Lightning lit up the sky and thunder battered the senses of the watchmen. All night they had guarded the palaces great gate, the storm raging all around them. For hours the elements had lit up the sky in a cacophony of light, rocking the city below with the roar of thunder claps. For most of their shift the guardsmen had huddled in the limited shelter of the walls small guardhouse.
“Here, Jonas, who would be out here on a night like this?” the guard captain muttered to his fellow watchman. A stooped figure was shuffling along the road; the heavy rain obscuring the vision of the guards.
Jonas was a boy of no more than seventeen who had just joined the guards division and was in training to join the King’s Legion proper. He leaned out of the side of the guard station to take a look at the figure.
“They must be ruddy mad to be out in weather like this, the poor bugger must be soaked right through”. He took a step out into the road and moved towards the shuffling person. As he approached he could hear a strange sniffling sound. It sounded as if the figure was crying. It was a woman Jonas realised.
“Here Cody, come here, I think this woman’s hurt.” He called to his colleague.
“Captain Cody to you son” the grizzled Legion captain growled irritably as he stepped in front of the hunched woman. He gestured impatiently for his inferior to halt the woman who seemed determined to shuffle straight past them and through the gate.
“Here love, are you okay? You’ll catch your death if you stay out in this weather much longer” Jonas said ignoring the pompous captain.
Jonas reached for the woman’s arm. Instantly the stooped figure stopped before rising from hunched to straight-backed.
With an eerie silence captain Cody watched in terror as the woman grabbed Jonas chainmail covered arm wrenching the terrified lad to the ground. Instantly she was on him, a dagger in hand, slashing and hacking at the boys head and neck.
Seconds later the now blood soaked woman stood and held the guards severed head in her hand. Her robe had slid off revealing a taught naked body, the rain washing across her flesh cleansing the young guard’s blood into the road.
She turned her head and stared at Cody, a manic look in her eyes.
Cody stood and watched, paralysed in fear as she advanced on him, he staggered backward desperately trying to unsheathe his sword. With startling speed the woman came at him, with one savage swipe of her dagger captain Cody joined his comrade in the underworld.
The woman turned to look out over the city. The city of Sunguard’s lights looked liked a vast sea of fireflies in the night, the effect dampened by the heavy rain. Occasionally bright forks of lightning would flash in the distant horizon making the night as bright as day.
The plateau was impregnable to any army willing to directly assault it. The long-winding road that led to the plateaus peak and to the palace in the centre was defended by a number of guard towers and defensive kill zones. The steep sides and formidable man-made defences ensured the King’s palace would be able to fend off any enemies. Any enemies save one…
She walked to the guardhouse taking a flaming torch off of the wall and with a smile walked to the edge of the winding road and waved the torch three times.
It was the signal for the Crimson Blades….
Elena cradled the gurgling baby in her arms. The little prince was restless tonight; the storm had kept him awake all night so far. Or was it something else? She wondered. She had felt uneasy this night and yet she had no reason to be. It was a night like any other, aside from the vicious storm battering the palace. The Gods were angry this night.
She shook her head and chided herself; “There’s nothing to fear my little prince. It’s just the weather keeping you up, nothing more,’ she said soothingly, in part to calm the baby and partly to make her-self feel better.
The nursery was a large bright room lit by candles and painted in soothing pastel colours. Pictures of dogs, cats and a cute black bear adorned the walls. It was a peaceful place.
Elena had been the nanny to the baby prince since he was born six months ago, and was chosen from a number of prestige’s candidates. She had felt great pleasure beating the rival girls to the job, and was immensely proud of her position. Above all, she had learnt to love the baby as though he was her own. She would do anything for him; even give her life if needed. Little did she know that tonight she would have to put her commitment to the test. Elena eventually got the baby off to sleep, returning to her own bed which was next door to the nursery.
The wind was howling outside, and the rumble of thunder added to the sense unease she felt.
She took her ivory brush and began brushing her hair, a habit from her child hood. It was something she did to ease her worries. The nagging feeling remained, like an itch you cannot scratch. She stood up after several minutes and paced her room.
“This is silly!” she muttered to herself.
The sound of running feet stopped her pacing. The footsteps were drawing closer to the nursery, ‘Who’d be running around the palace at this time of night’, she wondered.
She ran to her bed and felt under the pillow. The hilt of the silver dagger her father had given her rested. She drew the blade moving quickly to the nursery.
The running footsteps were outside the door.
The Nursery door was kicked in with a loud crash, waking the baby prince. In the doorway stood Commander Davik the head of the King’s guard. In his Gold and Black armour he looked like a hero of the old stories.
“Elena, thank the father you’re safe,” he breathed in relief.
“What has happened my lord, why are you dressed for battle?” she questioned clutching the dagger tightly to her chest.
“There’s not much time Elena, we have to get you and the prince to safety, the palace is under attack!” He replied hastily, all the while grabbing a travel bag off of the nursery wall.
The King and Queen were the first targets to die. After their guards had all been silently dispatched the assassins entered the royal bedchamber. There their victims lay soundly asleep.
Two quick cuts with their blades and the heads of the kingdom were dead. In other rooms around the palace and in locations all over the kingdom, similar murders were taking place. The Diasect had failed to warn the King and with that failure the royal family of Delfinnia was eliminated.
The princes Drayson and Ryiar were brutally murdered as they tried to flee their beds,the two young princesses were strangled in their sleep.
“Pack what you need for a journey; the prince must leave the palace! With the king removed the kingdom will fall into chaos” shouted Davik urgency clear in his voice.
Elena wasted no time; she raced into her room and quickly dressed herself in a loose blouse and trousers before putting on her travel boots. She grabbed the baby’s essentials before finally reaching into the crib and picking up the squealing prince.
She looked to the doorway; Davik was blocking the entrance, sword in hand a look of fierce determination on his face.
Down the long passageway the palaces attackers were moving room-to-room slaughtering the groggy residents. The assassins saw Davik and hastened towards him.
“You must flee my lady, stop for no-one and nothing. The prince must live! I will hold these bastards as long as I can, now go”
Davik stepped out of the doorway and advanced down the passageway, roaring a challenge. Elena ran with the baby in her arms as fast as she could, tears streaming down her face as all she had known was destroyed.