A tough choice
|word count - 894|
Sul’hupkaar slipped quietly though the crowded streets of Kroywen. Down a narrow cobblestoned alley and back onto another crowded avenue. His hood was drawn over his head to keep the bright sunlight from his eyes, but anyone looking at him could see blazing reddish orange eyes glaring dangerously out of the hood's depths, his midnight black skin making the hood’s darkness an empty void.
Even though his pace matched that of those around him, the crowd created a small bubbled around him, not wanting to get too near the seething shadow. Kroywen’s shabby two and three story rowhouses and shops lined the wide street as carts pulled by horse and ox made their way up and down it, the clack of their wooden wheels lost in the city’s din.
The past week's events set him on a course he couldn’t change, made choices for him that boiled within him. After today, the final choice would be made for him. There was no going back.
Sul’hupkaar came to an area where the avenue split into a wide “Y” and he headed for the buildings in the middle of the oddly shaped block, walking lithely around the carriages and carts rolling by. His fists clenched unconsciously as he pushed his anger back down into him.
His wife, Loi’hupkaar had been betrayed. Murdered by their own brothers and sisters within the Assassin’s Guild. They claimed they had a spy from the Necromancer’s Guild inside theirs and was said to have given her up. Then they came for Hupkaar and he. Sul’hupkaar’s eyes began to glow a brighter shade of orange. Loi’hupkaar. His wife of 214 years. Taken by cowardly humans. He burned with rage.
He was angry with himself for not killing them when they came for Hupkaar and he, but they weren’t the ones he was after. Betrayal of this kind came higher up within the Guild. He stepped from the street, crowds parting for the scowling menace, and he made his way down the street, edging towards the buildings.
The information was expensive and he was left without another choice. Friends in the Necromancer’s exposed the ploy and offered up the name of the one that had devised the plot. This man meant to use Sul’hupkaar to his purpose by getting him to attack the Necromancers, to cause war between the guilds. When Sul’hupkaar didn’t fall into the ploy, they came for him too.
He came to a narrow heavily shadowed alley and turned down it. Dank air rose up from the wet cobblestones while green mildew grew on ancient brick walls. In the end Sul’hupkaar did the only thing he could to keep his son safe, and now this man would pay the cost of it. Sul’hupkaar had given his son to the Necromancers. After today, he would belong to them too. He would have nowhere to go.
He slowed his pace as he took a sharp turn, edging by the few people he encountered in the dark place and stopped a dozen feet from the alley's entrance. He watched several people entering and leaving the small tavern directly across from him and knew who the man inside was. A bureaucrat within their organization, sending people to do what he could not. He always had an eye for Loi’hupkaar. If he could only have felt her disgust in return.
Sul’hupkaar slid from the alley, crossed the road and slipped around the alley to the side. He found a weather-beaten old door leading into the rear of the tavern, the lock causing some trouble only because it was so rusted the tumblers barely moved. The man was also careless. Not ranked high enough to warrant an escort, he should have stayed within the guilds walls. At least then it would have made for a challenge to get at him.
It only took Sul’hupkaar a moment to find him, facing the front door, but his back to the rear. He continued to watch him from the edge of the tavern, looking around to see if anyone was with him. Not only did he appear alone, the look of the patrons told him nobody would see anything.
Sul’hupkaar was no more than a ghost wafting through the smoke as he came up behind the man. What made this vile thing think he was a dark elf’s equal? He slid Loi’hupkaar’s long sharp dagger out as he floated up to stand just behind him. In one seamless motion, Sul’hupkaar’s hand clamped over the man’s mouth and the knife erupted from his chest, having been driven straight through the wooden chair's back first. An instant later Sul’hupkaar was sitting in front of the impaled man, staring impassively at the cow eyes bugling at him as the dying man tried to draw breath.
Sul’hupkaar had been right about the patrons, any that saw the quick violent flash sat quietly at their tables, busy not seeing anything but the tankards in front of them. He watch the realization creep onto the man’s features as he recognized Sul’hupkaar leering at him.
Sul’hupkaar reached across the table and took the half full tankard of ale and finished it as he watched life leave the waste of flesh in front of him. Word would get to the assassins, even in a place like this, that Sul’hupkaar killed him. He put the empty oak tankard down and left by the front door as if nothing had happened. It didn’t matter anyway. He and his son now belonged to the Necromancers and his new brothers and sisters would keep him safe with his obedience.