38 ※ A Ball

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Chapter 38 A Ball

The assassin twisted this way and that in front of the mirror. Examining every angle of herself as she might do when analysing a target. Since her visit to the medics' ward each recruit had been taken to their new rooms—ones so small that it reminded her of her own cramped one on the banks of River Mor.

Eyeing the small clock out of the corner of her eye, she noted that the ball would be starting now. It was an odd sensation to know the time, if the clock they had provided was correct.

Cerid had leant her the dress. It was gorgeous: layers of cobalt blue chiffon and satin, falling in great waves behind her; studded with crystals around her neckline that shone in low light. Crystal whorls created the image that the dress shimmered elegantly, floating and hugging her curves. Droplets of jewels hang from her ears, and her hair was brushed and down. She knew the basics of painting her face with flattering colours, since she had been to the elite's parties in the past, but the intricate braids in her hair were still a mastery she had not perfected.

Loosing a breath, Elle pulled at the bodice of the dress, then leant down, hiking her skirts up and slipped Ravaryn around her leg in the makeshift hold she had made out of some linen; bound tightly until her blood circulation was almost cut off completely. As long as the dagger didn't come loose if she did decide to dance, then Elle decided she could put up with the discomfort of the weapon.

Would she be coming back? The only thing she wanted to bring with her was Ravaryn. Her heart, instead of overflowing with anticipation, was filling with dread. She would enjoy the party and the atmosphere while she could.

Pulling the door shut behind her, she tested her shoes. Small heels, which she had already tested that she could run far in them, as well as jumping and stomping her foot several times to be sure the heel wouldn't break.

The gentle murmurs of the guests and waltz music floated down the hallways. Tittering agents looped arm in arm entered the huge main hall, throwing their heads back and laughing. It was unusual to see so many hardened assassins making the effort to look so dashing.

Having been redecorated in the past two days, the hall was magnificent. Even she could grudgingly admit that they'd outdone themselves. Lights twinkled, and the theme of navy and white was reflected from the banners through to the white tablecloths.

The Imperial Lady was sat upright in her chair on the dais, a glass of something fizzy in one hand, and the other gesturing to the room—no doubt explaining how it was set up. Her husband, on the other hand, was talking loudly to some fellow party members. Cerid was further entertaining guests, chatting amiably to the Section Leaders and Commanders.

Elle entered on her own, but with the beautiful music wrapped around her like silk. A few other agents glanced up at her as she made her way into the throng of people standing in small groups. In the centre of the polished floor some were dancing impeccably to the beat, spinning and cutting through the dance floor.

Maybe she would try her hand at the sport herself later on.

Dipping to the side, she nodded graciously at those meeting her gaze, they inclined their heads in return. At least she hadn't forgotten all of the formal etiquette taught to her for such occasions—how dull she found those lessons! How useful they proved to be now.

Clasping a flute of some fruit-smelling drink off a passing server, she made her way further into the crowds of agents milling around and being merry. There she stood, watching the swirling gowns from the side, and gently clapping when the piece was over, and the orchestra began again.

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