Knives in the Night

After leaving Tar Valon, Shandra, among other Hunters, headed northward in their search for the Horn. In a small town on their way, an assassination attempt is made, a Rose once again shows her thorns, and a certain Altaran receives his just deserts...

The assassin moved stealthily through the corridor of the inn. Once or twice he saw someone up late, coming toward him, and froze until they had passed. This was no time to be seen.

Not for the first time, he wondered about the commission he had been given, by a scowling Altaran man. “A Domani woman with green eyes, who thinks a pretty face lets her play at Hunting. I want her dead, and I want not the slightest suspicion who did it!” A madman no doubt, but a madman who paid well. He had followed the young woman to her inn and taken note of which room she was staying in.

He reached her door, listened for a moment, then opened the door and silently slipped in. She was seated with her back to the door, brushing her hair, and took not the least notice as he closed the door equally silently behind him. Oh, this is too easy. There was a second man beneath the window, in case she tried to escape that way, but it looked as if he could have his dagger in her heart before she even looked around.

Putting the brush down, she picked up a slim silver knife and started trimming her nails. He laughed inwardly. Oh, what a pretty girl – ah well. Drawing the dagger at his belt, he started toward her…

There was a sharp, sudden pain in his shoulder. Looking down, he saw with blank bewilderment the hilt of the silver knife protruding from his flesh. He stumbled and fell to the floor, lightheaded, as the blood flowed. 

Impossible – she couldn’t have thrown that over her shoulder without even LOOKING…

Not so much as glancing in his direction, she continued tidying her hair. Finally she stood up, stretched languidly, and crossed the room. Picking up the dagger he had dropped, she looked at it with some distaste, and tossed it casually out the window. There was a stifled gasp and thud, and he groaned as his chances of rescue vanished.

No one can possibly be that good…

“Excuse me,” she said sweetly, and pulled her own knife from his shoulder, wiping it neatly on his shirt. He winced. “Now -” Her voice was almost a purr as she sat down again facing him, crossing her ankles gracefully and tossing the knife idly from hand to hand. “Who sent you?”

The next night, a Hunter for the Horn, an Altaran man who had already earned the dislike of many of the townsfolk, was found dead in his bed, an unmarked knife in his heart. The inn’s guards swore no one could possibly have gotten in. The only way that knife could have gotten there would have been to be thrown through the narrow window, and who had that kind of skill?

Shandra, another Hunter staying in the town, shrugged when asked for speculation about her fellow’s death. “Someone probably got fed up with him,” the young Domani woman opined. “I certainly did.” And returned to polishing her knives.

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