2. The Hand of FateMature


The Hand of Fate

Drevin recognized the man at the door as soon as he heard his rustling voice. Terrigan Argos was one of the best assassins of Purple Lotus, and very close to Grimnir, who apparently did not want to leave any odds for the chance that he could slip away again.

”How did you find us?” Drevin hissed, struggling hard to get his mind in some kind of an order that would allow him to think straight for a moment and evaluate his situation properly.

Terrigan laughed, sounding like a crow mocking a random passerby. ”It wasn't too hard, my friend. You and your little whore didn't really keep a low profile in Tarakhan, and then she was stupid enough to tell her parents where she was heading with you,” Terrigan paused for a moment to guffaw loudly, then he turned his black, stingy eyes back at Drevin. ”I must assume it was her anyway, I cannot believe you being quite as dumb. But then again, you seriously believed that you could escape the hand of fate, didn't you?”

While Terrigan continued to mock him, Drevin had slowly straightened himself, standing by the body of his dead wife, whose once delicate and beautiful skin was slowly turning pale and grey. The ratface could not understand that his insults helped Drevin to recover faster from his state of numbness. His foggy mind was quickly clearing as the anger and hatred toward this man who had killed his beloved was growing stronger by every passing second. Drevin wanted to fight, but he realized how badly outnumbered he was - not to mention the fact that he was not carrying any real weapons besides his hunting bow. His armor and weapons were hidden away - for good he had hoped - including a special, perfectly balanced throwing knife made of silveril. The Hooded One had given it to him as a sign of affection and trust when he had been at the prime of his dark career. There was no doubt that one of the orders Terrigan had received upon his dispatch was to collect that knife and take it back.

”So, what are you still waiting for, ratface?” Drevin grunted when it clearly seemed that Terrigan would not move away from the door, but just stood there blocking the line of sight of his bowmen. Smiling widely at the seemingly helpless man, Terrigan wanted to lengthen his misery as long as he could, for he knew that eventually a man like Drevin would make his move - no matter how desperate it might be.

”Waiting for a friend,” Terrigan answered cheerfully once he thought Drevin had waited long enough.

”What friend?” Drevin asked sounding rather uninterested. Whoever it was, he could not make things much worse than they already were.

Terrigan sneered balefully. ”Well, in fact, he's someone you already know - someone who is very keen to meet you again. Unfortunately, Morhan couldn't attend to welcome you personally, but he is on his way as we speak. He must be very excited to meet his former protege after all this time.”

Drevin made sure not to show any signs of emotion, but the name sent chills running down on his spine. Morhan Margol was the best, the most ruthless assassin working for the Purple Lotus. In a time that seemed like ages ago, he had worked as Drevin's mentor, teaching him different techniques and ways to stand for himself. Morhan raised him from a mere pickpocket to an effective murderer, and watched him polishing those skills to perfection.

He needed to get out of the cabin, for only then he could stand a chance. If Morhan reached the cabin before he could find a way out, his already thin chances would dry down to none. The clumsy, rusty sword and the crude longbow he used for hunting would not help him much in this situation. The cloth wrap beneath the hidden hatch under the bed was essentially required, but obtaining the package was simply impossible in the current situation. A decoy was needed to allure these killers away from the cabin for a while - long enough for him to fetch his stored equipment.

Without thinking any further, Drevin decided to make a desperate move that might be enough to buy him some time. Terrigan was still standing in the doorway, enjoying his apparent moment of victory. Drevin noticed that Terrigan had not exposed his weapons yet. And why he would have? The situation was perfectly under his control, and that is where Drevin placed all his remaining bets, his opponent was feeling a little too comfortable, which slid him slightly off guard.

Leaping forward like a wild panther, Drevin crashed through the only window of the cabin, leaving dumbfounded Terrigan to stare at the remaining pieces of glass still hanging from the wooden frame. It did not take more than a second for him to recover and rush after him, but it was enough to give his prey a slight headstart. In the rainy darkness outside, it could be all that was needed.

”Shoot him down!” Terrigan yelled at his men, who were stumbling around the cabin with their boots slipping on the wet clay and the heavy crossbows making their poor balance even worse. When they finally made it by the window, it was already too late, Drevin had disappeared into the dark forest.

Terrigan screamed in frustration as his easy victory was so easily taken away. In a rush of rage, he pulled out his long dagger and stabbed the closest brigand furiously all over his torso, unloading the whole magnitude of his anger into the helpless victim who jolted from the force of the repeated hits. The crossbow dropped to the muddy ground as the heavily bleeding man turned limp very quickly, groaning quietly as the crimson blade continued to puncture his body in an uncontrollable rage, causing countless excessively bleeding wounds. Too maddened to stop even after all life had already escaped from the body, Terrigan continued beating the mangled corpse until it was difficult to recognize the mess as a man.

The other men settled for watching calmly as Terrigan butchered their fellow thug. There was nothing they could have done without sharing the same fate. These men were nothing but recruits from the local order of brigands they liked to call the Grey Cloaks. Their leader, Elmor Emberling, thought it was an excellent idea to offer help to these assassins as soon as he found out they were in the city, which did not take too long as Terrigan and Morhan were not trying to conceal their presence, but asked around openly for Belith and Drevin. It was a poor attempt to boost the credibility of his own order, for as far as Terrigan was concerned, they were nothing but thrash - expendable men with very little skill or quality.

Finally, after sinking his dagger deep into the flesh of the dead man one last time, Terrigan sighed dramatically and wiped the blade with the shredded shirt of his victim before getting up, then he turned to face the remaining men, who stood back instinctively without thinking.

Terrigan smiled cruelly at the effect he had caused among the men. ”Sneak back to your hole at the Black Crow Inn, I will need to speak with your leader after Morhan gets here, but for now, there is nothing for you to do here.”

Quietly the men walked away without asking questions, the corpse of their comrade was left lying in the mud. They did not care, for they all wanted to get as far from this madman as possible. The brutal nature of this killer had become obvious to the brigands, and they did not wish to see more, the body could rot away right where it had dropped.

The depraved, venomous eyes followed the departing men with a malicious grin on his pale, thin face. Terrigan was greatly amused by the fear and uncertainty he had caused with his unpredictable actions, but it was time to get serious again, for Morhan would not fear him under any circumstances. He would require results or a very good and believable explanation.

* * *

The wet and naked branches of pines and birches scratched his face painfully as he rushed through the thickets. The rotting leaves and the wet hay on the ground made his steps feel awkwardly soft, like he was running across trapdoors covered by soft, drowning carpets, and every step he took could be the last one. The watery shrubs and the muddy puddles tested the resistance of his boots, and eventually the softer shafts began to give in, which certainly did not improve his feeling at all.

Finally, after running for over a mile, Drevin slowed down and stopped by a small clearing. He bent down on one knee amidst the long hay and short rowans, covering himself completely behind a veil of nearly bare branches in the dark, then he listened. Distant cries echoed in the silent night, but Drevin heard no approaching noise. Once all the echoes died off, and the woods were shrouded in silence, he was able to make absolutely sure that no one was coming after him, which would have been madness altogether, but what had the events of the night been so far if not madness?

The advantage of knowing the area helped Drevin to navigate through the dark woods, and he did not stop before he saw the city lights glittering ahead. Seeking cover from the annoying drizzle, Drevin nestled under the rowan trees that filtered out most of the rain and waited for the dawn and the opening of the Burning Candle. The idea of climbing over the fence crossed his mind briefly, but he abandoned such foolishness very quickly, for he did not want to get shot down by the guard. He would have to sit and wait until the night had passed.

The inn could offer him shelter while he was sorting out his thoughts and figuring out some kind of a plan. Gerrick was a man of high integrity who spoke against the local brigand organizations, demanding the city to react before one of them became too strong, so it was most likely that he would not accept any bribery that could be attempted to reveal Drevin's location. But right at that moment, he did not care too much for the future - or anything else for that matter. It was the first time since his desperate escape that he had some time to try to deal with everything that had happened literally over night, leaving his life meaningless and shattered. With a twisted grimace on his face, he hung his head down and cried comfortlessly, and his tears mixed together with the small, icy cold droplets of rain, creating small streams that ran down on his face. But although the rain washed away his tears, it could never wash away the pain, the terrible emptiness in his soul, or the shredding agony in his heart. He would never hear the dark, soft voice of his beloved again, feel her silky hair against his skin, or see the loving sparkle in her eyes when she looked at him. All those things were taken away in an instant that drowned him in an unspeakable sorrow and despair.

Drevin breathed heavily, trying to pull himself together, but once the floodgates were opened, the suppressed suffering washed over him too strongly to be held back. The dawn sneaked into the forest, bringing pale, grey light upon the land, finally revealing the buildings he had spotted among the trees in the dark. The day would not get any brighter than it already was, for the sun would not reveal herself, continuing the pattern of the last hundred years. The dark and heavy clouds hanged low, covering the entire sky. The wind carried them slowly southward, but it could never wipe them away and clear the horizon, the wicked curse of the Ironcrown1. made sure of that.

Staring at the town, and the dark silhouette of Castle Grivold standing in the hills behind the buildings, a ruined residence of a family that used to rule the area of Lokhan hundreds of years ago, Drevin tried to force himself to move, but the numbness of sorrow had not left his body and mind yet. There was really no reason for him to move. Morhan Margol had followed him from Iskadron, one of the closest and most trusted daggers of the Hooded One, and definitely the most dangerous of them all. Terrigan was someone he might have been able to handle, but Morhan was probably too much. He would die before making it to the next town - the next hiding place. The whole idea of death was suddenly more appealing to him than ever before, as there was nothing in this world for him to live for. His old life was buried and gone, and his new life completely devastated.

”I am so sorry, Belith,” he whispered quietly to the brisk wind. "I am so very sorry for everything."

Somewhere deep within he knew that he had to continue, the most primal survival instinct pushed him forward, ignoring the deep depression and self-pity he was wallowing in. Belith would not want him to die like this. She would drag him up and make him fight for what was important, and right now the most important thing was the dear memory, a small flickering flame that struggled in the breeze. But to do justice to that memory, to serve the vengeance such a beautiful memory hungered, he needed to become what he once had been - an assassin - swift and deadly, for all the other options seemed like dead ends. The reward and outcome of this path was likely to be death, but there was something in it what made Drevin more dangerous opponent than ever before - he was not afraid of such outcome anymore.

Like a passing moment of awereness, he thought he saw something in the thickets behind him, a shadow that had moved in the corner of his eye. But no matter how hard he tried to find the cause, the branches remained still, leaving him without additional signs to draw conclusions. Drevin shrugged tiredly, thinking it was probably a hungry coney or a squirrel, trying to find something to eat from the withering forest.

A deep sigh left his parted lips before he inhaled the brisk, fresh air to clear his foggy mind, then he rose from the middle of the soaked rowans and walked through the misty drizzle toward the low wooden fence separating the city from the forest. Terrigan had had the entire night to plan and prepare for him; Drevin would have to watch for each step while in the city, but he needed a place to hide and rest for a couple of days before he could sneak back to his cabin and fetch his equipment, which left the city being the best option out of all the poor ones. Returning to his cabin too soon would be insane as Terrigan had probably ordered the Grey Cloaks to guard the place. Another reason why he had to go back was to bury his wife, which was a task he dreaded the most, knowing he was not ready for that yet. But he would have to do it soon or the scavengers, unable to resist the smell of death, would come around, and that was a thought Drevin could not bear.

* * *

Some random people wandered in the streets, storekeepers and other workers rushing to their jobs, but he noticed nothing out of ordinary. He reached the side alley of the Burning Candle Inn quite easily, confident that no one had followed or paid any unusual attention to his shadowy figure. The garbage that was piled in wooden crates smelled awful, and the drizzling water that found its way everywhere made the stench of decay even worse. A few curious, hungry rats were nosing around the alley, desperately searching for food among the filth, but there was not much to be found. People had become careful not to throw away anything that was at least somewhat edible.

Drevin climbed the steep steps up to a narrow door. He did not want to use the front door because the inn was facing a small square, offering a good, open view for anyone who happened to glance that way. The door was locked, but the mechanism was very primitive. It caused no problems to a former thief who used a clumsy knife to pick it in no more than a few seconds.

The warm, inviting smell of fresh bread and fried onions filled his nose, which, as soon as he smelled it, reminded him how outrageously hungry he was. There were a couple of customers already, wealthy merchants who had the luxury of eating breakfast at the inn. Drevin saw Gerrick's figure working with pots and pans, humming an old traveling song of the Hurons, which had become familiar for Drevin as well during the year he had spent in Lokhan.

Hey, the fords along the streams,

the rivers in my dreams,

from the hills to the valleys,

from the valleys to the seas,

through the moors the road goes,

to a shore across the breeze,

there a seagull will sing,

and the song sets me free”

Gerrick stopped singing when he saw the man who had appeared in his kitchen from nowhere.

”What's wrong, my friend?” He asked, glancing worriedly at the man whose dark eyes and grim face had absolutely no indication of a cheerful homecoming.

After sitting down on a rough wooden chair by the cutting table, Drevin revealed the details of the night with a quiet, lightly shivering voice. The old man listened, and the expression on his face turned from kind to utterly shocked and upset.

”Belith is dead?” he wondered sadly. ”I just can't believe it.”

”They're after me,” Drevin explained huskily, rubbing his eyes that were itching from the lack of sleep and shedding of tears. ”It is my dark past that has come to haunt me.”

”You never told me any details,” Gerrick reminded, for he was not quite sure what exactly had happened in the Southerner's obscure past.

”And it's probably for the best that you don't know,” Drevin said sharply, but continued with a softer tone, ”I don't want to put you, or Merwyn, into danger, but I do ask if I could stay here for a day or two? Then I'll be gone for good.”

Why of course you can, for as long as you want,” the innkeeper promised. The inn had not been full for years, so lending one room to a friend was certainly not a problem.

Nodding gratefully as a sign of appreciation, Drevin stood up and walked across the kitchen to the main room where he saw the innkeeper's daughter serving a customer at the far end of the hall. She never saw Drevin walking along the wall to the staircase leading upstairs. Drevin liked the girl and found her childish ways rather amusing at times, but right now he was not up for any further chatter. He needed some rest and time to clear his thoughts from the shocking events of the night.

Merwyn may have not noticed Drevin passing through the hall, but the customer she was serving did not miss a thing. His cold eyes followed every movement of the tired, ragged man as he climbed up the stairs and disappeared into the shadows behind the warm, golden glow of the fireplace.

* * *

Sleeping was not an easy task. The anger and the sorrow, the ardent desire for vengeance, and the bottomless pit of despair and sadness kept his weary mind awake, torturing his consciousness with wicked images that would keep haunting him for the rest of his miserable life. Belith's death was his fault, and his fault alone. She had followed him from Tarakhan because she loved him, and she had deserved something much better than what she ended up getting. Those murderers should pay the highest price for their atrocious deeds, and as his thoughts strayed on and embraced the concept of revenge, the assassin that had been gone since their arrival to Lokhan emerged back to the surface in his disarrayed mind. It helped him to calm down and replace the chaotic thoughts with cold calculation - revenge could not be served by a dead or broken man. He would have to sweep out the sorrow and become the one he had sworn to keep buried away for the rest of his life.

At some point he fell asleep, but it was disjointed and dispersed drowsing rather than real sleep. Tossing and turning restlessly, he slumbered for an hour or two, seeing strange and distorted dreams that made very little sense. Shortly, however, he found himself awake as a result of the uncomfortable twitches and convulses of his exhausted muscles - and not a second too soon as it seemed.

The door opened quietly without a slightest creak, and it was more of an alarm caused by Drevin's senses than any actual sound that brought him back from his drowsy state to realize there was someone else in the room. The customer from downstairs was standing by the bed, glancing at Drevin with his slightly bulging eyes as he drew a dagger from underneath his heavy cotton cloak.

The man raised his blade to finish the job that seemed almost too easy, but with a startled groan he was forced to admit that the task was far from simple or easy as a firm hand grabbed his wrist and turned the dagger toward his own chest. Drevin had seen this man before, he had been one of the Grey Cloaks standing on the porch behind Terrigan, aiming at him with a crossbow at the cabin - he never forgot the face of an enemy. Slipping smoothly out of the bed, Drevin continued to twist the brigand's hand until the weapon dropped harmlessly on the bed. Swiftly, as a one undisturbed thought, Drevin picked the blade and brought it upon the intruder's exposed throat.

”Now, tell me,” Drevin groaned dangerously, ”who sent you?”

The man tried to struggle, but calmed down quickly after Drevin nipped a small laceration on his throat, skillfully cutting some of the smaller veins on the surface. The result was very visual but harmless, and as it turned out - very effective.

”I'm going to ask you once more and then I'll slit your throat,” Drevin whispered the dark promise, annoyed by the resistance.

”Elmor!” The man cried, horrified.

”That's better,” Drevin snarled as he heard a familiar name. ”Where can I find him?”

”The—,” the man swallowed hard before he was able to continue, ”The Black Crow Inn,” he sighed.

There was absolutely no emotion on his face as he pushed the blade through the skin, cutting the brigand's windpipe and arteries. He watched calmly as the blood gushed out in rhythmic pulses following the weakening heartbeat. As soon as the man stopped resisting, Drevin allowed his lifeless body to fall on the floor, then he wiped the dagger on the sheet and left the room.

Gerrick was visibly upset and nervous by the sudden and unexpected event as they were sitting in the kitchen having a mug of mead. The had inserted the body into one of the burlap bags that was used to carry out the garbage, then they dumped the bag outside the kitchen door before more people would come to the inn and wonder what had happened. Gerrick promised to take care of the body after nightfall as they returned inside. Drevin appreciated the old innkeeper's efforts and tried to give him back the gold coin he had received the night before, but Gerrick waved his hand rejectingly and shook his head, saying that Drevin would probably need the gold much more than he did.

”I have to go back,” Drevin said quietly, ”I have to bury her.”

”Do you want company?” The innkeeper offered, but Drevin shook his head firmly.

”No, it's safer if you stay here. I don't want to cause you more trouble than I already have,” he explained. Gerrick was about to argue, but apparently changed his mind; it would have been useless anyway.

”What are you going to do?” Gerrick then asked, taking another long sip from his mug.

”I'm going to kill them all,” Drevin said so calmly with a cold stare in his dark eyes that Gerrick had no reason to doubt his words.

”I understand,” he said shortly, and he really did. Drevin was not the only one who had spent hours thinking about everything that had happened lately. Gerrick realized that he would have probably done the same in Drevin's stead. After seeing the body upstairs, he had no doubts about Drevin's ability to do what he said. But still, he was worried over this man who had become an excellent business companion, and also a good friend over the year he and Belith had lived in Lokhan.

”What happens when you've had your vengeance?” Gerrick whispered quietly.

”I will leave,” Drevin answered briefly, but after a short pause he continued. ”The Hooded One will not rest even if I succeed. More killers will come, and eventually one of them will catch me. I cannot take the chance that something would happen to you, or Merwyn, for you two are the only friends I have left.”

”Well, you take care of yourself out there. And please, let me know if there's anything I can do to help,” Gerrick said sincerely, trying to hide the emotion in his voice, which did not go unnoticed.

”You're a good man, Gerrick,” Drevin said roughly as he stood up, smiling lightly at the innkeeper. He walked out the door leading to the side alley and disappeared like a ghost, leaving the old innkeeper by himself to drink his mead and digest the situation.

* * *

A dense, heavy mist was hanging upon the forest as Drevin rushed through the wet shrubs. The rain had ceased, but the air remained cold and humid. The rowan trees were holding on to their last remaining leaves before the autumnal winds would rise from the north and open a pathway for the winter to come.

Drevin's dark brown tunic was still partially wet, and his leather boots were in no better condition as he was heading back to the cabin. It was not safe in town, a fact he had been aware of when he entered Lokhan earlier that morning, but still he had failed to realize how closely the Grey Cloaks worked for Terrigan, who he assumed to be the true leader of this hunt. Morhan was an excellent assassin - the best there was, but he had no desire to control anything. Morhan lived by his killer instincts, which made him a perfect tool for situations like this; he was Grimnir's favorite assassin who asked never questioned, argued, or disputed orders, always willing to immerse his hands in blood, feast upon the fear of his prey, and that passion made him exceptionally dangerous and efficient killer. He saw every assignment as a new chance to test himself, and his only ambition was to walk out as a winner from every challenge thrown at him.

There were two Grey Cloaks guarding the cabin. Drevin saw the figures in the mist long before they could have a clue about his presence. After making sure the surrounding forest had no stalkers with crossbows, he approached the unsuspecting brigands. Wishing he had his longbow now, Drevin sneaked by the broken window he had jumped through earlier. He did not dare to look inside yet, as he was afraid it might endanger his ability to complete the tasks he came to do.

Both brigands carried a loaded crossbow and a heavy sword. After a brief evaluation, Drevin drew the dagger he had taken from his attacker at the inn and threw it with flawless precision; the sharp blade sank effortlessly in between the man's shoulder blades. The brigand cried out, dropped his crossbow to the ground and instinctively attempted to grab the hilt of the dagger, stretching and twisting his body in the process causing massive internal injuries to himself.

While the other brigand was crying in pain, trying to relieve his suffering by reaching for the dagger sticking from his back, the other one turned at Drevin and aimed with the loaded crossbow, but he was too slow. Drevin leaped toward the brigand faster than lightning and kicked the crossbow away from his hands. The bow went off, sending the bolt to a nearby pine tree, where it sank deep into the trunk. Before the bolt had even touched the tree, Drevin had pierced the other brigand's stomach with his crude, rusty sword. His strikes were carefully considered and lethal, but not in the fastest possible way. Even though these men were not directly responsible for his wife's death, they would pay for it just like the rest of them - with pain and blood.

The brigand with a dagger in his back fell to the ground. His constant struggle was only making his situation worse, and before long the excessive internal bleeding would kill him. The other one, however, would live for a long time with only minor intestines pierced. To make sure he would not crawl too far, Drevin continued to thrust his sword until it poked out from the man's back, impaling him to the muddy grass. Then he turned away, opened the front door of the cabin, and walked inside with steady, determined steps.

The sight still shook him, sending chills running down on his spine, but bravely struggling against the tears, he carefully untied Belith's cold body and carried her outside. He took her to the back of the cabin where a small field grew ferns and hay. There Drevin dug a grave with his own bare hands. It was a shallow one, but he hoped it was enough to keep the scavengers away. After laying her body down, he gathered some rocks from the field and piled them on top of the grave before filling the hole, then he placed a small rock on the barrow with Belith's necklace hanging on it.

When Drevin returned to the cabin, the impaled brigand was still squiggling on the ground, begging for Drevin to end his life, but his heart felt no mercy for this man. Ignoring the brigand's lament, he walked back inside.

With one strong push, Drevin moved the bed out of the way revealing a small hatch on the floor. He opened it with swift fingers and pulled out a large bundle. As he opened the dirty cloth, a thousand memories returned to him fresh as the brisk wind outside. There was his leather armor, enhanced with skillfully woven silveril chainmail inside the outer layer, made from the same durable metal that was used to forge the exceptional throwing knife, also hidden inside the bundle. It is said that only brimidian, which is rumored to be mined by the Arathans, the dwellers of the Everdeep, was even stronger than silveril.

After putting on all the elaborate armor pieces, Drevin revealed the set of throwing knives, four altogether. It was easy to tell which one of them was made from silveril, the distinctively bright surface gave the secret away even in the haze of the cabin. The other three were regular, but extremely high quality steel knives. All the blades were sheathed on a special belt that was fastened around Drevin shoulders, crossing over his chest and back, leaving the hilts conveniently available above and below his shoulder blades. This practice made drawing fast and effortless, keeping the knives out of the way when not needed.

Finally he took out the last item from the bundle, a belt with two sheaths hanging from it. These sheaths were too short for normal swords to go in, but a pair of exceptional quality poignards made a perfect fit. Then Drevin took out his dark green traveling cloak with a deep hood attached to it, which would help him greatly to blend into the scenery. The transformation from a simple hunter into a deadly assassin was complete, and now Drevin was ready to follow his plan to kill them all; Elmor Emberling, Terrigan Argos and Morhan Margol. It was a task anyone would have considered twice before attempting, but Drevin had nothing to lose. He had already lost everything.

The impaled brigand did not speak but moaned quietly when Drevin walked out wearing his full armor and weapons. The mortally wounded man was in too much pain to really pay attention to what happened around him, the other marauder next to him lay still, unconscious or dead by now.

Drevin walked past the suffering brigand, still ignoring his moaning, and headed for the city once again. If the intruder at the inn had told him the truth, he would have a long way to travel to his next destination. The Black Crow Inn was along the southern road, eight or nine miles from the cabin. He would have to hike around the town to reach the road as the city had become too dangerous for him. There were more Grey Cloaks than he had ever estimated, and many of them were hard to recognize, like the one at the Burning Candle. Killing Elmor Emberling would cause great confusion and chaos inside the order, perhaps even an internal power struggle if the new leader is not unanimously elected. In any case, Terrigan would lose the support of the Grey Cloaks, at least for a while, which should give Drevin enough time to deal with him.

He had no illusion of being better at the game of killing than Morhan, which is why he wished to leave him last if possible. Morhan's almost unnatural skill and determination were not something to be underestimated at any point. But still, somewhere deep beneath his worried mind, Drevin felt the kind of excitement he had not felt since his departure from Tarakhan. Meeting Morhan in battle would be the ultimate challenge for any professional killer, and that made him strangely curious, as much as it also scared him.

1. Ironcrown is a name that was commonly used when Huron and Midborne commoners referred to the dark ruler of Angarath.

The End

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