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Revenge -- Chapter 1

It was raining then… the weather this time of year was always rather warm, so she didn’t mind. Anyone awake at that hour would have noticed a lone female rider wearing a large, concealing cloak traveling rapidly down a dusty old road.

It had been several months since she had left Ku-Na-Zem, and while she had made significant strides towards finding her target, she found herself for the third time cursing her stubbornness in not asking her fellow Sign Guardians for any help during the start of her assignment.

Yes indeed, for she was one of the famed Guardians of the Signs, an elite group of trained individuals chosen by the matriarchy itself to complete special, dangerous missions for the good of the Shinse people.

All who knew of the Shinse had heard stories of their legendary assassins, concealed with ornate grey robes and armor, with bone white masks to hide the identity of their persons. As such, she had opted to leave her gear inside of a small, neatly tied package and instead traveled the land using a simple rider’s cloak, so as to not draw too much attention to herself.

The name of this particular Sign Guardian was Lo-Rei, and it had recently become her duty to mete out the assassination of a former, high ranking Celea general by the name of Anax.

After having received a few tips from a stray band of Celeanni that she graciously asked to tell her about the infamous general, she had set out northeast of her previous position towards the last known place the man had passed through before his supposed disappearance.

Eventually, Lo-Rei arrived at the outskirts of a town situated on the border between the newly acquired Celean lands and the volcanically active Kharn territories. Calling it a town; however, was perhaps a generous name, as the entire place appeared rather small and ram shackled, even from a great distance away.

Sights like this decrepit town were becoming more and more common ever since the two suns appeared in the sky, a sure sign of nothing less than bad things to come. To make matters worse, the very air itself was becoming more sulfuric every day, and even the rain had begun to change its quality, almost as if ash and soot had become the new downpour of the land.

Having rode up about half the remaining distance to the town before dismounting from her horse, Lo-Rei stared across the remaining space, thinking about how much more of a nuisance her mission had become over the past couple of days.

“Oh great, another run down hovel, how many does that make this week?” She asked dryly, whilst slowly removing all of her supplies from her draft animal.

It seemed to her that she didn’t have much choice but to investigate the town for any rumors on her elusive prey, but before that, Lo-Rei came to the conclusion that she really needed to let her horse go, as she had been riding it non-stop for quite some time now and without significant rest, risked causing it to die of exhaustion.

With this in mind she patted the horse gently before whispering, “Rest now; we will meet again when this is all over.”

Shortly after the horse ran off into the wilderness, Lo-Rei gathered her cloak about herself and set off into the village.

Upon closer inspection it became apparent to her that while the town was most definitely run down, there were still people of various denominations and potentially questionable motives using the place as a sort of safe hub from law enforcement and the ongoing war. What a man who used to be a military general would want from a place like this, was beyond her.

It was clear she would need to keep her wits about her if she wanted to leave the town unscathed, and she found it not unlikely that she would find an occasion to make use of the dual wakats that she kept hidden by her side.

Not long after making her way to the center of town, Lo-Rei noticed a sizeable crowd of people piling into what seemed to be some kind of tavern or large inn.

She paused for a short moment before reading off the name of the place, “The Twisted Barb”, Lo-Rei sighed, “Leave it to a Celeanni to come up with a crude name like that.”

Considering she didn’t really see much of an opportunity to gather information outside of the tavern, Lo-Rei decided that her best bet was to head inside and try to find out anything about her mark amongst the people gathering there.

As she made her way inside, Lo-Rei found the atmosphere within the tavern to be surprising warm and friendly. For a place named The Twisted Barb she had to admit that she wasn’t expecting it to be nice in the slightest. Since she didn’t see anyone of particular note or stature on her way in, Lo-Rei decided she might as well start her investigation by talking with the bar keep.

A few moments later she seated herself on top of a stool and waited for the man to approach. As the bar keep made his way over it became clear he was a tall Celea, with light-brown hair and a burly mustache to complete the look.

The big man started his greeting with, “Why hello there stranger, what can I interest you in? I can treat you to the finest ale this side of Skara! I could tell you the tallest tales you’d never believe! And, if its information you’re interested in, well let’s just say I know my fair share as well. So, what’ll it be?” asked the Celea.

Lo-Rei pondered on the man’s words for a moment before replying, “Oh really, you can provide anything can you? Somehow I doubt you’d have the answers to my questions.”

“Is that a challenge, lady? I dare you try me!” The man said with a resounding boom before slamming a mug of ale down in front of Lo-Rei, “That’ll be five cuneis by the way.”

Lo-Rei smirked at the burly Celea before deciding there was no reason not to ask him.

She promptly tossed the man ten cuneis before leaning close and whispering to him, ‘You think you can help me? Very well then, what is it that you can tell me about a man named Anax?”

“Hm, Anax you say?” muttered the bar keep, “That crazy ole fart? Some call the man a deserter; others say he was killed in honorable combat, but I know better. He’s still out there, and I can tell you where, if you’re willing to pay a small fee. So what do you say lady? Are you interested?”

Lo-Rei looked at him with eyes full of surprise; she wasn’t expecting to get anything remotely useful out of this man, but perhaps she had finally gotten lucky for once during this long and arduous assignment.

Without further hesitation she raised up her hood to look the man straight in the eyes before saying, “Tell me everything, and spare no details.”

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