Dartanyons expolits are discovered by the guilds, but who is to blame...
He sat in the throne he created, overseeing the kingdom he had made. Leaning back in his lavishly ornate chair, the unofficial king of Nonthronox waited for his morning report. His slender fingers interlocked and stretched out over his beautiful mahogany desk. Scrolls and papers littered the smooth desk, some rolled with ribbon and others crumbled and scribbled upon, but each was all just as important as the others. A vividly colored rug covered the wooden floor, decorated in swirling designs. The walls screamed crimson, as did the blinds that covered boarded windows. Sunlight trickled in through the spaces between the wooden planks that had been nailed to the windows. There would be no unwelcome entrances to this room. Beautiful picturesque paintings covered the remainder of spacious room. Faint candlelight shone from the desk and a few lanterns hung on the wall, giving the room a dim aura of grayish stale air, due to the omnipresent dust floating around in the unclean air.
An elaborate feather quill flashed across the unrolled parchment, cutting through the fog of dust as it scribbled out black dye. A stern and seasoned hand gripped the kaleidoscopic plume, moving furiously across the rough vellum. A long cerulean blue sleeve draped over the man’s wrist, all the way up his slender arms. Gold stitching danced across the paper as well, hanging at the end of the ornate sleeves. The ocean blue robe covered the scrawny Guildmaster, as he wrote responses, itinerary, commands, and letters for his informal kingdom. Neatly fastened gold buttons lined the chest of the lavish robe, trailing his torso. Even the dust seemed to recognize the importance of this man and did not dare to dirty his opulent garment. A dignified, yet diabolical smile sat across his gaunt face, hiding beneath graying facial hair. Pools of deep determination stared down at his writings, seemingly reflections of his beautiful desk. Though he was king, persay, his head was not dawned with an adorned crown, only a halo of fading hair. The Guildmaster, though near to completing his fifth decade, was still as sharp and vital as he had been in his prime.
The Guildmaster of the Deadly Dagger Guild finished the scroll with a barely legible scribble of his initials and rolled the parchment with slim fingers. Reaching across the mahogany escritoire, he grasped an inkstand and firmly pressed it on the rolled paper, sealing it shut with a marking of his Guild, a pair of crossing daggers. He placed it in a pile of other already written letters, and snatched another empty sheet of vellum. Before he could scribe his daily report for the guild’s guards, a loud knocking came at the wooden door.
“State your name, rank, and business,” the blunt Guildmaster called out, laying the quill on the empty scroll.
“Jevak Braumn, Second in Command, and… private matters,” the newcomer stated, trailing his voice to a whisper at the end. The Guildmaster’s attentive chestnut eyes snapped open, his mind quickly forgot the daily reports and allowed his Second in Command to enter his chambers. The crimson painted door creaked open, throwing a gust of humid air around the antechamber, propelling clouds of dust about the room. Obsidian black boots stepped on the multicolored rug, carrying the cloaked Jevak with them. A vast scarlet cloak draped his broad shoulders, trailing down to the rug, clashing horribly with the vivid colors on the floor. Black gloved hands protruded from the sleeves, resting at his sides. Long blonde hair parted on his head, brushed aside, revealing his handsomely devilish features. Seemingly black beady eyes stared at the Guildmaster with feinted respect, as his thin lips twisted into a forced smile.
“Good morning, Guildmaster Tiranos,” Jevak greeted, bowing down in respect to his boss. “How goes your morning reports?” He asked, glancing at the piles of rolled parchments consuming a majority of the Guildmaster’s desk.
“Nevermind that,” Guildmaster Tiranos curtly responded, cutting off any attempt of small talk. “What is this private matter you speak of?” He demanded, leaning forward in his throne-like armchair, crossing his narrow fingers attentively. Predicting that the old Grandassassin would act this way, Jevak quickly continued with his intent for this impromptu meeting.
“There’s been a problem, sir. A big one,” the Second in Command started, allowing the Guildmaster to brace himself for the unfortunate news. “Last night there was some trouble in the city, it seems. Much blood has been spilled in the streets of Nonthronox,” he continued.
A blank visage stared at the messenger.
“Blood is always spilled in the streets in The City of Thieves,” Tiranos stated nonchalantly. “Why is this time any different.”
“Because it was our blood.”
“Our blood? The blood of our guild?” Guildmaster Tiranos yelled, jumping out of his velvet chair, resting his weight on the exquisite lectern.
“Yes, Grandassassin. We have lost a number of our sentries last night. There were no witnesses and therefore no suspects as of now.” Jevak informed in a deep crisp voice.
“How many did we lose?” The Guildmaster asked, sitting back down with a furrowed brow. The Second in Command stared down at his shadowy boots for a second, then glanced up into the narrowed brown eyes of the Grandassassin.
Tiranos jumped back to his diminutive feet, slamming his bantam fists on the magnificent desk.
“Four?” He bellowed, throwing harsh echoes about the walls, loosing more dust into the musty midmorning air.
“Yes, Sir. They were all guards, all bottom level ranking assassins. One was Yingsha Rold…”
“Spare me their names, I do not care for such nonsense. They are the fodder that we send to the front lines. I do not care who, I care how and why!” Tiranos shouted at his Second in Command, who retracted a step away from the furious Grandassassin.
“Yes, Guildmaster. I have sent a cleaning crew of sorts to retrieve the bodies and wipe the blood from the streets already,” Jevak responded, fear present in his beady eyes.
“How did this happen? We put scouts out to protect ourselves, and to protect themselves!”
“I know, Sir. And we have no knowledge as to how this happened. I was just given a report that four of the assassins had not returned from their posts and when a lookout was sent for them, he found them all dead.”
Grandassassin Tiranos stared at Jevak with eyes of rage. With his furrowed brow, stern face, and quickly paling skin, he appeared more of a skeleton than man now. White-knuckled fists smashed down on the desk again, as the Guildmaster vented his anger.
“I want all of the bodies examined right away. We may be able to decipher how the kills happened or at least with what means!” the aging assassin yelled.
“Yes, Sir. The three bodies have already been taken to the cleric. He will conduct his magic and tell us what we need to hear,” Jevak said, hoping that his quick thinking may redirect the Guildmaster’s anger from him.
“…Three bodies?” Tiranos asked, lifting an eyebrow. “ I thought you said there were four bodies…”
Jevak’s calmness quickly faded as he gulped hard, trying to ponder a response.
“Why were only three bodies retrieved, Assassin Braumn?” Tiranos questioned, cocking his head slightly, teasing and taunting the clearly agitated assassin.
“…We could only recover three bodies, Sir. We are still missing one. There was a trail of blood but no body, we assumed he was killed though,” Jevak stated with a wavering tone. He knew his boss would not take kindly to this. Like a volcano, Guildmaster Tiranos erupted hot scorching anger when he screamed,
“Assumed? You assumed? Have you forgotten everything you ever learned in this godforsaken city? Never assume, confirm the kill!” the sly old assassin reminded. “You are my Second in Command because I thought you were the best! I do not question your skills as an assassin, but your leadership qualities are severely lacking. I am already starting to regret naming you my replacement!” Tiranos exclaimed, throwing spittle from his spewing mouth, banging his fist repetitively against the hard mahogany desk.
“Yes, Sir. I know, I was just…” the frightened crimson cloaked man managed to speak.
“Yes, yes. You know everything don’t you, Jevak?” The Grandassassin said casually, dismissing whatever the assassin had to say. Slumping back down in the comfortable plush armchair, the frustrated Guildmaster let out a long exasperated sigh. His bony hands interlocked fingers, resting above his lips, massaging his moustache.
“I want a patrol group sent to scour the streets. Detain any necessary witnesses or informants. I want this body found, or it’ll be your body that no one will be able to find,” Tiranos said, more matter-of-factly than threateningly. For and old man he still had the greatest characteristic of an assassin; being able to induce fear and panic at will. Jevak gulped hard, for he knew this threat was more of a promise, he had seen the Grandassassin do worse to people who disappointed him over the past thirty years as Guildmaster of the Deadly Dagger Guild.
He hid his fear the best he could, but it was still present in his beady eyes, and in his barely audible, hastened heartbeat. A droplet of sweat slid off his blonde hair, falling to the carpet almost went unnoticed. Almost. The Guildmaster picked up on the man’s agitation and made a mental note to think wiser next time when choosing a Second in Command. Third time’s the charm, he thought to himself with a slight chuckle.
“Sir, there is still one other matter which I must bring up,” Jevak stated, recollecting his thoughts, trying to forget about the obvious threat. Tiranos lifted his meager face from his interlaced fingers, staring with full attention.
“ It seems as though our assassins were not the only ones ambushed last night, Sir. Three others were found murdered in the street. All at a singular intersection.”
“What?” Guildmaster Tiranos blurted out, incredulously, throwing his slender hands down on the smooth armrests, propelling his lank body forward.
“In grid four. All four posts were found murdered, blood everywhere. It’s where we found the trail of the missing assassin’s blood. We’re still trying to figure out what happened out there,” Jevak exclaimed with a quizzical look on his handsome face. A blonde eyebrow raised over one of his dark eyes, drawing his thin lips into a tight scowl. Across the magnificent retable, Tiranos sat dumbfounded, his features twisted in a visage of shock and awe.
“Four guards were killed at a single stakeout point?” he stammered, his voice barely more than a whisper.
“What guilds were they from?” Tiranos said, snapping out of his daze.
“We’re working on that too, sir.”
“Report back to me as soon as you have any information on the missing assassin, or these other murdered assassins. We need to get on top of this situation before it blows up in our face. The other guilds might see us responsible for this attack. Who knows what the lesser-organized guilds might do, thinking we killed their assassins. We must act quick and accumulate all possible knowledge and information on the matter. Do not disturb me until you have something of use for me, ” the Guildmaster stated, lowering his head. “Please, take these reports and give them out as scribed. Only come back when you have news.”
“Yes, sir,” his Second in Command responded, bowing graciously once more to mark his departure. “As you wish, Grandassassin.” And with that, Jevak rose and gathered up the rolled parchments sealed upon the desk in his crimson covered arms. Then he spun about on his heels, and sped from the unofficial throne room of the Deadly Dagger kingdom, trying to steady his rapid heartbeat and calm his senses. Peering out through one of the boarded windows, he spied a stream of bright red light bursting through the planks. “Red sky in morning…” Jevak muttered to himself. “Of course,” he added, shaking his head, throwing his long blonde hair about on his head as he tore down the lackluster hallway, heading towards the guildhouse’s common room, imagining how bad this day would indeed be.