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The streets of Highport were deserted at night, other than a few vagabonds and beggars plying their usual trade. The night was relatively cold, a calm breeze blowing in off of Crystal Bay, a slight salty smell accompanying it. Garbage and other various types of debris left over from the marketís daily activities blew freely around in the streets.
Sid and Elicia made their way out of the jailhouse without incident. They found her equipment in a locker, which Sid had promptly bashed open with his head, laughing the entire time he did so. Strapping on her leather armor and short sword and dagger, she handed Sid back the guardsmanís dagger. He took it and threw it across the room into the wall, laughing, and remarked on how a certain mage should have been standing in its way. Elicia wondered if she should just abandon Sid and head back to the Seawolf. After all, what did she really owe this strange elf? Most likely, she thought, heíd probably wind up causing her more trouble than it was worth for her to deal with. On the other hand, Sid looked to have a very dangerous side to him, and from his attitude and demeanor, she didnít think he was one to not hold a grudge. She finally decided to stick around a little longer. If things got too bad, she could always manage somehow to disappear.
"So how are we going to find your stuff?" she asked Sid, a hand on his shoulder to stop him from walking.
Sid turned to regard her strangely.
"Iím just going to walk around the dock district until somebody tries to rob me again!" Sid smiled, his eyes twinkling. He then turned around and continued to walk on.
"If you want somebody to rob you, youíre going to have to look a lot less dangerous," she smirked, cracking her knuckles.
"I look helpless! Ha.ha!" said Sid as he pretended to limp, an insane look in his eyes.
Elicia just shook her head, figuring a long night was ahead.
It was the most magnificent scimitar the old cambion had ever seen. The blade was sharpened adamantine, strengthened with a steel-crystal alanthium alloy. It had a slight green-tinged glow when drawn in low light, and emeralds of the highest quality were set into its pommel. The curved edge was done perfectly. No weaponsmith could have crafted this weapon by normal means. Symbols of the elven god Linothan were etched into the length of the blade as well, flawlessly drawn. Although the cambion viewed the weapon with close to awe, he dared not touch it for long. For the longer he held the blade, the more it sent throbs of pain up his arms, and it eventually caused his eyes to burn and his head to ring. In no time heíd have to drop the scimitar, only to covet it from a distance. The elf whoíd had the blade had appeared before him the day before in a flash of light, just before the sun had risen. The alley had been a quiet place that night, the cambionís usual prey, prostitutes, vagrants, and thieves, not coming into the night in very great numbers of late. Perhaps it was that fool Baronís politics and the increased presence of the weakling Highport guardsmen that was keeping them at bay. Heíd only had time to grab the scimitar off the inert elfís body before the sunís rays had forced him into the darkness. It was a pity he could not get the scabbard for this magnificent weapon as well, he thought, caressing the air above the blade. Also, he thought, it was a shame he didnít get to sample the elfís lifeblood, despite how elven blood tended to be somewhat tart and stale on the tongue. No matter, he would feed this night.
The view from the top of the Church of Aramon allowed the cambion to look over the entire west district alley. The ruffians and the poor shared that part of town, and it was mostly controlled by the Highport assassinsí guild, despite what the Highport guard might have to say about that. Scanning the alleyways, the cambion smiled. There, a young woman wearing a sword, and...could it be? The elf he had stolen the scimitar from! This would be a treat this night. Wrapping the scimitar up in cloth, the cambion leapt off of the Church, bounding from rooftop to rooftop, floating with the winds of the night towards his unknowing prey.
Sid and Elicia walked the west district alleyway in almost complete darkness. Sid whistled a catchy tune, as if he didnít care that possible murder and rape rested around every corner of every building of this place. Elicia was completely on edge. The elven half of her heritage allowed her very good night vision, but it was nowhere near the perfect sight those of pure Sylvan blood possessed. Sid, however, did not have that problem. Due to his Drow-elven half, he was able to see as if it was almost daylight outside. The dirty elf suddenly stopped, holding his hand up for them to stop moving, and looked over at Elicia.
"You hear somethin?" he asked, looking left and right.
"No, I didnít hear a thing, other than maybe my own heartbeat. You know this part of this wretched city is controlled by the assassinsí guild. It would not do for them to find us here," she said warily, looking up into Sidís eyes.
Sid smiled at her.
"Donít worry! I got em right where I want em!" he said. He then began sniffing.
Elicia stared at him as he took in deep breaths, perplexed, her guard completely up.
"Thereís three of em around that corner there," Sid whispered, pointing past a building up to their left, "They stink, and they make a lot of noise. Thereís also one of em on the rooftops up there, although heís been being pretty quiet."
"What are we going to do?" she asked the elf in a low voice, "Should we back down the alley and go a different way? Thereís four or more of them, and only two of us. You are not armed, and although I am pretty handy with my sword, I donít think I can hold them all off."
Sid laughed out loud.
"Why...weíll go say hi! Donít worry about me! They are the ones who need to be scared!"
The elf then bolted around the corner with his long sword drawn, hooting.
"Sid! Wait a minute!" she yelped, following after him. This was hopeless!
Apparently the ruffians around the corner were not expecting to see Sid run around the corner so abruptly. There were three of them, one with long dark and greasy hair, another that was somewhat pudgy and tough-looking, and another which was somewhat tall and lanky, although he moved with quiet grace. All of them did not look like average street ruffians, as they were all rather well armed. The dark-haired one started in surprise as Sid came around the corner. His surprise did not last long, however.
"You are trespassing, fool elf. This is not your turf. How insane are you to travel these streets in such a near naked state?" he asked mockingly, his eyes showing he viewed Sid to be little or no threat.
"I donít like you very much," said Sid, "Why donít you slit your own throat for me, idiot assassin. Ha.Ha."
Just then, Elicia came around the corner, her short sword drawn. She was running after Sid, and skidded to a halt as she ran up beside him.
"Ha! Whoís this then? Your bodyguard? Hello, my sweet!" said the pudgy one, lust clear in his eyes as he looked upon the woman.
Elicia moved into a guard stance, pointing her short sword directly at the fat ruffian.
"Sweet? We have no quarrel with you and your companions, fat man, but if you insist on such bad manners, we will be happy to help you along your way," said Elicia menacingly, twirling the end of her sword around.
All three of them laughed out loud, the lanky one drawing a dagger, the other two drawing swords.
"I said you were trespassing, and I meant it. Now you pay the price! And if youíre lucky, we will kill you quick after we have our way with you!" the dark-haired ruffian said as he charged and lunged out at Sid with his sword.
Sid didnít move as he watched the ruffian approach, keenly aware that the other two men were fanning out to the sides to attempt to get him surrounded. As the dark-haired assassinís sword point was almost upon Sid, the elf whirled to the side, grabbing the ruffianís sword arm, and tossed him head first into the nearby wall of a building. The man fell to the ground, unmoving and in a daze. The elf then held the guardsmanís long sword up, pointing it at the other two, warning them to stay back.
"You do really want to die, donít you? Where is my stuff?" asked the elf, murder in his eyes.
Elicia moved up beside him, her short sword in guard position. Sid had turned his back on the dark-haired assassin, seeming not to care what he did behind him. Muscles twitched on the elfís sword arm as he held out the long sword.
"Your stuff? We donít even know who you are, fool. All we do know is that you will soon not be anybody of consequence any longer, and your girlfriend will be our plaything!" the fat ruffian said as he leapt forward.
For his size, he was surprisingly deft with his blade and light of foot. He forced Sid back, their blades ringing off of one another. After every blocked stroke, Sid laughed at the man, spitting at him. To Elicia it looked as if the elf considered it a fun game to be in, and that the man in front of him was no threat at all. She soon didnít care about that anymore, as the lanky man moved toward her slowly, his dagger moving in motions in front of him. He was muttering and looking at Sid. That could mean only one thing.
"No!" she yelled as she leapt toward him.
It was too late. A bolt of lightning erupted from the lanky assassinís fingertips of his left hand, slashing the darkness of the night, and leaving Eliciaís eyes with blurs as they tried to adjust. She tripped and fell to her knee as she ran forward. Sid was knocked back sideways into the wall, blue arcs of electricity playing all over him. He screamed in pain and rage. The force of the blow was too powerful for him to remain on his feet, and the fat man then slashed down at Sid with his sword, hoping to catch the elf off guard as he recovered from the stunning blow from the lightning. Distract the elf it did, and Sid was late in getting his sword arm up. Instead of blocking the blow, he deflected it instead straight into his sword arm. The tip of the fat assassinís long sword slashed off a chunk of the elfís arm, spraying blood. Sid screamed in pain, his arm going limp. His hand no longer obeying him, he dropped his long sword. He breathed heavily now, feral rage in his eyes as he looked up at the fat man.
Finally, the elf managed to control his pain. The ruffian laughed then, putting the tip of his blade on Sidís exposed neck.
Eliciaís eyes were still adjusting. She tried to stand, only to have her knees kicked out from under her from behind, a dagger held to her neck by the dark-haired assassin. She coughed, forced to remain on her knees.
"I think we will make him watch, what do you boys think?" asked the fat ruffian of his companions, pushing his blade forward slightly, drawing some blood from Sidís exposed neck.
"I would much much like to see him suffer," said the lanky assassin-mage, an evil lust in his eyes, "We should at least keep him around. Heís peculiar. Iíd like to see how much pain he can endure."
"I am glad you are on our side....Perhaps we should give her to Gaaron?" suggested the dark-haired assassin.
"I would not offer up such a pretty thing for him when we clearly own it ourselves," the fat ruffian laughed, mockingly offering a kiss in the air to Sidís enraged stare.
The lanky man then moved up beside the woman, and he and the dark-haired assassin grabbed her under the arms, restraining her.
"Youíll not have me alive," Elicia screamed and spit as she struggled to get away from them, "One or more of you will have parts missing!"
"Such a spirited lass, arenít you!" said the lanky man, leaning over to try to kiss her. The fat man laughed, taking his attention off of Sid for a split second.
With a scream of rage, Sid leapt up at the fat assassin, grabbing the manís blade to shove it aside, not caring that he nearly cut off his own fingers while doing so. Blood flowed freely from his hand as he reached up and grabbed the fat manís throat, screaming like a feral animal. The dirty elf then began to squeeze with an iron grip, clenching his teeth and staring the man straight in the eye with an evil glare. The ruffianís eyes almost popped out of his head. He yelped as he tried to grab feebly at Sidís hand so he could breathe again. He could not budge the elfís grip, and he began to feel light-headed. Sid continued to tighten his grip. Finally, screaming like an animal, he savagely ripped out the fat manís throat, throwing its remains to the ground. The fat assassin fell to his knees, gurgling and sputtering and wheezing. He fell silent, blood running out on the alleyís ground. Startled, the other two stopped toying with Elicia, and turned toward the elf. The dark-haired man put the dagger back at her throat.
"Let her go. Now!" said the elf savagely, pointing at the two of them. He then leaned down and picked up his long sword with his left hand.
The two assassins stared at him as if he was a fool.
"Or what? You will cut her throat for us?? Stay back!" yelled the dark-haired man.
A patter of feet suddenly could be heard from the alley whence Sid and Elicia had come. Turning, Elicia saw five more rough-looking fellows, all blocking them into the alley. There was no way out. It was now seven against two. She closed her eyes in terror.
She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He thought with near ecstasy that she surely was of both Sylvan and human blood. Her slender form and lightly pointed ears were telltale signs. Her long blonde hair and scent held the old cambion captivated as he watched her struggle against the two brutes holding her. He would have her, and he would have her soon. His view from the rooftops offered a splendid and amusing view of the developing events. He had watched the entire time, shadowing the two of them from the rooftops.
"Oh", he thought, more ruffians had arrived. Perhaps it was time to make his entrance.
"Look! More of you fools for me to kill! LET HER GO! NOW! I will not ask again!" growled Sid as he advanced a step, holding the long sword out with his left arm, his right arm held close at his side.
The two men holding Elicia just giggled at him, holding the dagger closer to her throat.
"Look! A party in the making!" the lanky ruffian said, leaning down whispering into Eliciaís ear, "You will please me greatly, and then so will your foolish friend."
A tear of utter frustration ran down from Eliciaís left eye, blurring her vision.
The five men that arrived hooted and began walking forward towards her captors.
The lanky man let another shorter ruffian take his place, stepping back into the shadows. Sid eyed him and charged. The man chanted rapidly. Just as Sid was almost upon him, the elf froze in place, unable to move. The lanky man then produced a large mace, thwacking Sid on the head. The elf fell hard to the ground, knocked unconscious, a bleeding cut now on his head. The five men laughed, and so did the dark-haired man and the lanky assassin. Elicia cried out in fear. Her cries just made them leer and be even more crude. There was no hope for her. She began to struggle and bite at the hands that held her, but to no avail.
She then saw the strangest thing she had ever seen. A light green mist had begun to roll down the alley walls around all the men, coalescing toward the back of the alleyway. So intent were the men on her, that they didnít notice it.
Her whole body chilled as she watched the mist condense and swirl up, forming the image of a dark-skinned man, his cloak as dark as the night itself, and the shadows seeming to move with him. He stood there with his arms crossed, surveying the scene before them, his eyes glowing red.
The men laughed and joked, all trying to decide whoíd get to ravage her first. Suddenly the lanky man spoke above their din.
"Hold...who is there?" he asked, pointing to the dark shape at the end of the alley.
"What are you talking about?" asked one, looking around "Where?"
"Me bones is chillin! Did you cast another spell? What are ye pointing at?" asked another, looking also.
To Elicia, the man seemed to move without moving. He appeared right in the midst of the five men, standing with his arms to his sides.
"Look closer," said the man, an evil rasp to his voice, as if it came from the grave itself.
He then whirled to his left, lashing out with a powerful hand, ripping the throat out of a ruffian, blood spraying everywhere. The others screamed in fright, trying to run in all directions. As one tried to flee, the man was suddenly upon him, biting down and chewing through half the sapís neck, dropping him to the ground. He then leapt thirty feet through the air, landing between two others, grabbing each one behind the neck, squeezing oneís neck almost in half, and driving the otherís head into the alley wall with a sickening crunch. Both dead bodies slumped to the ground, lifeless. The other of the five ran back toward the dark-haired man, who had dropped his dagger in fear. Elicia was now free, but she was so utterly terrified of this..creature...that she didnít even dare move. The man moved toward her captors with a steady stroll, his eyes flaring an evil red. The dark-haired man turned to flee, but the man was upon him, grabbing him, and lifting him off the ground, laughing wickedly.
"You like picking on little girls, do you?" he rasped. He then threw the assassin to the back of the alley with incredible force, the man crashing high against the wall and falling down to the ground unmoving, his body twisted at a sickening angle.
The lanky man backed into the corner, chanting rapidly. The other ruffian wailed in terror, running back to stand next to him. The dark man stood silently, mockingly glaring at them. He then reached behind his back, pulling forth a long dark blade, its blackened-steel metal seeming to gather the darkness from the alley around him, and held it in front of him, pointing it at the lanky man.
"Come, little man, with your spells and charms. You will amuse me, and then you will die as the others did, only slower!" he said in a croaking evil voice. He then walked slowly forward.
Elicia watched all of this in abject horror. She glanced all around her, seeing all the broken bodies, blood pooling all over the alley. She looked to Sid, who appeared to still be breathing. Slowly, she began crawling toward the dirty elf.
With a loud screech, the lanky assassin pointed out his finger. The dark man was suddenly engulfed in a pillar of fire, all visibility of him lost in the brightness of the flames. Debris and bodies on the ground caught afire, filling the whole alley with the sickening sweet smell of burnt human flesh. The dark man fell to one knee as the fires surrounded him, smoke coming off his body. The lanky assassin-mage relaxed a bit, thinking his foe thwarted at the last second. A long moment passed, no one moving, the dark man included. Suddenly, from the center of the flames, a loud and evil laugh erupted, echoing loudly all around the alleyway, and probably for several blocks distant."Fool weakling mage. You had better pray to whatever gods you adhere to, for I now come," said the dark man as he stepped calmly from the fire, his cape singed and smoking. No burns were visible anywhere on him. The fire had done nothing.
The lanky assassin yelped in terror as the dark man ran forward in a rush, swinging his blackened-steel blade in a whirling downward stroke. The man barely managed to get his own blade up in time to prevent his head from being split down the middle by the sharp blackened blade. The other ruffian moved to the side. With an impossible quickness, the dark man side-stepped, cutting him off, his free hand coming to the manís throat, crushing his windpipe. The ruffian fell twitching to the ground with a thud, his lifeblood pooling out of his mouth and nose. The lanky man thought he had an opening, and thrust out with his dagger, only to have it beat aside by the dark man with an impossible agility. The dark-cloaked man laughed.
"Weakling! I savor your fear!" he yelled, rushing inside the lanky assassin-mageís reach, stabbing with his sword.
But it was only a faint. The lanky man thrust forward, only to be savagely backhanded to the ground as the dark man side-stepped him. He dropped his dagger from the force of the blow, which bounced him off of the alley wall before he fell to the ground. Hey lay on the ground in a daze, trying to slowly crawl away from the man to the end of the alley. The dark man walked around him, mockingly laughing as he let the lanky assassin-mage crawl almost to the end of the alley. He then thrust the tip of his blackened blade straight through the back of the manís thigh. The assassin screamed in agony, unable to crawl further, his blood flowing. The dark man then kicked him in the stomach, knocking him across the alley to slam into the opposite wall. The assassin lay still, breathing slowly, unable to move, his eyes locked with the evil red glare of the dark cloaked man. Suddenly, the dark man ran at him in a rush, reaching down to grab him by the collar, lifting him off of his feet against the wall. He leaned close to the assassinís ear as he spoke.
"Do you have any idea how old this cape was? And you burned it!" growled the dark man in his guttural voice, his eyes glowing a brighter red in anger.
Elicia finally made it to Sid. She felt his neck for a pulse, satisfied to find one there. She then reached to her belt pouch pulling forth a bandage to apply to the dirty elfís bleeding scalp. The elf stirred, opening one of his yellow eyes, growling.
"What should we do with this one, my love?" asked the dark man, turning to regard Elicia, an evil stare of lust in his eyes, "How should he die?"
Elicia looked up from Sid to the dark man, ice creeping into her very soul at hearing this creature address her so.
"I...d-donít know w-what to do. I just w-wish to l-live," she said, the fear obvious in her shaking voice.
"Oh you will learn as I have. In time, you shall. This one is weak. Not worthy of the likes of the strong. He is only an insect, to be squashed under the feet of the mighty. He does not even deserve death, but I shall kill him anyway. It amuses me to do so," he said calmly. He then thrust his blackened blade up into the assassinís chest, staring the lanky man in the eye, a savage grin on his face as the man coughed and sputtered, his life leaving him. The dark man then let the body drop to the ground, turning back towards Elicia and Sid.
"You will come with me. I have plans for you," said the dark man, pulling back his hood, revealing for the first time his whole face.
The man had red-tinged skin, two small horns on his head. His jaw was covered in fresh blood. His teeth were also crimson, his smile revealing two very sharp fangs.
Elicia stared in horror, taking a step back. The dark man was a vampire. The man was also a cambion Ė half demon, half human. There was no mistaking his race. With a grunt, Sid stood next to her, reaching over to grab a dagger from the scabbard at Eliciaís side, holding it forth toward the creature.
"She goes nowhere with you, cambion!" he growled, a fierce and savage look in his eyes. Sid wavered from side to side, barely able to keep his balance, the cut on his head bleeding once again, a stream of blood flowing down into his left eye, forcing the elf to blink.
The cambion vampire laughed and started clapping slowly, his blade leaning against his leg.
"Brave. Very brave, yet foolish. I think I will let you live," said the old vampire, his eyes narrowing, "You amuse me."
With a sudden rush, he ran forward, seeming to disappear. Sid turned, trying to slash the cambion with Eliciaís dagger. Suddenly it was knocked out of his hand with the blackened-steel blade. Sid screeched, his hand badly cut. The vampire then shoved Elicia to the ground, sending her sprawling. He held Sid close to him.
"I would taste your blood, fool elf, but I donít like how you smell," he said. He then shoved Sid to the side, walking quickly toward Elicia, sheathing his blade.
Sid recovered quickly, running toward the vampires back, his dagger slashing. Before he could get there, the creature reached down and grabbed Elicia under the arm with one hand, lifting her to her feet. He then leapt upward nearly thirty feet to the rooftops, carrying her with him, his cape fluttering behind him. He turned and looked to the ground, Sid staring up at him.
"As I said, she comes with me. Now I have two things of yours," he said mockingly. He put his hand over Eliciaís eyes then, and she slumped to the ground, asleep.
"Let her go!!!!" yelled the elf, rage and frustration coloring his voice.
The vampire simply smirked, leaning down to pick up something off the rooftop. He then stood, holding it out for Sid to see. It was Sidís missing scimitar. Sid screamed in rage.
"DEMON!! You will die if harm comes to her!" he screamed, "Keep the blade for all I care, but let her go!!"
Ignoring Sid, the vampire turned with a flourish to pick up Eliciaís limp form. The two of them then dispersed into a light green mist before the elfís eyes. As he watched the mist float away, tears filled the elfís eyes, tears which he had not shed in almost a century. Sidís scimitar then landed on the ground in front of him, startling him. The vampireís mocking laughter filled the night, fading slowly with distance.
To be continued...