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  1. He sped up, his boots clashing on the rough cobbles, ringing in the cold night air. He drew a ragged breath and looked desperately over his shoulder, hoping that the shadow he knew was following him had somehow been left behind. it was not to be. As pre-dawn mist rolled through the streets he saw his pursuer, never rushing, never lagging, gaining with an inevitability that made the pursued want to weep. With exhaustion threatening to overwhelm him he carried on, fleeing to the safety he knew he would find at the citadel gates.
    * * *
    The shadow was in no hurry. he knew his prey would be unable to escape him, knew that the foul master he served would not fail him. Nonchalantly he fingered the hilts of the many knives he kept in various places on his body, carefully selecting according to weight, distance and effect. He had mastered these knives, tempered his skills in streets far rougher than anything this city had to offer, and now he was master of all those those that claimed that killing was their life. His prey was one that could not afford to get away, the information he had in his head was so dangerous that should it become public knowledge, very bad things would happen very quickly. As he carried on, up the large hill that led to the citadels main gate he smiled a thin smile at the thought of victory, at the thought of reward. Slowly he drew a small blade, hardly five inches long and held it in his palm. expertly crafted in the forges of lands far to the east, it had a weight tot it that belied its size, and enough poison within its heart to make sure that all but the faintest scratch would kill. With a skill born from years of practice he released the blade and turned away, confident that he had not missed.
    * * *
    He felt the blade slam into his back between his shoulder blades with such force it threw him to the ground. As the poison swept through his artery's aided by the hammering of his now dying heart, he uttered one last incantation, the only sign the soldiers who were running from the postern gate got of his true identity. Like a summer lightening bolt that strikes out of nowhere, the flash of blue leapt into the night air and disappeared into the south. With puzzlement in their eyes that soldiers gathered up the body, confident that the city coroner would know who and what this man was.

    Far to the south a young girl screamed as the knowledge of her fathers death came to her out of a clear blue sky. Her anguished sobs fell onto the deaf ears of the dunes that surrounded her home, choking the wails in a heat that was beyond repressive. With a warriors determination to avenge her father and the naivity of an adolescent she set off, taking the few scant things that were of any value. Stopping at the grave of her mother she petitioned the harsh gods of the desert to guide her and bring her luck. In the face of her fierceness they relented, and she set off, a powerful ally at her back.