Captain Ceartas was in front of the group of soldiers. The moment they have been waiting for the last three months and four days has finally come. Their mission, handed to them by King Fasach himself, was about to end. By the end of the night, he and his comrades would be on their long way back to Grian with great news. They would have destroyed the greatest enemy of the Kingdom and they would be rewarded regally for the deed.
Captain Ceartas of the Royal Guard has been chosen to lead a team made out of the best soldiers Grian. Their mission, to hunt down and obliterate the Assassins Guild known as Fius Dubh.
Long have been these past months. They have yet to draw their steel, as whenever they thought they got closer to the Guild, the lead proved to be false, or the assassins got away before their arrival. But now, they finally got them.
Two weeks earlier, Captain Ceartas got information about a collaborator of the Guild that knew where their base was. He was an informant for the assassins, but not one of them. His team wanted to catch him and torture him until he gave up their location but he knew better. He was sure that the informant would not talk and would prefer his own death than to betray his masters. He had another plan.
He watched the informant for days, learned his habits, and when the time was right, he took action. He knew the informant was well trained and any kind of direct contact would raise his suspicion, so he figured another way to get what he needed from him.
As he learned the daily routine of the informant, he came to know that each morning the man would go to the local market. But, on that day, something was to be different.
The night before he followed the informant to a brothel where he heard him speak about a meeting with his employers the next day. He said it was the first time he’d meet them since the death of the Southern King. Captain Ceartas knew then that that was his chance.
The following day, at the market, Captain Ceartas disguised himself as a poor, simple Northerner. A man that wasn’t worth a spit in the face, much less be remembered in any other way. He followed the informant and when the man turned away from one stand he bumped into him, both of them falling on their arses. The informant was furious, he rose and kicked the Captain in his abdomen, threatening him to have his head chopped off. Ceartas apologised and offered the man all he had, a small bottle of perfume that he told the man he got as a wedding gift from his wife’s brother, who worked as an apprentice to a master perfumer in the Capital. The man took the bottle angrily and stormed off, again threatening Ceartas that he would not be so lucky to keep his head in place the next time.
The Captain was satisfied with how things turned out. His ribcage hurt from the kick he received, but it was worth it. His plan worked. That bottle did not contain perfume, but an invisible substance that he could trace with the help of Grom Light. It was an old strategy used by the Royal Guard to catch traitors in the act.
Whenever they suspected a noble of treason, they would summon him to award his work and give him a similar bottle. Most of the nobles, being arrogant, entitled pigs, would take the prize without question. The genius thing about this substance was that it slowly evaporated, leaving small droplets everywhere around, invisible to the naked eye. The lid of the bottle was made of a porous material, similar to cork. It was enough to stop the liquid from spilling, but also suffice to let the vapours slowly get out and thus, leave a clear trail for the Royal Guard to follow. This is how the traitorous nobles lead the Guards to their secret chambers where they plotted their treasonous acts. This is how Captain Ceartas would catch the assassins tonight.
Using the Grom Light, Captain Ceartas followed the trail of the informant to a wooden cabin secluded in the forest nearby the small fishermen village of Iasgach in Rioghachad. The team surrounded the cabin to make sure none could get out and prepared to enter. After a couple of moments when they searched the area, they decided to go in. The Captain broke the door open with his foot and all of them entered, swords ready, but the hut was empty.
There was nothing of value, or anything to make one suspect that a Guild had its lair there, but a cold air filled the room. They all felt something was not right like an evil spirit was floating around them. They searched to room carefully, trying to make as little noise as possible in the event that someone would come. A few minutes later, they cleared the cabin but found nothing.
-Fuck! Where did he disappear? He was here not long ago. The signs of the perfume are everywhere, but nothing is here. Fuck!
On his way out he noticed something strange. There were some scratches on the floor like something heavy was moved around. Then, he saw something else. A wooden sculpture of a dark looking bird of prey, with long talons, was sitting, dusted, right in front of the clawed floor. Then, Ceartas saw that one talon was clean, no dust on it, like it was polished recently. How strange! All the sculpture was covered in dust, same as everything else in the room, and just one talon was cleaned. He approached the sculpture to inspect it more carefully. He grabbed the clean talon and pulled it towards him. Instinctively, he jumped back!
The sound of a mechanism was now filling the quiet room and suddenly, a screeching noise made their eardrums agonize in pain. It was a horrible sound. So much for their discreteness!
The sound came from the statue, which now was sitting right above the scratched marks on the floor, revealing a downward passage beneath.
The stairs were dark, but they heard some noises coming from their end. They all went down, leaving just two sentries atop to protect the entrance. Captain Ceartas was the first one to go down, followed by other seven soldiers.