The night was sultry. Wait, no, that’s a terrible start! I’ll go again.
The night’s air was electric, filling me bones with an energy they hadn’t felt in years. Yeah, that’s an apt description. Shall we proceed?
Bodies dropped all around, adding to piles already arranged across the smoking sovereign grounds. I’d gotten to the party late, that much was obvious, though I wasn’t empty-handed. Had me two Ulfbehrt blades tucked neatly out of view whilst slipping under the gatekeeper’s arch, entering a town recently set ablaze.
That bloody kid had gone and blown his cover. There was no other reason for the King’s men to attack, they had already seized control, made the town theirs. This was… a massacre, plain and clear.
Never thought I’d see one o’ the Red Giants in action, and let me tell you this: I hope to never see it again. With an uncontainable fury he charged across the cobblestone roads, painting it in crimson streaks of arterial spray freshly liberated from the King’s Seraphim Guardsmen. He trounced ’em, the poor sods, and caught nary a stray blade or arrow across his dark hide. Even crushed their corpses underfoot just to be sure.
Those eyes of his rolled toward me and for a moment I froze. Instincts are funny like that. Don’t move and the beastly fellow won’t see you, they assured me. Well, he damn-well saw me! Those eyes were barely human, seeming to glow red as they lingered, likely considering what threat I posed.
It’s lucky, then, that I’m a fairly unassuming chap – at least without me mask. Ha! Suddenly I was happy that the King tossed it into that bloody fireplace. Probably saved me life, that. These scars may be gnarly but they paint the picture of a victim. That suited me fine just then.
“Derek Hawk!” the giant yelled suddenly at all those who ran from the fight. “Where is he?!”
There was concern in his voice, maybe even love. That lad certainly did seem to have a way about him. A proud, stoic nature– with honor hidden behind all that fear and self-loathing. Hell, I’d only heard of those giants as savages, so if the kid could inspire loyalty in one o’ them… what else was he capable of?
The giant began to turn toward me as one of the Guardsmen ran by without giving a second look. They still considered me an ally, the idiots, and that wasn’t quite so beneficial at the time.
“Lookout!” I bellowed dramatically, plucking a sword from the dirt and lunging for the Guardsman.
This caught the giant’s ear as planned, and so I had a blade buried partways through the Guardsman’s neck when next those red eyes caught me. The giant’s head cocked to one side as if surprised, bounding closer before I could say much of anything.
“Do you know Derek Hawk?” he asked, towering over me like some sort of colossus bathed in blood.
“Indeed I do!” I blurted out, still trying to pry out the sword.
How much should I let on? I doubt many knew Derek was the rogue Prince. Wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret, mind you – he let slip his real name the moment I introduced meself. But did this giant know?
“Have you seen him?” the giant’s terrifying, booming voice inquired with greater urgency – those eyes of his suddenly large and glistening.
“Not since this morning,” I said honestly, “is he in danger? We’re friends!” I said LESS honestly.
He hesitated, nostrils flared. “No more than anyone else here. Leave! You’ve done enough!”
“Not until these bastards are gone, yeah? We’ve got ourselves a Derek to find, after all.”
Jackpot. I’ve dealt with warriors like this all me life and, not to brag, I’ve learnt how to deal with ’em. Feign nobility and suddenly you’ve got their trust, and maybe free reign to go unnoticed and do as you please behind their backs. Works like a charm.
“Fine, then. Split up! Save who you can!” he barked mid-stride, headed for the center of town.
Like hell! Make no mistake, I was in search of the Prince same as he was… but that lad would surely be dead already. I only hoped his head was still slightly intact so I could turn it in for the bounty. A shame to be sure, but facts are facts: I was fit to take a quick glance around and then snake away.
That backwards country wasn’t all it was made out to be.