After several hard days of travelling through the wilderness, a lone figure slipped through the gates of Baldur’s Gate. No one saw him pass for he well hidden within the shadows. It had been two days since he had last paused to eat or sleep. Ever since the great hawk had brought him the second letter, he had pushed himself as hard as he dared.
Theaza has disappeared. Was working for ST guild in BG, but apparently left on urgent business. Discreet enquires suggest that he was heading north to towards Nashkell, but he never arrived. Disappeared on road, just vanished into thin air. The Red Wizard he formerly travelled with, Odesseiron, appeared in MV’s guildhall in Athkatla about the same time as Theaza and companions disappeared. Link perhaps? MV still has assassins on the prowl around the Sword Coast. Take care, my friend.
All the way the city, he had been trying to puzzle things out – but had come up with no answers. It was not completely impossible that the Red Wizard was responsible, at least in part, for their kind was known for being ruthless and power hungry and not particularly trustworthy. But the details were irrelevant just then. He knew, just knew, that Kane was in some sort of trouble and he was determined to help however he could. First he intended to visit the thieves guild in the city, as they were amongst the last people to see Kane, he was hoping that they might be able to say something to shed some light on things. And if not…he intended to go to Athkatla, to Mae’Var’s guild. It would be very dangerous, yes, but he was used to danger. He would find Edwin Odesseiron and discover what part he had to place in Kane’s disappearance. And if he was involved in any way…he would be made to regret it.
He entered the guild without detection, easily slipping past the various thieves posted as guards here and there. It was Denkod he wanted, the guild leader, and he found the thief alone in his room, examining papers of some sort. He didn’t bother knocking, just opened the door and stepped through. He was surprised to see all the colour drain from Denkod’s face as the thief set eyes on him.
“I told you earlier!” he said quickly, his voice shaking. “I haven’t seen or heard anything from Scarface for months! He stays out in the wild fending for himself and avoiding all people, he…”
“Relax,” the cloaked man threw back his hood to reveal the long, silver scar across his left cheek.
The other thief gave a startled cry. That scar was well known, to all the Shadow Thieves, and many other people besides. “Benny!”
“Aye, none other. Who has been asking of me, Denkod?”
“I know not,” the other thief shrugged and lowered his head, embarrassed. “I never saw his face. He slipped in here as you did, about two nights ago. Caught me from behind, he did, told me that if I turned, he would kill me. I…dared not turn round.”
Benny persisted. “What did he say? You must be able to tell me something of him.”
“Aye,” The other thief thought about it for a moment. “He was obviously a thief, possibly an assassin, and a good one to catch me off guard like that. Someone with skills equal to you and so I doubt that he is one to mess with. He didn’t waste any words; he just wanted to know where he could find Scarface, the shapeshifting assassin. When I told him that I didn’t know, that none of us here had had any contact with you for months, he warned me that he would come back and kill me if he discovered that I was lying and left. By the time I did dare to turn round, he was gone.”
Benny nodded thoughtfully. “He definitely called me Scarface? You are sure about that?”
“Yes,” Denkod said, with complete certainty. “Why, is it important?”
“Perhaps…but it is of no immediate concern right now. I am sure this mysterious thief will eventually seek me out and I shall be ready for him when he does. But right now, I have far more pressing concerns.”
“Kane, yes of course.” Denkod pushed his papers away and sat up straighter. “Of course, we all suspected that you would come as soon as you heard about that. Very mysterious.”
“He was working for you?”
“He was in the city for a while and he did a few odd jobs for us. He had some companions, a dwarf, some crazy and tattooed wizard, a miserable little halfling and a woman…at least I think it was a woman. Always kept her face covered, so I couldn’t swear to it though. And Kane didn’t seem particularly happy. He was very moody, withdrawn, quite depressed. Suddenly he announced that he was going south on some urgent business, said he’d be back soon and just…vanished. Last sighting of them was in Beregost.”
“Then I shall to Beregost and Nashkell and even on to Athkatla if necessary,” was Benny’s reply. Denkod began to say something, but the assassin didn’t give him the chance. “I have to go back there sometime. So many of my memories are there and I have been away for too many years. I’m not afraid of Mae’Var, I didn’t leave because I was frightened, I left because at the time I believed it was the best thing for all concerned. And maybe it is now the time for me to return. In any case, I shall do what I have to in order to track down Kane.”
“You shouldn’t blame yourself for this, Benny. You did what you thought was best for the boy, no one can fault that.”
“But it wasn’t, was it? I should never have left him alone for so long,” the assassin sighed and shook his head. “Still, what’s done is done. All I can do now is to track him down, even if it is just to reassure myself that he is all right. Thank you for the information, friend.”
Denkod opened his mouth to say something, but Benny had gone before he could speak, melting back into the shadows and leaving as quietly as he had come. Once outside, he shifted into wolf form and set off. He had many more miles to cover that night.
Over in the Shadow Thieves guild, Edwin was sitting on his bed attempting to memorise his spells. It had been two days since the trouble with Flint and under Cory’s instructions; the wizard had kept his head down and avoided the other thieves as much as possible. Having Cory on his side helped to keep him sane at least and stopped him feeling quite so alone.
“Isn’t that difficult?” Cory had just returned from his nightly activities and was lying sprawled across his bed, reading a book. “Trying to memorise all those spells and everything? I looked at a scroll once, but I couldn’t make head or tail of it.”
Edwin nodded. “At times it can be difficult. It is certainly not a profession for anyone of average intelligence.”
“I’ve always thought that wizards were pretty awesome. They have such power at their disposal, there is just nothing like it. If I wasn’t an assassin, I would have liked to have been a wizard, but it never would have happened.” He smiled faintly and tapped the side of his head. “Not enough up here really. I’m good enough at what I do, but that’s it.”
Edwin smiled back. He did like Cory and admired the way the young assassin never let anything get him down. He had seen the way the other thieves constantly bullied him, called him names or pushed him around, but the half-elf somehow managed to take it all in his stride. “From what I have seen, you are far from stupid. Especially when compared to someone like Flint, I swear I have met rocks more intelligent than him.”
His friend laughed. “Yeah, Flint does bring a new meaning to the word stupid. Still, he’s useful to have around when there’s fighting going on. If someone needs their body parts removed or a bone broken, he’s the man to do it. He’s not much of an assassin though – all he’s good at is using his fists.”
“I guessed that just from looking at him. Not that many of the assassins in this place seem even half competent from where I’m standing.”
“Most of us are competent enough. Randal and Mae’Var aren’t the sort to tolerate mistakes – they demand that every thief gives no less than their best and we do. There are some idiots like Flint, a few too many I suppose, but that’s just the way it is. I bet not every single Red Wizard is really intelligent. And anyway, you can be really clever about some things and still be really stupid in some ways too.”
Edwin just gave him a long look. The assassin was more right than he knew about not all Red Wizards being intelligent, his father came to mind – but he wasn’t going to admit to that. “I still don’t think Teacher Dekaras would be too impressed if he could see some of these idiot simians.”
Cory just smiled and shut his book. “I don’t think Benny was particularly impressed when he was here either.” There was a long pause as he slid it under his pillow, hiding it from anyone who might enter the room. “Some of the thieves say that you were Kane’s lover,” he said suddenly.
The wizard said nothing for a very long time. The thought of Kane brought a painful lump to his throat. “We were close for a time, yes.”
“Ah… I figured that it wasn’t all just rumours. But it was hard to believe… he preferred… I mean there were always… women…” He broke off abruptly, realising that he had probably said too much.
Edwin didn’t know how to respond to this, so he pretended to ignore it. “Were you and Kane close?”
“I suppose we were… in a way. There is five years between us and I was very young when he first came to the guild, and still a boy when he and Benny left really. Especially since half-elves age slower than humans anyway. But… we had things in common. He would help me practise fighting with my fists and stop the other boys from pushing me around and I looked up to him. I guess he was like an older brother to me. I miss him sometimes, but I know that he had to go. This guild wasn’t a good place for him…”
He broke off quickly at the sound of an urgent rap on the door and the rough voice of one of the other men. “Cory! You have to come now. There is some fight going on at the Promenade and they need more men.”
“All right, I’m coming!” Cory called back. “I’ll be back soon,” he told Edwin, pulling on his boots. “Don’t get yourself into any trouble while I’m gone.”
The door closed, leaving Edwin alone and worried. He had absolutely no idea what was going on, but he was suddenly afraid for Cory. Almost without him knowing it, the young half-elf had become such a good friend to him that he could not even bear to think of the possibility that something might happen to him…
Whatever the Future Holds: Part 6
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