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A Rogue's Story

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Number One.

Mulmaster was always bitterly cold this early in the morning, cursed Ceriv. The thirty year old man had a black cloud hanging over his head, and his knife hand almost was hoping that someone would stop him, maybe try to mug him. But either the cutpurses and thieves recognized him, or recognized his face. No one approached. No one tried anything. Most days, it was good to be a Zhentarim at home, but today he just wanted to see some blood. Instead, the pristine white snow fell from the dark sky in light, fluffy snowflakes, a gentle beauty completely at odds with his fierce scowl.

His handler has told him no more wetwork. His knee was too bad, shattered twice in two weeks. The organization didn’t have the cash to help out with a killer who botched one job and and nearly botched another. It wasn’t his fault, though.

Ceriv’s scowl deepened further. He was all but certain that that bastard Kanret had tipped the marks. But Ceriv couldn't prove it, and Kanret had made friends inside the middle crust of the Zhentaren hierarchy… at least around Mulmaster.

There was some shouting, and what sounded like a scuffle in the predawn hours, breaking through Ceriv’s bad mood. Might as well see what it was about, though it likely wouldn’t be all that interesting, though the man.

A few moments later, Ceriv looked down at a sad sight. Jarlal was beating one of his whores, and the man was obviously drunk, being cheered on by the sadists he called friends. Ceriv rolled his eyes as the fat bastard’s fist connected with the exotic looking woman’s chin, driving her to the ground.

Ugly, balding, and far more overweight than anyone should be, Jarlal ran a few of the brothels in Mulmaster with an iron, bloody fist. Ceriv looked at the woman, who was trying to crawl away. She looked familiar (Oh, right, the latest exotic beauty from the Way South. A tiefling), but it honestly wasn’t all that interesting. Jarlal did this every few weeks with his friends, people could set their calendars to it, almost. Ceriv knew that everyone hated Jarlal, even his friends, but the fat coward managed to always weasel his way around problems.

The woman’s tail lashed as she crawled through the snow, whimpering. One of her horns was broken, and darker than normal blood steamed in the snow.

One of the pimp’s friends laughed, an ugly sound. “Nice one, Jarlal. Make the bitch pay. ‘S’ what they deserve, right? Fuckin’ devils.” The woman let out a choking sob.

Ceriv spat, and started turning to go. Waste of time, effort, and a good looking woman. The devils weren’t usually his thing, but Ceriv could tell she was beautiful even through the bruises and blood. Then he heard something surprising.

“Fucksh… you… Jarlal. Didn’t… sheat one… copper,” the woman slurred. Ceriv almost laughed. At least the woman had backbone, though that would get her a worse beating. “You… and your diseased… co-” The word was cut off as Jarlal’s foot buried itself in her stomach, and the man kept kicking her, shouting.

“Fuckin’... FUCK… fuck you, you stupid FUCKING.. FUCK.” He wound up another kick, and despite his weight, the man was strong. Ceriv blinked as he realized where the woman had accidentally, or perhaps not accidentally, rested her head.

Jarlal kicked the woman hard in the chin, snapping her head back against the hidden granite step into the next building. There was a sickening crack, and the woman’s head split open.

The pimp blinked, then swore as he realized he’d killed the woman. One of Jarlal’s friends laughed, and the others looked a little sick.


“Shit… stupid cunt! Look what you made me do.” Jarlal spat.

From the shadows, Ceriv sighed, and shook his head. What a waste. Well, at least his day wasn’t as bad as the Tiefling woman’s, he supposed.

Behind the man’s friends, a tormented wail, high pitched and full of suffering, growing in volume. A small form with a long tail ran towards the corpse, crying hysterically. The whore’s kid, apparently, and probably watching the whole time.

Shit.

Ceriv tried to turn away again, until he saw Jarlal walk up and kick the kid, who couldn’t be a day over seven, in the side. The kid flopped away, driving up a small furrow in the snow.

“You fuckin’ brat! This is your mom’s fault! Now you’re inheriting her debt, and you’re… you’re gonna fuckin’ pay me back for her shit that she stole! Every FUCKIN’ copper, you stupid shitstain!” The large man backhanded the kid as he swore at the child, driving him back to the ground.

The Zhentarim agent might have been a cold bastard, he’d be the first to admit it, but before the killer even realized it, he’d drawn his dagger. Quiet steps even in new fallen snow, Ceriv was stalking towards the pimp with cold anger in his heart. Then it happened so quickly he almost didn’t catch it.

There was a flash of silver in the snow, and then the little tiefling had his hands around a kitchen knife’s hilt, buried all the way to the hilt in Jarlal’s stomach. The fat pimp looked shocked, as if this couldn’t happen, and grasped at the kid, but the tiefling ducked his head away, stubs of his horns just out of reach, and drew the blade through the man’s stomach, stinking entrails and fat spilling out onto the snow. The kid stepped back, as the fat man fell to his knees, and the drew the knife back, slick with blood, and stabbed Jarlal in the eye, driving it deep into the bone, the knife sticking.

The pimp was dead, and it happened so quickly that even Ceriv was only standing there, looking shocked. The assassin laughed, once, quietly.

The little kid looked back at him, black eyes confused, hurting, angry, afraid but then looked back to the other men. A few of Jarlal’s friends had fled, but three had stuck around, shock turning to anger and ugly hatred.

“Fuckin’ kid. You’re dead,” said one, a burly man with a nose that was broken far too many times. The kid tried to back away, tried to get his knife out from Jarlal’s head, but it was stuck well and good inside the skull.

“No, he ain’t,” Ceriv said. He grinned blackly, as he came up behind the little tiefling. “The Zhentarim are claiming him. I’m claiming him. If you want to dispute that…” The assassin chuckled. “C’mon then.”

The three men blinked, as if they’d just noticed Ceriv for the first time. Which it was possible.

“Wha-” the dark night flashed silver once more, and the three men were face down, blood pouring from their open throats.

The little tiefling shivered and widened his eyes in shock, as Ceriv wiped down his dagger, and pulled two of his throwing daggers out of the other men’s skulls.

“Pre-emptive debate. So. Kid. You going to make this a contract for me, or is this going to be even more messy?” The little tiefling blinked again, looked around, confused, then back up at Ceriv. The assassin sighed, if he was that quick with a blade, but dumb, this whole night would have been wasted.

“C-contract.”

Ceriv nodded. Good. “What’s your name?”

“K-Kairon’astas Carrion Demos.”

Ceriv frowned. “I’m gonna call you Little Devil. Welcome to the Zhentarim, kid. Life only gets more interesting from here…”
Posted Apr 27, 17 · OP
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Too bleak for me to exactly feel comfortable hitting the "like" button, but it's solid writing.
Posted Apr 29, 17
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Number Two.

“Again.” The tools clicked into the lock, and the black eyed young devilman went to work. Less than a minute later, the heavy padlock sprang open, and the Tiefling had set the lock and tools down, looking to his mentor.

Ceriv nodded, almost absently. This was the latest and toughest practice lock he could find, barring magical locks. Even after two years, the kid wasn’t ready for that. However, at nine years old, the little devil was growing and learning fast. Already the kid was first in the stealth runs, literally, that the Zhentarim held for the new child recruits. The Rats, they were called, from the older groups. Many current Zhents started out as Rats, Ceriv included. A little slow when it came to lock picking, but that would come with time, and practice.

“Not great, but not bad, either.”

The devilish child almost glowed at the near compliment, and Ceriv had to stop himself from grinning. Teaching the Rats was like that. Compliments, actual recognition of skill, was few and far between, but they treasured it like gold. A Rat’s life was hard.

The kid smiled, full of slightly sharper teeth than normal, and locked it back into place. He grabbed the pick and the torsion wrench, and was about to start again when Ceriv grabbed his hand, shaking his head. “Later.”

“Bu-” he caught himself just in time. And Ceriv might be slightly soft on the kid. Any of the other task masters of the Rat’s would have given him the back of their hand. The Tiefling child bowed his head, his growing horns made even more obvious with the new angle.

“Want to hear how you’re doing. The bosses of the Rats tell me you’re getting by. Good in the stealth runs, knife work is a decent start, terrible though at pickpocket, bump and dash.” Little Devil turned bright red in embarrassment and anger, rather than only slightly red.

Ceriv noted that and kept it to himself. Little Devil still had a temper. Understandable, but something to work out. The kind of work Ceriv had planned for him, it called for a dispassionate outlook.

The moment passed, and the Tiefling nodded to his human mentor. “Always room for improvement, sir. ‘M trying.”

“Good, good.” Cerive smiled. “Making friends?”

The tiefling looked down, and shook his head. “Everyone’s afraid of me, or angry at me. I’m ...different.”

Ceriv pondered this. It was true, he was different, and that’d make life even harder for the kid he’d come to mentor. He couldn’t help with this, though. Any direct effect he tried to make on Little Devil’s Life in the Rats would only separate him further. Nothing doing for it.

He sighed, and put his hand on the tieflings shoulder. “Kid, you’ve got to try and get past that. Friends and family are the only thing that get us through this life. Sounds like a bunch of crap, but it’s the truth. Knowing who and when to trust someone, you need to figure it out. I’m not there, I can’t help you with it.”

The tiefling swallowed and nodded, quiet. Cerive could see that there was calculation going on behind the black eyes.”I can do that. I can figure it out.”

Ceriv nodded. A good answer. He pulled out his dagger, idly putting it on the table. Same one he had killed those three men with, two years ago. Little Devil’s eyes widened. “You remember this, El Dee?” The Tiefling nodded again, quiet. “Are you willing to use it?”

The tiefling stared at the dagger. He thought about it, rather than answering right away. That was good. Dark thoughts were running through that devilish mind. The kid hadn’t mastered a card face, at all.

“Maybe. If.. I had to.” Ceriv nodded, as the kid looked up to him for a approval. He kept his face blank. He didn’t want a psychopath for a partner, and definitely not someone who’d balk at the mere thought of killing. Ceriv would test his resolve further… but at a later date. “All right. Y’ done enough. Let’s go see if you can steal one of the sweet pastries from the bakery down the way. Deal?”

“Deal!” The tielfing smiled, all dark thoughts banished at the thought of doing something fun with his mentor. “I know just how to do it, too!” he shouted, as he rushed for the door.
Posted May 2, 17 · OP
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Number Three.

“What’s a life worth, kid?”

“Depends on the life.”

Ceriv nodded. Little Devil had grown. At fifteen, he was starting to get his height, and a sureness in his movement that he didn’t have when he was a child. His apprentice. He’d come a long way since that first day in the snow.

Ceriv blocked a low strike with the blunted knife, and attempted to get his apprentice in a wrist lock. Little Devil twisted in the counter and danced away, disengaging as Ceriv tried to follow up with a slash from the escaping tiefling. No such luck.

“And what’s your life worth?”

“More than they can pay.”

“Right.”

Low strike, high strike, parry, thrust. The flurry of locks, counter strikes, and dirty tricks went on for a full minutes, before the larger man managed to put the smaller tiefling in an arm lock that he couldn’t wiggle his way out of. Both of them were breathing hard. It wasn’t a pretty knife fight, and more than once he almost regretted teaching Kairon some of the very mean dirty shots towards the groin, armpit, and neck. Kid was getting too fast for him, and age was catching up.

After a second, Kairon tapped the man’s hand, signalling the end of the spar. The tiefling winced as he held his shoulder. “Damn it. Thought I had you with the third feint.”

“Almost, kid. Get some water.”

Ceriv drank deeply from his own water. Another thing that he’d drilled into Kairon, always try to prepare your own rations, or at least, carry a decent few antidotes. Poison was a real problem sometimes. Kairon chugged his water, letting out a gasp.

“Again?”

Ceriv shook his head. He honestly didn’t think he could beat him at this time. He was tired, and he had to end the fight before the kid wore him out. Perks of being young, thought Ceriv. “No, the Zhentarim have… another test for you.”

Life was a series of tests for the Zhentarim, and their initiates, especially who could be their agents, and assassins.

The kid lost his tired, if happy look, and adopted a more serious concern. Which was good. Zhentarim tests of loyalty were frequently lethal. He’d had his first monster hunt with a couple of other enforcers, to test out their strength. A few low strength undead, but it got the Rats working together more than they were used to, and tested them in a life and death situation. None of the Rats in Kairon’s group had died, which was a good sign. Many of the people training them had nothing but praise, begrudging as it might be, for the team Kairon had been a part of. That group was probably going to be the next set of enforcers for Zhentarim, and at a young age, too.

Though eventually he’d have to teach the kid how to run solo, working with a group was never a bad thing to learn. But now, he had something else.

Ceriv motioned for him to follow him, and they moved out of the training area in the castle, down to the dungeons. The Rats weren’t allowed down here under strict supervision. Kids tended to make mischief, or worse, friends.

He led him down to one of the cells, with a half-orc in rags, muscular and tall, sitting against the wall. Despite the filthy conditions, he still had the look of a leader, a champion. He raised his eyes to the door as Ceriv unlocked it, and motioned Kairon in, who looked at Ceriv quizzically, then looked at the dirty prisoner. The tiefling’s black eyes narrowed as his mind raced on what was going on, and looked just slightly away from the half-orc, focusing on nothing, ready to move.

Good, he’d already figured it out, thought Ceriv.

The tall half orc grunted. “What’s this?”

Ceriv cleared his throat. “A test. For both of you. Kill each other, and the winner goes free.”

Though he kept his face impassive, Ceriv frowned mentally. The half orc, and all the prisoners for this test, were supposed to be malnourished. It was supposed to be a test to see if their trainees were willing to kill, and how they were to do it. Kairon’s test looked in just as good of health as when he’d discovered the Zhentarim’s drug ring, and tried to kill everyone there. Better, even.

Crap. This had Kanret’s indirect hand all over it, the bastard.

Even so, he couldn’t back out now. He’d ignored Kanret to train Kairon, and now, it was coming back to bite him. Kanret’s treachery was always served cold, and always tried for humiliating his opponents.

The half orc shook his head. “Not going to kill this kid. What kind of monsters are you?”

Ceriv shrugged. “Fair ones.” And he tossed a knife into the cell, and locked the door.

“Go to the Hells, you son of a-”

Ceriv almost missed it, as Kairon did exactly what he was trained to do. The dagger had barely hit the stone floor before the tiefling picked it up, moved into a striking position, and stabbed the blade upwards, going for a quick kill at the heart. Kairon was too short to reach the Half Orc’s throat without grievously overextending himself. However, the Half-orc was no fool, and managed to grab the blade before it penetrated too deeply.

Kairon had come from a long spar, and while he’d gotten a breather, wasn’t nearly one hundred percent. Meanwhile, the half-orc was rested and a trained warrior as well. Blood was drawn, and Kairon spun away from the prisoner before he could get a grip on his smaller opponent.

Blood dripped down the chest of the Half Orc, soaking his rags. “I don’t want to fight you, kid, but I’m not going to make it easy for you, either.”

The half orc charged at him, and Ceriv heard Karion speak a word that made him shiver down his spine. Inky blackness erupted inside the cell, covering the entire room.

There were the sounds of a short scuffle, cloth ripping, and a knife plunging into flesh, and being withdrawn. A few moments later, the darkness lifted, and Ceriv saw Kairon standing over the cooling corpse of the half orc. A surgical, precise stab to the femoral artery, then a follow up strike to the jugular vein.

Ceriv blinked, as Kairon smiled happily at his mentor. Ceriv motioned to the stiletto in Kairon’s off hand.

“Where’d you get that?”

The tiefling blinked, then tilted his head. “You told me never to go anywhere unarmed. So I haven’t. Had this since I was ten, when one of older Rats tried to push me over the wall.”

Ceriv muttered to himself. He’d never caught Kairon with that stiletto. Maybe he was getting too old for this. He looked at the tiefling, watching him, seeing if there was any kind of regret, remorse, or weakness that might have made him not a good fit for the Zhentarim. There was nothing but the calm, cool gaze of those black eyes. Ceriv sighed, and went to the door, opening it

“Well, right. Good job. Test complete. Hungry?”

Kairon smiled happily, “Yeah, can we get steaks?”

“Sure, kid. Sure.”
Posted Jul 31, 17 · OP
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Random fact: Throughout the 80s, I used "Kairon" as one of the six names for my starting party members in early RPGs like Wizardry, Might and Magic, and the Bard's Tale series. "Kyros" and "Kairon" were my alliterative spellcaster names.
Posted Aug 1, 17
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Number Four

“Kid, we gotta- Wha- Oh for… “ the gamut of emotions that ran through Ceriv was hard for the killer to identify as he walked into Kairon’s room. Now that Kairon was seventeen years old, Ceriv really should have expected this kind of stuff. He’d pretty much told the kid when he asked about relationships, and women (or men), “There’s girls and guys. Figure it out.” Well, Kairon had, and had promptly plowed away, breaking a few hearts, but usually the kid was a bit more discreet than this. Or careful. Or maybe Ceriv just hadn’t really paid attention to whose attentions Kairon was getting.

But now, the Tielfing was stark naked in bed with a young woman of dark hair, both of them grinning sheepishly. There was a flash of calculation in the girl’s eyes, however, and Ceriv glared. Strangely, she didn’t back down, but gave Kairon a very brazen kiss.

“Ack, Cali, not ri--mmm..” Aaand of course he couldn’t resist that. Ceriv sighed, then clapped his hands.

“Stop that, both of you, before I kill you both.” Ceriv snarled. They jumped up, and started dressing, the girl eyeing Ceriv carefully. Where did he recognize he… oh. She was an apprentice to another killer, Laros. Laros was competent, but Bane’s man through and through. So was his apprentice, he assumed.

Tensions were rising in the Zhentarim, between those who worshipped Bane and those who complained (quietly) that the things the dark god had them do were getting in the way of a decent criminal enterprise. More than a few fights had broken out.

And things were getting worse, though the leadership had been able to keep a lid on it for now.

“Out, girl, now.” He snarled again, and she managed to get her leathers on in one swoop. Kairon was chuckling as he got his pants on, tail curling around the girls ankle. She slapped it away with a smirk, then glared at Ceriv, then vanished down the hall.

Ceriv swore softly to himself, and looked at Kairon. “She’s trouble, you know?”

The tiefling looked at the doorway, with a lovesick smile on his face. “I know, she’s great.”

Ceriv swore again, louder, and smacked Kairon upside the head. “We’ll talk about this later. We’ve got a job. Get your head out of the clouds and lets go!”

As his apprentice finally started moving a bit faster, Ceriv’s mind raced. This could be really, really bad…. Nothing like love to ruin a good killer.
Posted Aug 11, 17 · OP
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Number Five

When a man screams, there’s a few reasons. Pain, anger, grief, usually. Kairon smiled as the man, before him stopped screaming from the pain, and began whimpering as he tried to cradle his left hand that was pinned to the table. Bound to the chair as he was, he could do nothing but suffer the broken bones.

The beautiful woman next to him, holding the hammer, giggled with sadistic delight. Pain was the one she liked the most. The tiefling didn’t enjoy this kind of work nearly as much as his love did, but he didn’t mind it, and it made her happy. His hand caressed the small of her back as she leaned over the table with the hammer, giggling more. She made him happy, and he made her happy. At twenty, what could any other tiefling ask for?

Calisdria raised the hammer again, but Kairon pulled her back to his side by her belt, chuckling.

“Calis, beautiful, let the man talk. No point in ruining Lefty Sam completely if he’s willing to be cooperative. Are you, Lefty?” Calis, for her part, looked up over at Kairon with a small pout, but lowered the hammer.

The tiefling leaned in, all smiles. Fanged smiles. The man shuddered.

“C’mon Lefty. Tell me about what you told the guard, hm? Every little piece we’ve been following the last week leads to you. You were careful, sure, but not careful enough. You wouldn’t think we wouldn’t figure it out? The raids on our storehouses, the business and protection money we’ve lOst? We just want to know, why. Why betray the Family, Lefty? I mean, you weren’t known for smart things in general, but still….”

Calis ran her fingers up the back of his thigh, distractingly, as he was speaking He thwacked her with his tail lightly on her calf, and she giggled again, with more playful delight rather than sadistic undertones. Understanding Calis’ mercurial nature had taken time, but chasing after her had been worth it. More than worth it, he thought, as his tail curled around her leg.

Lefty swore under his breath, and then eyed the two young Zhentarim. “Ain’t sayin’ nothin’.”

Kairon sighed. “Calis?”

The woman brought the hammer down with a meaty crack on the man’s hand, and he screamed again. Another meaty thwack, and another fragile bone broken. Kairon tsk’d to himself as he looked at the damage.

In her honey sweet voice, she whispered to Lefty, “You know, soon you’ll be just Sam, Lefty. Won’t that be a shame?” Another thwack, and another scream.

“S-stop. Please. No more.” Lefty hoarsely said. “The… it was just the money. They offered me money. Too much money. Th… the Lord’s Alliance-” Calis gripped the man by the chin, suddenly angry, hidden strength nearly lifting the man up out of the chair. “What?” She hissed.

Kairon put his hand on her shoulder, and she gently lifted the man back down. He choked out the words. “Th’ Lords Alliance is looking for any defectors. Paying gold, promising safety, in exchange for information on the Zhentarim.”

Kairon’s eyes flared with hatred. “And how did we not hear about this? Hm?”

“H-harper’s. They’re going through the Harper Network. Agents looking for people to flip.”

Caris spit on the floor, swearing. Kairon did so as well, saying the worst word his mother allowed him to say in Infernal. “Balls!” It sounds much better in Infernal.

The two looked at each other. Working together for three years (and living together for one), the two killers had started realizing each other’s intentions without even the need for overt communication. As one, they went behind Lefty, Kairon on the man’s right, and Calis on his left, daggers in their hands. They stabbed together, and tore open the man’s throat, arterial spray covering the table and the broken hand. They both let out a brief sigh of satisfaction.

Calis sighed. “Praise Bane that we found out about this now. If the Harper’s and the Lord’s Alliance are working in concert, with more money behind them…”

Kairon finished, “We’ll be in for a serious fight. A war, even. And we can’t go to war right now with Xanathar pressing us.” He winced a little at the beginning of her sentence. No matter how he tried to get along with her faith, it was always a sticking point between the two of them, and the cause of most of their fights (physical and verbal).

He checked the body. Yes, Lefty was dead. He’d get one of the Rats to bury the body after he sent word of what they’d discovered, and that they needed to verify.

Kairon looked over to Calis, who bit her lip, and looked down for a moment. He raised an eyebrow.

“What?”

“Sorry. I know that… my whole faith… and you…”

“Wait, what? You’re… apologizing? You never apologize.”

She let out of a sigh of frustration, and punched the corpse. “Damn it, Kairon. It isn’t easy for me, you know!”

“Oookay… I’m… Calis, I thought we were just going to… I don’t know, not discuss it. It’s okay. And… I appreciate the thought. But you don’t need to apologize to me for who you are. I know it’s part of you.” He put his hands on her shoulders, and looked at her in the eyes. “We’re good. I’m happy. Aren’t you?”

She looked up, and a genuine smile lit her face, all the way to her eyes, irises almost as dark as the pupils. “Good. I mean, yes. Because I -like- you. Like… Oh wipe that grin off your face. Ass.” She snorted.

Kairon laughed, just a bit. In all honesty he couldn’t recall her saying that she liked him… even in the three years they’d been off and on. Strange. Had he said it? He was pretty sure he had.

But… just in case. “I like you too. A lot. Anyway. I’ll get the Rats to take care of this, and send the messages out. You do what you do best. Go hunt, Calis.I’ll catch up.”

Another bright smile, as the blood stink started to rise from the corpse. “You know me so well,” she said, as she turned and walked out. He was… about ninety percent sure she was adding a bit of sway to those hips as she walked.

Right, messages first, then fun. He looked at the corpse. “Life can’t get any better, right? Well, for me. Not you.” He laughed.
Posted Oct 16, 17 · OP · Last edited Oct 16, 17
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