The spy turned around, and his face remained expressionless as he headed over to Rubin.
"What did you find out?" he asked the spy.
"They're not expecting us to attack yet," Krig replied. "I recommend that we engage in combat as soon as possible."
Rubin nodded. "Thanks, Krig. I'll go tell Lux and Axel now. Want to come?"
The spy tilted his head, and a few strands of his shaggy blonde hair fell across his face. "Very well."
That was one of his favourite things to say, Rubin had noticed - he seemed to use that phrase a lot.
"You're always so formal, Krig. How come?"
"I suppose it's an old habit," Krig replied. It was strange - he looked like the sort of person who'd act completely rebelliously, and speak without even the briefest knowledge of manners. His messy, uncut mane of blonde hair and old, worn leather coat made him seem almost like one of those bandits who spoke and acted like they'd been raised in the slums of Haven's capital.
Krig could not be more different to them.
He spoke almost like a refined noble, withholding all emotion, acting like a mindless tool for spying. Rubin did not see him as such. Krig seemed like he was emotionless, but nobody could be completely without feelings. Even the spy. It was what interested Rubin, what drew him to the spy with all his obscurity and mystery. Rubin had always liked the enigmatic, and so Krig made him curious.
"An old habit, huh? Where'd you get that from?"
"Confidential," Krig replied. Rubin raised an eyebrow beneath his mask, laughing.
"You like being secretive and all that stuff? I guess you are a spy, after all."
Rubin raised his hand in dismissal. "Sure, whatever. How long do you think it'll take us to get ready for the attack on the royal family?"
Krig thought for a moment. "If we work hard, hopefully not long."
Nodding, Rubin headed up the stairs, with Krig following, a soundless shadow behind him. He remembered fighting alongside Krig. To say the least, it had been fun. He'd been sent a message from Vipera, telling him to back up one of the spies, and, two hours later, they'd been destroying enemies together, both of them armed with speed and ruthless skill.
They were different, obviously, but they worked together so well it was almost startling.
Rubin cleared the last two steps, heading along another of the castle's corridors and knocking on one of the doors. Without waiting for a reply, he sauntered in, sitting down at the table. Axel - it was weird not calling him Silver - glared at him from the chair beside Lux's, while Skala acknowledged his arrival with a simple nod. Lux smiled brightly at him, and Rubin tugged off his mask while Krig closed the door behind them.
"You're late, assassin."
"No point in rushing things. By the way, Lux, I've returned that healing mage like you asked me to. I still think we should have killed her, but she'll probably be too scared to talk anyway," Rubin shrugged.
"Thank you for taking her back. She did help us, after all," Lux said. "Has anybody had any thoughts on when we should attack the Haven royals?"
He was so formal now. It was weird obeying the youngest, most innocent-looking person in the room, but he'd been taught to lead from the moment of his birth. It shocked him just how good Lux was at leading, though of course, he was an Arsenio. They'd been the ultimate rulers of Disan, and looking at the prince, Rubin could definitely see why they'd earned that reputation.
"Krig's been spying, and he thinks we should attack as soon as we can. They're not expecting that, so we can take them by surprise and strike easily. They might have Haven's army, it's not loyal." Rubin grinned. "If we can attack before they get the chance to order their army to defend them, we can gain control of the military, and we might as well have won. Then we'll just need to kill the royal family and their most loyal servants. Sound good?"
Lux nodded. "That seems like a good plan. How long do you think it will take us to prepare?"
"Aren't the Golden Flame always meant to be prepared for something like this?" Axel asked dubiously. Rubin shrugged non-committally.
"Meant to be is very different from the truth. The Golden Flame would probably want a big breakfast, and some of that soup you seem to love so much, and then they'd want better weapons..."
"We'll probably share out most of our money and ensure they're armed as well as they can be," Lux nodded. "Hopefully, it shouldn't take more than a few days."
"Agreed," Rubin nodded. "We'll give them a time limit. People hate time limits. I usually hate them too, but I ,for one, cannot wait to attack. How much will go into buying them weapons?"
"As much as we can spare," Lux replied, and Rubin tried not to pout. That could have been his money the prince was giving away...
"We get a big pay rise when we win, right?"
Lux laughed, smiling at him.
Rubin grinned. "You're much better than Vipera already."
"Thank you," Lux nodded. "But I'm going to lead them from the front line. I definitely won't cower behind everybody else, and you four all seem to be the strongest of the Golden Flame." The prince stood, his expression hardening. "I ask of you all, will you all join me in leading them?"
"You don't have to ask," Axel replied without pause. Skala nodded.
"I'm in, as well."
"More money, right?" Rubin grinned.
Lux laughed, and nodded. "Naturally."
"In that case, count me in!" he grinned.
"Thank you," Lux replied, bowing his head. "Krig?"
The spy nodded without expression, and Lux grinned.
"Great! We can get the message out that they've all got two days to get themselves to the Shade and get themselves everything they need. I'll make sure somebody sorts through the money by tonight, and I'll discuss how much to give each person later. Rubin, would you help me with that?"
Rubin grinned. "Money? Lux, you didn't have to ask."
Gratefully, the prince returned his grin. "Good. Krig, could you try to get me a good plan of the royal castle, and where the royals and anybody important will be?"
"Very well," Krig replied. There it was - his favourite line, coming up again.
"Thanks. Axel, Skala, is there anything in particular you think you'd like to do?"
It was, surprisingly, Skala who spoke. Another thing that was strange - seeing Axel's shadow speaking. Her voice was melodic, like a lullaby, only stronger.
"We would be capable of stealing you supplies and weapons," Skala told him. "The shadow-voyage makes us perfect for thievery."
Lux nodded thoughtfully. "For now, just steal money and jewels from some of the royal vaults. Rubin, I'll see you by the vaults in two hours. We'll need to delegate people to count whatever we take so we can split it evenly," he said, thinking quickly. Axel nodded, but Rubin couldn't miss the glint of concern in his eyes.
"Lux, you'll need an escort. If Vipera has anybody here..."
He didn't finish, and he didn't have to.
Rubin stood, grinning. "Lux, it would be my pleasure to make up your personal guard for today."
The prince looked to him gratefully. "Thank you, Rubin. Is everybody clear?"
There was a mumble of consent from the dark mages and a simple nod from Krig. Rubin grinned, beaming at Lux.
"Don't worry," the prince added. "I'll give you a few extra coins for your offer."
The two of them laughed, almost like old friends rather than prince and assassin, and then Lux started to walk towards the door. Before Rubin could follow, Axel caught his wrist in an iron grip.
"Do not fail him." His eyes were deadly serious. "If you do, I will kill you, assassin."
Rubin grinned. "Don't worry, amateur! You can get back to cuddling together later tonight, okay?"
To Rubin's delight, Axel's face turned crimson rather than flooding with anger.
"Wait, have you actually-"
"Shut up, assassin."
Rubin sniggered, grinning, as Axel stormed from the room.