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Her breathing was ragged and harsh. She felt the toll of wounds, old and new. She hadn’t rested in a few days. She stumbled along and fell again. She looked down to her barely holding together shroud and realized that over the past few months it’d become bloodier and bloodier. The originally black, and then faded somewhat grayish, and now dark crimson. This was the first one she’d used, long before she’d been a member of the guardians. It had faded to a dull grey just before she entered their service, and matched the espionage colors. Now, it was the color of blood, the color of guilt, the color of sin. Her mind wandered, as she thought of the past…

Sitting in the tavern drinking and brooding, and then harassing the other fools who were sitting around had always been a favorite pasttime. Not many of them could take the harsh cynicism and unabashed criticism and name calling she spewed forth, and she always reveled when anyone decided to challenge her. The most amusing part was that it was just one more form of cover; a truly professional assassin would never sit in a tavern and laugh it up and draw attention to themselves, would they? Well, maybe now they would, with all these upstart fools who thought a successful assassination was putting a dagger in someone’s head at a speech. A true assassination is never known to be such. Anytime it can be confirmed as a spies work, the spy has failed. It was the rule.

She placed a bloody hand out to make her way down the dark passage. She dare not light a torch, and broadcast her location. It was bad enough that she was probably leaving a trail of slick vermilion droplets behind her. She cursed in her head the fates that be, wishing she’d had a chance to have that one final confrontation she’d been looking forward to. But the Royal Guard had caught her first.

She’d waited outside of Trinsic. Laurana was usually around about this time, but something must have happened. There were lots of people on the streets, and many people running quickly. She was dressed in her civilian garb, the one she’d worn one time before at the very first Bard’s Night she’d helped to run. As she heard a loud announcement from the crowd at the town square, she pushed her way into the crowd. “And the assassin that has plagued these lands and has committed these heinous murders has been caught! The one known as Lily no longer has any control over anything, as is plain to see!” Lily pushed a bit forward for a better look, and could see that the man had a woman on her knees, in armor slightly reminiscent of her own, with a black hood covering her head completely. She was tied to the ground, apparently. “She thought she could continue to get away with the slaughtering of Brittanian citizens, thinking that perhaps the Guardians whom she was friends with would protect her! But she was wrong. And I prove her error today!” With that, the man, whom she just recognized as the Head Officer of the Royal Guard in Trinsic, Thaddeus, lifted the hood covering the face of the ‘assassin’. She stood up, and the ropes came loose, and she pulled a weapon and suddenly Lily heard weapons being drawn all around her. And they were all pointing at her. “And as proof, we now charge Zora Liliana with the crimes of mass murder and treason. Do you surrender?”

That seemed like so long ago, she thought with a smirk. They’d been very careful to cover it up in the Trinsic News, and no word of such a monumental failure came back. Well, she had to admit sourly, it hadn’t been a complete failure on their part.

Lily’s response was simple. With a wordless smirk, she exploded into action as she dropped her legs out from under her for a split second as she twisted and as they all readjusted their points of reference she landed on her hands and sprang at one of them, kicking him in the face as she hurled two daggers out blindly, catching at least one target. She drew a smoke bomb from her pouch and sent the area into confusion. She ducked low and ran fast, pushing and slashing her way through the crowd and she ran for the walls. As she cleared the smoke she leapt to the lamppost, scurried up and over it onto the nearby roof, then bolted flat out for a gap in the wall and leapt onto Trinsic’s wall. She quickly tried to run for the South gate, but was blocked by a large contingent of guards. She doubled back and came to the dead end and leapt as far as she could, landing on the street with a roll and came up running dead out. She’d never make it out the west gate, so she did the only thing she could, and ran to the Paladin’s Isle, to the farthest tip, and jumped into the water. She swam hard and fast to Barrier Isle, and then leapt off again, using the prevailing currents, and she swam ashore right in front of Olympus. She dragged herself up out of the water and made her way to the closest safehouse which was behind Olympus and to the north, and got there just in time to be see two dozen of the Royal Guard. “Damn.” She said very softly as she hurled herself back behind cover before she was seen.

Piper. A friend? What was a friend? Lily wasn’t sure she knew. But from everything she was told, Piper was her friend. The only one she had. Of course, this relation was quite awkward and didn’t work as well as it could have. A high ranking senator, friends with an assassin who officially didn’t exist. Piper had helped her on so many occasions. And she’d done her best to return the favor…but had she done enough? She wondered if she’d ever know. She did know that she had a new duty now that her friend was Empress…to finish her final duty, and the one that she had to fulfill as an assassin. Remove all targets that were still on the previous list. Give the new one a clean slate. And there was only one way to do that. Her friend…It wasn’t fair, was it? That was another rule. No friends. You can’t trust anyone but yourself…

Heavily armored Royal Guardsmen and women were holding position at the safehouse. Daggers would be very hard to kill them with, and her kryss was inside. She wasn’t going to go down to Hades without a damn good fight, and to do so she needed what was inside the safehouse. She figured out a plan and she ran back to the castle near it, and she went inside and climbed the tower. She knew this was going to hurt, but she couldn’t do anything else. She got a running start and leapt as far as she could, and crashed through a second story window into the small house that had been ‘abandoned’ and locked for years, supposedly. She quickly threw the bolt and slammed the barricade down as she stripped to her underwear and then pulled on her real armor. She grabbed her weapons, armaments, potions, put every dagger she possibly could on herself, and then donned her shroud. She grabbed the bag of smoke bombs and tied them to her waist, and drew one out. She looked outside the window as they broke in the house and all rushed in, and she leapt back out onto the swampy marsh and hurled the smoke bomb at the ones still outside. She ran as fast as she could, and made it to the road without too much more of a hassle. She ran as hard as she could for the Britain moongate, and found another party waiting there for her. Unluckily for them, she was in a bad mood.

She’d known this was the way it had to be. She’d known several years ago, when she first started doing what she did. It was around the eighteenth kill, she realized, that she no longer was surprised at the blood. It was some time after that that she stopped being surprised at the looks in their eyes. How long had it been since that little girl inside her had stopped trying to win her back, and just how long had it been since she’d stopped believing in a just and righteous world? Longer than she could remember. The only way to rectify things was with force; and even that didn’t prove who was more correct, just who had superior fighting abilities. Would there ever be a world where what was right was what was true? Her vision swam as she turned in the pitch blackness of the dungeon, and she edged her way along the outside of one of the insidious traps that lay in it’s depths. It’d slow them down, at least. She smiled just a bit as an old saying came back to her. There’s no such thing as retirement for an assassin…

She wasted no time with the Guard at the moongate, and immediately threw a smokebomb off to the left, along with a rock to make them think it was where she was coming from. With their attention diverted, she leapt into the gate and vanished instantly to another moongate. She repeated the process about seven times, to make sure there was no way to trace it, and she wound up in Moonglow, because the gates refused to take her to Magincia. She stole one of the small boats off the coast near the telescope and started to make her way to Serpent’s Hold, and once she got enough supplies, she could go to the Serpent Pillar and hide out for a while. Then she….a cannon’s blast echoed over the water, and an explosion rocked the ship she was in from a near miss, as water drenched her boat. Of all the stupid luck, it was pirates. She did her best to outrun them, but knew it wouldn’t be enough. As they got closer, she realized it wasn’t pirates, but more of the Royal Guard. Apparently, they were quite serious about taking her down. More and more shots were fired, and eventually her boat had been hit. Luckily she was within sight of Serpent’s Hold, and she leapt off in time with one of the blasts and it gave her an added burst of momentum, and she rode the Serpent’s current to the bay, with the guard right behind her.

She heard faint shouts and could see very dim flickers of torches behind her in the tunnels, searching for her. She was down to a very few weapons, completely out of smoke bombs, and had used every last one of her recall scrolls. There were too many of them, and they were too well organized. She estimated she’d killed at least a dozen or more that day, but she couldn’t know for sure. She stopped right in front of the final trap, and the one she’d been waiting to get to. As she heard them getting closer, the lights grew stronger, and she waited for the final confrontation…

The voices in her head returned with a vengeance as she entered the town of Serpent’s Hold. She ran and ran, and she came to the entrance of the dungeon and she ran through, knowing the guard knew her path and that they would be right behind her…

Voices. In her head, in her memories, and outside of her head. Voices of herself, of those she killed, of those coming to kill her, and of her friend. It was all a game, all this time, and every game came to a conclusion. Fairytales from her childhood, telling that good always triumphs over evil. The lines cross so much there hardly is good and evil anymore; Do evil actions for good reasons mean they are good or evil? Or good actions for evil reasons? Evil actions that result in good actions? Good ones that result in evil? What’s it all for, in the end?

“Be a good little girl, kill them all, do a twirl, they’re so small, they don’t matter, just wait for it all to shatter.” The voices in her head and of herself told her, as the first guard rounded the corner, and was met with a dagger to the forehead. This left Lily with only two daggers and her kryss. The five remaining guard rushed down headlong into the corridor as Lily carefully plotted how to kill each and every one of them. Whoops, two lost to the spike trap, what a shame. The remaining three engaged her at close quarters, and she draw a dagger for defense and her kryss for offense as they struggled valiantly to overcome the psychotic murderess that stood before them. With a sick gleam in her eye, she gutted one of them with the kryss as she blocked the blows from one with her dagger and elegantly dodged a blow from the remaining guard with a spin. With the two of them left, she turned as if to throw her dagger at the guardswoman and instead let it go early and it implanted in the guardsman’s shoulder, and was followed up by her final dagger into his heart. The Guardswoman screamed out in rage and attacked with a ferocity that Lily had never seen, and couldn’t keep up with…

“Yes, a path set before you that I was at the start. You took my identity, and ever since you’ve been using it to hide your guilt and your sin. But tonight it all comes to an end, as your past catches up to your present, and punishes it as it should be. Farewell, little girl.” The guards blows hammered down onto Zora, and she felt each and every blow of metal on metal as she was beaten back to a wall alongside the corridor, taking several flesh wounds from the Royal Guardswoman, as she relentlessly rained attacks down upon the frightened girl who just wanted to run away, and to save herself, to stop this path of misery and violence that she had set foot upon so long ago…

“It’s time to pay for your crimes, Assassin! For all the comrades you’ve killed and for all the people you’ve slain, DIE!” She couldn’t take it, and she let herself fall backwards, triggering the trap she’d waited in front of. The floor fell out from underneath them both, and she landed on her back as the wind was knocked out of her and her left arm made a sickening snap, and she sat there struggling for breath, her bloodied kryss in her right hand, and her vision swimming around her. As consciousness started to lapse, she struggled to hold on, to at least meet her end with dignity, and the guardswoman drew the halberd from her back and raised it over her head, looking down upon the face of a young girl who was only able to watch on in half interest as her death approached.

"I told you to get better already.” A voice said in her mind. Her eyes sharpened, and her mind stopped going all over the place. A single thought, a single moment, a single memory. A single word was said by both of the women at once. “Endgame.” A strange look came over the fallen woman’s face, and the guardswoman hesitated. But only for a moment. The halberd sang as it cleaved down through the air, and then impacted heavily, embedding it’s blade into the now bloodsoaked ground. The woman’s head remained for but a moment, and lazily rolled off her shoulders, and rested. The fallen woman died at the bottom of that pit, and her body was dragged back up and out.

The next day, under a bright shining afternoon sky, the Trinsic Branch of the Brittanian Royal Guard released a notice and placed a body on display.










The case contains the body of a young woman, of slight stature and figure. The head is missing, and the body is wrapped in an obviously old, worn out shroud the color of dried blood. A purple dagger with no markings lays bare across the body’s chest, gleaming with poison.

A lone figure approaches the case, in the garb of a Royal Guardswoman. She kneels down, and she takes a moment of silence to pray for the dead woman’s repose. She then walks away, holding onto her broken left arm with care.

Edited by kodoz
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A piercing, almost inhuman wail rang through the corridors of Exodus, startling all within its walls. It sounded more akin to the scream of a terrified beast than the cries of a young woman mourning a great loss.

Piper could find no words to express exactly what she felt, and all she could do was scream. An empty, but somehow still-heavy ache in the innermost core of her guts made her feel like she might vomit as she rode Aodhfin through the dark hallways. Her body still surged with pain from the procedure she had undergone, and her vision was now clouded by tears of grief. The whole world looked out of focus and smudged, just like it did the first time she endured the procedure in the same dungeon as a child. She pulled Aodhfin to a halt and gazed around in confusion, trying to make sense of her blurry surroundings. When she recovered, she looked up to see the silhouette of an iron golem looming in the passage in front of her and held tightly to her staff, firing off a succession of offensive spells in its direction. The spells sparked and ricocheted off the golem, but it was not left unscathed. The mechanical creature creaked and groaned as it swayed from side to side, then tumbled to the ground with a loud clang. Springs, screws, and cogs fell loose and bounced away into the shadows as though fleeing.

Piper urged Aodhfin forward and continued through the maze of hallways, a growing trail of robe-clad bodies and destroyed machinery left in her wake. Each act of destruction was a release - revenge for the past and venting frustration over the present. When a Controller spotted her from another room, she shot a fireball directly into his face and followed that with an energy bolt to the chest. The room glowed brightly as each spell shot out, then dimmed again when the energy dissipated into her staff. There was then only silence and the stench of burnt flesh and singed hair assailing her nose.

She exhaled deeply, pausing for a moment before preparing to recall away to her home. The words of power were barely audible through her tired and raspy voice. "Kal Ort Por."

No more dungeon - she was now home. The familiar duet of rhythmic waves and a calling songbird seemed more comforting than ever now. Swinging her leg over the saddle, Piper slid to the grass with a dull thud and winced in pain. She hobbled stiff-legged into her garden and slumped down onto one of the benches, overcome by a feeling of despair so hopeless it didn't even seem like she could force herself to stand again. With eyes red and swollen, she glanced down at some nearby lilies, and tears found her once more. She reached out with clawed fingers and gently plucked two of the flowers from the earth, clasping them to her chest for a long while.


Dressed in black, the young woman approached the decapitated body with downcast eyes. None of it seemed real; she wondered how this could possibly be the woman she knew. Furious that her closest friend's desecrated remains were on public display, and unable to face the grotesque image a second time, she dropped her head and read the sign once again:









Enraged and deeply hurt, Piper's eyes squinted shut, forcing tears to trickle out and down her cheeks. She carefully laid the two lilies atop the sign, tracing her friend's names with a finger before stepping back.

"I miss you already," she cried softly. "I told you to get better..."

Slouched and looking defeated, she reluctantly turned and staggered down the street, arms folded over her stomach. Her slender form grew less clear as she continued on. Blending with the background, her dark shroud merged with the shadows of dusk until nothing remained of her but the sound of boots shuffling slowly over sandstone.

Edited by Piper
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Piper warmed her hands above the small campfire, looking out over the nearby waterfall with tired eyes. This was the spot she had escaped to with Lily when she was first wounded by the strange toxin. One of the Trinsic healers was planning to poison her, and Piper came for her just in time. She helped her up onto Aodhfin's back before recalling to this isolated place.

Now, after dark, she lay down on the cold grass and fished a pen and a worn journal out from her pack. Scooting closer to the radius of orange light around the fire, she opened to a blank page and began to write, pausing at times to reflect.


She finally closed the journal, eyes heavy with exhaustion. The crackling fire and rushing waters below seemed to tempt her to rest until she could no longer fight it. The woman curled up nearly into a ball as Aodhfin padded over and lay beside her. Resting her head on the big dog's shoulder, she slipped away into sleep, still holding the small book in her hand.

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Trinsic's citizens and shops had all closed for the night as the Brittanian sky darkened for the evening. The lights went out among the residences and the inns, and all was quiet, save for the few patrolling Guardians. One particular person was hard at work though. They quickly set to the task ahead of them and did it with a calm, quiet proficiency. After all, time was of the essence as the clouds covered what scant moonlight there was to be had. Once everything was set, the person simply left, taking no more than what they had come with.

A large explosion rudely awakened the citizens of Trinsic at an early hour, causing all to proceed to the docks with great haste, armed with what may. Had the teleporter to Magincia backfired and let something through that was now attacking? The rush to the docks proved nothing, but a plume of smoke indicated the deed had been done in the town square. Shoving through the crowd, a young Guardian kept the citizens back as he approached the spot where the glass case and the body had once stood. The glass had melted down where it hadn't sent shards flying away from the explosion, while a pile of ashes lay around a purple dagger, warped by the intense heat. The young Guardian merely shook his head, confused at the events of the night...

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Mikhail sighed calmly as he thought back to the events that had preceded the demise of their enemy. It had been a long and arduous task, but luckily Mikhail’s plot had served to succeed, and he was now happily seated at the head of the table with the ArkDaemons. All had gone according to plan, by having the original leader, a man that only Mikhail knew to be who he was…Christopher Liliana, who was the real Zora Liliana’s brother. Mikhail had found this out during Christopher’s desperate attempts to have the imposter Zora killed.

It hadn’t been easy, of course, as he’d had to act the part of the worried assistant so that he posed no threat to the man’s leadership. He had almost lost his act at one point, but was able to pass it off as being someone else’s idea. Christopher, the fool that he was, was not satisfied with merely having her killed, but wanted to make her suffer for what she’d done to his sister. This was of course an idiotic idea, and Mikhail knew it, and that’s exactly why he let him go through with it. The assassin hadn’t survived this long just because they hadn’t tried to kill her yet, and she proved to be too much to handle. She’d killed the ones who tried to capture her and she’d tortured the information out of one of those poor souls and learned where Christopher was. After a confrontation, Mikhail had arrived merely to find Christopher’s corpse. Mikhail had merely smiled, and turned to go inform the other ArkDaemons of the new regime change.

Of course, tradition was tradition, so he had to do something about the person who killed their leader. He’d helped to give Thaddeus all the little hints he needed, and included all the information, especially their falsified intelligence claiming that ‘Zora’ had killed Thaddeus’ son. In fact, it had been the ArkDaemons themselves, as the boy had tried to infiltrate them to impress the father. He’d helped to give all the information needed to arrange the ambush and told them the areas to lie in wait for her, and they’d still almost botched the whole thing. It did make for an exceptional news story, from what he’d read in the Trinsic Post.

He was still somewhat concerned, however, because he was quite aware of how powerful a few of the assassin’s friends were. While not as deadly, they had the power to put the pressure on the ArkDaemons to a point to make life uncomfortable. Of particular interest was the newly appointed Empress of the Purple Guardians of Honour. It was a tragic ordeal, because they weren’t the type to cow to blackmail. The biggest problem was that if they killed her, they would have the entire Brittanian forces allied against them in a united effort to quell their activities. He’d sat at his desk for some time trying to think of what to do. Unfortunately, he still couldn’t come up with anything. He heard a knock at the door and bid them to enter.

“Sir, someone here to see you. It’s Julia, one of the thieves’ guildmistresses, the one who was displaced out of Magincia.”

“Let her in.”

Mikhail put his things away and stood as the woman entered the door, and straightened out his cuffs, fiddling with the cufflinks a bit. The doorman shut the door and with a loud click it was locked, and then Mikhail cast a quick spell over the door to render the room silent from the outside.

“First, let me apologize for your misfortune, and extend my warm greetings. We have been trying to consolidate all those of like mind from Magincia who wish to join up, but of course I would need to know what you could offer. What remains of your organization?”

“Right down to business, I like that. Mikhail is an alias, I take it?”

“As is Julia, I would wager?”

The woman called Julia chuckled heartily, and she took a set across the table from him. Her large hat remained on her head, and since she was shorter than Mikhail by far it shielded all of her face save her mouth from view. “I had made a promise to myself, you know, that had I approached you and found you to seem unprofessional or unreasonable, that I would have to kill you. It is with much eagerness and only a tiny hint of regret that it seems I won’t have to kill you today.”

Mikhail gave her a bit of a mirthful smile back. “Well I suppose I am quite lucky then. What is it that you need me to be professional and reasonable about, then?”

The woman called Julia gave a soft smile beneath the brim of the large hat. “Well, there is some unfinished business between you and I, parts of which you might be aware, parts of which you might not be. I want to know if we can discuss this like civilized beings, and by that, I mean that you should stop reaching for the spellbook underneath your desk.”

Mikhail stopped cold and then gave a laugh. “It seems you are quite talented. Very well.” He placed his hands flat and open upon the desk. “Let’s hear what this unfinished business is.”

The woman named Julia drew a dagger from her pocket and placed it on the desk. It was a unique dagger with engraving upon the blade. “I believe this illustrates my point quite well.”

Mikhail sat in thought for but a moment before the realization dawned on him. He tried to grab for his spellbook but she’d already leapt the table and tackled him, and despite her unimposing figure had knocked him back on his chair, and the wind was knocked out of him. He finally saw under the hat.

“Well hello there. Now, as I said, I was glad you’re professional and reasonable, but any more jumpy moves like that and I might just lose control. Am I clear?” She asked in a calm manner. Mikhail nodded once. “Good. How many in your organization know who I really am? If I’m correct from what Christopher said, it’s just you.”

“That’s right.”

“Ah, so you are going to be reasonable. Good. Let’s put it this way. You’ve done me a big favor in some ways, in that now I don’t have to watch my back very much. However, we both have a problem. If your people learn you failed to kill me, they will be after your head and mine. And if the Guard learns I’m alive, they’ll be out for blood. I went ahead and destroyed all the evidence. There’s no one who knows the truth right now, and I guarantee that very few ever will. Your target is dead, and that’s going to remain the same way. From now on, I’ll be going by a different name and identity, and I don’t look the same, as you can see. It turns out they have all sorts of fun magic spells to alter one’s appearance. Now, as a professional in the same general business, I need a promise that this is over.”

“And what guarantee do I have that –you- won’t bring this back to my doorstep? You’re one of the Guardians, and you’re supposed to hunt us down.”

“I’ve adopted a longer term sense of reality. You seem smart enough not to do anything stupid like trying to get back at the Guardians, and you also seem smart enough to keep this organization in check. If it were eliminated then there would be pandemonium and much more of a dangerous environment. So you’re the best choice to keep here at the time.”

“Can we discuss this properly?”

She grinned a bit at his audacity, and got off of the man, and pulled the spellbook out of the desk. She then went back to her chair holding the spellbook. “That sounds much better. You seem destined to be much longer lived than your predecessor.”

Mikhail stood, straightening his outfit and his collar especially, and sat his chair back up and sat down in it. He sighed and looked to her. “You don’t even have to argue. As long as you’re willing to stay out of my way, I’ll leave you alone. You weren’t worth the price tag to start with.”

“Just keep in mind, if you do come after me or my acquaintances, there will be serious repercussions.” The woman said as she watched Mikhail pick up the dagger on the desk.

“Rest assured the same goes for you, as well.” With that, he hurled the dagger at her without haste nor anger.

The woman calmly held up the spellbook and let it impact into the paper therein. She pulled the dagger out and tossed him the now pierced spellbook. Mikhail shrugged once and gave her a cavalier look. He then dismissed the spell of silence over the door. “If there’s nothing else, I take it you’ll be on your way now Julia?”

“That seems to be the best course of action, Mikhail. May what you take never come back to haunt you.” She said as she bowed, giving him the formal farewell of the thieves’ guild.

Mikhail sighed a bit as he shut the door of his office as she left. He’d pondered for a second trying to attack her with his prowess in magic, but decided against it. After all, he did pride himself on making calm rational decisions. As he sat down, he pulled the paper out of his desk that he had been writing ideas on about how to deal with the Guardians and held it over the candle as it was reduced to so much ash.


The woman left the underground complex, and as she headed up the stairs she tossed the hat aside and shook out her middle of the back length brown hair, and her now deep green eyes taking in everything around her. She quickly made her way to one of her new places of residence and on the way passed familiar lodgings. She reached in one of her pockets and drew out a single copper coin. She also took out a bit of parchment and scrawled in a flawless cursive six words upon the paper, folded it in a particular manner to make it a pouch, and dropped the coin in. She then slid it under the door and quickly made her way away from the place. She was only disappointed that she hadn’t had a crystal…

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