Racieus didn’t remember much when he woke up in a small, nondescript shack. Grimacing, he recalled the attack on Faerdham, the whole encampment routed by strange cloaked figures. Then he was running, and falling, and then… black.
But not all black. He had broken memories of a tall figure stepping on him, and then there were more men, all standing around, staring at him with concerned faces, and then the man again, hoisting him up amid the bodies.
He had killed the others, but then saw fit to save Racieus. Or was he safe? Looking around, Racieus took in his surroundings. He was in a small room, with a smaller fireplace along one wall, and a bedstand directly next to the bed that Racieus lay in. There was a single doorway, through which the telltale flicker of another fire danced, and a window on the other side of the room, the pale white glow of the moon making a faint appearance.
He wasn’t in chains, and didn’t appear to be in any prison that he knew of. Sitting up slowly, Racieus began to stretch himself out, feeling the ache of numerous bruises across his body. Nothing seemed to be broken, and Racieus thanked whatever god was listening for that fact. The tumbled down the rocky hillside easily could have caused much more serious injury, or even death. The halfling shuddered at that thought and then started to slowly rise from the bed, being careful to make sure his feet could handle his weight. He didn’t want to alert anyone, if there was anyone, by taking a noisy fall on the bedroom floor.
Racieus was still in his own clothes, and his boots were laying near the fireplace. Quietly pulling them on, Racieus couldn’t help sigh in contentment as the warm leather slipped over his feet. He made his way to the door and peeked around the frame, making no sudden movements that might alert anyone in the room, but there was no one that Racieus could see, and he cautiously slipped through the doorway into the adjoining room. It too had a fireplace, with a few chairs positioned around it, as well as a good sized table, capable of fitting several guests around it. This room was larger than the one Racieus had woke up in, large enough that the light from the fireplace didn’t quite reach the father corners of the space.
And, the aspect that most piqued Racieus’ interest, was the door that led outside. Time to see if he had been locked here after all. His hand touched on the doorknob, and was pulled back just as quickly at the sound of a voice coming from across the room.
“While it wouldn’t be unfair to leave now, it certainly would be rude to not at least say thank you.” Straining hard, and relying on the improved vision pf a halfling, sight that matched even the elves’, Racieus could barely make of the shape of a form that he hadn’t noticed before.
A candle flared to life, revealing a man, the man, who had been standing in the darkness of the corner. Racieus didn’t know what to do, and simply stood, staring, at the mysterious man who had killed five, yet still saved him. The halfling tensed, eyes searching the room for something, anything, he could use as a distraction.
“I already told you, I’m not keeping you prisoner here. You are free to go.”
For whatever reason, Racieus believed the assassin, yet he still didn’t want to move. He had questions, and wanted answers. Letting his hand fall from the door, the halfling fully turned to face the human.
“You saved me.”
“Yet you killed those men.”
The man took a few steps towards the fireplace and sat in one of the chairs, a slight limp evident in his step, Racieus noted. “Yes.”
Racieus sighed in frustration, “Fine. If I have to ask. Why?”
The killer’s eyebrows furrowed, as if in confusion, and for a moment, Racieus wondered if he had missed something important when he had been unconscious. The human’s answer didn’t help alleviate any of that uncertainty.
“It was fair.”
The man nodded.
“Was killing those men fair too?”
Another nod, and the hafling’s eyes shot up.
“Is everything fair with you?”
A final nod, and Racieus’ eyes narrowed. Annoyed, the halfling turned to leave and again stopped when his hand touched the doorknob. Where was he going to go? He didn’t even know where he was. Making an impulsive inner decision, Racieus turned around yet again and looked the man in the eye.
“I need to stay here.”
The killer snorted, “I think not,” and he stood, ending the discussion. But no one told Racieus.
“I have nowhere to go.”
“And I don’t care, halfling. My line of work does not allow time for babysitting, and I already paid my debt to you.”
Again the man’s words confused Racieus. “Debt?” he asked, “I was unconscious. What debt did you have towards me?”
The man sighed, and propped a hand on the wall to steady himself. He didn’t turn to face Racieus when he spoke. “You provided a much needed distraction, allowing me to throw my pursuers and eliminate them,” he said matter of factly, talking about killing the men as if it were a daily occurrence. Perhaps it is, Racieus thought. The man continued, “I would not have been able to do so without your help. Such as it was. I owed you my life., and repaid with yours. It was fair, and we are even.”
“What exactly do you do?” Racieus dared to ask, the assassin’s story piquing the halfling’s interest. The killer said nothing, which all but confirmed Racieus’s suspicions.
“You’re an assassin” he stated, and when the man offered no objections, he continued, “You could train me.”
“No” came the flat and forceful response, but the halfling pressed harder.
“Have you actually saved my life then? If you are simply putting me back out into the same environment that nearly overwhelmed me? That wouldn’t be fair, for upon my departure, I cannot put you, as you were when I saved you, back in the same position, facing the men that you killed.”
The assassin said nothing, so Racieus tried once more, “If anything look at it as another exchange. You are injured. I could not in good conscience leave you here. If more men were to seek you out, you would be without aid. In return, once you are fully healed, you can train me. I…” the halfling hesitate briefly, “I am no stranger to battle.”
Before Racieus could blink, the assassin spun and whipped a dagger, one that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, in the halfling’s direction. Racieus’ didn’t even have time to react before the blade was quivering in the wood next to his head.
“Does it appear like your aid is required halfling?” drawled the assassin.
Frustrated, and for some reason, thoroughly embarrassed, Racieus turned without another word and opened the door, only to have it slammed shut from the force of another dagger hitting home.
“However,” the man said, drawing out the word, “Perhaps our previous, deal, was not quite as fair as I thought.” The assassin limped over to retrieve one of his knives, “I will train you, for a time. But once I judge that you are capable enough to survive on your own,” he paused, yanking out the other and giving the halfling a hard look, “Then our arrangement will have been satisfied, and you will leave. Is that acceptable?”
Racieus nodded, an eager grin spreading across his face.
“Good. We start now.”
Racieus blinked, but the eager grin never left his face.