The archer and his team slid through the tunnel and came out into Ashanti.
The team consisted of three other good archers along with one tracker who knew the way in and around Ashanti. The archer had chosen them yesterday on observation, and now they were making their way into Ashanti. He wondered where the warrior and the others were. Had the battle begun?
The kingdom of Ashanti was quiet and oblivious to the eminent battle, and as the archer and his team walked through the streets of Ashanti, it looked like a very normal day for the people. They were dressed as normal citizens to blend into the crowd as they couldn’t risk being noticed by the king or the king’s guards. However, the archer knew that the king’s guards wouldn’t be much of a problem as they would be busy preparing for the battle if the king knew about it.
The tracker led his band through the city towards a building opposite to where the king’s palace was situated. They would have to observe the king’s movements for a few hours and then attack when the time was right, as this time they couldn’t risk to miss. The outcome of the battle depended on this, as when the head was dead, the body would follow. If the king died, their task would be much simpler, but to kill the king was a difficult task and hence they would have to keep a watch.
Their tracker led them through alleys and roads as they passed Akan churches. The city was still asleep as it was just dawn and the archer planned on reaching their destination before the kingdom arose, as it would be easier and they would avoid and stray glances and wouldn’t draw suspicion to themselves.
They passed a few stray pedestrians who were taking a morning walk, and the archer could feel their suspicious glances as he walked past them. Were they dressed right? Was something wrong with them? Were their weapons showing? The archer wondered, looking at his companions to make sure everything was alright.
They soon reached their destination just as bells started ringing and the city came alive. Shops were opening, and the archer could hear cries in the distance. It was around mid morning as they sat down inside their hut facing the kings palace.
From here, if they strained their eyes, they would be able to make out the king, and would be able to attack.
Suddenly, the archer realized today was the day of executions and sacrifices. When the archer has been in Ashanti for long enough to know that once every month, children would be sacrificed to the king at noon. What the king did with the children was a mystery, but they never came back. Today happened to be thee day of the full moon, and maybe they could catch the king before the sacrifice and rituals.
They stared at the king’s room, hoping to catch a glimpse of him but to no avail. The king seemed to be somewhere else. What if he was at the battle? The archer thought alarmed and then asked the man from Ashanti who knew everything about the kingdom there was to know.
“What if the king had gone to assist the battle?” the archer asked the man who had led them here.
The man scratched his head thoughtfully, “That is highly unlikely. The king has never accompanied the army to any battles, sending his trusted general instead. I don’t believe he would make any difference here, as his overconfidence gets the best of him always.”
“Well, let’s say he has. Then what do we do?”
“Then we are doomed, and so is our army. The king is a very powerful army, his very presence lends strength to his army and it will be very difficult to take him down even with Eris on our side.”
“Then we are doomed.” the archer said, shaking his head and glancing back at the kings palace. All five of them were crouched on the floor, staring up at the palace.
They had to be very careful as they couldn’t risk the king seeing them at any cost. That was if the king was there.
But suddenly it occurred to the archer that if the day of the execution was today, the king would have to remain in the palace to perform the rituals.
“If the execution is today, the king will have to remain in the palace to perform the ritual.” the archer said.
“Hmm, you may be right. We may be saved then.” one man said, and they looked up again.
The archer could feel his mind wandering as he looked for the king, and he just hoped the others were looking and observing with attention. He wondered what the status of the battle was, and hoped there was some way by which the warrior could let them know.
The warrior had an army of extremely well trained soldiers, and the archer hoped it would be enough to control the disciplined king battle force. Also, they even had the numbers of the tribals, and if force and strength didn’t overcome the king’s army, numbers surely would.
He found himself thinking back to the times when he and the warrior were together against everyone. One thing had led to another, and the warrior and the archer were soon good friends. Drawn by their mutual hate towards the king and towards the way of Ashanti, they had plotted together against the king, and only failure had made their paths different.
The archer had gone into hiding to hone his skills and perfect them so that when the next time came, he would be ready. He had practiced daily, and at one point he reached a stage where he could shoot an animal when it twitched. He had mastered the art of shooting in the flash of a second. He had also learned to develop his sense of hearing. Now he could shoot with the help of his ears, as he no longer needed his eyes to see the target, he just needed his target to make a sound.
Even though age was slowing down his reflexes, he had learned to sharpen them as he had worked on them in his long years hiding.
As for the warrior, he had made his way to the valley, biding his time and taking a lot of people with him. There he had built an entire kingdom, and over the years he had also earned the trust of tribals, and had even taking in many who wanted better lives. And so, their army had grown, and they had been trained. But for some reason, the warrior had always been waiting, and now the archer had understood why.
The warrior must have always known the Eris was coming his way, and had bid his time to wait for Eris, Aerys and Rogue.
The archer sat there thinking for a while, but was broken out by cries and shouts. He focused on the courtyard in the front of the palace where people were gathering. It was almost noon, and it was time for the weeping, wailing of mothers and families. The archer didn’t want to see this, but he would have to if he wanted to notice the king.
The archer sighed as the six children were pulled away from the hands of their families. Over the years, the archer had watched this scene hundreds of times, and had been infuriated by it every time. He had never done a thing, and he really wished he had. Innocent children were killed, and six children a year meant seventy-two a year and so many people of Ashanti had been killed. Families had been destroyed, and only because of one person, the king.
The archer felt pure hatred towards the king. How could a person be so heartless and wicked? Was he even human? The archer had had doubts about this before, and they resurfaced as he wondered how someone human could be capable of such hatred, destruction, cruelty. How could a person be capable enough to kill children? He destroyed families, and the archer knew that when a ruler was such a tyrant, eventually he would be overthrown by his own people.
The archer looked back at the people gathered in the courtyard, and watched, wondering when the king would show himself. And he did eventually.
The king walked out and motioned to the guard and turned. For some reason, he seemed to be in a hurry. WAS the battle troubling him? But that didn’t seem to be the case, as the archer could notice that the king was in a good mood. It looked like the king was expecting something soon good, and the archer hoped that it was in no way related to the battle.
The families of the children were in tears as the gates of the palace shut with a clang. All was lost for them, as they had lost their children. The archer sighed for the hundredth time, six more families destroyed again, and god knew what would happen to them.
On the other hand, the archer felt relieved on having seen the king. Now, they could continue their attempt on assassinating him, and they just had to keep observing him.
Now, the warrior, Aerys and Eris would have a chance in winning the battle, and they would be able to conquer Ashanti. Things were going well at last.
Suddenly, the archer heard the gate open again and looked down. A man beside him gasped.
“But that’s the general of the army.” he said in shock.
The general had a bag on his shoulder, and the archer wondered who that was. Was it Aerys? Or Eris? Or maybe the warrior. The archer prayed it wasn’t them.
So much for thinking things were getting better, he thought sceptically as he watched the person in dismay. They were done for now.