They never saw us coming. We moved like shadows in the darkness, giving no sign of our presence save for the whispering of our feet on the earth. The sky was dark, and the moon cowered behind a thick veil of cloud, as if trying to hide from the swift-footed doom that raced through the night like the whisper of a blade on ice.

The castle lay silent and sleeping before us. The last of the lights had gone out, leaving nothing but empty windows with faint sounds of breathing coming from behind the rain-splattered glass. The sentries on the walls exchanged drunken smalltalk, passing around wineskins full of sour wine and rubbing their hands together as the chilly night bit into their skin. Most of them were too drunk to hold their weapons straight, and through their alcohol-slurred eyes there was nothing moving beyond the glimmer of their watch fires. They didn't see the eyes watching them from the darkness' arms, or smell the scent of the forest on our skin, or hear the soft thrum as feathered death leapt skywards from our fingers. All they knew was a sudden, agonising pain as our arrows struck home, cutting off their cries and sending their blood spraying across the floor like milk spilt from a pail.

For a moment, all was silence. Then, like an old box beneath the cunning fingers of a night-time thief, the little door in the side of the gates opened with barely a squeak. Vague flickering shapes slipped through the gap, hardly visible against the dark stone. Then, the first of the fires went out. It was followed by another, and another, until everything was swallowed in gloom. A raven cried from atop the castle gates, and there was a soft rustle in the grass as more shapes followed the first. We left no footsteps behind us, for our feet skimmed over the ground so fast that the ground scarcely knew it had been touched. A second raven cried in reply to the first, and the gate swung shut with a soft click. 

The night resumed its quiet. Outside, the night breeze caressed the heads of wheat in the fields and tugged playfully at the long strands of grass at the roadside. A small animal snuffled in the earth for grubs while its cubs watched, silent and attentive. They knew nothing of the soft footsteps running through the passageways, or the malicious gleam of long knives resting like sleeping serpents in their scabbards. There were no screams, only the bright flash and slow dimming of startled eyes, the press of hands over mouths, and pink tongues licking red wetness from the ends of fingers.

They never saw us coming.

The End

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