Author's Note: Here it is, the third installment of my assassin series, the sequel to The Abyss and The Shadow, if you haven't read them you should so this makes more sense and so you know what is going on :D. I would like to thank my fabulous beta who over works herself beyond belief and who will have to take a vacation some day, Sweet Sassy Sarah.

Be sure to review please!!

I am not, nor will I ever be, Tamora PIerce.

17 years later after the epilogue of The Shadow

now onto the final beginning...


A dark figure slowly lowered itself down onto the ground from a tree in the large forest that was left in the shadows of night on the Tortallan and Tusaine border. Another dark figure hopped down from the tree in a single leap and began walking forward, then the first figure's head turned to the north as she heard horse hooves crashing through the under brush and her companion was walking right toward them.

"Down!" she hissed and pulled the other figure under the large berry bush that was wedged between two larger trees. The eighteen year old woman had auburn hair that was pulled back into a tight club at the base of her skull. She had broad shoulders, a thick waist, and muscled limbs that were covered under dark brown breeches and shirt that were proper for the rugged woods around them like her sturdy but light boots. Ashtyn Marcoy glared down at her brother through deep brown eyes.

"Why haven't they given up?" His voice was a whisper, but it still rumbled from deep in his chest. He was dressed like his twin sister in the dark sturdy clothes and they matched each other almost perfectly. One of the biggest differences was that his hair was a darker shade but was still considered auburn, and his eyes were a lighter brown than hers.

Their eyes were a matter that no one like to discuss, let alone see, and right now Jaxson Marcoy could see that his sister's eyes were starting to turn into the dark black pits that only appeared when she was in a fight or a tight spot. His own eyes turned a brilliant shade of red when he was harsh predicaments, but he never put as much importance behind every move like Ashtyn.

"Ashtyn, your eyes," he whispered, a warning to her.

"If you weren't such a dolt I wouldn't have to worry about those, too, right now, would I?" Ashtyn shot back at him, and went back to scanning the forest with her blackening eyes. "You know, we probably would have been able to get out of there without a problem if you didn't want to make such a scene."

Jaxson knew his sister was mad at him, and she had every right to be, now that he saw things in hindsight.

They were sent by their mother, the royal assassin of Tortall, also known as Tortall's Tormentor, to dispose of a growing nuisance in Tusaine. One of their ambassadors had decided to visit home for a while after he was caught shuffling through some of the most confidential paperwork kept by the royal assassin by Jarret Marcoy, the Lord of Larstspur as well as Jaxson's and Ashtyn's own father.

So Lady Katelyn Marcoy had sent her top assassins that weren't already busy to make the hit on this man. They happened to be her two youngest children.

Jaxson and Ashtyn easily got into the Tusaine court disguised as servants. Ashtyn wanted to follow their target to his room until he was nice and tucked in his bed tightly, but Jaxson wasn't as rational as his sister. Just as Ashtyn saw that he was about to make the hit, she moved to stop him. It was too late; a the silver blade with blue crystal hilt, a sign that it belonged to one of The Tormentor of Tortall's assassins, flew from his hand and buried itself into the target's throat.

The Tusaines thought it was an attack on their crown prince, who happened to be standing a breath away from the target, so the entire court gathering broke into a chaotic frenzy trying to get away, fight the culprit, and refrain from being trampled. Ashtyn's quick thinking was what managed to get the twins out of there unscathed. They melted into the fleeing crowd to hide in plain sight until they were able to sneak out of the palace and make a break for the woods, after disposing of the Tusaine liveries they wore and getting back into their 'forest ready' clothing.

Their plan went well until they noticed that they were being tracked. The Tusaine trackers didn't stop when they hit the outer border of the palace grounds either. Some of them stuck to Ashtyn and Jaxson like burs, clear into the Tortallan lands.

Now they were huddled in a bush, hiding from a team of trackers while trying to complete the second part of their little jaunt around the countries.

"I'm sorry Ash." Jaxson looked down at the ground while listening for horse hooves. "I wasn't thinking."

Ashtyn sighed and looked at her brother. he couldn't help that he was a little more boisterous and quicker to act than her. He liked the flash of his actions much more then Ashtyn. On the other side though, he was also the first to say that he had made a mistake. "It's fine, Jax. We'll think about what we should have done later. Right now let's get out of here." She peered up over the shrubbery they were in, checking for their trackers.

Ashtyn ducked back into the greenery as a rider on a tall horse became barely visible on the edge of their vision, but he disappeared after only a moment. They waited a little while longer until they were sure no other trackers were around before Ashtyn climbed out of the bush and offered a hand to Jax. "Come on. We have to get to Hawkley soon."

Jaxson took the offered hand and allowed her to pull him to his feet. "So my dear sister, who are we getting?"

Ashtyn lifted the pack onto her shoulders and started walking. "Hawkley, a small border town, has a small farm on the southeastern edge of it's forest. Evidently Mom has seen and talked to a girl there and she shows a lot of potential. So Mom wants to bring her in. The girl has already agreed, but we have to get her out of there."

"So we're recruiting?" Jax's jaw slackened but he kept the pace with his sister, who nodded. "We don't have the proper funding!"

"Shut it," she hissed, then patted the bag on her back and pulled out a pouch that jingled with metal coins. "We're covered."

"Is that our money or official, and where did you get that?" Jax asked while admiring his sister's thinking.

"Mom sent it along with us," she told her brother and tucked the pouch away again. "But it's from the Larstpur treasury. She's been trying to stay an arm's length away from the crown and their business lately."

The twins hiked towards their destination by crossing though the pure wilderness that barely even had a game trail to follow. They clambered across bramble fields and down smooth rock faces.

They reached the outskirts of the small homestead. A short, rickety fence was hastily built to keep in a few of the family's goats. Next to the corral was a rundown barn that needed several minor repairs and had a newly attached wood shed. There was a garden nearby that held stalks of corn in their full growth of summer and illuminated by the light cast off by the full moon. The last thing that the twins saw was the old thatch roof cottage that was in desperate need of a new layer of thatch, with the glow from the hearth inside showing through the thin curtains on the windows and under the door.

"How should we go about this?" Jaxson whispered while peering around a tree. "We don't want to mess this up."

"That's why you should do the talking, but I'll make sure you say the right thing." Ash took a step towards the house and the stopped. "It's late. We should wait 'til morning."

"Barn?" Jax pointed to the old building.

"If there's a loft, but if not I think we should stay in the forest." Ashtyn lead the way through the shadows and into the old building. The ladder looked like it used to be made of rope but it was frayed to the point where Ash and Jax didn't want to risk it, so they pulled themselves up one of the beams before settling down on the hard floor of the hay loft behind a small pile of straw.

It was agreed a watch would be good, so Ash took the first watch as her brother started to drift off to sleep. She relaxed and leaned on her elbows, staring at a spider crawling on a web when a small creak caught her attention. She moved silently to the edge before looking over and seeing a young girl with bright red curls and light green eyes staring right at her.

Ash's jaw dropped; it had been years since anyone other than her brother or mother had gotten that close to her without her noticing.

"Can I help you?" the red head asked suspiciously.


A/N: be sure to tell me what you think and if you think this will be worthy to be continued.

PLease review and THANK YOU!!