Prologue

She sat in a tree next to the trail. Her black cloak pulled around her, eyes closed, listening. If anyone had bothered to look they wouldn't have seen her. She was good at her job. Her mission this time was to ambush and kill. Almost always her mission was to kill. Killing never bothered her. Nothing ever bothered her. As long as it was what her master wanted she would do it and never lose a moments sleep. That is when she was allowed to sleep. She didn't need it. Didn't need food or drink either, though going without for long periods of time wasn't pleasant. She still felt the pain that comes from not eating or drinking, but the magic that made her so good at her job also made such human needs unnecessary. It wouldn't kill her.

Her master, the King, wanted her to kill one of his best and most loyal warriors. He wanted this guy's wife for himself and was willing to do anything to get what he wanted. Not like she cared. It never mattered to her why her master wanted anything. All that mattered was she did as he commanded. This time was no exception. But she had seen this man fight for his king many times. Follow every command without question, including the command to go on this fool's errand that would lead him straight to her, to his death. She felt nothing, but she was…. unsettled.

She heard a horse approaching and gathered her legs under her as she watched for it. One of the men her master sent with her whistled, signaling its approach. The men were useless to her. They made too much noise and insisted on telling her things she already knew. She had told her master sending more men was unnecessary, but it was his will so she accepted it. She prepared to launch herself and knock her prey off his steed. She knew he would be alone. This was too easy.

She left the dead men where they lay. After her initial jump, she let her prey kill most of the others the king had sent with her first. Her master never said the men had to return, only that she was to return and let him know when it was finished. She waited just outside the fray for the warrior to dispatch them. He spotted her and decided to attack, but one of the remaining men stepped between them. No one got between her and her kill and lived. She decided it would simply be easier to fight through him and throw him aside than to fight around him. By the time she approached the warrior he was worn down. His sword hung limply at his side. She would much rather have fought the warrior by herself, but the choice was not hers. Stumbling, he parried her first few feigned thrusts, but he was too tired to fight any more. Not that it would have done him any good. A few slashes of her swords to the abdomen and he fell to the ground. She knew he would never get up again.

She stood over her prey and raised her sword to deal the killing blow. She felt her master impatiently calling her. She would have liked to have given the warrior a quick, clean death. He had fought well and she had to honor that but there wasn't time. Her master was calling and she had to obey. She walked off, turning into mist as she went. Returning to her master, she let him know it was done.