The assassin screamed in pain as the glowing magical chains coiled around him, searing his skin and filling the air with the smell of burned flesh. Because the sound could draw unwanted attention, I ripped of a part of the cloak from one of the dead assassins and used it to gag the bound one.
Turning around, I saw that Amethyst had helped captain Tot sit against one of the crates that was in this alley. She was moving her hand across his cut, blue light engulfing both her claw and the wound as it slowly healed. The captain’s eyes were still wide with shock.
Looking around, I saw that Kaya had moved towards the alley entrance to keep a lookout after making sure that the other knocked-out sailors were okay, while Garron had slouched down onto one of the crates, passing the pole of wood from one claw to the next with a vacant look in his eyes. It appeared to me that he avoided every eye contact.
Glancing down I saw Thornfang growl at the captured assassin threateningly.
“Mates, wha’ jus happ’nd!” the captain suddenly said, his voice ripe with shock and horror.
“It would appear that you were attacked, captain,” I said.
“Well, aye, I figured that much out,” he said with a frown.
“Why don’t we ask our guest?” Kaya spoke up from the entrance.
She must have good hearing.
I nodded slowly in approval, however there was a problem.
“I agree, but how are we going to extract the information?”
As I said this, I heard that the captured assassin suddenly fell silent, ceasing his struggles as best as he could.
“I don’t know, really…” Kaya admitted. “I doubt asking him is going to work.”
“Wha about torture?” Tot said.
“From my experience, torture is a messy and loud endeavour. Doing that in the alleyway could cause problems for us with the city guard.”
“What do you mean, you have experience with that?” Amethyst asked.
“I do, yes. Sometimes it was the only way to find their camps.”
I could see that she shuddered by the mere thought alone. A charr raised far from the Ascalonian fronts would have no idea of the struggles that took place there.
Hit by a sudden thought, I shifted my gaze to Garron, who still sat forlorn on a crate.
He did not reply.
“Were you part of the Flame Legion, Garron? Were you a shaman?”
As I asked the question, a silence fell in the alley. Even the asura knew of the war between the Legions and the Flame Legion, so they were well aware of the gravity of my question. It was obvious even at the distance that I stood that he swallowed hard, and he stopped passing the rod between his claws, instead clenching it hard in one. After a few second he looked up and I could see fear in his amber eyes.
“Yes, yes, I was.”
“I… left the Flame Legion a few years back. Been wandering ever since.”
“Hmhmm. I see,” I pondered. He was not the only one with a tainted past, and I for one was not going to hold it against him. “Well, that’s enough for me.”
“Wait, wait, what?” Garron replied, shocked. “That’s it?”
“I cannot let go of my past, but I will carve out my own future. That is what I said to a… friend of mine, and it is something I still believe in. I don’t care about anybody’s past, just their present and what they intent to do in the future.”
Garron still appeared to be in doubt, unsure if I was serious or not.
“Besides,” I said, waving my hand towards the captive, “that flame ritual was really useful.”
“Yes, it sure was!” Kaya added, whilst Tot and Amethyst offered similar conformations.
It seemed that as long as I was okay with Garron’s past, the rest would go along with it too.
“Now,” I continued, “I have hunted a lot of Flame Legion with my warband, and I know that they have rituals to make others tell the truth. Do you know this ritual?”
Garron narrowed his eyed.
“Yes, yes, I do know of this ritual, but are you sure you want me to use it?”
“Why not?” I asked with a shrug. “If you have the ability, why not use it.”
“Because it’s considered evil?” Amethyst interjected gently.
“Evil?” I said with a snort. “There are very few abilities, spells or rituals that are evil. It all depends on why you use it.”
“You seem awfully lenient, not something charr are known for,” Kaya said.
With a deep sigh, I said, “I cannot deny that one day I hope the same lenience will be given to me.”
I could see several raised eyebrows, but I decided to ignore them. Instead, I focussed my attention on Garron.
“Will you do it?”
He slowly nodded before heading over to the assassin and kneeling next to him. He reached his claw into a pocket on his trousers and extracted a purse made of red leather. He gently opened it—while Thornfang sniffed it curiously—and took some powders or herbs from it. Frankly, I had no idea what he took from the pouch, nor did I really care.
Garron put the purse back while clenching the reagents in one claw. He muttered softly for a few second before he blew on his claw, producing what was obviously an unnatural smoke. He blew the smoke into the assassin’s face, whose eyes seemed to lose focus for a couple of seconds. After that, Garron removed the gag and made a wide claw gesture.
“Ask away,” he said with some resignation. “It only lasts a few minutes.”
“Why did ya try ‘n kill me!” Tot shouted almost immediately.
“Because we were payed to do so,” the assassin answered sweetly.
“Well, that was something we could have guessed,” Kaya sighed.
“Who was the intended target?” I asked.
“The asuran captain.”
“Again—” Kaya started, but I cut her off.
“Better to be sure. It could have been a ruse or diversion.”
“True, true,” Garron said, nodding.
“So, who paid you to kill the captain?” Amethyst asked.
“Didn’t catch her name.”
“What can you tell us about her?” I asked.
“She wore a hood and a thick robe, so we couldn’t make out much. All she said was that she wanted her captain dead.”
Her captain? So, the one who wants the captain dead, is aboard the Serendipity.
“Wat race was she?” Garron asked.
“Oh, she was definitely an asura.”
Silence fell. Apart from Kaya, there was only one other female asura; a deckhand.
“It wasn’t me,” Kaya snorted. “I kind of appreciate the captain.”
Which, I knew, was quite the compliment for an asura.
“Thanks,” Tot said arching an eyebrow. “But tha’ woul’ leave Aqia. She’s a fine deckhand, has been for three journeys!”
“I thought the murder and this assassination attempt might have been connected, but I guess not,” Amethyst said.
“No, it still could be,” I said. “The murder on the ship could also have been a paid assassination.”
“True,” Kaya said, “but much less likely.”
“So, what shall we do with the captive?” Garron asked. “Does anybody have any questions left for him?”
We answered him with shaking of heads or verbal negatives.
“Then what? Do we kill him, or let him go?”
“I say kill’m,” Tot said.
“Agreed,” Kaya said.
“I’m not so sure…” Amethyst said softly.
I sighed deeply. “I say we let him go.”
Kaya and Tot looked indignant, but Amethyst looked relieved. I turned over to Garron, who gave me an appraising nod. After I gave him a nod back, he moved his claw, and the chains released their grip and slunk back into the earth. The assassin looked at us in confusion, before scrambling upright and bolting up the wall as he had originally intended.
After he was gone for a few seconds, Kaya opened her mouth. “Why did you release him?”
“Enough blood has been spilled,” I said, shaking my head. Unbidden, the memory of Graymane flashed before me. Yes, I have seen enough death. “Besides,” I added, “he might trace back to his contractor which might spook her, make her easier to spot.”
“Or harder because she is now prepared.”
“That’s the risk we have to take,” Amethyst said, helping the captain to his knees. “For now, though, let’s get back to the ship.”
“Aye,” Tot said.
Garron, Amethyst and me all grabbed one of the unconscious sailors and carried them back to the ship.
Back at the ship, we caused quite the commotion with those who had stayed behind. Not only did we come back much earlier than expected, we also came back carrying unconscious shipmates.
“Did you see the look the first mate gave us when we came aboard?” Garron whispered to me.
“Let me guess, resentful?”
“No, no. Well, yes, but much more. He seemed… disappointed.”
“Maybe he’s just sad to see that I wasn’t knocked out.”
“I doubt it…”
“What are you whispering about?” Kaya prompted.
“Oh, various things,” I replied with a sly grin.
She rolled her eyes, but said nothing more of it.
After we charr had delivered the sailors to their respective bunks, and I left Thornfang at my bunk, we re-joined Kaya and Tot in the captain’s quarters. There, the captain seemed to have drained a significant portion of a sizeable rum bottle.
“Drinking away the fright?” I asked.
He gave a curt nod before the first mate entered the cabin.
“You called for me?” he said as he gave us charr the biggest berth he could possibly give in the cabin.
Any more and he would be hugging the walls.
“Aaaye,” the captain said, obviously sloshed. “I’ve jus’ survived an assassination attempt.”
The first mate arched his eyebrows; a rather cool reaction, if you asked me.
“I’m glad that you’re still alive, captain.”
“That makes you and me both,” Tot said with a sigh.
“Who would want to do such a thing?” the first mate said while indignantly shaking his head.
“As soon as she gets aboard,” the captain said, his voice menacing, “get me deckhand Aqia.”
List Of Recurring Entities:
The following is a list of characters—apart from Kumara and Thornfang—who have made an appearance before this part, sorted by order of appearance. With all the different stories on CoT, I understand it is hard to keep track of all the characters.
Amethyst: A charr clothes merchant from Lion’s Arch that loves to travel from time to time.
Tot: The asuran captain of the cargo ship Serendipity.
Kaya: An asura that Kumara got to know in a krewe they both worked in. Now, she sets out with Kumara to see the world.
Garron: A pitch black charr deckhand working with Kumara to solve a murder.