In a fury, I sent the darkness at Heather, intent on making good on my threat. The vines that she grew withered on contact with the shadows I had surrounded myself with. I could feel a strange heat coming off of my left shoulder blade, but ignored it.

Engle shouted something, but I ignored him, as well...until he shoved Heather to safety. Snarling, I moved to direct the shadows to the meddler, but he moved quickly, much more quickly than a human being ever could. My eyes widened as his fist filled my vision, and my world went black.


Groaning, I felt the darkness in my head recede. Engle sure knew how to throw a punch. I guessed that the shield that I set to go up if I was ever knocked out had saved my life.

Rolling onto my back and sitting up, I allowed my eyes to become used to the darkness of night. That meant that I'd been unconscious for, what, two hours or so? No matter how long it had been, I knew that I couldn't just let this go. Engle had to pay. As for Heather, she was inconsequential. I wouldn't hunt her, but if she stayed with Engle, I wouldn't let him get in the way again.

Standing, I studied the forest around me. There was no sign of the Dark Knight's assassins, but they could hide in a stick's shadow. I couldn't be too careful.

I opened a dark corridor with a careless wave of my hand. "Take me home," I whispered.


The hall was noisy and crowded. Just like always. Grinning, I waded in, greeting old friends and sizing up my fellow mercenaries. Just another day. I could almost forget what had happened in the forest. Almost.

"Lance!" I heard a voice yell. I'd know that giant's voice anywhere.

Turning with a huge grin, I replied, "Mark! How are you?"

"Ah, been better," Mark said, putting his huge arm around my shoulders. "Business is slow, know what I mean?"

"All too well, my friend. All too well."

"Well, I guess it doesn't matter, now, does it?" Mark laughs, steering me over to a table laden with food. "We still eat free!"

"That we do," I smiled, grabbing a plate already filled with my favorites. "Were they expecting me, then?"

"Always, Lance. They sure expect me!" Mark's booming laugh fills the room, prompting a cheer from everyone in the hall. "Care to join us for a little game?"

"Hmm..." I pretended to consider. "Why not?" I grabbed a mug of ale. "Last one standing wins."

The End

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