The King's Azarys

Katrina watched the proceedings from where she crouched on the floor all wrapped in black clothes and cloth to hide her features. She was kneeled along with two others and remained silent as the king discussed his plans. When the Earth guard soldier left he turned to them.

“Azarys?” he called. He knew her birth name but when it came to missions and dealings in front of others he used her alternative name. It was the name he bestowed on his best stealth warrior. His mere act of using it told Katrina she should prepare herself for travel. She stood up along with the others.

“Guard the doors,” the king instructed. The others left. Even as fellow bodyguards they were not allowed to know each others true identity’s. If they did and get to know each other they're feelings could compromise everything. It was a harsh protection system for the guards, but the best one for the country and king Saeron.

“Yes, sir?” Katrina asked once the others had left. She unclipped the cloth covering my face so she could speak better.

“You heard what's going on. I hope Gerald plan succeeds. But I need you to go to mountains, you are the only one who can sneak around those things and find their main nests. I need you to return with numbers so we know what to expect. Do not let yourself be seen by any of the soldiers.”

“Of course sir,” She replied with a small bow. She replaced the clip and turned to leave.

“Oh, and Katrina,” he stopped me before she could open the doors. She turned at him awaiting the following order.

“Take care. I have other missions after this and need you to return alive,” the king said. It the closest thing to emotional sentiment the king would probably ever make. The king and her met before she'd became his bodyguard, when Katrina was just a little girl Lord Jared had taken in from the streets.

“Thank you your majesty,” she said with another, more elaborate bow. she left quickly and headed to the changing rooms. After washing and redressing in normal clothing she left through the back entrance and walked into the streets. Smells of spices and meat assaulted her nose and made her breath in deep. The market was in full swing and the sound of haggling made her smile. She stopped at some booths, buying the provisions she would need for the journey.

Before returning to her house she visited Lord Jared's home. He had travelled and knew more of the great lizards than she did. And it would be foolish to go into the mountains unprepared. A servant answered the door and smiled, recognising Katrina instantly.

“Lady Katrina, it's lovely to see you,” she said, taking her hand and leading her inside. Katrina frowned at being called a lady, officially she wasn't one. But as Lord Jared had never settled down and had a child, she was the closest to one he had.

“He's in the study,” she said. Katrina thanked her and roamed the house she'd been raised in. She walked up the wide, spiral stairs and walked into the grand library. This is where she'd gotten lost in knowledge and legends as a curious child. She walked past the ceiling-high bookshelves and knocked on a small door at the back that led to his study.

“Come in,” a deep voice muttered. She rolled her eyes, knowing he'd had his nose embedded in some scowls or old map, trying to find a new legend to explore. She walked in and he looked up. His salt and pepper hair holding more greys than the last time she'd seen him. Laugh lines creased his face. He smiled as he saw her.

“Katrina,” He said, coming round the desk to wrap her into his embrace.

“Lord Jared,” she replied making him scowl.

“Why must you be so formal? I wouldn't get offended if you called me father like you used to,” he said, moving back to his desk to study the old parchment. Katrina blushed at her own ignorance when she was a young child.

“It is not proper for me to call you that anymore,” she sighed. Jared shook his head, muttering about the stupidity of the hierarchy.

“Are you staying for dinner?” Jared asked, looking up.

“No, I need to leave. But I wanted to ask you a question. Did you ever encounter Great Lizards when you were travelling?” She watched as Jared face paled a little. He shuddered away a memory and shot her a hard glance.

“I don't like the direction this is headed,” he sighed, sitting down. She sat opposite him and waited for him to explain more.

“You know that they all control mystics. When I encountered one it took a whole village's worth of men to take it down,” he explained. Katrina nodded, she'd heard stories of how powerful they were.

“Obviously I won't pry into what's been asked of you. But make sure you're careful. Great Lizards aren't to be underestimated,” he said, his voice completely serious. She nodded, she'd already known not to do such a thing.

“I'll return, don't worry,” Katrina replied. “I should be off. Take care,” she said standing up. she hesitated before adding, 'dad'. These were far from normal circumstances and in the unpleasant event that something did go wrong. At least he would have a nice memory of her to look back on. She packed her things quickly and put on her thick leather armour and the travel clothes she'd designed with hidey holes for various weapons. Katrina sent the city one last glance as she left through the main gate and walked into the endless desert.

The End

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