“Don’t you dare judge me? You were the one that asked me to dupe Umar. Are you better than I am?” She rolled her eyes.
“I didn’t ask you to kill Fatima. Umar is still in love with her, even in life or in death.” Tanko blurted out angrily, and the words cut deep into his sister.
The words were as sharp as a sword, they tore into her flesh. She quickly looked away and turned her back to the two men. Her brother did not seek for her happiness, he didn’t care about her feelings. There was no point working with him anymore.
“I will no longer be part of your plot to defraud a good man. You judge me for wanting Fatima death, yet you intend to use me to steal from Umar. I would rather put a sword through my chest than listen to you.” She fired at him.
Tanko couldn’t believe Aisha’s words. He was about to say something in return when the moor stepped in.
“Can you two stop? We have more important things to deal with.”
“What is more important than the death of Fatima? Tell me, what happened to her?” Aisha asked the moor.
Angrily, Tanko sauntered out of the cottage. He would ignore his sister just for the night. He knew she was drunk on some cheap wine as she had spent a a lot of time at his bar. For now, he had to kill Ali’s widow; else she could spill the secrets of the order as she knew so much about her husband.
“Coward! You flee at the sound of truth!” Aisha called after Tanko, but he ignored her.
Turning back to the moor, she wouldn’t take her eyes off the man’s face.
“We cannot kill Fatima right now. Abdul is not a fool. He knows that we will try to hit her another time, but it doesn’t have to be today. It doesn’t have to be anytime soon.” The moor advised. His words brought Aisha confusion. How did Abdul come into the picture?
“What does Abdul have to do with this? I know that he is the chief protector, but we have carried out other operations without being caught.” She said.
The moor inhaled deeply. The message on the scroll had been short and precise. It was time to explain to Aisha about the true situation of things.
“Fatima had left for the Brook of Maris, and Ibram had followed her there. Abdul had seen her scurrying from the ranch, so he had followed her. On getting to the brook, he found Ibram trying to kill her. Ibram killed himself to preserve the secret of the order, it was Abdul that rescued Fatima and gave her over to Umar. This is how Abdul comes in. We do not know what he was doing at the brook. We do not know if he had an idea that Fatima’s life would be in danger. We do not know just how much he knows about the order. We must stick to the shadows.” The man explained everything to Aisha, just as her brother had explained to him.
She scoffed, “Where did you get this information from?”
“Tanko met with Laila at the bar. She had been concerned about her sister’s absence from the ranch. They later moved to Abdul’s castle, and that was when the truth was revealed.”
Aisha realized that there were elements of truth in this story. She recalled everything that had taken place at the ranch. Abdul had known that something was coming.
“I want her dead still. She is wounded. She is vulnerable and this is the best time to strike. Nobody would know that the order is behind her death. People would think that she died from the injuries she sustained.” Aisha tried to convince the moor about the operation. She would not sleep properly, knowing very well that Fatima was still breathing.
The moor sighed, “The order is no longer interested in Fatima’s case. She brings no value to the table. We are more interested in killing Ali’s widow. You must never speak of this anymore. This is an order.” The moor was growing irritated by Aisha’s stubbornness, why couldn’t she realize that going after Fatima would mean walking into Abdul’s trap?
Aisha laughed. How could the order turn their back on her?
“Just one perfect stab would put her away. You are all fools to think that I will sit and watch Fatima live. I will put my sword through her, myself. But when I am finished, I will cease to be a member of a group that cannot serve my personal interests.” She spun on her heel and moved towards the door.
“Then you will cease to exist!” The moor announced.
“No, I have always existed on my own. I do not fear you or the members of the order. If you were that powerful, why do you have to hide? Why do you have to kill Ali’s widow?” Aisha breezed out without a second glance at the man. She needed to ride for Abdul’s castle to finish what she had started. If Fatima was taken out of the picture, Umar would have no choice but to be with her.
The moor had never been this insulted by a member, a woman for that matter. Aisha was right about the order; they were losing men. They had grown weak and needed to go into hiding. Just one more kill… The man returned to his study to write more letters to all the members of the order. It was time to stick to the shadows.
As Aisha mounted her horse, she had a brilliant idea. Putting a sword through Fatima would mean putting herself in danger. There were two people that Fatima trusted, and she intended to use one of the little girls. Would it be Ralia? Or would it be Iman? She exhaled slowly and rode through the bush paths back home. She would sleep on her idea. But one thing was certain: Fatima’s death.
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While the mistress had gone, Ralia had taken a break from the bar and decided to rest for a while. Some of Tanko’s workers who usually took nightshifts had returned, so she needed to head home to Aisha. Tanko’s bar wasn’t too far from the house, so it didn’t take her long to reach home. The first thing she noticed was that Aisha’s horse wasn’t tied to the tree that stood before the cottage.
She paused and looked around in wonder. Where did Aisha go? Where could she be? The young girl shrugged and felt she would be with Umar, Iman’s cousin. Ralia considered sneaking out of the house to have word with her little friend. But the thought of Aisha searching for her at the bar and at home wasn’t something that she looked forward to.
Fatigued, she trudged towards the entrance and found the key where Aisha usually left it for her. She pushed the door open and stopped at the middle; the house was in total disarray, whatever Aisha had been looking for was extremely important. At first, Ralia had wanted to take a rest before cleaning the house, but the sight of a familiar scroll got her attention.
“I have seen this in Tanko’s office,” she murmured and lowered herself to one of the scrolls that had fallen out of the box which Aisha forbade her to touch. As Ralia neared the pile, she noticed more scrolls in that fashion and then vellum. Her hands shivered as she neared Aisha’s well guarded box, she had never gone near it; Aisha would scream her head off.
Ralia fell on her knees and lifted the small brown piece towards her eyes. The vellum had a peculiar scent; the writings on the vellum were faint but she was still able to read. On seeing Fatima’s name, her heart skipped, but she continued to read until the end. Her hands trembled at the horror she had stumbled on. Ralia knew that Aisha had killed men before, but she didn’t see this coming. Suddenly, everything made sense now.
She recalled the sudden appearance of Aisha at the bar. What about Tanko? Did he know about this? Had he known about Aisha’s plan to hurt Fatima? Could that have been the reason she asked him to spy on his sister? Tired of speculations, Ralia dumped the vellum and rose to her feet. Fear gripped her as she considered all of Aisha’s atrocities. It was clear that she spared no one in her ambition. She was simply jealous of Fatima.

To be continued…

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