Chapter 1


Triarda laid quiet beneath the sparse moonlight, which barely made an effort to carefully engulf the spears of the tallest buildings in its grace. The streets were left forgotten in darkness, and only a few distant sounds bore witness of life. The proud and historical city vanished with the daylight, revealing a very different side. If one listened close, the sounds told tales of drunken whores and equally drunken thugs; customers of the sin, lured out of hiding by the promises of the night. The people roaming the streets during nighttime had business of their own in mind. They would not bother to look up towards the edges of the spears and rooftops. If they did however, they would probably not even notice that the otherwise smooth surfaces of the buildings somehow had gotten a small unevenness in one of them. It suited the cloaked figure perfectly, as he leaned over just slightly to look down upon the city.

Patient and quiet, the figure sat there, revealed only by the wind that gently tugged at the robe he wore around his shoulders. His face was not visible underneath his hood, and a scarf hid the small, scornful tug at the corner of his lips while he watched the people beneath him.

The city was depraved in so many ways, but still it held strong, a haven in the desert dunes surrounding it. The protective walls were impenetrable, the buildings seemed gilded by riches, and the books told of colorful adventures and great battles.

Suddenly, a sharp and lengthy sound penetrated the night-air. The cloaked figure rose to his feet and stretched out an arm. The falcon landed on it with ease and confidence, allowing the hooded man to release the leather straps around one of its feet along with a rolled up message. While he read the letters on the paper, once again he went through the details of his mission. I would be easy, almost too easy. But his Master had wanted the best for this job.

Releasing the bird back into the night, the cloaked man soundlessly swung himself down from the speared building with soft and light movements.

"Gods be with you. Let it be done"

One year earlier.

The Senate was in Session. They sat in an oval chamber, looking at each other, disputing over matters of great importance to the country Peralem. They held millions of lives in their hands, each and every decision came with great consequences, sometimes in matters of life and death.

Every Senator present represented the cities of Peralem, chosen by the people of each city to speak on their behalf. They were all men, mature and experienced. Some of them were considered nobility, even though the country did not have any aristocracy. Nobility in this term referred more to the men's wealth than their actual bloodline.

Advisors accompanied most Senators. These advisors did not have any real mandate in the Senate, but they were insightful and helpful, and thus a great deal powerful. Some advisors were lawyers, some were historians, influential merchants, or experienced high-ranking officers from the army. Every one of them were professional in some way.

Senator El-Amin had his lawyer, friend, and advisor with him to every Session with the Senate, and the Senate held a great deal of respect for this man's opinions.

This day, one of the topics discussed was one of high priority. A difficult topic that caused the Senators to sometimes raise their voices in disagreement. It regarded the country's increasingly fragile financial state. It was not the first time this topic had been on the running order.

"We need to curtail our businesses with our neighbors!" one Senator proclaimed. "We must establish a self-reliable source of produce. This importation is ruining the livelihoods of many citizens. We have more unemployed people now than ever."

"Yes," another Senator agreed. "But we have regulations to consider. We cannot legally disband these transactions."

"I disagree," one Senator added. "We must increase our trade and reach out to our other neighbors. Haven for instance. We could declare our loyalty to them."

"Out of the question!" a fourth Senator raged. "Haven will seek to take advantage of every resource we have, and we already have so little."

"How do we proceed then? The situation cannot be overlooked any longer, our country is in dire need." The first Senator sighed exasperatedly.

El-Amin's advisor had been present for many, many of these Sessions, and he had heard all the arguments before. Every single option had been scrutinized, evaluated, and discarded. Guilt surged through him, knowing all too well that he himself, as a lawyer, had signed and sealed many of the contracts that predated this moment. This moment where the Senate fully realized their horrible mistake. Where they realized they had, single handedly, destroyed the country's independence.

Losing independence was like opening a door to whoever wanted to overthrow the Senate. And the Senate was beginning to fear a possible invasion.

The advisor looked at El-Amin, and the Senator gave him a small nod. They had talked about this, and he now gave his advisor permission to speak.

The advisor stood from his chair. "There may be a solution. One we have not yet considered, and one that I will not suggest with a clear conscience."

"Let us hear it."

"There is an organization, rooted in this very country, who might be able to solve our problem. You want it solved discreetly, yes? These people can make that happen."

A silent moment followed. The Senators looked at the advisor, knowing these words did not come lightheartedly from a lawyer.

"You speak of the Sherokahn Brotherhood, am I correct?" the first Senator asked, narrowing his eyes speculatively.

"Yes," the advisor confirmed steadfastly.

"Mercenaries?" the second Senator laughed. "Am I hearing this correctly? You suggest we contract spies and murderers to solve a political and financial crisis?"

A full-blown argument broke out between the Senators, and the advisor sighed and sat down in his chair again. At least now, the option was on the table. His work was done.

A/N: Hello people! Welcome new readers, and welcome back old readers. I've spent a few weeks polishing this story a little, and although it says in the summary that I've rewritten it, that's not entirely true. I haven't made any major changes, but I have tried to fix all the type errors and grammar bugs that I could find. Let me know if I overlooked something. Old readers may know this, but I'd like to make another point of it; English is not my main language. Old readers may also notice I have inserted a couple of new things here and there throughout the story, but again -nothing major.

You may notice I've moved the story out of the 'Fantasy' genre and republished it into the 'General' genre. Simply because I've always felt it a little off having this story in the fantasy section.

Also, I've rewritten and moved the A/N section to the bottom of every chapter. Sadly, I royally fu**ed up and acidentally deleted several chapers before I figured out I could simply replace them. It was too late to turn back once I did that, so I just kept deleting them. This means that my responses to the early reviews are gone (cries). I still cherish your reviews by heart, especially those of you who stayed faithfully with me through the entire story. Lots of love to you!

This chapter is the first re-published chapter. Give me a couple of days to complete the re-publishing. I'll remove the "!CURRENTLY REWRITING THIS ONE!" phrase in the summary once I'm done :)

Thank you for reading!