Echoes of War

Prelude

Arthan huddled in the doorway in the back of the Naughty Lizard inn. The alleyway was little more than a gutter. Hands scarred from a lifetime of fighting, pulled his cloak a little tighter. The rain was heavy here at times in the bowels of Sharn. At least you tried to convince yourself that it was rain, this far down in the cogs it was better to not dwell on what exactly the liquid falling on your head was.

He had lost track of how long he had been standing there. The dull haze of orange created by the lanterns really didn’t help indicate what time of the day it was. He assumed it was daytime between the dull buzz of day to day traffic and the sounds of what could be children playing off in the distance. Muffled sounds from within the inn were of no help, the Lizard always seemed to be bursting at the seams with riff raff whether the sun or the moons hung in the sky.

He shifted a bit, feeling a bit exposed without his regular armor. But even here in the depths wearing his armor would be a dead give away of who he was, and he could not afford to be identified. He rubbed his eyes and stifled a yawn. Patience was not one of his virtues, though to be honest his virtues were few and far between to begin with.

“Bye the blood, waiting is the worst sort of torture.” He muttered, “If I got paid for waiting…” He paused suddenly aware of how unnaturally quiet it had become.

“You’d be a very rich man.” A dark silhouette seemed to materialize from the shadows. The figure stepped closer, the darkness clinging to its form. “In the great scheme of things time is not as significant as most make it to be.”

“Well, I would appreciate it if we could get down to business before I die at least.”

Though obscured still by shadow, Arthan was certain he could feel the figure smiling. A chill ran up his spine.

From within the depths of shadow, the figure produced a rolled up parchment and held it forward, the document clasped loosely in a pale hand fingernails capped in what appeared to be long silver talons. Arthan cautiously withdrew the document. The hand slowly withdrew back into the darkness, as Arthan rolled the parchment open, eyes darting side to side as he absorbed the contents.

“This is…” Arthan looked up, his words shattering a few moments of silence. “You realize how risky of an undertaking this is?”

“Of course.”

“Then you realize I will have to charge no less than five times our regular fee.”

“Money…”

“Half up front.” Arthan interrupted.

“As I was saying, Money is of no significance.” The figure hissed.

“We cannot guarantee that this operation will succeed.”

“Success or failure are insignificant. Dead or alive, insignificant. So long as the operation is carried out, you and your men will receive the money you request.”

“Seems to me that the you could find folk with a skill set that better matches the job you require, yet you sought me out specifically. Why?” Arthan folded his arms and let the question hang in the air, awaiting an answer.

“Do you know how to light a fire, exile?”

“Of course. What does that have to…”

“A spark is all that is required. You are that spark.”

“A spark for what exactly?”

“A funeral pyre.”

“A pyre for whom exactly?” Arthan looked up, a puzzled look upon his face. But the shadowy figure was gone.

A faint voice carried on the wind.

“Now, that. That is significant.”

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DarthVayne

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