A/N: Hello everyone! I'm Tejana. You can learn the basics about me by visiting my profile so I won't waste your time here. This is the sequel to my other story called Lost. It's not terribly important that you read Lost first however I'd very highly recommend it. This has OCs that are main characters (don't worry...none of them date or marry Halt or Will. Pairings are cannon) and while I keep in mind that not all readers are familiar with Lost there are quite a few advantages to reading Lost first.
I'm not offended by flames. If you think it's absolutely horrid and you want me to quit disgracing the pixels of the Ranger's Apprentice section, tell me. Just keep in mind I've the right to ignore you. However, I really hate it when readers offend each other so please refrain from that.
Updates will be fast (as they were with Lost) however keep in mind holidays are coming up and I will be traveling quite a bit. I can already tell you in December there will be a few weeks I'll be visiting family overseas and I will not be taking my laptop along. BUT rest assured the story WILL continue upon my return.
My main rule is: no reviews, no updates. I don't set numbers on reviews because I don't like that. I write several chapters in advance and as long as there's a review and a chapter available you'll get a new one...but lots of reviews would make me a happy author and don't you want your author to be happy?
Disclaimer: I don't own Ranger's Apprentice. Sad day.
Halt, Liam, and Will lay on their bellies with their modified sandy cloaks covering their bodies. They crawled swiftly but silently towards a drain missing a bar, creating a gap just big enough for a small man to get through. The drains here weren't near as large as the ones in Araluen but they made it.
The mission Crowley had assigned them would be considered suicidal by most. They were to go to Persia and put an end to the rumors of an uprising against Araluen and its allies. Their old friend Selethen had been their guide but opted out of the actual mission. He told them in detail how to get back to Arrida and left them with a couple of maps if needed. In Persia they'd learned that Sardar, a leader in the Hibernian assassin Academy of the Sunrise Warriors, had a brother called Suhrab. Sardar was a younger brother and, in Persian culture, worth significantly less than Suhrab. Sardar and ended up in Hibernia through a number of coincidences and now, eight years after Sardar's death, Suhrab heard of it and wanted revenge. He planned to attack all countries involved.
Halt, Will, and Liam had spied on the man for quite a few days. He had a lavish estate filled with his family and slaves. It was hard to tell the two groups apart. Suhrab himself was obviously the head of the estate. After him was a cousin who served as the general of his military, an uncle who ran his stable, and another cousin who beat down the slaves and lesser-family members. Suhrab had more wives and concubines than they could count but it was easy to see which ones he valued. The favored ones dressed much nicer and had sons clinging to their hips.
Polygamy was the only reason none of the girls of the Special Task Force had come. They didn't want to risk losing them. Besides, the women inside were watched far more closely than the men. The women, the Araluens had noticed, shirked to the lesser-men for attention Suhrab failed to give. Rumors would fly and people would be notified if a new girl entered without a wedding or birth.
Liam spoke their language and had gained the trust of Razeen, the head of stables, and two of Razeen's wives, Darya and Shahana. Halt and Will had befriended Ishtar, a slave girl who desperately wanted out of the compound estate. She claimed to have a brother in Arrida and agreed to help them get to Suhrab and then out of the compound discreetly and guide them to the Arrida border. She just needed men to travel with her so she'd be safe.
Darya had told them about the barred drain. Her children used it to escape chores and play on the other side of the desert dunes. As promised Ishtar was waiting on the other side with a candle. At least they thought it was Ishtar. The women wore scarves over their heads that made it difficult to tell. Once they were close they recognized the figure to indeed be Ishtar and they followed her swiftly up the steps.
The guards said little about Ishtar leading three official-looking cloaked men through the servants' quarters. As they entered the quarters of the lower-family members, the guards still said nothing.
"We stop. Men will catch us," Ishtar whispered. Halt took out the packets of explosives Malcolm had invented.
"Time to make some noise then," he whispered. He threw one down and the three ran down the hall. Halt through another one. He leaned over a balcony and threw another. Guards rushed down the stairs. He threw a few more and then the three rushed to the now empty hallway of the higher-up family.
Suhrab was killed in his sleep. Ishtar woke the wife he'd been sleeping with. She cried but they clearly weren't tears of sadness or pain. She seemed happy as she shuffled out of the bed into the blanket Ishtar offered her for modesty. Ishtar took off her headscarf and wrapped it around the wife's head. They spoke rapidly for a few moments before the wife went to a wardrobe and took out a much finer scarf.
She handed it to Ishtar, who quickly wrapped it around her own head. "We go now. Little time," Ishtar whispered. Razeen and his wives were supposed to keep everyone distracted. The confusion proved they were doing a good job. The attack on Araluen and its allies were whispers that were easily squashed by the death of the whisperer. Now that Suhrab was dead they'd fade from view. For good measure, though, they left evidence that the military leader had done it. The compound would be in chaos for a few weeks but if all went well the less-than-popular man would be put to death as well and Razeen would take charge. The military leader was a pig who bought sex slaves rather than wives, making all his children illegible for his fortune. Razeen may have had six wives, but he treated each one with value.
Halt didn't think the lifestyle was right but he wasn't there to make judgments. Seeing all the beaten down women just made him want to get back to Pauline as quickly as possible. He'd talked Lina into making Pauline allow her to stay in their apartment. Halt simply felt better knowing someone who could shoot a bow and throw a knife…and wield the strange tessen she'd introduced him to just before he left…was in the house. Kane, now nine years old, was learning how to use a katana. Lina had even asked permission to give the boy his own on his next birthday.
It was a clean getaway. Razeen had given Ishtar a horse for her journey as payment for her help in the plan. In the Persian culture, women were rarely thanked much less paid for services. Halt mentioned the idea to their new ally and Razeen had agreed it was a good one.
"Much thanks," Ishtar told them when they slowed to a more reasonable pace for their horses. "Much thanks to you."
"Get us to Arrida," Halt said. Ishtar nodded and began leading the way.