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?

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3. Chapter Two

As the fog rolled over the hills, the first rays of sunlight seeped through the frail curtains of the servant’s dorms, searing Rachel’s closed eyelids her brow creased and her hand flew up to protect her unaccustomed eyes. She let out a small groan of displeasure at the realisation that it could only just be dawn  and her weary bones protested loudly at the thought of getting up and doing work. 
That, her traitorous mind thought viciously, and having to face all of those people who saw you embarrass yourself, and that knight…
She flopped back down on her hard, uncomfortable bed. As she did so, her head lulled to the side and she was faced with an abundance of still sleeping maids. She couldn’t comprehend how the seemingly burning light had not woken them up, but she supposed they were used to it, opposed to her who had spent her whole life with thick, practical drapes that actually served the purpose for which they were intended . She sat up and threw the flimsy material that guarded the windows a fierce glare. She found her solace, however, in the fact that while everyone was asleep she could carry out her plans without suspicion. A smile of pure satisfaction glimmered across her face as her feet padded across the room. She looked down at her  skirt, dirtied where it dragged across the floor just to spite her. Although a small materialistic part of her cringed at the nightclothes, she knew that no person would find her out of place in the general scheme of things. She would blend, no, fade into the background. A pale drip on such a vibrant palate, ignored to the point of extinction. She swept her curls over her shoulder, eyes flickering to and fro between the door leading to the knight’s washroom and the door through which she entered. She took a steadying breath and squeezed her mossy eyes shut as she shoved the heavy oak door open. She cautiously opened one eye and heaved a sigh of relief when she was met with only blank white walls and the sound of splashing water accompanied with the loud, obnoxious singing of a certain knight. Rachel placed her hands onto the wall that she stood pressed up against before gulping a breath of fresh air, worry weighing her down like a boulder. She made her way across the room, cautious to avoid any possible mishaps involving puddles and her own clumsiness that seemed to apply to everything but her sword work, as evidenced the past moon. A shudder shocked her body as she was reminded of the knight’s ugly, reddened face. She delicately held up the man’s breeches as she gave them a look of the upmost revulsion. She shook her head at the fool’s decision to announce loudly at what time he would be bathing in the morrow to the entirety of the feasting hall. Rachel had bemoaned the man’s inappropriate behaviour at the time but she now was thankful for it. She swept up his tunic for good measure and promptly left the room, the door smashing violently into the frame as she exited. Rachel gathered the clothes into a tight ball and disposed of them in the nearest  available shrubbery . The fiery frustration that had burned violently in her chest since the soup disaster eased considerably as the knight’s shouts of discontent echoed in the hallway. She allowed herself a smug smile as she trailed back into the female’s servants’ chambers. She crept under the covers in her uncomfortably hard cot, so small that her feet flopped out of the bed when she lay out straight, and finally fell into a peaceful slumber.


The constant thundering knocking woke Rachel. She rubbed at her eyes and looked blearily at the door in confusion. One of the maids had opened it to reveal the knight looking positively dishevelled. Rachel stifled a laugh at the sight of him. His beady eyes narrowed in on her and a cool wave of regret rolled through her stomach, sweat dripping through every pore possible as his tiny mouth narrowed and his meaty fists clenched by his side.
“You.” It was one word and yet Rachel felt a sense of terror only matched by the fear that attacked every nerve like when she had first seen a beast bigger than herself while hunting. Rachel’s muscles seized  as the knight stalked towards her, his bushy eyebrows settled further down on his forehead than humanly possible. 
Rachel forced a calm expression to override the pure dread that seemed to be accumulating in the pit of her stomach. He can’t blame you, he has no proof. She shouted silently at herself, like a mantra, to ease her panic, yet it did not stop the knight from drawing nearer. “You did this.”
Rachel faked a bemused expression, “I’m sorry?” she replied, her voice lathered with false innocence. 
“You! You stole my clothes while I bathed!” He exclaimed, his face growing ugly with rage when the other maids began to  laugh at him.
Rachel hid another expression, this time not one of fear but rather satisfaction. “I did no such thing, sir! I am extremely sorry for your loss of clothing, you found them did you not?” 
“Yes of course! But that does not diminish the fact that they were stolen by you.” The knight hurried to confirm to Rachel that he still blamed her.
“I did not do this, I assure you.” Rachel stated, hiding another smirk.
The knight’s untrusting eyes never left her face as though he thought the word ‘LIAR’ would suddenly imprint itself on her forehead. “If you are sure.”
“Quite certain, sir, but might I say that it is of upmost pleasure to be remembered by you?” Rachel said smoothly. She knew that the knight rightly blamed her, but she also knew that he could not continue a petty grudge against a servant without proof. His hands were tied and he understood this just as well as she. He left the room without another word, only a look of  deep mistrust directed toward Rachel who smiled blindingly right back. 


Rachel twisted her fingers together, a telltale sign of her nervousness, her sharp eyes scanning the hall in a way so familiar to her. They narrowed at the smallest movement, trained to pick up the slightest rustle or twitch while hunting, the same principle involved. She strode across the remainder of the corridor with conviction, her jaw set in a strong line. Her fingers tapped nervously against her thigh when she reached her intended destination. Her pale fingers retrieved the pin and began to fiddle with it, bending it to her will. The door opened as it's rusty hinges protested loudly. Her skirts swished along the ground as she searched for the possession she so desperately wanted to find. Her searching was disrupted, however, as the unmistakeable sound of the rusty door swung open once more. Rachel pushed herself across the room quickly, pressing up against one of the only nooks she could find, as a sword found its way into her hand. A singular childish prank truly should have sufficed. A second would simply be impracticality. Stupidity, even. Yet, Rachel found her back pressed up against the cool stone of the wall, her breath coming in short desperate gasps, the sound of which she attempted to muffle in the crook of the arm that was not grasping the sword that she had blindly grabbed in a fit of panic. She readjusted her grip so it was firmer, the rattling anxiety that tightened her chest, constricting, squeezing as her shaking hands respectively distracted themselves with the sword and tapping against her own thigh. Rachel had panicked when she heard the door swing open after she, herself, had broken into the knight's chambers. In reality, it had not been a difficult task at all, it had only taken a needle usually used for sewing bent into the correct shape and shoved into the lock. It was unsettling how quickly Rachel had grown accustomed to her petty lifestyle of small victories, breaking in and stealing clothes. However, it quickly became apparent that she was not the only one with a personal vendetta against one of the five, judging from the amount of beds found in the room, knights that lived here. Rachel knew that 'big trouble' would not even begin to express the enormity of the consequences she would face if found without permission in the knight's chambers. It was a large, open room built in a circular style that left little place to hide. If someone were to want to find her, she would be found. It was only a matter of time, evidentially, as the echoing footsteps drew nearer and Rachel's grip on the sword inexplicably tightened. A gruesome image flashed through her head of herself being thrown dungeons, her shattered screams piercing the suffocated air with no response but echoes of her own terror. Her knuckles went white and a face peered around the corner where she stood. She raised the sword in what was hopefully considered a calm way. 
"Step back," she said softly, "Forget you saw anything, and nobody will get hurt."
The man stared at her, his eyebrows receding into his own greying hairline. His dark eyes glinted with humour as he stared her down. "Put down the sword, you will undoubtedly injure yourself."
Rachel felt a familiar troublesome sense of justice surge within her. "I shan't hurt myself!" she exclaimed, "Remember with whom you are speaking!" Rachel's eyes flittered closed as soon as the comment left her mouth, every fibre of her being screaming "STUPID", as the man's eyes glimmered again.
"And with whom am I speaking?" he asked.
Rachel bristled, "I could very well ask you the same question!"
The man nodded thoughtfully, "They call me Regan."
"Regan?" Rachel replied, incredulous, "That's an awfully strange name."
Regan did not grace the comment with a response, instead simply repeated, "With whom am I speaking?”
Rachel sighed and shifted awkwardly. "I am Rachel." she told him, she figured that her identity was still well-concealed, after all there was more than a singular Rachel in the land.
“Tell me, Rachel,” he inclined an eyebrow at her, “Why should I remember that I am speaking to you? You are a servant, are you not?”
Rachel frowned ever so slightly. “What else could I be, Regan?”
The man cocked his head to the side, “Judging by the way you hold that sword,” he tipped his head toward Rachel’s expert hold on the weapon. “The way you hold yourself, how you behaved the previous night with the knight, how you are behaving now.”
Rachel raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow, “How am I behaving now?” 
Regan evaluated her, “Well, for one, you are looking me directly in the eye, not the typical behaviour of a servant, Rachel.” he put an emphasis on her name that made her feel as though he knew all of her secrets. “It is, however, the behaviour of somebody else. A Lady, a Duke’s kin to be particular. Lady Rachel,” he mused, “has a familiar ring to it, do you not think?”
At Rachel’s startled expression, he offered her a wry smile. “You honestly cannot believe you hid it well?” 
A sunset dusted across her cheeks as her hands entwined with themselves. Her eyes flittered to the ground, a rueful smile written across her face. "Actually," she drew out, her lip caught between her teeth in a habit so familiar, she ceased to recognize when she partook in it. 
Regan looked thoroughly amused at Rachel’s embarrassment. Her cheeks stained darker, flushed like red wine.
Regan's laugh echoed throughout the empty chambers. Rachel's cheeks painted themselves darker. Regan quickly sobered up however and his face fell into the grim lines that were so recognizable to all that he had associated with. "Lady Rachel, dare I even ask why you are here?"
Rachel's fair skin had always been a dead give-away when she was embarrassed, she lit up like a candle, but in all honesty this was getting slightly ridiculous. "You see," she blathered in a desperate attempt to produce a lie elaborate enough to explain just why exactly she was in the knight's chambers. "It's a fantastic, interesting tale….” she rambled, 
"Rachel." Regan, thankfully, cut through her feeble attempts . "I meant why are you at Imperial? Should you not be with your father at Blackcoast?"
Rachel felt her heart drop to her stomach, her mouth suddenly in desperate need for something soothing. Regan stared at her cautiously, waiting for an answer, but her tongue was ensnared within her mouth, motionless with a shattering lack of words. Her eyes grew wide, the green giving way to black, as her breath quickened slightly. Her shaking hands pressed hard against her thigh, the answer pushing against her quivering lips, as Regan watched on with growing concern. "My father is dead." she finally spat out unceremoniously.
Regan stilled as his mind raced to catch up to the information he had just been fed. His first thought was a selfish one; for the kingdom’s fate, for his own, if the Prince were to proceed in his plans. His second, however, was a thought for the woman in front of him, merely a trembling child, shocked to the core with a loss that she’d yet to come to terms with. He made as though he was going to reach for her
and Rachel recoiled violently, scowling as she wiped brutally at the tears that clung persistently to her lower eyelashes. Regan's hands stopped short of any comforting gesture, instead they gingerly extracted the sword from Rachel's trembling hands. She let go willingly, her eyes filling with salty tears like a rising waterline, her stubbornness the only thing keeping them from spilling over. Regan's heart nearly stopped.
"I'm here because I'm seeking revenge."
This time, it actually did stop, missing a beat. He assumed his expression must have been pretty amusing as Rachel, in spite of her choked tears, released a tiny chuckle.
Her face quickly snapped back to the impassive expression she possessed before.  "I'm seeking revenge from the man who killed my  father. The king." 
“The king?” Regan replied, incredulous, his eyebrows furrowed. 
“Yes.” Rachel said, her body visually relaxed from the tense stand she had earlier. She leaned against the windowsill, dropping herself onto it and swung her legs back and forth like she used to as a child. 
“How do you know he murdered your father?” he asked, his mind straying to the image of the pale, sickly king lying on his death bed. 
Rachel looked up at him through her eyelashes,  she felt as though this was a test. “Well, perhaps not him necessarily. It was somebody with access to the royal seal and, by extension, the King’s assassin. I saw the crest imprinted on the jacket of the man who killed my father.”
Regan’s first thought was once of upmost disappointment in the men he had trained, mostly for following the orders of the crazed Prince without question, yet also for doing it with such a utter disregard for caution. It was simply foolish of the assassin to allow the Royal crest to be so easily viewable, it completely went against any stable rules they had managed to scrape together before Regan’s injury. He subconsciously rubbed at his calf, his fingers seeking the familiar scar that resides as the only reminder of the arrow that had put an end to Regan’s stealthy movements, essential to that of any assassin, let alone a King’s
Regan sighed heavily and moved to sit next to her, “Do not jump to conclusions, Rachel. Never assume anything when dealing with this particular Royal family. They like to scheme, I should know, I worked with them for many years.”
Rachel eyed him suspiciously, “You worked for them?” 
“Work,” Regan corrected, “and I can assure you the King had nothing to do with this. He may want power, but he would never go to that extreme, not in his rule nor on his death bed.”
Rachel faltered. Her entire crusade had been powered by the belief that she had been wronged by the King, now she did not know what to think. “But if he did nothing then who would? The Queen?”
“Heavens no!” Regan exclaimed, “The Queen would never! She is kind and gentle, she could not have.” Regan gave her an apprehensive look, “It was the Prince.”
Rachel paused, her mind whizzing, she was compelled to believe him, but they’d only just met, and Rachel was not so irresponsible to trust everyone on face value. At least, not anymore. “Do not jump to conclusions, Regan.” she echoed his previous statement.
Regan sighed, “I heard him.” he said, frustrated that he must explain himself to someone. He was used to his word being taken as fact. Rachel, however, was not from this region and had no reason to believe him. Furthermore, she was a noble and he was of a lower ranking to her. He sighed, yet again, and elaborated further at her bemused expression. "The Prince's plan is simple, Lady Rachel, he wishes to rule all of the regions, as they once were."
Rachel's eyebrows lowered further, "As it once was? Surely you do not mean Winterbank?"
Winterbank, many years ago, had been what the country they currently lived in was called. The regions had fallen into war and chaos under the king's iron fist and it split into eight regions. Imperial, Blackcoast, Castlehedge, Northmill, Medowvale, Erifield, Freydale and Baymoor. The simple idea of revoking the regions and reinstating the country was plain stupidity.
"Yes." Regan spoke, "I most certainly do."
Rachel frowned, "We can't let him do that!" she exclaimed, momentarily forgetting her own anger at the Prince and feeling more of compassion and worry for her friends and the people of the country. "If the land is to be reinstated it could only be under rule of the fairest, most just king. Prince Arrington, excuse my treason, is most definitely not that!"
Regan nodded, "Agreed. He simply cannot go along with these plans! But I have not the power nor the position to stop him." he looked at her expectantly.
"No, no, no, no, no!" Rachel hurried, realising exactly what he meant. "I cannot defeat him on my own!"
"I am not asking you to defeat him! I'm asking you to help me foil his plans. I will retrain you in diplomacy and sword fighting." he paused, remembering Rachel's expert hold on the sword. "Or, maybe, you will retrain me, we'll see. I have a plan based around the information I overheard. Are you in?"
Rachel stilled, her back pressed up against the cool window, her lip caught in her teeth. "I'm in." she said before she could second guess herself.

 

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