In her dream, Nisha was flying. A pair of black, glimmering wings stretched out from her shoulders. Her arms reached out before her, grasping whisps of the clouds in her hands and pulling them close to her chest, to feel the soft, cotton-like texture of them.
Below, the city of Marakan was bustling in the daylight. She swooped down for a closer look, gliding over the city to the docks on the eastern side of the land. She flew lower still and her hands cupped down to take some of the water below. She laughed and tossed the cool, salty water over her head, letting the crystal clear droplets sprinkle down over her as she flew.
She would have continued dreaming and flying had someone not begun shaking her by the shoulders. "Nisha!" She heard. "Nisha Alteira, get up right now!" Nisha's dream faded and she was left in the dim sparkle-laden darkness behind her eyelids.
"Nisha!" The voice was that of her younger sister, Devi. Her voice sounded irritated. Sleepily, Nisha opened one eye. "Yes, Devi?" Nisha's voice was deep with exhaustion. "It's Sole day!" Devi cried, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at Nisha. Both eyes were opened and Nisha studied her sister. Devi was two years younger than Nisha. Both had the same tan skin, although Devi had plain brown eyes.
Nisha was regarded as a true beauty due to her silver eyes, curvy body, and pleasant demeanor. Her sister was nearly the opposite. Although considered pretty, she was fiery, impatient, and only fourteen years old. She was thick bodied and strong, although she didn't have very many curves, ("in the right places" as the men of town always said).
Nisha was sixteen and of age for marriage, making her attractive to any and all males. Devi was just annoying and it seemed as though no one wanted her. Nisha was jealous of Devi for that reason. It was better to be unwanted and left to slide into the masses, able to do whatever one pleased.
"Okay... So it's Sole day. We're not five anymore, Devi." Her sister rolled her eyes. "Sole day is the best day of all, though! We get to dance and we get presents! And most of all," Devi waggled her eyebrows, smirking. "We get to meet boys!"
Nisha groaned and turned onto her back, away from Devi, throwing her arm over her eyes. Boys were the only more annoying thing to Nisha than Devi. "I hate boys, Devi. You know that."
"No, you don't!" Devi insisted, leaning over and poking her sister on the shoulder indignantly. "Come on! Get out of bed, get dressed, have breakfast, and let's have some fun!" Nisha shook her head. "I told mother that I'd help her weave today." Devi huffed and pouted, although Nisha didn't see. "Still, you've got to get dressed!" Nisha nodded. "I know that. If you get out of here, I will."
Nisha heard Devi stomp out of the room and the door slammed shut. Nisha breathed a sigh of relief and removed her arm from her eyes. Slowly, she sat up and pushed her feet over the edge of her bed. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and stood, unsteadily at first. She was still exhausted from the night before. She sighed, reminiscent of the tiresome actions she'd had to complete the night before and how sore she now was, since she wasn't used to such jobs as that of the careful murder of an aristocrat. Normally, the target's demise didn't require running atop rooftops or scaling buildings and jumping through open windows.
That Esh Beona really had deserved it, though.
Nisha stretched her arms out and cracked her wrists, wincing at the loud noise they made. She stumbled over to her wardrobe, grasped a dress, and threw it on. Well, she would have but she had to take of her night gown first. She sighed and removed the article of clothing. The dress was then slipped over her head and fell down over her body, curving into her body at all the right places. The dress was a plain, everyday dress. It was sapphire colored with long, snugly fitting sleeves and was so long that it fell down over her bare feet.
Yawning, Nisha trudged to the mirror a few feet away and began combing her long, silky, onyx hair, which reached down to the middle of her back. After combing it, she twisted it into a bun and managed to pin it into place, as she did every morning. Walking over to the door of her bedroom, Nisha slid into a pair of flat, black shoes and then walked out the door.
Downstairs, at breakfast, her mother, father, and sister sat around the circular table, eating the usual morning porridge. Her father had a glass of ale by his bowl of porridge. As she walked into the dinning room, her mother looked up, raising an eyebrow. Nisha nodded and her mother rose from the table. Her father looked at her mother. "Where are you going, Vimala?" Her mother, Vimala, smiled. "Weaving. Nisha said she would help me weave today."
Nisha received a suspicious glance from her father. "Aren't you hungry, Ni?" Her father asked, using what he thought was an adorable name for his precious daughter to address her. Nisha shook her head, plastering a small smile on her lips. "No, father. I'm not hungry, so I'll eat later. Aren't you and Devi going to today's festivities?" Devi shot Nisha a dirty look out of the corner of her eye. The younger sister would be unable to talk to any boys, much less flirt with them, if her father accompanied her to the Sole day festivities.
"Ah, yes. I forgot." He turned his attention to Devi. "We'll go as soon as you finish eating, if you like." Devi nodded, still glaring at Nisha. Nisha felt her lips curl into a slightly smirk. Her mother walked back upstairs and Nisha followed. Once upstairs, her mother quickened her pace and the two women hurried to the room where the weaving loom was found.
Nisha and her mother entered and her mother locked the door behind them. She closed the windows, pulling the thick, dark curtains down over the glass. The room became dark for a moment until a candle was lit by Nisha. They stared at each other for a moment, the darkness surrounding them, the lighting casting deep shadows into their faces. Nisha wondered at how her mother looked so much older than normal in the shadow lighting. "How was it?" Her mother finally said.
Nisha thought for a moment. "The upgrade Shandar made was successful. I had more time than usual. Esh Beona has gone to the world of the ancient ancestors with no more than the sound of steam escaping through the roof." Her mother breathed a sigh of relief. "And you are sure no one saw you?"
Nisha nodded. "Absolutely. I swear to Hamasu." Her mother frowned. "Do not swear upon His holy name, Nisha." Nisha bit her lip, slouching and becoming smaller under her mother's piercing gaze. "I'm sorry." Her mother nodded. "It's fine. There is already another job for you." Nisha straightened up at the news.
Her mother smiled. "I knew you'd be interested. It is all in the interest of helping the people that you do this, Nisha. It is not out of any pleasure you may gain of it. Remember that always." Nisha nodded. She knew better than anyone of the pain the people suffered. She shivered, remembering the day of horror all those years ago. The memory was shaken from her mind as quickly as it surfaced.
"What's the job?"
"It's quite lengthy. Two deaths are required. The death of Gita Hiraseta, the wife of Kishore Hiraseta, and the death of Jaya Hiraseta, the eldest daughter of Kishore." Nisha cringed at the thought of killing two women, particularly someone's daughter.
"What injustice have they committed?"
"Gita is the puppeteer behind her husband's actions. He takes money to satisfy her needs. It is the same with Jaya. She, too, has Kishore wrapped around her finger." Nisha's face hardened. The feeling of pity over killing a young woman, possibly her age, left her instantly. "One takes advantage of her husband and the other takes advantage of her father." Her mother nodded. Nisha sighed. "Should I go tonight?"
"It is best to go as soon as possible." Nisha nodded and thought for a moment. "Tonight. I will strike tonight. I know where the house is. I have heard it spoken of." Her mother closed her eyes and mumbled a few words, a prayer for the safety of Nisha directed at Hamasu. Her eyes snapped open and she blew out the candle. Nisha heard her mother shuffle around the room and open the thick curtains that had covered the window. Light streamed into the room and Nisha winced. She blinked so that her eyes would adjust to the bright light.
Her mother pulled a seat up to the loom a few feet from were Nisha sat. "Come, daughter. Let us weave now." The two women began to weave. As they wove, Nisha's mind wandered. Her mother interrupted her thoughts twenty minutes into their work, whispering softly.
"Beware, Nisha. Gita has a small daughter of about seven years of age. Do not harm her, or you will find yourself running from the wrath of Kishore Hiraseta."