Grumbling to himself, Hank adjusted his tunic and checked his weapons. Why did he always have to get the late night watch? Nothing ever happened late at night in Ubersreik, other than the occasional drunkards wandering by at some unholy hour. But tonight he was, for some reason, uneasy. Ever since the rumours began a week ago he’d had disturbing dreams and little sleep. Despite not believing the rumours of course. No-one actually believed the world was ending…. Dousing the candle he took a torch and headed to the door. No sooner had he opened it that the smell of the wharves hit him, so strong he could taste it too. Fish, salt, alcohol, pitch… all familiar enough. A shiver ran down his spine as he detected…something else. Unidentifiable, but a scent that put him immediately on edge. Looking around frantically with torch in hand, he strained his eyes against the darkness. What was out there?
A whisper in the dark, scurrying feet; was it his imagination playing tricks? It had to be. He dismissed his senses and tried to refocus. Only fools let rumours and the darkness get to them. A glitter of green in the corner of his eye caught his attention, only to be again dismissed. It had to be the ghostly glow of Morrsleib reflecting off the water… But then the flickering shadows cast by his torch caught movement from the dock below. He was definitely not imagining things now, panicking and stumbling back in fright, he tried to defend himself with his torch as the rat-man climbed up from below. That scent now identified clearly – fetid breath and the stench of fear.
With rusty blade and dripping teeth his attacker came at him. Terrified and brandishing his torch Hank reached for his own knife, but the sound of blades on stone made him turn. He barely registered the rustle of a mouldering cloak and sight of blood red eyes as the wiry, strong body threw him to the ground. The power of that attack and the weight of the assassin on his chest crushed the breath from his lungs, robbing him the chance to cry out. Blades flashing in the moonlight sliced at his flesh, the agony of the wounds from warpstone was like none he could ever have imagined. And as quickly as they had come, the ratmen vanished. Leaving him bleeding, dying on the cold cobble stones.
Unable to move, his life ebbing away, he picked up the faint whinny of a horse. He’d fight this to his last breath. Fulfil his duty. Warn the town. If they could hurry… if anyone could find him… But why was it so wet here? It seemed so funny, laying in the dark in the wet. Giggling to himself he rolled his head to the side as a small carriage slid into view. Lifting his head with all the strength he had left, he caught a glimpse of well-worn boots as his eyes slid shut. The stillness of death spreading over his features, his last breath spent.
But even in death he fulfilled his duty.
Markus Kruber walked quickly up to the body, a cursory glance at the still pooling blood all his practiced eye needed to comprehend the danger. The elf at his shoulder alert and tense, turning and firing an arrow straight at that same assassin as he uttered the words that would begin their journey together.
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