Zeke continued with his hunt which lead to a seedy tavern following clues and cants. The tavern’s innkeeper and supposed barkeeper talked about the tides that rolled through Igstanpur, which sparked up a conversation with Zeke. In the midst of their talks, the young man learned that Blackfire, the assassin from the Nest of Shadows, was resting in this particular tavern. An opportunity was given, Zeke went down below to the inn rooms, striking through the wooden door to find the dark cloaked assassin in the midst of prayer.
Broken and splintered wood did not cloud his aim, with an outstretched metallic arm towards his target, a blade bathed in black flames stopped Zeke’s strike. The clash caused a ringing sound that reverberated through the hallway, the two remained locked staring at the other in the abrupt silence that followed. Once the dust from the splintered door settled, the two broke from their lock with Blackfire’s back against the wall, Zeke at the door’s threshold.
“I prayed the flames that I would find my prey, and they delivered.” Blackfire hissed, unsheathing the second curved blade from his hip.
Zeke remained silent, trying to avoid playing the assassin’s game, he had his blade out as well. Though the tight quarters had him at a disadvantage but it provided him reach that the assassin could not avoid either. The young man was running out of time, eventually people would come to check on the commotion. Blackfire had the same idea and charged forward not to strike the young man but to escape the clustered room.
Zeke took a swing with his blade while keeping his guard up with his metallic arm, the assassin read the move and parried the blade and struck the anticipated guard. Blackfire was out in the hallway and quickly dashed out towards the stairs, Zeke was not far behind and gave pursuit. They both arrived back to the main floor of the tavern, their heavy footsteps gave the patrons enough notice to vacate from their intended direction. The two left the tavern into the busy city streets, it was the middle of the afternoon and full of merchants and wandering shoppers. The sound of screams and cries as the two made their way past the crowds could be heard every few blocks of street.
Zeke continued his pursuit, unsure where the assailant was taking them. Most likely a place to his advantage, plenty of room to slip into the shadows and strike.
A sudden turn around a street corner, the crowds dwindled as the streets became emptier. The street eventually opened up into a large plaza, the sun had dipped lower and cast long shadows along the backdrops of the buildings. Blackfire managed escape Zeke’s sight, but the young warrior knew that assassin was near. Through their short exchange, the assassin was not one to withdraw from a challenge or their prey even when cornered. Most assassins from the Nest of Shadows always looked at any opportunity and use it to their advantage, if a target came looking for them, it was to their advantage. Blackfire was definitely skilled enough and confident enough to use that sort of tactic and mentality. A principle from one of the Lords of Shadows, Blade, a mysterious assassin gifted with bladework that many people say could cut men down without ever dropping a single bit of blood. A creature of devastating precision. Blackfire was efficient and resourceful, his additional powers were of mild concern for Zeke. Magic was something the young warrior was adept at handling, there plenty of ways to counteract magic.
Zeke had nothing to fear. Fear meant death, his foe had no fears either. Time to instill some fear.
“Where are your friends? The ones with the Eye of Ashara?” Blackfires voice echoed through the plaza in no particular direction.
Zeke remained silent, focusing on pinpointing the assassin.
“No matter. I will find them and they will become wondrous sacrifices to the flames.” He continued.
Zeke’s left eye burned which gave him enough time to parry the curved dagger lit with black flames with his metallic arm.
“You’re pretty good. You will make a wonderful sacrifice to the flame.” Blackfire predicted.
The assassin feinted with his main-hand, going for Zeke’s exposed guard with his off-hand, unfortunately it was an opening that Zeke made to catch him. Both attacks were parried, both stood silent in their respective stances, the more time passed the likelihood that the assassin would find an opening for a fatal strike, Zeke thought.
“That arm of yours is quite a marvel, I’ve cut it many times and it has not shown one nick or burn. It’s no ordinary gauntlet is it?” Blackfire thought out loud.
Zeke continued to remain silent.
“I will make sure to make you scream when I light you in flames!” Blackfire shouted and charged at full speed. His form became wrapped in black flames and smoke, Zeke parried the first strike before narrowly dodging the second strike that went from over his head. A speck of blood sizzled under the flames of the blade, the young warrior managed to withdraw a short distance with his metallic arm over his left eye.
Zeke did not make a sound, there was a thin trail of blood but only superficial. Blackfire was eager for another chance to cut the young warrior.
“No more games,” he said to himself. Ripping the cut patch over his left eye to reveal what was underneath.
“Well, well. You are full of surprises, aren’t you?” Blackfire sneered.
The torn piece of eye patch fell gently onto the sandy plaza floor, underneath the piece of cloth and leather, a misshapen eye slowly opened for the first time in a long time. It was cat-like but with a profound red center in a sea of black. Once open, Zeke felt its energy, trying to withstand the surge to his senses from the exposed eye. There was a clarity, the shapes of auras and sway of possibilities, an eye that could see beyond veils and lies.
The eye revealed everything to Zeke, the truth and the inevitable outcome. The young warrior lunged at Blackfire, anticipating the parry with one of the curved daggers while taking the opportunity to get a clean cut at the assassin’s right side with the edge of his longsword. It was not a deep cut, but it definitely would hurt. Blackfire recoiled and danced out of Zeke’s range, there was a shortness of breath, the crazed cutthroat had never been pushed back so far.
“You’re good, but it’s time I sent you down to the flames,” he remarked and began reciting ancient words of power to a nameless entity. A spark of divine light shined from Blackfire before a wave of black demonic flame erupted from his body, incinerating everything in its path. Zeke had no cover, no where to hide, he could only brace himself for the impact. A thunderous blast erupted from the plaza, many of the free-standing crates and stands were lit aflame, the clay-stone buildings became blackened by the near volcanic heat. The smoke began to settle as Blackfire admired the devastation with a grin.
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