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Val turned back toward the tavern, picking his shirt off the… 
6th-Nov-2006 09:54 pm
Matrix Style


Val turned back toward the tavern, picking his shirt off the ground. “That’s good. A simple life. I almost envy you.” With a far away glance that left him seeming almost vulnerable, he drifted back to the White Wing. “Occasionally, I wish my life were that easy.” That said, the cold shell returned and he looked at Daine. “If you’re finished, today we have a lot of work to do. I had Anne leave a large sum in your room and you have some time to prepare yourself fully. Today we infiltrate the Temple. I’ve already sent for a large party of bounty hunters who will attack in a few hours. We must give the Osia the warning and prepare them for battle.”

As he reached the door, his lips lifted in a mischievous grin, “I told you that you needed to play a role. I hope the one of wife won’t be too much to handle. You have the proper temperament for it.”
He left that hanging in the air as he disappeared into the Inn to prepare for the day’s tasks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Val entered his room with an air that could only be called authoritative. He moved quickly and efficiently, donning the articles of war. First a comfortable, long sleeved silken shirt went over his head, followed by a tight fitting leather tunic. A war harness brought the whole piece together, giving him the look of a warrior mage. An assortment of throwing weapons were pocketed within the harness, adding another deadly element to his already formidable arsenal. His arms were left free, allowing him the movement to cast, with his hands bare as well, negating the risk of spell failure.

His legs sported a loose pair of black trousers of a light material to keep his movement unhindered. The only armor he wore on his lower body consisted of a pair of shin guards, plated with steel. Instead of combat boots, he wore moccasins, light weight and serviceable.

Finally, Val reached for the weapons he preferred to all others. The trench knives he had used since becoming the man he was had served him on all occasions. To him, there were no substitutes. Strapping the sheaths to his waist, he smiled and closed his eyes. It was good to be back in his element.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reaching the common room, he noticed that Daine hadn’t yet arrived. He had no time to waste, so he left a note with Anne for her to meet with him at the temple, but by pass the hunters. Moving swiftly, he saddled his mount and donned the mask and white cloak that had made him legend. It was but a short trip from the capital to the temple, and he had work to finish.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He reached the bounty hunter camp in under half an hour, pausing for a moment before being identified by those around him. “You attack soon,” he said without preamble. “You have all been paid well for this mission, and any who brings back the head of a mage will receive double what I have already given you.” This brought a murmer of approval from all those in the vicinity.

“You have 1 hour to prepare. Do not fail me.”

That said, Val spurred his horse away from the camp to a secluded area of the woods. He removed his mask and cloak, burying them in the earth and solidifying them in rock. No one would stumble upon his tracks. He left the stallion where it was and sprinted toward the temple, getting caught up in the role of messenger until a part of his mind actually believed he was.
The temple came in to view quickly, and at about the time he figured he would be spotted, he tripped, falling face first into the ground. It was an easy ploy, but often gave the appearance of a rabbit in flight, making it seem as if he were actually running for his life. He scrambled back to his feet and continued on a dead sprint to the main entrance. His eyes had grown wide in fear, and his nostrils flared with mock effort. He stumbled quite a few more times, making his act seem more real to any of those who watched. In all, it was a flawless performance.

He reached the doors of the temple and all but flung himself at the wood, “Open up,” he screamed, viciously holding onto the act of prey. “Please, please open up,” he begged, slamming balled fists against the door.


Comments 
25th-Nov-2006 06:06 am (UTC)
Mortimus drew his rapier as he ran across the field. Something spurred him onward; some hidden threat. He couldn't explain it, but he knew that the situation had just taken a turn for the worse. He twirled the sword a bit in his hand as he ran, to make sure it was loose in his grip. Satisfied that he was prepared as well as he would ever be, he continued running.

He threw a glance over his shoulder to make sure Kea was behind him. For just a moment, he was struck by how beautiful she looked in the setting sun, her robes flapping behind her in the wind. Shaking that from his thoughts, he contented himself with the knowledge that she was keeping up.

A few paces later, he heard her let out a small yelp. Stopping to turn abruptly, he saw her sprawled out on the ground. He rushed back to her, taking her by the hand to hoist her to her feet. "Come on, Kea," he said. "We have to get back, or else-"

"Fox?! Well, I'll be damned! Barty, look who it is!"

Mortimus's blood froze. He snapped his head toward the sound of the voices. Two shadowy forms sauntered towards them, swords drawn hanging loosely at their sides. "Yeah, Grenth; thought he was killed a few weeks back. But old Fox has a few ticks in his sleeve, it seems."

"What's more, it seems he got the quarry before we did, the lucky dog. Some men just get it all, I say."

Suddenly, he understood. They had no way of knowing that he had joined forces with the mages. He looked to Kea for a moment and gave her a sly wink. Then he took on an air of arrogance - funny how peculiar it seemed to him, after abandoning it; he had never really quite grasped how much of a bastard he had been back then - and turned to his old friends. "Afraid that's the way it works, lads. The early bird...well, obviously you're not interested in cliches like that, my friends, but you get the general picture."

The other two chukcled as they approached. "Well, Fox," Grenth said, "it seems you get your chance at being the early bird more often than not."

"Preparedness, gentlemen; you should understand that well enough," Mortimus retorted with a sneer.

They laughed. Barty circled in, eyes hungrily on Kea. "So, what have we here? Not a bad catch; pretty enough. Should catch a fair price. Can't suspect why anyone would want to kill this one. The king should have...other uses for her."

Anger flared in Mortimus' heart, but he held his tongue. Oh, Barty, he thought, gripping the sword tighter. You have no idea.
25th-Nov-2006 06:21 am (UTC)
Keaira winced as Mortimus came back to her and helped her up, looking at her leg. There was a small rip in the pants she wore and she saw a bit of blood. Nothing more than a scratch, but it still hurt. But then she heard the voices of bounty hunters and her heart began pounding fast in her chest. Would they be captured? Had Icthus and the others been captured? Did they even know...? She watched as the hunters came closer and her eyes darted to Mortimus for a moment, just in time to catch the quick wink. She nodded ever so slightly, letting him know she understood. She had almost been afraid he'd betray her, but she knew...she trusted him. She looked back as one of the hunters- Barty, she thought he'd been called- loomed closer and she stepped back, turning her head away.

"You and your king are both stupid if you think he'll use me for anything," Keaira sneered before she could stop the words from escaping her mouth. She slightly winced, knowing that if she wasn't careful she could screw things up. She didn't dare risk sparing a glance to Mortimus, not wanting to give anything away to these hunters.
25th-Nov-2006 07:14 am (UTC)
"We'll let him be the judge of that," Barty bit back. "Word has it he's...very capable in these matters. Mages, you know; he's been dealing with your kind for years. Yes, they say he's quite a talent for this. As for us..." He shot a glance at Grenth, grinning evilly. "Well, we're not children ourselves. We know better'n to play with fire, so to speak. Better to...extinguish it, even if only temporarily."

Mortimus was becoming very annoyed, and even more cross. Still the charade was necessary for now and he would do what he could. But perhaps he could make them ease off. "Easy, Barty," he chided. "The king'll not like his prize overly disturbed."

"We can moderate, Fox," Grenth shot back. "Besides, aren't we entitled to a bit of the spoils?"
25th-Nov-2006 07:22 am (UTC)
Keaira rolled her eyes. Neither Barty nor Grenth looked the type to have any sort of talent.

"Well, if you gentlemen don't mind, I think I'll be getting back to my magely errands right now. Wouldn't want to spoil your conversation by staying around here," Keaira said, and backed up once more before turning to try and leave. She knew that Mortimus was just playing along, but she also had to get to Icthus and the other mages and warn them.

Play with fire...they shouldn't tempt me, she thought.
25th-Nov-2006 07:38 am (UTC)
"Oh, I don't think so, deary," Grenth snickered evilly. "No, I don't suspect you'll ever have to worry about these little errands ever again. Not that you'll be in any position to do so, anyway, not when we're done with you."

Mortimus hefted the blade. Almost time.

As Kea backed away, Barty lunged, grabbing her wrists, ignoring her struggles. Mortimus growled to himself as he hoisted his sword arm and ran Barty through. The hunter released Kea, sending her tumbling back. He gripped at the wound in his stomach where the rapier protruded. He gave Mortimus a look of pained shock. Mortimus paid him no mind, merely wrenching the blade from Barty's back. The other man grimaced on the ground, convulsing the life from his body.

Grenth stared on, wide-eyes, going for his own sword. He tried to turn and flee, but Mortimus removed a dagger from his cloak and flung it at the fleeing hunter. It stuck in his back, and the man was dead before he hit the ground.

Mortimus drew on Barty, intent on finishing him off. Barty gasped as his one time friend drew on him. "Why, Fox?" he wheezed. "Why..." He couldn't finish the sentence as Mortimus hefted an axe from Barty's belt.

"There's something bigger here than money, Barty. And if you can't see beyond your big nose to see it, then I can't be expected to point it out to you. You may have been a friend at one time, but I'm afraid something's come between us."

Barty thrust his hand up in a feeble attempt to block impending doom. Mortimus just shook his head. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "Goodbye."

With a thud, Barty's blood spattered across the grass. Mortimus watched the corpse for a moment. Then he dropped the axe and rushed to Kea. "Are you hurt?" he asked. "We need to get back to the temple, fast."
25th-Nov-2006 07:53 am (UTC)
Keaira had been half expecting the bounty hunters to grab her- it would've been too easy of an escape otherwise. She screamed as she was grabbed, only imagining what would happen next. She was surprised, however, when she found Mortimus stabbing her captor in the stomach and she fell to the ground as she was released. She looked up slowly as Mortimus spoke. What did he mean by something bigger?

When Mortimus walked over to her, she nodded slowly, "I might have a few cuts but I'm fine," she answered. "I..." she looked up at him, hesitant about what to say to him next. She felt many emotions at the moment, but knew that he was right. They had to get back to the temple. She gave a soft smile and narrowed her eyes. "Let's go. I just hope they haven't let those beggars in..."
28th-Nov-2006 05:43 am (UTC)
Mortimus cursed as they came upon the entrance to the temple: the door closed with a thud, and the beggars were nowhere in sight. "Well," he murmured. "We'll have to try something else."

He turned to Kea. "Is there anyway into the temple that we might surprise the beggars if they prove false?"
28th-Nov-2006 12:59 pm (UTC)
"Around the back," she replied. "Same way we came out. If Icthus let them in to the temple, he must believe that they're not a threat, which could be bad for us." She knew that her brother was willing to give mostly everyone a chance unless something proved about them that he should do otherwise, and so far these beggars had done nothing to prove themselves dangerous. "It's not going to be easy to convince Icthus that the beggars aren't who they say they are." She started to lead the way around the back of the temple and to the entrance they used to get outside.
29th-Nov-2006 12:13 am (UTC)
"Right," he muttered. "Well...from what I've seen, he'll handle himself as well as can be expected. Still, giving them the benefit of the doubt could be dangerous. I think we should probably be prepared to take action, quickly. If you and I can sneak in on them, then if they try to do anything...foolish."

He glanced around. "Come on; let's get to that back way."
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