She is 18-years old. She used to be the perfect nobles daughter but, now? She's the most famed assassin in all of Kartel. She's known for her deadly poisons, and her ability to kill both employer and client in one night. But, one thing no one knows about her is who she is, or rather was. She was Elisandra (Elise) Windsor, someone who was supposedly killed on the same night her parents were murdered. Then she meets Ash and discovers he has a twin brother, Aiden and that he's trying to kill her.
    But, what if they're both out for her blood and, in this tale, everthing is not what it seems
    PS This story is also on fictionpress.com so go check it out there and my other stories too!

    Chapter 1

    The silent sound of darkness washed over me as I entered the long hall. It was around midnight as I crept quietly down the hall, dressed in black silk so that I could not be noticed in the shadows. After a short walk I came to my destination, a room toward the end of the dark red velvet lined halls. Kneeling down I skillfully picked its lock and entered the room. The room was a large one, with an intricately patterned oriental rug covering the floor. The walls were lined with just as intricate tapestries, woven from silk. The desk, wardrobe, and dresser were of the finest quality with a delicate lattice work of roses decorating their edges. The bed clothes were of the finest velvet and furs with handmade embroidery lining it. To the left was two glass doors that led to a large stone balcony. Someone has a little to much money to burn, I thought to myself. Closing the door, I strolled over to the dresser and hid behind it to wait. While I waited I loaded one of my needles with my strongest poison and quickly took a weapon check, in case anything should go wrong. One knife attached to my left wrist, the knife on my right wrist attached to a crossbow, one in each of boots and in my belt and one knife on my back. Then I had my poisons and needles in my belt. Then, just as I finished my weapons check, the door opened. In walked a man with a dark hair and blue eyes. He entered the room with a sigh and, back facing me, walked toward the balcony. Something he would not live to regret. Springing from my hiding space, needle in hand, threw the needle into his back. The sound of needle piercing fabric and skin echoed in my ears. With a muffled thud he fell to the floor. I walked over and drew my needle out of his back and checked his vital signs. When I was sure he was dead I put the needle back into my belt with the rest and jumped off the side of the balcony. When I had landed on the ground I found myself surrounded by guards. Warily I stood and once I had, the circle around me parted and I looked straight into the eyes of my employer.

    He would have been attractive to most women, as he was handsome but, he was also arrogant, ambitious and conceited. "Now, now," he said, voice dripping with menace, "You didn't think we'd let you get away, did you?"

    ` He was about to say something more but, he never got the chance. Flicking my right wrist I quickly released the knife on the crossbow and it shot straight and true into his heart. The guards stood frozen, like they couldn't believe it. He stood like he could not comprehend it either as blood rushed down him, dyeing his white tunic bright bloody red. Then when he came out of his shock he opened his mouth to scream an order but, all that came was a sickly gargling sound as blood rushed up his throat, blocking his airways and gushing like a fountain from his mouth. Then no more sound came and his eyes stared lifelessly at the sky.

    Before the guards could come out of their shock I dashed forward and grabbed my bloody knife from his cold chest. Both he and the guards stood in shock as they watched blood flow openly from his wound. He opened his mouth once more, as though he was about to scream an order but, all that came out was the a sickly gargling sound as blood rushed up his throat and spurted like a fountain from his mouth. Then he fell to the ground with a loud thud, his cold dead eyes stared sightlessly into the sky in shock that he had lost.

    Finally the guards came out of their shocked stupor and lunged forward to grab me but, I had already grabbed the bloody knife form my employer's cold chest and was now flipping above their heads. I hit the ground running a few feet behind them and started running. The guards tried to chase me down but, I could hear their breath going short as they approached the edge of the small town that bordering the large estate. Once I had reached the forest they had given up the chase yet, I continued to run. I kept running faster, faster, faster, gaining speed, until I reached a large clearing that in the middle stood a large tree that had been struck by lightning many years ago. Leaping towards it, I jumped into the tree and quickly scaled it. Once I had gotten to the top, I slipped into the hollow opening and slid down, falling. Until I reached the hard ground of a system of lime stone caves, she stood up and there were three paths in front of me, taking the middle one, I walked around ten or so yards until I reached a great cavern with a ceiling made of pure crystal. Several small caverns led off to dead ends on the sides. This was where I had made my home, where I had lived for the past two year.

    I walked into the small tunnel where I kept my washing basin and mirror. I unraveled the silk scarf I wore about my head to hide my face. Once I had removed it, I gazed into the mirror and saw a girl of 18 with deep set violet eyes, long curled black hair that ran down past the middle of my back. I saw red lips against pale skin. The face I saw in the mirror would be beautiful where it not for one thing. On my right cheek lay a deep scar, the pink of the ravaged skin clashing with my pale skin. To me though, this scar stood for more than a ruined beauty though. It stood for a tragedy that had happened two years ago. A tragedy that had marked the end of my innocence and my family.


    It happened two years ago. I was sixteen years old and my brother Aleksander was seventeen. We were in the drawing room that night playing chess while our parents had gone to attend a masquerade ball. In the drawing room Aleksander and I were playing a board game underneath the full moon with the help of some candlelight.

    "Check mate!!" I declared with a triumphant smile on my face.

    "Darn it Elise! How many times are you going to do that to me! I am being humiliated!" Aleksander exclaimed, raising his arms above his head in a dramatic gesture.

    "You're lucky mother and father aren't here!" I said through giggles, "they may very well disinherit you for the shame! Losing to your younger sister!"

    Suddenly there was a crash outside the door, I immediately stopped laughing and I looked over at Aleksander. He glanced over at me then stood.

    "Stay here Elise" he said and walked over to the door. A few seconds later he rushed in and grabbed my hand. "Run." He said, his eyes were wide as he dragged me outside and we continued running towards the forest.

    "Where are we going? Who are we running from?" I, asked Aleksander, but before he could respond I saw movement behind us. I turned my head to see what it was and what I saw was not very promising. Someone was running after us, I could not make much out of the short time I gazed at him but, there were a few things I could make out. A half black, half white mask, two fathomless black eyes, dark hair, and the fact he looked only a year older than I. I turned back around to see where we were going and found that we had reached the forest and we were diving into its thick foliage. We ran on through the pitch black forest and soon reached a large clearing. The clearing was shining with moonlight and in its center, stood a lightning charred tree. Running for it, Aleksander and I quickly began scaling the tree.

    Suddenly a black shadow blocked out the light above. My heart began beating faster, and I looked up to find exactly what I had NOT wanted to see. A figure clad in all black, diving down towards me, with a knife aimed at my throat. I quickly dodged the knife so that it was no longer aimed at my throat, but, he did manage to land a deep cut to my cheek. The figure was about to spin about to land another blow, but Aleksander caught him and they both crashed onto the ground.

    "Aleksander!" I screamed.

    "Elise, keep climbing!" he yelled as he fought off the assassin, then I realized what I had said in my head. That's what it was an assassin! But, why was it after me and Aleksander? "Go!" he yelled once more. I did as I was told and climbed up higher and higher. When I was about to reach the uppermost branch the branch I was standing on snapped and, instead of falling to the ground I fell into the hollow heart of the tree, where I fell down for what seemed like hours.

    I landed on the floor of a system of caves, carved out of glittering white limestone. I looked around me frantically and found a faint, ghost-like glow emanating from the center cave. I walked down the long passageway until I reached a room. It was carved of the white limestone, with small breaks in the wall where short dead-end tunnels stood. I wondered where the light was coming from until I looked above me and saw that the ceiling was made entirely from a clear white crystal and the light was the moonlight shining through it. Felling rather exhausted I sat down and rested my head on the stone floor.

    When I awoke bright sunshine poured through the crystal causing me to blink my eyes. I turned back around and walked through the passageway again until I reached the trunk of the tree. Then I noticed that the roots of the tree had grown in a pattern that looked like a ladder. Climbing it I found myself back at the top of the tree. Speedily climbing down the tree I began to look for my Aleksander. "Aleksander! Aleksander!" I yelled, and then I felt something hard under my shoe. I looked down and saw the badge father had given him for his 16th birthday last year. It was covered in blood. That was how I knew he was dead, gone, along with my parents. I would revenge my family one day, thought, I will kill the assassin if it is the last thing I do.

    That had been two years ago. Two years since my family was murdered and I still had yet to keep up on that promise. I will be patient until I find him and once I do, I will kill him.

    Chapter 3

    I stood in front of the mirror preparing myself for another job. Tonight I had been hired by the host of the ball, Chase Ellington, a local duke in Kartel. My instructions were to kill Hunter Kelling, an ambitious man out to the Ellington fortune. As I reviewed these facts in my head I slipped on the only dress now owned. It was a black dress embroidered with deep red roses. My mask was one that covered my scar and was the same pattern as the dress I wore with black pearls surrounding the embroidered roses. I used the mask and dress to hide my weapons, as the roses created an excellent hiding place for my knives, needles, and a sword just in case. I slipped on my gloves and under them slipped on a small, collapsible, crossbow that shot my needles. Once I had all my weapons on I climbed out of the caves. When I had reached the ground I put my fingers to my mouth and whistled for my horse. He was a beautiful stallion with a silvery white coat and a similarly colored mane. I hopped on and rode him and clicked my tongue and we were off like the wind, racing toward the estate.

    After a quick adventure through the mansion's security, I was inside the ballroom. I was standing in a dark corner observing the extravagantly dressed people dancing and spinning all around me. That was when I spotted Hunter Kelling. I stood and watched as he danced and began to debate how to kill him. My employer had told me not to kill him directly so as not to be too suspicious. As I scanned around for a way to discreetly poison him, I spotted a table with wine set upon it right next to me. I smiled and grabbed a glass of the wine and slipped some of my slower working poison into it. The poison I knew would at first make him appear to be drunk but, a few hours later, he would die.

    I looked around and finally spotted Hunter and walked over to him. "Would you like a drink?" I asked him, putting on a flirtatious smile. He smiled back at me cockily and took the wine glass, taking a sip. I smiled even wider for; a sip was all it would take. Then someone behind him tapped him on the shoulder and edged him into an active discussion. I used this as my chance to slip away.

    After I once more evaded the guards I walked over to the place where I had left my horse. As I spotted his shining coat in the dark I heard a click whir behind me. I spun around quickly and caught the arrow moments before it pierced my back. Then I saw who had shot the arrow. Not my employer as I had expected it to be but, a man who looked around my age. He had black hair and eyes so dark; one could not see their color. His skin was tan and he was at least a half head taller than me. He was dressed in all black but on his face was a half black half white mask.

    He killed my parents. I thought as I glared at him with pure hatred in my eyes. Another click whir sounded near me and I jumped and flipped in the air as to avoid the arrow that had been shot at me. I turned to see where the arrow was and saw that it had pierced the ground right where I had once stood. I looked above me and saw another man who looked very much like the first, only his skin was one or two shades lighter and his eyes were hazel. Like Alexander's I then winced inwardly at the thought but Aleksander is dead. He died two years ago. And that man killed him.

    Suddenly both figures lunged towards me with swords in their hands. I hastily leapt out of the war and drew my own sword from where it was hidden. They lunged at me again and I met their blows easily. For a long time the fight seemed like it would never end as I blocked each of their blows and they blocked each of mine. Then I saw the sky beginning to light up as the day rolled in. Light meant being seen, being seen meant getting caught. And that was something I could not afford. Thinking quickly I raised my right wrist and fired two knives off my crossbow. They both managed to avoid being killed but, the knives managed to pin them by their black clothing to the tree. While they were momentarily subdued, I turned to my horse. Mounting him I flicked my wrists and clicked my tongue and we cantered off towards the forest. When we had reached the clearing with the tree I quickly dismounted and un-tacked my horse, and cooled him down. When I was done he walked off in to the forest. I turned and climbed into the tree and walked to my caver where I fell onto my cot. I almost had him! I thought I was so close! But, if he is after me now, then we shall meet again. Only this time, he will walk away with much more than a broken pride. In fact he won't walk away at all. With those thoughts I drifted off into sleep.

    Chapter 4

    Aiden's POV
    I was striding through the streets of the village, it was bright outside and I was walking all around enjoying the feeling of the sunshine on my skin. I was gazing around feeling quite free when all of a sudden I crashed into someone else.

    "Sorry!" I blurted out, more than a little to loudly. "sorry." I said, lowering my voice this time. I bent down to see whatever had been dropped. My hand paused suddenly as I noticed what it was. A black dress, embroidered with deep red roses. Exactly like the one she had been wearing just the night before. Hands quickly darted out to grab the dress away from my gaze. I jerked my head up, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. The only things I could make out as she rushed away was the fact that she was slightly shorter than me and that her long curled black hair ran down to her waist. Surely this couldn't be the assassin? They would never come out into the daylight. But, even as I mentally denied it I knew, at heart, that she was the assassin and that I was going to have to kill her.

    Elise's POV
    I rushed away from him as possible. His hand had paused over the dress. Did he know who I was? He couldn't, could he? This will just have to wait, I thought as I entered the dress ship.

    "Hello may I help you?" asked a blonde blue-eyed girl at the counter with a smile.

    "Yes," I said, without smiling back, "I need a dress, in black with embroidery somewhat like this upon it." I then pulled out the dress to show her the embroidery "also, I will pay quite a large sum in order for it to be finished by around noon tomorrow. Take the measurements from that gown." Then I gave her the dress and the sack of gold coins and walked out of the store.

    Once I was back in the safety of my caves, the man from the marketplace that I had bumped into reappeared in my thoughts. In my rush I had not been able to see his face so thousands of questions were rushing through my mind. He couldn't be a former employer as most were dead and those who were not- of which there were very few- did not know of my methods or my disguises. He was a mystery to me but, from the apology he had given me, I suspected he would be at the ball tomorrow night. Then we shall see who this mysterious man is.

    Chapter 5

    It was the next night and I was standing in the ballroom. Music from an orchestra played gently in the background as people danced along. I was off towards the side watching, observing. The ballroom was elegantly draped in black velvet and the new dress I had bought matched its color. My dress was black with dark colored ravens embroidered onto it. The music stopped suddenly and I knew now was my time to move. Quickly calling over one of the servant boys I handed him a note and told him to take it to Stoyan Istanbul. I paid him four gold coins to deliver it for me and he ran off eagerly whilst I slipped away onto the balcony.

    "Ah, so it was you who gave me the note?" a voice questioned behind me.

    I turned around and smiled coyly at my target. He took a step towards me and I took one towards him. Once we were close enough to touch, I slipped out a needle with my fastest poison and shoved it straight at his heart. It made a satisfying noise as I heard it pierce his skin. He did not even have time to react before he fell, dead, to the ground.

    "Oh my!" I yelled, gaining the attention of the crowd. When they saw what had happened they rushed forward, creating the perfect distraction while I slipped away. As I walked out of the mansion I suddenly felt a presence behind me. I grabbed my knife and spun around quickly. Behind me was my employer with a sword in his hand, looking rather cocky. I gave him my most evil smile and said "Did you really think you could take me on your own?" Before he could answer I leapt towards him with my knife in hand and stabbed him in the throat. His eyes widened as blood spurted in an arch from his neck to the floor. As he stood there shocked you could hear a bubbly gargling noise as the blood ran down his throat while he tried to breath. Then he fell to the floor on his stomach, which caused the knife to dig in deep enough to break his neck and have the bone protrude from the skin. I leaned down to pick up the knife and clean it when I heard a noise behind me. Quickly leaping out of the way and the blade only hit air. Unfortunately, my leap out of the way had caused me to step in a pool of my employer's blood, causing it to cover my shoes. I looked over to see who had tried to strike me and saw Him along with his companion. Well, I thought, perhaps running from him shall be fun.

    Before him or his companion could strike again I turned and ran towards my forest, while they speedily followed suit. When we reached my clearing with the old tree I heard them falter in their pursuit. I grinned and sped up, flying into the branches of the large tree, I quickly climbed up then slid down its hollow trunk. When I hit the glittering limestone floor, I ran quickly to my cavern. Once safely inside of it, I stripped of my mask and let my long hair fall loose. The sound of footsteps behind me suddenly reached my ears. I spun around on my heel and drew my blade, when I had turned I saw the two men. When they saw my face, the one with the hazelnut eyes stepped towards me. I raised my blade towards his heart and he stopped.

    "Elise?" he asked. My heart stopped for a few moments then started racing, pounding in my ears. It was- yet it could not be…


    Chapter 6


    "Aleksander?" I lowered my blade slightly and stared at him in shock.

    "Elise I-" he began but I cut him off.

    "Two years Aleksander and not once did you come back? Why?" my voice cracked on the last word.

    "Elise, I wish I could have come back, just to see if you were alive but, I couldn't."

    "And why couldn't you?" I snapped at him, "Why couldn't you come back!"

    He stepped forward and put his hand on my blade, lowering it, speaking to me softly he said, "Let me explain.

    The man with the black and white mask leapt down towards Elise and I caught a flash of silver in his hand. "Elise!" I yelled she looked up and realized what I was warning her about and was able to dodge in time that the knife didn't kill her. The man, instead of stopping leapt towards me and the next thing I knew I was on the ground trying to wrestle the knife out of his hand.

    "Aleksander!" I heard Elise yell from somewhere near the top of the tree.

    "Elise, keep climbing!"

    Then the world went black as a sharp pain struck me in the back of my head.

    I awoke slowly, realizing that I did not know where Elise was, my heart began to pound and I sat up quickly which caused a dull ache in the back of my head to throb. A girl I didn't know quickly rushed over and pushed me back down.

    "Ash, he's awake!" she yelled. A man who looked to be around my age then entered the room.

    "So," he said with a sly smile on his face, "how did you sleep Aleksander?"

    "Where's Elise?" I demanded angrily.

    "Well, now, I estimate that she's fallen out of that tree you climbed died. Or perhaps been eaten by a wild beast, or she could have even starved to death by now. I honestly don't know and honestly? I don't care. Right now I am here to make you a proposition."

    "What kind of a proposition?" I asked, eyeing him warily.

    "Help me kill all the assassins in Kartel for two years, and then we can go look for your sister."

    I paused, thinking over his offer. "Do you promise that we shall look for her after two years?"

    "I promise." He said and a smirk came over his face. Turning and reaching into a large dresser he took out a bundle of black clothing and a mask. He handed me them and said, "Put these on, we start tonight."

    For two years now it had gone rather much the same. Every night the two of us would head out and kill one of Kartel's assassins. Now there was only one left. The most famous female assassin known throughout history, and we were going to have to try and kill her.

    "I would have come to look for you over those two years, if I had known you were still alive I never would have agreed." Aleksander said, placing a hand on my cheek.

    "I know Aleksander."

    "But, why are with the man who murdered our parents?"

    "Elise, that wasn't him. It wasn't Ash who murdered our parents it was Aiden, his twin brother."

    Chapter 7

    "A twin? What twin?"
    "Elise- let me explain," Aleksander paused and a thoughtful look crossed his face, "actually, let Ash explain. Aleksander stepped back and the man named Ash stepped towards me. He took off his mask revealing a handsome face with eyes black and sparkling like obsidian and skin pale like mine. He took my hand in his and kissed it, keeping his eyes on me all the while.
    "A pleasure to meet you mademoiselle."
    "Likewise, now I believe you owe me an explanation."
    "Of course mademoiselle." He opened his mouth and began.

    Ash's POV

    "Mother you wished to see us?" I stood in front of my mother with my twin Aiden at my side. My mother was not the type who spoiled her children. My parents were the kind that would push you to be better and criticize every single mistake you made. In our family, the men all had been the best in the business, how that resulted was that there was usually only one male in a generation. When Aiden and I were born they knew what would happen and they had told us since we were young that one day we would have to battle each other. So both of us were expecting what would more than likely happen next.
    "You two know Xavier and Faith, correct?"
    "Yes mother." Aiden and I replied simultaneously. At that moment Xavier and Faith Windsor were the best in the business.
    "They've become a problem. We need them both dead."
    "Why mother?" I was honestly curious as to why she would have us kill them. Mother had never had us do this kind of thing before, so why now?
    "They learned too much and they can use that against us. We need to kill not only them though. You have to kill everyone close to them. Family, friends, colleagues, everyone. We're not taking any risks."
    "Mother, you do realize that would mean killing just about everyone in the business."
    "Exactly, you have known for a long time now you would both have to battle this out. This is how. We need you to kill all of them. The winner of this competition will become the best, the loser, will be killed by the others hand. Do you both accept?"
    "Yes mother." We both replied. I glanced over at Aiden and saw a cold look on his face.
    "Good. They will be at the ball tomorrow, which is where you will begin. Good luck."
    We both bowed to our mother and then left to go to our separate chambers.
    I stood hidden behind a dark blue curtain in the ballroom. Masked people spun around the room dancing and spinning along to the music that the orchestra was played. Letting my eyes scan around the room I looked around for Xavier and Faith. I finally found them standing alone, out on the terrace. Perfect. Then I saw Aiden had already gotten there and was slowly creeping up behind them with his sword in his hand. Faith saw and screamed and Aiden charged. I leapt out from behind the curtain and ran towards the terrace, pushing through the crowd that had gathered to watch the fight. By the time I reached them they were already dead. Xavier's eyes stared at the sky in a sightless expression of rage. Faiths eyes were closed and her body lay next to Xavier. Both had a wound to their chests and blood poured from the in a dark red river. Quickly realizing where Aiden had gone next I ran off toward the Windsor estate. I arrived only to find Aiden running after them towards the forest. Looking around I saw a black stallion that had probably belonged to the dead guard on the steps. I rushed over and mounted him. "Ya!" the stallion set off and I dug my heels unto his sides, urging him faster. I rode straight into the forest until I found where Aiden had chased Aleksander and Elisandra.
    "Care to join the party Ash?" Aiden then leapt at me with his sword and I quickly blocked. This continued on for some time until I was able to cut his arm. Taking advantage while he was distracted I swept his feet out from under him and put my swords tip against his throat. "Well, aren't you going to finish me Ash?" Aiden's eyes held and angry fire and I glared right back with just as much venom.
    "Leave." I removed the sword tip from his throat and he ran off.
    "I'll be back Ash! Next time, I will win."

    Elise's POV

    The room went silent for a few minutes after Ash finished speaking and I saw Aleksander's eyes were wet. I walked over and hugged him.
    "What a touching reunion. Too bad it will have to end."A voice came from the edge of my cave and we all turned. A man who looked exactly like Ash stepped forward and Ash's eyes darkened with deep hate.

    Chapter 8

    "What a touching reunion. Too bad it will have to end."
    Hearing the sudden Voice Aleksander and I leapt apart. Turning to face the voice we saw a man who looked exactly like Ash step out from the shadows.
    "Aiden." Ash growled.
    "Hello brother." Aiden smirked then his gaze turned to me, "Well, well, well. Elise haven't you grown up." His words caused my cheeks to turn bright right and he smiled devilishly.
    "Don't you dare touch her." Aleksander snarled.
    Ignoring Aleksander's comment Aiden turning back to Ash and said, "Well brother, I'm afraid this has to end." In the blink of an eye he leapt at Ash with a sword in his hand and was able to put a cut into his arm before he drew his sword.
    Silver flashed in the moonlit limestone caves as the sound of metal hitting metal echoed off the walls. This continued for some time until it was clear that Aiden was winning the battle. Aleksander, seeing this drew his own sword and joined the battle. As the battle continued on for an even longer period of time, the tide turned and Aiden began losing against Ash's and Aleksander's continuous attacks. Aiden, seemingly realizing this turned and ran out of the cavern and towards one of the caves many exits.
    Calculating where he was going I swiftly followed after him, taking all the shortcuts I knew of and ended up reaching the exit moments before he did. When he saw me he seemed surprised that I had reached the entrance before him, but speedily recovered. This is for my family. Then I ran at him. Our swords clashed and the sound of the metal screeched in my ears and vibrated through my body. For a few minutes we seemed well matched as we both blocked each other and neither of us was able to sustain any damage. Then Aiden went for me hard and, though he didn't knock me off my feet and my sword out of my hand as was intended, he did manage to knock me off balance. Seeing the crack in my composure, he took the opportunity and gave me a shallow cut to the throat. Fresh, warm, crimson blood flowed from the shallow wound and this caused me to fall to the ground from shock and pain. He raised his sword above his head for the killing blow and I, instead of showing my fear, stared straight at him.
    "Elise!" Aiden and I turned our heads and saw Aleksander and Ash leaping towards Aiden. Seeing this Aiden quickly ran out of the mouth of the cave and into the black night as we all watched.
    "Elise, are you alright?" Aleksander asked as he grabbed my arm and pulled me up from the floor, his brow furrowed in concern.
    "I-I think so…" I honestly didn't know how I felt. Aleksander ripped a piece of cloth from his shirt and tied it around my neck to try and stanch the bleeding. I sat there and stared into thin air as Aiden and Ash had a whispered conversation. Mixed emotions coursed through me, fear, anger, disappointment. Scared because I had almost died, anger and disappointment because I had failed to kill him. I had failed my parents. I didn't know how to feel because of these coursing emotions.
    "Elise, we should go." I looked up at him and nodded and we walked out of the exit. I whistled for my horse and mounted him while Aleksander and Ash mounted two black stallions they had brought.
    We set off at a swift pace through the forest and quickly reached the town where our pace slowed slightly. As we rode through the town I looked at the small cottages and the dim lantern lighting. It may not have been the first time I'd been in town in two years, but I had not lived near other people for so long… I don't think I'd know how to normally interact.
    "We're here." I heard Ash announce from the front. I dismounted quickly and led my horse to some stables where a stable boy took the horses and took care of them. We left the stables and entered the house. The house was rather large, though not as large as a mansion and sat on what looked to be 2 acres of land. We entered the main room and I couldn't help by gaze at the house in wide eyed wonder. The walls were lined with rich purple velvet embroidered with some type of insignia in red. Several doorways led out of the room and to the other places in the house and portraits and paintings were set by the doors.
    "This way Madam." I heard a quiet voice say and turned to see a girl my age dressed in a light blue maids uniform standing by one of the doors. I nodded at her and she turned and led me through the door and up a spiral staircase. When we reached the top I found myself being placed in a room that had white roses embroidered on black velvet covering the walls and roses carved into the wardrobe. The maid then gave me a silky black nightgown. "Will you need any more help Madam?"
    "No thank you, and please, call me Elise." The maid smiled and nodded, then turned like she was going to leave. "Wait!" I called out, "What am I to call you?"
    "Alice, Madam."
    I smiled, "Thank you Alice." Then she left. After she was gone I slipped on the black silk night gown and unwrapped the fabric around my neck to check my wound. The cut was an angry red but, it didn't seem to be bleeding any more. Seeing that the best I could do was let it heal on its own I wrapped it back up and crawled into the plush looking bed.
    For the first time in 2 years, I slept in peace.

    Chapter 9
    I awoke to the chirping of birds outside and slowly opened my eyes. Sunlight lit the room and shone off the dark wood of the bed frame and walls. Now that it was light I was able to get a good look around the room. The walls and floor were made simply from dark wood with an oriental rug sitting on the floor. There was one large dresser carved with birds and another small one carved with flowers.

    "Mada- I mean Elise?" I heard a timid voice say from near the door and turned to it. It was Alice, the same maid as before. "Do you require any help getting dressed? Ash wishes to see you as soon as you as soon as possible."

    "No, thank you. Tell Ash I will be there in a few moments."

    She nodded and said, "I will wait outside to lead you to him."

    With that she left and set a white dress with black embroidery. Once she had left I walked over and picked it up. Slipping it on I walked over to a full length mirror that was in the corner. The embroidery was of small birds and strange flowers with diamond petals. As I gazed upon myself in the mirror I slowly removed the wrapping from around my neck. The cut had healed nicely and looked to be now a good healthy pink so I decided it would be all right to take to take the wrappings off. When I was finished I strolled over to the doors, slowly pulled one open, and peeked my head outside, turning it to the right.

    "Are you ready Elise?" I looked over and saw Alice waiting to the left of the doors.


    Alice led me down a long hall with several paintings on the wall, one of which, I noted, was of a family in which there were two identical boys, both looking about twelve or so in age. I hadn't even noticed I had stopped to stare at the painting until Alice tugged on my arm and dragged me away.

    "Who were the people in that painting?"

    Alice was silent for a few moments before responding, "I do not think it's in my rights to tell you. If you still wish to know you can ask Ash."

    "Alright…" we both stayed silent for the rest of the time as she led me down the hall to wherever Aiden was. When we reached what I assumed was the destination she opened the doors and curtseyed quickly before announcing me as I entered.

    "Ah, Elise, do sit." I looked about the room and noted the wooden furniture as well as the dark mahogany desk that Ash sat at, all of which were plain and simple. "So, Elise, there is much to explain to you. First off, you should know the legacy of our two families. You see ever since our great-grandparents met they have been enemies.

    "The way my parents have always told me the tale is that at first our great-grandparents were good friends, which was rather unusual considering their occupation. When one bore a daughter and the other bore a son, they decided that the two of them would wed once they were old enough. Then, on their wedding night, he was found murdered and she was nowhere to be seen. Eventually my family bore another son and raised him to hate your family, as did your family when they had their second daughter. Our families have been at war with one another ever since, of course I did not know this until I started hunting down all of the assassins in Kartel. "

    I stared at him with a shocked look upon my face. He talked about this as though he was mentioning something completely menial and unimportant. When he looked at my face he laughed and grinned.

    "Secondly, you should know about Aiden, as he has made it rather clear he wishes to kill you. Now Aiden is someone who doesn't ask for what he wants, he takes it. If he wants you dead, believe me when I say he not only has the skill, but also the resources to kill you before you can even blink. What I find curious is why he has let you live so long…" Ash trailed off and continued to gaze into space, looking rather deep in thought.

    "Ash?" When he heard my voice he seemed startled and jumped slightly, though he quickly recovered.

    "Oh yes, sorry. Where were we? Ah yes, why has he let you live so long, well, today I plan on finding that out." He must have seen the clear confusion on his face and he smirked. "Come along. I will show you what I mean. "

    He then proceeded to lead me outside of the mansion onto some training grounds where I spotted Aleksander who was currently battling against another man.

    "Aleksander!" Ash called out and the battle quickly stopped. The man Aleksander had been battling quickly bowed to both Ash and Aleksander then left. Aleksander then turned to Ash.

    "Ash, what is it that you need?"

    Ash smiled and replied, "I need you to go gather up my best men and bring them here. It is time to test Elise and the skills that she has learned over the past two years."

    "Surly, we can wait another day at least until-"

    "I think it is a good time to test her now, go." Ash's voice was harsh and commanding, the glare he sent towards Aleksander dared him to challenge him. For a few moments Aleksander returned the glare then nodded and followed his orders. Once this exchange was done Ash turned to me and proceeded to explain to me. "So I'm certain that you are curious as to what you are being required to do. As you can see this is a training ground for my men, all of whom are masters. Today I am going to test you against my men to see how well you will do. Once you've completed this test then, and only then, will we be able to make any further decisions on your stay here. Ah there is Aleksander. Let the games begin." I glanced at where Ash was looking and saw Aleksander followed by two men, all of whom looked rather intimidating. I looked back at Ash and he just smirked.

    He stepped back and I found myself in the middle of the training arena. One of the men who had been with Aleksander separated himself from the group and made his way over to where I was. He picked up two swords and tossed one to me. With practiced precision I plucked it from the air and faced him. The man was tall with tanned skin and was at least a head taller than I was, we squared off then he came at me. I raised my sword to meet him and the battle quickly ensued. Sweat soaked my brow as I battled him. He was very practiced and just what Ash had said, a master. After what seemed like hours I finally spotted the fatal crack in his attack. Using this to my advantage I swiveled to my left and avoided a stab of his sword. Then, as fast as I could, I came around behind him with ease, pushed him to the ground. He landed in the dirt face down and I kept the tip of my sword at his back. A sudden clapping startled me slightly and I turned to see Ash with a smirk on his face applauding my victory.
    "Well done Elise! Now, if you would kindly remove your sword from his back, it is time to see what other skills you have."

    Doing as I was instructed I removed my sword from his back. He stood bowed to me, and left the arena. The other man entered the ring, empty handed. Catching on to what this battle would be I dropped my sword and stepped forward to face him off. He ran straight at me with his fist made ready to punch me. I spun out of the way and avoided his fist. Then curling my own hands into fists I fought back. He was able to dodge and block most all of my punches. I punched at him and he dropped and kicked while I was forced to jump to avoid to being knocked down. Taking advantage of my current positioning, I made ready to kick him. He was unprepared and unable to act fast enough and I was able to knock him down and pin him underneath my foot. He raised his arms in defeat and I removed my foot from on top of him and helped him up.

    "Very good Elise, now it is time for your final test." I glanced around confused. I saw no more men, unless he expected me to face Aleksander, which I would refuse to do. Seeing my confused look, Ash smiled and gave me the answer to my question. "You will fight me."