3/16/2012 3:06 AM
« Excuse me, did this belong to you? »
Five days had already gone by since our journey begun in Lion
They found me in a tavern in Smuggler’s Watch
where I'd been spending my days looking for opportunities like this one. The place was usually packed with corsairs, as was the greatest part of the city, making it ideal for adventurers such as myself to find a job. Having been brought up in the mean streets of my city, it was very easy for me to pass by unnoticed among these people, despite being wanted by many of them. But it wasn't easy for them: they stood out like flies in a milkshake - and not just due to their spotless looks. They were, without doubt, the most controversial company of people I had ever seen! A Necromancer
and an Elementalist
together, escorted by a huge Warrior
A few steps behind them followed an Engineer
hyperventilating as he struggled to pull his enormous backpack through the tavern's narrow wooden door. Various clinging and rattling sounds were coming from inside it, mixing with the curses he grumbled. Eventually he gave up and stood outside the doorstep, blocking out the scarce spring morning light and looking provocatively upon anyone who'd dare to smile. The rest of his group stood about two steps away from my table and gazed upon me, investigatively. Leader of the pack appeared to be a Guardian
who's view had been blocked by the monolithic figure of the Warrior up to that point.
- Are you the Ranger of whom everyone talks about? he asked me.
- Depends on whether those you asked were paid or not for the answer, I replied calmly.
I spotted a fiery aura glove the Elementalist's hand, dancing soflty around her fingers. The Guardian smiled and looked at me with interest.
- It's definitely you, he said satisfied and nodded reassuringly to the others. "We have a proposition for you, which ends in many zero's" he told me, looking earnestly into my eyes.
… Five days already we'd been searching for him, in vain. His traces were so few and vague that even my jaguar
had trouble spotting them. His art in disappearing was undoubtedly great and given... However it looked like a veil of magic was covering him at the same time, something which I could not explain. In fact, this was the reason, the most common one at least, for my constant arguments with Elementalist: she insisted she could detect traces of magic while I did not believe in anything that neither my pet's nostrils nor my own instinct could not pick up. And yet, there was indeed something in the places where the Thief
had been that did not bear the signs of his art.
That day was different from the previous ones and this was not something that only I could feel. From the moment we set out again that morning we all had a funny feeling... As if someone had been following us and not the other way around, as it was supposed to be the case. Guardian turned and looked inquiringly at me and then at my pet; this infuriated Elementalist, who managed not to show it, apparently feeling alarmed herself. Warrior, not known for his affection towards the unseen world ("real for me is only whatever bleeds" he used to say) was very uncomfortable the whole morning.
And that was making all of us uncomfortable also, since he was not the kind of person who'd be afraid or hesitate to face anything. "It is not ghosts", Necromancer reassured him once again coming out of his death shroud
for the n-th time. However, the white knots on Engineer's hands, clasping his rifle tightly, were not much of a reassurement at all.
It was almost noon when we'd reached a clearing, just off the inhospitable Blood Hill Camps
, which were abound with Centaurs. It was highly unlikely that our pray had chosen this place as a hideout. His goal was apparently different and discovering it was the main purpose of our little expedition. That, and the retrieval of a certain item which, as Guardian had told me, I was to be paid handsomely for not caring about.
Our attention had apparently been loosened due to the extended visibility, offered by the ample light and the lack of physical obstacles. Besides, last thing we expected was an attack by him... One against six? No way! I saw my jaguar's ears pricking one second before I heard a very familiar flurry:
«take cover!» I yelled and notched an arrow on my bow. Thief's shot landed among us poisoning the air
around us at once. Just before our vision grew dim by the fumes, I heard a second arrow incoming. Guardian shouted
«positions!» and raised his shield. A figure appeared among us and an intense flash of light
blinded us. Such was our confusion that even our reflexes went numb. Our temporary blindness was a mere excuse though... Particularly for our soldiers and myself, who could not pick a target. But even the Necromancer
was searching for a victim for his minions…
Everything happened ultra fast. A shot on the head made our Guardian even dizzier
and while we were struggling to come to, our Elementalist
took a lethal chain of strikes
from his dagger
. The smoke cleared in time to see him deal the killing blow
I pulled the string back aiming for his knee and suddenly my hand paralyzed. The arrow fell to the ground. I saw my comrades looking at me with eyes wide open and my jaguar withdraw with a sad growl... I looked down, at my feet... This could not be! The legs I saw were familiar but they were not my legs. I opened my mouth to cry out... and the croaking of a Moa
filled the air!
I felt a snappy pinch, on my tail! My mind was clouded –
being a bird sucked. I tried to comprehend what was going on around me: Necromancer summon
ed a Shadow Fiend
took on his Lich μορφή
and attempted to locate Thief who had vanished once again. I heard shouting in the opposite direction... I turned my long neck around and saw him deal two hits
at an amazing speed, immobilizing simultaneously both Warrior and Engineer
. The Shadow Fiend and my jaguar
apparently had the clearest minds and assaulted the ruthless
killer. Necromancer quickly cast a couple of curses
poisoning and crippling him, also causing him general weakness. My jaguar landed a few successive strikes
with its sharp claws, bleeding him non-stop. Realizing that this round was lost, Thief entered his stealth state again to replenish his health
We looked around with a good deal of panic, I'll admit. He had taken us by surprise, despite our Guardian's constantly insisting from the very start that this should not happen under any circumstances. We tried to heal our wounds as quickly as we could – it was certain he would return to finish us off. He'd already almost won the first encounter and now we were down by one. Warrior bend down over Elementalist
trying to revive her. Guardian walked up to them just in case, while Necromancer
approached me talking in a comforting tone. I looked at my hands, still shaking... but they were my hands again. I took my bow, he offered me, and I thanked him with a -human's!- nod. Engineer had already begun assembling a defensive turret
, so I felt urged to set up a trap myself. It had become obvious to all of us by now that from hunters we had become his prey. None of us would ever admit it of course, after all would end. But it was true, here and now, and we had to face it and come out victorious.
We saw him standing about a hundred meters away, observing us with a mean grin. The turret started shooting frantically
at him while I let loose a couple of arrows
hoping for a hit. We watched speechless our projectiles strike an invisible wall
and fall to the ground! And as our attention was drawn to him, a flashy dressed female form materialized
out of thin air and attacked Warrior interrupting him. Once again my jaguar was in a better shape from all of us and charged on her, accompanied by the Shadow
. But before they could get to her... she exploded
Yet another surprise, one more of his tricks?
- He is not alone! There's a ..., Guardian started to say but his phrase was left unfinished.
Thief was no longer where we'd left him. As if through magic
he appeared next to Guardian
, hitting him with a devious strike that petrified
The shield of your group had been disabled! Engineer must have suspected something, so he
covered with glue
the area where Thief had made his appearance. We turned our weapons on him but a thick smoke screen
blinded us once more and we missed again. Warrior
attempted a desperate blow, jumping
and hitting maniacally his hammer on the ground, at the place where Thief had been one second ago. Watching my jaguar still stunned by the clone's explosion, I replaced it with the second companion I always bring along. It attacked him with brutish force, but it abruptly stopped and gazed around confused
Engineer felt a feathery tickle around his neck and immediately lost his sight
Even the rest of us who could still use our eyes, lost him again. We prepared for his next strike, not knowing who's turn it would be and whether we should stick together or scatter around.
Warrior scanned frantically the area around him, cursing and challenging him to a duel, while I kept hoping he'd get careless enough (unlucky, rather) to spring the trap I'd set. Instead I saw him appear between the two of us and immobilize
us both with some nerve-shattering attack. Necromancer
raised his staff and started with a curse
which would transfer all the conditions from which we were suffering back to him... but was unable to finish the magic words, stricken by a blow from Thief's unpredictable ally. At the same time, that same spell hit both my pet, blinding it and Engineer leaving him stunned. That's when I heard my trap activate and a cry of pain slip Thief's lips. I smiled, inside, thinking «Now you're done for buddy»
, but my joy was short-lived. I sensed him behind me, unable to move and react, slicing canyons on my body with his dagger with acrobatic movements that chilled my blood. I hit the ground with my senses mercilessly returning at the worst time, to enable me to experience the unbearable pain tear me in two.
The crippling inflicted on him by my trap
apparently broke his momentum
enough for Guardian to come to
He immediately raised his blessed shields
and also boosted
our regeneration rate. Thief realized that without his explosive speed he stood no chance against his now fortified opponents and tried to enter the portal of his Mesmer
companion. He felt his legs glued to the ground, thanks to Engineer's preemptive action. Then we heard Guardian's deep voice signaling a counter-attack, like a trumpeter! Elementalist, who up to that moment had remained idle on purpose, faithful to Warrior's whispered words, immobilized
him with her downed skill and shouted
«Help me!» gaining a little health
. Engineer made double-certain Thief would not slip again by throwing a net
at him with his rifle while Necromancer
who in the meantime had re-assumed his Lich form, attacked him with no mercy…
He first let him taste the icy chill of death
and then made him vulnerable
to the strikes that would follow. Warrior
knocked him down
with a frightening blow to the head, growling «my turn to hit, your turn to bleed!»
, leaving to Elementalist
the pleasure of getting even: a horrible lightning
fell on Thief's head, putting him in the downed state
and her back to her feet, ever ready.
After my faithful companion revived me I stood over our fallen prey, still unconscious. My eyes met with Elementalists, asking me silently «are you alright?»
- I noded, smiling a «thanks»
. Guardian offered his handshake, holding my reward on the other
- Indeed you are every bit as good as the rumors said you'd be. And no one paid me to say this!
We shook hands and laughed.
- If I let you keep my money, will you tell me why we hunted him down? I asked him, observing the Thief. What is it that makes him so important?
He looked intensely at me, for a long time before he spoke and finally, he said:
- Well, that is precicely what we intend to find out ourselves!
And this is what we managed to uncover:
| Steal (item)
| Normal & Elite Skills
| Known so far
| Special Skill Types
| Dual-wield , Shadow-stepping , Stealth skills , Traps
|| Acrobatics , Critical Strikes , Deadly Arts , Shadow Arts , Trickery
|| [2h] Shortbow
[Main-hand] Dagger , Sword , Pistol
[Off-hand] Dagger , Pistol
[Aquatic] Harpoon , Speargun