The three shadows on the wall moved out of view indicating the patrol had finally moved on. Dawn slipped from her cover then scurried behind the next building. She repeated this process as she slowly made her way forwards, always keeping the column of slaves she was following in sight.
The slaves were a sorry looking group, even compared to other slaves that Dawn had spotted. Every one of them was covered from head to toe in black dust. The only visible colour through the dust was the white of their downcast eyes. Many coughed constantly where they had inhaled too much of whatever substance coated their bodies. There were about thirty in all, guarded by only four traitor humans. Easy pickings if Dawn had a plan, which of course she did.
Stealing a long length of thin steel wire from a workshop, she stealthily raced ahead of the column and began to build a small contraption from bits and pieces she had found. When she had finished, it took the shape of a two foot high catapult. She tied one end of the wire to its lever, placed a small rock onto the firing arm then ran about thirty yards further up the road. Hammering a wooden stake into the ground she curved the wire around it then ran off at a right angle across the main path the slaves were travelling along. She ducked into another side alley then crouched in the shadows and waited.
Dust began to rise in the sky above the building Dawn hid behind and the sound of shuffling feet rose above the distant sound of squawking birds. Her muscles tensed and she wrapped the wire tighter around her hand, keeping it low to the ground to avoid detection. Her fingers were starting to turn blue but she did not have time to alter her grip.
The first guard entered her view. She counted to three then pulled the wire tight. The guard fell flat onto his face with a horrible crunch as his nose hit the ground. At that same moment the wire pulled the catapult’s lever and triggered the arm to throw the stone. Just like she had planned it flew forwards and hit the guard at the left side of the column, smacking him in the temple. He too collapsed to the ground, a faint trickle of blood running down his face. Neither guards were dead but they would be down for a while.
The two remaining guards drew their swords and advanced down the alley that the stone had come from, expecting another attack. When there was no trace of an attacker they cautiously inspected the catapult. Dawn had already pulled the full length of wire back to avoid the guards following the wire to her position.
Dawn readied a smooth, circular stone and threw it as though she were skimming stones on a lake. The stone soared through the air and hit a precariously balanced pile of rubble that was once a second floor to the building forming the right side of the alley. It hit a rock at the pile’s base but it did not cause the rock to fall.
The sound attracted the guards’ attention and they looked up. Quickly, Dawn threw another stone with all her might, not bothering to aim, relying solely on luck.
Lady Luck appeared to be on her side as the stone crashed into the same spot as its predecessor, knocking the rock from its place. The guards screamed and tried to run as a chain reaction moved through the rocks, causing the full pile to cascade down upon the guards’ heads. When she was sure that no other guard had been alerted, Dawn stepped out of her cover and moved to the front of the slaves who were frozen in place, unsure what had happened.
Dawn made sure she had all the slaves’ attention then announced, “You’re free now. Take what weapons you can find then make your way to the large storehouse at the outer wall. Let’s go.”
Without warning, a sharp shuriken shot through the air from a nearby rooftop, its destination: Dawn’s chest. She dived out of the way and scanned the roofs near where it had come from. Nothing.
She turned around to recheck her surroundings and nearly leapt from her skin. Stood face to face with her was a tall, slender woman wearing a suit of tight fitting leather. At her side hung two long, curved knives.
“You shall go nowhere, little girl,” purred the woman in a strange accent. “I could have killed you many times by now but I wanted to see what you could do. You are smart, but against my blades you are nothing. Even fully armed you are as vulnerable to me as that day by the river.”
“That was you!” shouted Dawn, fear and shock replaced by anger. “How dare you watch me while I bathe you pervert.”
She grasped her scimitar and swung at the woman. Despite the fact that she swung at point blank range, the assassin still managed to dodge the attack then deliver a vicious kick to Dawn’s gut. Dawn staggered back until she touched a wall. Two shuriken sliced through her robe at either shoulder, embedding themselves into the wall. Blood began to soak the material around the shuriken where the metal had also pierced her flesh. Dawn tried to move but the shuriken firmly pinned her to the wall. Her shoulders burned at the effort.
The assassin placed one of her knives to Dawn’s throat and smiled. “Now, you shall die. It is the victim’s right to know the name of their killer. The last thing you hear will be the name of the person who stole your soul from its earthly bonds. Black Rain.”
The slaves ran. Black Rain’s attention was solely fixed on Dawn, her knife close enough to Dawn’s neck to draw a single bead of crimson blood. She positioned the second knife so the point dug into her chest right where her heart was.
Dawn knew it was all or nothing now. Bracing against the pain she swung her legs up and kicked out at the assassin. The force of the kick ripped the shuriken from her flesh and she fell painfully to the floor.
Black Rain recovered quickest and lunged at the girl still sprawled out on the ground. Dawn managed to grab her scimitar and manoeuvre it so the metal head took the blow. It shattered as the two blades made contact.
Dawn had to roll to the side as Black Rain stabbed down at her. The knife pierced the ground like it was nothing but water. In the split second Black Rain took to pull the weapon from the ground, Dawn kicked out again, aiming to trip the woman over but it was a useless attempt. The assassin jumped over the attack and landed on Dawn, her legs pinning down the girl’s legs, one arm squeezing Dawn’s throat, the other holding a knife to her side.
Dawn struggled to release herself but the older woman was far stronger than she looked. Dawn had been raised as a princess, unaccustomed to manual labour; this woman was a trained killer. The power and skill difference was a gap too far for Dawn to cross.
Lashing out with her fist, Dawn smacked Black Rain in the face but in that same instant the woman had slipped the knife through Dawn’s skin and slid it between two of her ribs. Dawn cried out in agony while Black Rain just smiled, unfazed by the blood that ran down her chin. She licked away some of the blood and her smile grew in size.
“Time to leave this world,” said the assassin with deliberate slowness.
Dawn sighed. “You’re right. It is the end.”
There was a sound to match that of a tsunami followed by a bone shattering crunch mixed into a blood curdling scream. Then there was silence.