“Who are we killing again?” Asked a fair skinned lad in his late teens while looking through a spyglass. “Yer not killing anyone, Dalen. Yer only my spotter so this kill only gets credited to me.” Said an older half elf man, covered in scars. “Some cultural dignitary, I guess.” The half elf was assembling a large crossbow in the summer heat on a rooftop only dwarfed by the holy tree to the south. “Mind if I check the scroll, Caeryn? Target isn’t supposed to show up for another hour.” Caeryn strung the crossbow and begin assembling the mechanical broad-heads he was famed for. “Go ahead, kid. But don’t be gettin’ too attached to yer victims. I’ve known assassins who studied every man they planned to kill, but when he closed his eyes at night their faces are what he saw.”
Dalen shook his head and rolled his eyes, believing that his youth and bravado could overcome any challenge. The lad quickly opened the pressed parchment scroll from it’s leather and metal scroll case. Dalen always wondered how the Blood Guild got their intel. Name: Manard Rahl, Occupation: Chief of the Grey Tribes of the Karutan, Time: 15:30, location: Nightstone Academy of Magic. “This guy is apparently a chieftain of something call the ‘Karootans?’ Why the hell is that important?” Caeryn saw a flicker of light out of the corner of his eye. “Put that damn scroll away and put yer eyes back on, I think the ground team arrived early and is looking for confirmation. Dalen did see the flash of a signal mirror stage left of the target location. He waited for the correct pattern in flashes and then returned the code with his signal mirror.
“You ever hear of these Karootans, Caeryn?” Asked Dalen, whose curiosity is piqued. “I have, they were once a tribe of folk in the Northern Republic. Kind of like cat-folk, if I remember correctly. But unlike the lazy thieves the cat-folk are, these one’s were skilled hunters and craftsman. I met an assassin who claimed he was descended from one. Carried a weird weapon with dragon fangs driven into it and made claims of his ‘Hunting prowess’.” “What happened to him?” Asked Dalen. “Botched job against a dragon-mage. Was roasted alive by some dragon queen. Enough talk Dalen, get your mask on and let’s get set up.”
The two assassins set their cases and bags near the exit and began watching the entrance to the academy. They put cloth masks over their noses and mouth. The masks were made of woven cotton and simply had a mouth sewn shut upon them. Dalen set up a small gray flag to show direction of wind and watched through the spyglass. Caeryn placed the crossbow on a tripod and got into a prone position. Dalen pulled two marble sized glowing glass stones and set one by Caeryn and one by him. Dalen signaled once more with his mirror and they waited.
Meanwhile inside the academy, The very tan and very muscular chieftain Mannard and his bodyguard were speaking to some of the Alexandrian professors. “I trust you will find these scrolls to be very informative. Unfortunately the teachings of my ancestors no longer hold any value beyond academic studies.” Said Mannard, whose eyes were filled with shame. On the table were dozens of scrolls, written on mammoth hide, preserved with magic runes and carvings. “It is no fault of yours, Chief Mannard, I am glad you agreed to let the Academy have these relics for posterity. Once we have cataloged them, we will send a hedge mage to carry them to the capital. Although your tribe has withered, we can ensure their legacy will be immortal.” Said the lead professor. Mannard’s bodyguard, dressed in a blue robe with a medallion brandishing a torch burning blue-green fire, stepped up. “Are you sure this is the right place to have this knowledge rest? The Mandate could always hold them in White Wall, if you wish to keep them in their relative homeland.” Mannard sighed and shook his head. “The Grey Tribe haven’t been the lords of the north in a thousand years. Even when I look to home, it’s not the place our ancestors would remember it. The golden glow of the setting sun pressing on our glaciers, the noble pine forests rebelling against the falling snow. White Wall is a lake now, and even that is Alexandria. I fell that the capital is the right place for it.”
Mannard and his body guard exited the academy. The ocean water steaming off the cobblestone streets baking in the afternoon sky gave the town a pleasant smell. A small crowd had gathered around to see who was in town. As Mannard and his bodyguard walked to the carriage, they had no idea what fate awaited them.
At that instant the bodyguard’s medallion began to glow. Time seemed to slow down for a moment, as the bodyguard threw off his robe revealing himself to be a middle aged human with many scars over his bare chest with runes carved into it. He took a deep breath and shouted.
“Torfn gol yban!”
His skin erupted in blue-green fire as his words created a visible shock wave of energy. The bolt and the spell struck together with a underwhelming “fizzle”. The bolt blackened, fell to the ground, and was scattered like dust in the northern wind. “Get to the carriage, chieftain!” The burning mage said as he shouted another phrase.
“akod davr iemal!”
A prismatic bridge of wind picked the burning mage up and carried him to the source of the bolt. He saw the two assassins. The older one pushed himself back and through a glass stone on the floor, releasing a yellow doorway he jumped through. The Younger one’s finger slipped and the stone dropped safely on a canopy a floor down. The burning mage’s eyes began to smoke as he asked “Any last words, pup?” Dalen reached into his parcel and dropped a silver scroll case. With practiced routine he said the words he had been trained to say. “A payment of were-gild from the Blood Guild. Our quarry is not you, lest you be dead.” The burning mage smiled and said “keep your blood money, it won’t buy the lady of keys and it shall not buy me.” The words the mage spoke now were not even recognizable, though the force and fury of the words tore young Dalen apart.
The town below had erupted in screams, the carriage had not made it ten feet before screams could be heard within it. The burning mage repeated his bridge spell, but it was too late. Chief Mannard had been slain with a stiletto in the throat. The guards were called and the entire road was searched, but the killer was never found.
Hours later, in the south ward of Nightstone, Caeryn and the two assassins from the ground team met up in the Ocean’s Tear pub and inn. “Where’s your spotter?” asked one of the assassins. “Got caught. He’ll pay were-gild here, Alexandrians usually take it. I’ll pick him up in the morning, after getting some more whistling bolts.” After half an hour they are joined by a dark skinned handsome man. He was wearing gold and red finery, with a gauntlet of moving parts on his left arm. “I trust it was done?” Asked the man. “Yeah, yeah. Gonna have to charge another 15% to cover were-gild, and 20% hazard for dealing with mages. We really don’t like surprises like that.” “My deepest apologies, I will pay that and more.” His gauntlet hissed with minor spouts of steam. He pressed a button near his elbow and a key popped out of his wrist. “Three Thousand, in gems.” Caeryn hesitantly took the key “Isn’t that a bit much? And where is the lock that this key opens?” The man’s face stretched in a diabolical grin. “Elven Bank in Sentinel. Marvelous doing business with you gentlemen.” Caeryn began to grow uneasy. “Then the contract is completed, the Blood Guild will not hear from you again for at least a fortnight.” The strange man began to walk out. As he got to the door, he turned his head back and said “May the fiery wings of vengeance carry you ever forward…”