The assassin reawakes, to find himself betrayed, stabbed, and murdered
| Chapter 1
A lifeless body lay prone on the cold sullied ground. His blood, the very essence of his being, no longer surged through his veins, but drained through his wound. The dead man lay in a puddle of his own blood. No, not a puddle, a pool of blood surrounded him. Every last drop of crimson blood, which once coursed through his veins, was now completely vacant from his body. A vicious gash, a malicious slice crossed his neck. The mortal wound was deep, so deep it almost cut straight to the vertebrae, so deep that he was dead before he hit the ground. A lone dagger lay discarded on the floor next to him. The blade, no longer a shimmering silver, but crimson stained. His clothing was once full of vivid colors, but now was obscured by the drying dye. His eyes, drained of life, stared aimlessly toward the ceiling. A vast ghostly fog swelled in his once verdant orbs. His handsome face, now a waste, was clean shaved and now a pale white. One hand clasped tightly around his throat in a last effort to stop the rushing blood from escaping. Now, with rigor mortis setting in, his lifeless body now seemed to be made of stone. The gruesome gargoyle lay on the ground, murdered, betrayed, forgotten.
His blood suddenly vanished from the floor, as if by magic and once again coursed through his veins. Air rushed through his lungs and his chest began to rise and fall with each life bringing breath. His body, now full of life, seemed to thaw from his frozen state began to twitch and shake. His eyes were no longer covered in the ethereal fog, but vibrant with an emerald hue. He blinked and stared around at his surroundings. Removing his blood stained hand from his throat, he glanced down to find no spot of blood in sight. Reaching back to his throat, he felt the vicious wound. Instead of finding a deep incision, he discovered a large scar across his neck, as if his laceration had been instantly healed.
He was alive. Unbelievably, implausibly, he was alive. Defiantly, the man pushed himself to his sturdy feet. Completely revived, he stretched his strong and strapping arms, getting accustomed to movement. Reaching his seasoned hands upwards, he brushed his long black hair from his striking face. Still glancing around the tiny decrepit room, he caught glimpse of the dagger, still discarded on the wooden floor. Walking over, the tall man stooped down and snatched up the gleaming silver blade. With a wicked and sinister smile, a smile of hatred, of resentment, crossing his face, the man slid the dagger into an empty sheath dangling from his belt, beneath a cloak of obsidian. The dagger, his dagger, was now back in its proper place.
The man, reincarnated into his former self, stood in the quaint shack of a house, running his hardened fingers over the rough and bumpy scar running across his neck. Rage burned in his eyes, a demonic reddish tint clearly visible among the verdant rings. He had been betrayed by his own accomplice, with his own weapon. Revenge, his only solution to this treachery, was the only thought in his head. Before he had killed for money, for power, now he would kill for himself. With thoughts of vengeance consuming his thoughts, the man quickly flew out the door of the quaint little shack. Stepping out onto the bustling city streets, a sight he thought he would never see again, he breathed a deep breath of air. He quickly turned and tore down the crowded street, for he had a mission to complete, and he did not have much time. He had made a deal with the devil, and all deals require a little compromise.
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Deep in the malicious inferno of Hell, The Lord of the Underworld smiled a wicked and nefarious grin. True, he had lost a potential inmate in the fiery prison, but now he had a henchman, a servant to do his bidding. He knew that the man would be with him soon enough, for his reincarnation had a time limit and it had already begun to tick away
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Dust kicked up in a sandstorm cloud in his wake. The assassin deftly tore down the bustling city streets. The dirty crowded roads were lined with trader carts, filled with all sorts of items for trade. Traders filled the gargantuan city, all gathering in the labyrinth of streets of Nonthronox. These dirt ridden and swarming roadways looked like a titanic spider had made a web of dirt and stone among the dwellings in the major city. Surrounding the scattered streets and the myriad of building, a monolithic stone wall encased the metropolis. The inviolable barricade stood nearly thrice the height of any of the establishments in the city, except for a few rangy towers. As impassible as a mountain, and just as sturdy it seemed, the giant battlement was the ultimate defense against any destructive force. Due to the sheer height and defensibility of the structure and a few well-placed, expert archers, none had ever been able to gain access to the city by means other than the tremendous wooden gateway. Firm in its resolution to allow no one to pass through it uninvited, the stalwart doors were barricaded with two unbending iron bars. A plethora of armored, and potently skilled, soldiers patrolled the top of the wall, watching the surrounding forest for any signs of malevolence. Inside the stone ring, establishments of all sorts were constructed among the city streets. Quaint homes, decrepit taverns, stone buildings, and even a few lavish domiciles filled the bustling city. The buildings were not meant to be ornate or excessive in anyway; it was a trading city, only meant to attract traders from all over Tirithdor. All the traders came to barter and buy goods of the best quality. Nonthronox was known as the trade center of northern Tirithdor, although that is not the only claim to fame that the gargantuan city has. It is also known as the City of Thieves. The frail municipality was home to some of the most deadly and dastardly delinquents; the most wicked and nefarious criminals that could be found anywhere were only found here, and this assassin was one of them.
Gleeful faces and cheerful conversations filled the air. The scene was one of merriment, save one troubled soul. The assassin pulled his cowl tighter around his handsome face, concealing his identity from the myriad of traders. Quizzical eyes glared at the obscured man, but he paid them to heed. He was not interested in the affairs of these pathetic shoppers. They spent their lives working an honest living and now are barely able to scrap enough gold to purchase necessities. The skilled assassin was unable to repress a grin as he thought about this. He probably made more gold during one job than any of these people made in their entire life. His smugness was short-lived as his smile quickly faded and thoughts of the repercussions of his occupation flowing into his mind. Underneath the black cloak, his agile fingers flashed to his neck, feeling the vicious slash once more. A stoic visage hid behind the over folding hood.
How could this have happened, the assassin thought to himself as he strolled down the dust-clouded road. Conversations were nothing but commotion to him; he was preoccupied within his own thoughts. He was the top ranking assassin in the guild, the best of the best, the deadliest of the deadly. Yet, at the same time, he was not the best, for another bested him. He had been killed before he knew anyone else was even with him. His killer was so silent, so perfect, that he did not notice anything was wrong.
“How could I let that happen…” he muttered to himself, a little louder than he had hoped, for it drew attention from a few of the nearby merchants. Frustrated with himself, thoughts buzzing around in his head, the man decided he needed a place to relax, to unwind. He knew the city better than most, which usually gave him an unfair advantage over the other assassins or, more unluckily, his target. The assassin casually strode down the spider web designed streets, cowl still pulled tight around his head to hide from the sun’s gleaming rays and the gleaming eyes of the city dwellers and visitors.
Zigzagging down the puzzling roads, the assassin led himself to a much-welcomed establishment, a tavern. On top of the slanted and termite ridden roof a sign read ‘The Drinker’s Guild,’ which was the finest tavern in the city. Trader’s carts still lined the streets, but the weary assassin pushed his way through the eager crowd, not pausing to give an ‘excuse me’ or even so much as a ‘sorry.’ That was just not his style. He cared little to none about others. In his eyes there was only one person that mattered, only one person that he could trust, himself.
“Watch where you’re going!” one man shouted after the cloaked assassin shouldered him out of the way. The assassin turned his head and glared at the man. Though his hood covered his face and obscured his features in shadow, the man could sense the intensity of the glare; he could feel it inside. He quickly winced away from the concealed man and disappeared in the sea of shoppers. A small grin appeared on the assassin’s visage as he turned back to face the tavern, pushing his way through the last of the traders. Reaching out with a seasoned hand, the assassin pushed the feeble double wooden doors of the tavern and opened them with a loud creak like a dying rabbit.
The creaking of the doors was an annoying, but common, noise in the tavern that went unnoticed by most due to the overbearing din that the patrons caused. The assassin was used to the commotion for he was a regular at the tavern. His eyes glanced around the familiar rundown pub, studying each of the patrons, making sure none of them recognized him. To his luck, none of them did; they were all far too drunk to notice anything. The tavern was almost full that night, every termite infested table and booth had been settled in and even every frail stool at the bar had a person on it. Still scanning the crowded alehouse, the assassin spied an open table in the far corner. Perfect, he thought to himself, for he did not want to be seen by anyone. He quickly navigated around the drunken patrons and spilled ale on the unsanitary ground and found his way over to the secluded table. Dimly lit lanterns hung from the rafters, faintly illuminating the spacious tavern and the mid-afternoon sun’s rays shone though the smudged and cracked windows. However, neither the flaming lanterns nor the brilliant light from the sun shone in this corner of the pub, another perfect scenario for the obscured assassin.
The assassin threw himself down on the hard wooden bench, which creaked and cracked under his weight, but still managed to hold. He sat with his back to the rest of the tavern, facing only the dust-covered wall, and the bugs that squirmed in it. His hooded head fell to his hands, staring down at the table now, deep in thought. What am I going to do, he thought, revenge is hard to come by if you don’t know who to take it out on. Why was I betrayed, and who by? Questions swirled in his head. The assassin was consumed by his thoughts; all the commotion from the tavern was drowned out except for anything that could help him discover who murdered him. His mind drifted away, deep in thought, traveling through memories of times past.
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