Chapter 8: Redemption (Part 3)

All eyes turned to regard the halfling as he burst through the doors into the auditorium, panting heavily. He gave a small wave, and an apologetic look to Lieran, who had been cut off by Racieus arrival.

“As I was saying, today’s tournament will take place throughout the city. The blunting enchantment has been modified to teleport any who strays outside the city borders back here to the guild, as if they had been eliminated. Once we get down to ten people, the enchantment will lightly pull your weapon towards the nearest contestant. It won’t affect them in combat.”

Racieus briefly wondered how the guild master had managed to adjust the enchantment in what seemed to be a rather complex way. Did the man possess magical talent? It wasn’t unheard of, but it was incredibly rare. Magic was the province of elves.

“-there aren’t any other questions, let’s begin! If you haven’t turned in your weapons yet make sure you do so. I estimate we have around 15 minutes until the sun sets completely and our games begin.” Lieran started to walk away, but turned as an afterthought struck him. “I would counsel you to be prudent in where you choose to have your fights. The guards have not been informed of this event, and I imagine they will not take kindly should they get word of a series of fights cropping up all across the town.” Finished, the assassin stepped from the platform and made his way through the crowd, heading for the exit. Racieus caught him just as he was going out the door.

“Ah halfling! Nice of you to join us”the tall assassin said a bit reproachfully.

“I’m sorry, I lost track of time. That does not usually happen”replied the young recruit. Lieran grinned, a sign that he had only been joking, and meant to continue.

“Well, you do” he corrected, “Just not usually with anything besides fighting.” When they entered the large office, the guild master pulled out his glowing stone and gestured for Racieus to hand over his weapons. He rubbed the stone over the edges of all four blades, and then handed then back to the halfling, who returned them to their proper places all along his person. “As the guild master, I’m not suppose to show favoritism,” said Lieran, “But as your teacher, I wish you good luck, and sharp senses.”

Racieus smiled, it wasn’t often Lieran showed affection, and it meant quite a bit to the halfling, who realized that he wanted to succeed as much to make Lieran proud, as to accomplish his goals. The halfling snapped himself out of his reverie and turned quickly, running down the down the hall, descending the first flight of stairs, and turning head towards the practice room. The halfling threw open the doors and, after making sure no one else was inside, he leapt out the window.

And five pairs of boots fell from the ceiling.

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Whether it was from the enchantment in his weapons or some inner sense, Racieus knew exactly when the games had started. He stared out from his perch atop one of the taller buildings in Shanbydder, and listened for any sounds of conflict. There was a gentle breeze, and the wind carried the faint sounds of clashing steel to the young halfling. Rising, the young assassin prepared to move but hesitated. He doubted anyone would find him up here. He could just hide out until he felt the blade begin to pull him in the right direction. He would practically be assured victory.

The debate lasted only a moment, and ended as soon as Racieus thought of Taryn doing the same thing. He didn’t know if the human thief had pulled a similar stunt, but if he did, Racieus was determined not to. If he won, he would win honorably. Decision made, he began to move swiftly but silently.

Racieus rarely saw any of the other trainees out in the streets when he and Lieran trained. The other recruits would have little familiarity with the shadowy parts of the city, meaning Racieus would really only have to be worried about the actual members, and they couldn’t eliminate him anyway. As the halfling crossed a gap between buildings, he heard the ringing of steel. Skidding to a stop, he turned and peered over the edge, watching two dark forms trading blows. They were pretty evenly matched from what Racieus could see, and the match went on for several more minutes as the two clumsily traded blows. Thinking like an assassin, the halfling knew the practical thing would be to wait until one combatant was defeated and then silently take the winner unaware.

But he wasn’t officially an assassin yet, and with an eager grin he vaulted off the low roof, and landed in between the trainees without a sound. In fact it was so quiet that Racieus was unnoticed by either of victims. It wasn’t until he stood and drew his weapons, moonlight glinting off the polished steel, that the two recognized the dark shape as another live being. They were even more shocked when they realized who it was. There weren’t too many small prodigies in the guild, and by a tacit agreement born of necessity, the two attacked Racieus together.

The halfling lunged at the one on his left, discovering the opponent to be a girl from her long hair and lean body. As expected, she flinched away, and Racieus spun, taking advantage of the moment. He blocked an overhead chop, and with and struck out with the hilt of his second weapon, catching the boy’s wrist and causing him to drop his weapon with a yelp. He lashed out, and a streak of color appeared on the recruit’s chest, and then he was gone. He heard the footsteps behind him, and waited a split second longer before ducking quickly and sweeping a leg behind him. There was a cry and a thump and Racieus twirling a dagger as he turned slowly, whispered,

“Give Lieran my regards.” He winked, and struck the girl’s leg. No sooner had she disappeared when the halfling heard the crunching of gravel behind him. There were several mocking laughs and then a familiar voice spoke out.

“Oh don’t worry runt, you can pass them along yourself.”

The End

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