It was about 8am when Marcus Wayland crossed the rope bridge from the jagged walls of the valley to reach the single island in the centre. The zeppelin’s engines could now be heard over the valleys walls so he quickened his pace slightly so that he may meet his guest in time. Marcus was not the type of man to appear so disorganised that he could not meet his guest at the allotted time. In fact the only reason he was rushing was due to a rather unruly incident that occurred during the night which had called for his immediate attention. Marcus was a tall man, standing exactly 6 foot 6 from the ground. He never slumped, always holding himself in an upright posture as if to demand respect from others. Marcus had had pale skin before he came to Stranglethorn, now it there was always a light tanned effect to his skin which almost complimented his long dark brown hair that hung in a tight pony tail behind him. He was currently dressed in a light silken robe which hung loosely about him. Protruding from beneath were the tips of two rather heavy leather boots, which produced alarmingly loud footsteps as he walked. One odd thing about Marcus that people tended to notice was that he always rattled when he walked, like the sound of light metal ringing together. Marcus pulled a small pocket watch out from the pocket in his robe, flicking it open and eying the face. He grimaced to himself muttering.
“Bloody goblins, late or early they never come when you want them to.” Upon reaching the island Marcus turned to the stairway that ran up to the top of the old Trollish temple which stood there. Halfway up the stair he saw the zeppelin cresting over the valley wall, pitching down and flying towards the lake. He cursed to himself, rushing up the last few steps to the flat top which had been cleared to allow the landing to go that bit more smoothly. Marcus exhaled heavily now, he really did despise being late for any occasion.
Now the zeppelin was above Marcus, cutting its engines so that it hovered a few meters above the top of the temple. A long rope ladder tumbled from the side, and soon after Kane Lecher slipped over the side onto its rungs, somewhat unsteadily. Marcus smiled slightly to himself as he watched Kane descend the ladder slowly, clinging onto it for dear life whenever a draught of wind caused it to sway. As Kane stepped off the bottom rung somewhat paler than before, Marcus walked forward to him with his right hand outstretched.
“Mr Lecher I presume?” He flashed Kane what could be considered a friendly grin as they shook hands. Kane was still a tad dazed from his rough descent from the zeppelin, but he managed a smile back.
“Unless you guys were throwing anyone else out zeppelins today I guess that’s me.” This prompted a smile from Marcus as he gestured his hand towards the stairs.
“My name is Marcus Wayland. I’m the commandant of this here establishment” He and Kane both talked began their long walk down the stairs of the temple, Kane gazing around the valley curiously as they went.
“I presume you already know who I am, the rest of you seem too” Kane slipped a smile towards his host, who smirked somewhat to himself.
“Yes Kane Lecher: 35 years of age, married with 2 children, currently residing in the Old Town of Stormwind, you work at a trading company in the same district but in your free time choose to manage the handling of fiancé for the Red Rose Society, normally getting this deep into our midst would disturb you but I’m guessing that you are trying to scrape that cash together to pay for your daughters medicine.” Kane felt a sudden cold sensation run up his spine, they knew where he lived. Marcus spotted this and chuckled to himself. “There’s nothing like a shot of realism in the morning to get you going” Kane managed to chuckle at that, but still he felt uneasy about his new host. Marcus gave him yet another glance and sighed to himself. “Kane, at what point did you think that you could take the money off a group of the most dangerous people in the Eastern Lands and not have them know everything about you?” Kane didn’t look at Marcus this time just kept walking with him down the steps of the temple.
“I didn’t ask questions. Some hooded bastard offers me more gold than I earn a year normally to arrange a few figures creatively; I take the job and don’t ask questions. Hell, I don’t even know who the fuck you guys are, just you call yourself a society and you have a flare for scaring the shit out of me with theatrics.” Marcus could help but contain his laughter now, chortling away to himself as they walked.
“Oh my dear Lecher, you have no idea how refreshing it is to see a man who knows when to shut up and do. But since you are moving up in the world I think it only fair that you be given the full story. Tell me, how many assassins do you hear about a day in Stormwind?” Kane shrugged to himself, desperately trying to draw back on the last years worth of gossip which had somehow not sunk in as well as it should.
“I don’t know. The watch keep bringing in guys, if you wait around outside the Cathedral long enough you’ll see someone dressed in black leathers with a mask on walk past.” Marcus smiled and nodded.
“That would be what we call “Masks”. Any amateur fresh out of Goldshire who thinks that because he has some dark armour and a shiny knife that he suddenly qualifies as a dark quote unquote assassin with too much to prove and not enough substance to prove it with.” Kane cocked an eyebrow giving Marcus a long hard stare.
“Ok... So how does your quote unquote society fit into this?”
“We do what the masks fail at: we murder, we collect a fee and more importantly we get away with it.” Marcus slipped his hands together in an almost monk like position in front of him, occasionally removing one to gesture to Kane as he spoke. “Well that was how it all started at any rate; nowadays you could say we have undergone some aggressive expansion.” He gestured to the valley around him. “Starting our own training facilities was but one of them and you Mr Lecher are the next.” Kane slowly nodded to himself, biting his lip and thinking deeply. There had been no doubt in his mind that the money he had been handling for this “Society” was not the charity fund from some nobles ball, but profits from a gang of murders for hire... He couldn’t help but rub his forehead and sigh to himself. Marcus saw him do this and also sighed. “Don’t act so surprised Mr Lecher, you knew that our activities were far from legitimate. Be grateful that you don’t have to get your hands dirty in order to earn your keep.”
“Hands dirty? I have been handling your blood money for months now! My hands are fucking dirty!”
Kane could feel the vein in his temple pulsating now, if there was one thing he didn’t like it was being taken advantage of.
“I’m sure if you pleaded ignorant the authorities would be generous when sentencing you Mr Lecher, however I must warn you that this society dislikes it when its affiliates make loud and disturbing noises, leaves them with loose ends you see... and loose ends get cut. Am I clear?” Kane muttered to himself through gritted teeth before nodding.
Kane’s heart was now pumping faster than it had in a long time, pounding in his ears like the deepest battle drums. He was now an accessory to murder, not just one murder but many murders. He shuddered to himself; no matter how much he tried he could not shift the images of what could have happened to the people whose lives were worth so little that he could count and arrange the profits of their demise. He starred around the room in which he now sat alone, a long dark hall that ran deep into the valleys walls. Marcus had left him alone; apparently there was an urgent matter that required his attention. Kane shuddered again; Marcus’ blatant enjoyment of his job was chilling to say the least. A sudden chilling scream echoing down the corridor stopped Kane’s heart for the briefest moment. He sat up straight in his chair to the side of the hall.
“What the fuck do they do here?” Kane tried to stop himself from answering that question. He didn’t want to know what they did down here in these chambers; he just wanted to get the hell out of here as soon as physically possible. Another rending screech echoed down the corridor, shaking Kane down to his core. This scream was closer than the last, louder and more defined. Then the sound of a set of doors bursting open, and the screams now being replaced with a sickening constant groan caused Kane to leap from his seat backing away from the hallway in which these sounds resonated. He could make out odd words drifting on the dank air.
“It’s split again!”
“Quick put pressure on it!”
“We’re out of bandages.”
“Fuck, how many times did she stab him?”
“I can’t tell there’s too much blood.”
“Holy fuck! Have you seen what she did here?”
“Fucking hell, that has got to hurt!”
“Do you reckon we could re-attach them?”
“Only after you get him to puke them up.”
“You mean she...”
“Yes, she force fed him his own... Yes, poor bastard.”
Once again Kane had to stop himself imagining what had been described by those drifting voices. Although he didn’t have much time to imagine, as a crowd of men all dressed in the same robes as Marcus burst out of the corridor, crowded round a stretcher. Although obscured, Kane could still make up the blonde haired teenage boy writhing on the stretcher, his body nearly entirely mummified in blood sodden bandages. The boy was spewing out mouthfuls of blood and vomit at a time, inhaling deeply between and moaning for his mother. Kane took a deep breath and quickly turned away, a sudden bubbling sensation in his stomach and the taste in his mouth telling him he was about to be sick. A firm hand grasped his shoulder from behind, squeezing him tightly.
“Gruesome isn’t it?” It was Marcus again. Kane didn’t turn to look at him, just shrugged his arm off his shoulder and promptly doubled over retching up what little was in his stomach over the stone floor. This caused Marcus to chuckle slightly to himself before he slapped Kane’s back firmly.
“Sorry to leave you in the lurch but as you just witnessed, we have had a bit of situation on our hands.” Kane looked up from the floor, somewhat paler.
“What the hell happened to him?”
“Well Mr. Lecher. One thing we have noticed is that despite all the moral breaking exercises and drills, teenage boys seem unable to control their sexual appetites. Angelo in particular is guilty of this.”
“So you ripped him to bits?” Kane stood up some colour returning to his face as he turned to face Marcus.
“No, the young lady whom he attempted to rape ripped him to bits.”Marcus furrowed his brows and shook his head to himself. “Somewhat sloppily I might add...Most disappointing.”
“How do you mean sloppily?”
“Well he’s still breathing for starters...”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Kane scowled at Marcus, who smiled and gestured with his hand for Kane to walk with him down the corridor.
“Yes Mr Lecher it is. His stab wounds indicate a frenzied and unprofessional attack. What’s slightly more disturbing is that the young lady in question was careful to wound him in sensitive areas but avoid his vital organs and main blood vessels.”
“Why would she do that if she was trying to kill the guy?”
“Very simple Mr Lecher... She wanted to watch him squeal in agony as he slowly bled to death. Yet another undesirable trait our trainee’s pick up. A kill should be quick, clean and have little chance of survival.” Kane grimaced to himself while they walked and tugged at his collar which seemed to be growing ever tighter about his throat.
“Sounds like you’ve done a little too much fucking around with her head then.”
“On the contrary, Garrena was a pupil who willingly underwent our training program and embraces the desired effects. Head fucking was kept to a minimal.”
“Hang on... This girl you want me to work with... did that to him?”
“Yes indeed, although I wouldn’t worry about something similar happening to you.”
“Once she’s got out of these bad habits, you’d be dead before you realised she was after your life.” Kane turned to Marcus with a accusing glare.
“You’re enjoying this aren’t you?” This prompted a wide smile from Marcus and a slight chortle of laughter. This laugh sent a chill running down Kane’s spine, perhaps he had overestimated the sanity of this man.
“Mr Lecher. Whatever gave you that idea?”