled her up roughly. Rachel gave him an uncertain smile, slowly backing down the stairs. The man turned away and as he did so Rachel saw the King's crest printed on the inside of his jacket. A crease formed between her eyebrows, her lips caught in her teeth as she watched the man enter her father's chambers. She shook her auburn hair out of her face, ignoring the worry that had settled hard and fast into the pit of her stomach, sitting there like a stone she could not ignore. She stumbled down the stairs falling into a maid. 
"My lady?" the maid steadied the duke's daughter. "Are you okay?" 
"I'm fine." Rachel replied, her hands shaking. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, ignoring the irrational sense of fear ripping through every nerve, burning in her stomach wanting to escape the situation, much like herself. Rachel took the dinner off the maid and ascended the staircase, her knuckles white against the railing. She plastered a smile on her face and pushed the door of her father's chambers open, the silver plate balanced in one hand. It clattered to the ground, their food spilling onto the stone floor stained with her father's blood. She released a bloodcurdling scream as she fell to her knees in front of her father, drowned in his own blood. His hands were pressed loosely to his stomach in a valiant attempt to slow the blood that just wouldn't stop flowing, so much blood.  She stared into her father's lifeless eyes, pale skin. 

Rachel woke with a scream met only by the eerie silence of the forest. Her horse reared backwards, hooves kicking into the hushed thicket. Rachel's hands sought the ground, her jade eyes searching the area frantically, as though she thought the King's assassin had returned, or perhaps one of the Prince’s horsemen who had invaded her region and forced her to flee. Her fingernails dug into the dirt, her eyes setting hard. In spite of the shining moon, she saddled her horse. She would make it to the Imperial Region by morning. 
The king would rue the day he ever chose to mess with Rachel Whitely. 

It was quite early by the time Rachel's horse clattered through the kingdom's gate and into the square. Her eyes squinted against the blinding sun, she winced as her unrested body became accustomed to the sun that she’d previously been shaded from, riding in the damp forest. Her eyes travelled up to the castle in which she planned to work, her resolve setting like molten steel in frozen water. She swung off her horse, her legs as stiff as they were the previous day and looked around desperately for a place to hide. Finding a darkened corner, she ushered her horse into it. She knew that she could not be identified as “Lady Rachel” if her plan were to work, so she busied herself with ridding her faithful horse of the royal blanket, bridle and saddle that linked him to the Whitely family. She bundle them into a ball, wrapped up with the blanket, and threw them away as though they were not the final thing that linked her to the life she desperately wished to relive. She swapped her noble, expensive gown for a commoner’s dress she had stolen from a maid’s bag a few days beforehand. Rachel slightly regretted leaving the maid the beautiful gown in return, but she knew it only fair. She scrutinized her outfit carefully; she looked the epitome of ‘poor and desperate.’ This, in all honesty, was what she needed to pass this look off. If anyone were to stop and look past the maid’s outfit, which no noble would ever do, they would notice Rachel’s looks were regal and elegant, her soft skin and conditioned hair, all tell-tale signs of her heritage. If anyone were to look her in the eyes rather than sneer in her general direction they would notice the glimmering green eyes she possessed, a inherited and unique quality that linked her to the Royal Whitely family. She stretched her arms above her head, a seemingly endless trail of creamy skin, her soft hands, calloused by sword work, reaching up to her auburn curls and pushing them into an updo held by a black, rough net fitted snugly around her head. Rachel, content with the authenticity of her appearance, stepped out of the shadows and into the busy square once more, emerging a different person than the one who had entered the cramped space. She led her horse into the open stables, and allowed the regal demeanour that she had been courting for so many years to wash away like fallen leaves in heavy rainfall.  Her shoulders slumped, her head drooping, so unlike whom she had been raised to be. With a heavy heart, and seemingly heavier feet, she dragged herself into the enormous castle in which she knew she would suffer years of mocking and mistreatment, her vengeance the only thing that kept her from abandoning the idea all together and going back to the region in which she had been raised, only to see it fall to the reign of the ill king, never being considered an option to rule, because of her gender. Her shoulders squared. She had to do this, if not for her father, than to prove to herself that she could. Her fingers threaded themselves anxiously through the soft curls that framed her high cheekbones as she climbed the staircase that led to the castle. A pair of guards eyed her cautiously, but let her through without complaint, reinforcing the fact that Rachel’s disguise was a success. She wondered whether or not there was a some sort of test, an interview of sorts, which she was required to pass before she was allowed to work but her queries were answered when another maid grasped her tightly around the wrist. 
“What are you doing out there?” the blonde hissed at her, “Have you not heard?”
“Heard what?” Rachel asked stupidly. 
The blonde muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “Imbecile” before rolling her muddy eyes and looking at her. “Listen, kid,”
“Rachel.” she interrupted, feeling a tad frustrated that this girl, her superior by a year or two a most, called her ‘kid’. She was a Lady, not a child. 
“It does not matter to me,” the blonde said disdainfully. Rachel took an instant disliking to her. “What matters, kid-” she emphasized the word and Rachel idly speculated if the blonde would be so smug if Rachel was wielding a sword. “-is that we have a feast, requested by the prince himself, and you are not in the kitchens! Do not force me to report you, kid. They will take some of your weekly salary, and it’s stripped back as it is, lest they actually release you from your duties and throw you out of the castle.” the girl’s eyes had softened, momentarily, before snapping back into her scowl, “Get into the kitchen.” 

This time, as Rachel was ushered away by nearby maids, she definitely heard the blonde mutter the word ‘imbecile‘ .  

The kitchen was massive. Rachel had been inside the kitchen in the castle where she had grown up, yet Blackcoast had nothing on Imperial. The room was twice the size of what was once Rachel’s chambers, filled to the brim with bustling maids. She felt very small and insignificant among the waves of servants who scurried around the room with a sense of purpose she did not posses. She turned to ask exactly what she was to be doing, when a vice-like grip constricted her shoulders.

"Over there." A voice hissed into her ear, accompanied with a shove that left Rachel stumbling towards the potatoes she could only assume she was to peel. She scrunched up her nose in disdain, her mind
attempting to remind her that she was a royal and she was not to do dirty servant work. She ignored the petulant comment and began the constant gruelling task of peeling, washing and dicing at least a
thousand or more potatoes. Not to mention that the blonde, Katherine, one of the other servants had said, would constantly glance over her shoulder and make an offhand comments about the density of the potato slices that made Rachel want to gut her like a fish. Rachel was usually of a very kind, sweet nature but this Katherine was driving her to the edge. She knew, however, that where she stood currently, in disguise, that Katherine was of a higher ranking to her. She was one of the Royal adviser's handmaidens and had only come to the kitchens to traumatize both Rachel and any other servant who had the misfortune of meeting her and becoming disliked by her. Which, judging from the icy glares being thrown across the room and a tension so formidable it could be cut with a knife, was a very common occurrence. Rachel kept her head bowed as she leaned over her work as though it was of
incredible interest to her, which it was evidentially not, as demonstrated by the unseen, bored expression that played across her face. Realizing that she could no longer bother the auburn haired teen, Katherine moved to her next victim, holding herself as though she was some kind of royal, all the while personally offending the only one actually present in the room. Rachel looked as though she
had eaten something sour, her face scrunched in distaste, her full lips pursed. She shook her head, chastising herself for allowing these thoughts to fill her mind. She would not be caught up in pathetic servant drama. She was a Lady, she worked with a purpose. Her purpose was to destroy the king and any other persons who partook in the murder of her father. She would complete this task with no exceptions. Not one. 

As the clock struck the eighteenth hour and the sun gave way to the stars, Rachel, along with her fellow servants, were ushered out of the kitchens like cattle for slaughter. The duke’s daughter had already learnt that individuality was a rarity she could not afford to possess within the obscure world of servitude to the Imperial Region, therefore, she found herself with no option but to follow the others lead without question, which was sure to entail some difficulties. The servants, handmaids and cooks all changed into their cleanest serving clothes as per the Prince’s orders and, yet again, Rachel found herself mulling around until she was explicitly told what to do. A wry smile quirked at the corners of her lips as the irony of the situation settled in. Once being served upon, now serving, Rachel had to bite down the inappropriate laughter that threatened to escape as she filed into a room, a fresh, crisp serving dress folded over her arm. Only when she was shown a small, private space to dress did Rachel allow her laughter to burst forth, smothering it in the folded fabric of the sleeves of her new dress. The serving dress fitted snugly around her chest and upper body, flowing out only in the slightest where the seam sat dipped low on her waist. The dress was long sleeved and Rachel knew that, without a doubt, it would be stained with whatever she was serving by the end of the night. She had never been terribly good at serving food, she never had to learn. The only time she had practiced that particular skill was when she went hunting with her father and the knights of Blackcoast. She took a lot of pride in the game she managed to hit and often insisted that she was to be the only one to clean, cook and serve the animals she had killed. This amused the knights to no end and they took great pleasure in watching Rachel rush around, a small smile of satisfaction shining across her sun kissed face. Rachel felt the sigh push past her lips before she noticed it, her brow creased with the knowledge that the life of a noble was one she would not revisit for many years to come. A cold stone of realization settled rapidly in her stomach as she squeezed her eyes shut. She pressed her cool hand against the burn of her forehead in a futile attempt to calm her swiftly growing nerves. Her breathing quickened when a soft knock echoed on the other side of the door. 
“Excuse me?” A distinctly male voice spoke. “I need to get changed…” 
Rachel cursed herself for her prolonged time in the room. “Of course, yes, certainly.” she replied, wincing when her voice cracked. She grasped her dirtied clothing and pushed the door open to reveal a tall, gorgeous brunette with a strong jaw and piercing blue eyes staring at her with concern. 
“Hello!” he stumbled backwards in surprise as Rachel briskly passed him, bowing her head.
 She followed the other maidservants down a narrow corridor heading to the great hall. While the other women were chatting, Rachel found herself enamoured with the swords that rested on the walls. They were impeccably made, glorious and lethal; something Rachel would have used herself. She shook her head to rid herself of such wishful thinking. The women, and men who’d finally readied themselves, were handed platters of food and sent into the Great Hall. Rachel took the hot bowl of soup from the older maid, her hands heating uncomfortably as the stocky soup splashed in the bowl. She readjusted the chicken soup in her hands but her eyes were not focussed on it at all, instead, they wandered the Hall taking in every detail. Her emerald eyes sparkled in disbelief as she stared at the arched ceiling, curved windows and rough stones beneath her feet. Rachel tucked a stray curl behind her ear, her eyes glittering with a sense of unadulterated joy that had been dulled for the past week. Her excitement, however, was short lived as she heard a loud knight call to her. 
“Oi! Servant girl!” 
Rachel turned to him, putting on a blinding smile to disguise her disgust at the pieces of rabbit that clung stubbornly to his bushy beard. She held up the warmed soup as a way of offering and at the knight’s eager little smile she walked over with a sense of purpose that had been lacking from her stride of late. She reached the knight and once again offered up the chunky soup this time as a verbal question, a murmur. The knight gave an irritated nod, glaring up at her for her insolence. Rachel parted her mouth to begin an apology, but thought better of it snapping her jaw shut and hastily reaching for the knight’s bowl. She felt the mistake before it happened. The soup tipped precariously in her arms, her hands preoccupied with the bowl she meant to fill. The hot liquid sloshed dangerously close to the edge before sealing Rachel’s fate and overflowing, leaking from the pot and right into the knight’s lap. Her teeth bit painfully into her lip, the flesh giving way quickly and tearing, as the knight recoiled with as shout of surprise. Rachel could taste blood. The knight furrowed his eyebrows and slowly rose to his feet. Rachel had to battle her fight or flight instincts screaming at her to run as the entirety of the hall took a collective breath. The servants watched on in agitation and pity compared to the knights who either winced or settled back for the show. A smirk played across the Prince’s face as he stared at the red faced knight. Only one face remained impassive. Regan, settled far in the corner where he had slipped in but minutes ago escaping the Prince’s notice, he cocked his head to the side as he watched the straight-backed servant face her inevitable doom. The knight’s eyes flickered dangerously in the candlelight, his breeches dripping with scalding soup, he stood. He towered over Rachel and it took all of her willpower to not cower. 
“SILLY CHILD, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?” He screamed; spit flying everywhere as his already crimson face grew brighter in rage. “YOU ARE THE MOST INCOMPETENT MAID I HAVE EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF ENCOUNTERING IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.” 
Rachel felt her temper flare up like an open flame at the comment and had to physically clamp her lips together to stop any sarcastic comments from escaping. She allowed any remaining dignity, not that there was much at her disposal, to shrink away as she forced herself to cower in front of the man she had little doubt she could beat in a sword fight. “I’m ever so sorry, sir.” she whimpered and if Regan heard the sarcasm dripping unambiguously behind that comment, he did not say a thing. “I did not mean to, I was completely at fault. Is there anything I can do to help you?” she pleaded, looking up at him through her eyelashes. 
The knight looked satisfied, “No. Out with you, I am not to feel your inept presence ever again, is that understood?”
“Why yes, sir. Of course.” Rachel turned and allowed the pleading expression to melt off of her face, replaced quickly with one of annoyance. Regan’s sharp eyes searched her’s in his shadowed corner and he nodded in approval at the calculating look he found, as though a plan was already brewing in her mind. Which, in actuality, it was. Rachel cursed the man for embarrassing her and drawing attention when she wanted to lie quietly. She scowled as she pushed open the double doors, her hand creeping around her back to untie and remove the apron she wore in one swift movement. She handed the stained fabric to the servant at the door; along with the soup bowl she cradled in her other hand. Rachel turned and stalked down the corridor, unaware of the dark eyes that followed her movements.

The Prince shut the oak doors that led to his chambers. He sunk into the plush chair pulling off his boots and massaging his feet. “Interesting night.” he spoke to his companion. 
“Yes.” He drawled from the other side of the room, settled in his respective seat.
“So, do tell me Collins, how is our plan proceeding?” The Prince’s dark blue eyes flittered up to stare at his adviser. 
Collins looked rather smug. “As the Duchess Whitely passed to an illness years ago, and the daughter is mysteriously missing, the Blackcoast region’s reign now falls to the Imperial Kingdom, my lord. The knights have already invaded.” 
“Excellent.” Arrington’s smile widened considerably. The glint of madness often present in his eyes all the more pronounced. 
“Indeed, sire. The assassin’s need a few days for rest and to retrieve their payment before returning to work. As previously discussed, the next region we take shall be Castlehedge. The assassins will kidnap Fountaine‘s son. We then hold this over his head, he shall not ascend to the throne if he knows that he risks his son’s life in doing so. Whitely was murdered as a warning to the other‘s, and his kin cannot take the throne, unlike Fountaine‘s. The assassin‘s will take his son, and Fountaine will hand you the land under threat of his child‘s life. Then, as you planned, they shall take the Barons’ and Counts’ first born. They are of no threat to the throne but they will surrender their land. You shall rule the united lands without impediment.”
The Prince nodded contently. The plan was without a flaw. “Brilliant,” he said, before standing and walking to the threshold, “It is time for us to retire to our chambers I believe Collins.” he opened the door as an invitation. 
“Of course, sire!” the bald man stumbled to his feet. “I bid you a good night.”
“As to you.” the Prince spoke briskly, before shutting the oak entrance. He turned back to his chambers, a smug smile ghosted on his attractive face.

Regan’s eyes following the pale girl down the hall, narrowed with suspicion. The woman held herself not in the way a servant would, but rather a person of importance. She was poised, dignified and graceful, her head held high. She walked with a purpose. 
Yet, Regan mused, The second she was confronted, she ran scared.
This momentarily puzzled the man as he stopped in his stride, standing in the middle of the corridor that led to his chambers with a look of confusion written clearly across his face. The expression cleared, however, when his mind flashed back to her face after she had turned away from the repulsive knight. The calculating glimmer in her eyes that seized Regan’s attention in the first place, the expression that did not belong to a servant. Regan nodded, satisfied. He ran a hand through his ragged greying hair. He would speak to the girl tomorrow. Now, exhausted, he had to sleep.

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