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You call this fun?!

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He continued to wander around town, because there was no other way he could think of to rid his mind of his accursed thoughts. No matter how he tried to distract himself, what he had done would return with a vengeance, and he would shut down. He couldn’t comprehend why he would act this way; why his body would seize up with pain and he would lose whatever he had managed to eat since the last time. He was an assassin for the Maker’s sake. He did not feel bad, or guilty when he ended a life, it was simply his job; his way to earn food and shelter.

Ah, but that wasn’t the issue this time was it? his inner voice reminded him. She was not your target, not the reason you were sent on this job. He grimaced at himself, as he continued to walk along the cobbled streets, not noticing those around him, yet aware of his surroundings all the same.

You were wrong about her, his mind told him, as if he didn’t already know. You couldn’t wait to betray one of those closest to you. He saw again in his mind, the look of pain and anguish on her face as he came in for the kill. He stopped and supported himself with a hand on the nearby building.

It had been weeks ago, and yet still as fresh in his mind as the day it happened. One of his lovers- Rinna- had betrayed them, himself and Talisen, and set them up to take the fall for failing to kill their mark. They had done what any respectable assassins would do, and gone for her head before she could. Impulsive, brash, and foolish his mind reminded him. And yet you wouldn’t listen. This woman whom you supposedly loved, told you the truth, and you laughed, and then killed her.

Brasca, stop reminding me! he thought back. It was not lost on him that he was arguing with himself, in his own mind. It happened regularly these past few weeks, and if he was being honest, more frequently with each day that passed. This argument was one that he could never win. All it accomplished was to remind him of his failures, and it was slowly driving him mad. Talisen tried to help at first, but how could he, when he felt no remorse at all, and therefore couldn’t understand? Days, then weeks had passed as he sunk further and further into despair. No matter how he tried, he could not get the events of that fateful day out of his mind. To make matters worse, his own mind now betrayed him constantly as it just had, bringing his hopeless thoughts up with regularity. He had never gone insane himself, but imagined that this would be how it happened.

How far I have fallen, he thought. The mighty Zevran, part of the Antivan Crows, brought down by a death that he had caused. He wished he was dead, for if he was, he wouldn’t have to feel this way anymore. Of course, it wasn’t as simple as killing himself. He had his pride after all, and though he wasn’t sure he believed in the Maker, he had been taught that suicide was unforgivable. True, that may have been more about the Crow’s reputation than sin, but better safe than sorry. If it was his choice, he would go down in battle- it was the least he could do, to feel the pain and anguish of his own death, to help compensate for hers.

That’s it! he thought. It wasn’t the best plan, but it was a plan at least! Finding a fight that could kill me would not be easy, because I am pretty awesome. It may take time, but I will succeed. I will not continue to feel this way any longer. With that decision made, he stood up straight, and continued walking through the town, though with more purpose in his steps than before.

A scream rang out nearby, and though he normally would have ignored it, he found himself veering from his path to follow the sound. If he was going to find this legendary fight that would claim his life, he had to be prepared at any time and in any place.

He came to the mouth of an alley where a woman was being stalked by a large man, while several of his friends created a wall from which she could not escape. There was something strange about this woman, though she was very lovely. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, and brought his hand up to stroke his chin as he studied her. Her fair skin proved that she was no native to this land, and the creaminess of her skin proved she was no servant. However the smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks and her manner of dress made him doubt she was a noble.

“Ah, a mystery woman, always my favorite type,” he said without thinking. All of the men froze, and turned to look at him.

“Be on your way, friend. There is nothing for you here but death,” the large man who was obviously the leader of the group said. He held the woman with one arm, the other hand placed over her mouth so she couldn’t scream again. Zevran looked in her eyes, surprised and highly amused to see anger instead of fear as he expected.

“Truly?” he replied to the man. “Just what I was looking for!”

All the men looked at him in confusion, and he couldn’t blame them. What manner of man went looking for death after all?

“You may think yourself brave, but your bravery will get you killed. Leave now, or die, I will not warn you again,” the large man said.

“I am counting on it,” Zevran said with a smirk as he pulled his daggers out of the sheaths from behind his back.

The large man scowled, as he put his hand around the woman’s throat. “Do not move,” he ordered her, and threw her so that she fell down behind him. “Get him, and make it quick,” he told his friends, “We’ve got more important things to get back to.”

Zevran smirked. “No my good man, there is nothing more important than myself.” He waited as the men began to close in around him, before smiling. Perhaps his skill would be enough against seven opponents and perhaps not. One thing was sure however, if he was to die, he would not be dying alone.

- - - - - -

 

True, Ugly Brute (as she had dubbed him) had told her not to move, however she never was good at taking orders. She had woken to find herself somewhere she didn’t recognize, and had been wandering around this strange town before being accosted and dragged into an alley by no less than eight men, who looked (and smelled!) like they had never heard of a shower. She moved slowly, so as not to gain attention to herself as she inched backwards and got to her feet. Once she was crouched, and ready to run for it, she looked up at her would-be rescuer, thankful he was such a great distraction, and hoping he was okay.

What she saw, stopped her in her tracks. As her eyes followed the quick and seemingly effortless movements of the man, it dawned on her. She was dreaming! It was so absurd that she giggled, and quickly put her hand over her mouth to stop the noise. It had been a long time since she had watched Lord of the Rings, but here was Legolas, defending her from evil men. Although… he looked different. Her mind most likely changed his features, since she wasn’t really into Orlando Bloom.

As she studied the man… no, she corrected herself, the elf… she congratulated her mind for a job well done. She didn’t recognize him as another actor, but dang! He was smokin’ hot! His long blond, almost white hair pulled back from his face at his temples, the high slashing cheekbones, the ears… not to mention the skin-tight armor, and all the rippling muscles. Oh yeah, good job brain! she told herself.

She continued to watch in awe, as he jumped, kicked, rolled and punched the men around him, without taking a single hit in return. His daggers were flying as he stabbed and sliced, hitting vital places while not even looking. As suddenly as it had begun, the fight was over, and he was the only one standing. He sheathed his daggers slowly, and turned to face her. She noticed too late, that he was looking not at her, but behind her.

Ugly Brute grabbed her again, hooking his arm around her throat. She was certain it was him, because his odor made her skin crawl and she felt like vomiting. She was extremely angry to find herself caught and used as some sort of hostage, and she was not having another minute of it!

Bringing her foot up, she brought her heel down on his instep, and without waiting for a response, she bit down hard on his nasty, hairy arm. She could hear his yell, though it sounded far away and smiled knowing she was bringing him pain.

“You stupid bitch!” He screamed, and turned her by her shoulder while bringing back his arm to punch her in the face. She moved quickly, bringing her knee up as hard as she could between his legs. He yanked her down by her hair as he collapsed and began rocking on his back while cradling his genitals. She glanced around and picked up a cobblestone laying near her on the street.

“The name’s not bitch, it’s Rina!” she yelled and plowed the rock like a fist into his face, hearing the crunching sound as his nose broke. “That’s right!” she yelled as she dropped the stone, and stood up. She turned to walk away, and rammed face first into ugly junior, one of Ugly Brute’s friends. He grabbed her head and slammed her into the wall. The last thing she saw was the blue of the sky before everything went black.

- - - - - -

 

He winced as her head cracked as it met the wall. He turned to the hairy man that had accosted her and smiled.

“It seems I must hurt you some more then, yes?” he said as he reached behind his back to draw out his daggers. The hairy man looked scared, instantly regretting his decision to rejoin the fight. He looked left then right, searching for an escape. Zevran laughed and gestured to a stack of crates behind the man. The hairy man seized the opportunity and climbed the crates without thought, almost reaching the top before the crates collapsed and sent him crashing back down. The elf laughed again, after watching the man knock himself out in his haste to get away.

He turned and looked at the woman. She was definitely a mystery. He had been amused and impressed as she had taken out the leader of the gang, and felt slightly responsible for her predicament- though she should not have let her guard down. He thought for a minute before stooping down, gathering her up and carrying her over his shoulder as he headed home. She must be worth something to someone, and would make a good distraction while he waited to collect.

- - - - - -

 

“So, you don’t know anything? Where am I supposed to start looking, in some random alley?”

“I told you what I know, if you can’t do it, just say so.”

“Oh, I can do it. I just don’t know why you make things so difficult!”

Rina could hear the voices speaking to each other, though their conversation meant little to her. Right now she was more focused on the intense pain on the side of her head. Slowly, the memories of the day came back to her, though she tried not to focus too much, as it only increased the throbbing in her skull. She heard the door slam, and winced uncontrollably at the stab of pain caused by the sound.

“Ah, you are finally awake,” a soft voice crooned near her. “I was beginning to worry that the damage was more significant than I originally thought.”

Rina grimaced, and cracked one eye open, then quickly shut it as the world spun. After some time, she was able to fully open her eyes and slowly sit up.

“Here.” She looked up to see Hot Stuff (as she had dubbed him earlier) holding out some sort of leaf to her. She took it and continued looking at it as she held it, wondering what its purpose was, and what he wanted her to do with it.

His left brow rose in question as he watched her play with the pain killer. “It will do you more good in your mouth than in your hand.” He commented, amused.

“Oh, right.” She played it off, and quickly popped the leaf into her mouth and began to chew it. “Uh, thanks. It’s great.” She said between her teeth. Actually it was vile, but she didn't want to insult him. She froze as he burst out laughing. “What?” she asked.

“I’ve never witnessed someone chew the tannen leaf before,” He replied. Most simply place it under their tongue.” He roared again with laughter as her face went red. “Obviously you are not familiar with it,” he commented once he had calmed down, though his grin still remained. Rina found herself smiling back, as she moved the lump of chewed vegetation under her tongue. She continued to look at Hot Stuff, enjoying the view he provided her, her eyes roaming down and returning to his, to see a wicked looking smirk on his face that only added to his appeal.

“See something you like my dearest?” He asked. “I’d be more than happy to show you more…” His voice dropped into a husky tone that had Rina practically swooning.

“Um, sorry about that,” she started as he leaned against the wall with a shrug, though his smirk stayed in place. “I’m just trying to figure out where I am, and how I got here. Everything is quite jumbled in my head just now.”

“I’m certain,” he replied. “You are my guest, here in my home.”

“And you are…?” She asked.

“You do not know? I thought all the beautiful women in Antiva knew of me.” He continued to smirk as he stood straight and executed a bow with great flourish. “Zevran Arainai, at your service.”