It would be easy to kill him now. My fingers twitched around the hilt of my blade as a bead of sweat rolled down my spine. I'd been waiting for this moment for hours and yet I held back. Patience. I watched the prince pace his room as the sun set through his window. Back and forth with a look that told me he was far away... and then he stopped. It was as if the world stood still in this moment and barely a whisper of sound came from his cloak as it swept past his feet. At the same moment, a swift breeze blew the curtain at his back and the last remaining rays of sun dimmed from existence. If only I'd realised that it hadn't been a breeze at all.
A week ago I was tasked with the assassination of Prince Kale, heir to the throne of Duskview Valley and it's kingdom. I walked the streets cloaked as most do. I grabbed a moonfruit from a stall and flipped the merchant a coin as we eyed each other. The nights were busy in the marketplace, but he took a moment to step aside.
"Hunter." I said as greeting, taking a small assessing bite. "Your fruit is getting rather luscious." He smirked. It annoyed me. His lean body bowed towards me, putrid breath hovering above my lips.
"As is the price." He returned, holding out his dirty fingers. I held back my growl.
"Unlike your attitude." I tossed him another coin as he stepped back; I held my ground. He chuckled once and sighed deeply. He irked my patience.
"The nights are long, Asada." He eyed me warily.
"That is common knowledge." I took a step towards him and he spoke quickly.
"No, no- I mean longer. They grow longer as time passes. The shadows grow thick in the mountains." I took a moment to consider. He seemed more on edge than usual. His eyes looked tired, and his body worn. My eyes narrowed.
"Not possible. Things have been this way for nearly one hundred years. Celebrations commence of the new crowning on the very annivers- " My eyes widened. He nodded slowly.
"What a coincidence." It slid of his tongue with a slow hiss. A cold shiver went down my spine.
"What do you know." I spoke harshly. "Tell. Me." My grip on his shoulder was firm enough to remind him who I was. He looked at me gravely.
"A beautiful and deadly place with the darkest secrets and the thickest shadows... You could say that dusk is the only time the illusion of beauty is faintly real. The night is long and the day is short. The night is longer and the day is shorter."
"Tsch! Riddles?!" I raised a blade, a flicker of light glinting in to his eye. "Speak clearly."
"Duskview Valley is trapped within mountains too treacherous for the people to traverse. Few know its paths and its secrets and those that do tread lightly. Regardless of being in such a location, this city thrives... Haven't you ever wondered why?" My eyes widened. "I know nothing else, princess."
"Funny." I turned to leave.
"Take this as a message. Things are changing." I paused. Kale stepped closer and slipped me a note. I read it as I faded back in to the flow of the marketplace.
Blood on the new moon. I'd been observing him for weeks but reading it set my heart to jitter mode. The order had been given. I wasn't to understand only to obey however I am not naive. The Blood Assassins have a plan and I want to know what.
The leopard stalked me. Its' mottled grey and black spotted fur was flat against its' back, melding in to the shadows surrounding us. I stalked her. We eyed each other steadily as we circled slowly. I tensed and she pounced on me before I could do more than flinch. I hit the ground and knocked my head. I felt a cold raspy tongue on my face before I pushed her away.
"Alright Maiya, you win." I sighed as the dull ache on the back of my head reminded me how much more I had to train. I scratched her ear and stared in to her eyes. I could get lost in their green depths.
"Stop staring." She growled, as her large paw nudged me. "You nearly moved that time. You're getting faster. Shall we try again?"
"No. I think you've done enough damage for today." I rubbed my head and smiled. "Are you coming with me on this mission?"
"You don't need me for this one." She nuzzled my side anyway. "Don't take it lightly though."
"You better not take it lightly Asada." A bored voice echoed from the corner.
"Beau. How long have you been there?" He swaggered confidently over and put a hand on Maiyas' head. She growled a warning and he turned to me and shrugged.
"Long enough to see you're not taking your task seriously. The sun is already rising and tonight is the new moon." He gave me a sharp look. "Best be on your way." He turned and left. I didn't realise my whole body had been tense until he left. I relaxed, without putting my guard down.
"I better go. See you soon Maiya." I gave her head a hug, which took both my arms to do. She whacked me with her heavy tail affectionately.
"Be careful. I mean it. I don't like Beau and never have. It is a strange night approaching." Her tail twitched as her eyes glowed softly. I nodded, a little confused and heading for the door and began to go over my plans.
I couldn't help but wonder what he was troubled over. Pacing back and forth as I watched, tense and unmoving. Then it didn't matter anymore. He was on the ground and someone... something was on top of him. I moved. More precisely I flew. Straight for it without thinking. Mistake? I don't think I'll ever know the answer to that one. The dark shadow was definitely more solid than a shadow. It came crashing to the ground with me and took the pointy end of my dagger in the chest. I jumped back to assess. The prince was staring at it. I turned back just in time to get a face full of black shadow. I hit the floor and my head for the second time that day.
"Child of the moon!" It screeched with rows of black slimy teeth in my face. "You will die!" It hissed. It's acrid breath stung my skin as my eyes watered. I fumbled for another blade as my brain tried to un-fuzzy itself. Jab. I hit it with another dagger in the side. It screeched and jumped away. I was up before it could land and threw another at it - this one to the head. A hand grabbed my arm. I looked in to the eyes of my target and paused. Those green eyes.
"Run!" He began to pull and I stumbled.
"What in hell-" An ear-piercing screech made me wince, but it was the other screeches I heard that made me run. I let him lead me out the door and then took over. He may live here but I was the assassin. I knew where to hide.
"This way." We ran. Or I ran and pulled. "Keep up!" I yelled hurriedly. I needed answers before I let him die. I wound us through the castle hallways and down to the lower levels. This unused section of the castle was dark but had many old rooms no longer used. I led him to one indistinguishable from the others and shut the door as quickly and quietly as I could. I only gave him a moment to recover before pushing him against the wall and holding a longer knife to his throat. "What in hell was that? Explain. Now." I put all the conviction I could in to my whispered tones.
"Not something simply explained." He stood his ground. I knew he would.
"Damn it all." I muttered. He was staring at me with those vibrant eyes again. "What?" I said a bit too loudly.
"Why were you in my wardrobe?" My eyes widened and I let him go.
"That's what you want to know? At a time like this?" Now I was pacing. I had to avoid staring. He was unnerving me. Why hadn't I noticed before?
"You are a part of what just happened, are you not?" He rebutted. I huffed. I took a few paces to think.
"Have you ever seen that before?"
"Yes. Never that close though." His honest answer caught me off guard. He was still staring. "What were you doing in my wardrobe? Did you need some nicer clothes?" He smirked. Was he really trying to joke with me? I sighed and stopped pacing to sit beside him. I stared at him and didn't waver.
"I came to kill you." He didn't even blink at first. I narrowed my eyes. "You knew?"
"I figured they'd send someone after me." He shrugged. "I've seen you before." I frowned.
"No you haven't."
"Yes. I have.
"At the dance. Four days ago. Those bright eyes can't hide in a crowd. I'm hurt that you want to kill me though."
"I didn- don't... I follow orders." Me? Struggling for words? I pulled my knife to fiddle with, avoiding eye contact. I wasn't able to go anywhere at the moment and dead bodies smelt. I could wait a little longer before killing him. He cleared his throat.
"What is your na-"
"None of your business." I snapped.
"If you're going to kill me anyway, it doesn't matter does it?" I stared at him hard for a moment and went back to fiddling. "Ok, Bright Eyes. Why were you sent to kill me? Surely you can tell me that." I remained silent. "You don't know do you?" I didn't. I'd spent the entire week between surveying the prince and digging for information. I guess my split attention had badly impeded on this task. I made note not to do that next time... if I got out of this.
"Alright Princeling. What in hell is going on?"
"Why would I tell you? You're going to kill me."
"Exactly." Another staring competition. I gave in.
"My name is Asada. I'm an assassin from the Blood Assassins and I do what I'm told."
"Why do you care?"
"I'm not asking for me right now." I put my forehead in my hand. "Are you alright? You hit the floor pretty hard." I stiffened.
"I'm fine." I grumbled. "It'll take more than that to take me down."
"Good. I need your help." I looked up.
"To do what exactly?" It wouldn't have mattered how much my head hurt, or how compelling his eyes were. In that moment his words sunk in to me with a certainty I would have called fate if I believed in that.
"Take back my kingdom."