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Xenophobia

By WishingDreamer5 All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Adventure

Prologue

After narrowing his dark eyes into dangerous, thin slits, he looked around with the unnerving feeling that at least a dozen pair of eyes were following every move he made. His intuition told him that someone was keeping an eye on him. Someone that he could not see from where he was standing right now. Experienced or not, Zahed Ahmad felt like a complete stranger around all these people and that fact made him look more vulnerable than he would like. So it was no wonder that he thought that everyone was watching him by now, wondering who in the world this hooded man that had appeared out of the blue was, and what he was doing in their beloved town.

However, it seemed that any random passerby was merely minding his own business. To them, he was just another faceless stranger that they encountered on their daily routine of going to school or work (or God knew where). Their eyes would rest on him for one, maybe two seconds, before they went on with their lives and forgot all about the mysterious figure.

The man guessed that this kind of feeling would never really disappear. Still, it was absolutely nerve wracking. He may look all cool and indifferent from the outside, but once you were able to read his thoughts…

The assassin had barely finished that train of thought, when he caught a stranger's eyes. His razor sharp gaze was boring right through him and for a moment Zahed’s heart stopped. He feared that this middle aged man knew exactly who he was and why he was here.

Automatically, he averted his gaze and pulled his hood deeper over his face when he recovered from his temporary weakness, trying to suppress the uneasy feeling that kept plaguing him. He had to keep his head clear, after all; his life, and that of many others, depended on it.

Squinting one eye shut against the intruding sunlight, Zahed surveyed the area quietly. The place was particularly sandy and crowded, while the harsh sun was shining mercilessly on his form, almost as though it knew that he did not belong here. The fact that he wore a light-grey robe didn't help that much...unfortunately. The assassin was beat, but he could easily ignore that fact; life had never really been easy on him anyway. To add insult to injury, the man was lost too.

He paused, secretly wondering if he should ask someone the way and risk unwanted attention with that, or go on by himself at the risk of getting lost even more if that was possible. He was about to make up his mind when his trained eyes spotted a wooden ladder against one of the houses that he passed. It led to the roof and it looked like it could carry his weight easily.

Talk about a perfect timing, he thought.

After looking around discretely and making sure that nobody was secretly watching him, Zahed swiftly made his way towards his "rescue" and started climbing it with an agility that could make a cat jealous. He was barely halfway up when the townsfolk started murmuring among themselves.

"What is he doing?" a woman wondered aloud.

"What a strange man..." an old man muttered in a thick, eastern accent.

So much for blending in...

Despite that he should probably feel thoroughly annoyed at their reaction (or because apparently, they had no problem with letting him know that they all thought he was an utter and complete oddball, a loon even), a smirk made its way on his face. Strange, me? You have no idea...

Ignoring the overly nosy people, the assassin climbed higher and higher until he reached a flat part of the roof where he could stand without having to worry about his safety. From there, he climbed up another ladder until he couldn't possibly go any higher.

Now that he could merely hear a soft buzzing instead of clear words that he could distinguish from the constant murmuring, he was finally able to notice the true hidden beauty behind all the winding paths and everything else that obscured what was lying beyond that. Everybody was minding their own business, from the women who carried huge (and probably heavy) earthen pots, to the carriage which was provided with an owner and a donkey. Apparently, horses were very rare over here...

Zahed tore his eyes away from the seemingly serene scene and chose to look at the horizon instead. Judging by the sky, he was heading to the right direction so far... Good.

Deciding that he had seen more than enough, the man descended the rickety ladders and jumped down the last few feet. Unfortunately for him, most of the inhabitants had already forgotten about his existence. Needless to say, his sudden re-appearance brought some tumult; as soon as Zahed’s feet touched the ground, a woman let out a shrill cry and dropped the earthen pot she had been holding. Others let out a startled gasp as well and he could only wonder why, because it wasn't even that high. These people were all scaredy cats it seemed.

The young assassin resisted the urge to roll his dark eyes and muttered a quick apology. The woman let out an indignant huff and bent to pick up the broken pieces, so nobody could hurt themselves. A few other women automatically started helping her, muttering disapprovingly among themselves, but he did not bother joining them; it would only make things worse. So he turned around to leave.

Everything seemed to go well (for a change), until he heard someone badmouthing his mother.

Zahed stopped walking at once, but the words kept ringing in his head, filling it till he could not hear anything else. It prevented him from thinking clearly.

He grit his teeth, his hands clenching into angry fists. "Is that so?"

And in his head, he turned around in one swift move (once again startling a few passersby), and his fist automatically aimed for the man's jaw. Zahed struck him so hard that he could practically hear how the bone creaked and it made him feel deliciously good. There was absolutely no doubt about the fact that it was broken and the man staggered backwards, his dark brown eyes widening in what had to be pure fear…

The young assassin shook his head to clear his thoughts. How much he would give to be able to do that. His knuckles were practically itching to act on his thoughts. But he had other things on his mind now. Important things that could not possibly wait.

Besides, if he started beating the crap out of everyone that insulted him in some way, then he was dead before he could say "Mother."

One of the rules he had to adhere to was that no innocent people would be hurt...no matter how annoying they were. The cons of being an assassin…apparently.

He had come a long way and he wasn’t going to let it be ruined by a random fool just like that. Getting rid of people was his ultimum remedium to get his treasure.

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