Dastan was the last one left. The last one standing between the assassins, garbed in dark grey, and the amulet. He wiped the sweat from his dark brow and pushed his black locks from his face. The remaining six assassins began to advance. Six swords reflecting the torch lights lining the courtyard walls. Six swords reflecting the death in their eyes. He steadied his own as they attacked.
The lead assassin’s blade cut through the air toward Dastan’s throat. He leaned back and dodged as another blow glanced by him. He spun past the first two attackers and the third man met Dastan’s sword, his eyes bulging as the blade sunk into his chest.
Dastan danced between the steel blades, staying one breath away from death. He refused to fail, refused to let them harness the power the amulet was suppose to provide. If it fell into the wrong hands, it could mean the end of everything. He was never told what the amulet did, or how it worked, but he was told it was powerful and dangerous in the wrong hands.
His enemies pushed their attacks on Dastan, knocking him backward. A body, who’s soul had already departed to the after life, tripped him. He stumbled, and a kick to the breastplate left him sprawled on the floor. A dagger slammed through his shoulder, pinning him to the ground. His breath caught as a sharp, white hot pain shot through his arm, chest, and back.
“Tell us where the amulet is or die,” one of the assassins said, his sword held high over Dastan’s head.
He gritted his teeth against the pain as his failure settled within him. It was over. He could not protect the family that saved him from the ones that killed his parents and he could not protect the power they safeguarded. All was lost, but he would not tell them where the amulet was. They would have to find it on their own. He braced himself as the sword began to descend, but before it came close, a dagger impaled the head of his would be executioner. Another dagger met the heart of the assassin closest to him.
He recognized the intricate patterns on the handles of the daggers as a cloaked figure came into view. Amara, the one person he never expected. Dastan and Amara had history. The last two of their kind since the purge. They were rescued by the two most powerful families of nobles in the city. Powerful because of the amulets. The ones attacking them that night, killed Dastan and Amara’s kind. All of them. The two families raised them both with the sword, using them to try and steal the amulets from each other so they could have the power of the amulets to themselves. Dastan and Amara had battled countless times, tried to murder each other more times than they could remember. All for the families that rescued them.
Amara’s cloak billowed as she jumped from the wall of the courtyard and stood beside him.
“Get up,” she said roughly, pulling the dagger from his shoulder. “Your life is mine to take, no one else’s. If you are to die, it will be by my blade.”
“Amara—“ Dastan began as he got to his feet, blood pouring from his shoulder.
“We will have to end it quickly,” she said cutting him off.
“What are you—“
“Arm yourself fool! There is still blood to spill.”
Dastan smirked despite the pain, “Then let us be done with them.”
They attacked the remaining assassins, a new vigor coursing through him. They fought in sync, Dastan using his undamaged arm, Amara protecting his flank. Due to their personal war with each other, they knew one another intricately. Their styles, stances, thoughts, even. The remaining three assassins did not stand a chance. The last one dropped dead and they stood there, chests heaving. Silent. Both wondering if they were going to attack each other, until Amara turned toward him and sheathed her sword.
“Sit, let me attend your wound. Your armor will have to go.”
“I would be a fool to be around you without armor,” Dastan replied.
“You already are a fool. Now, take it off. I will not attack you. You have my word.”
Dastan hesitated at first, then he let her help him take his bracers and breastplate off. His shirt followed. He watched as she ripped the shirt into strips and bandaged his shoulder. He was quiet while she worked, keeping his guard up. She broke the silence again.
“More will come. We need to bar the gate.”
“How do you know?” He asked.
“All will be explained. Just help.”
“If this is a trick I—“
Amara’s scowl cut him off, but he returned one in kind. She looked away, then strode to the gate of the courtyard. They closed it and reset the bar upon it.
“Why are you doing this?” He asked, once they were finished securing the gate.
“I have hated you for so long,” she whispered, then louder, “Tell me, why do you hate me?”
“You try to steal the very thing that kept this house together. My family, they saved me from the assassins just like the ones that litter this floor. You want us dead.”
“That’s what they told you?”
“What are you saying?”
“Why do you think we never really spoke to each other? It is clear we come from the same people, but from the beginning, I was told you were my enemy. That you and this house wanted us dead.”
“I was raised the same, Dastan said.
“My house told me that your parents tried to escape. They were thieves that murdered one of the noble houses whole family. Retribution for that was the purge of our kind. I hated you because I was told your parents caused the deaths of mine. The death of our whole race.”
“Lies!” Dastan yelled, standing and drawing his sword. “Your mind games will not work on me.”
“Sit down, fool, and listen!” Amara roared. “I will say my part and after, if you want to cross blades, then it will be a pleasure. One less pigheaded idiot in the world! We both know that I will easily defeat you in your state. Now, sit and listen.”
Dastan calmed himself. He realized that she was right. At any moment she could have attacked him and ended his life, but she had not even moved her hand in the direction of her sword, or her daggers, or the secret throwing stars she always kept in the lining of her cloak. Instead, she had saved him and bandaged him up. He sat back down, begrudgingly, but he sat nonetheless.
“They were lies, Dastan,” Amara continued. “Our Masters lied to us. We were raised to think we were each others enemies, when they were our enemies the whole time.”
“They saved us, Amara.”
They enslaved us after they murdered our parents! Our parents were special. The Amulet Keepers. They killed them, then stole the amulets and us!”
“It just does not make sense.”
“Have you ever been able to touch the amulet?”
“Of course not,” Dastan said.
“Because, it will activate once you touch it. They were turning us into weapons.”
“This can’t be true.”
Amara reached into her cloak and pulled out both amulets.
“How did—“ Dastan began.
“I took it after the assassins killed your Masters and you left to avenge them.”
She threw one at him and he caught it. Nothing happened.
“That one is from my Masters . This one,” she walked over to him. “Is from yours. When you touch it, all will be clear.”
Dastan reached out and gently took the amulet. Red light burst forth and he stared in amazement, then his eyes went dark. Memories floated through his consciousness of a land filled with people like him. Like Amara. He saw his parents and recognized them from distant memories. He saw their deaths, saw him being stolen. Amara’s words were true. The memories disappeared as fast as they came, but he could not deny what he saw. He sat there for a moment, then turned to Amara.
“What do we do?”
“We leave this place and forge a path of our own. Together. Let his place burn.”
She held her hand out to Dastan. He did not hesitate this time. He took her hand and she helped him up.
“I saved your life tonight. You owe me a life debt. Never forget that,” Amara said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pay my debt. Follow me, I know a secret way out.”
“Then lead the way, Dastan.”
“They will never stop looking for us, you know this? They will come for the Amulets of Power.” Dastan said.
“Let them come,” she said. “They will regret it.”