Chapter 4: Induction (part 4)

Racieus was relieved when the morning came and his eyes snapped right open to the sounds of people getting up and ready up and down the hallway. Racieus, still in the same clothes he had been wearing for the last several weeks, jumped out of bed and pulled on his boots. If he was lucky, he’d run into Taryn and be able to retrieve his money.

Racieus bounded out of his room and followed the small groups of people down the stairs to a large room on the first floor. Some of the younger members were carrying plates with food, and Racieus, stomach growling profusely, traced the line of recruits back to a window in the far left corner of the room. He received a few suspicious looks along the way, probably from people who had seen him hauled in by Kellam, whom Racieus hadn’t seen since last night. He wondered what Lieran had done with him.

After Racieus had filled a plate with eggs, and a few strips of meat, the guild master entered and the room went silent. He made his way through the crowd and came to a slightly raised podium along the back wall.

Lieran didn’t immediately speak, but instead took a moment to survey the crowd, his eyes lingering for just a moment when he spotted the young halfling scarfing down his first real breakfast in quite some time.

“I would like to set a few things straight” the assassin said, when he finally addressed the guild. “First off, as you all can see, I am not dead.” A loud cheer erupted at this and would have gone on for quite some time had the guild master not waved it away. “This means that all orders, edicts, and changes made by the late usurper Vance, are undone, aside from a few matters that I have discussed with some of the senior ranking members.” Lieran rattled off a brief list, mostly consisting of minor warranted punishments and dismissals of recruits.

“Also,” he announced when he had exhausted the list, “We have a new recruit whose arrival here started off on the wrong foot. He was wrongly sentenced to death by Vance, but, on my order, has been made an entrant to the guild in good standing, and will be taking part in tonight’s tournament. Racieus!”

Lieran pointed, and all eyes turned to the halfling, but not a sound was made. This was partly because just at that moment, the halfling had taken a large mouthful of his food and looked quite ridiculous as he chewed it, but the other denizens, members and trainees alike, were shocked at what they saw.

“A halfling?” Came a voice from somewhere in the crowd.

“Indeed,” replied Lieran, “And I would not make the mistake of underestimating him as Kellam did.” The guild master paused for a brief moment, building a little curiosity before casually remarking, “Whom you can see is no longer with us.”

He clapped his hands together, ending that particular discussion before exclaiming, “And now, the tournament!” More cheers than before burst out, filling the large room with a cacophony of sound. “It will begin when the sun sets and will take place here in the guild house.” The announcement was met with a chorus of groans. In such a confined space, the first few minutes would be chaos, and maneuverability would be greatly hampered.

And for Racieus, the entire fight would take place in unfamiliar territory.

“The format of the tournament is as it always has been. You will be free to use a weapon, or several, of your choice, but it must be submitted for enchanting. No tampering will be done other than the enchantment, which dulls the blade and marks defeated opponents as ‘out.’ During the tournament, when you hit a an opponent, a colored mark will appear where you hit, and the mark enchantment on your opponent’s weapon will be deactivated. The dulling will be terminated at the end of the tournament. The only rule is to win by whatever means necessary. Full members will be viewing the fight, and will also have dulled weapons, but they will not be able to mark the combatants.”

Racieus listened, the excitement inside of him continuing to build as Lieran spoke, until a thought intruded on his anticipation: He didn’t have a weapon. Getting his money back from Taryn seemed more imperative than ever. The halfling had finished his breakfast, and as he moved to return the plate to the same window that he had taken it from, he kept an eye out for the young thief and his group of doppelgangers, though he needn’t have. As the guild master finished his explanation of the tournament rules and began to dismiss the crowd, he called out,

“-And I would like Racieus and Taryn to meet me in the training hall.”

The halfling’s head snapped up at this, staring at Lieran in surprise. He hadn’t expect the assassin to seriously consider, much less grant, his request for a go at Taryn, and, much to his surprise, Racieus found that he was actually dreading the encounter.

He wanted, no mistake there, but he knew he had no chance of winning. Sure, he had taken a large, slow man by surprise, and had gotten lucky at that, but for all his grasp of moving in the dark, he still had little formal combat training, and his agility, though Lieran had taught him a few things, was nothing compared to someone who had been receiving similar instruction for much longer.

The arena began to clear, and Racieus pushed his negativity aside, determining that he would fight anyway, and give it his best shot, regardless of the odds. He had to ask one of the residents of the home where the training hall was located, and followed the stranger’s directions to the second floor, to the room directly above the large area he had just left as a matter of fact, and it made sense. All three floors were more or less identical; a large room in the center, with dormitories lining the opposite walls. The bottom floor held the auditorium, the second floor held the training area, and Racieus assumed the third floor held a similarly shaped room, but the function of the room had not been revealed to him yet.

He entered the training room to find Lieran and Taryn already waiting. Taryn’s eyes narrowed when the halfling walked in, the recognition in them unmistakable. Lieran too picked up on it and wasted no time in initiating the conversation.

“Well apparently you remember Racieus here Taryn, and you may have already guessed at why I called you here.” The young thief said nothing, but the scowl on his face spoke for him. “I’m going to need you to retrieve the money that you lifted from his person yesterday. Those were startup funds that he will require if he is going to join this guild.”

With a sigh Taryn dug into his pocket and pulled out a handful of coins, thrusting them towards Racieus with a look of disgust on his face. The halfling accepted politely, glad that Lieran wasn’t going to pit them against each other, but slightly embarrassed at the method the guild master had chosen instead. Not only did he appear to have made an enemy, but that enemy thought he was weak. Taryn turned sharply on his heel and started to walk away, but Lieran, having counted the coins in Racieus’ hand, stopped him.

“Taryn, I gave him the coins, in case you’d like to reconsider.”

The boy stopped, fists clenching, and shoulders taut with anger. When he turned to hand over the rest of the coins, a gold and a silver, Racieus could see tears of frustration in his eyes. He recalled the boy mentioning a fund. He still didn’t know what the fund was, but it clearly meant a lot to the thief. Had he stayed a few seconds longer, Racieus probably would have caved and offered one of the gold pieces back, but after he relinquished all the coins, he turned once more, and fled from the room. 

The End

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