Although Akila was just reaching the edge of the encampment, the assassination had already been in progress for a few nights. Still on the outskirts, she stripped off the cloak she used to burrow under the sand with during the day. The loose fabric would make far too much noise. Stashing it amid a rock formation, she continued to creep towards the camp.
Even in the dark, one couldn’t help but admire the brightly coloured tents. Dyes were truly a luxury in these lands and clearly no expense was spared here.
Akila’s progress was painfully slow. She kept to the shadows, out of the view of the guards. Noting the fact that many of them were dozing, it was obvious the guards were comfortable. In the relatively flat desert, they expect to see danger miles away. They didn’t expect people to burying themselves in the sand risking a crushing death in the case of a sand storm. The mixture of arrogance and ignorance was to the assassin’s favour.
After what felt like hours, she reached her destination – the central, most lavish tent of them all. Again it was a sign of either arrogance or ignorance. Did they not realize how dangerous it was to so clearly label the sovereign? Well, they will now, she thought grimly.
Easily, her lithe body slithered under the tent side. She stood pressed against the fabric allowing her eyes to adjust to the absence of the moonlight. Finally, like a specter, she silently crossed the room to the sleeping leader in the bed.
Readying her khandjar, she pulled back the translucent netting and…froze. An almost inaudible gasp escaped her lips.
The sovereign’s eyes snapped open and, in one fluid motion, sprang from the bed, dagger in hand, and stood facing the intruder. The sovereign seemed to turn to stone herself as she stared at her wood-be assassin. She knew she must call to her guard, but instead finally whispered, “Akila?”
Akila knew her only chance at surviving this failed attempt was to run before the guards were alerted. But the shock was sitting heavy on her body, “Chione,” she breathed.
The words that echoed in the minds of both women were simply, but how?