Shadows of the Enlightened

Blackpond

a part of Shadows of the Enlightened, by Blackbird26.

City of Blackpond

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Setting

The city itself is made mostly of small houses made of stone. The people are poor and humble, and have already lost all hope of a better life. However, after the last ruler was betrayed by his nephew and he took control of the city, things started changing. Hopefully, for the better, but then??? Maybe not. The city is divided into the Living Area and the Castle grounds, where the ruler and city guards live. All of the houses are made of stone, still most of the houses in the Living Area are falling apart, and all shops that existed there were abandoned years ago. The only thing still intact in that area is the Inn.
The Castle Grounds have bigger and better houses for the castle guards and army officers to live in. The houses are more taken care of, and they always seem to have food and weapons somehow.

Blackpond

City of Blackpond

Minimap

Blackpond is a part of Valcrest.

1 Characters Here

The Shadow [0] Within the shadows, I find enlightenment.

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#, as written by Sibrand
The group moved slowly through the trees, avoiding any kind of lights thrown from the village out to the reaches of the forest which surrounded it. They had been scouting the village for several hours now, awaiting the darkness which would bring a river of blood with it before dawn was upon them again. All four of them had promised that they would not stop at anything and show no mercy to these monsters the world so respectfully called assassins. They would revenge the death of Sebastian at any cost. Dusk was now over and the night was upon them. In a couple of minutes the group would make history.

Amongst these four elite hunters were Theron and he could barely wait to sink his blade into the throat of their leader. He had been very close to Sebastian for many years and now that he was gone he didn't care for life anymore, his mind was set at killing the leader at any cost. Sarah, the strong and tall woman, gave them all the sign and so they moved in.
They were certainly not clumsy and their approach remained hidden till they were all in position. Johanna was going to slay the recruits in the barracks along with Gerald while Sarah would take out as many instructors as possible while they were still asleep. Theron was so proud of his task; He was the one who would kill the leader and her entire family.

There he stood, looming over the female who had caused all this pain to him and everyone he had ever held close to him. He started to count down from ten to one for that had been the plan. They would all start at the same time. But after reaching "2" in his count a small girl entered the room. She saw the mysterious man who was bending over her sister with a large knife in his hands. Before he could silence her she let out a scream like no other and the entire camp woke up. Most of them was killed before they could get to their weapons but soon enough what was left of the assassins took up arms against the hunters.

Therons knife sliced through the little girls throat, but too late, the entire camp was now awake and their plans had failed. He swiftly faced the woman behind him who had picked up her weapons and he saw how she threw sad looks at the dead little girl lying close to Theron. The hunter only smiled and threw one of his daggers at the woman. It penetrated her arm and sent her flying into the wall behind her. Theron was just about to finish the job when a man entered the room. It was Sebastian! The hunter only stood there, shocked at seeing a comrade he had taught was dead. After coming to his senses he threw himself at Sebastian and then he fled the scene with the rest of the group of hunters.

The last thing he saw was the barracks which were burning gracefully in the night. Screams of chaos, vengeance and sorrow filled the camp that night and Theron turned his back at it all.


--

Theron closed his eyes in pain. He hated these flashbacks and there was nothing he could do about them. All he could do was to try and get used to it but it would not been easy. The hunter gazed down on his arm where he had paid for a tattoo with all the names of the members from the old Wolf Hunters. There was Sarah, Johanna, Gerald and Sebastian even though he had betrayed them. He had still been one of them for a long time ago. But before he could think more about it he felt how his money sack was ripped from his belt by a small little boy. Theron set after him. He knew that he would catch him because he had more experience running and he knew how to navigate through Blackpond with his eyes closed.

That's right, he was now in Blackpond. He had business here to attend to and some people to talk to or at least one very interesting person to his plans. Unknown to the assassins they had a traitor amongst them who had been feeding Theron with information for quite a long time now. Their next meeting was going to take place tonight.
But back to the chase. Theron had taken a shortcut through a narrow alleyway and once out in the street again he caught the boy. He dragged the boy into the alleyway and threw him up on the wall.


"What do you think you're doing? You don't take what doesn't belong to you. You earn it!" Theron said and gazed upon the boy. He was obviously very poor and probably from the orphanage as well.

"But sir, I meant no--" The boy began but was cut short by Therons finger that closed his lips.

"Be quiet. I have a task for you and I will give you... 20 gold coins if you complete it. Do we have a deal?"

The boy was put down on the ground again and released. He didn't run because he realized that with 20 gold coins he could have a decent meal everyday for two weeks or eat really much for an entire week. He agreed to this deal and Theron filled him in on the details.

--

There was a Inn located in Blackpond that looked normal and all. A nice little place in a dirt hole. It was said that McChop owned it but Theron knew better. He knew that the assassins owned it and it was there that they took a break when they were away from the camp or traded information. Theron had been there one time and from his dark spot he had heard many things.
Now he had sent the little boy to go into the Inn, stand on a table and tell everyone to be quiet. Even if they wouldn't be quiet because the boy said so they would still lower their voices when seeing a boy on a table. Theron had paid him to say the following words to everyone who wanted to listen to the boy.


"For several years ago the WolfPack was attacked by a group of Hunters known as the Wolf Hunters to many. Many assassins died that night and many more were mortally wounded and died a couple of hours later. This is known to the WolfPack as the "Red Night". A couple of years after that the Wolf Hunters were all killed, or so the assassins believed."

Now everyone in the Inn was quiet, listening intensively on the boys every word. They didn't know how the boy could know so much about their history but somehow he knew.

"One year ago a man returned to Valcrest disguised as a lone wanderer. He is the last of the Wolf Hunters and to you, assassins, he is known as the "Shadow Hunter".

After those words the boy jumped off the table and made his way out but before reaching the door of the Inn he faced the crowd who stared at him.

"Ask Daniela Rivers about the truth" He said to no one in particularly, but his eyes looked straight at one man amongst the crowd of workers and disguised assassins. He looked at the man named Sebastian Rivers. Then he left the Inn.

Theron smiled in triumph when he saw the boy leave the Inn and disappeared in the shadows of Blackpond.

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Night fell over the land of Valcrest. Along with the darkness, silence and a cool breeze spread over the city of Blackpond. The Inn was locked tightly, the Wolfpack knew better than to keep open doors to strangers in such times. A dark figure was the only moving thing roaming the streets at that time.

The general population was frightened and even the bravest men avoided the darkness since the deaths started. These were dangerous times for everyone. Well, not everyone, but few people knew about that detail. It was better this way. The tall dark haired man had been keeping a close watch on some people of interest, some of them were being very helpful to his plan, others were being extremely disruptive, and therefore needed to be taken care of... Kyle Rivers was one of those disruptive people. It was just pure luck that he also had the ability of pyrokinesis, one good addition to his list.

The man entered the Castle Grounds and the guards living area with considerable ease. Not a single sound echoed amongst the houses, or on the streets. He found the house he was looking for... And, quietly, made his way in.

Not long after that, a horrifying scream cut through the night, followed by a cold wave of silence. And then absolute chaos overcame the city of Blackpond once again.

Kyle Rivers was found dead in his home, all the doors and windows were found locked, while the house was quickly consumed by the fire.

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It was getting very close to nightfall when Bastian had finally arrived at Blackpond. Unlike Newhaven, Blackpond was practically a wasteland. The city walls surrounded the poverty and violence that occurred on a regular basis. That is why it has become custom to be able to carry a weapon with you at all times. It is very useful for the assassin's because they can actually fit in with ease, but it does start to become a problem when people try to mug you every day. That is why if assassin's are not on missions, they usually stay at the inn. That was the first place that Bastion went, but there was no time to relax. Bastian made a B-line strait for the assassin working in the bar.
"I'm being followed." He said frantically.
"By who?" The female assassin asked.
"I don't know, but--" Before he could finish what he was saying a throwing knife with an explosive tried to it came crashing through a window. The explosive wasn't that powerful, but was enough to knock the female assassin off her feet and knocked her out. Bastian drew his sword, but it was too late. Before Bastian could even react, his follower managed to disarm him. Bastian still couldn't tell who it was, but that didn't matter now. He wasn't as skilled at hand to hand combat. However, it was his only hope.
Bastian threw a punch towards the man. That was enough for him to land a minor blow; It wasn't enough. When Bastian attempted to make a kick, his leg was simply avoided and and then grabbed by the man. The man used his leg to knock Bastian to the ground where the man proceeded to break Bastian's leg. Bastian screamed in pain loud enough for the entirety of Blackpond to hear as the broken bone slowly began to pierce through Bastian's leg tissue for him to see. He knew that if he didn't pass out from the pain, he would pass out from blood loss in a few seconds. As soon as it had come, the pain was gone. He was starting to go numb. He could feel his life slowly slipping away before him, that is until he noticed a dagger the man was carrying that brought his attention back preventing him from passing out. It was a dagger that he had read about before. It wasn't time to reminisce though, he needed to get the little information he had to anyone who finds his dead body.
He hopped that the man didn't notice as he slipped a pouch of acid from under his sleeve. If Bastian had the strength, he would have threw it at the man, but it was to late to think about that now. As the man unsheathed his dagger, Bastian poured the acid onto his hand attempting to write words on it. He couldn't see so he didn't know if it was working, and he couldn't even feel the pain of the acid boring through his hands. It was too late to feel anything now.
And while the man slowly pierced Bastion's abdomen with his odd dagger, Bastion slipped into the eternal sleep.

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The walk to Blackpond seemed very long since Crystal wouldn't talk to Evin almost the entire way. When Evin had asked if they could take a few minutes break, she almost didn't even acknowledge him, but then decided that it would be a good idea to stop. Something seemed off about Crystal during the time walking too and it wasn't just the simple hatred that she seemed to have towards Evin. There was something else wrong too.
When they entered the city, Crystal stopped and said, "Something terrible has happened here..."
Evin didn't even hesitate after he heard that. He ran strait to the inn running past all the crowds of people that were starting to gather around there. He had pushed a few people down trying to get to the inn. all that was racing through his mind was what could have happened. He was wondering if maybe gangs could have taken over the inn or maybe something even worse. He couldn't be certain what was going on until he made it there though. When he made it to the front door of the inn, there were a few guards guarding the front door to the inn. He was sure that the other door would be guarded as well.
"I'm sorry sir, but I can't allow you to pass." The one guard said.
"Ok then, who will I have to kill to get in?" Evin asked very seriously.
The guards started laughing at him, "Who do you think--"
At that, Evin drew one of his daggers from his sleeves. He grabbed the one guard, putting him in a painful lock using his right hand while kicking the other guards legs from under him. He then pressed the dagger to the neck of the guard on the ground. "I haven't killed anyone for weeks now. It would be a shame if the first person I killed since then was a guard; Wouldn't it?" Evin slipped the dagger back into his sleeve and walked into the inn where a crowd of guards were surrounding a body. Evin simply told them to get out and they scurried around. Crys was still a few paces behind him by the time Evin realised who it was dead on the ground.
"Sebastian..."

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Evin could see how much pain that Crystal was going through. Although he wanted to gather some information about the killer from the crime scene, he just couldn't while she was sitting there. Evin understood what she was feeling too. He had thought for years that his best friend was killed due to Evin's reckless thinking. Evin did think that what Crystal was going through at the moment was a little worse though. The he thought about what Theron had said to him. "In the beginning there was five great ones. But in the end remains now only two of them. In the first one to fall you shall find your friend, unharmed yet changed.". Evin didn't know much about the history of Valcrest, but he did remember something about how there was originally five cities. He also knew that once the war started, that the city that remained neutral, was the first to go. He didn't know the name of the city, but he did know where the city ruins were. He would have gone right now, but there were other, more pressing issues at the moment. The most pressing of them was not even to find any evidence of the murder, it was to comfort Crystal who just witnessed her dead father.
He looked at the body for a moment, noting the brutal way in which it lay. It was a good thing Crystal couldn't see him in this state. It was rather gruesome. Then he noticed something on Sebastian's hand. It looked like something was burnt onto his hand. It wasn't a regular burn though. It appeared that the burn was a chemical one and it appeared that it had taken a familiar shape. It was writing! Evin looked closer at it to see what was written on it.
"Myths of Medicine, page 1284." He read aloud so that Crystal could hear. Although, she probably didn't even hear him.
He decided it would be best to go over to her to finally comfort her. She was still shaking and didn't even react when Evin put his arms around her in comfort. They stayed there in silence for a while, reflecting on what was in front of them.

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Crys didn't really like when people got too close, for obvious reasons, but she was so numb in that moment it really didn't matter. If there was anything in her mind in that moment, that would be two things: First, her father needed a proper burial, in camp. Second... Someone needed to tell her mother. And no matter how painful it would be, she would rather deliver that information in person. After a while of forcing herself to do something, she finally realized what Evin had said.

"Myths of Medicine... My father has that book." She finally managed to speak. "It would be in his room, my mother..." She went silent for a while. "I can get it for you if you want." She stood up and pulled away from Evin. She needed to keep her mind focused for a while. She took a deep breath. "We have to take the body back to camp. I will do that even if I have to bury my father and come back right afterwards. Also... If my mother has to hear these news... I will deliver them myself."

She sighed and turned to face Evin. "Your eyes work... How do you suppose this went down? Assuming the soldiers didn't mess the place up too much." She crossed her arms, seriously and leaned against the bar. "Don't bother trying to make it seem less unpleasant. I'll know if you lie." She hated asking this, but she needed to know anyway. Anything to catch whoever did this.

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Evin wasn't quite sure how someone who was blind could tell if someone was lying, but he didn't plan on leaving out any details anyways. It was important she understood for purposes of investigation. She seemed to be acting a little more professional too, so he was hoping that it was easier for her to deal with it. He looked around looking for anything that could have triggered a fight or even just a quick killing, but from the wounds on the body, he assumed that he put up a fight. He also saw a throwing knife with burn marks on it. He also noticed the girl who had passed out behind the counter and some shattered glass near the window.
He decided he knew how it all started.
"From the looks of it, the killer was targeting you're father. I think he threw an knife with a light explosive attached to it through the window. This was only intended to knock out the assassin that was working at the time. It was probably also used as a distraction as the killer entered the building and get close to Sebastian."
He continued to look around, noticing the sword lying across the room from the murder. There was a large amount of blood and a bit of blood splatter around the scene. He then moved the body. He didn't worry about getting blood on him. He looked for marks on his body. There were a few bruise marks on his back and of course he couldn't ignore the bone sticking out of his leg and the stab wound to the abdomen, though there didn't seem to be any blood that came from that wound. He finally noticed the little pouch that had probably contained the acid.
"I assume that this person is skilled in hand to hand combat, because there are no fatal cut wounds. There is one post mortem stab wound to the abdomen though. This corresponds to the murder that took place in Newhaven. Although the fatal wound came from the broken Tibia that appears to have punctured an artery. I'm surprised that he even managed to leave that message to us. He probably bled out considerably fast." He paused for a second, "This is the work of an assassin."
He then directed his attention back to the other thing that Crystal had said. "So bring the body back to camp and do what needs to be done. When you come back, bring me the book. I already have an inventive way to remember the page number, so don't really worry about that. There are other things that you need to get off you're mind. And please, take you're time. I have to go to the ruins of one of the older cities anyways. We will meet each other in three days time in the closest village to Backpond. If either of us on not there in three days or we see anything suspicious, we will go back to camp. Do you understand?" He waited for a response. This was a lot of information to take in after discovering the dead body of a father so he didn't expect her to necessarily understand right away.

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Crys agreed listened to Evin's words quietly, trying to picture her father's last moments. She frowned slightly when Evin mentioned the ruins. "You mean Blackhurst? Well... Alright. Although, I'm not sure how things will be in camp after this... I might not be able to leave. In which case I might sent Ali instead, you saw what's she's like, but I trust her. Actually, depending of what you're looking for, or what you find, you might want to talk to her... Ali grew up near the ruins, she still knows that area pretty well." She shrugged. "Just in case you need any information."

Crys stopped talking trying to focus on the tasks at hand. She always told her recruits that bottling up was dangerous, but it was important to know when to let pain take control of you, and when to shut it off. Even if it meant she would feel it ten times worse later... Now was the time to shut the pain off, and go home.

-------------------

Dani smiled at Theron's words, and waited until he went silent to reply. "When I say talk, I mean talk. You can sit in the room as well if you wish, but if you expect this to work I suggest you trust me."

She took a more serious tone and continued. "The most basic laws of the clan state that: You may not harm another member for any reason other than to preserve your life. You may not speak of anyone about the location of this camp and anyone who lives here. You may not take any life other than those commanded by the leaders. The word of the leaders is law, unless it contradicts one of the above mentioned." She smirked slightly. "Other than those laws, you should know that, being accepted in the capacity of an instructor means that anyone put under your command, or anyone assigned to you for training is your responsibility entirely. This means that their physical and mental state as well as their actions are your responsibility. If they fail, you fail." She sighed, and added. "I am not saying I doubt your skills in any way, but... You may find that most people here, in spite of having extraordinary talents, are personally difficult to handle. Ironically, the more difficult and annoying they are, the more skilled. You met Evin, so it's unnecessary to elaborate any further."

She looked up, for a moment. Night had fallen. She wondered how long they had been there. She looked back at Theron. "Place your right hand over your heart, and answer this: Do you swear on your life and on your honor to live by these laws, and therefore surrender your life to the clan from this moment on, until death takes your soul or you are released from this oath by one of the leaders?"

Indeed, there were three ways to leave the Wolfpack: Expulsion, death, or being released from the oath by one of the leaders. The third option had happen only two times, and even the first one was extremely rare. Most of the times that oath was a life time commitment.