The baker was already up and about, the smell of his fresh bread and pastries carrying on the cool spring air making my stomach growl hungrily at me. Nearby the smith was lighting his forge, and his assistant was carrying bags of coal while a distant stare lit up his eyes. Everyone in Malton had a job to do and a purpose for being there, including me. I sat on the roof of the Broken Hilt Inn, looking out over the town to the wall a quarter-mile away.
The little town of Malton sat nestled at the foot of the Iromont Mountains. If one were so inclined, as I was, they could watch the sunrise over the peaks bathing the town in golden hues as it woke from its slumber utterly unaware of what was bubbling up from deep below the surface.
I watched a figure emerge from a small, unassuming home a few blocks away, a parcel wrapped in brown paper and twine carried under their arm. Even from this distance, I could see the light brown hair as they looked up and down the street for anyone that would see them. I spun the ring on my index finger and watched the world fade into greyscale as the invisibility washed over me as my eyes locked on my target.
I stood and dropped down the ten feet from the edge of the roof to the road and watched them pass me. I followed as they took alleys and back streets to avoid the increasing bustle of the trade ward until they reached a descent beneath a building situated comfortably in the center of several others if one didn’t have directions, it was unlikely that you’d be able to find this building alone. My directions came at the hands of the person I followed. He looked around for potential pursuers before he knocked on the door. The door swung open to a dark expanse that I couldn’t see beyond the doorway, and he stepped inside. The door shut quickly before I could make it in as well.
“Shit,” I muttered under my breath as I shook my head and moved closer to the door.
I listened through the wood of the door for any sounds, but it was as if the space didn’t exist. I took a deep breath, double-checked the daggers on my belt, and knocked on the door. No one came this time. The door didn’t open. I stood there, confused for a moment going over if I had missed anything when I heard the crunch of dirt under a boot behind me.
“What brings you here, Garrett?” a familiar voice asked.
I sighed and turned around to see Tyron standing with four dark-robed figures. Even in the greyscale from my invisibility, I knew his eyes were following my movements thanks to the device that shined a striking gold adorning his face and covering his eyes. I spun the ring once more and let the color of the world return. The four people with him took a step back as I’m sure I materialized from nowhere in their mind.
“That’s quite the item you’ve got there,” I said, climbing the stairs back to street level.
“It’s just something I picked up in Shesbury a few weeks ago,” Tyron said, his eyes locked on me. “For situations like this one. Why are you here, Garrett?”
“You know why I’m here, Tyron. You can’t keep this up. You won’t achieve your goals,” I replied, trying to make myself look more relaxed than I felt.
“I don’t think that’s up to you. I believe only the gods can dictate who will win in the end,” Tyron said, “not that you’ll be there for that.”
The four people behind him stepped forward, a flash of silver as they drew their weapons. I placed my hands casually on my weapons but didn’t pull them as I stepped forward, letting them surround me.
“It doesn’t have to be like this,” I said, “I don’t want to kill any of you.”
“Death is inevitable,” Tyron said, his voice barely louder than a whisper. I felt the wave of magical energy expand through the alley.
“Shit,” I muttered as one of the figures darted forward, striking out with their knife.
Grabbing their wrist, I twisted until I heard the metal ring off the stone, shifted my weight and threw them toward the next that was already coming toward me. They collided with each other and fell to the ground. The other two rushed forward at an alarming speed, slashing at me with their daggers. I managed to avoid the first, but the second caught the back of my left arm. A pulse of pain shot through my arm toward my chest, catching the air in my lungs as I drew one of my weapons.
I spun and slid my blade through the one that had cut me, driving him back to the wall where the point bit into the wood, pinning him there. I turned as his partner slashed across my face. I cried out in pain as the world went black on my right side.
I drew the other weapon, and with everything I had pulled the blade up, slashing him up the middle. He collapsed as I rushed forward to the other two, cutting them down before they had a chance to untangle themselves.
“You’ve already lost,” Tyron said, drawing my attention back to him. Four more of the figures stood next to him. “Give up.”
“I’d hardly be the person I am if I did that, Tyron,” I said as I rushed forward, turning my ring.
The world faded into grey once more as Tyron’s eyes widened. I shot out for him, throwing two daggers from my belt at two of his pawns. They hit their target as Tyron backpedaled away from me, trying to get out of my reach.
I pointed at his face and whispered, “Teine.”
A small arrow-shaped flash of light erupted from my finger and slammed into Tyron’s face. His hair burned, and I watched as the gold of the thing he wore faded into greyscale as well. I moved toward him as he cried out in pain, but stopped when six more robed figures emerged from a nearby shadow, surrounding him.
I could feel the adrenaline pumping through me, but thought better of it. My invisibility would fade soon, I knew it. So I doubled back and ran from the alley, leaving them behind as I felt the blood loss catching up to me. I was dizzy and could feel the warmth of blood running down my face. A group of five people wearing armor walked down the street laughing merrily as they looked in various shop windows. I could feel the darkness closing in as I turned my ring and collapsed on the road before them.