The glowing talisman led him all the way until he arrived at the Brook of Maris. Tanko could feel his intestines knotting; he was afraid. This was a dangerous operation and the order should’ve sent more men. He thought of running back to the bar, but that would be an act of cowardice. Tanko knew it would be difficult to kill the woman, but he would try. The brook was a graveyard. The only sounds he could hear belonged to the night insects and the dance of the trees around. The midnight air was cool. He also listened to the sound of running water.
Tanko marched towards the small stream. He was about to drink from it when he noticed bloodstains on a big rock that stood within. Imaginations of Fatima struggling with the assassin filled his mind. Tanko was angry with his sister. How could Aisha be so secretive? How could they be in the same order yet they didn’t share it with each other? Tanko was not pleased that Aisha asked for the order’s help in killing Aisha. She was in love with Umar, and that obsession blinded her from their interests.
As he lowered himself to drink, he threw away caution and forgot about all the things that burdened him. He lay his sword next to his feet as he scooped. He was extremely thirsty. What Tanko failed to understand was that he wasn’t as smart as the chief protector’s men. There were many bush tracks from the widow’s house that led to the Brook of Maris. After Abdul had called for the splitting of men, the more experienced ones had taken a shorter route.
They had hopped on the trees at the brook and waited for the arrival of their master with the widow. At first, the men had thought that light from the talisman belonged to a firefly as the moon wasn’t too graceful that night. But they noticed that the light moved in a well defined path, and they could hear the breathing and heaving of a man.
Even in the dim light supplied by the stellar, they saw him. But they were skeptical. Tanko was a popular figure in Israar and many people visited his bar. How could the bar owner be the assassin? If he wasn’t, why was he out in the brook alone? The soldiers decided to hop down the tree for a confrontation, but they were convinced that Tanko wasn’t the man they were looking for. Perhaps he could give them information.
The heavy thuds alerted him that he was surrounded. Quickly, Tanko fetched his sword and turned around. All he thought of was saving his life as he noticed the soldiers. He rushed towards the men impulsively and with a loud scream. The men had not armed themselves, so they were not able to protect themselves as Tanko swiftly covered the distance. His strength came from the praise he would receive from the order, successfully, he plunged his sword into the first man.
Just in time, Abdul, Rahib and the widow surfaced. They had been trekking silently towards the brook until they heard a sound.
“Something is wrong,” Abdul paused and raised his hand.
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The men exchanged silent glares and pulled out their swords. They rushed all the way to the brook, leaving the widow to catch up with them. As the soldiers were shocked, Abdul and Rahib were surprised to see Tanko fighting with the men. It was certain that he was the assassin, this time, Abdul vowed to take him alive.
One of the soldiers had died, the other was wounded. Abdul bellowed a command in a loud voice, stern enough to stop the parties from fighting. Tanko’s face clouded when he realized that he was outnumbered; this was what he feared.
“So the bar owner is an assassin?” Abdul circled him in amusement.
“He killed Majid!” Rahib exclaimed as he examined the body.
Tanko clenched tightly to his sword, ready to take the highest oath of the order. He knew that he couldn’t win this one; but it was better to fall by his sword, than to let out the secrets of the order. But Abdul was smarter than he was, from the way Tanko clutched tightly to the sword, it was clear that he was about to take his life like Ibram had done.
Abdul closed the space between them and gave him a heavy punch from behind. The pressure from the blow was so strong that Tanko fell to his knees, while the sword fell to the ground. The widow arrived shortly after that.
“You!” Her lips shivered as she stared at Tanko. She recognized the bar owner. While her husband was alive, Tanko had been one of the major visitors from the order.
“This man here is a member of the order of Israar, he works in close contact with the moor.” The widow said.
“The moor, who is the moor?” Abdul whispered.
Carefully, she pulled out a scroll from the pouch attached to her dress. It was the most sacred scroll, and it belonged to all the members of the order. It contained the names of the members, and it was to be kept away from the public. She had stumbled on the list in her husband’s study one time; she had been amazed at the number of people that had corrupted themselves by being a part of the order. Even women were not left out.
“Take this; this is all that you need. But I couldn’t show you this at home. Please, make good use of it. They killed my husband because he wouldn’t listen to them. They knew that Ali was at the verge of leaving, of finding his way out of that cursed association that was why he was killed.”
When she said this, Rahib and Abdul exchanged glares. After they had examined Ali’s body, they had wondered why the killers hadn’t mutilated his body.
“So they desecrate the bodies of those who aren’t their members and preserve those that belong to them?” Abdul scoffed.
“My husband was owed by Fatima’s father. He tried to reach out to the girls, but the other had other plans for him. Now that he is gone, they intend to take some of his properties, but you mustn’t let them.” She continued to lament.
“Master?” Rahib almost chocked on the word.
Abdul had passed the scroll to Rahib as his eyes couldn’t see much in dim light. He had turned his full attention on the widow, listening and reassuring her that they would defeat the order.
While Rahib was familiar with all names on the list, he was shocked to see Aisha’s name on it.
“What is it Rahib? Can you not read?” Abdul asked.
“I can, but there is a problem.”
To be continued…