An Assassin's Loyalties

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Chapter Three

Aela’s face.

It was the only thing that kept Sazami from thrusting a dagger down the king’s throat. Her face shows a little concern, but not surprise or a grin that tells of betrayal.

It is what makes Sazami keep her weapons at her sides as she dodges the first guard’s sword.

Inhaling deeply, she whirls around and strikes, ramming her fist into his arm, sending the blade soaring through the air. In the same breath, her palm hits his left arm, knocking it aside, too. As he staggers back, her leg comes up, and the guard’s eyes bulge as her foot slams into his chest. Pleasure fills her as she feels the air leave his lungs and he’s sent flying back towards the dais, his body flipping over itself before stopping at the base of the stairs.

It shouldn’t surprise her that the King launched his available guards at her. It’s a form of test, to see if her skills are as authentic as rumors claim. Of course they are, she is Sazami Altileth gods be damned!

Keeping her sword sheathed at her side, Sazami senses the second guard reaching her and side-steps out of the way with maddening ease. Whirling low, she kicks his feet out from under him. Before he even has the chance to fall to the ground, Sazami hurls her knee up, nailing the man in the diaphragm, then clapping her hands together like a mace, she whacks the side of his head, sending him skipping and rolling.

The third guard’s sword comes too close, forcing her to draw her daggers to block the blade aimed for her neck. Pushing off, Sazami grunts and spins fast, her blades actually slicing into the guard’s armor, leaving clear scratches on the breastplate. The royal family all shift in their seats, Aela biting her lip. Ramming her shoulder into the man’s sternum, he stumble back and Sazami pounces, leaping onto his shoulders, locking her ankles around his neck and twisting, hurling herself downward so the man’s head bangs into the marble floor.

She rolls out of the way of the fourth guard’s sword, the tip of the blade slicing into her cloak, pinning a piece to the floor. Sheathing her blades, Sazami brings up her fists near her face and grins. The guard pries the sword loose and raises it high. She charges and her fists fire off like vipers, knocking aside the man’s sword, thrusting the heel of her palm into his nose, and grabbing his wrist and snatching the blade. A kick to the side and he’s on the floor, curled into a ball.

Sazami leaps back, summersaulting backwards and pushing herself up into the air, landing on the back of Aela’s throne chair.

Everyone tenses. The fourth guard’s nose is leaking blood, while the others lie sprawled on the floor. Captain Gregory’s eyes are slightly wider, his hand still on the hilt of his sword.

Rising from her crouched position, Sazami tosses aside the guard’s toothpick piece of steal aside and draws one of the swords from her back. The metal whistles, glistening in the light as it’s unveiled from its sheath. Orvryn steel; the best kind there is.

Sazami purposely lowers her hand so that the point of the blade sits just above Aela’s shoulder. The edge is just a mere inch from Aela’s ear; one flick of the wrist and it’s gone. The princess swallows, her nostrils flaring. In other situations, this would be where bloodshed happens, but it’s clear the king still wants her employment.

He wants a show, he’ll get one.

In a flash, Sazami launches herself at the men. This time, metal clangs and the dance begins again. Reveling in the adrenaline, Sazami allows herself to get lost in the swordplay. To her, swordplay it like dancing; each step follows an unheard tune, and they have to be smooth and precise, or the entire dance is ruined. Remembering the techniques of her uncle, her heartbeat is steady, her breathing even. She is careful of her mask and hood as sweat begins to permeate around her nose and on her forehead.

The weapon is an extension of her arm. Her cape flows around her, not once getting caught on any blades. She moves like a black wind, with such lethal grace and swiftness. Like a wraith moving through mist.

As she blocks the blade of her sixth opponent, another guard comes up behind her, shoving her into the man’s frame causing her to drop her sword. He brings his arms down, locking her in with a thick spear. Sazami thrashes, but the man’s arms are bolted. As the seventh comes charging, Sazami growls and grabs the middle of the spear. She stomps on her holder’s foot, loosening his grip and allowing her to careen him over herself. Taking the spear in hand, she spins it effortlessly above and around her head and neck gracefully before pointing the sharp end at the guard’s neck.

“Enough.” King Jared finally speaks.

With slight anger still left, Sazami jerks her head towards the king, glaring. She spins the spear once more before stabbing it into the guard’s torso. It catches on the leather belt around his waist, narrowly missing him.

“Well that was a fine greeting.” She growls, stomping back towards the dais. Captain Gregory is already mirroring her movements, ready to block her path. Sazami stops just short of the dais, the remnants of her anger slowly growing. She’s sweaty now and the heat of her mask is suffocating. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t rip you apart.”

“I would think you assassins were used to surprise tests.” King Jared says, his voice laced with boredom. “I wanted to make sure you lived up to your expectations.”

Sazami snarls behind her mask. “Well thank you for wasting my time. Goodnight.”

Turning away from the royal family, she glides her way towards the doors. She uses her foot to kick up her Orvryn sword and slides it into its sheath.

“Please Mistress Altileth,” the Queen suddenly speaks. Sazami looks to the Queen, stunning in an ice-blue gown, her silver crown around her brown curly hair. Her eyes are the same blue as her gown, a desperation swimming inside them. “We need your help.” Her voice makes it almost sound like she’s begging.

A moment of silence. “You better have a damn good reason.” Sazami says, lightening her tone. She shakes her head walking back towards the thrones. Captain Gregory is still watching her.

Queen Eleanor folds her hands in her lap. “We’ve been receiving some disturbing messages about several citizens going missing.”

“Well I can assure you it wasn’t by my hand. When a citizen goes missing by me, you’ll find them again.” She casually shrugs.

The Queen spares her a smile. “So far from what Captain Gregory has acquired, they’re from the lower districts of Valinor, but it wasn’t until a young woman – the daughter of a duke in Kuya – went missing.”

“So you simply want me to find missing people? What do you find the respectable Captain of the Guard lacking so this simple task?”

“Watch your tone, assassin.” Gregory growls. Sazami turns to him, returning his glare.

“There’s more to it I’m afraid, Mistress Altileth.” Queen Eleanor continues. She rises from her seat, everyone shifting. Even the king is about to say something, but the Queen motions her hand for him to stay seated. Aela is slightly surprised as well.

Sazami tucks her hands in the pockets of her pants as the Queen comes down the steps. Each of the guards she thrashed slowly rising up. Hopefully they won’t take it too personally.

“Her body was found,” says the Queen. As if waiting for their cue, two more guards come in, holding the handles of a wooden cart. Sazami’s heart skips when she spots the cloth-covered lump sprawled along the back.

Despite her mask, she could smell the sickening odor as the men bring the cart closer. Looking to Aela, her eyes are wide, hand covering her mouth. Sazami noticed that her hair is down now. Left in its natural wavy texture, it just passes her shoulders.

The men set down the cart, the Queen giving them a terse nod. One guard nods back and reaches a meaty hand towards the cloth, pulling it back.

Behind the cloth, Sazami’s eyes widen, Aela giving voice to her shock; gasping as the corpse of the alleged young woman is revealed. Sazami can’t even call her a woman anymore; she looks more like something from a dark fairytale story she’s so heinous in appearance.

Skeletal in appearance, the girl’s skin is pale grey, looking as if it’s been pulled taught against her body. Her spine has been disfigured, resulting in a hunchback appearance. Her teeth are sharp and jagged, protruding from her gums, her jaw looking unhinged. Her limbs are longer than anything human, nails long and bony knuckles clutched together with her tucked in arms. She looks as if she was frozen in the midst of a howl or a death scream. Her eyes are milky white, the iris looking as if it is shielded by frosted glass. She has no hair, only slight strands growing on liver spots on her scalp. Gross scabs leak puss and spits of blood, the overwhelming smell making Sazami’s throat bob ready to cough.

She clears her throat as the Queen backs away, her hand covering her mouth, coughs of disgust tightening her throat. The guards back away as Sazami rounds the wooden cart, wanting to look at the creature/woman from all angles.

“Hard to believe she was once human.” Sazami speaks.

“This is the only body we’ve recovered.” Queen Eleanor says. “At least, for our kingdom.”

“Have you told the mother?”

“Yes. But we wanted you to see the body first before we send it back to Kuya, just so you have an idea on what the alleged killer is capable of.”

Sazami leans in towards the body, swallowing down the bitter odor, her stomach unsettling. There don’t seem to be any signs of lacerations, no stab wounds nor slashes near or around the torso.

“How did she die?” Sazami asks.

“We have assumptions, but we’d like to hear your briefing of the body. The guard’s merely found her by the border of Orvryn and Kuya.” Says the King.

For a moment, Sazami blocks out the king and queen, even the body before her at the sounds of Orvryn. Her homeland. On impulsive desire, she has to restrain herself from agreeing to this contract just yet. Still, she imagines seeing the gorgeous blue skies, the gleaming white buildings of her country. She could go home, even for the briefest amount of time, even if it’s under the duty of the king, she could go home.

“Miss Altileth?” the queen chirps up. Sazami looks to her, clears her throat and turns her attention back to the body.

“Well one thing’s for sure, she wasn’t victim to some random animal. The body would’ve been mutilated, ripped apart, yet it remains perfectly preserved.” Sazami starts to walk around the body, examining it closer, growing tolerable of the stench. “Look here,” she instructs. She points to the girl’s abnormal legs. “Her ankles were sliced by a knife. Snapped to make sure she couldn’t run away.”

“And what about her . . . physical alterations?” Queen Eleanor asks.

Quickly diverting her attention to Aela, Sazami sees her face pale, possibly fighting to hold down her birthday meal.

Sazami notices how the girl’s legs are slightly darker than the rest of her. She reaches out a hand, delicately lifting the girl’s thin wrist as if waiting for it to disappear into dust. “Her nails are jagged and cracked, and her legs are dirtier than her arms. She must’ve been struggling on the ground.” She swallows hard. Using her own nail, she scrapes out dirt from underneath the girl’s nail and smears it across her palm. “Dried dirt. She was desperate to get away from her perpetrator – to drag herself, if necessary. I’ve never really seen anything quite like this, but the best description I can give is as if something – or someone, sucked the life out of her.”

“So this perpetrator has something to do with the mystic arts.” The king states.

“So it would seem.”

While she hasn’t witnessed any vulgar acts of magic, she’s read about them in her books. A few of them have branded themselves into her brain. One being about how a dark queen would suck the life essence of young girls to keep herself from aging. Then another one about how a girl who possessed extraordinary healing abilities through the power of her hair.

Sazami looks to the king, raising an eyebrow. “Now what exactly do you need me for?”

“You assassins are good at picking up clues. Seeing the unseen.” King Jared continues.

“And how exactly do assassins and magic fit into the same equation to you? A mage or sorcerer can be just as good.”

“Look,” the king sighs. “I will admit that you are the best at what you do Sazami Altileth. And I would hope that your skills pass far more than just killing.”

“Of course they do!” Sazami barks. “I’m not just some mindless mercenary, you buffoon!” Captain Gregory snarls, and when he takes a step forward, Sazami fearlessly draws her sword, aiming the blade at the captain. “Back up or I’ll gut you alive.” She snarls. She turns to the king. “I don’t see any reason to take you up on this offer. Up to this point, you’ve done nothing but waste my time and energy.”

“That’s only because we haven’t discussed your payment.” The king says with a wave of his hand.

“It would take a lot of payment to make me agree. Why do you even care about problems in the regions of another kingdom, Your Highness? If it’s not effecting your people, why bother?”

“I shouldn’t be surprised that you think in the mind of singularity –” King Jared says as he rises from the seat of his throne.

“Nor am I surprised you think in the mindset of a dictator.” King Jared raises his eyebrows. Lined with an underlying challenge, they boldly ask for an explanation. “You can’t save or help everyone. You’re not in charge of them; why not let their own king deal with it?”

“Because the killer seems to be moving all around the continent of Galalea.”

The king goes over to a map of the entire continent that is spread across a large chalk board left of the dais. It must’ve been pushed behind the throne, possibly while Captain Gregory was pleading his case of investigating himself.

“You must be desperate if you’re asking for my help.” Sazami mocks.

Despite the eyes of Gregory still watching her, Sazami walks over to join the king. King Jared’s ringed fingers point upwards, northeast towards Fireside. A red ink mark has been set near its capital city Aurora, and then a dotted line curves its way west towards Orvryn.

“The first body was discovered here, in Aurora. Then the second body was found a couple miles past Orvryn’s border the next day.” The multiple jewels of his rings wink in the light as he points to the starting point of the killer’s trail.

“Bastard knows how to travel fast.” Sazami mumbles.

“It seemed he was heading west towards Orvryn, then there were some dead animal corpses in the Redwood Forest, something we simply brushed off. Then four Orvryn citizens went missing, and the trail continues to where we found the body of this girl. We think he is kidnapping multiple people and leaving them as breadcrumbs.”

“He would only do that if he was leading you somewhere, and so far, he’s only been dragging you in around Galalea. If he wanted to remain undetected he would’ve tried to hide the bodies, but you claim they were all found in plain sight.”


Sazami sighs as she folds her arms, still staring at the map. “Well, that’s not good.”

“Why?” asks

“You’re dealing with an experienced killer. He wants you to find them, to show you what he’s capable of.”

“How do you know he is not one of you? An assassin looking for attention.”

“He’s not.” Sazami almost growls, but this time her anger is directed to the mysterious killer. Her nostrils flare beneath her mask. “We’re hired to kill corrupt officials and adulterous spouses. We make it quick and clean; unless asked. This person . . . they’re just taking these people from their homes. They’re innocent.”

“That still doesn’t explain why large groups of people are disappearing.” Queen Eleanor says.

“Well if your assumption of magic being associated here, no doubt he’s using them for something along those lines.” Sazami says.

“But what?”

“Experiments?” Aela breathes with fear.

Examining the map of Galalea, Sazami follows the red line that only traces from Fireside to Orvryn, and then to the borderline of Kuya. Seeing that red line pass through Orvryn makes Sazami’s blood boil. This killer, they had found their way into Orvryn, they kidnapped the people of her homeland, killed them for their own benefit. In vengeance, when she finds this killer, she will rip them apart. Slowly. The men take the cart and the body out of the room behind her.

Sazami turns towards the royal family, the king standing on the second step of the dais. She sighs. “I guess that’s for me to find out.”

“So you’ll do it?” the queen’s tone sounds as if she is trying to hold back excitement layered with relief.

Using the shadows of her hood, Sazami flicks her eyes to Aela, still seated in her chair, her hands tightly gripping the arms. The king has since returned to his seat, now slightly slouched as he rests his cheek against his knuckles.

Sazami looks to the Kormeloth family and smiles. “I accept your offer.” As Aela and her mother smile, breathing a sigh of relief, Sazami asks, “Where do I begin?”

“According to our speculations, it would seem that the killer is heading south. By now we presume he or she is already passed through Kuya and headed to the Frozen Wastelands.”

“Already I don’t like where this is going.” Sazami grumbles.

“You will be sent out to each region recently reporting suspicious activity. Your starting point will be the Frozen Wastelands in the Kingdom of Jokul.”

“That’s quite the first travel.”

“I’m going to be sending out letters in advance to each ruler explaining the situation. You are to treat each of them with respect –”

“I do what I please.” Sazami interjects. As the king looks at her, she folds her arms and shrugs her shoulders.

“Remember, assassin, you’re working for me. You’re a representation of Valinor whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not.”

“Don’t doubt me. I was raised with proper etiquette. I can be polite if I want to be.”

“You mean only when it gets you what you want,” says Aela. Sazami tries not to laugh.

“Once I receive word from the Queen of Jokul, you will be sent out to the Frozen Wastelands.”

“And how long will it take?” Sazami asks.

“I’ve sent the letter yesterday. Rough assumption will be a week or sooner. Hopefully that’ll give you plenty of time to prepare. When the day comes, you will depart. I’ll have a carriage party ready for you at dawn. They will take you west to the Wardlaw Shorelines, from there, you will take a ship and cut across the Gulf of Mira and into Orabelle.”

“That still leaves a bit of a journey towards the capital. I hope you thought that far ahead.”

“Well, you can’t expect me to do everything.”

“I do.” Sazami growls.

“You’re here on business, not to delve into the lap of my luxury. I’m sure with all of the money you collect, you can afford a simple guide or ride towards the capital.”

After glaring at the king, a glare that would’ve killed him three times over, Sazami inhales through her nose. “You enlisted my help, Your Highness. You could’ve gone to anyone else, but you chose me instead for gods know what reason. My high standards should’ve been an expectation. I can so easily screw things to Hell when I feel like it. What makes you think I won’t?”

The king is silent for a moment, then he closes his eyes and gives a light breath of a laugh. “I understand you’re from Orvryn, Sazami.”

Her heart stops for the briefest second. “What of it?” she says, careful to keep her voice steady.

“Well, I don’t particularly know what had brought you to your uncle, but I don’t wish to. It’s none of my business. But how long has it been since you’ve been to Orvryn?”

“I don’t see how this is relatable to –”

“I have a house for you.”

This time Sazami is sure that her heart stopped as she nearly coughed and swayed slightly on her feet.

“It is already on reserve and I’m currently paying for its upkeep. A truly unique property built to the highest of standards. Set alongside Orvryn’s coastline with a beautiful view of the Sapphire Sea. If you follow your orders and complete your tasks without any form of sabotage, the house will be yours.”

Orvryn. She already see herself sitting on a plush chair seated on a balcony overlooking the coast, a warm cup of tea by her side, the smell of the salt brushing her nose, tickling her hair. Her home. Her family used to have a similar house back home.

“What if I fail?” She suddenly asks.

King Jared looks to her, eyebrows furrowing. “I’ve never heard of such a task.”

“Always expect the unexpected.” Her face remains blank.

“Well, then you will be relieved of duty and the house will be sold to the highest bidder. After that, for you, I don’t really care.”

Just like that, in a flash she can see her beautiful image shatter. Sighing through her nose, Sazami relaxes her shoulders. “Very well. How often do you want reports?”

“Whenever you can spare.”

“Father,” Aela says. “perhaps we could offer the assassin accommodations here at the castle.”

This time, even Sazami couldn’t hide her surprise as she turns heads in unison with the rest of the bodies in the room.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m simply suggesting we give the assassin a place to stay while she is under your duties. Just so that you won’t have to waste time having her come and go.” Aela says, keeping her shoulders straight. Sazami discreetly shakes her head towards Aela.

“Absolutely not.” Queen Eleanor chirps. She turns to Sazami. “I’m sure you understand.”

“Of course.” Sazami nods her head. “I presume you’ll send a courier to my uncle once word from the Ice Queen comes.”

“Yes.” King Jared nods.

“Then I believe we’re done here.”

Without bowing or waiting Sazami turns away from the thrones, her cape billowing behind waving and flowing behind her.

“Thank you for your time, Miss Altileth.” The king’s voice trails behind her.

She doesn’t smile, feeling that if she did, it would open her to a realm of hope that she had abandoned long ago. But she felt like seizing the King and dancing. She had actually been saving all of the money she earned from her missions to do just that; a small accomplishment she wanted for herself. But the more she wanted, the more her hope dwindled. Buying a decent house was draining enough; to buy furniture for it might as well be equal to selling your soul.

But this house, it’s completely furnished and built of the highest luxury. And it is just sitting there now, waiting for her to open its doors.

While she drifts through her thoughts, Sazami’s feet lead her through hall after hall down towards the front doors of the castle. As she works out the details in her head, she slows her pace as a tingle travels up her spine.

As if just realizing she was walking, she finds herself in the darkened hallway of the carriage house. Stone arches and pillars surround her, flying buttresses protrude from the spires, detailed etchings within the stone. The only available light is what is leaking through the open doors. The area is used to stow away the carriages of guests, and is currently vacant, connected to the castle through a set of stairs and a straight narrow hallway.

Carefully angling her head over her shoulder, she continues her walking, slipping her hands to her belt of daggers.

Stopping to adjust the laces of her boots, she hears the shift. Whirling around, she draws a single dagger, holding it out straight, the tip of the blade barely a centimeter from Aela’s neck. The princess gasps, her sapphire eyes wide, but a smile on her face.

“Wow,” she breathes with a laugh. “I still find that amazing.”

Sazami chuckles as she lowers her arm, keeping her mask over her face. She looks over the princess’s shoulder, down the darkened hallway to see any guards or servants. None. “As to you seeing you made it down here without a trail of guards behind you. Impressive.”

“I learn from the best.” Aela smiles. Opening her arms, she walks into Sazami, the assassin returning the embrace. Sazami is about five to six inches taller than Aela, resulting in Aela’s forehead resting on her shoulder. She pulls away and says, “I’m so sorry for the surprise attack. Had I known –”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve dealt with worse training with my uncle. And I’ve usually lost.” Sazami dismisses.

“Are you sure about this whole thing? You don’t have to you know. Today was just a briefing, and it requires a lot of traveling –”

“Aela, I’ll be fine. I’m more worried about you. While I’m away freezing my ass of in the ice and snow, you’ll be stuck here with your other “friends” sipping tea and crumpets.”

“I know!” Aela exclaims, lifting her arms high. “It’ll be horrible!”

Sazami laughs. “You seemed fine at you party today.”

“It’s called acting. You’re not the only one who can put on a fake smile.”

“Did you at least get to my gift?”

“I did.” Aela smiles excitedly. She pulls back the peplum of her dress to reveal the fair-sized dagger strapped to her waist. The belt is covered by the white sash around her waist. Sazami had it specially made by her uncle’s blacksmith, buying the Orvryn steel herself. “I love it.”

“I’m glad. Maybe we can use it the next time we train together.”

“I hope.”

“Listen, there’s something I wanted to ask.” Aela tucks a curly red strand of hair behind her ear, her innocence resonating so greatly Sazami almost wants to take a step back. “If they found the body of that girl near the border of Orvryn and Kuya, why did they bring it back all this way to Valinor?”

“To show it to you. That’s what my mother said.”

“But why? For them to be given permission for such a travel, especially if it was their daughter, it would mean that it’d have to be important.”

“It was. My father had told the family you’d be seeing it.”

“So they know I’m working for him?”

“Everyone does. That was the whole point. You’re Valinor’s Assassin, everyone in all of Galalea knows who you are. Including this, killer. And if he or she hears that you’re working for the King of Valinor, and that you’re after them, they’ll run hiding like children.” Aela waves her hand with a smirk.

Sazami chuckles. She turns and leans her back against the wall, folding her arms and propping up one foot. “At least I’ll be here to celebrate Samhain before I leave, or at least I hope.”

“Oh, that’s right.” Aela saddens. “Maybe we can skip the parties and you can just spend the night with me.”

Sazami shrugs. “I’ll think about it. I’m okay with anything. Though I wouldn’t want to go away with a hangover. Not to mention I don’t know how long I’m going to be gone.” Sazami groans. “My uncle’s going to flog me for forgetting that.”

“It’s not like he’s unfamiliar with you traveling far. He’s sent you all around Galalea just for training purposes.”

“I know, but it’s more of a family thing. I just don’t want to miss out on Yuletide with him. It’s one of the few family traditions I hold onto.”

“Sazami, Yuletide is a while away. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“But real quick, did you really think your parents would say yes to me staying in the castle?”

Aela smacks Sazami’s arm. “It was just an idea. I thought it was a good one.”

“And that is why no one lets you make decisions.” Sazami chuckles. The assassin rolls her eyes at the princess. She pushes off of the wall. “Well, I’d better get going.”

“Alright. Will you still be able to come over tomorrow?”

“Yes, I promise.”

Bouncing with excitement, Aela opens her arms again and hugs Sazami once more. Patting her back, Sazami smiles and turns away from the princess. Her boots are the loudest thing in the carriage house until she passes through the threshold and into the open.

Fidgeting with her perfectly manicured nails, the princess watches as the assassin walks towards the light. Just her walk emanates swagger and confidence. She has a feline grace to it, her cape making it look as if she is gliding along the stone.

How she envied to be like that.

While most people frown upon assassins, Princess Aela always had an odd admiration for them. Their skills, their abilities, how can someone be so exquisite? Balancing on top of spires, flipping and tumbling around while still maintaining grace and fluidity.

She loved watching Sazami fight. Seeing her look like nothing but a blur of black, watching her defeat the royal guards in less than two minutes, it’s astonishing.

The assassin doesn’t look back once, and once she’s swallowed by the light, Aela turns and heads back towards the castle. Her fingers fiddle with the ruffles lining her peplums, consistently brushing against the pommel of the dagger.

Before Sazami came to the castle, Aela could not stop playing with the dagger the assassin had given her for her birthday. She’s sure Sazami would’ve loved to see the expression Aela made when she opened it, as well as the faces of the rest of the guests. It was a simple thing, done in Orvryn’s steel – which was its most impressive feature – with a bejeweled hilt. Not only does it look pretty, but it’s deceiving. The dagger is well crafted, Aela could tell from its exquisite balance and just looking at the blade.

She was excited to use it in their next training session – something they started after Aela practically begged Sazami to teach her. Sazami agreed, but only because she claimed learning how to defend yourself was essential, princess or not.

They only did at her uncle’s property. Aela would often lie that she was going to visit Skylar – Sazami’s alias – and as long as she had guards with her it was fine. Her father not too keen on his only daughter visiting the house of a man rightful crowned The King of Assassins.

Of course, the guards who accompanied Aela were a select few, some of Dahnor’s undercover men-for-hire so that the girls could train openly. It always hurts Aela a little keeping the secret from her family. With Sazami’s alias being so – haughty, if her father ever saw them training, he would easily grow suspicious.

Reaching her bedroom of the castle, Aela practically thrashes out of the stupid gown, throwing it to the floor. She kicks her toe-pinching shoes aside and relieves herself of her jewelry. Pulling her hair into a ponytail, she changes into a loose fitting tunic and pants, keeping her feet bare as she adjusts her hair in front of her rosewood mirror.

With the clock reading eight in the evening, instead of studying her books on the history of Valinor, Princess Aela instead spends it swiping, blocking and slashing with her dagger.

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