Chigger came down to see how I was doing. She came up behind me and said she was sorry.
” I just don’t want to keep anymore secrets, that’s all.” she said.
” How could you think such a thing? Eshlazi is everything that we hate and now you’re talking about becoming its friend?! I don’t want to do that . . . we could be killed for even thinking such a thing.”
” I know, but we know what’s right. We have to do what we feel is going to work and this is our one chance . . .”
” I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s see if Mari-Anne can lend some truth to your vision. Maybe then I’ll know what you mean.”
We left the common room of the Shelter and went to see if Mari-Anne was available. She joined us in the room Chigger was staying in. I didn’t look at Bastion. . .I couldn’t.
Mari-Anne was surprised that we knew so much information about events from before we were born. She seemed shocked and I almost thought she wasn’t going to tell us anything, but she did. She didn’t often speak about times before her banishment and I could tell she was uncomfortable with our questions.
” What you have said is true. Monika did have a father named Tulka and he loved her more than life itself. Unfortunately he made some powerful enemies and was banished shortly after the vote went through to stop any further Crusades. A lot of people blamed him that he was the cause of it all. His enemies, members of the Grand Council, accused him of being in league with the Z’Bri. I myself became disheartened that such a bold and honored warrior could be condemned by his own people. It was a factor that pushed me towards leaving as well. His daughter was taken in by a man named Cylix Seth’on. I never saw her after that. Something I still regret, as I cared for her as my own.
As far as Tulka’s wife is concerned, she was said to have disappeared a few years after hearing of her husband’s banishment. She learned that he was sacrificed in the Circle of the Chosen. What happened to her is a mystery. Some said she fled to the Outlands. Only the goddess can say for sure.
“So the Crusades ended. The last one was seven years before the final vote that you witnessed and was nearing its completion. I believe it was the Year of the Eagle. I miss those days. Days when the Watch stood for something besides the persecution of the Fallen and the condemnation of their fellow people. They started out as protectors, but now they’re just wardens to a prison called Vimary!”
We listened for quite some time as Mari-Anne continued her tale. It made Chigger and Cinders’ vision real. They actually did experience some things that happened, but why them? Only time would tell.
After Mari-Anne left we decided we needed to get rid of the Yagan Assassin problem. We didn’t know how we were going to do that, but we had a fairly good idea of where to start.
On the way to Mek’s one of the Dorks approached us and Chigger told him everything! Why would she do such a stupid thing? She told him all about the Mortuary Massacre and that if he or any of the other Dorks saw someone strange approach us, they were to make lots of noise and warn us. Sounded lame to me, but Chigger’s got a big mouth anyhow. Why not just tell the whole world that we have a price on our heads? What an idiot!
When we got to Mek’s training halls, he told us a little bit more about the past. He said Tulka almost single handedly removed any hopes of another Crusade. He said Tulka was a Z’Bri sympathizer and so no one was willing to support a cause that was leading to our strongest warriors being tainted. Mek didn’t speak well of him. He did say that there were some who were opposing the Old Guard and were fighting to give new life to the Crusades. He seemed quite interested in the current events and I almost thought he was thinking of joining the Joanites if they did manage to start it all up again! I suppose he needed to fight, it was in his blood. We also asked him about what we could do about the Yagan Assassin. Mek looked at us seriously as he continued to sharpen a set of new blades. “You guys have a Yagan Assassin after you? Why? Were you the ones behind the Mortuary Massacre?” he let out a chuckle.
” Yes!” we replied.
He looked at us with a sad expression. ” You’re in big trouble. Yagan Assassins are a difficult lot to deal with. The only thing I can say is, keep it hush! Don’t tell anyone and don’t sleep. . . for the rest of your lives!”
Okay, we were in BIG trouble. Mek had no real advice. Oh shit . . . the Dorks! Chigger told those little blabber mouths and now all of Hom probably knew. We had to stop them. We ran to Junks.
When we got there, the whole room looked at us. I saw the Dorks and they came up to us. They said they warned everyone to help us out! Great! We went outside and told them to go hide and keep it a secret. As we watched them leave, a rough voice greeted us from behind.” I hear you have an Assassin problem!”
” No, it’s just a joke . . . you know Agnites and Dahlians, we’re always joking! Hah! Hah!”
” Too bad, I heard about you guys killing a bunch Yagans at Mortuary. I like your style . . . if it were true. I could use people like you. If you promise to help me and my cell out, I could take care of your impending deaths!” he gave us a cracked smile.
” Sorry if we don’t trust you, but we’ve been betrayed in the past. Who are you?”
” I’m Raven. If you let us take care of this for you, you help me later on. You’ve got nothing to lose, you’re dead already.”
“Okay!” we said.
” First, get rid of the kids.”
We called the Dorks out of their hiding spots and gave them some crappy pretend assignment. We said we needed them to keep an eye out at the docks on the east side of Hom. They left.
” Hrmmph, I would have just killed them.” Raven said as he walked away.
We all looked at each other in disbelief. Was he serious?
We were on our way back to Junks after picking up our things at the Shelter. We were going to meet the River Dreamers who had offered to give us a ride to Bazaar in their boats. That’s when it happened.All of our torches went out and a shadow descended upon us with the swiftness of the wind.
Mana managed to deflect the initial blow and as the Assassin flipped to reset herself, a flurry of crossbow bolts came from a nearby alleyway. The Assassin stopped mid-flight and fell to the ground with a thud. A man with a long moustache stepped nonchalantly from the darkness and was reloading his repeater crossbow. Raven entered the street as well. ” Good work, Mick!” he said. ” Remember, now you owe us a favor.” They walked away and we stood there with our mouths hanging open!