“Is that really her? Is that the queen?” Jared whispered.
“It has to be her! But I never expected someone so . . . so fragile!” Jon whispered back.
They were on the ceiling of the ballroom, having climbed through a window and used magical boots and gloves to cling to the roof. It was the only way they could get into the palace without being caught. The Queen’s wizard had powerful wards all over the place, but he had apparently forgotten the small corner of the roof.
And so here they were, during the Queen’s celebration of yet another conquest. They were here to assassinate her. But neither of them was prepared for the porcelain-skinned beauty they saw below them. Amidst a room full of beautiful people, the Queen stood out by a long shot.
“Jon,” Jared whispered, “how are we going to pull this off?”
With an effort, Jon peeled his eyes off of the Queen, scanning the room. Besides the Queen, and her guests, there were a large number of guards spaced throughout the room. Plus, Jon knew that the Queen’s wizard was probably skulking around in a corner somewhere . . . there! The wizard always wore robes in extremely gaudy colour combinations. What a poser! The rebels knew he was pretty much worthless. Why the Queen kept someone around who was so incompetent was beyond them. Although they had to be thankful for small blessings; he left the only hole in her otherwise perfect defences.
“Well, the Queen is surrounded by her guards. We could hit her first if we thought we could take her out in one shot. Otherwise, if we hit someone else first, we could get the guards to come to us. Once they’re all dead, the Queen will be an easy hit.”
Jared thought it over, calculating the odds quickly in his head. “Well, looking at where the Queen is sitting, there’s a few too many obstacles in the way. We might be able to take her out, but we’re just as likely to hit a chandelier on the way down, which would give us away to the guards. Let’s hit someone else first. Someone like the wizard. If he goes down, hopefully the wards will go down with him.”
“Alright. He’s in a pretty good place too. Fighting in the corner will mean that we can’t be surrounded. Just remember, we only get one shot at this.”
Stealthily, they made their way towards the corner where the wizard was glaring from. He was dressed in orange, bright green, and magenta today, with a tall, pointy hat that seemed to change colour every ten seconds or so. A perfect target.
The brothers struck without warning. The wizard went down before anyone was the wiser, dead before he even realized what had hit him. They’d just brought down a nearby guard before the first guest started screaming. Instant pandemonium. They brought another few guards down before the fight was on in earnest.
The guards were well-trained, but they had the disadvantage of trying to keep many of their guests safe from harm. The brothers had no qualms about slaughtering people left and right; as far as they were concerned, these people were just as bad as the parasitic Queen, feeding on the blood of the nations they conquered.
The last bit of the fight was the most brutal. By this time, most of the guests were either dead or had escaped out of the ballroom. The remaining guards closed with the brothers, trading nasty blows back and forth. And all through the battle, the Queen sat calmly regarding the chaos that had erupted around her.
Finally, the last guard fell, skewered on Jon’s blade. He glanced to his right to see Jared limping, his left leg gashed wide open; he clutched his sword arm, which had also taken a nasty wound. Jon glanced down at himself to realize that he wasn’t in any better shape. There were cuts almost everywhere on his body, with several large gashes on his arms and torso.
“Jon!” Jared screamed. Jon looked up just in time to see a blade plunge through his chest. The Queen backed out of his reach as he slumped to the ground. With her other hand, she threw a knife almost faster than Jon’s eyes could follow, which embedded itself in the chest of his brother.
“Jared,” Jon whispered, feeling his eyes grow dim.
“I have to thank the two of you before you leave,” he heard the Queen saying, as if from a long ways off. “My guards will need better training in the future. Oh, and thank you for getting rid of my pet wizard. He was getting rather tedious. His little magics kept interfering with the wards I placed around the castle.”
If there was more to her speech, no one else heard it.