Chapter 6: The Assassin’s Secret; or The Lussa Part1
Before she left Alice and Finch’s home, Chloe said, “When do you think I should—”
“We!’ Said Alice.
“When should we put them up? Tonight?”
“Probably in the morning,” Finch said.
“Before work!” Alice shouted.
“So, come by the same time you did today.”
Chloe nodded, and exited, leaving the advertisements with them.
The clouds above, as well as what Chloe believed was a lack of moon beyond them made for an exceptionally dark night. Chloe had mapped out the city in her mind long ago, so she had nothing to worry about. At least, I hope so. As she walked, Chloe hummed the old Solune Royal Lullaby.
“—is what they say,
Shed no tears is what they say,
But my little baby, shedding tears you may
Shedding tears you may.
Your father’s died the people say,
Not coming back, so cry you may
Your fathers died—”
As she crossed between residential districts, rather unceremoniously, Chloe was grabbed from behind. Unable to see, she struggled and shouted.
But she knew that there were none around. She had memorized the patrols as well as the streets; no one would be here for more than half an hour.
Chloe steadied herself. She felt metal on her neck. What do I do? And this to a prince! Why—
“Are you the royal going to help the Lussa?”
What is this about?
Where did she come from?
You ARE going to help the Lussa.
That makes her a stated enemy to, ah, to my current tasks, right?
Chloe pushed her toes into the ground, steadying herself, and then pulled her hands in, grabbing the attacker’s arm and digging her thumbs into the wrist. She heard metal hit the cobble and quickly took her assaulter’s arms, pulled them forward and craned her own head straight and back. She heard the other person’s face smack the back of her head; and pain ran through her own. Ah, I hate that feeling.
She turned around and, underwhelmingly, saw only a shadow of a person standing in the dark. It took a few steps back, rubbing its head.
It spoke, “If you leave the city, if you go north with Lilllith, we will kill you.”
Chloe searched her waist. Unarmed as usual…
“Is that clear! Don’t help the Lussa, we don’t want it! We don’t want you in the City.”
It was clear to Chloe that this person was a woman, and she seems to be young.
Chloe stepped forward. Her foot hit something. The dagger.
“If Lillith makes here, then I will be returning with her.” She said.
The shadow shifted, doing something with its arms.
With a single blunt word, it said, “No!” and dashed forward, cutting across with some sort of weapon. Chloe dropped to a kneel and pawed the ground for the knife. She kept her eyes up. She felt a slight wind pass above her head. She felt a sharp edge with her and took up the dagger with an overhand grip. She saw the woman’s weapon glint as she recovered, a dull, thin sword.
“Damn it! Why is it so dark here?”
Chloe closed her eyes and opened her ears.
“Where are you! I… I can see you!” The assassin stammered, trying to seem in control, “I don’t have to kill you, you know, just give you an injury severe enough that you don’t take the trip. You know, send a message that—augh.”
Chloe let go of the knife. It lodged firmly in what she assumed was the woman’s thigh.
“Now, ah, now you have my message—you would do better to fight me in the bright of day.”
The woman grunted through her teeth. Chloe took her by the shoulders, and kicked her legs out from under her. She fell, and Chloe followed her, dropping and pinning her to the stone path underneath her knee.
“So, who are you? What brings, ah, what brings you to my kingdom?”
Instead of answering, the woman, whose arms were still free, swung at Chloe. It was a slow and clumsy attack.
Make sure she does not cross us again.
Chloe let the blow hit her in the abdomen. The attacker, now detained, took this a sign of victory, and swung with her other hand, cutting across with the sword. Chloe pulled the dagger out of the woman’s leg, blocked the attack with it, and then pushed it back into the wound.
“Ah,” her voice writhed, “what did you—!”
“You have to keep it in to slow the bleeding.”
She stood up and held the woman’s chest underfoot, then stomped on the weapon with the other leg. To her surprise, the sword shattered into three pieces.
“What, ah, what kind of weapon is this?”
Chloe waited for a response, but got nothing. She said, “The guard will be here any second now. We will learn what we need from you—even if you do not speak. Your clothes, your skin, your blood, Natasha can read it all and learn what we want to know.”
The intonation was filled with terror, so much that Chloe began to question which of them was the assaulter. “What do you mean no? Why not?”
“I can’t—you surviving is one problem, but then to be captured—no, they will abandon me! And then—”
Chloe knew the words weren’t meant for her, but she figured she could pull something useful out of the hysteria. Instead, there was a long silence. Chloe couldn’t tell the time that passed.
“L—just let me go.”
Chloe looked down with condescension. For a moment, the clouds parted to reveal that there was in fact a moon in the night. They saw each other clearly in the silver light.
The attacker, assassin, the woman; she was very young, a girl almost. She couldn’t have been any older than nineteen. Her hair was long and black as ash. Her skin, in contrast, was a slickly pale in colour, and her expression matched her tones, a face of desperation. There was something wrong with her eyes as well, but Chloe wasn’t sure if it was just the dark of night. Her look sought Chloe’s eyes for mercy. Never, in all her life, had Chloe been subject to such a request. Before she could make a silent reply, the clouds took over once more and they returned to the black.
“Tell me about yourself and, ah, I’ll let you go after.” Chloe addressed the darkness beneath her foot. “Why did you attack me?”
“That’s a secret!”
“Okay, what is your name then?”
“Well then Secret, my is Chloe Rhye, Fifth Prince of the Solune.”
“The Solune Prince!”
“Why are you here? To kill me?”
Chloe put her other foot back down, and the girl finally spoke.
“There are those who oppose the Lussa crown.”
“What is your name!”
“Chloe pressed her right foot down into the girl’s chest. A threat.
“…Can you keep a secret?” She spoke in a tiny voice.
Chloe nodded, but then remembered how dark it was. “Yes.”
“I am Ammalia. Don’t tell anyone, especially not Ryann! I am Ammelia, a Lord of the Northern Quadrant.”
“I will say I was attacked by a Lussa.”
“Telling others that would… be in my best interest,” said Ammelia.
Chloe frowned in the dark. She began to doubt whether she really should tell someone.
“…Now let me go?”
Chloe looked at the Lussa girl’s face. Her vision was only now beginning to adjust. Whatever had been wrong with the girl’s eyes before was currently gone.
“How old are you?”
She sounds like it. She even acts like it.
“Do not remove the knife until—” How long do I have? Probably at least ten minutes before the guards come, I think.
Five minutes later, Chloe finished dressing Ammelia’s wound. She had removed the sleeves from her silk overcoat and created a makeshift badge from them. It seemed to her that she hadn’t hit anything important or cut particularly deep, so it wasn’t too difficult a procedure.
The last thing Ammelia said before leaving was, “Thanks” and “I’ll see you the next time we attack you.”
Chloe sighed, hoping that whoever Ammelia was referring to was as incompetent as she was. Though I doubt it.
The girl disappeared into the night, and shortly afterward, two guards showed up with torches. Chloe told them what happened, keeping the secret, but pointing to the shattered sword on the ground as evidence. A report was made, and then Chloe was offered an escort home, which she accepted.