Surprises in the Dark
I stared into the hazel eyes of Kontour, unmoving, waiting
for him to speak.
"I suppose that my contacts were right when
they said that you were smart. You showed that by not storming up here in whatever
ragtag clothes you must wear normally, and instead dressed in a way more fit
to a civilized creature." I held back a growl, and put my hands behind my back
were I could clench them in anger without him seeing. It was only the fact that
he was an employer that kept me from yelling an insult back at him, so instead
I just sufficed with giving him a dark smile.
"You have summoned me here, Kontour. What is
it that you wish of me to do for you," I said, ready to just be off on my assignment.
"You mean the who that I will ask of you to
do in for me," Kontour said yawning. "He is a snake of a creature, a green colored
Kacheek named Terlan. He owes a very large gambling debt to me, and he runs
any time he sees any creatures that work for me to avoid paying his debt. I
would like you to track him down, and make him pay the price. Yes, the price
for avoiding his payments. Will you do this assignment?" Kontour snickered to
He was just a typical rich owner of a large
amount of land. Always worrying about getting money, and having debts paid to
add to his trust fund. No doubt that he could easily do without the money of
Terlan, but even so, he felt that it was in his right to deal out justice to
those who did not pay him. I was disgusted at the waste of my talent on a rich
creatures dispute with money, but a job was a job, and so I did what I had to.
"I accept this assignment," I replied.
"Good, very good," Kontour said clasping his
paws together. "How does 5,000 Neopoints sound. It is a fifth of what he owes
For as simple a job as he was offering, 5,000
was a perfect amount, but even so, I tried to raise the price a bit. "7,000,"
I said sternly.
"6,500," he said raising the price to a good
"Deal," I said, and then I shook paws with him,
the assignment taken. "I would like to go out and finish my job as soon as it
He looked at me as if expecting something else,
but then he let out a small sigh. "Go ahead, you can leave now." And with that,
I walked out the door.
Zana Taru walked through the underbrush as silently as she possibly could
as she tracked the path of her mother. "Leave me behind… I'll prove that I am
good enough to help," she mumbled to herself. Zana knew that if she were to
run into her mother after she had received her assignment, that Zarrel Charmain
would be stuck with her. "She can yell at me all she wants for me to go home,
but she can't take me home herself without going back on her employer." Zana
Taru smirked to herself as she walked on again.
She had been following any scant trace that
she could find of Zarrel Charmain's passage for hours when Zana begin to wonder
if she should just give the whole thing up and return back, hoping to not get
into too much trouble. You've gone this far already! Why turn back now,
she thought to herself as she pushed aside a cluster of hanging leaves from
a tree. Zana Taru held back a gasp as she saw her mother, who had just then
changed into the clothes of a maiden. With a gulp, she quickly pulled back into
the shadows just as Zarrel Charmain turned. Zana's green tunic, and purple fur
helped to hide he from her mothers sight. Zana Taru stood crouched down in that
spot until she saw her mother out of sight, and then she was ready to start
As Zarrel Charmain made her way into the village
of Riverfront, Zana Taru kept her pace back. She knew that as she was she would
stick out like a sore thumb, surely be noticed by her mother, and she didn't
want to be spotted just yet. Since she had nothing to change into to appear
less conspicuous, Zana Taru just sat down on a rock with a sigh. She would just
I walked away from the manor of Kontour without even looking backwards. I
just wanted to hurry up and get this job finished, and collect my pay, because
I was started to get a gut feeling that something bad was about to happen. I
had ignored that feeling several times before, and it seemed that whenever I
did, I would almost got myself killed. I was not about to let that mistake happen
again while I stand by idly.
I spent most of the afternoon wandering around
the village collecting information on the whereabouts of Terlan. I took my time
prying the information from the various creatures of the village as to not pull
any suspicion, and so it took me until about an hour before the sun was to set
to find all that I needed. I learned of Terlan's gambling problem, and that
he liked to hang about places where he could blow all of his money. Probably
the reason he owed such a large amount to Kontour. I also found out that there
was to be a large tournament of sorts that night-one that would attract gamblers
from all over to attempt to win it big, while in truth most every single one
of them was going to loose a lot of their hard earned money in the games.
I turned to make my way to the darker outskirts
of the village since I now knew where I could find my quarry. A dark smile lit
slightly on my lips as I planned out what I would do in my head.
Once I was alone in the dark shadows, I changed
from my disguise as a maiden into another. I put on some baggy clothes over
top my tunic, and then wrapped a cloth over most of my head to hide it from
view. An off-white cloak wrapped around me, concealing my dagger while still
giving me easy access to it. Once I was done, I pulled out my dagger, and looked
at my reflection in it from the swiftly setting sun. I grinned underneath my
facemask, for I had achieved the effect that I desired. Even on a close glance,
any creature would believe me to be male, for I doubted that they would let
a maiden, or any female wander among their ranks. And even if they did, I would
have eyes on my back the whole time, making it next to impossible to carry out
As I looked at the reflection cast by my dagger,
I saw a dark shape move behind me. With a scowl, I casually turned around, all
the while glancing at the reflection through my dagger. Sure enough, the figure
disappeared into the shadows before I had turned far enough to see him without
the use of my dagger.
My thoughts soared at who it could have been,
but I kept a straight face as not to divert any attention. Whoever it was that
had seen me, he had seen me in my assassin form, and unless he was a complete
dim wit, he would know that I was after someone. One thing that bothered me
was how silently he had moved. I could hear no intake of breath, and no rustle
of leaves or clothing as he darted out of my sight. That was something that
you needed training to do. Either that or years of practice at lurking in shadows
without making any sounds.
Still in a more casual mood, I slung my pack
over my shoulder, and walked slowly past the bushes where he was hidden giving
them a wide enough breach to not appear like I knew anything, though still staying
close enough to see the spot through the reflection in my dagger which I still
held in my hand.
I gritted my teeth as I saw him silently come
out of the bushes and start to follow me, all the while still keeping to shadows
in which he could hide if I happened to turn. As I walked, I knew that I would
have to end this soon, but even so, I wanted to know who it was that would follow
me. I faked a stumble, and went down to my knees as I gripped my dagger tightly,
ready to throw it in a way that would stun the victim, but give no lasting harm.
I wanted to know why he was following me.
The figure stopped as I did, his footsteps making
no sound as he did so. As soon as I saw him stop, I quickly bounded to my feet
with the agility of a cat as I turned around and threw my dagger at his form.
He barely had time to gasp as the hilt of the
dagger smacked into his chest with a strong force that sent him falling backwards,
stunned as I had hoped. As I ran over to get to him before he could get up,
I grinned to myself knowing that the throw would leave a large bruise on all
but the sturdiest of creatures. He'd be lucky if that was all I let him get
away with though.
"You should know better then to follow an assassin,"
I said as I neared him. "Now I have a few questions for you, and you are going
to answer every single one of them."
He was laying on his stomach I saw as I approached.
I also noted that he was a Zafara, and a lot shorter then I had guessed. "What
is your name?" I asked with a cold undertone as I picked my dagger from the
ground, and then at his silence. "Answer me!" I grabbed some excess cloth on
his shoulder, and flipped him around, right before letting out a startled gasp.
"Hi mom," Zana Taru gasped with a candid smile
on her lips. Through her smile, though, I saw that she was cringing, most likely
from the blow I had given her.
"No," I said. "You are NOT supposed to be here!"
She just smiled.
"I could have killed you! And then what? I'd
feel guilty for the rest of my life knowing that I had mistaken you for someone
else. You know I told you to stay home so why did you come!?"
"Because I never have any fun," she said with
indifference. "You always make me stay home like I am a little youngling…"
"Which you are."
"NO I AM NOT!!!" she blurted out. "I fought
in a massive battle when I was only seven mom, seven! That was three years ago,
and now I know even more." And to emphasize her point, she took out her sword,
and swung it in an ark into the dirt.
"As I recall, Dorono gave me all the details
on that fight, you were almost killed, and because of you, Dorono gave himself
up to the forces of that vile Dsupa." I looked at her again as I saw her ready
to explode at me with another argument. "You are older, you feel that you are
ready, but you are not as strong as you think you are. You will put yourself
in danger's way, and my way too."
"So you're going to send me home then," she
said crossing her arms.
I shed a smile at her from under my facemask.
"Since you are here, it is here that you will stay. I will go in and complete
my assignment, and then I will come back to get you. Just promise me that this
time you will stay in place. I have a very bad whim about this whole thing…"
I looked into the sky as if doom would just fly down at me before turning back
to look her directly in the face. "Promise me."
"I promise," she said harshly, and then more
gently, "I promise that I will stay here until you come back."
With a nod, I turned from the errant Zana Taru.
I had already wasted too much time, and had to go quickly. The more reasonable
voice inside of me told me that I should just escape into the night with her,
and forget the whole thing, but I had had practice ignoring that little bit
of reason, and continued off towards the spot they were to have the tournament
in, and where I was going to find Terlan, all the while hoping that Zana would
listen, and just stay in place.
To be continued...