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Trubble in a bottle - Is it really worth it?

Postby Scilence » Wed Oct 02, 2002 7:56 am

Ariel walks through the market, with a bottle in hand and a smile on her face. She has revenge on her mind. And it is going to be sweet.

Suddenly someone grabs and yanks off her circlet. She turns and demands it back. But the other girl looks at her with a evil smile. Ariel is only a apprentice. The other girl is a low ranking priestess. The girl walks away knowing she can't be disputed.

Ariel watches the girl walk away. Anger and hate is in her heart. Then the priestess walks into an alley alone. Ariel looks down at her bottle. Then she looks left and then right, to ensure no one is watching as she walks into the alley.

Soon after a crash is heard and Ariel runs out of the alley like a bat out of hell, with her circlet in hand.





Trubble in a Bottle

By Robert Larsen


As we walk down the hall of the Val'sarghress Fortress, I can feel her eyes on me. It's annoying but I make sure no one is about before I speak. "What? We gotta eat."

Edge groans as she stares at my back. "You were feeling guilty for orphaning a girl and you are going to collect the money you were paid to kill her mother?"

I stop to glare at the red-haired elf. She's presently in her sandals and a black dress that goes to her knees. "First, I never said I felt guilty. Second, The bitch deserved to die. And finally, I never collected and we need the Ada." On that note I turn away and walk towards a large door with a few spider webs on it. I raise my hand so I can knock on the door.

The doors fly open before me, before my hand even lands. "Where have you been," demands a female drow with a clingy white dress, white hair, spiders about her, and one hell of a pissed off look.

Despite myself, I find the need to take a step back and I can't take my eyes off her intense red eyes. "Uh... This over the fact I haven't shown to be paid for a week?"

Her glare almost makes me fall over. "Pay? A Priestess killed Elrasia!"

My eyes close and I can feel an annoyed groan coming on. For over two centuries I've had to endure hardships. I've been disbelieved again and again. I've even been stiffed a time or two. And it's all taught me one thing that is my inescapable reality. Being a male just stinks.

"She's dead, I arranged it."

Mel'arnach sneers at me and says, "Prove it."

Yeah. I can do that. Of course, I'd probably get executed for it. "Okay. I'll forget it. The bitch is dead. Have a nice day." I turn to leave but Mel'arnach grabs my shoulder. I stop because of one significant fact. Mel'arnach would probably touch a drowned rat before she would dare touch a male.

"Wait. I have another job for you." She looks over my shoulder and glares at Edge.

Normally here I'd tell her to go look for someone else, and then run for my life. But this time is different. This time I'm almost broke. I start to relax, with my mask slipping into place. "Edge, wait out here." I don't wait for conformation as I'm led inside Mel'arnach's room. Inside is much the same as last time, but this time, she sits in a normal chair, and I'd swear the huge spider across the way looks worried. Then again, how would I know how a spider feels. I simply begin the interview for this time. "So, what's the job?"

Mel'arnach looks at me with an icy glare. "Someone kidnapped My Ariel. I want her back."

This is something new. "Someone kidnapped your girlfriend..." I'm not sure if I like that smile that just appeared on her face. "What can I do about it? I'm an assassin."

She leans foreword, keeping her gaze on me. "You can get into places others can't. I want you to rescue my Ariel."

Now I'm interested. "So you want me to find out where she's being held-"

"I know where she is," she says as she cuts me off. "A girl from the house of Fer'enya had her kidnapped."

I need a bit more information then what she gave me. "Where was she kidnapped from?"

She frowns, "Here I think. Her whip was found in a hallway."

"Damn that means you got a spy about here. Keep an eye out for anyone suspicious... Actually everyone in this city is suspicious for some reason. Just keep an eye out. What's the reason behind the kidnapping?"

"A week ago Ariel was at a market. Carlel Fer'enya saw Ariel's circlet and tried to take it. There was a fight. Ariel broke a bottle over Carlel's head. In the bottle was a potion that permanently removed hair and Cerlel was rendered bald for life."

I keep my mask in place but I have this bad urge to break out laughing. "So, you want me to break into the holdings of Fer'enya, and free your girlfriend? You're lucky that I showed up late and that I'm broke, otherwise I wouldn't be doing this." I know I can get away with saying this. She needs me now, and I'm worth more alive. "How long ago was she kidnapped?"

"Ten hours."

"Damn." Her face seems to falter when I say that. She's got no mask on. So this Ariel must mean a lot to her. "We better hope Carlel is busy. Otherwise this may be useless. And it'll take me two hours to gather what I need. And this is more dangerous then a kill. Twice the pay as the last job you offered."

She frowns a bit. But she really has no choice. "Deal. But you come back with her or I'll make you wish you were dead."

-

I run out the door as soon as it opens. I can hear Edge running after me. "Gotta job. But we have to move faster then normal."




*-*-*-*-*

Once again I have to ask myself, what in the Abyss was I thinking. Before me is a fortress of another noble family and I'm trying to get in, without someone noticing me... sorta. This is what, the third... fourth one this month? And now I'm trying to sneak into the Fer'enya home without anyone seeing me... sorta. You would think I have a death wish. But unlike the other few houses, this one, I'm going through the front gate. If I get caught this time, I get a slow and painful death. I have to ask myself, is it worth it?
A guard crosses my path and I kick him in the rear. "Out of the way, male!" That felt good, so it's worth it.

At present I was wearing my robes, some makeup, some special padding over the chest, and a wig. About my waist is my belt with my sheath and wrathblade. I was impersonating a priestess of Amaigul. This is the bigtime. I get busted, it's my tail and it's accessories. And I'm loving every minute of this crime.

So far, I've got a guide and I'm headed to the dungeon to provide a 'special execution' for a upstart female recently brought in. I've made him carry my pack full of the 'tools of my trade'. The place had touch to it from the times that Alishra was Val'sharess, a good 20,000 years. Very old. Place was carved from solid stone. It was good workmanship with a large perimeter wall and a adamite gate. The craftskills showed in the smooth, seamless carvings. It was a little worn but well maintained.

But I don't have time to admire the architecture. It's been twelve hours. The kid was probably bloody by now. I keep my impatience in check. By rushing I would break my cover. Soon we enter a hallway lined with large doors. He opens one for me, and enters first. I walk in after him, and before me I see a girl, hanging from manacles attached to the wall. Her clothes are covered in blood and her face is cut up.

Only the guard and me are there. He turns to me, opening his mouth to say something. I draw a dagger and stab out, just below his helmet, spiking him right where the windpipe meets the lower part of the jaw. I yank back the dagger and let the guard stagger back, gripping at his throat, as blood runs down his front. A gurgle reaches my ears as he starts to drown on his own blood. I give it no mind and turn to the girl. "Are you Ariel," I ask.

"No," she whispers.

I close my eyes and mentally kick myself. "Just perfect..." I turn and start walking towards the door.

"Help me," she begs.

"I can't take anyone else... I'm here for one person..."

"I can't go on... Please..."

Her plea is pulling strings in my heart that I never want to think about. I cant help myself, so I turn around and walk towards her while drawing my wrathblade.

-

This just isn't going well. It's been an hour since I got here, and I've gone through 15 cells and I've killed 26 people. I'm lucky the guards that pass every fifteen minutes, don't stop and look into the cells.

I use the keys I lifted off the guard to open the door of the next cell and open it. Inside there's a young drow hanging from manacles, as is the norm down here. What isn't the norm is she's upside down, Slave collar about her neck, while naked, soaking wet, gagged, her arms weighted down, and her hair is wrapped up, below her head. There's an older female servant sharpening a human's shaving blade. It's my bet that this is the right place.

Before the servant can speak, I toss my dagger at her. It it buried to the hilt in her flesh, where the neck meets the chest. She falls over and I ignore the body. I walk over to the girl and look down at her face. I remove her gag with a flick of an extra dagger and simply ask, "What is your name?"

She nervously looks up at me and answers, "A... Ariel Val'sarghress."

I take a moment to stare at her. Then I shake my head and pull out my lock picks, quickly working on the locks on the weights about her wrists. "Try and be quiet. Mel'arnach sent me to get you out."

"She did," she starts off all excited.

"Sush! We got to work fast and you must listen to me." The weights fall to the floor. Quickly I pull a disguise from the pack and hand it to her hands. "Put this on while I work on the manacles about your ankles."

She gets the idea of what I'm planning. "I'm not-" I quickly get her to shut up by putting a dagger to her throat.

"You don't listen to me, and I might as well leave you here, dead. So please, do as I say so we can get out alive."

-

My eyes scan across the compound as we move. I keep a hand gripped on Ariel's shoulder. And she's unhappy that her disguise is that of a male. Like I care at this point. We had to pile her hair into a old hat that's now on her head and her clothes are as ripped as the ones the other prisoners wore.

We move briskly as we cross the way to our freedom. I keep my confident mask as I go along and Ariel's nervous and tired constitution actually works for me. Makes her look like someone on her way to the sacrificial alter. And I've escorted a few people to sacrificial alters in my past.

Suddenly Ariel tenses. I don't dare look down at her, otherwise it might break my disguise. I look ahead and see this drow girl in a really ugly wig, a circlet keeping it on, and without any eyebrows, walking through the gate. Now I know we're probably in trouble. While my face has makeup to alter my appearance, Ariel 's face is only covered by the brim of the hat. And I know as the other girl freezes, we've been sighted.

As she opened her mouth to shout, I scoop up Ariel in my arms and run for a door that leads into the wall. The guard at the door starts to draw his weapon, but I toss a dagger hitting him in the shoulder, making him drop the sword and back off a bit. He'll probably pay for his survival instincts later. As I leap into the doorway, I close and bar the door. I can hear the bolts slamming into the door.

As I run up the steps, I pause to set down Ariel and pull off my disguise, leaving me in a black shirt and pants. Quickly I remove a crossbow and a sealed quiver from the pack and shove my robes into it. Then I shoulder my pack, and start heading up the steps, with the tired drow girl behind me. I load my crossbow before we get to the door, leading to the infrastructure of the wall, and bar it. I hear a slam on the other side as someone struggles with the handle. We're cutting this too close.

We head up the steps and onto the top of the wall. A guard is there and I put a bolt in his head. I close the door we came out of and curse. There's no bar to drop across it from the outside. "Damn." I pull out a special bolt and start loading it. "Not much time. They'll be through he door in..." I trail off as I realize Ariel is chanting.

As she gestures towards the door, a white spray is emitted from her hand and a web covers the door. I smile and fire my bolt out and away from the wall. Twenty feet away, some alchemy tricks that it was made with cause it to catch fire. A few bolts come over the wall, from the inside of the compound and we both drop down to the ground. Ariel seems a bit panicky and the webbed door is being pounded on. My eyes are looking down the other way. I load my crossbow again.

"Why did you fire the wrong way," demands the girl.

I ignore her for a few moments and then a large bolt pierces the wall near us, from the outside of the compound. I smirk and wait a few moments. Some guards start rushing down the wall and I fire a bolt at the lead one. I don't take a time to confirm a kill. I pick up Ariel and go over the outside of the wall, and Ariel lets out a screech.

Of course I land on the line connected to the heavy bolt. The other end leads to an alley a few buildings away and I start moving down the line. I must remember to give Edge a pat on the back. But I barely have the time. Bolts start going by us, and one grazes me. I know we don't have the time to make it to the alley, so I leap off the line, tucking and rolling, before we land on the nearest building.

I quickly get to my feet, still holding Ariel, and look up, to see some guards walking the line. I tell myself this isn't happening but I know better. I start running for the nearest edge and leap to the next building. Generally, roofhopping is one of the most dangerous stunts you can pull. And I normally wouldn't do it. But I know, as I leap to another roof that I have no choice.

I can hear more solders coming and then, before I get to the edge of this roof, a bolt grazes my leg, sending me off balance. I fall to the ground, dropping Ariel. She starts to get up and bolt slams into her side, sending her over the edge of the roof. Her scream makes my heart stop. And then the scream stops.

Crawling to the edge, I look over and see her on the ground, six floors down. Her eyes are wide open. About her is a large pool of blood. And her body is distorted in a very bad way.

I'm frozen in a bit of shock. And suddenly a hand grabs my shoulder, spinning me about. There's this guard there with his hand on my shoulder and a sword raised. It's all over.

Then his head seems to pop as a large bolt goes through his head and helmet, and I come back to my senses. My life is over. But Mel'arnach will deliver the blow. Not these bastards.

I get up and start running to another edge. I have to dodge swords along my way, but I keep going, finally jumping off the edge and diving.




*-*-*-*-*

I'm sore as I walk down the ally. Blood runs from a bound cut that runs down along my left shoulder, rendering the arm unusable. The occupants of the home I dived into were unhappy. And so were some people who's homes I ran through. It was hell, trying to get away. But I did it.
I leave the alley and look down the street, to the building with my apartment. I wanted to just go into my home and have a stiff drink before I had to face Mel'arnach. I will deserve what I get and I know it, deep in my heart. I failed to save Ariel. She was now an image just like Elrasia's daughter and her screams.

As I walk up the steps and they seem to go on forever. I am not looking foreword to going about to my present duties. I have to set up for when I'm gone. My weapons and gear must be sold off. My holy items were to be sent to someone who I owed… bigtime. And then there's Edge. She deserves her freedom... I wonder if her next master would grant it. I'll never be able to.

The door is before me and I reach for the handle. My stomach is stirring badly. The fear and guilt is really getting to me. But now, it is time to deal with the consequences of my actions.

I open the door to find Ariel eating a meal with Edge.

"What the hell?!?"

They turn to see me. "Are you okay," asks Edge.

I point to the child. "She's supposed to be dead! I saw the impact!"

"I got her back in time for healing potions," she quickly says before Ariel can probably ask, why she is 'supposed' to be dead.

I fall over on my rear. "Damn that was a scare. I thought Mel'arnach was going to kill us."

"Can you get this thing off of me," Ariel asks, pointing to her collar. No, 'Hi. How are you doing? Does that bloody cut hurt?' Then again, with a collar like that, it's a bit understandable.

"First thing is first. I can't use my arm. Edge, get me two healing potions."

"We're a bit low. I had to use ten on Ariel."

"What?" We had fifteen of those things. They cost five hundred ada each. "This mess is getting expensive..." Edge went to her room for the potion. She lived in my weapons room after all.

I take a breath and try to relax. Then I see Ariel trying to pull the collar apart. "DON'T TOUCH THAT! I THINK IT'S TRAPPED!"

She freezes, eyes wide with fear and Edge heads back into the room. Noticing the situation she walks over and places the potion vials before me and then goes to Ariel to guide her hands from the collar.

My arm feels like it's on fire and I cut away the makeshift bandages and sleeve with a dagger. The hot blood runs freely down my arm and I quickly rip the stopper off one of the potion vials, with my teeth. I spit the stopper to the floor and drink down the potion. My fingers feel sticky as they are covered with blood, but the flow starts to slow. I start to down the other potion and relax a bit.

"I'll remove your collar in a little bit."

"Why not now," she asked in a nervous voice.

"Remember that nice move, during our breakout, where I hit a solder in the shoulder and made him drop his sword." She nods her head very slowly. "I was aiming for his chest. And now my arm is numb. Do you really want me to try and disarm a trap that is most likely meant to kill you, while I am like this." She shakes her head. "Smart girl. Any questions?"

"What's your name?"

"I don't give that out. You'll have to name me."

She get a crossed look, like it's inconveniencing her. "That's stupid."

"Too bad. It's how I live. My slave has to live the same rules. I don't even know her real name."

"Are you crazy? What's the point?"

"Easy. It's harder to trace me and if someone comes looking for me, They won't bother you because you don't know my name."

"Okay... Silly," she says with a smirk. I glare at her for a moment and try to think of something else.

Something else turned out to be a four and a half-foot crossbow leaning against the wall. "Edge, I'm glad you used the crossbow to save my tail, but remember to put it away." I close my eyes and rub the back of my head. The blood loss was dizzying me, but now I feel a lot better, and the wound is sealed. "Oh, get my special lock picking tools, some adamite plates, and the acid kit."

"Acid?" Apparently I've got the little one's attention.

"Your slave collar is mythral. I may need it to soften the metal so I can cut or break a bit of it." I open my eyes and see her looking more nervous then before. "Don't worry, I did this sixty years ago." I began to get up and start flexing my arm. Edge walks in and starts setting up a tray of vials, rods, and special instruments. Ariel's eyes are on the vials, chisels, saw, and the small mallet. I move over by her and start looking closely at the collar. I move it a bit around her neck. It seems smooth and seamless. But I can tell the spot where the lock would most likely be. I pick up a small pouch.

"What's that?"

"It's an alchemical dust for detecting magic. I can't tell if this thing is magical by looking at it." I start sprinkling the dust on the collar. "No glow. That's good." I start picking up some plates of adamite, and slide them in-between the color and her neck, one at a time.

"It's getting tight."

"Sorry," I reply. "Just want to be sure that if I set off a blade trap, you don't get beheaded." Spooked her with that thought... Now I lean over and put my ear to the side of the collar and tap it. "Sounds hollow. Lay your head, neck and shoulders, on the table." She does as I say. "Okay. Now for the acid."

She sits straight up. "NO WAY!"

I glare at her. "That collar is not only a danger to your life, but it cuts off your freedom. It has to come off now." I point to the table and she leans down again. "Now don't move, shiver or sneeze. I'm using a dragon's blood acid alchemy. Very expensive and if I use to much, I'll melt straight through you." She tenses again. "Cut that out."

I pick up a long, thin adamite rod and a vial. The vial itself is a major piece of magic. Otherwise it would be slush. Edge has a bottle of another dust ready. I carefully open the lid and bring the vial over by the collar. I gently slide the rod into the vial and gently touch the tip of the rod to the acid. There's a sizzle heard and I quickly and carefully slide the rod out and touch the sizzling tip to a spot on the collar. I'm lucky the collar isn't magic. There's a sizzle and the acid melts into the collar making a small pit.

For about fifty times I repeat the process, to make a ruff square. Then I cap the vial and put the now 2 inch rod on a towel. I take the bottle from Edge and sprinkle it on the acid spots, to neutralize it. After that's done I pass back the bottle and pick up the chisel and the small mallet. Ariel has learned to stay quiet while I work.

I put the chisel to the pits and tap it with the hammer. Mythral is strong, but adamite is stronger. The mythral starts to give way. I keep it up until I pound out the spot. I set down the tools and pick up a pair of thin pliers and carefully pull out the peice. As I look in, one thought runs through my mind. "Nice," is what I say. 'Oh crap', is what I think.

It has to be one of the most complex setups I've seen in a long time. Tons of gears and small chains. Spikes set to punch into the neck. And to top it all off, a lock so complex, I don't think I can do this.

"How's it look," Ariel asks.

"Not bad." I make one wrong move, and those spikes hit the plates and strangle her. "Stay completely still while I try and figure how to do this."

"Any traps?"

"Don't distract me." Okay... The lock is a one way deal. It only closes, and doesn't open. This means I'm going to have to figure out what to cut, without triggering a mechanism to those spikes... "Who ever made this was good..." I shut up when Ariel trembles a bit.

I take a rod and slowly slide it in between the teeth of a cog, to hopefully jamb it. Slowly I take another rod and move a piece of the lock and there is a click. "Oh crap!"

There's a snap as the spikes are triggered. The plates keep the spikes from piercing Ariel's skin. So instead she's being strangled and starts to struggle. "Edge, hold her down!" She does as I say, and I start to move quickly. I grab the acid, and remove the top. Then I just pour it into the lock. The lock melts in no time and I yank the collar off of Ariel. It comes away easily, and I toss the collar across the room. It starts to melt, and I run over the mess with the dust to neutralize the acid. "GET ARIEL IN A BATH," I shout as I deal with the acid.

-

I am sitting on the couch, looking at the bucket in the corner, with the mythral junk in it. It's expensive scrap and I have to dump it. And with all the acid I used, and the bottles used, I can expect to keep 2000 ada from my fee, after expenses of living and the expenses of this job. This has been one big mess. And I still have yet to get the child home.

First thing is selecting the gear for tonight. I get up and walk into the weapons room. Inside was a lot of cabinets, a small dresser, and a small mattress with a simple blanket and a pillow. Edge seems to like it in here. And sometimes I can't fault her for it.

I start opening cabinets. The first one I open has a collection of daggers and swords of different makes. The second open holds small bits of armor, disguises, and a lot of sheathes. The third and fourth has my crossbows and bolts. They are of different makes and sizes.

Quickly I start choosing different pieces of gear and bringing them into the living room, setting them on the table. Things weren't going to be pretty. People will be out looking for us. And they'll want us dead. That's okay. Because I plan to be ready.

As I look on the weapons on the table and shake my head. "This isn't going to be enough." I walk back into the weapons room and close the door. I reach up and slide the upper piece of the doorframe, to the left, and then up. I turn around to a unblocked wall and kick the corner. As I move back, the other side pops out a bit. I walk over and pull it open, revealing all my nasty little tricks, trophies, and toys. The expenses were going to blow my budget, but it may be my only way of surviving this.




*-*-*-*-*

We walk down the street calmly. Edge and me wear cloaks to hide our gear. Ariel has a modified cloak on. Had to cut it down to size. She also has one of my belts and my favorite long blue shirt on as a dress. The sleeves and belt have been cut as well, to my annoyance. But I do guess I owe her something for her spill over the Roof. Not that It was my fault. It was a hazard of the job and circumstances. The only comfort over my lost shirt is the fact she is barefoot now. The shoes I gave her before, during the escape, were torn up to begin with and it was unlikely that we would have any her size.
At Ariel's belt is a wand. But Edge and my cloaks conceal the bulk of our gear. We're going to need it. "Getting to the Val'sarghress Fortress won't be a piece of cake. We're going to have a lot of people out there, out to stop us. Cerlel will have people out looking for Ariel. And to make things worse, we're on foot so it'll take a long while to make it."

Edge speaks up. "We do have a mount."

This is news to me. "We do?"

"How do you think we got to the apartment first," she adds as she starts heading back the way we came, and I shrug and follow. Ariel also follows, with a bit of a protest. Edge leads us into a alley and we stop while she walks up to her so called mount.

Never, in my life, have I ever seen a cat this big. From nose to hindquarters, it's got to be ten feet, long. That does not include the tail. It's fur is black and slick. The eyes regard us curiously, as it lays on it's side, lounging. Edge sits next to it and rubs it's tummy.

"Where the hell did that thing come from," I demand.

"He's a friend I relax with, sometimes, when you're out on a job," was her reply. I'm just totally stunned. Edge never socializes, unless she's going somewhere with me. Even then she's subdued. Ariel walks over and rubs the cat between the ears and it lets out a long purr. For the first time in this whole mess I see her smile.

"So.... Your friend is the mount?"

-

Now riding bareback on a cat is a rather interesting experience. Also the stares you get are interesting too. But then again, how often do people see two cloaked figures with a girl clinging to the neck. Then again, there's is also the fact that we nearly ran over a few prostitutes a block back. And... we did run over a merchant, who really wasn't happy afterwards. The odd thing about the whole situation was the fact Edge kept leaning over Ariel to whisper into the cat's ear, to give it direction.

"Do you mind getting those off of my head," shouted Ariel. Edge apologized and leaned up.

It's times like this I wonder how I ever let myself get into these situations. We have six miles until we reach the Val'sarghress Fortress. We've already ticked off quite a few people. And there's a crossbowman taking aim at us from a building ahead.

I slap Edge's shoulder and point the guy out. She then screams something in elvish and the cat leaps to the side, dodging the bolt. I pull out my own crossbow and fire at the crossbowman, not taking into account the fact that when you move, the target gets farther behind you when you pull the trigger. So all I hit was a stone wall.

Quickly I start drawing back the string for my crossbow. The only way I keep from flying off is the rope I have connecting my belt to Edge's. I can feel a bolt pierce my cloak, almost striking me. I load the bolt and twist at my waist, firing at the crossbowman, striking his leg. By that time we were out of range. I prepare another bolt and make a mental note. Next time, if I don't get the crossbowman, let Edge keep dodging.

Of course, leaving him alive was going to hurt our chances of making it to our destination. At the end of that thought, I hear a loud screech behind us. Edge shouts again and the cat ducks down an alley. I look behind us to see a fireball go by, blowing something up. The cat keeps going and I see a good sized group of lizard mounted warriors and a mage behind us.

Reaching into a protected pouch, I pull out a sealed glass vial and toss it at them. Quickly I turn about and keep a hold on my hood. I know it shattered against the ground when I hear an explosion behind us and I can feel it's heat against my back. The alchemy in the vial was meant to explode when in contact with air. Making it was dangerous and expensive. So I just made sure we had no way of making a profit on this.

I take a look behind us, seeing I took out the front of the group. There's a young shouting drow with a singed bad wig among the rear of the group, getting others to climb over the dead. I bought us some time and took out the mage. Now I figured it was time to put things in out favor. I lean over to Edge's ear and tell her where to go. It was time to choose a battle field.

-

"We're going the wrong way," complained Ariel as we leave the city, entering the 'unexplored' areas of the caverns the city inhabited.

"First thing is first," I said. "We need to deal with his matter, once and for all. But I'm not letting them chose the battle ground."

"But no one ever goes out here!"

A chuckle passes my lips. "Always plan ahead. I know this area well," I said as we enter a mushroom forest. I look behind us. "They are back a bit. I'll see you at the falls." Before the kid can ask what I meant by that, I leap off the cat, rolling across the ground.

Getting to my feet, I start running. Of course, we've gone over this plan before. We've run scenarios about this area a few times. And as I run towards a rocky area, I know one thing I should have planned for in advance. The fact that this time, Edge was mounted as so are her pursuers. I have to move faster then previously planned for.

I move up the slope, scrabbling for a purchase at times. In the distance I hear the roar of water plummeting down a cliff face. I keep moving, getting to a plateau at the top of the slope, and I start moving, removing my crossbow from my belt and loading it. Ahead I see the river, running onwards and off the edge of a cliff. I quickly move to the edge, to my appointed spot, and drop to the ground. I hold the crossbow at the edge and watch the forest of mushrooms below. It's grown a bit more, and that'll work against me.

Now I begin the game. Many have played this game before. They play it now. And they will play it again. The game of waiting is the art that sharpshooters follow, as do assassins. You must have the proper moment. And sometimes you must wait hours. The best can wait decades for the proper moment. I've probably got five minutes, and then I have to take the shot fast.

Sweat runs down my face. I can't afford a miss, because the moment I fire, I'll be sighted. From there, I'll get one or two more shots before I have to move onto the next stage of the plan, that me and Edge had in mind. Suddenly I see the cat run by, with the two riders I came in with. I look down the bolt shaft, towards the forest. I move my gaze a bit to the side, waiting for what I know is coming. I see a flash of Grey. A mounted lizard rider. I take aim and fire.

I start to reload, as more start to come into view. They have crossbows ready. Their eyes scan the cliff face for me. I can make out one among them, without a crossbow, and wearing robes. Sometimes, I wonder if these mages are naturally arrogant or idiots. I shoot the bolt at him, and his shield absorbs it. Before I can shout a curse, the bolts start striking the cliff face before me. I move back just after the mage catches a bolt in the back. They should keep their eyes still on where Edge is.

Once more, I drawback the string on my crossbow and reload it, as I run towards the river. As soon as I get to the edge, I leap in. In the currents, I twist and turn, so my feet are pointing in the direction the water flows. Then, I go over the falls.

The freefall with the water is exhilarating. I land into the pool, and start swimming towards the shore, keeping under water. There's some bright flashes above that tell me, Ariel is using the wand. The flashes stop quickly and I realize the recoil off that wand was hell for that mage I took it off of, and I gave it to a kid.

I kick to the surface, and fire a bolt at the first warrior I see, before diving down again. A few bolts hit the water. Less then I expected. But one hits my right forearm and I'm forced to release my grip on the crossbow. The water turns red as blood flows from my arm. I slip a foot, to hook under a rock, as I don't come up fast. My lungs burn for air, but I keep down. Gripping the shaft, I rip the bolt free of my arm. And it hurts like hell.

My index and middle fingers won't move. The bolt probably severed a tendon. That'll go against me.

I free my foot and kick to the surface, gasping for air. I look about to see a few warriors, fighting off Edge, the cat, and a female teenage drider. They're too busy to hear me. Behind the guards, Carlel was shouting orders. It was too good a set up. And with the blood that came, up, they must think I'm dead. Now, a normal guy would probably wonder where the drider came from, or where Ariel is. I know better.

Edge is fighting florentine with her longswords and holding her own. She's so good at fighting with that style, you have to wonder how she ended up a slave. None of the warriors are taking on the cat yet. Three just try to keep it at bay. The drider seems to be using brute force to keep the guards back. It has no style and will probably be the first to fall.

I count eight warriors standing. All of them are using melee weapons. three have shields. One has a free hand. No crossbows or thrown weapons in hand. The ground is littered with bodies. Bald girl has a whip in and is barking orders. Nothing else I can see at her belt.

Now is a good time for me the make a move. I quietly move to the riverbank, near where Carlel is. She's got her attention on the fight, and not on everything. That's a rookie mistake. And few ever make it past that mistake.

Drawing my dagger, I burst from the water, and rush towards Carlel. She turns to the sound, and I strike out, cutting across her right forearm, making her drop the whip while crying out. I wrap my bleeding right arm about her, while moving about her. Then I put my dagger to her throat, making her keep her mouth shut. I face the fighting, and shout out, "Drop your weapons."

Now I'm not an idiot. I know they won't drop their weapons. But five of them do turn their heads. One gets his head cleaved in half by the drider. She loses a weapon, because now it's stuck. Edge is a bit more frugal, stabbing out twice, piercing one guard's heart and cutting the muscles of the leg of another, dropping that fighter.

Providing a distraction also allowed the cat the chance to tackle the warrior keeping it at bay, and tearing into him. The screams make others falter. The drider takes a blow to her side, but whips out a wand, blasting that guard with a strong magic bolt. Of course with her move, I recognize her face and realize Ariel has hid some things rather well.

By now Edge has dispatched the fallen warrior, and has two others on the defensive. The cat takes one down with a pounce and a quick clawing of his hind paws on the drow's gut, sending a spray of gore. Ariel is now enjoying the loaner, blasting away her final opponent. She's favoring her side.

I leave Edge to her Fight and look over to Ariel. "Well girls, it's time to end this mess like it should have in the beginning. Seeing that you're both wounded, this duel will be even."

"What are you talking about," demands Ariel.

"It's simple, really. You two won't stop until this is resolved. So I'm going to let you two resolve it here and now, with a fight."

Edge walked over with blood on her blades. Her fight seemed to be over. "That has to be one of the most stupid things I've ever heard."

"So You're saying a fight is stupid. So girls, do you agree with the Drow or the elf."

Edge just glares at me as both girls say, "Drow."

"Okay, I'm laying terms. You fight only each other. No outside help. That includes the wand I lent you, Ariel. You fight until I think the other can't fight. It begins, when Carlel grabs her whip." On that word, I let go of Carlel and run like hell, over to Edge. My arm is bleeding and numb. But I only have two Healing potions, and they'll be needed. I turn to watch the duel.

The girls have their weapons and are rushing at each other. Nether shows any skill. There's just a primal desire to kill and survive. When they're with in striking range, Ariel swings her sword and Carlel lashes out with her whip. Ariel has brute strength on her side, while Carlel has experience with using her snake whip. It's no contest.

The whip hits Ariel's swinging arm, biting down with multiple heads, and numbing her arm, making her drop her weapon. I knew this was a gamble when I suggested this, but if I dropped off Ariel without putting finality to this matter, it would only grow. I risked Ariel's life and Mel'arnach's revenge against me, and I lost, badly.

Suddenly Ariel uses her good arm to grab Carlel and put a bite on her neck. It was a surprising move. It was made out of rage and fear. Carlel lashed out against Ariel's legs, making her let go and back off. Ariel now seems a bit shaky. Carlel starts to stagger away, looking worse off. From the way she sweats and is starting to drool, she's been hit with a bad poison.

Passing one healing potion to Edge, I tell her, "Fights over. Give this to Ariel." Ash she starts moving, I slowly move towards the stumbling bald girl. I'm starting to feel light headed, but I keep myself stedy as I move. I make it to Carlel as she falls over, starting to foam at the mouth. I kneel beside her and prepare to finish the job. I hold out the other heal potion. "Tell me who the spy, who handed you Areil is. And then you can have this potion." I lean down a bit as she gurgles out the name. "Little louder please." She says it again and I hear it. I then put the potion in her hand and after a small struggle, she drinks it down.

As I get up, Ariel grabs me by the front of my shirt and yells, "Are you crazy?"

My vision is starting to go blurry, but I smirk. "It's... healing potion. Doesn't... help... poison."

That's about when everything went black.




*-*-*-*-*

I come to, laying on the floor of Mel'arnach's quarters. Above me is Mel'arnach and a weird girl with wings and what looks like horns. I assume it's Ariel. Mel'arnach has a smile. That ether means she's happy with my job, or I'm about to die painfully.
I slowly sit up and ask, "What happened?"

"Ariel brought you back here after you passed out and I healed you," Mel'arnach says. "You were worth the 10,000 ada."

"I wish I could say I was happy, but I pretty much spent more saving her. But I did agree on the price. Oh, Ariel, cover up, the shirt ain't that long."

Mel'arnach smile becomes a slight bit larger. With a blush, Ariel turns back into a little kid. "I'm sure I can use your help another time," Mel'arnach says.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Ariel trying to remove a cerclet from Carlel's ugly wig. A sigh escapes my lips as Mel'arnach sets a pouch with my payment beside me. Something on the edge of my mind pops up. "Oh, I found out who sold out Ariel."




*-*-*-*-*

She walked down the hall to her room. She almost had the brat gone. But the brat was back, and all she could do was fume.
She opened her door and walked straight into a web. In a panic she started to struggle. Suddenly she felt a finger run along her spine. A voice behind her said, "Didn't I warn you, you naughty girl. Now I'll have to punish you again."




*-*-*-*-*

I met Edge on her way home. The cat was gone and she seemed to be a bit tired. "So, you now need another job?"
"Not really," I replied. "I got the name of the spy, and the client was happy enough to cover what our fee didn't. We have a good 500 ada until the next job."

She shrugs. I can't help but chuckle. "Can't you be happy that we got money now."

"We did it at the cost of so many."

"So next time I'll charge more for this kind of a job. And quit looking at me like that."
Stories never end, the just begin anew. Still hurts when you die though.
Scilence
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Postby Kern » Wed Oct 02, 2002 9:44 pm

That one big fanfic  :D
Thanks so much
*Ariel goes to give you a hug but she glare at the same time cuz you hurted her and gave her quite a scare in the story*

*beer*
Anyway, hope people enjoy the story.  *beer*  *beer*  *beer*
Scilence should write a meant-to-turn-into-a-manga story  *smirk*

Since i kept reading every new part since a week
I,ll tell which part is the best in the last chunk..
When Silly offer a duel to the two drow girl, and they both agree even Ariel who had quite an advantage before.  :p IT very, drowish.
I started a pic of Silly but haven't finished it yet.
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Postby Hevia » Thu Oct 03, 2002 12:41 am

Bald drow girl XD

Silly is a very smart assassin . . . not to mention amusing. Cool story!
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Postby Scilence » Sun Oct 06, 2002 5:18 pm

Of course Kern would like Ariel's fight sceane. *beer*
Stories never end, the just begin anew. Still hurts when you die though.
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Postby Ultharos » Mon Oct 07, 2002 6:24 pm

COO!!!

I really loved this story, it's got fun/action and tension a very good piece of fiction!

Thumbs up!
Behold the eternal glory of the Fountain Dragon and let his radiance blind you into submission, oh ye of little faith.
~From the book of the FD.
Chapter 1: Deitification of the FD.
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Postby Marina » Tue Oct 08, 2002 10:17 pm

Wow! 0o0  fantastic work on fight scene..and knowing weaponry!
       You're right I did enjoy this story...you need to write more , this was good! *beer*  *beer*
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Postby Poet » Wed Oct 16, 2002 6:04 am

Heh, I'm glad the assassin finally ran into Ariel. I was wondering when that would happen. Very good. Keep them coming, and I'll love you forever. In a plutonic sense, of course.
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