MiracleStar was waiting up for us in the inn. Skyil was
fast asleep, curled up on the bed, tail touching nose. Her ear twitched every
now and then in her sleep. I led Zarrel in and she immediately ran over to MiracleStar
and hugged her.
MiracleStar let go and turned away.
"I'm MiracleStar now. Not Kristen."
"A thief now."
"It's a waste. You're wasting your talents."
A funny look came across MiracleStar's face.
"No… I don't think I am. Not after… ah, I didn't
call you here to discuss the past. I need your help Zarrel."
The Zafara's eyebrows rose in question.
"You need my help. That's a surprise."
"Yes, well. I have a fourth pet, an Acara named
Jaix. He's in a spot of trouble."
She quickly outlined the situation, including
what Stan had told us about the assassin's guild.
"You need my help for that?" Zarrel finally
exclaimed when she was done.
"Yes, well," the girl muttered, looking quite
embarrassed, "I'm out of the loop now."
It was then our owner seemed to notice us standing
"Let's go for a walk," she said to Zarrel.
The Zafara shrugged and the two headed out the
door, leaving us behind.
"Well, isn't that nice!" I snarled. "What the
heck is going on around here?!"
"Wha… huh?" Skyil interjected sleepily, "What'd
"More of MiracleStar being vague. Go back to
I sighed and walked over to the window. Beneath
us I could see the human and the Zafara walking off down the street, a bucket
load of secrets between them.
The next morning, MiracleStar proclaimed she
had a plan. Normally she'd announce this with the air of a queen, on top of
the world with her own brilliance. Not today. Her eyes were haunted and she
was doing her best to hide it. Something was bothering her. I imagined that
something was Zarrel's presence and whatever the two of them knew and we didn't.
The plan was simple. Zarrel was going to lead
the way to the assassin's guild and convince them to fess up and get Jaix freed.
Failing that, we were to nab the assassin responsible and drop him off at the
"Oh, that'll work," Taffin said sarcastically,
"just kidnap an assassin in the midst of countless others."
"Have you ever seen your owner in action?" Zarrel
"Well, we've seen her thieve."
"That'd be a 'no' then."
For being in the desert, miles and miles away
from her home, Zarrel did not seem in the least bit out of her element. She
led us straight to a ramshackle complex of buildings and drew a small symbol
on the ground with her foot to the door guard. He nodded and let us in without
another word. MiracleStar hung near the back of the group. For some reason she
was wearing her cloak with the hood up, even with the heat.
We walked down a dimly lit corridor single-file.
I couldn't see the ceiling due to the darkness.
"There's archers on either side of us," Skyil
hissed in my ear.
I didn't reply but I did let one paw drop to
The corridor opened onto a large dimly lit room.
There were shadowy figures all around us, and one regal desert Peophin in the
center. He nodded for us to approach.
"We need you to take responsibility for the
attempt on Senator Barca," Zarrel proclaimed.
There was dead silence all around us.
"Oh? And why must we do this?" the Peophin inquired.
"Assassin's integrity." she replied. "I am Zarrel
Charmain and you are allowing an innocent be blamed for your crimes. I ask that
you do something to prevent this."
The Peophin looked at us intently.
"I will not endanger one of my assassins for
Zarrel didn't say anything, merely gestured
to MiracleStar. The girl hesitated and then pushed her hood back. The Peophin's
ear twitched but that was all. No other display of surprise was shown. Right
then I desperately wished I was Skyil. But MiracleStar had told her not to read
anyone's mind and I knew the Aisha would hold to that promise.
"This changes things," the Peophin said, "very
much so changes things. I will help… in honor of the past. But one condition
Kristen… you have to help with my plan."
She bowed her head in agreement. The Peophin
gestured with a hoof and a fire Gelert stepped out of the shadows. His ears
flattened back at the sight of us.
"You three, come with me," the Peophin ordered.
Zarrel and MiracleStar followed the two assassins
into another room. We three were left alone. I could see other pets and humans
around us but no one paid us any attention. Eventually I got bored and flopped
onto the floor. Taffin and Skyil followed suit.
"And no, Nianso, I didn't read his mind. So
don't bother asking," she said.
It took about an hour for the four to conference.
It was the most boring hour of my life.
It was early noontime when we finally approached
the Sahkmet Palace. The fire Gelert was in tow with us, his hands bound, head
down, and his fur scuffed. Somehow he'd managed to appear like he'd just been
beaten rather badly. We received odd looks from passerby's but I did my best
to ignore them. MiracleStar was once again in her innocent schoolgirl form.
The infernal bow was back on my ears. Zarrel was nowhere to be seen. She'd slipped
off quite early in our approach.
"So what's the plan?" I hissed.
"When chaos breaks loose get out of there and
meet up at the east gate of the city."
"Just do it," she replied tersely.
It was then I noticed that MiracleStar carried
no weapons. I'd learned to identify when she was carrying her hidden daggers
but today there were none. My heart skipped a beat. Something really odd was
going on. I glanced back at the fire Gelert. He flashed me a grin and a wink.
I growled and ruffled my fur. This was getting ridiculous.
MiracleStar got us admitted to the Princess
in record time. She quickly explained the "true" story of the assassination
attempt. Jaix was out late around the palace, she had gone to fetch him back
and the assassin had ran past. Earlier that day she'd seen the assassin in an
alleyway and followed. She accused him of attempting to murder Senator Barca
and he had attacked her. Fortunately, Taffin had stepped in and brained him
with a rock before he could hurt her.
"See, he even managed to cut me!" she exclaimed,
rolling up her sleeve to expose a bandage.
The princess nodded and turned to her advisor.
"I think --"
He was cut short by the Gelert behind us laughing.
"Idiots!" he chuckled. "Listen to the girl,
she's right. I am the assassin."
The Gelert suddenly was free, his bonds falling
away. He laughed maniacally and quickly disarmed the first guard attempting
to restrain him.
"Stop them! They're in league with the assassin!"
"Now this is where the fun begins," I growled
Sure enough, pandemonium broke loose. I punched
the first guard that came for me in the stomach, wrenching his sword out of
his grasp and smashing the hilt across his head. He dropped like a rock. The
next two guards came a little slower. I leaped into the air and dove for them,
knocking one to the ground and catching the other's sword on mine, deflecting
the blade onto the ground. I then kicked his feet from beneath him.
"Com'n Dragon Thieves!" the Gelert cried. "This
is our cue to leave!"
He threw something to the ground and smoke billowed
out, filling the room. I raced for the door, running into someone in the process.
I staggered aside and dropped to all fours. I couldn't see a thing due to the
smoke and my eyes watered.
"Le-la-haha!" the Gelert cried from somewhere
in front of me. "This is the most fun I've had in a long time!"
I growled and raced after the sound of the crazy
Gelert's voice. Some fun this was. I was soon free of the smoke and free of
the fight. We weren't free of pursuit, however.
"Com'n now, this a-way!" the Gelert smirked.
"Keep up now!"
"You're enjoying this way too much."
"Wait!" Taffin cried. "Where's MiracleStar?"
The Gelert shook his head.
"Don't worry. This is part of the plan."
"Do you want to be caught?" he snapped. "Let's
We had no choice but to follow. He led us down
the corridors and outside. A troop of guards met us with bows raised and arrows
drawn. The Gelert just grinned.
"Com'n, fly me out of here," he instructed us,
grabbing my paw.
I took a deep breath and spread my wings. Instantly
the guards let go of the strings. I gasped, fully expecting to be full of arrows
a second later. But all that happened was a volley of snapping noises. The guards
were left holding bows with broken bowstrings.
The Gelert laughed at their astonished looks.
"You think an assassin doesn't know how to cut
bowstrings?" he taunted.
"Enough!" one of the guards shouted. "Get them!"
The troop drew swords and charged. But it was
way too late. We were already airborne, hauling a giggling fire Gelert between
To be continued...