The Royal Harbour was watched over by an intelligent man. He knew how criminals worked better than any other. As he worked on tearing files on known, executed criminals his men walked in with a new set of them. The most terrible criminals were brought to the coastal city where this man dealt with them personally. His name Haq and he soon became the chief pursuer of the Sultan’s murdered. It was nearing night when the messenger in his city walked in with a hawk on his arm.
The messenger held out a scroll that Haq snatched immediately upon seeing the royal seal. He opened the scroll to reveal the news. The Sultan had be assassinated by a man and an accomplice. The two were pursued across the desert and would most likely enter the city soon. Haq stared at the paper in disbelief, but he knew that every second that passed from his pause would be a second given to a horrible man.
“Hold all ships from leaving port,” Haq ordered one of his men. “The Sultan has been murdered and his killer is in this city! I want you to find anyone that is suspicious and able and bring them here!”
Haq’s words cut straight through to his men and they moved fast. Guards left the building in teams and began to comb through the city. Allula and Batic listened very carefully on the roof of the building and watched as the guards ran into the city. It was terrifying and amusing at the same time.
“There are so many,” Allula noted. “It was wise of us to hide atop their own building. The last place they would look is beneath their own nose, or above it.”
“Indeed, but even this spot here isn’t safe. We must make for the ships as soon as possible,” Batic explained. “At night would be at best, most likely they will check the ships first and at night we will slip aboard.”
“This Royal Guardsman sounds determined.”
“He is loyal, like all guardsmen, but in time he will have a new sultan to watch over.”
Allula hoped Batic’s words were true, but in her heart she understood that tone of voice more than any other. There was someone she angered in her work and they were determined to stop her, even if they died trying. That man was dead for his perseverance in pursuing her, but not by her hand, by his own.
Batic and Allula, their thirst barely quenched after their brief visit to the well, sat atop the building and out of sight. The sun burned down upon them.
“Why do you wear white robes as a thief?” Batic asked. “You are so much easier to spot.”
“The white protects me from the sun and trust me, the best a thief can do is hide in plain sight,” Allula explained. “I am not a fighter and I spend half my work walking past the people her search for me.”
“That may be true, but such actions don’t work for me,” Batic murmured. “I need to lose myself in shadow, which is why I use the darkest leathers and fabric.”
“The sun must have suffocated you.”
“Better that than a beheading. I suppose nowadays I won’t need to wear black robes, my work being done.”
Allula examined Batic closely.
“How did it feel taking your revenge?” she asked.
“It felt as they say it did,” Batic replied slowly. “The sultan seemed a good man when I appeared, but it may have been an act.”
“You revealed yourself to him?”
“I grabbed him from behind and placed a knife to his throat. He acted as if he expected me to all along. He asked me to proceed, for he felt the world was too dark for him as it was.”
Allula could see that Batic felt guilt for what he did, so didn’t ask anymore questions. Instead, she pondered the Sultan’s reaction. Did he also feel guilt for the things he did? He must have if he expected death at all times. Perhaps this action too would weigh heavy on Batic, but Allula hoped not. The last thing she wanted now was to lose Batic.
The stayed there the entire day, growing hungry and desperate to leave. Night fell and Allula led the way. She believed that if she were to be seen in would be easier for her to slip past the guards unnoticed. After all, she was a young woman while Batic was a man who dressed and acted more like an assassin than her. With that still in mind, Batic felt it dangerous for her to take the lead, but didn’t argue. The two climbed down from the building where there weren’t any eyes to watch them and made their way through the city.
The magnificent ships ahead of them appeared so promising, but Allula had to make sure that there weren’t any guards waiting for them. Once they reached the harbour both were struck with a pleasant surprise. There were only two guards posted at the harbour. Both were far apart, but in essence it was very easy to slip past them.
“This seems to be an ambush,” Allula noted.
“Indeed, you were right to expect danger from this guard,” Batic nodded. “He is a clever one. We must not board either of the two ships.”
“But we certainly can’t stay in this city. Half the population is looking for us. Follow me.”
The next morning the guards left the ships, having been stowed away inside ready to pounce any non-crew members that bordered. None came and the guards left disappointed while Haq stood and watched the ships leave for their journey. To Haq, watching those ships leave felt like a great mistake, but he couldn’t keep them forever.
He watched the ships sail away a few minutes longer before returning to the Royal Guard barracks. As his back turned he missed the two figures who clung to the sides of the ship and ever so slowly climbed aboard. The two were now off on their adventure with a head-start as well.