Nenya arrived at the door as if expecting mayhem, her dark eyes alert. "Great Suria?"
"An escort is coming to take me to Tassomon's Tomb with the Sword," she explained. "Inform the rest of the guard that we're moving quarters. It's not safe for me here."
Nenya's angular dark face drew down into a concerned frown. "It's not?"
Mikial brushed past her for the stairs. "It never was."
"With respect," Nenya said while they descended to the ground floor, "This could be your Passion talking."
Mikial stopped when it became apparent that the Dathia was about to block her passage. "Nenya, this Sur was placed beside me in my bed without my knowledge or consent after I was abducted from Chenka Holding." She flashed an apologetic smile toward Rale who followed. "I was supposed to have killed or injured him enough to be discredited before these humans who are on their way to see me. Who ever my enemies are, they have one last chance to stop the meeting. The Datha do teach tactics here, Nenya, don't they?"
"So you're going to hold up inside the temple until the meeting," the Dathia answered with a stung expression.
"That's the plan," Mikial replied, motioning Rale to wait on one of the reception room's leather sofas while she entered her private writing area. Opening the ironwood door, she stared at the heavy table where her journal sat waiting for long overdue entries. One day, it would become the Book of Mikial. Hopefully not a short work. Mikial stepped around the equally massive redwood desk and opened the glass case flanked by two red drapes. The bare sword, fashioned from a single Tensa crystal, never ceased to send a chill down her spine. It had been worn by Great Tasur Gile Tassomon himself some four hundred years earlier. Now, it was hers, per written orders by the Great Tasur himself handed down through generations of the Tassomon Order. She reached up for the hilt with no small amount of nervousness. Handling the Sword only as an excuse to find sanctuary inside the temple felt more like sacrilege.
The door shutting heavily behind her prodded Mikial to trace Nenya's outline in her hunting eyes. She looked back to find the Dathia's pistol drawn, Nenya's face as stiff as ice as she fired.
Twisting aside, Mikial pulled at the sword so hard that the clips holding it tore from the case, shattering the glass. Pain tore across her neck, Mikial's muscles convulsing in a single desperate action. The sword left her hands in a silver blur. It struck Nenya full in the chest, throwing the Dathia back against the wood panels adjacent to the door.
Mikial leapt toward her adversary, screaming as a second dart tore across the top of her shoulder. She slammed into Nenya before a third shot could be fired, Mikial's hands driving the blade through the Dathia's shuddering body and deep into the wall behind it. Nenya's gasp sprayed blood across Mikial's face. Mikial was quick to knock the pistol from the Dathia's right hand before it could be fired a fourth time. Trembling in pain and shock, Mikial staggered back.
Rale burst into the room with eyes wide, reminding Mikial that the entire assassination attempt had actually taken only moments.
Mikial waved off his attempt to staunch the blood soaking the dress around her left shoulder. "Question her! Find out who is behind this!"
Rale looked at Nenya and the blood pooling rapidly around her. His jaw sagged.
Nenya stopped struggling, her eyes clearing as if she greeted a dear friend. She spoke in a gurgling half-whisper through bloody lips. "Soft and warm the green lace of morning waves." She let out a long sigh, her dark face like that of a discarded doll.
"Trigger words," Rale said, staring at the lifeless body. "A Shandi had to do that for her."