The next two days passed all too quickly, in a haze of anxiety. By the day when the plan was arranged to take place, Izdihar could barely sit still. She hoped none of Sayyid’s staff had noticed anything out of the ordinary. In the end she went to her father’s chamber sooner than she’d been told.

The king appeared calm and composed, but Izdihar knew him well enough to recognise the tension in his eyes. He was dressed all in black, presumably to blend in as far as possible with Adviser Sayyid’s staff.

They waited in silence as, far below, Faruq and the other guards were due to enter Sayyid’s tower. It seemed like an age before King Basir spoke. “They should have had enough time. It’s time for me to go.” He stood up.

Izdihar stood up abruptly too. “Be careful, Father,” she said, her voice cracking.

He gave her a long hug and kissed her forehead. “I’m going to be fine, Izdihar,” he said, his hands on her shoulders. “Don’t worry.”

“How can I not worry?” she asked. “I’ve got to wait in here, and I won’t even know what’s going on.”

“I know. But it will be over in no time.” He sheathed his knife and made sure it was hidden beneath his clothes. “One way or another, this ends today.”

            And he was gone, taking the long way round so that he bypassed his guard. Izdihar was left alone. She didn’t know how she was going to last until they returned – her nerves were already frayed and now there was nothing to distract her from wondering what was happening to Faruq and her father, from imagining the plan going horribly wrong.

The End

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