A Realm Divided
Another warm Hazel Valley morning was ushered in by the familiar sounds of the daily drills; the gentle clatter of wood as bows met their arrows, followed soon after by the faint zip of the arrowhead slicing through the still air, and ending its journey with a soothing thud in the heart of a leather target dummy. Accompanying this orchestra of archers came the low rumble of friendly chatter, occasionally drowned by the boom of a command here and there, underscored by the soft padding of feet moving to and fro through the rich soil of the encampment. Daeron was gradually awoken by the peaceful hum of all the sounds slurring together, forming a masterpiece more beautiful than any maiden's song he had ever heard.
For a moment, in the haze of his waking thoughts, he was a child again. He was at home, in the courtyard, where his father was always waiting with his great oak longbow that had been taller than Daeron was. Everything about that bow - the intricate carvings and curves, the flex of the string, the amber sheen of the polish - had fascinated Daeron to no end. He had longed for his own bow just like it, and his father had always said that one day it would belong to him. For a moment, he was back there, staring up into his father's face, and Daeron could almost hear him... What was he saying?
"Feredir..." The voice echoed, unusually loud. It did not sound like his father at all. "Hey, Daeron, wake up! Long day ahead of us." Daeron opened his eyes and ears and all of his other senses at once, to meet an invasion of sunlight that blinded him, and a harsh, gritty voice flooding his ears. He was not at home anymore, but at the encampment, he remembered. As his eyes adjusted to the sudden blast of white, the last remnants of his dream faded, leaving nothing but Ranger Eldir in place of his father. Eldir was his superior, one of the high-ranking Ranger Captains. A stern man, but an excellent leader, and he knew this end of the Valley better than anyone else. He offered a gloved hand down to pull Daeron to his feet.
"Some of our bread went missing last night." He began as soon as Daeron had his balance. He was not a man who wasted time. "Scouts managed to take down one of the bastards who took it. Tree Goblins, it seems. Nasty little thieves, they are, and I'd go out there and give them a new home on the heel of my boot if I didn't have a hundred other things to manage. We need all of our rations if this expedition is to fulfill its purpose. If the reports are true, and the Blackmass have infiltrated this part of the Valley, we'll be dealing with them soon enough. But first, the Tree Goblins." He looked Daeron up and down, his face remaining indifferent. "Gear up. I'm sending you and a few other novices out to deal with it. Moving targets will make for better practice. You'll find the others waiting by the weapons tent. Get that bread, Daeron." With that, he turned and left quietly, leaving Daeron to prepare himself for his first real task of the expedition.
"Scram, you little weasel!" The fat, balding man who was accompanying Roland spat at the heels of the beggar boy as he ran away on blistered feet. Truth be told, Roland might have preferred to take this patrol shift alone; no doubt the swine to his left would do nothing more than become a heaping, bloody meal if the Blackmass happened to attack. But they wouldn't, Roland knew, not this far west in such an insignificant village. The Blackmass were much further east, likely still impaling themselves against the swords of his true brothers, the brave knights who were sent straight to the frontlines. Roland, unfortunately, was instead given guard duty here in Wellstone, alongside a few other prize specimens such as Mullwyk, the sweating blob of mailed flesh walking beside him.
To make matters worse, Roland had to stand idle and watch as Elvish refugees poured in from the east, fleeing from their unprotected Valley homes, searching for safety in the great empire of the Pyran Arc. He would sooner have Mullwyk spit on them rather than little beggar boys; at least that one was a true-blooded human. Alas, there was nothing he could do to stop it. The Elves passed through, day in and day out, with their families and horses and wagons trudging along toward Pyrus. The thought of his beautiful city, his home, being littered with such scared and weak creatures disgusted him. It almost disgusted him as much as the stench that radiated off of Mullwyk.
The village folk went about their daily business as he passed through the market, Mullwyk straining himself to keep up. To his relief, the scent of fresh meats and spices managed to contest his companion's fumes for control of the air, creating a mixture that was at least tolerable. He did have some coin, and could maybe see if there were any weapon vendors; a new knife perhaps, or a cudgel, it never hurt to carry a backup. As he quietly considered the thought, he was startled to hear someone cry out a few feet ahead of him. A young woman ran up to him, pointing back to a stall that had been knocked over, scattering bolts of cloth everywhere.
"Help! Stop him!" She shrieked, wrapping her thin fingers around Roland's armored wrist. "He stole my best silks! One of those blasted Elves! Go get them back, please!" She pleaded, ushering him forward as Mullwyk drew his sword and began the chase. Roland followed suit, darting around the corner where the stall had fell. Just as he did, he caught a glimpse of a slender figure jumping over a fence and dashing out into an alley. An Elf, it was true, an Elf who had stolen from Roland's own good people.
"Work?" The innkeeper asked in a tone that sounded more like a warning than a question. "You're lookin' for work, is that it?" His eyes were cautious, barely looking up at Craig from the mug he was shining. "Well, s'pose that depends on what kind'a work you're lookin' for, lad." Craig thought it was strange seeing a Dwarf here, in Goldenreach, so far from his northern home. Still, the Freelands were home to everyone, including Dwarves; he knew that well. "If it happens you're lookin' for the kind'a work involves you takin' a pretty knife an' openin' some pretty nobleman's throat up, well, it happens you've come to the wrong place, boy." He froze solid for a moment, glaring up at Craig, then resumed cleaning the mug.
"Oi! That's not true, boy! The keeper's tellin' fibs, I say!" A skinny, black-haired man seated back at one of the tables called out. Craig turned to look at him, and immediately realized that the man was incredibly drunk. "No, no, I got some use for a pretty, pretty knife, if you've got one! I'll give you seven - no, TEN! - ten copper pieces if you'll do us all a great, big favor, and CHOP," The man made a hacking motion with the side of his hand, "ole' Robar's manhood off!" The punchline of his mock proposal sent a ripple of roaring laughter through the entire tavern. It wasn't exactly what Craig was hoping for.
"You'd do anything ta' catch a glimpse o' my manhood!" The Dwarf yelled back at him, refreshing the great fit of laughter just as it had begun to quiet down. A few moments later, after he'd caught his breath, Robar the Dwarf looked back at Craig. "Alright, boy, you fancy yourself a sellsword? Happens I know some kind folks who own a little caravan, an' they use it to bring supplies from here to Westcliffe, a ways north. Problem is, roads around here aren't always so friendly. You can find 'em in the market. This little town's not so big, you should have no problem locatin' a big ole' wagon in the square." He nodded at Craig before walking down to the end of the bar to take the empty mug of an old man, passed out on the counter.
The sword flew upward in a dark brown blur, catching Daeris' arm and throwing it aside, nearly disarming her. It was almost frustrating to see how effortlessly her mentor was defeating her each time, without fail. Every stab was dodged and countered with a swipe to Daeris' exposed flank; every low kick was caught with precision reflexes, and punished with a leg sweep that brought Daeris crashing down onto her back; every strike was met and matched so perfectly that it just seemed impossible to win.
"Again." Vez would say every time, always waiting for Daeris to attack first, then turning her defensive maneuver into a counterattack. Granted, Daeris was wielding a blunt wooden dagger, while her mentor held a wooden sword that was much longer. "Out there, men will wield swords, not daggers. You will show them why they are wrong." Vez had told her when she had asked why she didn't get a sword. The lesson continued as Vez circled around her, sword held firmly in her unbreakable grip. "Now, you must use everything at your disposal in a fight." She said slowly, never taking her eyes from Daeris' face. "You have a free hand you do not use. One day you may carry another blade in it. First you must train this hand. Men use their free hands to hold big shields. You will show them why they are wrong."
Suddenly, Vez leapt at her, slashing downward. Reflexively, Daeris pushed the blow aside with her dagger, readying herself to pull back and strike again, when she remembered the advice she had just been given. Instead, she curled her left hand into a fist and struck Vez in the ribcage, causing her mentor to loose a quiet gasp. Taking a step back, Vez smiled down at her, nodding with approval. "That will be all for today, daughter of Blood. There is work for us to do. Come, we must go find a task." The two of them put their weapons back on the racks and began the walk through the dark, glossy halls of the guild. As they moved along, Vez glanced over and asked, "So, child, why is it you are here? You are an orphan, I presume? Most of the children here are. Tell me, what is it about the art of subtlety that interests you so?"
"He's a pretty one, inn'he?" The man's breath stank of sour, cheap wine and garlic. "Lookit, he's one o' them fancy types, thinks himself prettier'n a lady!" He cackled madly, shoving Izarin back against the wall, knife held tightly against his throat. The man's accomplice, shorter and seemingly unarmed, stood a few feet back, smiling quietly at Izarin. "Y'think the lady-boy's got any good coin on 'im, eh boss? Or maybe a nice fancy wineskin, could use me a drink, heh!" It was all Izarin could do not to faint from the putrid smell. This man seemed to be the exact opposite of him in every conceivable way, intelligence included; he could feel the man's grip on the dagger faltering as he distracted himself with his own jokes.
"Yes, Ross. Perhaps he does." The man behind him chimed in, his voice snide, his eyes filled with condescending pride in his lackey's work. "Listen to me now, boy, or girl, whatever you are. We don't want to hurt you; well, at least I don't. I'm afraid I can't say as much for my friend here." He gestured at Ross, who flashed a crooked, shattered grin that looked like a handful of gold coins more than a mouthful of teeth. "But he'll stay his blade, unless I tell him to do otherwise. I won't tell him to do otherwise if you do what I say. If you have any weapons on you, I want you to tell Ross where they are so he can relieve you of them. That way, we'll all be much safer here. Safe is good, isn't that right, Ross?" He asked slowly, as if Ross wouldn't have understood if he'd asked any faster.
Suddenly, Ross lurched away, turning around to nod vigorously at his boss, bearing a striking resemblance to a horse nodding for food. "Yeah, boss! That's right!" He hollered, sounding every bit as stupid as he looked. The expression on the other man's face was a priceless mix of disgust as a wave of sour breath hit him, and dismay as he realized that Ross had just taken the knife from Izarin's throat. Before either could react, Izarin delivered a swift kick to the big oaf's rear end, knocking him face-first into the dirt. The other man reached into the back of his belt and drew a knife of his own as Izarin took a deep breath, preparing himself for combat.
Find... the weakness... The voice pierced through his mind like a shrill wind. He will... surrender soon... It was the voice of the Prophet, who spoke to him the most of the Forgotten Ones. Crantil knew that despite the fact that all of his masters were as powerful as gods to this realm, the Prophet was the most intelligent of all. He knew everything, saw everything at once through the eyes of his servants. Crantil admired him for that; the Reaver could slaughter a battlefield full of men, the Lunatic could withstand an infinite amount of pain, but the Prophet... He was a strategist, he had his own form of cunning.
The bloodied Dwarf lay before him, each breath causing his entire body to tremble with pain. Crantil had caught the man on the Prophet's orders, driven his razor-sharp nails into the man's gut, tasted the blood, revelled in the thrill of the hunt. Do not use your weapons, blood of the Void Gods. We want this mortal alive to breathe his secrets out before you consume his life. The Prophet had whispered to him before Crantil had pounced, catching the stray Dwarf from his flank. Such weaklings, these creatures were; their senses were dull, half of their body a blind spot, ripe for ambush.
I will speak through you now, hunter. Do not resist. A blinding rush took hold of Crantil, and he could not control his body any longer. Instinctively, he tried to struggle, but the presence of the Prophet kept him calm. He felt his mouth forming strange words in a tongue he did not know, saw his own spittle drip into the Dwarf's open wounds, but he had no will of his own. "Where are your brethren hiding?" The Prophet said through Crantil's mouth, but he did not understand what was being said. "Tell us where they come from and we will cause you no more agony." It was a strange feeling, but Crantil had a sense of pride; he could almost feel the eyes of Paragon, the leader of the Forgotten Ones and father of the Blackmass, upon him.
"N...never..." The Dwarf managed to cough out a word through all of the blood in his mouth. Crantil felt the Prophet's displeasure in whatever he said. He suddenly regained control of his body. Son of the Void, the voice boomed angrily in his head, Make him suffer. Make him speak. I will listen.
"Humph, typical Elves, always taking things that aren't theirs!" Roland shouted as he continued to run. He didn't care if any of the refugees heard him, no let them hear him give scorn upon their kind. It would only give them reason to fend for themselves in these dark times. Perhaps in time they could rise upon their own primordial weakness and find power in a way to imitate the superior species. Only then would their untamed world of nature be made into something civilized. But that was a thought for another time.
Roland easily overtook his so called "partner" Mullwyk. If he had not drawn his sword, he would be able to run so much faster. If he didn't know any better, he'd think that Mullwyk had actively volunteered to be in Wellstone. Only a coward would not wish to be transferred over to be fighting the Blackmass on the front lines. A chance to make the ultimate sacrifice to the ultimate justice of the land that is known as The Pyran Arc. To die in service to one's nation is the highest honor a warrior could take. His name would be remembered throughout the ages as a martyr to the cause. Mullwyk may of been a coward, but he was still a human, and a human would never shrink from their duties to the glorious cause.
Roland jumped the fence and continued his pursuit in the alley. The only advantage Elves had over Humans was their pathetic frames. It allowed them to weasel into the smallest cracks in caves and run swiftly from the first sign of danger. Of course their speed was from centuries of running away, just as the refugees were doing. Still, humans OBVIOUSLY had the superior endurance and soon Roland came close to the suspect, or rather the culprit as any doubt of innocence had left Roland's mind. It was an Elf who stole from a human, simple as that.
Roland gotten within distance of him and attempted to tackle the culprit as they both neared a corner.
Crantil chuckled. A vile sound, that made the dwarf on the ground shiver, and not from pain. "Asssss you command, masssster." He hissed. He leaned down to the dwarf, examining where his spittle had landed. Luckily for Crantil and unluckily for the dwarf, it hadn't spread through his system yet, and was simply causing intense pain. "You wissssh you were dead, yesss? Crantil went on silkily. "Sssssimply give up the information my masssssster dessssiresssss and the pain will go away, I promisssssse." The dwarf repeated the word he had said, and though Crantil could not understand, he simply assumed that it wasn't an affirmative of Crantil's request. "Your choiccccce dwarf."
He said. He lifted up a fist, then slammed it down, straight at the dwarves kidneys. It would cause intense pain, doubled by the fact that the dwarf was in pain now, but not kill him. Crantil brought up his claw and placed it on the dwarves face, and began dragging downwards. It was deep, likely painful, and Crantil kept on dragging, cutting through the fabric the dwarf wore until he reached the stomach wounds. With another vile chuckle, he outlined the wound with his claw, dragging more gasps of pain from the dwarf. "Tell me what I want to know dwarf!! Or I ssshalll ssstart to break bonesss!" He hissed again, leaning down, snarling, in the dwarfs face his helmet visor inches from the dwarf's face.
Crantil's blades were strapped to his back, glowing bright red with eagerness from being so close to prey, blood and pain. They feasted upon those things. His helmet lay upon his head. He had retracted the lower part of it to free up his mouth, but that only allowed short to medium range use of his poison spit. Which was all that he needed. Crantil's rough as sandpaper tongue, which had the size and shape of a human, but split at the end like a serpent and was as black as night flicked out. It left a bloody trail in it's wake. "I can tassssste your fear and pain, dwarf." He whispered, licking his purplish lips, accented only more so by the ashy color of his skin.
Izarin was furious. How dare that beggar soil his robe. He had worked a month for some trading caravan saving up the money for the silk. The boss looks dangerous. He moved with a natural grace. The grace of a predator. The beggar was struggling to get up. He wobbled whenever he moved, the alcohol flowing through is veins dulling his senses and slowing his movements. Izarin smiled. It was a small smile, full of malice. The beggar would pay. First, however, the other man had to be dealt with. Izarin started to concentrate. He drew the essence of his soul into his palm. The other man’s eyes widened. He knew what he could do at least. He let the pressure build in his arm for another second, and threw the power of his soul forward. It hit the beggar full force, making him slide across ground. He crashed into a stone wall, and cried out in pain. The other man was only knocked backed a few feet. He fell on his rump. The look of surprise on his face was delightful. The beggar was cursing in pain and starting to get up. The other man only looked mildly inconvenienced. His body moved like a snake and he was up quickly. He moved in a slow circle around Izarin, keeping his distance.
Izarin felt a momentary pang of weariness but ignored it. He would deal with it later. Now was the time to begin his attack. He started concentrating again. Drawing the spirits of the imps to him this quickly might have unintended side effects. It was a gamble, but he had to take it. When he felt the peak of his energy coming, he made the call. ‘Truak, and Qerig. Come, and protect me from these men.’ Izarin felt his will pull the spirits toward him. They were his favorite summons. Izarin liked to think they were beginning to enjoy his company. He began to see the imps materialize in front of him. The one on his left was a deep crimson. He had no wings, but the small horns on his head gave him a devilish appearance. His back was covered in small knobs and ridges. His short legs ended in cloven hoofs. The other that materialized was a bit more impressive. It was a pale blue, with wings on its back. Its skin was smooth, almost shiny. It had no horns and only talons on its feet. Izarin smiled. He was well practiced with these two, and could still talk while he concentrated on holding them with his will and power. Their appearance was also pleasing. Each had an almost disgusting beauty he found interesting.
“I’m glad you came Truak”, Izarin said nodding to the red one. “And Qerig, you look wonderful as ever.” Each turned toward him and glowered. Their eyes were the same deep red. The knives in their hands almost identical. Izarin pointed to the boss. The imps knew what to do. They moved quickly toward him, Qerig in the air and Truak on the ground. They made a great duo. No one who had faced them had survived. The boss came to the conclusion that they were dangerous and he should run. So he turned and fled. Izarin sniffed. He would have to find and kill that one later. The beggar was gaping at the imps. He was making signs and speaking gibberish. His alcohol addled brain didn’t know what to do. Izarin stopped the imps from pursuing the other. Instead he pointed toward the beggar. “Do what you wish with this one”, Izarin said simply. The imps grinned. They liked it when they were allowed to have fun. They moved toward the beggar who had begun to scream. Izarin watched with a faint grimace as the imps started to play. The man’s screams turned into groans quickly. Soon, they cut off entirely. The imps came back to Izarin and looked at him. They wanted back. Izarins concentration was waning so he waved his hand toward them and they started to dissipate. After they were gone Izarin felt his weariness. It would take a day or more before he felt his energy return. A small sigh escaped his lips. He pitied the man who had to take care of the mess the imps left. With graceful movements, Izarin turned around and started to walk back toward the inn he was staying at. It was only a little bit away, and no one was around to question him about the screams.
"The main reason I'm here is because I have no other place to go to, so yes I'm an orphan. I was evicted from my village for killing another child so I have no idea if my parents are alive or not, but I don't really care about them anyway. The art of subtlety huh. I guess the thing that interests me the most is the quality of being difficult to detect or analyze. A rogue is nothing but a brute without it and so we need it to survive." Daeris explained while they were walking to the task room. "A good answer, but the second part sounds more like a recital than what you think, but that is fine for now." Vez said as they arrived at the task room. When they entered Daeris could see others looking at task boards with papers pinned on them. Ven explained to her that the board on the right was for younglings and on the left was for seniors. She didn't even have to take a look at the jobs to know the harder, more rewarding ones were on the senior board. She didn't complain though as she was finally allowed to go on a job here.
She looked over some of the job papers on the board and took out one that wasn't too hard. A simple thieving mission in the bazaar. She had to steal a certain necklace that was drawn on the paper from a house marked on the map. The specifics said that the guard consisted only of 1 guard at the front door. "Hmpf easy enough just steal a necklace and bring it back here," Daeris thought. The pay was 20 copper coins. She was wondering 1 thing though: "Mentor is it allowed to steal anything else besides the target?" Her mentor looked at her and said: "If it doesn't say so on the paper then no. We are no petty thieves that just take everything we see." Getting some extra side cash from this was out the question then.
She had to memorize everything on the paper though as she wasn't allowed to take any evidence with her outside. She took 15 minutes to do this before she went to her mentor who had been waiting. "I'm ready to go mentor," Daeris said. They went to the praying room first and Ven explained to her that everyone comes here to pray before they leave for their job. Daeris kneeled before the altar and did a silent prayer in front of it although she found this to be a bit ridiculous. When she was finished Ven said that she would understand why this is done sooner or later. They then went up the stairs to the above ground chapel and went into the city for her first job as a child of blood.
Roland could feel the adrenaline pumping through his veins as the gap between the thief and him closed. The chase went on for close to two minutes, as the Elf was using everything at his disposal to aid his escape; throwing civilians into Roland's path, cutting through alleys, at one point turning to throw a sharp rock that barely missed Roland's face. By the time Roland found himself moving in for the tackle, like a predator descending on its prey, he noticed that Mullwyk was no longer at his side. Most likely he lost his wind halfway through and gave up, but Roland knew he was more than a match for a common thief regardless.
As the tackle connected, the Elf let loose a panicked cry and twisted his body, tangling himself with Roland as they fell to the ground and rolled over each other. Dazed from the impact, Roland found himself a few feet away from the criminal, the two of them alone in a dark, narrow street far from the marketplace. The Elf scrambled to stand back up, drawing a worn-looking bronze dagger from his belt. Roland noticed that it looked more like an heirloom than a weapon the Elf had used before. Nevertheless, he drew his blade and held up his buckler in anticipation of a desperation attack. After a moment's pause, his opponent raised the dagger high up in the air and charged at Roland, rage burning in his eyes.
As Crantil went through his elaborate torture routine, he could hear the Dwarf's screams intensifying, and he could smell the little man's sweet fear seeping out of his skin. With each slow, agonizing maneuver, he felt the Prophet's approval in the back of his mind, encouraging him to continue. And Crantil continued, for what felt like hours of inflicting pain, his thirst for blood unbearable. Patience. The Prophet whispered to him, sensing Crantil's growing unrest. He will be yours after he speaks the words we need to hear.
Crantil realized that a small crowd of other Blackmass had gathered around him, lesser specimens, nothing more than whelps. What small power he had gained had begun to earn him his own followers, who blindly charged into battle with him despite the fact that they were clearly too weak and under-evolved to hunt the way he could. Still, he knew that as the Forgotten Ones bestowed their power upon him, he would gain stronger followers. It was only a matter of time.
The Dwarf began sputtering out odd sounds suddenly, red blood and white spit flying from his mouth in long strings. Crantil felt the Prophet's presence take firm hold as he listened to the Dwarf's foreign words. A moment later, a triumphant feeling washed over Crantil. He spoke. Well done. His people struck down on us from the mountains. They have camps scattered across the northern swamps, he claimed. Feast now, then you will go north. Make an example of this Dwarf; tell your brothers that their dinner is out there, turn their hunger into bloodlust. We are the invaders, they will not have an inch of our land. Remember that.
The walk back to the inn was exhausting for Izarin, even though it took him only two or three minutes. His overuse of power had weakened his soul, and left his body aching and weak. Nevertheless, he still won, though the halfwit's boss had escaped. Hopefully, Izarin would be dealing with him later rather than sooner, if the man were even brave enough to ambush him again. The imps had definitely frightened him, Izarin saw that plainly written in the man's face; maybe he would simply cut his losses and flee the town.
The inside of the inn was warm and welcoming, and once Izarin found his room he immediately locked the door and collapsed on his bed. He slept for what felt like years, consumed by a fatigue he had rarely ever felt before. His dreams swam with faces of people he had once known, visions of his training, when he had first summoned Truak, and even of Ross and his putrid breath. Finally, he was awoken from his slumber by a knock at the door.
As Izarin rose, half asleep, and walked towards the door, a voice hissed at him from the other side. "Don't open it. Listen. You have power, we saw." The voice was hushed, but the man enunciated well and sounded of high birth. "Three houses to the left of the Inn. Knock twice, only twice. One hour." Before Izarin could say anything back, he heard the man's footsteps move swiftly down the hallway, out of the sleeping quarters.
Daeris and Vez emerged from the church into the sweltering heat of Bazaar. The tightly packed crowd shoved its way around them, a diverse wave of beings flowing through the streets. Vez and Daeris joined the wave, floating around through the exotic city for many minutes, Vez turning every so often to make sure Daeris was at her heels. They passed wealthy fat men with bald heads and jewelled hands, skeletal beggars with more flies in their hair than teeth in their mouth, all kinds of different people, including a few men who looked like spellcasters.
Finally, Vez pulled Daeris aside, out of the great wave of people. They travelled down an alleyway for a moment, being watched by shifty-looking men every step of the way. Finally, they arrived a few feet away from the target house. "There." said Vez, pointing around the corner at the guard. He wasn't standing up like a true guard should, but was sitting on the doorstep. "The owner of the house is away on business. He has spoken out against the Blood Children recently. This will be his warning, and if he continues, we will deal with him permanently. Use your eyes, find the guard's weakness before you go. I will stay here and help if I must."
Daeris examined the guard as meticulously as she could. He was not wearing a helmet, and his armor was only boiled leather, not chainmail like the city guards wore. He was staring down at his knife, stroking it with a sharpening stone. He had a spear as well, but it was leaning against the steps next to him. With the element of surprise on her side, Daeris might be able to prevent him from getting a hold of the spear at all.
"Great, another thing to add to his list of charges", Roland thought. He was exited to finally bring such a pathetic excuse for a sapient being into justice. First the petty theft, which of course could be changed to larceny if the silk turned out to be more valuable. The second was evading a figure of authority, third was disturbing the general peace, and fourth was assault with a deadly weapon, hey that rock would of nearly bruised him! Now he could add assault of an officer into the laundry list of misdeeds. He couldn't wait to see this Elf rot in some forsaken prison.
Ancient heirlooms were fine and good, but Roland only trusted the power of modern steel. And if Human heirlooms were okay, then Elven ones must of been pathetic. Probably just some fork his ancestors somehow managed to steal from a noble. Elves always valued their ancient beliefs and concepts, but to him they were nothing more than outdated thoughts that humanity had uplifted themselves from long ago. Elves were simply too stupid to finally evolve past them and see a forest for what it was, a potential for development.
Roland simply hled out his buckler in a strong grip. More likely than not he wouldn't need such a strong defense, but one could never be too careful. Elvese were a slippery sort both in morals an tactics. Heirlooms tended to be enchanted with some kind of magic whether by purpose or by accident. Hell, even if it was enchanted then the weak strength of elves could never break through his buckler with such a wimpy dagger. But again, one could never be too careful about these matters.
If Roland manged to block the blow, then he decided he'd go for a strong blow to daze the Elf. Elves could never take even the smallest of blows, a strong one should completely disable him, Roland thought.
Crantil chuckled. "Good dwarf. You have earned your final peacccce." With that, his jaw grew wide, and razor sharp teeth sprouted in multiple rows in his mouth. His tongue even sprouted teeth, the serpentine split bristling with the the white daggers. He lunged forward, and sank his razor sharp fangs into the dwarfs neck. Greedily, he drank the blood that poured from the wound. The dwarf screamed, and struggled, but his struggles grew weaker and weaker as the blood drained from his body. When the struggles stopped, Crantil removed his bloodstained jaws from the corpse. His helmet sealed over his lower face, blocking the grisly visage of blood still leaking from his already stained lips and jaw. He simply walked back from the corpse, through the small crowd of Blackmass who watched him and the corpse, darting between the two, with hungry, lustful eyes.
"Feasssst, young onessss." Crantil said, opening his arms wide and making a shooing gesture to the corpse of the dwarf. The small horde immediately swarmed the body, yipping, snarling, and small roaring as they tore it apart. Within seconds, the dwarf corpse was no longer recognizable. The small horde was finished within minutes, the young Blackmass stumbling about slightly, full and happy. Crantil walked before them. "You enjoyed that yesss?" The horde gave it's approval via variety of noises, some being burps. "You want more, yesss?" Same response. "Follow me, and we will slay dozensss of more of their kind, and you will feassst for days on dwarf flessshh!" The horde gave it's approval more loudly now, banging either makeshift weapons or their fist or feet on the ground in excitement, eyes beginning to shine with blood lust.
"Follow me my brethren! To battle! To glory! TO FEASSSST UPON THE BLOOD AND BONESSSS OF OUR ENEMIESSSSS!!" Crantil roared out, then raced off. The horde gave a response roar and began following. Blood lust shined brightly in their eyes. Dozens would most likely die in the coming raids and battles, but those who lived would feast upon the fallen, and grow stronger, and more loyal to him. Let the gamesss begin! Crantil thought, chuckling. The vile sound echoed throughout his helmet as he raced along.
Dearis had analyzed the guard enough and proceeded to sneak up to the small alley next to the house. She looked over to Vez and saw that she was observing her every move. She would prove that she was strong so that they would let her go on more difficult and of course more rewarding jobs. Casting a glance around the corner she could see the guard was still busy with his knife, but of course he would notice her if she got too close. The best course of action would be to end it in 1 hit and the best target for that would be his unprotected neck. She drew her dagger and held it ready in her right hand.
A plan formed in her head and she took a small stone that was on the ground next to her and threw it over the unsuspecting guard. It landed a good few feet away on the other side of the guard. The guard was alerted and got up turning his head towards the source of the sound while putting away the knife and reaching for his spear. This was the moment Daeris had been waiting for and as fast as she could she lunged forward as fast and quiet as she could and plunged her dagger into the side of his neck. She pulled her dagger out slicing forward and the guard started to bleed profusely from the wound. The guard only made gurgling sounds while drowning in his own blood as she had also sliced his windpipe. The guard stumbled to the ground and and only moved a bit more reaching for his throat before laying completely still. Daeris quickly took the body and dragged it to the alley between the two buildings, hiding it between some rubble, but not before taking the key from him. This should prevent anyone from noticing what was happening unless they came close enough to see the small trail of blood.
She used the key and opened the door and went inside quickly before closing the door again. She remembered what the necklace looked like and quickly went through some of the drawers she suspected the owner would keep jewlery in before closing them again. After 5 minutes of searching she finally found the necklace. It was a golden necklace inlaid with a lot of gems. This would easily fetch a nice price. She put it into one of her inner pockets and left the house. Of course she had left everything else as it had been. After locking the door again and quickly looking around to see nobody noticed her she went over to Vez who was still wating for her in the alley. "Mission accomplished mentor," she quietly said to Vez. While patting once on her breast where the necklace was hidden.
Izarin was too groggy to comprehend what the man had said for a moment. It felt like he was moving through thick syrup. Izarin dwelled on the words for a moment, trying to understand. After understanding, lightning shot through his body. Izarin instantly became alert. They saw. They saw his powers. That wasn’t good. A summoner was only as good as his summons after all. If they knew what he could summon they could prepare for them. It wasn’t an ideal situation. Izarin shook his head and snorted. The man didn’t sound aggressive. Nor did he sound anxious. He just sounded like a well-practiced messenger. What he was going to was likely a business proposition. The thoughts all raced through Izarin’s mind. He dwelled on them for a few minutes. With a small sigh of discontent, Izarin reached a conclusion. He would go to the house. After he had prepared of course.
Izarin could still feel his exhaustion. It was not as intense as before, more of an annoyance now. He silently chided himself. He should never have wasted so much energy. Now managing one summon would be difficult. Izarin thought for a moment. Should he prepare a summon? With a bit of thought he concluded no. It was likely safe enough to go alone. Izarin looked at his robe. It was rumpled and unkempt. That would not do. Izarin had around half of an hour to get to the house. He could change quickly. Izarin took his silk robe off over his head and put it over the small bed. He could fix it later. He moved toward his pack and took out a folded blue bundle. He unwrapped it and held a blue wool robe. It was something a village mayor might have. He donned it quickly and made his way out of the inn towards the house. He moved slowly down the road. He was soon in front of the house. It was nothing special. It looked quite modest to him. He had a few minutes still. He watched the crowd as it passed by. No one caught his eye. After the last minutes passed he turned around and knocked on the door twice. After his hand left the door Izarin stepped back and waited to see what would occur.