Chapter 9: Establishment

More exhausted than he felt he should be, Racieus collected his equipment and continued his search for other recruits, sticking to the ground for the time being. The streets were considerably empty, and the halfling wondered what time it was. It was late, that much was certain, but the small assassin wasn’t stopping until he had either won the tournament or ended up in the elimination room.

He was quite sure how many recruits were participating. He didn’t spend large amounts of time with any of the others, preferring instead to train, and thus had next to no friends, and little idea of how many non-members there were. The last tournament had ended relatively quickly, but the participants had been much more confined. Now there was a whole city to search. But Racieus didn’t mind. This was his element. Stalking his enemies in the night and finishing them before they were aware of his presence.

Pulling up short, the halfling thought he heard the soft patter of feet, and hugged the wall as he continued on ever so slowly. Racieus had indeed come upon another recruit, but, like himself, the assassin’s next victim was blended in well enough that halfling almost walked into him. The participant seemed to sense his stalker, and reached for his weapon, but the the small one was quicker, opening a colorful line on the doomed recruit’s back, and it was then that he felt his weapon begin to shift.

There were only ten left, including himself. Having the opponent-seeking blades would be useful in tracking them down, but if Racieus could detect someone, the odds were that that someone knew where he was too. Or at the very least they would eventually, before Racieus ever got a chance to strike.

The dagger shifted, tugging the halfling southeast. As he crept along, he began to run through a few possible scenarios, thinking through how he should respond in each of them. And then something happened that he hadn’t anticipate. Again Lieran had left out a little detail, and that was, as far as Racieus could tell, that the tugging stopped once the contestants were close enough, thus putting the two in each other’s general area, but reinstating the element of surprise.

All his senses on high alert, Racieus planted his back against a wall, and crouched down, perfectly still, and nearly invisible. He waited several minutes in the silence, knowing that his next opponent had to be nearby as his weapons remained stationary. And then he heard it, the breathing, and a slight creaking sound, which caused Racieus a bit of confusion. It sounded like wood, but the only weapon he could think of that was made from wood was-

There was a twang, and then a hum which quickly faded. A yell a little ways off announced that the arrow had found it’s target. Racieus was surprised, although he really shouldn’t have been. Bows were weapons after all. He was lucky he hadn’t run into the archer before. Again the creak sounded, and this time the halfling pinpointed it at somewhere above and behind him. If he was correct, the archer was on top of the very building that he, Racieus, was leaning against. It was time for him to move. After inching far enough away from the edge of the building that the archer was on, the small assassin acrobatically made his way to the roof. Sure enough, there was has target, an arrow nocked and pointed off in the same direction the archer was looking.

Racieus took a step forward, and was instantly given away by the protesting rooftop. The archer spun, and the halfling knew he had to act fast. He flicked his wrists, and a pair of daggers seemed to materialize in his hands, and just as quickly they left his hands, as he instinctively hurled them at the archer. The arrow was loosed, and Racieus dove to the side, managing to evade the hastily shot arrow, and was rewarded with a curse and then the silence as his opponent was whisked away.

The halfling waited for his weapon to once again lead him to his next opponent, but no tug came. Racieus felt a surge of elation course through him. There was no one left… he had won. Yet some part of him wasn’t convinced, and the halfling didn’t know why. It was simple: if the dagger wasn’t moving, then no one was there unless…

The assassin’s eyes went wide as the realization crashed into him. The stillness of the dagger meant no one was there… or that someone was too close.

The End

145 comments about this story Feed