Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Opening my eyes|
I had always been different than others of the clan, I was faster and have better endurance. I was better with weapons or my hands, I was also better at solving problems. What I wasn’t, was a full clan member. I had been bought in a market by the Quirrin Master and adopted.
My name was Quillan or Clan lost as the clan called me. Most of the clan ignored me and called me Lan. The ones that didn’t learned to respect my abilities and stayed out of reach. In eighteen years I had learned and passed all the tests of a clan warrior. I had even past tests that most masters couldn’t, only the Quirrin Master was my equal. Other people called us assassins, but we only killed to protect the clan… or so I thought.
I had been given the job of beast master and spent my time looking after the horses or drama. Drama are a huge, light skinned lizard like animal we used mostly as pack animals. Like many in the clan, we were always practicing stealth. I was the best, even masters couldn’t find me if I didn’t want them to. Several of the younger men and women had come to me for instruction.
I went over how to move or behave and before I knew it they had started making wagers. The clan masters were meeting shortly and it was supposed to be a closed meeting. It was to be held in the Quirrin Master’s quarters. Several of the clan young tried to slip in, I managed to because I came through a little known vent.
The vent wasn’t used because the Quirrin Master put cave vipers in the vents. I had quietly captured the three vipers and released them. Now I lay and watched as the clan masters gathered. I listened as the Quirrin Master nodded to a blood soaked bag, “The duke sent this instead of our payment.”
Master Jerome shook his head, “I told you he couldn’t be trusted.”
Master Palio nodded, “Killing the old duke was not wise.”
The Quirrin Master waved his hand, “That is past. He owes us for a killing.”
Master Celmins sighed, “I am getting to old for this. Kill the fool and have the new duke pay his dept.”
Master Jerome nodded, “Agreed. Kill him and let the next duke pay. We have other business. The Travelers are headed north once again. We all know they pay high prices for killing the human chiefs at the wells of Tara.”
Master Quirrin shifted, “Perhaps they do, but you know they always search for our own wells.”
The other masters nodded and Master Jim stood, “Send Quillan to kill the duke. You know they will blame the Travelers and we can make money from both sides.”
Master Quirrin shook his head, “Quillan will want to know why.”
The masters only shook their heads, “Why do you play at this, bring Quillan into the clan.”
The Quirrin Master folded his hands, “The time is not right and he is not ready. He still thinks the clan is like others and not assassins.”
As they left I remained and waited while I thought about what they had said. We were paid to kill, that was what the clan did. When a shadow suddenly shifted and moved to walk out of the room I smiled. I continued to wait and a few minutes later Master Saris suddenly appeared and walked out. I quietly moved back and started the long climb up.
At the top I started out of the vent opening only to freeze as I felt movement close by. Turning my head slowly I saw two large cave viper coming nearer. I hissed and they stopped to coil. As their heads slowly began to weave I gave a longer softer hiss. The two vipers hesitated and then uncoiled to start crawling away. I grinned, they were the Quirrin Master’s pets and I was the one to feed them everyday.
I slipped the rest of the way out of the vent and walked away. I came back into the clan caves from a different direction and quietly went to the pens. I tended the animals while I continued to think. I didn’t like the thought of killing people for money. The other thing that bothered me was the Quirrin Master. He wanted to use me for something and I was sure I wouldn’t like it.
I sighed as I finished scratching an egg bound drama and turned away. There was only one thing I could do, leave. I walked away and went to the tiny cave that was mine and began to pack. I was only just finishing when Master Jim came into my cave, “So… where do you think you are going?”
I tied the top of the pack and began dressing in my clan clothing. When I finished and turned to look at him, I could see his anger because I had not answered, “Leaving. I am not an assassin and want no part of it.”
The blurred movement of his striking hand met mine as it slapped the back of his wrist. This was a deadly dance that would leave only one of us alive. I spun to the side as his other hand flicked a small poisoned dart. I pulled the fighting knife from my left thigh and blocked a strike from his dagger as I shifted sideways.
The sharp hissing behind him had the master suddenly springing forward. A solid flat punch into his chest stopped him in mid air and he staggered back. He spun sideways as a large cave viper emerged from its hole and began coiling to strike. I let a thin dagger drop into my right hand as my left swept forward. Master Jim blocked the knife easily and tried to move away from the viper.
The slim dagger came up into his blocking arm. I twisted and the dagger in his hand fell as he jerked back. That was a mistake, the viper struck and his eyes went wide. I struck as his eyes went to the viper attached to his leg. My fighting knife swept across his throat and he stumbled before falling to the floor. I moved back and turned to a small box. Inside was a large rat and I grabbed it before turning back to the fallen man and the coiled snake.
I tossed the rat to land right in front of the viper. Before the rat could even get to its feet the viper struck. It wrapped its body around the rat as I picked my pack up. I slipped out, leaving the scene behind, it wasn’t the first time I had killed. In the pens I pulled out a special saddle I had made and put it on one of the bigger drama. I tied my pack onto another and led them out of the clan caves.
I slipped onto the drama and headed into the desert. I knew they would be searching for me and wanted some distance between us. I was quiet as I thought about my life and where I could go, most cities hated or feared us. All the other clans would try to kill me on sight. The only ones that wouldn’t care were the Travelers. Once every decade they made their way around the continent, looking for something lost long ago.
It was almost dawn when I saw the sand spider’s trap. A sand spider is huge, six or eight feet across. I looked around and dismounted to lead the drama to a small outcropping of stone. I unsaddled them and removed the face harness, “Just wait girls.”
I picked up a piece of stone and moved out towards the trap. I weighed the stone and tossed it to land in the center of the trap. With a slithering hiss the sand erupted and the huge spider came out fast. I stood still as the spider spun around. Before it could do anything else, the two drama charged. They all crashed together and dropped into the open pit that was the spider’s home.
I moved to the lip to watch as the two drama tore the spider apart. I grabbed my pack and jumped down into the musky pit. In a far corner was a huge egg sack hanging from the ceiling. I prodded one of the drama and was treated to an angry hiss. I hissed back and slapped her shoulder. She looked over her shoulder at me angrily and I nodded towards the corner.
She turned her head and growled before rushing to attack the sack. The other drama joined her as I moved to an opposite corner. I sat down and leaned against the wall, it was only a few minutes before I fell asleep. I woke to the dry shifting of the drama and looked around the pit in the gathering dusk. I stood and stretched before picking up my pack and vaulting onto one of the drama, “Up!”
Almost in one move the drama leaped up through the hole in the roof of the pit. It was a moment before the other joined us while grumbling. I grinned as I slid off the first one, “It isn’t my fault you gorged on the eggs.”
The drama hissed lightly as I put their saddles back on and swung into the saddle. I only had one water bag left and the next well was a long way from here. Some clouds had begun to move in and almost at midnight the two drama slowed, we were in a dry ravine that I didn’t like. The drama were looking around nervously as I heard the loud explosion of thunder.
I saw a large opening in the side of the ravine ahead and up one side before a wall of rain blocked my view. I slapped the shoulder of the drama I was on and pointed. She hissed and broke into a rush that went straight up the side of the ravine and into the opening. The other drama followed and I jerked in surprise when several wild drama turned to look at us.
I heard a rushing roaring sound from the ravine and slowly slid off my drama. I moved towards the hissing crowd of wild drama and hissed back. The wild ones stilled and seemed to look at each other before looking at me. I scratched one behind his ear hole as I moved past and he shivered and hummed. I slowly moved through the crowd and scratched a drama here or there on my way.
By the time I was done, I was back at the entrance staring at the rushing water in the ravine. I used a large cloak to gather water and refill all my water bags during the storm. It was almost an hour before the rain stopped and we were able to leave. The wild ones went with us and gradually the group broke up into couples or singles. As the sun peaked over the horizon I made camp in a cluster of large rocks. I used my cloak as a roof between two boulders.
The drama sighed as they settled in front of me. I woke a couple of hours before the sun had set. I ate while considering the way before me, it was another four days to the harbor city of Sumurst. The desert went on for only a day and a half before turning to farm land that was rich in water. I was well off the normal path of the clans and knew they might only be a day behind me.
I saddled the drama and started off as the sun began to sink into the desert. It was after midnight when I heard the siren. I quickly stuffed my ears and wrapped a scarf around my head. I turned the drama to head closer, it was another chance to let the two drama feed. I stopped before I reached the group of rocks and dismounted, I swiftly unsaddled the two hissing drama.
When I hissed they were off at a run. They didn’t go between the rocks, they went over them. Almost as soon as they vanished the screams started. I picked up my pack and the two saddles and started for the rocks. I came into the blood smeared center and waited while the two drama finished devouring the remaining sirens. They were almost a quarter the size of the drama and had large heads with mouths full of sharp teeth.
When the two finally moved away with a hiss I began saddling them again. I searched around where the sirens had been and found four large bloody stones. They were called Siren Stones and were very valuable. Since I was on my own now, I would need money. I swung into the saddle and the drama headed out. They moved slower now that they were full.
I didn’t stop when the sun came up and the drama began hissing. I slapped a shoulder, “Soon, we need water.”
She shook her head and the other almost growled. I shook my head, “You two are babies. You just got a good meal and now you want to stop and sleep.”
They grumbled but kept going until we finally entered a green glade. I made camp in a clump of brush beside a quiet brook. The drama dropped to the ground beside the brook and hissed as they rested in the way of their kind. I filled my water bags and made a small cup of cinnamon tea. I pulled the small blow gun from my pack and walked into the brush.
It didn’t take long before I found two rabbits nibbling grass together. I returned to camp carrying the two rabbits and knelt by the brook to clean them. I tossed the refuse to each drama and kept the skins and meat. I started a small fire and began to roast the rabbits slowly. When the drama hissed softly while looking towards the greener side of the brook, I went still.
Two men stepped through the brush and stopped to stare at me. I realized they weren’t men like the rest of my clan, they were Travelers. The drama shifted and I hissed to calm them as I continued to look at the two, “Well met.”
They looked at each other and the one on the right nodded, “Brother.”
I looked at them and finally looked away, “I only have a couple of small rabbits.”
The other Traveler grinned and pulled two more rabbits from behind him, “We have a couple as well.”
I gestured to the fire and they joined me. It was a tense afternoon, but they didn’t ask any questions. I had some but kept quiet as they left headed up the small brook. That night we rode for only half the night. Several times the drama darted to the side to snatch an unsuspecting rabbit. We spent the rest of the night beside a small bridge.
I was up at dawn and saddled the drama, I turned onto the narrow road and started off. It was almost noon when I saw the four men. They were in front of us trying to hide in some brush, I stopped short on the road and waited. After a minute they burst out yelling and rushed at me waving old rusty knives.
A flick of my wrists sent two throwing knives into the throats of two of the men. The drama lunged and grabbed the other two. I slid out of the saddle as they began tearing the men apart. I slapped their shoulders and they released the two dead men. I led the drama past and mounted again.
I didn’t even think about leaving the four men lying on the road. I stopped in a small wooded area for the night and the drama sank down with a growling hiss. I smiled as I gathered dry sticks, “It’s your own fault. No one told either of you to rush off and eat every rabbit that we passed.”
They hissed and put their heads down. I had only been this far from the clan caves a few times and the sounds of the night time always fascinated me. I rested and let my senses reach out to the area around me. I felt it when the two men slipped into the area. In one moment I was lying back resting and in the next I was gone.
The shadows held me as I drifted around the outside of my camp and the two sleeping drama. I knew what the men were and who. As they split up and moved apart I moved through the shadows after the larger of the two. He suddenly stopped moving, “Lan?”
He stood still as the other moved further away, “Why Lan?”
I stepped forward pressing the tip of my dagger against the back of his neck, “They pay us to kill. To waste our honor on innocents or kill those that are no threat to the clan.”
I felt him nod slightly, “That is what we do. Why Master Jim?”
I moved back as I felt the other moving back, “Master Jim attacked me when I told him I was leaving.”
He slowly turned to face me, “But any of the clan are free to leave.”
I smiled, “You should know better Harasis. Those that choose to leave never reached the other side of the desert.”
I spun and my wrist flicked towards a shadow as it rushed towards me. There was a cry as I shifted back to Harasis. He hadn’t moved and only held his hands up, “The kill order is out.”
I nodded, “I expected it. Tell the others I am leaving Denob.”
He nodded and looked past me at the body of our brother, “I always disliked Petri.”
I grinned, “Live well Harasis.”
He nodded before turning and walking away, I waited and sighed when he left the area. I turned to Petri and moved to kneel beside his body. I pulled the throwing spike from his throat and then started removing his weapons. I moved into the night following his trail until I found the two horses and his pack. I brought everything back to my camp and put the horses across from the drama.
Before the sun was even up, I had packed everything on the horses and went to the drama. I rubbed both on their leathery necks, “Hararis will take you home girls.”
They hissed as I turned and went back to the horses, I rode away and didn’t look back. It was almost dusk when I reached the low walls of Burka. I walked the horses into the stableyard of an inn called The Blue Horse. I paid the innkeeper and carried both packs into the inn. Inside Petri’s pack was a small pouch of gold coins.
I checked everything and lay back to relax, I left before dawns light. I was a day away from the port city of Sumurst when I saw the group of armed men approaching. They carried a banner I recognized as the Duke of Sumurst. They spread out as I drew closer, a couple held naked blades. I stopped a few paces away, “Good day.”
One man in a fine tunic with the duke’s crest moved his horse a step closer, “What business do you have?”
I smiled, “I came to take ship to Amgree.”
He kept looking at me before looking at another man. He finally looked back at me, “Strangers are not welcome in Sumurst right now, not even Travelers.”
I blinked as I realized they thought I was a Traveler, “As I said, I came to take ship to Amgree.”
He leaned forward, “Go elsewhere to take ship.”
I looked at the six men and then looked back at the man in front of me, “I don’t think so.”
His face went dark as he reached for his sword. I dropped to the ground, two daggers dropping into my hands, “You wish to face a Quirrin master?”
The men had all started dismounting and froze at my words. The young well dressed man swallowed and carefully put his sword away. “I… find your ship and leave.”
I nodded, “Listen well, duke’s man. The clan is coming for your duke. He bargained for the old duke’s death and refuses to pay now.”
I looked into his face for several moments and he finally nodded, “Thank you.”
He jerked the rains around and led the others off at a quick pace. I swung back into the saddle and headed towards the city. That night I camped within sight of the port cities walls. I was the first through the gates the next morning and went straight to the docks. I took a room at one of the dockside inns and headed out to ask about a ship.
It was afternoon when I found a captain that was heading towards the northern port of Amgree. I sat and bargained for an hour before we struck a deal. I headed to the marketplace and found a gem merchant. He was getting ready to close his shop when I came in. I set the four Siren Stones on the counter and unwrapped them.
He stared and then hurried to the door and looked out before coming back. It was an hour before he finally agreed to my price and even then he said he would have to bring me the money and could only afford two. I told him what inn I was staying at and he said it would be a couple of hours. I expected him to try and send thieves for me but two hours later he appeared at the inn with the money and paid me in gold coins.
It was very early when I slipped out of the Inn with my packs. I had given the innkeeper a good deal on both horses. The ship was already alive with men stowing things away when I came aboard. Captain Darrius met me at the side of the ship and showed me to a tiny cabin, “We’ll be leaving in an hour.”
An hour later I watched the port slip away behind the ship.
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