It was was after the assassin came that Khulan knew that they were cursed. She cradled Dehen closer to her, fingers digging into the dying woman’s skin as she sobbed. The assassin stood to the side, blood pooling out of his gut and onto the floor, forgotten. He was simply a messenger from the Yuen clan, a sign that she had ventured to close, that her uncles and father had killed too many a soldier, had stepped too far over the line. They couldn’t send the assassin to her father and his hundreds of guards and dogs outside his ger. No, they sent the assassin to his daughter, to attack her best friend, her lover. And with her father’s emblem on the felt walls of her ger, she watched Dehen smile, reaching for her face.
“I have to say, I’m starting to wish I became a nun in Lhasa,” she croaked, the Tibetan flinching as the pain pulsed through her again. She clutched Khulan’s deel, bleeding for her father’s mistakes.
“I-idiot,” Khulan trembled, burying herself into the Tibetan’s chest and feeling the week pulse of her friend's heart.
The pulse sang a song Khulan had been listening to for 13 years, from the first time she met the crying girl who had fallen off her horse, to the first time they held hands when playing in the snow, to when the girl trailed behind her as she brought the hunt back home, smiling when Khulan returned to her day and night. It was the song she chose to sing at night, confessing to her under a rare, barren tree and kissing the composer and let their harmonies ring together. They played the tune together at night, sharing a bed when Khulan’s husband was away, and added their own note, in harmony with the soft neighs of horses and half asleep dog barks. And it was that song that Khulan love so dearly, whey she held the smiling, dying composer even closer.
“P-please, don’t leave me,” she sobbed. Why had she ever thought they would have lived together, that they would play their song for all of eternity? She was a khan’s daughter, she was always surrounded by assassins that slit throats in the dead of night, her father always told her. But she had looked away and played with Dehen, no assassin could hurt them when it was so bright, right?
Why, oh why hadn’t she listened?
She was vaguely aware of the guards outside of her door screaming, slashing the last life out of the messenger, but the only thing in the world was Dehen’s struggling eyes.
“Khulan, I, I love you,” she whispered into her ear, and Khulan mouthed, “me too,” tears biting her eyes and heart twisted. She was a khan’s daughter, on of the greatest men of the steppe, and her friend lied dead in her arms. The stars above the ger sparkled contently as screams rose from the large ger near the center of camp, and the stars crossed over a pair of women who lost the musician for their song.
Khulan’s father studied the map, trying to figure out a way to attack the enemy Yuen, to deliver the skies justice upon them and eliminate their family once and for all. Now if only he could find that pesky child heir.
“Sir!” his general said, bowing deep below him though the khan was sitting on the floor in bed garments.
“Yes what is it?” His eyes flicked from the map to the serious scarred general.
“The assassin has completed his duy. Khulan is furious and ready to complete er role to slaughter the Yuen.” The general swallowed, finally making eye contact with the khan who ordered him to find the assassin.
The khan smiled. “Good.”