The assassin lay dead at her feet. She had chosen the main roads specifically to avoid Ilhavin’s Retrievers, but they grew more bold with his deepening desperation. If she hadn’t been desperate herself, she never would have set out at night in the first place. She nudged the body with the toe of her boot, noting the complex Anovan leatherwork decorating what was otherwise simple attire, and frowned; he was expanding into the Eastern kingdoms.
“Layen a’Ciah siawyn ne’kaieth tha li a’Rhune liatha,” she murmured, making the sign of the gods before kissing the thumb she had tucked into a loose fist.
“Why would you bless one of his agents,” Temur asked, settling his weight on one hip to the creaking accompaniment of his armor. Temur refused to use Ilhavin’s name, out of spite he said, but she suspected it was superstitious fear that saying it would attract the powerful Bright Lord’s attention.
“Every soul deserves Ciah’s blessing in Rhune’s embrace,” she said, bending to rummage through the Retriever’s hidden pockets. “However misguided we may think they are –” she paused for Temur’s disapproving grunt before finishing. “Every soul deserves a blessing.”
She found the note she knew the Retriever would carry secreted by a clever flaw in the leatherwork, and tucked it into a similar pocket hidden in her own vest. She could feel Temur’s eyes at her back, the mercenary’s gaze appraising, and made a show of confiscating the man’s coin purse and small valuables. Given his lack of comment, she decided she had guessed correctly; always search the body for more coin. If she hadn’t, he would have, and the last thing she needed was a man like Temur having too much information.
“Help me move him,” she said, shifting to take up the dead man’s feet.
Wordlessly, Temur complied, his unspoken question hovering between them in the gloom.
“To the river.”
With a grim nod, he took the lead, carefully negotiating the rocky terrain with the skill of a man who had moved more than a few bodies in his time.
Silence stretched as they made their way to the violent current of the Nimareth river, its black water churning white against hidden boulders and jagged rocks too stubborn to be worn smooth by the river’s eternal passage; by the time the Retriever’s body was found it would be unrecognizable — that is if the body was ever found. They gave the body a great heave at the precipitous ledge several spans above the river. She watched it disappear with a distant splash.
“I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure it out,” Temur said at great length. “Who would send a black-dagger like that after a woman like you?”
“Politics,” she said, her gaze still locked on the dark, rushing river below. “It’s just politics. He wasn’t the first black-dagger to find me, and he won’t be the last.”