“I'm telling you, sir, it was him. The assassin of Taelliwey is in Torren.” Sam stood, firm like a soldier, inside the admiral’s tent. It was nice and cool compared to the menacing desert heat outside – the tent was large enough to house a dozen men, and in its centre was a wooden round table covered with maps and other war related documents. The rest of the tent was nearly empty, save for some shelves and another desk.
Sam was alone with the admiral, and a woman, he didn’t recognise her face, but he’d been mistaken before. The woman’s dark hair was too well kept and her eyes were gentle. She wasn’t a soldier, but her stance was firm and postured. Perhaps she was…
He didn’t have time to worry about who some woman was. Every minute he spent here was a minute the assassin gained ahead of him. He had to focus.
The admiral paced around and stroked his greying beard as he contemplated Sam’s words. “If you’re right then this is big news. We’ve been after Taelliwey’s Assassin for years now, but unfortunately catching an Assassin won’t help us win this war, and we’ve got bigger fish to trouble ourselves with.”
Sam’s expression changed as he sensed a new assignment coming on. He glanced over to the woman who was sitting patiently in the corner. It probably had something to do with her. He asked anyway. “What is it, sir?”
The admiral continued to pace back and forth as he spoke. The man was much shorter than Sam was, but he was made of muscle and had powerful shoulders. “We need you to arrest a man and bring him to us.” The admiral paused a moment. “His name is Garn Pallerii – he’s a noble from Taelliwey, extremely wealthy.”
“Is he dangerous?” Sam asked.
“He’s a business man, and we’ve cut him off from most of his assets. Keep in mind that without resources Garn is like a cornered animal, and although he probably won’t do much, he’s very likely to strike. I’ve had a team track him down. He’s in Torren.”
This is interesting. Maybe I could capture Garn and then go after the assassin in the same trip – two birds and all.
The admiral continued. “I know what you’re thinking Sam, but I want you to leave the assassin alone for now. Garn is the priority. We suspect that he has been funding and developing advanced weapons and using his lumber and mining camps to distribute them to criminal buyers, unfortunately Taelliwey is refusing to act against one of their own without hard evidence. Find him, Sam. The last thing we need is some private war sprouting up while we’re too busy fighting the djann.”
Sam noticed the woman stand up from her spot in the corner and step forward. Her movements were smooth and graceful, and her body was lean and curvy. The way she looked at him – Sam thought she somewhat resembled the movements of a cat. The admiral spoke again. “This is Ashley Wilson.” He made a gesture like he was presenting her. “She’s a specialist in Benezian crystals and technology – the type Mr. Pallerii may be involved with. You are to escort her into the city and let her help you in any way she can.” They looked at each other – their expressions remained the same. “Now, I know you prefer to work with a team, Sam, so I arranged to have you meet up with the men who tracked down Garn. I believe Ninth Commander James Regan is their leader; you’ll find him set up in a warehouse close to the south entrance of the city.” No one spoke for a short moment. “Any questions?” The admiral demanded.
“No, sir,” said Sam.
The admiral nodded, “then you are excused.”
Sam lifted the flaps of the large tent and brushed past the two tall men that guarded it. He paced down a narrow path in the camp and made for the stables. The scientist caught up to him and walked by his side, her hair blowing around as the heated dry wind picked up. What was a scientist doing on a mission like this? He didn’t enjoy the idea of working with her. She seemed like the kind of person who always wanted to be right and not someone who was helpful in catching a weapons dealer.
“Thanks for waiting up,” she scowled.
“No time to wait,” he responded bleakly. “We’re in a hurry.”
“Garn will be in Torren for at least a few more days. I knew him once, you know, and he likes to take his time. Whatever he’s doing in Torren, it’s important.”
“You’re wrong,” Sam accused. “A rich guy like Garn probably has informants of one kind or another. He’ll skip town as soon as he learns we’re onto him, that is, if he doesn’t already know, in which case he’ll be finishing up whatever he’s doing and then getting the hell out.”
Ashley smiled, it made her face looked pretty, but her eyes were cold. “Mr. Ford, isn’t it? We have been ordered to work together on this, and if that is the case then I should inform that I work in a profession of facts. My assertions are rarely incorrect.”
Sam rolled his eyes. Of course, she’s never wrong. He walked the last few yards and then entered the stables. It was only yesterday that he had allowed Taelliwey’s assassin to escape from this very place. The dry air inside smelled of hay and horse fodder. Sam moved past each gate until he stopped at the one that belonged to him. Before him stood a majestic and gallant beast of lean muscle and sleek brown hide. Sam took her reigns and led her out. “This is Faeirden,” he said, with a hint of pride.
Ashley stepped forward, and at the sight of the horse her eyes glowed. Sam realised that she had a passion for riding. “She’s beautiful,” Ash smiled.
Sam handed her the reigns as he moved to the neighbouring gate. Inside was another horse, this one was smaller and its entire body, including its flowing mane, was pure white, so that it glowed like the burning sun. Sam led her out. “And this is Star.” He handed Ash Star’s reigns and took Faeirden’s back. “Star is yours.”
Sam mounted Faeirden with ease and rode with Ash to the edge of the camp. He looked under the hot sun at the grey mark on the horizon that was Torren. Gathered a long piece of cloth from his bag he wrapped it around his head in the fashion of a turban. He then flicked Faeirden’s reigns and started forward. There was a lot of work to be done.ns 220.127.116.11da2