No one had ever seen anything like her, which didn’t sit well with Malich. An assassin like this…with her particular gifts…she would be invaluableas an asset. Normally Malich would marvel at such a find. He’d find a way to win her over and use her particular set of skills to further his power, but there was one problem…this particular assassin has set her sights set on Aryafor whatever reason.
If Malich were holding all of the cards, Arya was sure he’d feel more comfortable welcoming the deadly stranger into his fold, but whenever anyone but Arya attempted to lift a finger against her, they were quickly put on their arse. It didn’t matter if they came from behind or the moon, because she appeared to have eyes everywhere with that deadly darkness swirling around her like a protective shield. She only responded to Arya, she only listened to Arya, and she would only speak to Arya.
Dax spent hours trying to coax the assassin into speaking to him. Malich didn’t want her anywhere near Arya. The assassin, however, said nothing…for hours. She merely stared at the bars in front of her as silent as a mouse…waiting. Dax made the mistake of trying to strike her and was thrown into a wall by the shadows curling around her, never coming even remotely close to striking her.
“Let me speak to her,” Arya demanded.
Malich looked around the room at the alumni and then back to Arya. “Absolutely not. If she tries anything…we won’t be able to stop her,” he refused.
“She won’t,” Arya assured him. She doesn’t know how she knew, she just knew.
“Forgive me if I don’t want to put your life in danger to figure that out,” he replied.
“I’m an assassin. My life is always in danger Malich.”
“Yes, but that girl…whoever she is…she can killyou.”
Arguing with Malich was pointless. He was so afraid to lose her that he was letting his feelings for her cloud his judgment. They needed to know more about her…who sent her…and the only way to do that was to speak to her. She knew he’d kill her. For the second time she was going to disobey him, but it had to be done.
Pretending as if she was going to leave, Arya walked by the cell pretending to leave. When the moment presented itself and Malich’s attention as elsewhere, she quickly opened the cell housing the assassin with a twitch of her fingers and walked right in. The door slammed shut behind her and Malich cursed.
Keeping her eyes on the deadly stranger, Arya took a seat across from her. The girl smiled. Long gone was the cold, unreadable, vacant expression she’d donned for several hours now. “You wanted to speak to me and here I am,” Arya smiled back. “Who are you?”
The assassin reached into her shirt and the alumni all readied to strike. Arya could hear Malich’s electric currents crackling behind her. The assassin pulled out a medallion identical to Arya’s and Arya froze. “My name is Alara. I’m your sister. Twinsister to be exact…fraternal of course.”
Arya narrowed her eyes at the girl. Her hair fell in dark ringlets to her waist, her skin was a shade or two darker, and aside from her height and medallion, there was absolutely nothing she and Arya had in common. “Nice try, but I would know if I had a sister…let along a twin. The historians keep records of those kinds of things and to date there have never been a set of twins born in either of the planes.”
“Are you sure about that? Do you believe everything you read?” Alara asked.
She was trying to plant the seeds of doubt in Arya’s mind. It’s a tactic used by assassins to disorient and attack. “You never answered my question,” Arya pointed out, “what are you?”
“I wasn’t sure at first. I didn’t start out with gifts. They sort of manifested over time.”
Arya couldn’t help but recall her own gifts. She hadn’t been born with them either. They too had manifested over time. Although, her gifts were nothing like what Alara had.
“It wasn’t until I was eight that I was found by my preceptor. He worked as the grand council for the Royal House of Litri.”
Litri. There was that name again. The name of a Royal House that doesn’t exist anywhere on paper, but only in the memories of those who’d lived it. The assassin smiled.
“You’ve heard of it, haven’t you?” Alara eyed her suspiciously.
“I might’ve heard a thing or two, but there’s no mention of a Royal House of Litri in all the planes. It simply doesn’t exist. I’m not sure it ever did.”
Leaning closer, eyes gleaming with excitement Alara continued, “Oh it existed alright. If you’re up for it, I’d like to take you to it.” Alara offered.
Arya mulled over her offer. She glanced up at the shadows swirling about Alara. It was braced against the back of the room as if it couldn’t stand to be near Arya. It confounded her. She was intrigued to say the least and had to admit she wanted to know more. If this girl was telling the truth, then she was the only family Arya had ever met.
“The shadows…why do they recoil from me?” Arya asked. “If we’re sisters like you say, twins even, then shouldn’t they be drawn to me?”
“If you come with me, you’ll find all the answers you seek.”
“How do I know if I can trust you?”
“You don’t, but I know you feel a pull you cannot explain…a pull tugging at your curiosity,” the girl smirked. She was right. Arya did feel a pull. A pull she ignored from the moment the assassin had revealed herself and laid down her weapons. “I will point out though that if I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead already.”
Arya looked to Malich, pacing just beyond the cell, electric currents crackling, fists clenching and unclenching. She turned back to Alara who wagged her finger.
“The sparkly man nor the Red Legion can join us on our trip I’m afraid. This is a solo mission. Just two sisters going home.”
Arya nodded. She wanted to see if everything Alara had spoken were true. Truthfully, she’d wondered about her origins since she was a child. Where she’d come from and whom she belonged to. Perhaps this was the universe answering the questions scraping at the back of her mind. Now all she had to do was convince Malich to let her go.
Alara nodded to Malich, “Go, convince the electric man to let you go. Either way, I’ll be leaving in ten ticks, with or without you.”
Arya rose from her seat and padded out of the cell. Before she could get a word out Malich had already made up his mind. He’d heard every word…they all did. “She looks nothing like you. Nothing,” Malich pointed out.
“Not to mention, we don’t know where she’s taking you,” Lumi pointed out. “What if it’s a trap?”
“You know me. I always land on my feet.”
“Yes but not against someone like that.”
“We don’t know who she’s working for,” Rayu added.
“I was hired by Kahlem,” Alara shouts from her cell. “He wanted me to kill the electric one and bring the lost one to him.”
Lost one. Arya deduced she was the lost one Alara was referring to. “He’ll know you failed,” Malich replied.
“Aye,” she nodded, “but he’d have to find me in order to kill me. And he’s afraid of things that go bump in the night…like phantoms.” Alara slid her eyes to Arya.
How did she know so much?How long had she been following them?One look at Malich and Arya could tell he was wondering the same thing. Alara knew things she shouldn’t. She knew too much. She knew enough to be a viable threat.
“That’s why he hired you,” Malich deduced. “A threat to annihilate another threat.”
“He heard about the things I could do and commissioned my charge, yes.”
“Let me go with her,” Arya pleaded. “If I’m gone longer than-”
“A turn,” Alara shouted from her cell again.
“…A turn, come find me.”
“Afraid someone will take her from you?” Ihsan joined the conversation, amused. He and Malich engaged in an ocular standoff. Malich narrowed his eyes at Ihsan. He nodded to Dax who began to approach Ihsan, weary of the deadly assassin.
Arya stepped in front of Ihsan. “Don’t do this,” she pleaded.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Alara shouted from the cell. “I’ll take himtoo.” She inclined her head towards Ihsan and smiled. “He will protect Arya from the non-threatyou all still believe is a threat and return her when the time comes. That’s my final offer.”
Malich cursed, sliding his gaze to Arya. Seven moons she’d be alone with the assassin and Ihsan. Seven moons she’d be way from Malich’s influence. It would give her real space and time to figure out what she wanted.
Taking her future into her own hands Arya made up her mind. She would go, with or without Malich’s consent. She needed to try for the little girl who grew up nobody, determined to be something great…for the babe left out in the snow, a medallion her only possession.
Turning to Malich, Arya told him, “I’m going. You owe me at least this much.”
“I owe you nothing,” he waved off her declaration.
“You owe me everything, and you’re going to give me this one thing. I’ve never asked you for anything, but this…I need this. Please.”
Pain shone in his eyes. He didn’t want to let her go…didn’t want to let her out of his sight. He considered her request carefully, and after taking a deep breath he nodded. “Seven moons and you betterreturn to me,” he commanded more than asked. “Ihsan will go with you, but Arya…do not…do not betray me.”
Swallowing hard, Arya nodded. Happy that Arya had accepted her invitation, Alara rose and in a blink of an eye she was outside the cell. “Let’s not delay then. We must make haste.”
Hooking his finger underneath her chin, Malich tasted Arya’s lips one last time. She hesitated at first but conceded to give him that much. He was making a big sacrifice letting her go. Her absence wouldn’t go unnoticed but perhaps it would provide more time for Malich if Kahlem believed his assassin had been successful in kidnapping her.
“Use my absence to your benefit. It will buy me time. Allow his majesty to believe she succeeded in kidnapping me, and when I return we’ll figure something out. Whatever you do, keep your guard up. With me gone, and Ihsan with me…you’ll have to depend on the others to protect you.”
“I know,” he sighs.
“I’m not done being angry with you, so stay alive until I come back to finish our fight.”
Malich huffed a laugh and embraced her. “Come back in one piece.”
Arya nodded, looking to Ihsan who was locked in a similar embrace with Navi. She had tears in her eyes and she was begging him not to go. A command was a command, however, so he had no choice. He drank from her lips and Arya looked away. She hugged her friends Lumi, Rayu and Jax, urging them to look after Malich. They all agreed.
“About done?” Alara asked.
Arya nodded and Ihsan broke free from Navi’s grasp. He stepped up beside Arya and in a haze of swirling shadows the world around them disappeared.ns 22.214.171.124da2