The Chronicles of Dukhan

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


An assassin who falls in love with a prince must decide to leave the only family she's ever known or give up a chance at true love

Submitted: December 15, 2017

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Submitted: December 15, 2017

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I looked up at Devil’s Wall, or so everyone called it, no feet or hand holds. This was my last test and I would be free of the training camp for good. Mercenary work is hard and dangerous, but the pay is phenomenal. I was training as an all-around mercenary one who could just as easily kill a small fighting force as scale up a palace wall.

“Hasana!” A voice yelled close to my ear, I jumped slightly and glared at Zara who grinned. “It’s your turn, you know in a little while.”

I punched her arm angrily, “Will you stop trying to stress me out more, Zara?” She laughed and threw a pale arm about my shoulders, her grey eyes contrasting oddly with her ivory skin. We had made friends with each other last summer at the trials for people looking to get into mercenary work. Zara was what my people jokingly refer to as a cracker, or an American. Outsiders’ going for mercenary work in the city of Dukhan, Qatar was pretty much unheard of.  I glanced at her again but, she wasn’t looking at me. She was too busy throwing her soft brown hair over a shoulder; and making goosey eyes at a guy off to our right. I shook my head, this was serious and she almost never was. I figured the only reason she got into training was because of her combat skill. She was that good.

“Zara!” Called one of the master’s. I stiffened as Zara slapped me on the back, and made her way to the wall. She grabbed at the surface and began to climb doggedly. However at about six feet off the ground she lost her concentration and fell. She landed heavily on the ground, dust rose around her. Everyone was laughing now; leave it to the American to screw it up. I pushed through the crowd and ran to help her up, but she pushed me forcibly away. I could tell she was mad, but the wall only gave one chance.

“Hasana!” The master’s voice cut through the noise, silenced the crowd, and called me forward. I ran the sensitive pads of my fingertips over the rough, but smooth, concrete of the wall. Without waiting for my nerve to desert me I launched myself up the wall. The feeling was extraordinary my hands and feet never stopped. The rough stone felt like Velcro as it brushed the bottoms of my bare feet. Upward I went, until the rooftop loomed over me. I pulled myself up onto it, the feeling almost effortless, after long hours of training. I situated myself on top of the roof and swept my eyes over the city. Small houses built out of rock littered the otherwise empty sand dunes. I settled into the freedom and peace of the moment before I turned my gaze to look down. I could still make out the onlookers from fifty feet up, but their features were blurred. I took one last look at Dukhan, and leapt out into space. My mind slowed down the fall and I searched for something to slow it down. I grabbed the window sill as it passed by using it to loop myself to another ledge. I caught sill after sill and descended towards the ground. I landed lightly  crouching on the balls of my feet.  I looked up to the sounds of cheers, as I shifted wisps of my raven black hair from my face. “Welcome to our ranks Lady Hasana. From here on you shall be known as Shade.” The master said formally as I rose to accept my gear. I turned towards Zara and smiled. She met my gaze with her own; to my surprise it was cold.

“Zara?” I started.

 “So I guess I should call you Shade now.” She snapped. I looked at her with concern. “Don’t look at me like that Hasana; I can’t believe you would even think about taking that cloak when I didn’t pass.” She gestured at the light black mercenary robe I held in my arms.

I took a step back, eyes snapping, “If you think I’m going to give up my dreams so you can have some peace of mind, Zara you’re dead wrong.” I said slowly, as I felt the flush of anger rise in my face.

“We are best friends Hasana. Best friends make sacrifices.”

I shook my head and pulled on the robe of my new status, letting the silk slide down my body. “I have made sacrifices for you over and over, and you never gave me anything in return.” I said glaring into her pale eyes.

“You think you’re better than me Hasana? Let’s see.” She drew her katana in one swift movement.

I took a step back hands up pleading, “Zara don’t do this, just let it go. We’re friends,”  She came at me, snarling her blade, slicing down towards my neck. The two scimitars I carried cleared the sheaths on my back rising up to block her downward attack. I barely felt the impact of her blade on mine as I pushed her backwards away from me.

“Zara stop.” I pleaded. She screamed an insult and began her assault in earnest. First, I tried defense not wanting to hurt her, but that ended when she opened my shoulder up. I cursed and began offense, weaving my swords in and around in a disarming move.

She turned foiling my attack and locked body to body with me, “Give it up, Hasana, you’ll never last in the field.”

I gritted my teeth, “I passed and you didn’t Zara remember that?”

She growled with anger and spat back, “You’re just a little sixteen year old.”

I hissed at the comment, “I’m nineteen Zara same as you, give it a rest.” She broke away from me grabbing a throwing star she hurled it in my direction. I twisted to the side sucking my stomach in as it whistled by millimeters away from me. I spun back up to see Zara hanging in midair over me her sword aimed at my heart. I knew I only had a split second before she killed me.  I reacted instantly my crossed swords thrust upward, and separated; neatly beheading her. Standing up slowly, I wiped the spatters of blood off my face, and turned to look down at Zara. A single tear escaped down my face splashing on the churned sand. I could feel myself growing colder, as an icy fist descended clenching on my heart. I walked to the wall, the crowd that had gathered around us parted silently in front of me. I gazed at the names etched on the stone of those who had successfully become a mercenary. I picked up a rock; hefting it in my hand I smashed my name into oblivion. Pouring all my anger and betrayal into the name she had called me by, I vowed to myself the past should never be brought up. I scaled the wall once again, taking a single last glance at the people far below; I left my trust behind as I embraced my new identity: Shade.

 

Mercenary life suited me well, and I rose in the ranks to become one of the best. I was ruthless because of Zara and the absence of trust with anyone. I got more than enough jobs to fill my time, and on my off days I would have fun. It started as fun, anyways until he asked me to change for him. I wasn’t really sure how to feel about that; and the day finally came when my job required me to go right under his nose. I dressed that morning putting on a light shirt, breaches with hidden pockets and black socks. My hair was in a loose braid off the left side draping down over my shoulder. I headed for The Royal Museum with a drooping heart.  

The room was deathly still filling me with its huge emptiness. I crept across the polished wooden floor my socks making barely a whisper. The old piano dominated the left hand corner of the room. It had three legs and was shaped like a giant horizontal harp. The shiny but warn mahogany twinkled in the dim light streaming in from the windows. The intricate flower patterned legs stretched up to meet the body of the instrument. The pedals descended, from the frame delicate as a cherub’s harp. A haunting melody slipped from the ivory keys, and I snapped out of my daze. Walking forwards I saw him sitting on the black leather of the bench. He looked up from the keys his warm amber-flecked brown eyes reached for my emerald ones. I smiled faintly, taking in his golden hair messy but stuck up in the always perfect angles around his tanned face. His full lips echoed my smile as, he pushed gracefully up from his seat. His clothes were plain, comfort linen; he wore long socks almost matching color to mine. His features suggested roots not of Qatar; he closed the distance slowly the muscles moving subtly under his shirt. “I didn’t think anyone else came here, let alone could get in.” His voice was a deep tenor, playful. He brushed a hand through his hair startling the dust motes to whirl frantically in the rays of light.

“Hi.” I said lamely wincing internally at the idiotic response. I tucked a stray wisp of coal black hair away from my face.

“How did you get in here?” He asked his eyes twinkling. He let his eyes take in my figure slowly.

I could feel myself turning red, and cleared my throat hurriedly, “I came through the window.” I gestured at the one in back of me.

 

He turned towards the window and then back to me, incredulous, “Were six stories up.” He shook his head as I shrugged the smile returning to his face, “Who are you?” He asked,

“You know very well who I am, Kadin.” I shook my head stifling a laugh.

“He grinned at me and moved in closer, “Touché, so what do you do for work Shade, you’ve never told me that?”

 His eyes were so open and innocent I almost answered him truthfully, before closing my mouth with a snap. Swallowing I replied, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” I backed up away from him my eyes daring him. He took the bait instantly; he grabbed my wrist and pulled me in close to him. “Don’t,” I warned. My wrist tingled pleasantly where his fingers touched me. He towered over my five foot six inch frame by eight inches of his own. He trailed his hand over my arm, sending shivers across my skin. “Kadin, stop.” I said jerking my hand away from him. He made as if to step away, and grabbed me by the back of the neck; his mouth found mine and he kissed me hard. I responded instantly, melting into him. My mouth softened moving on his, he pushed me into the piano, reaching a hand around to brace himself against it. He had gotten his shirt off and was fumbling with mine when the pounding of boots on stairs broke us apart. “Shit,” I muttered shrugging back into my shirt.

“What is it?” He asked fighting to keep his breathing under control.

I shook my head, “Nothing, I have to go.”

He stalked up to me and put a hand under my chin forcing me to meet his eyes, “You took something didn’t you?” He asked bluntly.

I stepped out of his reach, refusing to meet his eyes, “I have to go.”

“You promised you would quit them Shade, for us.” He said slowly. His eyes hard on mine, accusing.

“I can’t just quit Kadin, Being a mercenary is all I’ve ever known.” I reached into me breaches pocket feeling the rare bohemian glass sculptures clink together. His eyes found the

 

treasure and he lunged forwards, I danced out of his reach quickly. “Bye Kadin,” I said, as I slid out the window.

“Shade wait,” He yelled as I looked back once at him, and plunged of the sill into empty air. I looked up at him hanging half out of the window six stories up, and watched his guards yank him back inside. I wiped a hand across my face getting rid of the tears, before they fell and disappeared into the slums of Qatar.

It was two long months before the letter arrived dripping with wax seals. I opened it slowly, I didn’t usually get such high up’s asking for my services. I almost smiled as I read the name, Quafi, my adoptive father. I shook my head at the mission, taking the Castle of Al Wkrah was completely insane; but it would be a good distraction. I packed my meager belongings and sent ahead my consent, hefting my bag I disappeared out the door of my squat.

The view from my precarious vantage point in this stupid Awsaj tree wasn’t educational. There was the Castle of Al Wkrah, second largest city in Qatar. The walls looked as thick as you could get, and the sharpened sticks in the ditch surrounding; looked let’s just say unpleasant. “Shade!” yelled a voice below me.

I jumped, as one of the trees many thorns bit into my side. “Shit,” I muttered. I carefully grabbed the trunk and turned slowly to stare at the voice down below, “What?” I asked my voice soft.

“We’re about ready to move.”

I sighed. “Fine, I’m coming down look out.” With practiced ease, I flipped backwards out of the thorny heights, landing on my feet. I winced and pulled at the spike lodged in my side; tucking it into my belt pouch. I drew in a slow breath looking across the rows of quiet soldiers, massed in the grove. The biggest event I had ever been hired to participate in; the conquering of the prince’s castle.

“Shade, do you know what you need to do?” Quafi asked.

 

 

I nodded, “Open the locks on the gate so you can get through and storm the castle.” I repeated for what seemed like the hundredth time. Quafi nodded and signaled me to get to it and, his forces to start preparing. I crept to the edges of the Awsaj grove, to look at the sand I would have to cross to reach the walls. A final breath to calm fidgety nerves, and I was off. Down on my belly I crept forwards jumped up and, flitted in the shadows of the sun touching the sand. Someone looking down from the walls would never be able to spot me; I was completely invisible to people not practiced in the arts of camouflage. On reaching the ditch, I looked down on the death trap situated within. It was little wonder they had hired a mercenary of Dukhan to help take this castle. I grimaced as the stench of rotting flesh reached my nostrils, probably somewhere in the trench. Backing up a small ways I surveyed the trap, from the edge to the other side was probably around nine feet. I unsheathed two small knives one for each hand. With another breath I launched myself across the ditch. I had made it six feet when my momentum began to fade. With a small grunt of effort I spun in the air knife points barely scraping the top of a needle sharp stick; but giving me the extra surge of power to land crouching on the other side. I pressed my back to the smooth wall and wiped a bead of sweat off my upper lip. Turning around I gripped one of the knives in my teeth and tucked the other one in the back of my belt. I checked the bottom of my feet before the climb. They were rough and scared from not wearing shoes. Placing both hands on the wall, I shook my head to clear the memories of devils wall from my mind; now was not a good time to get distracted. Concentrating I began to climb the rough pads of my feet scraping over the stone of the wall. Reaching the top I grabbed the ledge, and swung my legs over so I was upside-down. Still with the knife clenched firmly in my jaws, I waited for the pounding footsteps. They weren’t long in coming, when I felt they were almost on top of me, I flexed the muscles in my stomach. Sitting up on the ledge as both swords cleared the sheaths on my back, I swiped killing two guards instantly. Flipping off the edge onto the walkway I landed crouching and began to fling knives at any and all bodies I could see. Standing up I surveyed the carnage I had created, and then looked for the stairs to the bridge. On reaching the stairs I crept up them quietly, the locks were there on the bridge control door. Taking out a pick I set to work on the first one. I had almost finished with the third when footsteps sounded behind me.

 

“Hasana!” I froze. I hadn’t heard that name since I left it behind. I turned slowly one hand cradled behind my back holding a knife. I didn’t bother with conversation, as soon as I was facing him I let the knife fly. He threw himself to one side as the blade grazed his cheek. I rose slowly, aware of the sounds of battle around me; the attack had started. His eyes were just as I remembered, a warm brown accenting his olive skin.

“I didn’t think that you would be fighting.” I said carefully.

“They’re my people Hasana; of course I’ll fight with them.”

He replied. I tucked a strand of raven hair away from my face, “How did you figure out my name?”

He looked towards me tenderly at first, “I didn’t know you were a Dukhan Mercenary.” He said changing the subject.

“Yeah well, you failed to mention you were the Prince of Al Wkrah.” I replied.

He smiled and took a step towards me, reached out a hand to brush another strand of hair from my face. “You’re always so disagreeable, Shade.”

I gasped as my breath quickened and my heart thudded in my chest. What was he doing why did I feel so helpless against his gaze? His thumb stroked my cheek, “I-I stop!” I stepped backwards out of his reach.

He dropped his hand looking after me. “I won’t let you finish your job, Hasana.” He said very quietly his eyes growing cold.

I almost smiled my breath coming back and met him with my own cold stare, “I won’t let you stop me, Prince Kadin.” I said just as quietly. On that note I let the thorn in my hand go. It flew straight and true. Prince Kadin fell to the ground unconscious the venom of the Awsaj tree temporarily paralyzing him. Turning back to my locks, I finished and pulled the lever to lower the drawbridge. Quafi and his men flooded into the palace. I watched the battle for a while as it progressed.

“Shade!” Quafi called, I glanced down at him. “If you find the prince bring him to me so I can gut him like a pig.” I nodded once. Swinging myself down off the wall I walked to Kadin, standing at his feet I looked down on him. All I had to do was bring him to my adoptive father and, it would be done. Kneeling down, I moved him into a sitting position, and almost dropped him as a single tear spilled down his handsome face. He caught me with those eyes; I wasn’t sure how he could still move. His gaze was a silent plea, and I saw the glitter of trust and something I didn’t want to think about. One last look at his face and I made the second hardest decision of my life.

The clatter of boots on the stairs, I turned fluidly unsheathing the scimitars at my back. The tempered blue tinted steel wavered in the flowing hot wind. “Shade, you found him.” Captain Ferran said walking towards me.

“Don’t come any closer.” I said quietly.

Ferran stopped and looked from me to Kadin and shook his head in disapproval. “Lord Quafi will be most displeased Shade. If you give him to us I won’t mention this little attachment.” While he was talking he motioned the guards to edge closer.

“Back off unless you want to end up, dead.” I said my voice a little louder.

Ferran hesitated for a second, but finally decided his numbers far outweighed my skills. “I guess I’ll have to lessen the blow of Lord Quafi’s adoptive daughter’s death with the head of a Prince.” He surged forwards a second behind his men.

I shook my head in disgust as all ten soldiers hit the walkway, and Ferran stood back laughing. “You piece of dung, why would you sacrifice your men you knew as well as I that this would happen.” I asked contempt written all over my face.

“Now you have no stars left my dear.” He lunged at me. I threw myself to one side, he was fast. His one- and- a- half- hand- sword barely missing my side. I front flipped forward turning on one knee to face him swords in attack position.

 

 

He laughed, “Gods, you’re fast no wonder they say you’re one of the best.” He charged in again. I blocked his feint and, parried his real strike. He broke away circled and came in again locking swords with me. His weight and strength forced me to my knees. I gasped as I held his sword away from my throat with the strength of my will. He could see I was weakening and pressed harder. The blade barely an inch from my throat, and my arms shook with the effort of holding onto my life. There was a sound from our left, and suddenly the awful force was gone.

Kadin grabbed the other man and threw him forcibly off me. “Get away from her, you bastard!” He roared as Ferran flew through the air to hit the control door.

I looked up at him his brown eyes flashing as his golden hair framed his head like a halo.  I grabbed the hand he offered me, “Thanks.” I gasped. He didn’t answer instead he pulled me to him took my face in his hands and kissed me. I stood there completely frozen, as my feelings flooded back. His lips were warm and full of life; and I felt like they began to melt the icy fist around my heart, set in place by Zara. Ferran rose slowly to his feet, ripping a throwing star from one of his men he turned towards Kadin eyes full of hatred. Blood dripped from a cut on his face and, his other arm hung limp at his side. I acted instantly shoving Kadin aside I took the star in my shoulder.

Ferran’s eyes widened in shock as blood spilled from my shoulder. “Sha….” That was as far as he got. The hair piece I wore that concealed my smallest knife, buried itself up to the hilt in his chest. His eyes wide with surprise he dropped to his knees, his eyes rolled up and he collapsed face down on the walkway.

“Come on, we have to go.” I said hoarsely to Kadin who looked shaken. He skirted the body of Ferran and, took my hand. I flipped the switch to close the drawbridge; trapping the last family I had left inside the walls of the castle he failed to conquer. One last look at the chaos inside and I slid over the wall, securing the rope for Prince Kadin. Half way down I lost my grip, and started to plummet towards the ground. Kadin caught me by my bad arm making me hiss in pain. His eyes sparkling with determination he slung me over his shoulder despite my weak protests. We made it down the wall and, across the trap. Climbing out of the trench, Kadin put me down, slowly setting me on my feet. I swayed from blood loss, cursing silently as I clutched  

 

at my shoulder. I turned to look back at the Palace of Al Wkrah one last time. Pulling the star out of my shoulder, I threw it to the ground. I took his hand as we walked out into the desert, leaning heavily on him; the heat waves making us two small fading mirages.

 

 

 


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