The Hunt

“Hound!” Whipping robes stirred dust as a tall lean mage strode hastily into the weapons hall where the young mute was looking up from his reading, waiting expectantly for orders. “My old enemies have an agent in town again… are you up to another hunt?”

Setting his book aside, the tall youth grinned in affirmation as he stood up. The scant details of his victim’s identity were provided while he donned his heavy cloak, hooked sword to belt, and pulled on his boots. As the patriarch of the guild provided the last of the details, the mute was stepping out the door.

The silent killer stalked the streets, intently seeking the subtle signs of his quarry. For the years preceding his acquisition and training by Master Fraekryss, these hunts were handled by the master himself.  The agents of the dark mages that pursued him were not easy prey for the ill prepared, and the mute knew that his assignment on these missions was a mark of great distinction.

He stopped as he stepped into a large cobbled intersection. A trickling fountain babbled in the center of the circle as the twilight sun left its pale orange signature on the high stone and plaster walls of the buildings, while the cool shadows crept ever upward. The clattering city sounds of a chill fall evening faded as the mute hunter’s senses bent on the identity of his prey. The mark was close.

He quietly made his way down the shadowed road to his right as he loosened his sword in its sheath. His fingertips trailed along the rough stone of the walls as he stalked up the road, his pace slowing as he sensed his quarry close by. He leaned back against the cold stone wall next to a doorway and prepared himself. His senses tuned, he heard through the thick wooden door the unmistakable mutterings of the dark mage’s secret tongue. Steeled to the violence he was about to commit, he slowly pulled his sword free.

In one motion he stepped into the doorway and threw his weight at the door, causing it to shatter off its hinges, exploding inward. He stepped in and saw not one but two shrouded mages look up alertly from their huddle over a glowing crystal ball on a table askew with scrolls and books. The intruder silently cursed at the unexpected double threat as he continued into the room toward the mages, who straightened and began to chant.

Taking the hefty sword in a double handed grip, the stoic swordsman swung it backhanded in a giant arc, bringing it up into the nearest mage’s groin.  Bone, cloth, and tissue rent as the mightily swung blade tore up through the torso of the mage, finally swinging free of flesh as the blade cleaved the breast bone of its victim. The assassin’s stroke continued fluidly as he spun to face the other mage, the graceful arc of his sword spraying a trail of blood across ceiling and walls.

The dark, bloodshot eyes of the remaining mage fixed intently on the killer’s as his chanting stopped, and a burning surge of energy tore into the warrior’s body, followed by an explosive blast of fire. The mage laughed in triumph as the room filled with smoke and the wreak of seared flesh, but his cackle was cut short as the warrior emerged from the smoke and vapor, bloody sword arcing toward a shocked face.