(OOC: Since Harmen and I couldn't finish our multi-thread story before the original Hidden Realms site was essentially stopped, we're going to re-post the whole thing back on to this site. We have new posts that haven't gone up yet for the tail end, but would like to have the entire thing finished. Also, we're going to make a few tweaks here and there to some posts as we re-post.)
If you want to check out the first thread on the original Hidden Realms site, click here: http://forum.hiddenrealms.net/index.php?topic=7393.0
If you want to check out the last (and unfinished) on the same site, click here: http://forum.hiddenrealms.net/index.php?topic=14957.msg1190430627#new
- - - - -
A chilled breeze blew past Aurn, dragging his weary senses into focus. Sluggishly, he looked up at the signs that speckled the West Corridor. Trudging on through the early cloud-scattered morning sunlight, he searched for that one particular sign. What scant information the courier had given him about this mercenary job left an uneasy feeling in the back of his mind - the hustle and bustle of the streets didn't help either. He never was comfortable around scores of people. Remembering something he wish he hadn't, the tall man pulled his cloak closer.
Standing out like a sore thumb was the sign. Bright red, yellow and black against the dreary browns and greys of the overcast city.
"The Hornet's Sting." Aurn read quietly. With a quickened pace he opened the beaten wooden door and entered.
It wasn't nearly as tightly packed as the Blue Dragon, but it was far from empty. Lowlifes of all sorts sat at and around the dozen-or-so wooden tables - bragging, laughing, cursing, drinking. A ratty-looking man intercepted Aurn. The man drew a hand through his slicked-back, greasy hair before looking Aurn sharp in the eyes.
"You must be that mercenary, the blue hound?” the thug asked as he glanced into the shadows of Aurn's hood, and smirked at his last words.
Aurn nodded. "I came here for that murderer hit".
"Good," the man almost crooned, "the Master is waiting for you in the room down the hall, at the very back." The man gestured across the room to a hallway in the corner.
"Thank . . . you." Aurn said quietly. The man eyed him wearily, then gave a nod, turned and joined a table. Aurn wove his way around the rest of the tenants, and walked down the hall. The door was ajar, shadows spilled out into the hall.
Upon entering the shadow-laced room, Aurn was met with a spine tingling "Welcome". Focusing his eyes, Aurn made out a man's silhouette, cloistered in a dark corner, lounging in a large, old armchair. He could feel his counterpart's gaze.
"Sit down, make yourself at home." The man motioned to a nearby armchair. At first uneasy about the feeling of the room, Aurn found himself taking a seat - much to his own surprise. "Where are my manners," declared the man, "you may call me Baron."
Then Baron's features quickly hardened from genial, to a visage of the utmost seriousness. "You do know, young mercenary, that this is a particularly volatile target?" Aurn nodded. Baron nodded slowly in reply, then straightened himself out, and leaned forwards - slowly, deliberately. "Harmen Corredan is wanted for the slaughtering an entire village of nearly fifty innocent people up north. My home. He's been known to lash out at random strangers, and can run faster than a man his age should."
Aurn caught a shimmer in Baron's eyes - if for but a brief moment. Aurn's uneasiness started to catch up with him as he glanced around the darkened room. Drapes and cloth hung in very particular ways - as if to keep the room shaded.
"You are still up for it, aren't you?" asked Baron.
"Yes." answered Aurn.
Before he could ask for more information, Baron abruptly added, "Harmen is still a young man. Dark hair, tanned skin, thin, under six feet tall. His skin, hair and parka will be his most distinguishing features. Don't be fooled, though." Baron's eyes narrowed - almost serpentine. "He is without honor."
Aurn stood up silently, hands tensed.
"Good," said Baron, "return with him - alive or dead - and I will pay you handsomely. Now - avenge my home!”
- - - - -
Shielding his eyes as he stepped out of the Hornet's Sting, Aurn drew his cloak back, letting his azure blue hair down. Now with another purpose, Aurn set down the dusty cobbled roads of the West Corridor for his new target: Harmen Corredan.