Kekai paused, bow steady, and released the shaft. His aim was true as another elf sentry fell. His unit of highly trained Krull Assassins continued their progress through the elf city of Alfeira, to the royal palace. Just as other identical groups moved to different locations inside the borders of Turlai, the land of the elves.
Kekai was part of the great Krull counter attack. Casualties in the battles on the Plain of Altar were said to be catastrophic, but the war that could not be won face to face could still be won by more cunning means.
Again Kekai motioned his assassin brothers to stop as he raised his bow, placing an arrow in the neck of another elf sentry. It was almost inconceivable how easily the task was turning out to be. With the best elven warriors away at war the city was all but defenceless. The elves foolishly believed the Krull would not attack civilian targets.
Mardai, an Arcaner in the group nodded his approval at the kill. Arcaners were spell casters, wizards that could us magic as a weapon. Mardai’s task would come later, using the elves own enchanted weapons to destroy their city. Kekai’s assassins were Mardai’s escort.
The city of Alfeira was a bleak place now. The elves once boasted of its beauty, The Jewel of the East. Under King Baredah’s rule it had been scarred. Windows filled with cobwebs, waste littering the street, houses about to collapse having been stripped for spare wood and metal to help the war effort. The deserted streets only enhanced the feeling of a city that could never return to its former splendour.
Yet no Krull would ever feel sympathy for the plight of the elves. Krua lay in complete ruin. Alfeira had lost some of its beauty but Krua had lost everything. Buildings were reduced to rubble, forests had been burned to the ground and entire populations left homeless and starving. The stench of death coated the nation, bodies lay rotting in streets as those left had nowhere to take them. The blow that was struck this day would be fully justified. The elves could not hide behind their biased views of a just war any longer.
Five elven soldiers patrolled in front of the palace of King Baredah. The King was absent so the security was bare. If not for spies reporting of the elves weapons of magic being locked in the treasury here then this raid would be all but meaningless.
Kekai assigned four of his assassins a separate target with a series of hand movements and then raised his own bow. His tongue would click, five times in tempo, to ensure all assassins fired in unison. The result was perfect, five elves toppled, arrows to the neck. You could not scream in your last seconds and sound an alarm when an arrow pierced your throat.
Mardai the Arcaner let out a chuckle and Kekai glared at him. It was true that to someone untrained in the Krull Assassin techniques that such a feat of coordination would appear lucky or even magical and that the Arcaner was right to be awed. But the assassins operated in complete silence, anything less than that standard and they risked discovery. The Arcaner was not an assassin but he was just as likely to reveal their position.
They crept past the five bodies, drawing their blades as they opened the palace doors. The treasury would be on the lower levels, but they needed a hostage to confirm its location.
The halls of Baredah’s palace were dark and completely deserted. With the royal family away at the front line there was no need for servants to be roaming every corridor. Still it was essential that someone be found and made to talk.
The palace featured finery from across the civilised world. Dwarven cabinets housed human silver and elven gold. Weapons from every culture, even orc, hung from the walls. Even the flooring was Krullian carpet. The wealth of the world was on display for a King who cared for no culture, not even his own.
The palace moved from one grand room to the next, not a soul in sight. All that could be seen were shadows, any but a krull, with their superior night vision, would be blind.
But ears were better than eyes. Above the heartbeats of his assassin brothers Kekai could hear the softest whimpering from a side room. He peered into the undecorated storage room and saw the first person they had encountered since entering the palace.
“Have you found something?” Mardai whispered. Kekai didn’t bother to glare back. The figure in the corner of the room could not escape now. Behind a barrel of aromatic spices there sat an elf servant girl. Although she looked no more than sixteen, as an elf she would be nearly forty years old. Yet it was said that elves matured slowly both in body and mind, and this girl had childlike eyes, full of fear.
“Oh she’s exquisite,” Mardai spoke softly but his words were like knives. Kekai motioned to Aznas to keep Mardai away from the girl. They would get nothing from her with him salivated everywhere.
“Don’t be afraid,” Kekai said, barely whispering, but the girl’s pale blue eyes responded to meet his own as if he had bellowed the words from the top of his lungs. Her skin was soft and fair, almost white, her cheeks only imperfection were the tears that stained them. She wore simple white robes over her tiny frame.
“Did you come to set us free?” she responded in her lyrical elven voice. “Because he is not here, you are too late.”
“We did not come for the King,” Kekai whispered back. “But if you help me, I can take you from this place.” Baredah’s crimes cut deeper than Kekai could ever have believed, if this girl saw the krull as a means of escape. “Can you take us to the treasury?”
The girl did not respond, but she stood up and walked to the doorway, leading the group of assassins back through the palace, her eyes never leaving Kekai for an instant.