She stood before her window, gazing serenely out over her courtyard, when the door to her chambers flew open. A girl, clothed in brown, practically fell into the room.
“Princess, you must escape! Scores of bandits have stormed the grounds. The guards are powerless!” the youth gasped out. The princess eyes widened briefly, before she schooled her features into impassiveness again.
“You are able to see me safe? First female Royal Assassin, Canella, even as tired as you seem to be?” she asked quietly.
“Of course, Princess Iseline. I am merely at a loss of breath for the moment. Please, follow me. I will get you out of palace grounds,” Canella said rapidly, as she urgently beckoned the princess into the hall.
Iseline waited as Canella crept down the hall and peered around the corner, searching for enemies. Canella waved her forward, leading the princess through the castle with utter caution. They moved silently, until they reached the hallway that would lead them out to the courtyard. Canella signalled Iesline to stop.
“There are two of them guarding the door. What shall I do, my princess?” Canella asked, hand resting on her dagger’s hilt.
“Must you kill them?” Iesline sighed. She detested death.
“I can knock them out, but the risk of setting off the alarm is higher.”
“Are you certain?”
Canella darted around the corner without another word, Iesline following closely. The two bandits gave shouts of alarm before Canella was on them, fists flying. They collapsed against each other, but not before other shouts answered theirs.
“Come, Princess.” Canella grabbed Iesline’s hand and pulled her out into the castle’s gardens. “Now, we run.”
They sped over the tiles of the courtyard, towards the forests bordering the palace lands, but were intercepted by a patrol of bandits. Canella flung a cloud of blinding powder into their midst and back-pedalled, but Iseline, frail princess, tripped, twisting her ankle badly. Canella was forced to scoop the princess up into her arms. She ran as fast she could, and managed to find refuge in a copse of bushes. It was only once Canella was certain the bandits had not followed that she spoke.
“Princess, are you all right?” she whispered fiercely.
“Merely a sprain, I am sure. Do not worry for me.”
Canella swallowed. “I fear I will not be able to outrun the enemy whilst carrying you, Princess. I was trained to kill, not run. So, Princess, even as a merciful princess…” Canella’s eyes darkened. “Please, Iseline, for your sake, allow me to kill.”
“Is there nothing else to do, Canella?”
“No, if to save you.”
“Then stain the ground red with their blood.”