The Storm Plains, given their name for the abnormal storm in the area, would be host to great events. The Storm Plain, a desolate and sparsely inhabited area, was under assault by one of the most powerful storms in decades. The storm let loose its fury, unleashing gale force winds, with rain falling fast and hard. The lightning strikes lanced down upon the ground causing small explosions at every point. No one went out in such storms, if you were caught in the storm you had little time to make it to shelter. There was only one person out in the storm that night, a young dwarf who was not very happy about the storm. He stands four foot three, deep brown eyes, he has midnight black hair tied in a short ponytail, and a long thick beard tucked into his belt. He was angrily searching for somewhere to weather the storm. A lightning bolt hurled from the heavens like a spear slammed into the ground not far from Krigga. A brightly lit skull appeared in front of Krigga and a voice emanated from it.
"It would seem that you are in need of assistance. Out in this storm wearing full plate is very dangerous, even for one such as you Nu'al Krigga Torrune," said the voice.
As the echo faded from the skull, Krigga felt his body move violently as he was ripped from the plains. When he got a bearings, he found himself in a well lit stone passage way.
"Who are you, what devilry is this?" Krigga demanded.
"Do not worry Nu'al Krigga Torrune everything will be explained, continue on and you will find out." With this last statement, the bright skull disappeared.
"I hate magic!" Krigga angrily grumbled.
As Krigga slowly progressed through the fortress, he cautiously peered around every corner before he advanced. After twenty minutes of slowly creeping through the fortress he came to a set of large doors. Krigga reach up to the handles and pulled the doors open. He was greeted with the presence of two hooded figures sitting at a table.
"What took you so long; we could hear you coming for ten minutes? said a hooded figure
"I am always cautious when I have no idea where I am nor in what company I may find myself," Krigga said.
"And here I thought all Dwarfs were fool-hardy," said the other hooded figure as he took a sip of wine.
"Speak of my people in such a way again and I will kill you!" Krigga shouted, his face contorted in anger.
"Don't get so mad, he just doesn't have a high opinion of dwarfs, or humans, or anything really," said the seated figure.
"That is not entirely true; I have the utmost respect for power," he said
"I do not like those who hide their identity, reveal yourselves," Krigga said.
Without a word both people stood and removed their hoods. The first was was a human male, about six feet tall with slightly tanned skin, dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a long scar stretching across his left cheek; the other man, however, was a Drow, standing about five foot five with midnight black skin, almost black eyes, and short white hair.
"Who are you and why have you brought me here?" Krigga questioned, hand resting comfortably on an ax at his belt.
"Calm down," said the Drow "first off, we don't know who brought you here, but we're not connected. I was in a bad situation when a bright skull showed up, and then I was here. You are here because they are interested in you, or so I would assume. Oh, my name is Aliez."
"I am Manrik I was dealing with some problems, when that bright skull thing showed up and then I found myself here" Manrik said.
"As for what they want, I haven't got the slightest idea," said Aliez. "Manrik and I have been talking it over, and with you here it makes a little more sense. We are all appearing to use drastically different fighting styles and different races. It would seem that they are planning on enlisting us for some sort of operation."
The conversation came to an abrupt end when the skull appeared again. "It would seem that you have all gotten acquainted, that is good," echoed the skull
"Why are we…" Krigga started.
"I will not answer any questions Nu'al Krigga Torrune, I have much to explain and little time for nonsense. Manrik the Lute, would you be so kind as to put your blade away, and Aliez do not attempt to use magic against me again it may turn unpleasant. Hmmmm, this form seems to make you uneasy." The skull echoed eerily.
The skull disappeared and was then instantly replaced by an old human man.
"This form seems to incite less fear with you people," The man said. "I represent the Bright Skulls Organization; we are a collective group that seeks out certain individuals of power. With such individuals, we have amassed significant influence in areas far and wide. We are here to offer you three positions within this organization. All of you rejected the walks of life you held before now and you would gain all that you desire by joining us."
"What do you do with such power?" Krigga asked.
"We establish control and maintain peace," the man said.
"May we have some time to consider it?" Aliez asked.
"Of course, this is quite the decision, I will return tomorrow, talk it over between each other, talk of why you left, it may aid your decision. However, do not leave this building, there is food and drink if you desire. Enjoy this night," the man said as he disappeared.
"Krigga, tell us your tale, why are you here?" Manrik said.
"There is no need to talk," Aliez said, as he wove his fingers through the air leaving a glowing trail. Once he had finished, he mentally contacted Manrik and Krigga. "Now we can communicate mentally, and show each other memories, lets start with Krigga," Aliez said.
Aliez and Manrik began to see images and thoughts flash through their minds, slowly it adjusted, and they could see and feel everything.
The Mountains of Crown Drop Range are the southern most Mountains of Dwarf Crown. Crown Drop Range is one of the kingdoms of the Dwarf Crown Empire. The land beyond is unknown to all, save a few of the hardy dwarfs who adventure farther. The mountains were always warm, and often were hit by hard storms. The area was infested with all manner of dangers, giants, orcs, goblins, and a nameless horde of dangerous beasts. The sun was setting, and the monsters of Crown Drop were coming.
They would be coming soon. He smelled it in the air. The musty stench that followed the foul creatures was thick in the air. Krigga went up next to his commander.
"There are probably twice the number we thought, about twenty-five in all I'd say." Krigga muttered.
"Stand strong", Tordec whispered. "We are here to avenge the villagers of Drugord, our brothers and sister that were slaughtered, we share their blood, their life. What happens to one Dwarf happens to us all. We are outnumbered a paltry four to one." Krigga noticed some shifting among the dwarfs.
"There is no time for hesitation, strike fast, strike hard, and offer no quarter." Krigga said, receiving nods of agreement
"Yes, Knight Krigga," they all said.
"Knight Krigga I want you to lead as many as you can to that boulder to give us some time," Tordec commanded.
"Yes sir," Krigga said.
Krigga dropped his pack and went to the western side of the line. He pressed the crest on the middle of his ax, making it glow bright white.
"Oi, You stupid, dull-eyed, mud eating, swine, you haven't the strength to face me in combat!" His amplified voice echoed with strength of body and will. Krigga continued to mock the orcs as he retreated about halfway to the boulder and prepared for the charge.
The silence shattered as the orcs poured out of their holes heading for the dwarven line. Howling like wolfs the orcs charged the dwarfs. Fourteen of the orcs had taken the Knight's challenge, and they broke off and headed for Krigga. The dwarfs held their shots taking aim with their large crossbows.
"Fire!" Tordec roared.
The barrage of bolts splintered the orc line as it reached half way to the dwarven line. The bolts took two of the main force and three of the orcs heading for Krigga. The dwarves dropped the cumbersome crossbows. They wouldn't have time to reload them, and drew their axes, each one fitting their hand like a glove and braced for the charge. The orcs and dwarfs met in combat, the stocky dwarfs, well kept beards running down their thickly armored chests, hands gripping well crafted axes; facing the towering orcs, standing six feet, wielding crudely made weapons, dirty and filthy brutes, hoping to cut a new mark in their weapons for the kills they would attain that day. When the two lines crashed into each other, the force of eleven had already lost a member to Krigga's ax. Ignoring his dead companion, the orc in front of Krigga slashed down with his crude blades. But Krigga deflected them with his shield and pushed sending the orc off balance.
"Gah," Krigga shouted in exertion as his ax blade found the throat of the stumbling enemy, the ax blade slashed through all that was in its path, cutting flesh and arteries. The orc fell to the ground gasping for air, clutching at his sliced throat, feebly trying to stem the flow of blood.
As an orc charged to attempt to spear the sturdy dwarf through the heart, Krigga sidestepped and severed the orc's spine with a spinning strike. The remaining orcs surrounded Krigga hoping to render his strength and tactics worthless. Krigga readied for the attack as two orcs slid behind him and one blocked his front.
"Now, we'll make you squeal like the others did," the orc in front of him shouted.
The orc in front of Krigga slashed sideways with his great sword attempting to cut Krigga in two, while the two orcs behind him stabbed forward with their short swords. Krigga jumped inside the long swing of the great sword letting the short swords stab across his armor. Without the time to strike the orc with his ax, he improvised and bludgeoned the orc in the back of the head with his shield.
"You inbred fools are too weak to make me do anything, just like the rest of your abomination of a race," Krigga taunted as he went on the move.
Seeing the dwarf move, a large orc moved to block his actions. Already on the run, Krigga used his shield as a battering ram and slammed with half a ton of force into the orc, knocking the six-foot orc down. Pulling himself into a spin, Krigga maneuvered onto the orc's back and standing up stomped his armored boot onto the prone orc's neck crushing the life from the creature.
Krigga removed himself from the body in time to see several spears soaring towards him. Pulling his shield up, he caught all but one on it; unable to block the closest one it slammed into him. It failed to pierce his near-impenetrable armor, but left his shoulder bruised.
Unleashing a battle cry Krigga dropped his ax and shield, scooped up one of the spears and hurled it with such unimaginable force, it pierced straight through one orc and into another. The remaining four separated into two groups the blade wielders falling back and the war hammer and ax wielders going to either side attempting to pincer strike Krigga. The orc with the war hammer to Krigga's right swung the hammer to catch Krigga in the chest. Krigga dodged most of it, but the hammer clipped his helmet sending him stumbling and spinning his head. Using this opportunity, the Ax wielder leapt at Krigga, bringing the ax high above his head to split Krigga in two. Jumping back Krigga moved just in time to avoid the cleaving ax, and have it slash right into the shoulder of the hammer wielder. Krigga shook his head to clear his ringing ears; he looked up and saw his mark. Tackling the ax wielding orc to the ground, he pummeled the orc with his mailed fists. As Krigga began to rise from the corpse, he grabbed his ax and shield from the ground.
With no time to celebrate he was forced to retreat back to the boulder under the combined blows of the two remaining orcs. The blows smashed into him forcing Krigga to his knees. With a last ditch effort he pulled the end of his shield up and stabbed into one of the orcs ankles from underneath while accepting a stab through a space in his armor on his side.
"Ahhhhhhh," the orc yelped as he fell backward.
The other orc glancing at his ally had no time to think as Krigga promptly tackled him to the ground.
"You die now!" as the orc grappled for position with Krigga.
"Not before I rid the world of your filth!" Krigga bellowed wrenching his arm free and nailing the orc in the head with his ax handle.
As the orc's grip began to loosen, Krigga stood up and finish off the orc with a boot to the neck. Turning, Krigga advanced upon the remaining orc.
"Mercy," the orc gasped in pain.
"You inbred filth will get the same mercy you gave to those in Drugord," Krigga said as he marched toward his prone enemy.
Lifting his ax as he approached, he readied to deliver the final blow.
"But I-I surrender," the orc stammered.
"I heard you," Krigga said as he split the orcs head in two.
Krigga pulled his ax free of the orc's split skull revealing the splattered brain.
"Huh, wasn't sure they had brains," Krigga said.
Krigga wiped the blood and gore from the blade, and scooped up his shield, and arose to see his commander and the others approach him. Krigga attempted to stand straight but bent down slightly as searing pain lanced from through his back.
"Knight Krigga that wound looks serious?" his commander question.
"NO sir," Krigga said, "We have no time for pain."
"Knight Krigga, you are only under my command through your own agreement and are above my command as a Justice Knight, but it is a mandate of our code that we offer mercy to those who surrender," he said solemnly.
"I understand commander, but they slaughtered everyone of Drugord, they deserve nothing but the blade of my ax, as a Justice Knight I could do nothing else!" Krigga said angrily.
"All those who surrender are to be taken to the council and judged;" Tordec said, "Do I make myself clear Knight Krigga?" he questioned.
"Crystal sir," Krigga said through clenched teeth. "This will not happen again."
"Good, now Knight Krigga, have that wound tended to, single handedly slaying six orcs is dangerous business," Tordec replied with pride.
"Bah, it be not but a flesh wound," Krigga said.
"No arguing, Knight Krigga just do it," Tordec answered.
Still grumbling Krigga waited for the cleric1 to tend his wounds. While waiting Krigga put eleven new notches into his ax handle. Soon after the cleric had finished his chanting, the pain in his side subsided and the blood stopped flowing. Krigga went over to several other dwarves and helped them pile the orcs bodies. The battleground was rank with the pungent smell of the orcs, and the stench of the blood that covered the ground. After piling the last corpse onto the pile, Tordek set the pile on fire.
"Okay, Head out," Tordek shouted. The dwarves got up and began a march back to the city.
Several days later the small squad reached the city of Hammerfall. Worn out the five returned to their barracks for rest. Krigga as a knight was in a smaller barracks closer to the center of the city. Krigga left to get a drink at a tavern he often frequented. After enjoying several ales at the tavern a tall half-orc entered the tavern. Although this raised a few heads, most didn't seem to notice except for one.
"Orc, we don't want your filth here," he said, "Get out."
"The half-orc kin stay, you don't like it Grath leave," The barkeep said.
"Knight Krigga," Grath pleaded, "ye don't want the orc here do ye."
"ss'long as he don't cause problems, and don't sit too close, he kin stay" Krigga said.
At that, Grath angrily left the tavern knocking into the half-orc's leg. The half-orc somewhat relieved sat at the end of the bar and then after a quick meal, left the tavern. Soon after the half-orc left, Krigga decided it was time to head home. Leaving the tavern he slowly began his walk back to his barracks. Passing a dark street, he heard the yells of distress and anger. Running down the street Krigga, reaches the alleyway in time to see Grath slug the half-orc, with two other dwarfs holding his arms, and a dwarf crumbled against the wall.
"What in the blazes are ye doing, let em go," Krigga said.
"But Knight Krigga we just want to teach em a little lesson, and he killed Branok," he said.
At this Krigga let forth a roar, face contorted in seer fury, surged forward seized Grath, mussels bulging, and hurled Grath down the alleyway into some crates. Attacking again with a series of punches forced the other two dwarfs from the half-orc. Retreating, the two bruised dwarfs grabbed Grath from the heap of crates and ran off. Reaching down, he tries to help the half-orc.
"I didn't mean it; they attacked me I just tried to get them away, Grog sorry," Grog sobbed.
"Grog it's fine, come on you need some healing," Krigga said.
Reaching down, he helped the half-orc to his feet, and began walking him to the nearest church.
"Why you help Grog," he asked.
"Ye may be a half-orc, but ye did nothing wrong, and yer not so bad," said Krigga.
After reaching the church of Pelor and getting Grog healed, he took Grog to the guard station to report the crime. Entering the station, Krigga went to speak with the chief.
"Good Knight Krigga, you brought the criminal," the lead guard said waving several guards to arrest Grog.
"What do you mean, he is not a criminal, he was attacked, and we are here to report the crime," Krigga said.
"You are misinformed Knight Krigga, for one of my men was there at the time of the attack, Grath and several of his friends were walking through an alleyway, when that animal attacked them, and killed Branok," Said the Head guard.
"That's a lie!" Krigga yelled, "They attacked im and he defended himself!"
"Knight Krigga, if you have a different view in what happened you may present it at the trial tomorrow," the head guard said.
The next day Krigga went to the trial and defended Grog in court.
"The council finds this animal guilty of assault and murder, he is sentenced to execution in one week," the judge said.
"Yer honor this is an outrage, he is innocent, of these crimes, and," Krigga began.
"We heard your testimony Knight Krigga, and we believe that your are incorrect in you view," the judge said.
"This isn't a view it is a fact and ye bastards refuse to accept it," Krigga said.
"Do not test us Knight Krigga or we might find you as an accessory, when you helped the beast," the judge said.
At that, Krigga left, and went back to the barracks. Pondering what he should do, he sat in his room for several days. After thinking things over, he had made his decision. Donning his armor, sheathing his weapons, and grabbing his traveling pack, he left for the prison. In the night he made it to the prison and convince the guards he had business with one of the prisoners. Walking past the guards to the cell, he hurriedly searched for Grogs cell.
After finding the door, he had taken out his ax and had broken the lock. Pulling open the door, Krigga looked in to see Grog.
"Come on Grog, I only have a few minutes, I have to get you out of here, and don't talk," Krigga said.
Confused, Grog quickly followed Krigga through back passageways, winding the streets and alleyways until they got a small gate. Pulling it open, Krigga led Grog out. Grog turned in time to catch a small bag.
"Take the gold, head away from the city, head east, you will find a place to trade for supplies," Krigga said.
"Why you help me?" Grog asked.
"Because you are innocent, and I would not suffer such a crime to happen," Krigga said.
"Thank you," Grog said as he disappeared into the night.
Krigga stood there for a long time staring back at the city; he sighed in regret and pain, he slowly reached to his left breast, which bore the mark of Hammerfall, the symbol of the city, his city. He stopped for a second, and then tore the mark off. Dropping it in the woods Krigga trudged off into the night.
The mountains of the south began to fade from their minds. As the distorted images cleared, they could see they were back in the hall the old man had left them in.
"So that is your story," Aliez said.
"Ay," Krigga said.
"Damn, you should have gone last, that story makes me look like an ass; I haven't got anything near as grand," Manrik said. "Aliez, would your story make me look better or worse?"
"Depends, how do you want to look" Aliez said. "Do you wish to look good, or bad?" with a smirk on his lips…
"It's always a bonus to look good," Manrik said, returning the smirk.
"Then I shall show you my story, of why I left the Underdark," Aliez said.
The room's lights seemed to dim as their minds shifted into memories again.
The dark streets of Mazandri echoed with the everlasting screams of the dead. The city was built upon deceit, murder, and evil. The black star of the Drow cities, it commanded unbelievable power among Drow, the Underdark, and many parts of the surface world. The city crowned by a transforming statue of Loath that could be seen to the edge of the cave miles away. On this particular night the city was alive with death. As was common among the Drow, one family had decided to eliminate another. It was done in stealth to let none escape, for if one of the family's nobility escaped, it spelled death for the attacking family.
"Pathetic, they barely lasted twenty minutes," Azani said, treading around the corpses that covered the floor, covering and covered by pieces of the house that had been broken, careful to avoid the blood that painted the once pristine marble
"What did you expect of the Twelfth seated house Azani?" Blaxinox said, "Ha, that trash blade master's last seconds."
"Blaxinox, you will refer to me properly, or I will skin your inferior male frame," Azani said turning from him.
Blaxinox turned to his sister, eyes burning with anger, almost daring himself to slide his blade between her delicate ribs and showing her the superior sex.
"Of course, Mistress!" Blaxinox said, "I beg your forgiveness for forgetting my place." Spiting the words like poison at her feet.
"Fear not my dear little brother, I am ever so forgiving of you, you our blade master, the finest male fighter in the family," Azani said, her lips curling into an unhidden smile.
They began to leave the shattered remains of the Twelfth house, when the Matriarch of the twelfth house appeared from the darkness and began striding into the area.
"Fools, I will make good my escape, you are all dead," she cackled preparing another spell to transport her to the first house.
Azani attempted to thwart the spell with her own magic but failed. Just as the Matriarch started to fade, a firestorm erupted upon the concentrating Matriarch; she had time for one strangled scream before she was turned to ash by the raging inferno. Azani and Blaxinox covered themselves in their cloaks in an attempt to protect them from the fire, but the fires pulled back just as they felt the flames on their faces. They watched as the fires burned to a cinder and from the cinders and ash walked Aliez.
"You could have burnt my perfect skin, you," Azani began.
"If you so doubt my magical prowess, maybe I shall next time, Azani," Aliez said.
"You will refer to me with respect," Azani said, lacking the fiery anger and will she had lashed at Blaxinox. "You were supposed to be with us in the strike team, "little brother"."
"I thought you would not need me in such a trivial mater," Aliez said. "Mashra came to me later and asked me to check upon you; it appears she was correct, you were unable to complete this task alone. You also lost several thousand-troop fodder and thirty Drow commoners."
After returning to the Eleventh house of Mazandri, Azani and Blaxinox were sent to see the Matriarch. Aliez wandered off not really in the mood to see her. As Aliez confidently marched down the hall, ignoring several females who called to him, as no male had ever been able to do in Drow society, Blaxinox got one glance at Aliez's back. He felt a hatred for Aliez that was quite different than his hate of his sisters and mother. They were his superiors, yet their Aliez was strutting around as if he owned the place. Within the hatred was a fear he would never admit, the second born son, his "little brother", should have been lower than him, but he had on occasion killed noble Drow, and when ordered to fix the problem with other families, he usually just wiped the whole lot of them out.
Marching down the halls of the complex, Aliez reached his personal chambers. As Aliez entered his chambers, he heard a rustle behind him and turned to face Mashra.
"Did they need your help against the Matron," Mashra asked.
"Yes, they were unable to deal with her themselves, it appears you were right," Aliez said.
"Well of course I was right, what do you expect of the High priestess of Lolth?" Mashra said.
"Of course it was Loath, and not yourself," Aliez said.
"You should have gone to seen Mother first, she will be displeased," Mashra said.
"Do not refer to her as my mother, and she will be more focused upon the fact that I needed to go at all," Aliez said.
"So you did know you were not really of this family, when did you find out?" said Mashra.
"Long ago, so?" "What of it?"
Several hours later when Aliez awoke he slid out of the bed so as not to disturb Mashra. Now bored Aliez decided to travel out of the city for some adventure. After several days of traveling the tunnels of the Underdark, Aliez began hearing mining noises. Casting a small spell he looked through the stone to see several gnomes mining in a cave. With a smile Aliez teleported into their midst. To say the least, the gnomes were frightened; they scrambled back from the Drow elf, terrified by the evil creature that laughed as they ran. However, something Aliez didn't notice was a small contingent of Drow who broke cover and surrounded the gnomes corralling them into a corner.
"Where have you been Aliez," Mashra yelled, "You can't leave without permission."
"Mistress, don't be mad at Aliez, he was just hunting some Iblith 2" one of the hunters said.
"I guess he is off the hook for this, Aliez, do you wish the kills after we have some fun?" asked Mashra.
"I was only trying to scare them off, you had to go and ruin it," Aliez said.
"What do you mean, now we can torture them," the hunter said.
"They were amusing, let them go," Aliez said.
"What?" they all asked.
"I shall not command you again." Aliez said
"What are you Aliez an Iblith lover?" said Mashra, "Kill them."
At that Aliez unleashed several lightning bolts spearing seven of the twelve Drow. Before they could react a ball of ice flew into four more, turning them into ice-coated statues. All that remained was Mashra, and the gnomes.
"Why Aliez, you have nothing to gain from this?" said Mashra
"But I do, aside from the fact I didn't feel like killing them, I am tired of serving that Matron, you will report to her that I died fighting some Drow, you pick the house responsible, also leave now, these gnomes are quite afraid."
Wordlessly Mashra summoned her divine powers from Lolth and teleported away. After she had left, Aliez began to walk away until one of the gnomes stopped him.
"Why did you save us?" he asked.
"There was nothing to gain from killing you, and I didn't feel like letting you die," Aliez said.
The image of the expansive tunnels of the Underdark faded from sight and again their sight was distorted as it reverted back into the room the old man left them.
"You bastard, you said that story would make me look good, that won't make me look good at all," Manrik said. "that story made you look super-powered, and will make me look like a fool."
"You said you wanted to look good and you will," Aliez said as he drank from a cup.
"I didn't mean good as in a good person; I meant good as in powerful," Manrik said.
"You should have said so," Aliez said.
"On with yer story Manrik, we have no time to laze about," Krigga said while eating some stew.
"Alright, alright," Manrik said.
The Beldor Plains is an area ruled by low nobility of the broken kingdom of Beldor. Once the lord of Beldor was assassinated by his nobles, the country collapsed into anarchy. The country holds endlessly rolling hills and grass fringed by trees on the northern border, deserts on the southern, and sea to the east and west. This land is ruled by the assassin's blade and wit.
A calm breeze blew through a small town. A child ran threw the streets, an argument happened in the tavern, and a man played his lute on the tavern's balcony. A middle-aged nobleman began to ride through with his elite guard, both guards and himself heavily armed and armored. As they passed the tavern, the man playing the lute stopped, quickly twisted the head of the lute, its shape changed into a crossbow. He took quick aim and fired, fitting the bolt between the helmet and neck armor. The men slouched in the saddle but showed no signs of death. The young man twisted the head back on his lute, and finished the song.
Traveling north he reaches the end of the Beldor Plains by nightfall, and enters a small scrub forest.
"Is he dead Manrik?" asked an old man as he walked out of the woods.
"Yes, now about payment," Manrik said.
"Don't worry, here is your pay, in full," The man said as he tossed Manrik a purse of gold.
Manrik jingled it to test the weight, and then disappeared into the night. Several days later he was in Taldea, one of the largest towns in Beldor plains. He was at a poker table playing cards when a woman approached him.
"Are you The Lute?" she asked.
"Yes," Manrik said.
"I have a job for you," she said, then handed him a bag of gold "follow me."
Leading Manrik to a shadowy alleyway she spun to him with her hood up.
"I have heard that you are very good at what you do," the woman said.
"I am, who's the mark?" Manrik asked.
"He is a boy of nine, his name is Walter, it pays ten thousand gold pieces, will you kill him," She asked.
"For ten thousand gold pieces, I'll kill anyone you want, now where is he?" Manrik asked.
"He is a servant at Balinos Manor fifty miles east of here, I can get you in as a musician," she said.
"That's good, so will I see you at the manor?" Manrik asked.
"Why do you need to know?" she asked.
"Cause clients that see me usually screw things up, I don't like having my jobs ruined," Manrik said.
She stopped at that, thinking it over, "I am the mistress of the manor," she said.
"See you there my lady," Manrik said as he walked away.
Several days later, Manrik was bouncing along in a horse driven carriage, heading for Balinos Manor, going over his character one last time as he always did. He was Salin Borlish, a nomad from the deserts to the south. He had practiced his accent for this one, not having to sneak into this place. The carriage slowly rolled to a stop in from of the manor and stepped out of the carriage. Walking towards the house he saw his client and a large man most likely the lord.
"My wife tells me you are a good musician," he said "I am Dorin Balinos."
"My lord, it is my hope that I aptly display my skill," Manrik said.
"Well, Salin, my friend, I am sure your lute will please us all," she said.
"Yes, we are having a ball tonight, we shall test you then," Dorin said as he walked in.
Manrik went to his designated room to prepare. At the ball Manrik strode down the long tables playing and singing when asked. He was greatly sought by the nobles begging for him to come to their estates and play for them. He gratefully declined saying if he ever left the Balinos Manor he would gladly come. As he played along, he found the boy serving some wine along the tables. He went closer looking for signs of connection to anyone. The lord seemed to be fond of the boy, asking if he wanted anything, but the boy said no. Only Manrik noticed the look that passed to the lady at the table.
After the ball, he headed past the servants quarters looking for the boy. Hearing some crashing, Manrik slipped against the wall, sliding next to the door. Looking into the room, he sees the lady with a young man and a whip, whipping the servant.
"How dare you speak to his lord, I have told you before not to speak to him," she shrieked.
"But he asked me a question my lady," the boy said.
"I don't care, do you think you have special privileges because of that whore servant of a mother?" she said, "just because you think you are connected, its not true, you are an illegitimate whore's son," She said. "Continue."
The boy cries out as the lash fells upon his small shoulders, slashing along his flesh, leaving another bleeding line in the tattered remains of his back.
Manrik left for his room. He fell onto his bed and before his head hit the pillow, he was fast asleep. Unfortunately for Manrik his dreams robbed him of any soothing rest he had hoped to gain that night.
"You bastard, your whole family was a blight on this country, I will be a hero for ridding the world of your filth," the man said.
The boy was on the ground, bruised, beaten, and bleeding. His back had been torn to shreds by a whip, and his chest and legs were covered in massive bruises.
"Ha, you're just as pathetic as that peasant father, at least your mother was entertaining before I killed her," The man said, as he pulled the boy up and slashed his chest with a wickedly curved knife.
The man put his face next to the boy's and whispered what he had done to his mother. As the man began to pull back, the boy shot forward with a shout and clamped his teeth upon the man's exposed throat. With all the force he could muster, the beaten but not broken boy tore his throat out. As the man fell backwards clutching at his throat, the boy wrenched the knife from his hand and stabbed into his broad chest. Breaking down into tears, he stabbed into the man again and again.
"Aaaaghh," Manrik awoke with a scream.
Calming himself down, his hand went across his chest feeling a long scar on his chest. Trying to dull the memories, he grabbed a bottle of wine from the table and drank it down. As the memories died, he tried to fall back to sleep, but there was still the whisper of the man in his head.
The next morning, he was walking through the garden looking for his mark, hoping to be gone from the manor soon when he heard a soft lullaby floating across the wind. Walking through the trees, he found the boy strumming on old lute, sitting under a tree. The lullaby was simple but well played. He approached the boy, sat next to him.
"What's your name boy?" Manrik asked.
"Walter sir," Walter said.
"You play well, keep practicing," Manrik said as he stood and began to walk away.
"The lady doesn't like me playing the lute," Walter said.
"Don't worry about that," Manrik said grinning to himself.
Manrik waited until night fell, he slipped into the lord's bedroom, and approached the bed. Looking at the woman, he drew a dagger and slit her throat. Grabbing the bag that was to be his payment, he exited the room. Creeping through the halls, he searched for her son. He found the room of the man who had been beating Walter, the bitch's son and slid the blade into his hand. Just before he slipped out of the manor he made sure they were found.
"The lady of the house is murdered, her son is the culprit!" Manrik yelled and went over the wall, disappearing into the dark.
For the third time the images became distorted, and they returned to the room the old man left them, leaving the eastern plains.
"Well, that's it," Manrik said.
"Quite the noble act," Aliez said.
"What can I say, he played the lute, that's the only reason I didn't kill him," Manrik said.
"Bah," Said Krigga. "Ye do not have to lie."
"I'm serious, it was only because of the lute," Manrik protested.
"Of course," Aliez said.
"So are we going to agree or not?" asked Manrik
"I say no," Krigga, said, "I don't trust' em."
"I also say no, I do not wish to serve anyone," Aliez said.
"I more or less don't want to work for them," Manrik said.
"Are you sure that's really the decision you wish to make?" the man said as he fazed into the room. "I do not believe that is a wise choice,"
"We have decided, we'll not be serving ye," Krigga said.
"We have engineered the fall of more powerful adventurers than you, this could be costly," the man said, "I would not want all of the work we put into you three to fail."
"So you are saying you aided in what happened at our homes," Aliez said, "I do not take kindly to threats, you will leave or we shall end you."
"Very well, you shall regret your foolishness," the man said before disappearing again.
"Well, what are we going to do now?" asked Manrik.
"Let us travel, I have seen little of the surface world and wish to see more," Aliez said.
"I could go for some adventure, perhaps slay some monsters," Krigga said.
"Then it is agreed, what shall we call ourselves?" Aliez asked.
"I would assume we would call each other by name," Manrik said.
"What be our group title, he be asking," Krigga said.
"How about New World Order," Aliez said.
1 Many religious groups receive divine powers from their deity.
2What any creature that is considered less then Drow, Trash, excrement.