|Malthrin III: The Ambush|
|He pushed with his arms through the tavern door, coming right out upon the dark and lonely road. In the distance the night moved on within the town. Horses pulling coaches, trotting along as their hoaves clattered on the cobbled stones of the way. Men's voices singing while they road their carriages. Bringing their passengers to their destinations. Hanging in the air with the sounds of the coaches, was the cold night wind; howling against the houses it struck. To those who have ventured out this late at night, it is an unwanted nuisance with the already cold autumn weather.
Overhead the moon hid its face behind the thin clouds that glowed from the light. Slowly, patiently, as if following an age old law, the clouds parted and the moon shone down upon the tall figure in the doorway of the tavern. The man is heavily built, and walked forward with purpose. Striding like a panther, his boots hardly making any sound on the stone. A gray cloak covered his body, its hood pulled down over his head. It draped his face, making him almost impossible to recognize. As he turned down the road, the wind parted his cloak for an instant and a long blade glittered in the moonlight. And then it was gone as he pulled the cloak about him once again. He headed north along the road, quickening his pace, walking confidently.
In the wake of the stranger the wind blew harder, spinning the brown leaves into a whirl and then all went silent again. Suddenly within the shadows of the alley next to the tavern house, three dark and ominous figures imerge. The move steadily, stride for stride, behind the leader. As they pass the leaves don't even shuffle. The leader slowly draws a silver sword from his belt and motions the other two forward. They head down the road, moving north, in the direction of the stranger.
Further down the road the stranger slows his pace. His senses are fully alert. He doesn't turn but he knows he is being followed. As a warriors sixth sense raises the hair on the back of his neck. He realizes that something is wrong, and some danger is near. He prepares himself mentally and physically as his hand slips down into the folds of his cloak and he pulls forth a small green gem. He tightens his hand around the gem and a faint green light shines though his flesh. The three figures move without a sound in the dark, lightless street. Suddenly when they are withina hundred strides of the stranger, he turns sharply in their direction, and they stop. They blend in quickly with the shadows and cannot be seen. And indeed the stranger sees no one, but he can still feel them. Just then the wind roars again down the road, playfully dancing with his old gray cloak. The stranger reaches down and places his other hand on the cold hilt of his sword, as he turns his head this way and that. He knows now that whoever follows him means him harm.
A sharp question crosses his mind. 'Who in the flaming light of Varthematil knows I'm even here? I haven't been in this country long enough to have enemies.' Or so he thought. 'No matter, I can take care of these fools.' He flips the green gem between his fingers as he turns back around and continues down the road.
Seeing an opening, the three assassins move forth almost at an inhuman pace. With drawn swords they bear down upon the stranger, who seems to not have noticed them. The leaders sword slips under the strangers cloak, as it has a hundred others. It comes up with deadly precision slashing through it, but then the stranger is not there and the cloak falls empty to the ground. The assassin stares in mute shock at the cloak hanging limply from his sword tip.
'Semaronil's curse', he whispers harshly.
Herbras, one of the other assassins, steps forward and spits. 'Where in the strag did he go?'
The leader who's only known name was Fomar'a, the cold one, hissed forth a command of silence, even though he had spoken first. He focuses on his hearing and listens. He doesn't have to listen long as a loud laugh triumph splits through the silence startling all three men with its ferocity.
Then suddenly the strange is among them, a steel blade in one hand, a shining green light in the other. His sword slashes forth with a deadly accuracy taking the unknown assassin in the throat, cutting clean through both bone and muscle, nearly taking his head clear off. The assassin drops. The man turns as Fomar'a rushes at him with his sword raised high. The stranger parries