My scene for the March Quote Queste prompt: "It's too early in the day for killing princes."
“Why didn’t you take the strike?” a male voice hissed.
Xerene did not glance at the figure that had slid through the crowd to her side. Her eyes were fixed on the regal young man riding down the avenue, a few guards around him and the crowd cheering him adoringly.
“It’s too early in the day to kill a prince,” she retorted flippantly.
The man next to her choked and started to say something wrathful. She halted him with a hand on his arm.
“Something blow into your throat?” her amused eyes gleamed hazel in the early morning sunlight.
He glared at her and growled, “Let’s get out of this crowd and plan our next move.”
She took the lead, weaving through the crowd and then slipping down a narrow alley to a door whose color might once have been called some shade of green but was now a grayish color with hints of brown and green that reminded her strongly of pig swill.
She knocked sharply twice, softly once and then sharply once.
A blonde girl opened the door and the two stepped inside.
The other four people in the small, dimly lit room stood up eagerly, all five pairs eyes straining through the gloom to search the face of the young woman.
“Is it done?” the blonde girl asked.
“No,” the man who had entered with Xerene snarled. “Duh. If it was done, you’d hear the outrage of the crowds even here. She had a perfect strike and she didn’t take it,” he glowered darkly at her.
“Why?” five voices asked at once.
“It’s too early in the morning to kill a prince, or anyone actually.”
The man who had come with her took a step toward her, fury in his eyes. “Is this all a game to you?! You were hired to do a job, confound your impudence!”
“Sit down, Threve,” a younger, red-haired man said firmly.
Threve slammed into a chair, seething.
The redhead eyed Xerene coolly, “I expect a better explanation than that.”
“Of course you do,” she replied smoothly, eyebrows arched innocently. “I don’t kill people before breakfast or morning tea and I really prefer not to do it before dinner either."
“Then why did you go to the parade this morning?” the short blonde demanded.
Xerene didn’t even spare her a glance, but she did roll her eyes at the truculence in the girl’s manner. “For your information, kid,” she sneered the last word and the blonde bridled, “I went to the parade to gather information. You’re all so faithless,” she mocked. “You hired me to do the job none of you would ever be able to do. I’ll do it in my own time and my own way.” She drew herself up and glared at the redheaded leader. “My record speaks for itself. Have I ever not completed a job I was hired to do?”
The silence was answer enough and the redhead admitted her point with a tiny nod.
She swept a bored look over the other five people. “It’s too early for killing, but past breakfast time and I don’t work on an empty stomach. Do whatever it is you people do in your spare time, but I’m going to find something to eat.” She swung around and left the room, not bothering to look out the window slit before opening the door and stepping out.
She heard Threve’s protest of her carelessness behind her, and smirked to herself. He’s such a nervous ninny.
None of the conspirators followed her. She found an eating house and quickly disposed of a large meal of cider, bread and cheese. Still alone, she sought the privacy of a tall tree at the edge of the exhibition grounds.
A few moments later, a tall, slim young woman, clad in black leather, waist length braid so blonde it looked white, climbed up into the tree and perched, catlike, on a branch nearby. In silence the two watched the gathering crowds.
“Why didn’t you take the opening?”
Xerene yanked the gold chain at her throat and brought out a gold medallion with a silver griffin in the center.
The black-clad newcomer whistled. “Seriously?”
“He was wearing it in his hair,” Xerene was frowning.
Xerene shook her head. “Nearly impossible, if my mother’s words were true. There were only two ever made.”
“How did our research not turn this up?”
“We only went into the jewelry he wore often and on state occasions. He’s never worn this to a state occasion. If he had, we’d have discovered it.”
“Why wear it now?” the other woman slipped an arrow out of her quiver and began to finger the shaft.
“Today is his investment into the Order. Symbolism? Significance? A secret? A sign?” Xerene shrugged.
Her companion replaced the arrow and slid down from the tree.
“Where are you off to?”
“You’re not going to kill him now without more information. I’m going to find that information,” she winked up at Xerene and darted off, fleet as a gazelle.
Xerene stared moodily out over the exhibition grounds, easily locating the prince by his clothes of state. Her mother’s words rang in her head, over and over like the clanging of the great palace bells.
There is only one other such medallion... and it was placed about the neck of your brother.
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Miss Melody Muffin