Taigran







Silence crept through the palace, smothering almost everything. Long, shadowy corridors stretched out into the distance. Darkness reigned - it was night and ornate torches were being lit all over the Grand Master's dwelling. Women were bathing in luxurious hot water; men were drinking the finest wine and exchanging news in the kitchens and rolling dice. The halls were silent, except for a few maids here and there, whispering secrets and giggling softly.

***

Taigran slipped from the roof beams above and then suddenly, he flipped over backwards and sprinted upside-down on slippered feet on the ceiling until he reached the next beam, which he grasped swiftly and then, hauled himself up onto and hung from, like a bat. Not a sound was made.

Glancing around worriedly, he swung forwards and suddenly somersaulted through the air, landing softly on the velvet floor. Then moving forward in a running crouch, he reached a junction and rolled swiftly across it. Almost there.

***

Footsteps resounded through the hall as Kaigroth strode confidently down the narrow passageway, his guard struggling to keep up with him. He turned a sharp corner and then stopped, outside his wonderfully furnished room. Fishing around in his pocket for a small while, he muttered something then brought out his keys. Stepping inside, he turned and then said,

"Alright Yohaan, you are free to go now."

"But sir, I must-"

The guard stopped and nodded gruffly, as a gold coin was pressed into his rough palm the cold metal cooling his temper quickly. He frowned for a moment as the door closed, and then nodded softly to himself and turned to leave.

***

Suddenly, with a whip-like motion, a blade appeared from the shadows and Yohaan's body toppled over - only to be caught by gloved hands and drawn back into the darkness. A small figure came into view for a second and then flickered as it hauled the dead guard onto its back. Then all was invisible and suddenly it seemed as if the dead body was catapulted onto the ceiling for it flipped upwards ad upwards until it came to a rest there, hanging, suspended in the air.

***

Perfume wafted through the air and Kaigroth breathed in the musky scent deeply, his pulse starting to race. A slim, female form appeared in the doorway leading to his bedroom, enveloped in flowing silk. Not a word was said but Kaigroth understood.

***

Taigran hung upside-down, suspended in the air as he worked. He moved swiftly - his nimble fingers twisting and turning and then suddenly, he slowed down and his fingers held the pressure until a soft click sounded and then he flipped onto the wall glancing around, his eyes darting, looking for signs of movement. None.

Oil was poured onto the hinges and gloves tightened. His small figure melted back into the shadows as he draped himself over an opulent candleholder that reached out from the wall. Closing his eyes, Taigran allowed himself to relax for a few minutes, breathing deeply. Then he began to slip the door open.

***

Kaigroth let himself loosen up as the smooth fingers worked their way down his back, tracing delicate images. He loved the feel of her supple legs gripping his waist as she sat astride him, massaging his back and her long dark hair draped down, tickling the back of his neck slightly. He tensed slightly as she bent down and then relaxed as she pressed her moist lips against his ear, whispering in a sultry voice. Her firm body pressed against his and then suddenly, it relaxed. Her lips brushed down past his neck and her head rolled sideways down onto the bed, pulling her partly off him. Glassy eyes stared blankly at him and then a soft shiver tickled Kaigroth's spine.

Rolling over, Kaigroth glimpsed a dart imbed itself into his bed just where he had been lying moments before. Stumbling off the mattress, he darted towards his sword and grasped it firmly, swinging around into a defensive position. Nothing. Then suddenly a small figure appeared to his right, its right arm flashing outwards.

Kaigroth felt a small pain in his shoulder and he sensed the small trickle of blood rolling down his arm slowly. He sidestepped and lifted his sword but it was like a lead weight. Sweat ran down his forehead. He was feeling exhausted already. Making a mental note to increase the guard on the outside of the building, he dashed, stumbling, into the centre of the room, looking wildly around.

***

Taigran sat, perched, in a shadowy corner of the room, watching Kaigroth as the man's sword slithered from sweaty fingers. He stumbled around the room and slipped slowly down to the ground, black blood spilling from his minute shoulder wound. Taigran loved that poison - maximum affect for minimum sound. Slipping his blowpipe back into his belt, he flipped upside-down and lowered himself down to the floor quietly. It would take a few seconds before the body was ready to be handled and then he would be able to - damn!

***

The ninja suppressed a grim smile as his wrist flicked forward. Then he ducked and started counting silently. The assassin would die now.

*** Only his lightning fast reactions saved him from a certain death as the dark blade flashed past his throat. Taigran flicked his body around and then leapt up onto the wall, running horizontally across it before launching himself and twisting his body like a spring, flying across the room. Then, bringing himself around so his feet landed on the other wall, he sprung from there onto the ceiling and, hanging by his toes, Taigran flicked his own wrist so that the shuriken whizzed into the indiscernible lump in the curtains. The ninja fell in a crumpled lump on the floor.

His breath coming quickly, Taigran paused for a second, as he caught sight of the silver pin that bound the dark hair of the enemy assassin - it was a ninja of the Shining Star! Moving quickly, Taigran put what he knew of the enemy association into action. They worked bands so he had to escape now - more would surely be around. Their skills were nearly as finely honed as his own - and they used lethal poisons.

***

Outside, the moon was obscured from sight by the heavy clouds and the trees rustled in the darkness. The massive garden wall stretched into the darkness, the bodies crouched in its shadows hidden for the moment. An owl hooted softly into the night.

***

Taigran moved. Dashing across to the window, he hauled the body of the assassin in front of him and then, wasting no time, leapt out into the air. Whistling could be heard as the bolts flew through the air and slammed into the body of the dead assassin. Judging the angle of the fall and the distance carefully, Taigran suddenly rolled off the body and leapt into the tree, bolts gleaming in the night behind him.

Scaling the tree, Taigran crouched suddenly, then twisted and caught the foot of the attacking ninja deftly before throwing her across him and slammed her into the garden wall. Her body slipped down it silently. Then he somersaulted over the edge and rolled down the other side, flicking his knife into a shape that loomed up before him. Then Taigran swung around and ran, stooping, and was swallowed by the night.