"Boggis and Bunce and Bean. One fat, one short, one lean…" I sang under my breath, but somehow the man walking next to me still heard my deranged mutterings.
"Is that another one of your songs?" Malik snapped the words at me, apparently he hadn't enjoyed my off-key renditions of Ring Around The Rosie and This Little Piggie Went To The Market. I don't blame him.
But there was something about the dark cloud of tense silence that hung around our little group that made me want to break out in song. Maybe it was how every time I so much as looked at him, Malik would narrow his eyes and give me the disapproving parent glare. Or that whenever a guard patrol spotted us they would break out in songs of their own, though it was mostly just a bunch of yells of "KILL THE ASSASSINS!".
It got old fast.
And where, during all this mayhem, was our favorite neighborhood assassin? I suspect he was busy bleeding out on a rooftop somewhere, but, and these are his words, not mine, he was "attempting to scout ahead alone". Then he disappeared in a flutter of robes and has yet to be seen. It's been four hours.
And so I said, "Why the hell not?" and proceeded to ruin my chances at a long life. So far, it was going pretty well.
Playing the game from my safe little alcove, I had never noticed how far from the bureau the gates were, or how annoyingly persistent a mob of pissed off guards could be. All these variables thrown into the equation came out as one giant shitstorm, and we were in the middle of it. All in all it was shaping up to be a crappy day.
I assumed Malik agreed but it's hard to determine the difference between an annoyed grunt and an agreeing one with the rafiq. As we turned a sharp corner, we were met with the scowling faces of three very annoyed, and very well armed men.
From the mess of words tumbling through my head, I managed to spit out a few, "Well…damn…"
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Malik going for the wicked blade at his hip, and in front of me the three guards were grabbing the hilts of their own weapons. I was caught between the two, and here's the kicker, I had no weapons. Right about now my chance of surviving was a big fat zero.
I could only stand dumbfounded as the three guards hurtled towards us and Malik yelled at me to do something. That something turned out to be a mad dash for the nearest cover and that cover was behind a scary one-armed man with a sword.
The first guard who got within ten feet of Malik was met with hard steel thrust into his abdomen, the second received a similar, grisly fate. The third was smart enough to think before rushing to impale himself on Malik's blade, but he still wasn't smart enough to avoid the knife thrown into his throat. He fell in a puddle of his own blood just in time for another three guards to burst from the crowd and rush the rafiq, it was turning into a proper blood bath.
Rather than fight the oncoming horde of pointy-hatted men, Malik decided on the 'flight' part of the 'flight or fight' option. I have to admit, faced with the literal wall of gleaming swords…I agreed with him.
As the surrounding citizens began to catch on to the violence, we turned tail and fled. Between the frantic milling about of the bystanders and outraged guardsmen, we had our work cut out for us, it was almost impossible to run five feet in any direction without colliding with the aforementioned gaggle of geese. Malik growled and pulled me into a small alley by the arm, I bit down on a startled yell when he almost threw me into an overflowing hay cart.
A body crashed down into the prickly hay alongside mine and I was seized by a brief panic attack before recognizing the voice hissing into my ear.
A breathed back a shaky "OK" and tried to keep from sneezing. The best part of waiting in that damned haystack was knowing that the shit-for-brains guards never looked in the haystacks. And the worst part was just about everything else.
Imagine sitting in your most hated class, go ahead I'll wait…alright, now imagine the one person who annoys you to the point of blind fury…you ready? They're sitting in a desk behind you and pelting you with wads of spit soaked paper every ten seconds, for a straight HOUR. Now pretend I'm not a crazed lunatic, but a psychiatrist who really cares about what thoughts run through your head…How does that make you feel?
Do you feel like stabbing something? Was your answer yes? Then congratulations! Your are slightly insane! But beyond that, that feeling might be something close to what I was feeling as Malik and I lay in that musty haystack, and damn it all if that didn't sound dirty, but I was starting to go a little stir crazy.
I could hear the heavy footfalls of the guards, slowly they faded into the distance and the usual, humdrum racket crept in to replace the stunned silence following our escape. I would say that it was nice but then I would be lying through my teeth, and ever since I was little, my mum has told me that lying is bad, and only naughty children lie. So I try my best.
I wiggled around, trying to dig my way out but only succeeding in burying myself deeper, I eventually got out, it took a while though. And by a while I mean several long, long minutes filled with colorful language and new bruises.
Once my head surfaced and I dragged the rest of me out of the pile, I saw Malik in the shade of a stall, talking to an informant. As I spit out pieces of hay, dirt, and who knows what out of my mouth, I arrived in time to hear the last of their conversation.
"…south of the gates, but not by much rafiq, I've seen the place myself and can assure you it is not well protected."
Malik looked to be thinking it over, his trademark scowl sat on his lips and his eyes were, as always, bitter and calculating. I stood a few steps away, wondering what the hell they were talking about and hoping it was not something to serious. Like Martians landing in Jerusalem and demanding we sacrifice our brains to science, but I doubted it.
"You're sure it's him?"
"There could be no doubt sir, it was Altair."
"Idiot…thank you for the information brother, I will do what I can. Safety and peace."
The informant inclined his head, melting back into the crowd with a confused glance back at me. Malik looked pissed beyond belief, so I was timid to ask him what was wrong.
"Hey man…wazzup?" My usual energy was diminished somewhat by the impending doom his words were certain to drop like a ton of bricks.
"You took your time."
"Oi! That hay cart's a helluva lot deeper than it looks!"
"I take that as a compliment."
"Trust me, it wasn't meant to be."
"I don't, so my answer remains the same."
"Now you're just avoiding the question."
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry-" I didn't miss the obvious sarcasm "-what did you ask?"
"What'd he say?" I resisted the urge to grind my teeth and instead stuffed my hands into my pockets, waiting for his response.
"Altair has been caught by some guards, a result of his arrogance and stupidity no doubt, and now I must find a way to get him out before they slaughter the bastard." Malik hid none of the anger in his voice.
"Cool…or not, probably not…what now?"
"Now, we find where he's being held."
"…You said we…"
"Yes I did, is it to much for me to assume you're capable of more than useless prattle?"
"Too mean dude, just…too mean…"
Malik sighed at me and turned to begin his search for the captured assassin, and I hurried to keep up with his long stride. I had a feeling this day was going to get worse, if only I knew that feeling was right.
Hey ladies and gents, I'm back. Between life and school I've had very little time to work on my stories, so I'm sorry. Me being a lazy ass didn't help any but...it is what it is right? I'll try to set some deadlines on the next few shapters, hopefully that'll get me going. I've been stuck on this bit for a long time, but hopefully it isn't totally crap. Are you liking it so far? Criticism is always welcome :)