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The Desert Warriors
It was dark, peaceful and quiet during the rising of the sun of our first capture in the Great War to come. The beating of the sands of the hot and arid Arabian deserts was beginning to die down as we settled at the nearby assassin encampment. We made ourselves known that we were not thieves and were treated to many hospitalities as we entered the tents. Once we relaxed ourselves, we all drank the cool and refreshing waters of the assassins’ reserve with much relief. We have trekked several distances across that great and dangerous desert to find the palace of King Aalem, and now we have seen it in our view. It was glorious for the taking.
“Oh yes! It is finally good to get out of that harsh wind my brothers and sister. I feel glory shining upon us already at home.” Said Malik as he took a hearty swig of the crisp, but limited supply of water that we had before us. “If glory be upon us today, then I, Malik Al Jamir, shall take that same glory tenfold.”
Malik was the very hard-headed yet very light-hearted member of the troop. He was small –– only about 5’8” in height, and a small, lanky build –– but he never denied a chance to show his much larger heart in battle. Being the unofficial clown of our group, he was always kidding around and telling jokes to ease the sometimes uneasy tension between our assignments. However, what he lacked in seriousness he made up for in stealth tactics and arrow mastery. He never missed his target, and the only times he ever did was when he was surprised by the cowards known as our enemy at the time. In combat though, he never showed fear. He was a fierce warrior through and through.
“Yes we shall see all the glory at home Malik; but will you please share some of that same glory you feel with the rest of us? It’s been weeks since I’ve had good water to drink, and I need it now. Besides, I doubt a clown like you will be honored the same way as Tristan or Mina will back at home.” Jalil said as he snatched the reserve from Malik’s hand, to which Malik decidedly jumped onto Jalil to take the water back, starting a scuffle all across the tent.
A few words about Jalil I will add here. He was known as the brute force of my squadron of elites, as shown by his rather large build. He was roughly about 6’9”, and his dominating shadow was the last thing you saw in front of you before he sliced you from behind, never once giving heed to his position. What he lacked in grace and agility he more than made up for it in the battlefield. His giant, custom-fitted scimitar alone was enough to intimidate even the lower-ranked immortals of the army.
“Fellows, can we please knock off this ridiculous fighting for a few minutes? We need to be serious about this one. I have heard rumors that the guards of the palace have well-trained ears and eyes like a hawk’s are. For all we know, they could be listening to our nonsense right now.” Said Mina, the only female elite member of my squad. “Have you not heard of these rumors too, Tristan?”
Mina was rather reserved at times, but she was still quite sociable. Her slender figure, tight assets, and small stature of about 5’5” was enough to elude even the most menacing guards in her path before she surprised and cut them down to her size. She was often the distraction of the group in our earlier adventures; but once she learned the ways of the sword through my intense training, she earned a much larger role as a fighter the elites. She was incredibly dangerous with her double dagger style, which would even catch me off guard at times.
‘I have not heard rumors yet, to say the least; but I’ve heard many stories of these guards supposed great strength. We’ll have a good challenge indeed once the sun is overhead and they have grown tired of guarding the palace for the day. So Jalil and Malik, quit your quarreling and get serious for at least a few moments.’ I said, shedding some light on the upcoming fight we had to face.
My name, as before mentioned, is Tristan. Being only 6’2” with a medium build of muscle, I am usually overlooked as a worthy adversary by most of the enemies that I encounter on my journeys with my comrades. However, once they’ve entered a fight with me, they found out before their deaths that I am a true force to be reckoned with. I, like Mina, am also usually shy and reserved from the others. They try conversing with me as a friend, but I try to keep the hierarchy intact most of the time by saying that I am only their leader; nothing more. I am also the one to draw up the plans for the conquest of our mission targets. My plans included stealth, brute force, and even trickery to obtain our goals of victory and glory for our empire.
I, like most of my team, am also not blind to the art of travel along dangerous terrains. When looking up during one of our missions, you would sometimes notice a man (or woman) scaling flat rock walls and jumping over gaps that would normally be impossible for a normal, sane man to even consider traversing through. Those people were me and everyone else going towards our target destination. I have shocked many people with my squad’s amazing acrobatic feats throughout our travels. We’ve even done them as a performance act to distract guards and avoid being detected by the city’s high chiefs.
As also mentioned before, I am the appointed leader of the 1st elite Persian special mission force, aptly named the Desert Warriors. We were, as you may now know the term as, the best of the best. We were sent only on the most dangerous missions that not even the mightiest of armies would even dare to challenge on their own. We were usually sent by the great King Sheramann himself –– known to me, though, as my very flesh and blood; my own father, king of all Persia –– to do these dangerous and often life-threatening assignments. If no one else was to succeed, we were immediately sent in to either do the job at hand or finish it if already started.
Our current assignment was to steal an important and supposedly cursed relic from the temple of Damascus, which was currently located within the deeper reaches of the unfinished Palace of Aalem. The relic itself was a sword that was said to be held by the greatest warrior alive. Who this warrior was, was unknown to everyone. No written records or accounts existed that included even his name in them. But either way, the artifact could not be placed within the same reaches as King Aalem.
This particular king was a menace. He fancied himself a god in many respects, and has decided to erect a palace in his own honor, to symbolize his goodwill towards the people of Damascus. In reality however, he was a tyrant who killed anybody who dared to defy his rule and power. He needed to be killed immediately, but that job would be left to our assassins during this assignment; for this one called for a joint effort from all parts of our elite army.
“Desert squad, form up!” I shouted across the rather massive planning tent. Malik, Jalil, and Mira quickly heard me, and were soon at either end of the map laid out of Damascus’s glorious, but overtaken palace.
“What’s the plan Tristan? If it involves trickster tactics, I’ve got a brand new weapon for the job.” Malik said as he drew up a few black and white balls from within his money pouch.
‘What are those things Malik? Are they assassin weapons?’ I told him as I snatched them from his hands and examined them. ‘Because if they are, I’ll have to ask you to give them back to where you got them from. You know I don’t allow such underhanded tactics on our assignments.’
“Not at all my brother.” Malik said as he reached to have one back. “I got these from a local trader who showed up for checkpoint here not too long ago. They’re smokers; much like the ones our magicians use for quick escapes. They can distract the enemy long enough for us to sneak into any room without being detected.”
Mina grabbed one, examined it, and quickly took one for herself. “This is a useful tool Tristan. I’ve seen it used in battle. It could help us get into the deeper recesses of the hidden treasure chamber inside the deeper parts of the temple.” She was overly ecstatic about the job at hand as she spoke of it.
‘Well good then, it’s settled. We can use those to plan the entrance of the treasure chamber.’ I said as I drew the quill from the ink well and began outlining the plan. ‘Now let us begin: The chamber is all the way in the south end of the temple. We need to scale the walls on the west side in order to get in there quickly and without detection. Once inside, we separate from there. Malik and Jalil will challenge the guards at the west gate so that our assassins can reach the king’s chamber with ease. During that confrontation, Mina and I will enter the tombs and figure out a way into the hidden treasure chamber. In there lies the Sword of The Warrior. Do you all follow me?’ I scanned their eyes for any sign of regret or second thought. None showed any sign of this, and soon we were preparing for the mission.
As they all started to leave, I quietly asked Mina to stay behind with me. I had always been very fond of her ever since she joined my force. She was more beautiful than even the moon when it is large in the night sky. Her agile nature always made me feel emasculated whenever she showed off in front of me. She was also savvy and very intelligent for a woman, being that she read scholars’ books without the approval of the elders. She was always the one to defend me whenever I made a decision that wasn’t popular with the others, and she never held her tongue whenever she thought any of my plans were disagreeable.
“Well Mina, this is it. This is the mission that will decide whether or not they let you stay with us or not. I personally think that they should, considering I’m the prince of all Persia.” I told her as I held her playfully, making her laugh jubilantly.
“I know Tristan. Imagine what it would be like for us to have the same tent every night that we go to the far-off dream lands. It would be so magical.” She said as she played with me some. I held her sweetly after she stopped in front of me.
“I’ve imagined it ever since I saw you walk into the throne hall Mina. You were on my mind ever since I laid my eyes upon your beauty.” I told her as I reached for her lips, which she denied.
“Tristan, I’m actually worried about us this time. We’ve never faced a guard like this before.” She said, showing much concern in her voice. “If they have a guard this powerful, it means that there’s something incredibly valuable in that chamber.”
‘We have nothing to worry about Mina. I feel the same way about the guards too; but the only difference is that we always accept a challenge when faced with it. We’ve faced many a great challenge, and we’ve always come out victorious and with great honor to our names.’ I told her, which calmed her down somewhat.
“Hmm…You’re right Tristan. I just want you to be safe is all.” She said as she approached me. As soon as our lips touched one another’s, we instantly were connected; the same connection we felt the first time that I was alone with her.
“Come on you two. We need a leader here to make sure Malik doesn’t hurt himself like usual.” Jalil shouted, interrupting our moment of passion. We rushed out of the tent and went towards our squad, smiling at each other the entire way.
No one was to know of our hidden romance; for it was forbidden for a former slave girl to even consider being close to the prince in that manner. However, my father, being the gentleman that he is, has seen the way we looked at each other, and decided to put her into my squad. He only put the condition that I must train her in the same manner as I trained Malik or Jalil.
We all packed up our armor, our much needed weapons, and miscellaneous items and went on our way. We hopped onto our camels and began heading down the dunes towards the town of Damascus. The palace was far, but we would get there far before the sun was high in the daylight sky, giving us ample time to prepare our plan and make sure that it did not fail us.
“I feel very great about this one brothers and sister. This is truly the mission to bring us honor and glory to Persia.” Malik said as he passed by all of us.
“Have I not told you before to stay in the back Malik? You’re our best scout, and we’ll have no idea if anyone is watching for us if you go about parading our entrance in front of me.” I told him sternly as he backed off from in front of me.
“Relax Tristan; besides, I’m not trying to get us in trouble. I’m just trying to make you a lot less uptight about everything around here.”
Malik sounded very concerned about the nature of my leadership. While it was true that I can be a little harsh to my teammates –– especially Malik’s antics –– I cared about all of them deeply, and never once wished for harm to be placed upon any one of the guys or Mina. They often misinterpreted my tough love as harshness and cruelty. However, the good king has allowed for me to lead in the way I saw fit. And so far to this very day, I have yet to lose one man in my unit to either combat casualties or imprisonment.
“We’re here everyone.” Mina said as we all looked upon the majestic landscape that was the grand city of Damascus.
“It’s…it’s beautiful! And it’s going to be ours for the taking.” Malik said, beholding the many wonders of the ancient city before us.
“If we can get past the guards it will. Look at them…They barely move about, as if their sole purpose in life is to guard that specific side of the city gates with their lives. I doubt that they will go down easily.” Jalil said observing the towers, which had at least five archers in each one.
“I’ll take care of those blind dummies with ease. You just have to worry about sneaking behind those front guards and killing them without giving away our position.” Malik replied as he readied his bow, which he smiled at more than he did at all of the beautiful women of the Arabian Desert region.
‘I’ll give you the firing signal as soon as Jalil makes his way towards the lower guards Malik. Mina, you follow me over to the spire embankment. We’ll start climbing from there.’ I commanded. We hit each other’s fists and pounded our chests, which was our brotherhood symbol, with I saying ‘Till the day we die.’ to the others. We then spread out to our positions and prepared for battle.