The night had settled in over the valley as the deep, murky skies shown grey with moonlight hidden behind the clouds. The path through Deadwind Pass was narrow and the harpies on the rocky outcrops above were asleep in their nests. A large, shadowy figure slipped stealthily along the pass southward. The only sound that could be heard was the occasional squeak of rats and the odd snore from the harpies above. The pale grey stone path, worn by decades of erosion and heavy ogre feet, wound its way along the edge of a deep fault where light could not penetrate.
The shadowed figure was nearly silent as it neared the crossroad between the western path and the winding mountain trail. The intersection ahead was guarded only by a single, snoring ogre. The figure wasn’t afraid of stirring the beast for he knew that ogres slept like the mountains themselves, not to mention he was down wind of the creature. It had to be eliminated though all the same, the risk of alarm could not be taken. The figure neared the slumbering brute and unsheathed his blades, quietly un-stoppering a small wooden jar and slicking the knives with the thick black fluid.
He moved in behind the ogre and noticed a pouch hanging from its waist. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity and he snipped the pouch full of gold coins without a sound. Then, as quick as a viper’s bite, he leaped up and buried both of his envenomed blades into the ogre’s throat from behind. A quick slicing motion sealed the beast’s fate and without so much as a gurgle, the ogre slumped forward as his opened throat spurt out gouts of blood, blackened by the moonlight. The figure faded back into the shadow of the ridge line and moved on, a faint grin behind his leather mask.
His target was just ahead as he could see the orange glow of bonfires showing on pillars of smoke. In the air he could smell the burning of flesh and other, less savory odors and he could hear the distinct sounds of ogres reveling in an orgy of feasting, drinking, and brawling. The enemies ahead were not going to be foolish guards slumbering on roadside but powerful and drunken killers. He moved to the periphery of the camp and watched the tribe closely, looking for a place to spring his trap.
The ogre chieftain howled as he gorged on a boar’s leg in one hand and held a brawler in a headlock, in the other. The gathering of ogres was not especially large but the entire tribe was there and numbered nearly a couple dozen. The chieftain’s mate was engaged in gorging on her own meal as she cursed and laughed at the brawlers’ embarrassment. The ogre’s young were with the den mother inside the cave but they were of no concern. The time was almost upon them.
The assassin continued to wait and watch in silence up on the ridgeline overlooking the ogre den below. Nearly an hour passed as he had planned his moves and awaited his signal. Then it happened. A battle cry rang out of the darkness as a raiding party of Alliance soldiers charged from the narrow path in pairs. The humans, dwarves, and gnomes plunged into the ogres hacking and bashing the beasts in a surprise attack. The time had come to make his move as he watched for the leader of the raiding party.
The lieutenant, a human man by the name of Charles Thorten, was engaged with the ogre chieftain known as Glorbrag Skullthumper. The mighty creature had raided Alliance towns to the west in Duskwood for too long and recently took a host of SI:7 agents hostage. He intended on getting them back. It was more than his duty, it was imperative that he did for they had information vital to the Alliance’s efforts. First though, he had to kill these monstrous ogres. Narrowly dodging a blow from the chieftain’s huge club, he took the momentum and bashed the drunken creature’s weapon away with his shield. Glorbrag tried to crush him with a mighty swing of his fist but Lieutenant Thorten was too quick.
The assassin watched intently as the leader of the raiding party battled the ogre chieftain. He had to admit that he was impressed with the human, even if he was just a human. The man’s sword carved into the ogre’s arms and rent a deep gash open in the beast’s belly. Intestines spilled forth from the drunken beast’s flesh but it only seemed to make him angrier. The man took a massive kick to his chest which surely broke some ribs, and the ogre grabbed up his club once more to deliver his final blow. Before he could however, the assassin was obliged to aid the fallen man.
The lieutenant looked up through eyes filled with tears of great pain as the gore-spattered ogre raised his club high overhead, intending to crush him utterly. The ogre roared in pain and anger as his tribe was cut down around him. But before he could land the death blow, the ogre’s death came swiftly and without warning. A large, straight dagger landed soundly in the back of the ogre’s skull before falling backwards to the weight of his weapon. He landed with a resounding thump and the lieutenant looked in shock. The last of the ogres were dispatched as he stood up. A gnomish priest tended to his wounds with a flash of light as he held his sword up in victory.
The assassin was primed and ready now. The human leader had been saved by his hand but it could end him just as quickly. The human looked to his savior but could not find him among the gathered soldiers. He limped over to his second and he ordered his men to search for the captives and leave none of the ogres alive. So much of Alliance honor, thought the assassin. Even he would not kill innocents. He had to move quickly or his quarry may be lost. He slipped through the shadows cast by the great bonfire and jumped down behind an ogre hut. The Alliance soldiers moved for the cave with swords drawn, the assassin readied his blades for combat, but the assassin could also hear the others shouting for their leader at the other end of the outcrop and he looked across the grounds.
“Lieutenant Thorten! They’re here!” shouted private Gyromill as the sergeant, Glorinil ran to see. The lieutenant looked to them but did not notice the shadow moving around behind the hut. He walked over and looked in the hut to find 3 dead SI:7 agents and one alive, bound, blindfolded and gagged. The Night Elf mumbled and groaned in pain, “Geff mmnne auf off eer.” The lieutenant nodded to Gyromill and the elf was freed of his bonds and emerged from the hut. “Liutenant is it? I am grateful for your assistance but it has arrived too late for my men. We must leave this place. I have to report to HQ as soon as possible.” The Lieutenant nodded but looked to the cave. “We will get you out of here but first we have to finish these beasts. For those we’ve lost.” The elf did not speak and looked taken aback. He didn’t get a chance to protest however.
The garrote wire worked well as the assassin lassoed the corded wire around the elf’s neck and ripped back with all his might. The elf was not simply pulled back but his head was nearly removed from his shoulders. The elf died before he hit the ground and the assassin sprinted through the shadows. The men at the mouth of the cave turned and ran towards the human leader and a protective circle was formed around him and his sergeant. The assassin scaled the rock cliff quickly, the repelling line dug firmly into the rock above. When he reached the top, he revealed himself to the group below as he stood over the mouth of the cave.
The lieutenant looked up and had his archers and riflemen draw on the mysterious figure. He couldn’t tell who or what it was but it was large. It sent a chill down his spine at the thought of something that large being undetected the whole time. He waited a moment before speaking. “Identify yourself! Throw down your arms and surrender or you will be fired upon!” The lieutenant held his hand up at the ready and his archers drew hard on their bows and the riflemen sighted steady, ready to fire. The shield wall held steady as stone while the figure stood in silence.
The assassin was filled with anger and though it went against his training he spoke to the soldiers in gruff, half-formed Common. “It was by my hand that you are not dead human. It would be by my hand that you would die. What honor is there in killing innocents?” The lieutenant’s eyes opened wide as he recognized that guttural tone anywhere. He returned to the assassin. “You speak of honor, ‘Orc’. You speak of honor when you killed a beaten captive from the shadows? Only an Orc would be so cynical!”
The Orc assassin looked down from his perch and snarled. “You risk much, ‘human’, speaking to me like that. You did not know what that elf knew and it shall stay that way. I should kill you now to save others from trouble, but I will allow you to leave in peace, if you leave the whelps unharmed.” The Liutenant looked around and realized what the Orc meant. He did not fear the assassin, but he came to his senses. To save face though, he looked to the Orc once more with a condescending grimace. “Fine, we will leave these other ‘savages’ to their fates but my command still stands, Orc. Lay down your arms and surrender.”
The assassin stood silently for a few moments before vanishing into shadow. The Lieutenant roared in anger as he ordered his men to fire. Arrows and shot perforated the misty shadow atop the ridge but when it fell, it was merely a wooden decoy filled with holes and arrows. The Orc had placed it there moments before he retreated to the path to the north. He watched with a certain satisfaction as the human’s soldiers looked fooled before howling into the night. “Until we meet again, human!” His laughter could be heard faintly as he slunk away into shadows once more.