His movements were like the shadow, his feet sounded gentler than the wind. He slipped in through the window of a building, to a hall way lit by several torches. Spying a door off to the left he moved over to it, never once stepping into the light. If one were to look down the hallway at this moment they wouldn't have even seen him, just a ghost slipping through the door, then he would be gone. He smiled to himself knowing that no one would catch him, he was smoke in the air, and as much as one tried to desperately hold him, he would always slip through their clumsy fingers. He was many things, an assassin, a hired hand, a mercenary, but above all else he prided himself as a master thief. It was his truest calling, and it seemed that once again his skills were going to lead him to a big payday.
He was called the sparrow, and though it seemed quite docile for anyone in his line of work, he had to admit, he did quite enjoy the name. It had a subtlety to it that most in his line of work would frown upon, and to be honest many still did. But through his skill and ruthless nature he had gained not only respect in the field, but prowess. Men had begun to actively seek out his services for jobs he would have once been over looked for. It had been a glorious day for him when he had been sought out for the assassination of the archbishop. He had reveled in the experience, stalking his prey with the aggression of a tiger, but never once was suspected of treachery. Not until the last moment, when the dagger was already wedged between his ribs, and the light had begun to fade from his eyes. It had earned him more respect than he could have dreamed and caused more money to come flooding his way. Money was what this world was all about after all.
He kept moving, his focus never wavering for a second. The room he was now in seemed to be a storage room of some sort, barrels lined the walls, jars stood on shelves filled with preserved fruits. They had begun to store food away for the long winter to come, but by the time that hit Sparrow would be long gone, on a charter to warmer climates. Birds are migratory after all, he thought with a smirk. With a smile Sparrow reached back and slipped off the black cloth bag he wore on his back. It held all of the tools he needed for this mission, but it also carried something a little more, sinister. Reaching into his bag pulled out a small glass vile containing a liquid that appeared a deep red, holding it up to his eyes he smiled while he looked at the deep red liquid swirling it slightly as he eyed it through the glass.
"This should more than do the trick," he whispered, moving over to the barrel closest to him, "just a couple drops should d-" his words were cut off as he tripped over his own feet, falling forward before he could remove the cap to the vial he felt his face crash off the side of the barrel before him. He fell too hard and too fast, unable to even raise his arms to protect his face, with a sickening crunch he felt his nose break against the side of the barrel. The vial fell from his hand and crashed against the floor shattering a few feet away from him. He heard it hiss and almost instantly knew what was happening, he tilted his back looking for his vile hoping that he was wrong. He fears were confirmed, he lay there for a moment listening to the hiss and staring at the small pool around the vile, watchinga as the poison began to eat away at the stone. Fucking Damnit! He thought, he had to move quickly. Gathering himself he ran over to where he had left his bag, reaching in quickly he covered his blood soaked face with a rag inside, not for the sake of stopping the blood, but for the fumes that would soon start to fill the room.
Cursing himself he looked again to where the poison had dropped. It had already created a sizable divot in the floor and fumes had begun to pour forth as it continued to eat away. That poison was unlike any that had ever been seen before, created by sparrow himself, the poison was so strong it would literally eat through stone. It was useful beyond even his own expectations, but now it was a threat to his very life! The fumes pouring forth were toxic and with every second he spent in here the chances grew of him inhaling the deadly concoction. He had to move quickly.
Without a second hesitation Sparrow turned to the door, his bag in hand and the cloth pressed to his face. He sprinted into the door causing it to burst open and himself to fly out of the room. Spinning on the spot he slammed the door behind him and collapsing against the wall opposite. There was no care for whether or not someone might see him at this point, if he hadn't left he would be dead in minutes. He sat there for a moment pressing the cloth to his face. After closing his eyes and gathering himself he turned and looked down the corridor for people. He had been lucky however, not a soul was in sight at the moment, and the stone hallway was deathly silent, only the sound of the torches flickering along the hall way made any sound. Still cursing his clumsy mistake he rose to his feet. How could he have been so foolish? He had never tripped up during a job and most certainly had not expected to this time. He stood fuming for another few seconds the rag still pressed to his face and bag in hand, he continued staunching the blood flow as he began to move off, taking just as much care to move as silently as before.
It looks like they are going to be able to eat safely for a while, he thought almost gloomily. Once that vapor settles the poison will be useless, all of the jars and barrels were closed and there was virtually no way for the vapor to settle in any of the jars. Sure someone might get a little sick but no long term damage would come of them eating the food, not unless they kept eating it anyway.
He was annoyed with himself, how could he have tripped? How could he have wasted so much of his poison, on a bunch of people who didn't even matter to his mission? He hadn't had any need to kill these people, but he couldn't resist the urge to cause a little bit of extra mayhem for the people of this god-forsaken village.
He had always hated these kinds of people, so contented with their little lives, and their little traditions, it made him sick. It was one of the reasons he wanted to take the jeweled staff that was rumored to be safeguarded in this temple. He wanted to disrupt their mundane little lives, cause them to panic a little bit, it amused him to watch them run around, to toy with them. It had always been this way, ever since he was young. He loved to watch those in his village panic as things would suddenly and mysteriously go wrong for them, and all the while he would watch from the shadows smiling and laughing at his genius. It hadn't been until he had grown to be a young man that he finally decided to take his first life.
It had been a thrill like no other, to watch the life fade from his eye. But he'd never expected the amount of attention that it drew to his activities. At 16 the Sparrow had finally gone from a simple thief to something much more. He had become recognized as a killer, and because of this people had become drawn to him. Small jobs began to appear to him, minor thefts, a murder or two. His reputation was soaring. And it was all leading to this, the Jeweled staff of Jeywa.
It was almost ironic, Jeywa was the god of the shadows, a spiritual being who's powers were strongest in the night. He was friend to thieves and teacher of assassins. And here was sparrow, about to claim his prize. The Jeweled staff would soon be his and with it he would claim the title of the king of thieves. His name would be legend. Sparrow had been nearly giddy at the thought when he first heard of the staff. A king, he had grown up poor, his family struggling to survive. Now look at where he was. He was about to become a god among men!
Sparrow was moving slowly and carefully through the corridor, it's torches flickering slightly. As he moved further down he began to notice that torches all seemed to acting a little strange, they would hiss and pop as he passed them, then settle as he moved away. It was almost as if they knew that he was there, moving sliently through their halls. Growing tired of the noise he finally paused at one. What in the world is the matter with these torches? He thought. His mind flickered for a moment back to the rumors, that this place was cursed, and it's people protected by Jeywa's loyal guardian. A man of incredible strength and power, he wasn't a mortal that could be reasoned with nor a spirit, which could be cast out by some silly riddle. No this man was something more, a demon of sorts, said to be able to become shadow itself.
As his thoughts raced to this impossible explanation something strange happened. A sound like that of a powerful waterfall came rushing towards him, his eyes grew wide as he watched torch after torch suddenly flicker and die. Sparrows jaw dropped in horror, what was happening! There was no time to move, it was moving fast, to fast! Sparrow crouched and raised his arms in an X shape in front of his face, his hand still clutched around the bloody rags while the other dropped his supplies. As he did a roaring wind came blasting through the hall. It's strength was unreal! It's force was so powerful that it lifted sparrow tossing him like a rag doll down the stone hallway.
Sparrow felt himself smashing against the walls as he went, he had no control, he was helpless like this. Suddenly the force that had lifted him and tossed him like a leaf in the wind died leaving sparrow weightless for but a moment, then he fell, catching his arm right on the iron bracket of a torch as he went. He skin tore as he his weight dragged him to the solid ground, and he crashed heavily onto his left leg. There was a pop, Sparrows world was suddenly nothing but pain, blinding searing pain that throbbed with each beat of his panicked heart.
A scream ripped from his throat as he lay there, he had heard the pop, he knew what had happened before he even looked down. Wide eyed with terror he tried to mentally prepare for what he was about to see, but nothing could prepare him for the shock of seeing this injury inflicted upon his own body. Lifting his head from the stone floor he gazed down at his left leg, where the pain was emanating. He regretted it almost immediately, and suddenly felt his head begin to spin. His left leg had snapped completely nearly dead center at the shin, both bones were now peaking out of his skin, like rocks that just poked out of the earths surface.
Panic began to grip him as he lay back on the cold floor, his body was broken, he was a thief in a temple here to steal a sacred staff. Through his panic he tried to block the pain and focus. But for the moment it was no use, it was to much, he writhed in pain and panic as he lay broken on the floor, a few moans of pain escaping him as his blood began to pool around him. Slowly he began to regain control, he began to asses the situation he was in, his leg was broken, his face smashed, he was a thief in a sacred temple here to steal a villages most prized possession after trying to poison them all. He sighed, the chances of him just surviving the night like this were slim getting out of here seemed damned near impossible by comparison.
His head dropped, this would be his end. The master thief had finally been broken. But by what? He thought. what in the hell had that wind been? And why had it had such power? He had never believed in gods or goddesses, only people, there couldn't be any real guardian to this temple. It was impossible! This had to be a trick, a trap set up by the villagers! He lay there with his eye's closed thinking of everything he could, but nothing seemed even plausible. How he wished he hadn't dropped the vile with the poison, at leaset then he could have gotten revenge on those simpletons. His eye's snapped open, That was it! The vile! He had to move fast! He had been laying on his back for a long time, taking no notice of his surroundings. Looking around at last he spotted his bag laying but a few feet away from his right arm. he tried to move his arm over to the bag but found that he couldn't get it to do much more than quiver where it lay, he had been so distracted by his leg that he hadn't noticed his right arm had gone numb. There was no pain there.
He looked puzzled at his arm as he once again tried to move it to the bag, but again found it wouldn't respond. Reaching with his left hand he found his answer as to why, during the fall he had felt his arm catch something, it had caused the rotation that forced him to land on his leg the way he did. But it wasn't just his leg that had been damaged in the fall. Along tearing slice, starting in the at the back of his arm, near the shoulder had sliced deep into his tricep. He could no longer move it of his own will. Fuck! Well that's just great. Sparrow thought closing his eyes he leaned his head back slowly onto the hard floor, cursing this village he had come to. With out any warning he took all of his strength and threw his body up and over his injured left arm. The pain was excruciating, he felt his vision waver for a moment and start retching where he lay, the pain from the sudden movement to much for his body to handle. But there wasn't time, reaching out his left arm he slowly began dragging himself to the bag, it was close, so close. Tossing the bloody rags that had still been clutched in his hand off to the side he extended his arm, grabbing it as firmly as he could and dragged it opening to face him. Reaching inside he fumbled around for a moment.
When his hand withdrew it came with another vile, this one purple in color and much larger than the poison he had dropped earlier. He was almost surprised this one two hadn't broken but was thankful it was intact. He looked at it almost suspiciously, it was to good to be true. Inside was a concoction, which was claimed to be able to heal the drinkers injuries in a matter of minutes, he had tested it only once before by inflicting a small cut on his arm and taking a small sip. With in moments a slight itch came from the cut and he had watched in shock as the wound seal before his eyes. He'd never seen anything work so quickly. Since he had tested it he hadn't yet found any real use for it, he had almost forgotten about it's existence, until now that is.
A smile spread across his lips as he used his thumb to pop off the vile. Bringing it to his lips he began drinking every last drop, unsure of how well it would work with injuries this severe. Almost instantly he felt the pain be replaced by an itch. It grew stronger and stronger becoming almost intolerable, but he let it be. Closing his eyes he relaxed as the potion worked its magic, as it slowly began to subside he lay still. He felt no pain, but the lack of pain didn't mean he was healed. Taking a deep breath he sat up and opened his eyes. His jaw dropped, his leg looked to be in perfect condition, looking around in shock he unconsciously moved his right arm down to his leg. He could move! He looked in shock at his still blood soaked arm and balled his fist. This was incredible! His arm, his leg! Reaching up he felt his face roughly though pulled away as he felt his still broken nose. It seemed there was a limit as to how long you had to heal an injury with this potion. But that was of no concern to him, he had to get out of here. Despite his belief that there was no guardian he was still more than spooked, and with the way his luck had been running he thought it better than to keep pushing forward.
But now he was deep in the temple, and after being tossed like a rag doll he had little knowledge of where he was. Standing up and grabbing both the bag and the rags, swinging the bag onto his back and clutching the rags in his hands he looked around for clues as to where he was. He was surprised for a moment though when he finally looked at the rest of the corridor, all the torches had some how reignited. "What the hell is going on here?" he said his voice finally showing the small amount of fear that had begun to fill his heart. Finally he gave up and decided to just choose a passage, turning left he began to move carefully down the hall.
As he moved down the hallway he paused, looking up at the torches. He knew it would be more likely to give away where he was, but that wind had spooked him. Moving forward he reached up to the bracket and removed one of the torches from the wall. As he did he heard something, what sounded like a whisper. Spinning around he whipped out a knife from a sheath on his hip. He stood facing nothing but a stonewall. "Damnit sparrow, calm down." He muttered furiously. Sheathing his knife once more he turned to the bracket. Lifting it out he held it high above his head, keeping the light from impairing his vision.
"Leave here." Came a gentle whisper in his ear, whipping around again he spun knife in hand. A man stood before him, tall and clearly strong. He appeared to be some sort of night watch men. Dressed in a black cloak which hung in around his left side covering his arm from view, his right arm however was out in full hanging by his side. The cloak was unusual in the fact that at the shoulder appeared to be some sort of cloth covered armor, the right side falling looked to be flexible though strong allowing for great amounts of mobility, the left however appear ridged, unmoving. The whole thing was held together by a rope which seemed to move through the cloak and attached to some sort of wooden fastener. The fastener was shield shaped and bore the inscription of the temple. Under this cloak appeared to be a light fighting suit, not unlike the ones he had seen worn by the guards of a foreign diplomat he had killed several years previously. Sparrow normally would have tried to dispatch of him quickly but instead he froze. This hall had been empty but a moment ago, yet this man hadn't made a sound approaching him.
"Who the hell are you?" he said his voice showing his panic.
The man stood still for a moment, "Leave this place and never return. If you do you shall be spared." With that he turned to leave.
This is insane, who is this guy? Sparrow thought. Moving seamlessly he was at the mans back with his knife to his throat in a flash. A fiendish grin split his face, the man had to know where it was
"I'm hear to claim the Jeweled staff, where is it?"
The man didn't move even when the knife was pressed hard to his throat.
"So you have chosen death." Came the mans voice.
Sparrow's grin slowly began to fade in horror as the man turned to face him. He wore a huge smile on his face. Finally seeing him up close he could see the massive scar running from the mans chin up and over his right eye. It was clear a sword had done the damage but that wasn't what had caused Sparrow to reel in horror. As he stood the watching the man began to rip apart, like black pieces of paper he began to shred apart and the pieces disappeared into the shadows. His smile never left his face as he faded into the patches of blackness that the flickering torches provided.
Sparrows face was one of horror as the words echoed in his head. Said to become shadow itself…
"No," Sparrow said stumbling back a bit, his legs wouldn't work properly, he was in panic. "No! No, no, no, no, no! This can't be happening, this can't be real, this can't!" he muttered hysterically. Tripping over his feet he dropped his knife and began scrambling down the hallway, blood soaked rags still in hand.
He glanced behind him for a moment looking for the spector which now threatened his life, he couldn't think, he could barely breath.
"What the hell is going on!" Sparrow screamed into the hallway. As he did the torches one by one began to flicker and die. Yelling and cursing once more he stood up and began to sprint. There was no need to be quiet anymore, panic had over taken him.
Steel dragging upon stone, he could hear it behind him, fueling him onwards. He had to get away! Glancing back again he saw nothing but blackness the torches behind him had all gone out. Turning his attention forward he looked up the path. It was opening up! Somewhere he could hide! He put on a burst of speed and bolted into the chamber before him.
It was a large room but quite empty, aside from the columns that lined the sided. The only thing that was in here was a large shrine at the other end. It was decorated beautifully, a red and gold cloth which appeared to be made silk hung off it, on this stood a stand which held on it the Jeweled staff. Behind this shrine stood a statue, a man in a ceremonial robe holding the staff before him. Sparrow knew it to be Jeywa but couldn't bring his eyes off the staff. The caped man forgotten he slowly he approached it. It was here! He had found it!
"It's mine," He said awe spreading across his face, "it's finally mine!"
Reaching out his hand with the rag still clutched in his other he grasped it firmly. Lifting it slowly he let out a laugh, It was his! He had done it! He had done what no other had! He had claimed the staff! He could have skipped with delight, if the rumors were true then the power of Jeyzwa was his to command!
"You have chosen death" came the cloaked mans voice. Sparrow blanched, it can't be… NO!
As he turned around he saw the last of the mans face piece together from the shreds of darkness, Sparrow stood frozen in horror as the man reached back to what appeared to be a handle on his back. The handle of a sword!
"No, please, Don't! This can't be happening! NO!" Came sparrows scream, he stumbled back clutching his prize to him. As he did the cloaked man lifted the massive sword in his hand easily off his back. It was enormous, had Sparrow not, been in a state of panic he would have been in a state of wonder. It was so big that it was a wonder the he could lift it with two hands, let alone bear it with one. One final time the man spoke to Sparrow.
"You have chosen death." he whispered.
Day's later a young man came bearing a gift for the shrine and it's guardian that protected his village so, as he walked with it to the shrine chanting his prayer a small lump caught his eye. Setting down his gift he moved over to the mystery item.
"What's this?" He whispered bending over to pick it up. It was a small rag covered in blood, turning around he looked for any signs of life.
"Hello?" He called out, hearing the word echoing off the walls. Shrugging he slipped it into his pocket and moved away to the entrance.