Chapter 6

Ember sat in the shade of a large oak tree, she smiled as the sun sank in the west over the hills she watched for the assassin that Kamen mentioned, Kamen himself was about a twenty meters back sleeping she knew even the best assassins needed sleep she slept earlier that day so now she was ready for action, she was just a little angry and impatient that this man hadn't shown up yet.

Finally, after an hour of waiting she saw him she walked over to Kamen and woke him up she was relieved to know that he was experienced enough to not only sleep with a weapon concealed next to him but that he was a light sleeper. He was instantly awake and alert he looked at her and nodded, she nodded back and they both moved toward the meeting spot Ember looked at her companion and noticed if she walked into right now she never would have guessed he was asleep a few minutes ago. She saw one of his disc blades out in his left hand and his right hand on his sword handle the assassin approached looking over his shoulder constantly Ember and Kamen glanced at each other "so?" Ember asked when the assassin was in earshot he looked around then seeing the two near invisible pair he walked over to them "yeah it's done so you two are going to go get it then?" Kamen shook his head then nodded to Ember. "No" Ember explained, "I am going to go get the ring while you and Aldan stay here. I will be back" She vanished from sight after a few minutes while the assassin looked at Kamen "she's a fiery one eh?" Kamen raised an eyebrow "you have no idea what my wife is capable of"

Ember moved stealthily through the forest, she reached the edge of the forest she looked over the fort and sighed this would be too easy she looked at the sun it was about half an hour before dark she smiled she hid her katana, bow and but kept her three of her tantos two under her skirt one in her boot and one hidden with the rest of her gear she then put on her disguise of a poor girl and walked toward the village seeing mostly male dominant she looked around and walked in she smiled at most of them who smiled back as she walked toward the fort then seeing her target exactly how Kamen described, tall heavily bearded, with a large slightly broken nose with heavy brows and jet black hair she frowned what was strange is most men like him had a nice look to them, as if they thought they were right, but he just looked like pure malice as if malice had been incarnated.

Ember sighed to herself now she just wanted to kill this guy but she knew what she had to do she didn't like it but it was what had to be done. She walked right by him making a flirty gesture she walked by the fort acting as if she was in awe from it, Raykale walked up to her "Hello miss, what are you doing here all alone?" Ember looked at him batting her eyes "just looking for a handsome man to help me with something someone tall dark and strong…do you think you could help a poor girl like me?" He smiled at her lustfully, "what can I help you with?" She looked at him seeing Kamen's ring on his finger "I'm poor but I want something beautiful something…ooh! That ring! Where did you get it?" Raykale looked at her, "oh that? It's a…gift" Ember looked at him sadly "oh, I'm sorry I didn't mean to…" Raykale laughed "no it's fine miss I just want something from you for it," Ember smiled then put her hands on his shoulders then kissed the man passionately, pushing him up against the wall of the fort she slipped the ring off his finger and slipped it into a hidden pocket then after a few painful moments she parted from him and walked away throwing her hair back Raykale laughed as she did she went back to the woods then walked in a large zig zag arc back to the camp she walked forward and tossed Kamen the ring he caught it and smiled at the assassin "alright here's the rest of your payment now scram" the assassin laughed "I didn't know Aldan was married nor could kill like this pity you weren't a ruler the Assassin's Guild would be the perfect place for you." Kamen stood up, "what did you say?" the assassin raised an eyebrow "the Assassin's Guild, a large group of assassins that rebuilt Troy, well not them but some ancestor of the Overlord did."
Kamen smiled, "what's your name?" "Estabon, why?" Kamen nodded, "let me see your seal," said Kamen. Ember watched with interest was this the same guild Kamen was talking about? She heard very little about it and was now interested in learning more, Estabon pulled off his simple ring and handed it to Kamen, Kamen inspected it slightly then handed it back to him, "Well it looks like I met a comrade, I wish I had known earlier or I wouldn't have lied to you."
Estabon looked confused then suspicious "what do you mean lied?" Kamen stood up smiling at the assassin noting his slightly messy black hair his eyes brown and cold now staring at Kamen, his slight Frankish accent and goatee, he was shorter than Kamen but taller than Ember his muscles were small typical for an assassin he wore deep, faded green shirt with a hood and dark brown trousers with brown leather boots. Kamen shrugged, "I am not Aldan but his brother Kamen I am also a member of the Guild," Kamen took out a ring from his pocket and handed it to Estabon. Estabon looked at it, "a captain! My god! I never would have guessed you were a captain!" Kamen shrugged, "helps to be an ex prince" Estabon shook his head "so this girl is your wife?" Ember looked at Kamen in shock "your what?" she shrieked and slapped Kamen "I thought I told you not to do that!" Kamen shook his head "no you said for me to say you were my sister I didn't, I said wife instead" Ember's face turned red with embarrassment and anger, "Kamen I swear! One of these days I will kill you!" Kamen smiled "well at least I'll die happy" Estabon burst out laughing, Ember glared at him then kicked him in the shin he bent over grasping his shin while laughing "ha ha ha! You two even behave like a married couple! All you need is to say you are and I'd believe it!" Ember almost blew her top, "I swear men are so…ugh!" she stormed off getting on her horse and riding east Kamen looked after her, "I think I went too far, either way Estabon I hope to see you at the Guild Meeting that's coming up" Estabon calmed down then sat on a log "yes I am looking forward to it, mostly the women eh?" he glanced meaningfully at Kamen who raised an eyebrow and smacked him on the back of the head, "I remember your brother saying you were an idiot sometimes now I believe him."

Ember rode Starlight until she was out of sight dismounting she kicked a rock fiercely, "Ugh, why does Kamen do those things? He knows I get mad what's wrong with saying I'm a friend or something?" she sat down then sighed, "aw well I mean I guess he was pretending to be Aldan and he needed some sort of excuse" she thought about it for a while then sighed, "I mean I'm sure I would have done the same in his place but still no way am I going to have him know that"

She stood up and walked over to her horse then getting had Starlight trot back to camp.

When she got there she was downright shocked, the camp was deserted with one of Kamen's swords in the grass she found a hastily scribbled message in the handle it read: followed she raised an eyebrow "what does that-," She stopped and remembered, "aw great!" putting Kamen's sword on her waist she ran over, getting on Starlight she rode toward Raykale's fort then forcing the strong horse into a fast gallop she stopped at the sign of Raykale's fort in time to see Kamen and Estabon being dragged into the tyrant's fort Ember gritted her teeth she fell to her knees "Damn it! I screwed up again!" She got up and ran over to Starlight grabbing her bow Ember stopped to think almost 40 men including Raykale, two people to save at for sure Kamen. Estabon was optional, but desirable she notched an arrow to her bow no doubt Raykale would keep them in some dungeon but she stopped there was no way she could take on 40 men with just over 30 arrows and her katana, spinning around she dismounted and paced looking at the sky she waited, she could wait until dawn when they were sleepy, sneak in and kill them off one by one…but how would she get into the fort? As she paced the moon set sighing she honed her sword, she knew Kamen would be so angry with her and he'd have every reason to be she got cocky and let herself get followed how could she make such a rookie mistake? Now, because she made that mistake she had to rescue her friend, well friend and comrade of a friend but still! Ember pulled out her bow sat down and dozed off in the warm night.

Kamen was suspended high above the ground about thirty feet he noticed the thick chain his cage was suspended from the hard reinforced bars of his cage while he could probably squeeze through the bars it was almost eight feet from the tower window which was locked shut Estabon was in an identical cage on the other side of the tower Kamen couldn't believe what had happened about two minutes after Ember left they were surrounded by Raykale and his men supposedly they had no idea that Ember was part of the group so Kamen thought…but he quickly scribbled 'followed' on a piece of parchment before they were captured when he stuck it in his sword handle a guard noticed him and threw the sword away luckily the man was dumb enough not to notice him writing. He dearly hoped Ember was captured…or worse because Raykale just finished torturing Estabon while Kamen could see Estabon he couldn't reach him Estabon smiled at Kamen, "Idiot thought he could tell me where we hid the money good thing you told me to hide it I didn't think of ever doing that, no I know better" Kamen nodded "yeah I know what you mean I learned the hard way too. It's never a good idea when you are with strangers but if you hide it in separate places the money is twice as safe"

Kamen himself was tortured, already his thumb felt like it was broken from the thumbscrew Raykale used on him. But he was trained to resist torture, it was a skill he knew was necessary in his line of work of course he was right.

Kamen sat in his cage massaging his injured body, he looked around and it was about an hour until dawn he wondered if Ember was going to attack then. But for now he laid down to get some sleep he knew he should keep up his strength when Ember attacks.

Dawn.

The sun rose, the sky streaked with pink and purple, Kamen sat up and looked around he heard something, suddenly he looked down in surprise two men were lying dead on the walls! Both had an arrow transfixed in their throats, Kamen gulped then heard a pound on the window as Raykale kicked it open "who the hell is attacking my fort!" he yelled at Kamen, Kamen shrugged "I don't know, why don't you ask your men?" Raykale growled in frustration "I know you had something to do with this assassin now who is it?" Kamen yawned "probably your enemies," he said laying down on the floor of the cage Raykale angry kicked the cage making it rock Kamen didn't move, "I won't ask again! Who is it!" Kamen sat up and looked down at the ramparts which now had enemies swarming over them, and shrugged "I am guessing Black Swan." Raykale's face went pale with fear he may have forty men at his command but the Black Swan was the best group of fighters in Gaul, if they were invading his fort…he had only one thing to do, Aldan must have hired them in order to kill him but Raykale could escape if he captured Aldan held him at sword point and told him to have the Black Swan back off. Grabbing the key to the cage Raykaale unlocked it quickly and pulled Kamen out and pulled him into the tower and put a sword to his throat "Order them off or you die."

Kamen smiled "do you really think I ordered them to come here? You are a bigger fool than I thought Raykale-," Raykale pressed the sword blade a little farther just enough to draw blood but not puncture Kame's windpipe, "I know you did Aldan! The stunt with the assassin, then with the woman, then pretending to get captured, just to draw my attention so you could attack my fort! Admit it Aldan!" Kamen smiled wider, "Aldan didn't do any of that I did," Raykale looked at him confused "you're not Aldan?" Kamen shook his head, "I'm his brother," then without a second thought Kamen grabbed the sword blade on the blunt side of Raykale's single edged wide tipped saber , he twisted it away from his throat smashed his knee into Raykale then head butted him in the forehead then disarming him and grabbing a knife on Raykale's belt and slammed it into the back of his neck then going over to Estabon's cage Kamen cut him loose and let him out giving him the knife and Kamen grabbed the saber "Let's get out of here."

The battle didn't last long, the Black Swan's reputation was no exaggeration within an hour the defenders had surrendered in fact some of them were just waking up from a drunken sleep when they had been marched out and shackled with their comrades Kamen came out of the tower dropping Raykale's head in front of them they all gasped only Ember was emotionless mostly because decapitation wasn't really something she was too shocked at in the battlefield and duels it happened all the time, Kamen addressed them "Too long have you terrorized nearby villages and farms, too long has Raykale caused misery amongst people in his shire well that ends today my name is Kamen I serve his majesty, Prince Aldan the Wise, I suggest you all leave here and not return for even though I look like Aldan to an amazing degree I am not as kind as he is and trust me if he doesn't kill you on the spot I will, you have until sunset to leave now go!"

As soon as he finished the men and women under Raykale's command sprawled over each other tripping and falling trying to get their belongings and get out as quickly as possible.

After most of them left Kamen turned to the leader of Black Swan a beautiful middle aged woman named Opal, just like her daughters she was named after a gemstone.
"Well Black Swan I never guessed you would have showed up" said Kamen shaking her hand, Opal laughed "well my husband and I like you Kamen we wouldn't let Raykale kill you so easily besides my daughter wants your head."
Kamen looked at a young woman about his age, who was an exact replica of her mother of course not as old looking but of course extremely attractive. Kamen grimaced as she approached him glaring at him, "Kamen…I never have hated and loved a man so much," first she slapped him across the face the kicked him in the shin Kamen stepped back in pain gripping his leg, "Listen Sapphire, I never meant to-" he got no farther as she pivoted and smashed her elbow into his chin then slammed her palm into his chest and sent him staggering she then kicked at his chest but Kamen was over his initial surprise and caught her foot and twisted and kicked her in the chin sending her to the ground he stepped back he pulled out a Disc Blade and raised his arm just as Sapphire's parents and brother moved forward he flicked his wrist revealing an additional two in his hand Ember had her bow out and an arrow on the string Estabon had a small blowpipe loaded and ready the two parties at an impasse then Ember heard an unexpected sound…laughter.

Starting with Kamen then moving to Black Swan suddenly Kamen dropped his Discs and Ember lowered her bow Kamen walked over to Opal and patted her shoulder "it's good to see you guys again! How did you know I was here?" Opal gestured to Ember, "that excellent young woman there! She found us camping and when she mentioned you we agreed to help," Kamen looked at Ember and nodded slightly Ember smiled inwardly she liked to see Kamen give her that look to anyone else it was just a casual nod but she knew he was saying along the lines of "I owe you one" it was nice to see he still knew she wasn't a typical person you'd meet. Kamen turned to Opal, "so she mentioned me and Sapphire couldn't resist trying to beat me up again?" Opal smiled, "she hasn't forgiven you for running out on her she was crushed Kamen she really did love you." Kamen smiled "that's the thing about me Opal, I'm unpredictable so how much do I owe you?" Opal shrugged, "consider it returning the favor." With that she turned to her group calling them out to go back to camp.

Estabon smiled at them, "I'd like to stay with you captain but Opal said I could travel with them they are an interesting group in need of a…extra member" Kamen raised an eyebrow at that, "Have fun with Ruby she's a fine woman your type too." Estabon looked abashed "Kamen why would you—" when he saw Ember's expression of total contempt for the pathetic lie he knew he was going to say he shrugged and smiled embarrassed, "well no use lying to a captain and his wife eh? You're right I have never seen a more wonderful woman such as Ruby!" Kamen shook his head, "and I know that I won't live that down take care Estabon just remember the Code and you'll be fine." Estabon nodded, "I will take care Captain you too Ember." Ember nodded to him and with that Estabon went to join Black Swan.

Kamen turned to her and smiled, "pity what he said wasn't true," Ember looked at him confused "about what?" "about you being my wife" with that Kamen sprinted out of the ruined fort Ember caught off guard paused giving him a few second head start but after getting over her surprise she sprinted after him..