The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

20Mar/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0038

Delays had frustrated Zindaro Plam. The Ravaleian man had finally decided to take care of everything himself. He would have to hire some more competent lackeys in the future. Nearby, Jasper Tims watched from the shadows. Things were progressing as he expected. He knew that he could only delay the assault by the Ravaleian. It was enough, however. All of the resources sent by the Assassin's Guild were in place. They could not afford to delay any longer.

Soon Zindaro was waddling off towards the Rinn Institute with over a dozen henchmen at his back. Jasper followed behind them, ready to make his move when the time came. He wore a mask to hide his face, one that resembled the felines that he took his name from. He was not going to be one of the main combatants, but it paid to be careful. He wanted no one to see his face that didn't need to. If nothing went wrong, no one would see him at all.

The assassin who was set to take care of Rukiya Bora was known as the Quiet Knife. She knew the layout of the Rinn Institute well. The assassin who worked at the institute had given her all the information she needed. The Quiet Knife would be alone inside the institute. The insider had left. It would not do for them to be implicated in any way, and therefore the insider had gone home for the night with a nice sweet alibi. All was set for the big confrontation.

Enzi and the Irregulars paced around the doors to the laboratory where Rukiya was hard at work. Mayitso's ears kept a careful watch on what was going on inside while Eurysa's sharp eyes looked for approaching trouble. It was not hard for her to notice the approaching fat man and his flunkies. Zindaro was making no attempt to hide. He was coming for his prize and had no reason in his mind to fear them. That raw confidence worried Enzi more than anything. The former general saw that the portly Ravaleian had a large number of his carnival men with him.

Normally these numbers would not be a threat. Enzi wondered at their training. He hoped that Zindaro was merely overconfident of his chances. Enzi also wondered about the support for the Assassin's Guild. That was almost certainly not something that the circus master was expecting. Enzi would not allow his mercenaries to be imprisoned as part of a sideshow, nor would he let them die. He also had a job to protect Rukiya Bora. This would not be an easy encounter, but he hoped that it would go smoothly.

Zindaro's men moved to surround the Irregulars as best they could. Jasper kept out of sight, looking at the layout of the land for cover. He slipped behind one of Zindaro's men and with a quick move the assassin made the man disappear behind a bush. It was the first move and no one had caught the act. It was obvious to Jasper that Zindaro was no military professional. He did not keep enough track of his men and their numbers to notice they were one man down. Jasper did notice that Enzi gave an odd second glance at the battlefield. The Feergrus man might have noticed a slight change in the enemy force.

“Zindaro Plam,” Enzi said in Rava, “I expect you are here for my decision.”

“Of course,” Zindaro said, “I would prefer this without hostilities or my new attractions being harmed.”

“You don't have any new attraction and you will not be getting any. You have vastly underestimated us.”

“Oh I think it is you that underestimates me,” Zindaro replied, “We have some silver weapons for your lycanthrope friend and I can easily neutralize your archer's ability to strike at range. Beyond that we simply have superior numbers.”

Enzi noted that the numbers seemed less. He thought that he had miscounted at first, but now a second foe had vanished without a trace. Doubtless the Assassin's Guild was doing its job. In the outbreak of violence, the job would be easier, but Enzi had no problem distracting Zindaro.

“Superior numbers versus superior skill,” Enzi said, “You need more men than you have just to match us, let alone complete your objectives.”

“All of these men are well trained,” Zindaro replied, “And I expect I am nearly a match for you and your allies by myself. I was not so foolish as to test this theory so I brought more than enough manpower to make sure that I get what I want.”

Zindaro motioned at his small horde of men then paused with an odd look. It seemed he was three men short of what he started with. At the dawning realization Enzi smiled and gave the word to the Irregulars. They burst into action. An arrow streaked towards Zindaro but it burst into flame as it neared him and was incinerated before it could harm him. The pudgy Ravaleian rubbed the small tome he wore at his side and grinned. The battle was soon engaged.

Silver weapons kept Mayitso at bay but the soft metal was little match for the rage of the minotaur and the armor of the Halz. Kava was enjoying herself, her hatchets chopping at enemies as she croaked in glee. Eurysa's arrows were useless, so she turned to her other powers. She turned her gaze to one of the men approaching her. He collapsed to the ground as his legs stopped moving as the forward momentum he had built up could not simply vanish. As Jasper made his fourth target disappear he watched for the Quiet Knife. With the battle in full swing, it was the perfect time for the assassin to enter the laboratory.

The man known as the Blood Cat moved into position to take on a fifth foe when he spotted his fellow assassin. She slipped silently and unnoticed into the building. As all was going well, Jasper Tims returned to his bloody work. He was only slightly surprised at a flash of something large flipping through the air. Zindaro Plam was a wizard. A powerful wizard from the looks of things. A blast of rocky splinters erupted towards Enzi as the Feergrus man leapt over the blast. He had transformed into his hybrid form, using his feline strength and speed to engage Zindaro.

Ritter found his foes quite skilled. It was understandable that Zindaro had confidence. His henchmen were competent. They did not match the skill of any of the Irregulars one on one, but the had the superiority of numbers. However, the dwarf quickly noticed that those numbers seemed fewer than he remembered. The work of the minotaur and the vodyanoi helped, as well as the gaze of the gorgon. Yet the foes were disappearing too fast. Ritter felt his hammer connect solidly with the man he was engaged with. That warrior hit the ground vomiting from the blow to his midsection. He would not be aiding the fight again anytime soon.

The fight seemed to be going for the Irregulars, although Enzi's fight with Zindaro was going far less well. Despite being overweight, Zindaro proved a dangerous foe. His talent for wizardry gave him a great many advantages. His blue eyes seemed to sparkle with fire each time he used one of his spells. Most of his magic seemed to be based on using earth and stone, but he had a few fire spells as well. Supposedly magic could easily drain a person, especially powerful magic. Zindaro seemed to be handling himself quite well. He showed no sign of exhaustion despite the power of his spells.

Jasper watched the fight as it continued on. He could not directly interfere any longer without someone spotting him. He decided to be an observer unless something turned the fight against Enzi's Irregulars. The longer the fight lasted, the better for the assassin inside the laboratory. Jasper had not seen the Quiet Knife leave the laboratory yet, but he had been distracted by the battle. It was long enough that Jasper assumed she had finished by now and had escaped. However, letting the battle drag on as long as it could would give her more time in case something had gone wrong.

Jasper's cold brown eyes analyzed the area and the situation. The scent of blood wafted through the air. The battle was taking place outside the main city walls, although this was a well populated area. Still, this much scent of blood in the air made Jasper wonder if he would get to see his namesake. The Blood Cats of Ravalei were vicious beasts. Most people referred to them as land sharks. They could smell blood from miles away and when easting they entered a feeding frenzy. It was a terrible sight to behold.

Jasper had earned his title from his youth. He had been cornered once and had to fight his way out. Much like the powerful feline of the northern woods, he went into a killing frenzy and slashed his way out of danger. Then he did not stop. He was an assassin. There could be no witnesses. His killing spree did not end until the area was clear. The Master of Assassins at the time had dubbed Jasper the Blood Cat. It was meant as an insult. He was too reckless and only through raw violence had he remained an assassin in good standing.

Over the years, Jasper had improved. He planned ahead. He avoided detection. He used subtlety wherever he could. His dark eyes mixed with a healthy tan meant that he could pass as an Agonish man with ease. While the Ravaleians and the Agonish were not as closely related now as they had once been, both races still came from the same ancestors. Unlike the Nuvroc, the Feergrus, and the pale races, the Ravaleians were close kin to the Agonish. The Kurrot shared a similar legacy.

That had allowed Jasper to disguise himself in a great many ways. One of his greatest talent had become acting. However nothing was a challenge any longer. He was too old to do much anymore, but he hoped for one last great challenge. Something worthy of his skills. This battle and the events that led to it had been fun, but quite easy. Jasper did have to admit that knowing that, he still would have chosen to do this assignment. Annoying Zindaro had been its own reward. Jasper had quite amused himself with annoyances at the circus to delay the fat man.

Then Jasper saw them. Silent and swift. The light brown fur, the vicious fangs, and the never ceasing hunger betrayed their presence as they flitted towards the battle. A pack of Blood Cats had come. The elderly assassin made his escape. He had been paid to stop Zindaro, not the land sharks. Zindaro was losing and the Blood Cats would force his hand. Soon the battle scene was behind him and he was on his way back to the theater to report of his success.

***

The hall way to the main lab was silent as the Quiet Knife slid down it. Unlike Jasper Tims, she had no real name. She had been taken in as an orphan and raised as an assassin. She had earned a reputation for her silence. She never spoke. Some believed her mute. Her skills with a dagger had quickly became her second most well known attribute. Her title was her only name now, though she had been called a great many names over the years.

She entered the laboratory room where Rukiya was without alerting the two people inside. Rukiya was concentrating her magic on a collection of bones while a Ravaleian man was reading through some notes. Both had their backs to the doorway. It was bad form, but they were civilians, the Quiet Knife expected no more from them. She crept slowly behind the Ravaleian scientist to eliminate him as a witness.

“Do you really think these two magics will work together?” Rukiya asked suddenly, making the Quiet Knife pause and hide.

“All our tests have gone well so far, but we can not afford to delay any longer. The war needs this. We have to try.”

Rukiya nodded, “As long as nothing interrupts the ritual, all will be fine.”

There were two problems with the conversation. The first was that it became obvious to the Quiet Knife that the two scientists had not noticed her. The second was that the two spoke in Infernus, a language that the assassin did not understand. As Rukiya and the Ravaleian began their final spells, the Quiet Knife slipped up behind the Ravaleian and slit his throat.

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