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2002: Malashi’s Master I
Note: This was originally posted on the short-lived uo-europa.com official page, rather than on uo.com.
The two figures moved silently along the edge of the forest, keeping as low to the ground as possible as they made their way slowly onwards. The air around them grew still, the only audible sound being the occasional twig snapping underfoot. They were dressed almost entirely in dark green, with black cloth wrapped around their heads, draping down across their shoulders. In their hands they carried scimitars, forged from a dark rock that reflected no light. The figures moved away from the tree-line, and made for an ancient building, whose ruined walls silhouetted ominously against the pale moon. As they reached the confines of the ruins both figures lay down, facing each other, and one of them began fumbling in a small purse secured to his waist.
“He will be here soon, hurry.” Whispered Adriana. Secto did not respond.
>From out of the purse he pulled a tiny piece of folded cloth, delicately unravelled it and held it to the sky. The moon’s light reflected off the shiny lettering, and his mouth moved as he read the words one last time.
Their target was Malashi, a powerful sorcerer whose wealth was unimaginable. He was a cruel man, who bent others to his will and despite being the most secretive of villains, his name brought fear to townsfolk throughout the realm. They had been hired by Valuun, a loveable rogue who owned rich farming lands north of Britain. The profits from plentiful crop harvests had been invested in several taverns, and some folk commented that Valuun owned and ran at least one tavern in every town of Britainnia. Malahi’s minions had begun to frequent several of them, never paying for food or ale, merely threatening his staff with death should they refuse to serve him. Valuun, like his loyal staff members, knew who their leader was; and everyone feared Malashi the Vile.
Valuun was famous for his wealth, and had spared little expense at hiring the most prestigious assassin he knew of, Secto. With the death of Malashi townsfolk would surely revolt against his known accomplices, and not only would Britainnia be free of a great evil, but his taverns would become a safe place to frequent once again.
Adriana had always dreamed of the exciting life of the assassin, this is the reason she had fallen for Secto, and he was the reason she lay here now. Her first mission with her new husband, she was determined to prove her worth as an accomplice and cast away his doubts.
Adriana suddenly realised that he had stopped reading the message, and was staring at her.
“I’m sorry, I was lost in thought”.
“I know, it is precisely such behaviour that can get us both killed, please maintain a lookout.” His voice was stern, this was his way. Beneath the tough exterior he had a heart of gold, and Adriana knew he loved her deeply. She nodded at him, before scanning the horizon as he carried on reading.
“This must be the place” He thought aloud, tucking the cloth away again.
“I hear something” Said Adriana, holding her hand aloft in a motion for quiet.
There was the sound of distant horses growing closer.
“Make for cover!” Demanded Secto, almost pushing his wife into a nearby thicket. The two of them crouched low, carefully pulling the foliage around them, concealment was easy for the trained assassin.
Following a seldom used dirt-track a small procession of horses, in formation, emerged from the forest, and began winding their way towards Adriana and Secto. They too were cloaked in dark robes, sitting atop dark mounts resplendent with heavy battle-armour. Walking ahead of them was a young man carrying a huge banner, its size dwarfing him as he stumbled along beneath the burden. In the middle of the precession were four men, who were also on foot, carrying a large throne set upon two huge logs. Sitting atop the throne was a sinister figure, obviously that of Malashi himself. He was a tall spindly man, whose bony fingers clung tightly to a long crooked staff. He was wrapped in a huge cloak, which stretched out behind him, twisting in the wind.