Musa left the four man squad miles behind and arrived at the hideout headquarters of the clan well before night.
He was standing in a desolate mountainous area without any buildings or structures. A cool breeze blew out of a cave that was hidden from view, near the bottom of the valley that the mountains surrounded.
This was the secret entrance to the Abacha clan’s ancestral homes and had remained hidden from outsides since its foundation. Although Musa knew the way in and was confident of reaching the clan head with his skills, he however did not want to create a bother so decided to wait for the four man team that had been sent for him.
However, Musa knew that his presence in the valley had already been report to the clan.
A few hours later when night had descended, the four man team finally caught up with Musa. Ladi who had her headgear back on was glaring at Musa furiously while Abdul stared curiously, wondering who Musa’s companion was, how did they meet and what other adventures had Musa had.
Musa only smiled at them and waited.
Ladi had been meaning to waste time to frustrate Musa but she knew she couldn’t keep the clan head waiting to long. She was disappointed that they hadn’t been able to handle Musa but she was not worried about failing her mission as Knights were not easy to handle even for a team of trained assassins, especially one who was also trained as an assassin. The only real reason why a regular team was sent was because of the limited number of Knights or H’assassins, as they were called in the family, available in the clan. There were only five H’assassins/Knights left in the clan besides Musa due to deaths and decline.
Without saying anything to Musa, Ladi led her team into the cave.
The inside was a labyrinth with false paths, traps and choke points designed to help ambush any attacker. After passing through the maze at the entrance, they exited into a humongous excavated chamber within the mountain which had buildings shaped like pyramids but divided into levels built into the surrounding rock. There were connecting tunnels that led into different areas of the clan but the elders hall and the barracks were located in this first chamber to respond quickly to attacks and as a last defence for the family. It was said during the glory days of the clan, this chamber was just a branch and there were similar chambers in some of the surrounding mountains but now that is knowledge that only the clan head and some elders would know.
Warrior of the clan and other assassins glanced at the party but their focus was on Musa who came in behind them. There were murmurs and whispers as Musa was not only looked down upon for his cowardice but his actions had also betrayed the family.
As Musa was following the four man team to the officials building that housed the clan head and elders, a big man with a powerful presence, followed by a team of assassins and warriors moved to block their path from the barracks. Their leader was not only a big man but he wore armour that only covered his chest and back with his shoulders and arms exposed. He carried a spiked mace as his weapon and three small throwing axes. His face revealed his character as he looked both arrogant and vengeful.
“The traitor returns!” the big man bellowed, “Arrest him!”
“Good to see you to Hafis. Since when did you have the power to arrest me.” Musa responded while folding his hands so they happened to comfortable rest near his daggers.
Hafis was a little surprised at Musa newfound confidence as their childhood would tell a different tale. But he could not imagine any scenario where this weak cousin of his could be a threat, so he replied saying, “A lot has changed since you ran away in fear and disgrace. My succession has been recognised. Even though the family favours H’assassins trained as assassins to those trained as warriors, a scaredy cat like you would lead to the destruction of the clan. Enough talk, men seize him.”
“I would advise you brothers to wait until the present Clan Head decides my faith. I do not wish to harm any of you but I will also not let myself be bullied and control has never been my strength.” Musa warned.
The men behind Hafis hesitated causing Hafis to frown at them but not being one to wait patiently or take insult, Hafis gripped his mace and stalked closer to Musa, “Fine I will end this myself…the way it should have been done years ago.”
Musa unsheathed his daggers and backed up to a darker part of the chamber as he did not yet want to reveal the true extent of his abilities. This caused Hafis to smile mockingly and charge at him. Just as Musa started cloaking himself with the dark essence in the surrounding, a penetrating shout froze both of them.
“Cease and desist!”
A short man with a scarf covering half his face accompanied a sturdy woman with only one arm. The man had grey hair and walked with a cane but did not use it for support while the woman carried a set of bolas on her waist and a saber on her back. They were the head assassin and head warrior trainer respective and both were internal mages. The shout had come from the one-armed woman, Elder Ladidi.
“Greetings, Elder Ladidi, Elder Usman” everyone greeted the pair.
“Master” Musa added as he bowed to the short man.
“Hmm. You left me as a disgrace, let us see what you came back as…this four man team was merely a way to save us further embracement if you were still useless. The clan head will not see you until you survive the Challenge by Blood. As you are a H’assassin, barely, you will have to face a fellow H’assas…”
Before he finished speaking, Hafis interrupted, “Please Elder let me…”
“Silence Hafis! First you act without authority, then you interrupt and now you act like you don’t know he has the right to choice in the Challenge by Blood.” Elder Ladidi reprimanded.
“It is alright Elder Usman, Elder Ladidi. I accept the Challenge by Blood and propose to face Hafis.” Musa responded with a smile.