The streets run black with darkness, the perfect cover for the deadly assassin...
(From The Phoenix)
The moon shone brightly behind the thick fog-like cumulonimbus clouds, faintly illuminating the city. Almost nearing a full moon, the lunar body shone almost fully that night. Small streams of light trickled through breaks in the towering clouds. Starlight was completely smothered by the darkening sky. A blanket of darkness folded over the trading city, tucking it in and readying it for the night. A brisk chilling breeze blew over the massive stone barricade and swept through the dusty roads, kicking up small swirling tornadoes of dirt. Sand and rock whipped around the semi-deserted streets, pelting those wandering the roads harshly. Most of the citizens of Nonthronox had already locked themselves indoors, for they knew what troubles the city had when the sun went down. Like vampires, the degenerates of the city flocked to the streets at night, seemingly afraid of the sun’s rays. Thieves roamed the city at night, it was their playground, offering promises of a good time. They hid amongst the omnipresent shadows, using their darkness as a shield against the eyes of those watching. Lookouts from various guilds and gangs were plastered on every street corner, watching for possible victims and also watching out for other guild members, never knowing when another guild would choose to strike against their own. Rivalry is an understatement as to how the guilds of Nonthronox stood against each other. Raw hatred, a burning, consuming loathing was felt between each and every guild of the treacherous city.
Hooded sentries stood guard at almost every street corner in the entire city, staring into the darkness with beady eyes, watching, waiting. They had all been trained for this, their only position in the guild. Their eyesight rivaled that of an owl searching for mice in the dead of night. They could spy a rat twenty meters away on nights like this, but still they could not see him.
Like one of the shadows themselves, the cloaked assassin tore down the dirt roads, cutting though the sandstorms, so fast as to not interrupt the spinning vortex. His cloak, black as the night, blended in with the darkness that covered the city. He could plainly see each one of the watchmen, casually leaning against the walls of the decrepit tasks; he could even name which guild every one of them belonged to. If these lowlifes were the children in this playground, then Dartanyon was the bully, the one running the place. The deft assassin dashed from shadow to shadow, light as a feather and fast as a bounding panther. Navigating easily around the watchmen’s line of vision, the assassin flew down the familiar streets, barely thinking of the route to his destination.
Making his way through the winding maze of streets, the assassin quickly dashed off the streets and began to run along the base of the towering stone wall, using its massive height as an added shield against the moonlight. The tiny decrepit shacks filled the outer ring of the city, leaving the lavish stone buildings and ornate shops in the center. Fire-lit lanterns shone through the windows of the houses, which still could not help find the undetectable assassin. Almost tracing the outline of the wall with his slender shoulder, Dartanyon continued along on his mission.
Suddenly, the quick moving assassin stopped dead in his tracks. Dartanyon threw himself behind a wall of rotting wood and glanced around the side. Dropping to one knee, he placed a forearm on the other knee and peered through the darkness. Standing nonchalantly in the cold night air, leaning lazily against the cold stone wall, another cloaked man stood. His head gently moved back and forth, eyes darting about throughout the shadows, keeping an eye out for his guild. A smile came across the crouching assassin’s handsome face. Just as I thought, he said to himself. The spying assassin peered around, making sure no other sentinel was looking this way, which of course no one was; that was why he picked this guard. Leaping out of the crouching position and into attack position, the skillful assassin had a pair of daggers in his hands before he took one step towards the unsuspecting guard.
The leaning watchman only saw a blur of shadows and before he knew it, two diamond sharp blades crossed his throat, held by a man behind him.
“Don’t shout, don’t scream and most of all don’t call for help,” the captor whispered in his ear. The terrified guard only nodded in agreement.
“Not up for talking much? Good, that will make things a lot easier,” he said, chuckling to himself. “For now, at least,” he added with a sinister tone.
At first, the assassin could feel the other man’s heartbeat quicken, beating at nearly twice the normal rate and seem to almost burst out of his ribcage. Now, his heartbeat returned to normal, as if he was no longer afraid of this threat. What could cause this man to regain his calmness so easily, the assassin thought to himself, pressing the daggers tighter into his captive’s neck and drawing two parallel lines of blood. Then he knew why. A vicious gust of wind blew across the town, kicking up more sand tornadoes and throwing the men’s cloaks trailing in the wind. Their cloaks flapped in the potent winds, but theirs were not the only ones. Only his keen hearing saved him then. A faint flapping noise resonated among the deserted alleyways and Dartanyon quickly glanced to the roof of the nearest building to his right. Standing on the edge of the roof, a pair of gloomy objects loomed overhead, almost like gargoyles. These were not stone creatures, however, for they soon bounded to life and leaped off the tiny shack, landing smoothly on the dusty ground below, throwing a cloud of dirt around their nimble feet.
Dartanyon was quickly outnumbered, but was far from outmatched. Quickly removing one dagger from the man’s neck, the master assassin held his tiny sword out to defend himself from any possible quick attacks, while, at the same time, retracting his other hand, dagger still clasped tight in the palm of his hand, across the mans neck, cutting though ligaments, skin and his throat. The wounded man dropped to the ground with a hollow gasp for air as blood drained from his neck. One of the attackers brandished a pair of long swords, and the other a deadly crossbow, aimed straight for Dartanyon’s beating heart.
“Drop the daggers!” the archer yelled, taking a step forward, reaching out with the crossbow to take better aim.
“I don’t believe you want to do that,” Dartanyon exclaimed, slowly raising his skillful hands, daggers still clasped tightly in his grasp. “Walk away and be done with me, for your sake. I have no trouble with you, either of you,” he said, motioning towards both attackers.
“Drop the bloody daggers!” the archer yelled again, repeating his actions and taking another step closer. His finger rested on the trigger, shaking visibly, ready to pull.
“Very well then,” Dartanyon sighed, realizing there was no getting through to them. His arms began to fall, and the grip on his daggers became limp as they began to fall from his grasp. At the last second, his grip tightened again, not on the hilts, but on the tips of the blades. In one fluid movement, his arms shot out, snapping his wrists and sending the daggers hurling towards the newcomers, flying end over end in the chilling night time air. Having no time to react to the lightning fast reflexes, the archer could only flinch as a dagger flew into his chest, stabbing through his ribcage and piercing his still beating heart. The other attacker was more fortunate, the other dagger only punctured his stomach. While the archer fell to the ground in a heap, tossing the crossbow to the ground as he reached for the protruding dagger, the second man only faced a serious wound, which would prove to be fatal if another dagger had not been hurled at him, catching him in the throat and sliding completely through so that only the black of the hilt could be seen. Dartanyon flashed his hands back to the inside of his cloak where a plethora of gleaming, deadly daggers rested. Making sure the attackers were no longer moving, he released his grasp on his daggers and sighed a sigh of relief. Glancing behind him, the assassin became alarmed once more. The wounded man he tossed aside was no longer there; the faint trail of blood was the only sign that could be seen of him. Following the trail with his trained eye, the assassin noted where the wounded man was heading. He did not even have to follow the trail, he knew exactly where the man would run to and his only hope was to intercept him before he got there.
The stealthy assassin quickly disposed of the evidence by dragging the bloody bodies behind a building and covering their bodies with their cloaks. True, their bodies would be discovered eventually, but this would buy him some time before the guards were aroused. Placing his killing daggers back in the folds of his own cloak, he tore down the streets, still enveloped by the nighttime darkness. He had no time to focus on hiding from the sentries, but with his slyness he need not anyways. He flew down the cobblestone streets, still passing unnoticed by the roaming guards on the ground. Moonlight shone down from above, shimmering off the crimson trail the assassin was following. At some points there was no blood, but further down the road there would be small puddles. He was dying, the assassin knew. His blood loss would soon prove fatal in a matter of minutes. However, Dartanyon had to find him before he reached his guild. If he reached his guild, everyone would know Dartanyon Falco was back and this was something he could not allow.
Four guards stood at the intersection of two streets, staring at each other, keeping watch down the dark and deserted roads. Footsteps echoed down the alleyways, a faint panting of breath echoed above that. The guards looked at each other and then glanced down the street, readying their weapons. Peering down the darkness, they could make out nothing, but then a faint silhouette could be seen in the middle of the road, stumbling towards them.
“Help! Somebody help me!” a hoarse, raspy voice called though the darkness. The guards temporarily forgot about their strives with the other guilds and all ran to help the man calling for help. A gust of wind blew down the bisecting street as a gargantuan storm cloud passed in front of the moon, casting more shadows amongst the already omnipresent ones. Following the burst of wind, a wave of darkness blew across the street and one of the guards dropped to the ground, dead. The other guards turned around when they heard the armor echoing off the stone road, resounding against the buildings.
“What th…,” one of the other guards cried, before he too fell to the floor, after another flash of shadows. The remaining guards stared at each other, fear present in their wide eyes. They each fidgeted to remove their weapons from their hilts. The wind changed again, this time throwing a breeze down the street they were on, kicking up dust and dirt into the air. One of the guards reached to shield his eyes from the sandstorm, but quickly fell to the ground, as sparkles of sand and silver gleamed in front of his eyes. Panicking, the last guard side-stepped behind the wounded man, who had collapsed to all fours, breathing hard and gurgling on something the guard could not make out.
“Who’s there? Who’s out there?” the guard shouted to the shadows. Of course, they did not answer. The only answer he got was the cold steel of a blade piercing through his neck. He jerked his head away from the dagger and turned his body to face where it had come from. Blood poured from his neck and fear from his eyes. There was nobody in the street except for himself and the wounded man. He glanced down at the cloaked dying man, huddled over a puddle of blood. “What’s going on?” he asked, visibly shaking, sword gripped in white knuckled hands. The huddled man rose to his knees and then slowly stood on his feet. The guard’s eyes opened as wide as the cobblestones he stood on. He was losing consciousness. Maybe he was seeing things, he thought. There was no blood on the standing man, just a scar from a vicious wound. “You! It’s you!” the guard managed to stammer, before Dartanyon stabbed out once more, driving his silver dagger upwards, this time through the front of the guard’s neck, piercing his throat. With a quick retraction, the dagger was removed and replaced back in its holding place beneath the eerie black cloak. The guard dropped to the ground with a clank of his armor, his eyes still wide in fear, as blood poured from all sides of his neck. Dartanyon left the guards lying in the street. Maybe it would cause some commotion among the guilds. He smiled thinking about the possibility of war between the guilds. Quickly remembering his mission, the assassin glanced to the side and caught sight of a crumbled body, lying prone on the side of the rocky road. He approached the bleeding body, reached down and grabbed the man’s cloak and hoisted him up
“You should have known you couldn’t escape me,” the black haired assassin whispered, a reddish tint glowing among his verdant eyes. Streaks of dried blood caked down his neck and chest, staining his skin and clothes. Fear drenched his eyes and his lip trembled. He tried to speak, but no words escaped his mouth. Only blood spattered out, as he gasped for air once more.
“What’s the matter? Still not in a talking mood?” Dartanyon teased. “Don’t worry, I have my ways of making people talk.” He added, holding a bloodstained dagger upwards, spinning it casually in his hand, admiring the diamond sharp tip with narrowed eyes. “Now, quick, up on your feet.” The terrified wounded man shook his head vigorously. He relaxed his muscles, slumping back to the ground. Dartanyon let go of the novice assassin’s cloak and he dropped him to the cobblestones. “Fine, if that’s how you want to play,” he started, flipping the dagger around in his hand, holding the ball of the hilt downwards. With a sudden jerk, the expert assassin thrusted his muscular arm down, striking the bloodied man on the top of his skull, driving his weakened body to the dusty and blood-soaked street. He collapsed, sprawled out, unconscious at the feet of his attacker. I still have it, Dartanyon thought to himself, looking around at the scene he had created, as he casually dragged the limp body down the street, leaving the dead guards where they were, never looking back. Maybe I should start looking over my shoulder, he thought, as he traced his fingers over his scar once more.