(this piece did not have a title at the top, but the name of the file was "the god stones")

The night was dark, for there was no moon in the heavens to illuminate the Earth beneath, and the air was bitterly cold, with the smell of snow upon the winds. A stranger wearing a long black traveller’s cloak approached the city of Sela, the capital of the Encan Kingdom, on this miserable evening. The stranger held a long staff, made out of polished ash wood. One end was sharpened to a point which had been covered with steel, and the other was carved into a claw wherein sat a large pale blue polished oval stone. Heading north toward the city, the traveller veered from the road before reaching the South Gate to avoid the Gate Guard and any unwanted attention proceeding through the gate may have aroused. Reaching the outer wall several yards to the left of the gate where the shadows would conceal her movements, the stranger felt along the cold stone wall until she found what she was looking for, an iron door. The door was locked, but that would not be a problem, she removed a key from a leather pouch that hung from her belt about her waist, quickly unlocked the gate and proceeded into the city, carefully locking the gate behind her.

She knew her way around, since this was where she had spent many of her teenage years and she soon found the place that she was seeking. It was a tavern, called ‘The Lion’s Den’; she stepped inside and looked around cautiously, surveying the scene, when she was satisfied that no danger existed here, she pushed back the hood of her cloak, her long brown hair was intricately braided and her large brown eyes were dark and warm. The tavern had low, thick beams and the floor was covered with straw. Though there were many patrons in the tavern that night, the noise level was somewhat subdued, many men sat at tables, talking quietly whilst sipping their ale by the light of oil lamps. The smells in the tavern were not pleasant, and here and there were barmaids serving beer in attire that left very little to the imagination.

The young woman looked around once more and then casually walked over to a table and sat down across from another young woman.
“Layla,” she greeted her best friend.
“Alasan” the young lady replied.
Layla was her age, her height and her build, but Layla had blue eyes, not brown, and though she too had long brown hair, hers was not braided, but cascaded down her back in a sea of curls. And unlike Alasan, Layla didn’t carry a long staff but was armed with two daggers which she carried on her belt, both had double edged leaf shaped blades, leather bound hilts and round deep blue polished pommel stones. The two young women sat there for a time, staring into each other’s eyes, neither giving any hint of their thoughts or emotions, as both kept their faces and features blank. Suddenly both silently rose, and began to walk from the tavern when four men with swords surrounded them, two from the front and two from the rear. Without thinking and with silent instincts of each other’s thoughts, the two girls went back to back. Alasan held her staff in a defensive position; Layla drew her daggers from her belt and held them low.

The four men and two girls stood in their positions without moving whilst the terrified patrons silently fled the tavern. The owner of the tavern, a somewhat elderly man with flowing white hair and a long snowy beard, fled into a storage closet behind the bar, he slammed and bolted the thick wooden door behind him. As the bolt slid into position, the men struck. Alasan deflected a blow aimed at her head from the first man, and another blow directed at her waist from the second man, and then she flicked her staff to strike the first man across the face with the heavy oval stone.. He sank lifelessly to the floor. She kneeled and held her staff above her head as the second man attempted an overhead strike, pivoting her staff she drove the pointed end through his belly, the man doubled over and fell with a heavy thud to the floor. At the same time, her companion was defending herself at the back of the tavern. Layla had dodged two overhead swings, first to the left and then to the right, her opponent attempted a broad swing about waist height, but she ducked the blade as it whistled just over her head. Before he could recover from his massive swing, Layla sprang to her feet with the movements of a cat, and drove her dagger through her opponent’s throat. The second man climbed onto one of the benches, and then onto a table, he lunged at Layla just as she disposed of her first attacker. She saw him, raised her other dagger and turned at the some time as she parried his lunge, causing the man to loose his balance and fall to the ground. As he fell Layla mercilessly buried her remaining dagger into his back.

The two girls stood over their attackers bodies. Both of them simultaneously raised their heads, looking at each other for a split second. They retrieved their weapons from the bodies, cleaned them on the corpse’s clothes, and turned and walked calmly from the tavern. As they stood in the doorway, Layla turned to Alasan and they both smiled at each other. They put on their heavy black cloaks; they fastened their clasps and pulled up their hoods, both girls’ faces were now concealed by shadows.
“Just like old times isn’t it Alasan?”
“Yeah, old times.”
“If we get separated, head for the secret place, I’ll meet you there.”
“Ready. Go, Now!”
And with that both girls disappeared upon silent feet into the shadows of the nearby alleyways.