Silence Strikes Back

By Ricky Temple

Two figures sat around an old tree stump in one of the many clearings in the Greenwood playing cards. One was a young brunette woman dressed in an official looking uniform which was green in colour, beside her feet lay a bow and slung over her shoulder was a quiver of arrows. The other was a male and wore the trappings and robes of a man of the church…a monk to be precise.

"Ha Haha" the monk laughed in a deep rich voice. "I'm terribly sorry my dear young lady but, I'm rather afraid I have won again. The Royal Flush tends to, in my experiences, beat most other hands." Brother Mace, the famous tavern monk, said with a smile as he laid his cards down on the make shift table. "Oooooooh Fiddle Sticks!" Gretel, the former dungeon maid turned Greenwarden said putting her cards down a little huffily, even now Gretel still had a little of her petulance in her.

However she looked at Brother Mace with a good natured smile on her face. "You always seem to win Brother Mace; if you weren't a man of the church I'd suspect you of cheating." Brother Mace smiled "Ah me no young Gretel there is no playing foul here. My years of ministering as a tavern monk has allowed me to gain quiet the knowledge & aptitude for many of the various and sundry card games."

Gretel smiled "Well I better get back to my patrol anyway." "Ahh Duty calls" Mace said with a smile "A very noble & acceptable excuse to depart the field of combat as it were." Gretel giggled, stood up and picked up her bow. "I'll be back this way in about twenty or so minutes" she said "Well then I shall look forward to our next encounter dear lady" Mace said jovially.

Gretel laughed and set off into the forest to resume her patrol. Brother Mace meanwhile reshuffled his deck of cards and began a solo game. "Ah me" he sighed after a few minutes "Patience may be a virtue but it really is a dull game. What one wouldn't give for some more company."

Just then he heard a rustling of foliage behind him which indicated the approach of someone. "Ahh ask and the good lord will provide" Mace said with a smile and began to get up to great the new arrival. "Greetings traveller apex a biscum and err park yer backside right here." Mace said in his usual style of greeting "My name is Brothe…"

Mace never got to finish his introduction before the cudgel struck him on the side of the head and the pitch blackness of unconsciousness enveloped his being, but before he fell into this darkness he was just able to take in the snarling face of his assailant, it was human sized and humanoid in shape but it defiantly wasn't human. The leathery pale brown skin, the vicious looking fangs, the evil piggy eyes with their yellow Sclera and pitch black pupils as well as the fact that his assailant was dressed in a manner reminiscent of a Mongrel horde warrior could mean only one thing. Mace's attacker…was an Orc.

The bestial horror regarded the prone figure of Mace, then reached down with one of its scaly clawed hands and grasped one of the monk's ankles and began to drag him away.

All of this was watched from up in a tree by a small observer.

A little over twenty minutes later, as she had promised, Gretel's patrol brought her back around and she again emerged from the forest back into the clearing. "Hello again Brother Mace I told you I would be…" she stopped mid sentence and looked around the clearing. There was no sign of the jovial tavern monk.

"Brother Mace?" she called out and walked over to the stump she and Mace had been using as a table. Maybe something had come up and Brother Mace had had to leave…but as she got closer to the tree stump she noticed some things that gave her course for concern.

For one his playing cards were still on the stump and in fact they looked rather disarrayed as if they have been knocked slightly off of the stump. There was a large patch of grass that looked like it had been flattened by a great weight and even more ominous was what looked like drag marks leading away from it and off into the forest. As she looked around Gretel felt a sickly chill pass over her the kind she felt when something evil was in or had recently been in a place, it was a sixth sense she had developed during her time in the dungeon and had only got more pronounced since she had become a Greenwarden.

"What happened here?" She said a worried tone clear in her voice. "The big ale swilling church going clodhopper got batted on his bonce and dragged off by an orc" a small high pitch voice said from behind Gretel. Gretel turned around and looked but couldn't see anyone. "Up here you daft Green Bonce!" Gretel looked up and saw Pixel the Pixie fluttering about in the air. "What happened?" Gretel said in shock as what Pixel had initially said sunk in.

"You got something wrong with your ears clodhopper!" Pixel snapped "A flaming big ugly Orc bopped him on his noggin and dragged him off!" "Oh Gosh!" Gretel said "I've got to help him…which way did they go?" Pixel flew in the direction that the orc had dragged Mace.

"Orc dragged him off this way…but you can't take on an orc alone. It would rip you limb from limb without missing a beat." "Ohhh your right, your right" Gretel fretted "And Gwendoline and the other wardens are all too far away to go ask for help…there's only one thing for it. Pixel would you please help me? Could you follow that trail and see if you can find where the orc has taken Brother Mace I need to go get someone to help me take it down."

Pixel sighed "Pixel not sure she wants involved in this" "Please Pixel" Gretel pleaded "Brother Mace is a good man he doesn't deserve whatever that orc will do to him…please help me help him." "Oh alright" Pixel agreed "But Green Bonce better hurry back Pixel not want to end up squashed by an orc." "I'll be as quick as I can Pixel" Gretel assured Pixel "Now please hurry" "Okay, okay, Okay Pixel's on the task" Pixel said and darted off following the trail the prone body of Brother Mace had left as the orc dragged him away, Gretel meanwhile hurried off back to her own hut to get the one person who was the closest and who could help her take down an orc.

As it happened the Orc hadn't taken Brother Mace a great distance he had just dragged him deeper into the woods and the still unconscious Brother Mace was now tied to a chair in a dingy hut that stood in a dark part of the Greenwood forest. Also present in the hut was another figure he, like Mace was dressed in the robes of a monk. However on his head in stead of a friar's hood his face was shrouded by a mask/hood combo made out of dark silk. It was the hood of an assassin and if further proof was needed oh this persons true nature, strapped to his waist was a vicious looking and sharp long bladed dagger, the weapon of an assassin.

This figure regarded Mace coldly, you could almost feel the hate and rage which, for what ever reason, he felt for Brother Mace emanating out of him.

"Wake him up Garfang!" he said to his Orc henchman, his voice was a raspy, harsh whisper almost as if his vocal cords were weak, like he wasn't use to using them.

Garfang grunted "Why not slit his throat now?" "Because Garfang I want him to see me, I want him to know who it is that is ending his life...and I want him to see my blade cutting his throat." Garfang nodded and began roughly shaking Mace. What neither Garfang or his boss noticed was a small and brief flickering of white light as a small figure landed on the windowsill of the hut and peered in.

"Uuuuugh" Mace moaned "No, no good Abbot I can assure you I was not drunk during Even-Song. I was merely exuberant with the joy of our lord." He said groggily as he regained his senses provoking a soft and raspy laugh from the faux monk. Mace raised his head looking in the direction of the laugh he squinted due to both the dim light and also him still seeing double at the moment due to his bludgeoning at the hands of Garfang.

After a few moments his vision cleared and his eyes adjusted to the lightning. He saw his Orc attacker and the faux monk. "Humph" he snorted in contempt "A Devil spawn" he said to Garfang "it is you I have to thank for my current predicament yes?" Garfang glared at Mace and nodded. "You caught me unawares devil spawn had you and I been on an even field of combat I assure you it would have been you who would now be nursing a sore head as I would have introduced your noggin to the Staff of St. Smasher the Aggressive." Garfang growled in response.

This barb delivered to Garfang Mace turned his attention to the Assassin masquerading as a monk; he looked long and hard at him. "Greetings Brother Mace so nice to see you again" the assassin said. "I know you don't I" Mace said the assassin laughed contemptuously "Yes you do...you named me after all." This statement drew immediate realisation and reaction from Brother Mace.

He jerked up in the chair, trying to stand and face his enemy face to face though his bonds prevented this. "Brother Silence, The Assassin!" he said with contempt and loathing.

Upon hearing this name Pixel quickly flapped her wings and again took off into the forest this time heading back the way she had came to find Gretel and let her know what she had found out.

Unaware of this Brother Mace and Brother Silence continued there face to face. "I'm so glad you remember me" Brother Silence said "It will save so much time not having to remind you" Mace scoffed "Last time I saw you, good Brother Silence you were laying face down in a plate of chicken after I demonstrated to you how to make a Silencer" he said with a smirk "I thought that Goblin hunting party would have seen to you."

Brother Silence bristled at this "No...They didn't" he seethed "There master had them to well trained for that when there was the sent of a Dungeoneer to follow." Mace was tempted to follow up on this odd comment but Brother Silence continued on.

"However you did cost me dear in another way. I was expelled from the ranks of The Assassin Guild due to you." Mace smiled "Ahhh you mean they threw you out on your backside due to your failure to kill me." "You disgraced me Brother Mace" Brother Silence seethed "I was cast out in shame forced to make my own way in this realm as a wandering freelance Assassin. Do you now hard that is!"

Brother Mace smirked "Oh...my sympathies Brother Silence my hart breaks for your hardship" Brother Silence laughed "Still cocky aye good Brother Mace? Well save your sympathy for yourself, for I have made a success of my new lot in life but as for you, my blade will soon be sliding across your throat and sending you to meet your maker. You see I've had a lot of practise in the past few years."

Mace thought hard he had to find a way out of this situation no one knew he was here...Gretel might raise the alarm if she returned to the glade as she had promised and saw him missing...but he couldn't be sure of that. For the moment he just had to buy time for himself.

"Pray tell me one thing before you do that Brother Silence." He said "And what would that be?" Brother Silence asked "Your strange style of dress" Mace said nodding towards his mixture of Assassin and Monk's robes, "What is the purpose behind it?"

Brother Silence laughed "Well there no harm in telling you that and I don't mind prolonging the pleasure of ending your life Brother Mace." He said with clear sadistic joy in his voice. "It is the secret to my success Brother Mace. You see I struggled at first being a freelance blade for hire but that I had an epiphany whom do all people trust instinctively?"

"In my experience Brother Silence that would be Men of the cloth and errr Tavern owners" Mace answered with a smile, Silence scoffed "Still thinking about Ale you booze soaked monk?" "Well I am after all a Tavern monk good Brother Silence." Mace retorted Brother Silence continued .

"Well you are correct in saying Men of the Cloth so...I obtained through the aid of a less then scrupulous trader the robes of a monk." "Do I know the trader in question?" Mace asked, trying to drag the conversation out even more, "His name was Bartram" Brother Silence said "I can't say as I have had the...'pleasure' of making Mr. Bartram's acquaintance" Mace sniffed "That is but a little side detail though" Brother Silence said "Once I had the correct robes I needed a new name my old one when I was an Assassin would not be believable for use as a monk."

Brother Silence laughed "So I turned to you for aid in that matter I took the name you gave me in mockery and used it as my new one" "Do tell me Brother Silence what was your name before you donned the robes of a monk? "I was known as Laminas " Brother Silence explained "Ahhh how appropriate for one of your profession the Latin for Blade." "Well with my new name and new disguise I soon made a reputation for myself as a successful freelance killer, my victims never saw it coming and even if I was seen by witnesses in the area...who would suspect a man of the cloth of the act of killing?"

Brother Mace frowned slightly "I had heard whispered rumours of a roaming monk who was shedding blood I must confess I never truly believed them or thought of it being you if they were true." "Well that is to your cost Brother Mace. However even with this new successful career I yearned for one thing above all else…revenge on you for my disgrace. So I acquired the help of Garfang here and sunk back into this area and planned out my revenge on you."

Brother Silence drew his dagger "But now I'm afraid Brother Mace, my dear old friend that this conversation is at an end and with it…your life." Brother Silence began advancing on Brother Mace his dagger drawn, Brother Mace closed his eyes and ready himself for the end, murmuring prays and the last rights under his breath.

Just then there was the sound of breaking glass as the window of the hut was smashed in by a blow from a hammer. "What!" Brother Silence cried, as loud as his raspy voice would allow him to, in shock. Before he or Garfang had a chance to recover from this shock the door of the hut was kicked open and two figures barged in.

One was Gretel her long bow load with an arrow and the string pulled back tight ready to let that arrow fly."Stand back from him Brother Silence!" she said firmly her voice full of authority

"Aye yer wretched cut throat yer get yerself back from him or I'll crack yer skull like I did yer winder!" said her companion brandishing the heavy looking mallet he had once wielded as a weapon while a Wellway guard but now used in the making of arrows. It was Gretel's fiancé the former dungeon goon turned official blacksmith of The Greenwarden's Gibbet and though his days of combat and violence were for the most part behind him one look at him could tell you he still wasn't a person to mess with.

Brother Silence looked at the two Powers That Be members in shock for a few moments before he gathered his wits about him enough to figure out what was happening and to react. "Ha!" he laughed sarcastically "Is this the best your Powers That Be friends can muster these days Brother Mace?" he asked mockingly "A ditzy Dungeon Maid who thinks she's a warrior maid and a Thug turned blacksmith. What threat are either of you two to me?" he spat contemptuously at the pair before turning to his henchman "Garfang get them!"

Garfang roared and lunged at Gretel & Gibbet, but if Brother Silence had been expecting that Gretel, or perhaps even both of them would turn and run in fear from the savage brute he was badly mistaken. Gretel, no longer the young ditzy maid Brother Silence had deride her as, stood her ground bravely and instead took carefully aim at the charging Orc before letting her deadly arrow fly from her bow and sail through the air.

Garfang yowled in pain as her arrow struck him in his shoulder. Still moving forward now out of control and of balance as well as being distracted by the searing pain in his shoulder Garfang was unable to stop himself careening into the wall of the hut temporarily stunning him.

Brother Silence cursed and moved towards her his dagger raised ready to strike down at Gretel who was making ready to stringing another arrow. But Gretel didn't need her arrow to be in her bow to make it deadly and she instead swung her arrow at the Assassin like a sword Brother Silence moved back quickly losing his balance also and falling backwards into a heap.

"Garfang get you little lady" the Orc, already recovered from his impact with the wall, said rising up. "Garfang rip you limb from limb!" "Go help Brother Mace Lassie" Gibbet said "Gibbet will deal with this here brute!" Gibbet said getting in front of her and advancing on Garfang. Garfang roared and swung a clawed hand at Gibbet who ducked out of the way and answered with a swing of his own with his mallet.

Gretel quickly ran over to the bound Brother Mace "Brother Mace! Are you okay?" she asked "Yes, yes indeed dear lady thanks to the peropportune…err timely arrival of yourself and master Gibbet. Now if you would be so good as to cut my bonds so that I may get up and partake in this pulchra motu that is going on." He said with a smile "Though I am a man of the cloth I am not ignorant of the simple joy of what I believe those from the realm of the Dungeoneers refer to as 'duffing up' the forces of evil." Gretel smiled and began using one of her arrow heads to cut through the ropes that held Mace to the chair.

Meanwhile Gibbet & Garfang were still brawling. Gibbet had managed to land a good few hits with his mallet but Garfang was kept coming and slashing at him with his vicious claws and had in fact caught him a few times leaving some nasty claw marks on his upper torso.

"Garfang rip you apart little man!" the orc growled as it back Gibbet in to a corner and raised one of its hands to deliver a killing blow. Gibbet smiled "Not likely yer great overgrown goblin" he said Garfang roared and swung down, but Gibbet had deliberately allowed himself to be backed into the corner and he ducked down out of the way.

Garfang's hand crashed into the wood of the hut and the Orc found himself stuck it roared in frustration and tried to yank its hand free of the wood.

Gibbet darted out under its legs and got behind it "Now yer fowl beast Gibbet put's yer lights out permanently, so say nighty night Garfang cus here I come!"

He raised his mallet high and brought it crashing down on the back of Garfang's skull. There was the sickening sound of bone braking mixed with a gurgled yowl from Garfang and then quiet. The dead body of the orc slumped to the ground.

"An excellent and righteous swing master Gibbet!" Brother Mace, now free of his bounds, said clapping "I'm just sorry I didn't get to deliver the blow myself, I owed that foul beast a recite" "Aye sorry bout that Brother Mace" Gibbet said "But I had to deal the death blow now or no tellin if the chance would present itself again." "Yes, yes indeed!" Brother Mace said with a smile.

Gretel smiled at her fiancé "Oh Gibbet you were marvellous but your hurt let me see…" she said moving over to look at the claw marks Garfang had inflicted on him. What none of them noticed was the figure of Brother Silence moving across the floor to retrieve his dagger. He stealthily moved across the floor towards Brother Mace rising up as he neared him. Just then there was a fluttering of wings and a flash of white shot past Brother Mace's face and then a yell of pain from Brother Silence

"Take this you vile backstabbing beef bonce!" Pixel cried as she dived bombed him again and again stabbing him repeatedly with her pixie needle "Pixel not like backstabber! Pixel see how you like being stabbed in the back!" Brother Silence trashed his hands about trying to swat the little pixie away from him but Pixel was too quick for him. His henchman dead, the element of surprise gone, outnumbered and with a angry little pixie constantly stabbing him Brother Silence had only one option left open to him. "I'll get you Brother Mace!" he cursed running towards the hut door "You'll see I'll get you!"

Brother Silence ran out of the hut and took off running down the forest path Pixel pursued him stabbing him some more until she was sure he wasn't going to come back anytime soon. Brother Mace, Gretel and Gibbet laughed as they watched the thwarted Assassin flee. Pixel flew back to the others "Pixel enjoyed that."

Gretel smiled "Thank you for your help Pixel" "That okay green bonce" Pixel said good naturedly "Pixel always happy to get the chance to stick her pricking needled into some evil clod hopper bye" this said the little pixie flew off.

Brother Mace smiled "My thanks go to all of you, you saved my life" "No thanks needed Brother Mace" Gretel said "But what was all this about anyway, why did that…Brother Silence want to kill you?"

Brother Mace smiled "Ahhh come I'll tell you both all about it…over a flagon of ale I believe The Wolf's Howl Inn is open at this time. Come the first round is on me as thanks" The tavern monk led his two friends to the Inn, got them a table and ordered them all a drink ale from him and Gibbet and some wine for Gretel. He then proceeded to tell them the story of himself and Brother Silence.

Gretel and Gibbet listened "So you see my friends it's a good job you two came along when you did or no doubt good Brother Silence knife would have had a merry dance upon my throat." Just then the ale and glass of wine were brought to their table by a rather scruffy looking member of staff "Ahh thank you Miss Ragnell" Mace said and the young girl smiled and curtsied "Your welcome Brother Mace" she said before departing.

"Your good health my friends" Brother Mace said raising his tankard in toast. "Aye and yours Brother Mace it's just a shame that weasely little assassin got away" Gibbet said ruthfuly "Ahhh pasci, reperiat viam ad iustitiam master Gibbet yes indeed justice will find its way to Brother Silence's door one of these days."

"But Brother Mace" Gretel said "what if this Brother Silence comes back?" Brother Mace laughed "Oh my dear lady I'm sure he will but from now on I will have my eye out for him. He won't get the drop on me again so easily and now he is on his own after you two did away with his brutish assistant. No, no, no he will find it much, much harder to make another strike at me for quite some time."

Meanwhile elsewhere in the realm a frustrated Brother Silence was operating a spyglass "I have but one option left to me if I want my revenge" he said Just then the spyglass tuned into the frequency he wanted.

"Yes!" an arrogant and powerful voice said "Who's calling the Greatest Power on Earth?" "I am an assassin known as Brother Silence Lord Fear" Brother Silence said "and I have a proposition I wish to make to you…"