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  1. The shining walls of the city loomed ever larger in the distance, totally dominating the surrounding county side. Yrean slowed his horse to a walk and studied the vista in front of him. It had been sometime since he had last visited this city and upon leaving he had sworn that he would never return, there were too many painful memories associated with this place for him. However, he also had unfinished business in the city and now he had the information that he needed to allow him to complete matters, but he was in no rush to arrive and decided to spend one more night outside the city in a small inn he had stayed at before. The next morning Yrean was awake before dawn and after packing his saddlebags made his way to the common room to break his fast. Yrean arrived at the city mid afternoon and immediately made his way to the dock area. He kept his hood up and did his best to avoid any areas that he used to frequent. His purpose was solely business and he wanted to conclude his business as soon as possible. The inn he stayed at had the amusing name of the Spanked Woman and a smile came unbidden at the sight of the sign, gently swinging in the light breeze. Some said it was a painting of the owner and his wife, who was being chastised. Yrean had never been able to confirm this, but it was an amusing story none the less. Entering the inn he found the common room to be half full, mostly with dockworkers and stevedores who had finished their work for the day. Because of this there was much raucous laughter and a Gleeman was just starting his performance, playing a fiddle and singing some song about a wayward woman who was caught by her husband in a delicate position. Dumping his saddlebags on the floor in front of the bar, Yrean spoke quickly with the owner and after a short conversation made his way to his room. After closing and barring the door, Yrean stowed his gear and then lay on the bed, resting as much as he could. His business would take place during the hours of darkness and he wanted to be as rested as possible. Yrean finally left his room, three hours after the sun had set, and ate a hasty meal in the common room, washed down by a tankard of Dark. Leaving the Spanked Woman Yrean made his way through back alleys to where his shop used to stand. It had been destroyed in a fire and Yrean and Mat had only just got away with their lives, although their clothes were singed and Yrean’s eyebrows had been burned clean off and still had not grown back properly. Concealed by the shadow cast by a tall building, Yrean observed the area, making note of the changes since he had last been here. He paid particular attention to the rooftops, a favourite way of getting around for him and one that still provided the easiest route of escape for him. Many times his use of the rooftops had saved his life or allowed him to confuse anyone who had tried to follow him. Finally satisfied, Yrean made his way further into the deep shadows before finding the spot he was looking for. His ascent was swift and surefooted, having climbed buildings since he was a child in his home city of Illian. It was while he was there on a visit that he had come across the information that he had been searching for and would now make use of. The climb was not a hard one and soon Yrean emerged onto the rooftop and started to make his way across the roofs to North Harbour. When he got within range of the location he was searching for, Yrean settled down behind a large chimneystack and watched the surrounding houses for activity. This part of the city was still fairly busy and it was a few more hours before the late night revellers had returned to their homes. Not wanting to take any chances, Yrean stayed in position until he was certain the city was quiet and then made his move. He first sorted through the gear he had taken along, leaving his bow and quiver behind the chimneystack, along with his sword and a few other items. All the weapons he now carried were for close quarters fighting several concealed throwing daggers, a mace and a longer dagger, that was almost a short sword. Carefully he made his way across the roof to towards his target, jumping the few feet between the buildings and landing with cat like grace. Scanning the roof, Yrean soon located a few loose roof tiles and started to remove them, making sure they would not slide off the roof and alerting the people inside. Eventually he had made a hole large enough for him to be able to enter the house and he dropped silently through the hole. It took him longer than he had expected to find the way out of the loft, but he eventually found the loft hatch and dropped through it to the house proper. He knew the location of the rooms he needed to find and worked swiftly, identifying his targets and deciding on what order he would take them in. Most of the people in the house were males, and all had been implicated in the attack on his shop. He also had a sneaking suspicion they may have supplied information that led to Mat’s capture and subsequent death. This alone marked them out for special treatment and Yrean was only too happy to supply that treatment. The first door opened without a sound and Yrean stealthily made his way over to the bed containing the slumbering form of his first victim. Placing his hand over his victim’ mouth, with one swift thrust, Yrean severed the man’s jugular. It was a swifter death than Yrean felt the man deserved, but this was about retribution not punishment. Moving swiftly, Yrean dispatched his targets one by one until there was only one left. Moving to the room of his last target, Yrean had no way of knowing that the occupant of the room had placed a small bell behind the closed door to alert him of any intruders. The first Yrean knew of this was when the bell fell over and a loud voice demanded to know who was trying to enter the room. Throwing all caution to the winds, Yrean shoved the door open and dived into the room, narrowly missing the small crossbow bolt that thunked into the doorframe. A shaft of moonlight illuminated the room and the man’s face creased up with anger as he recognised his assailant. “You! I thought we had done for you last year.” Yrean did not bother to answer the man, but the confirmation that this man had been one of those to target his shop, only caused a minor ripple to slide across the Void. Moving with much more caution now, Yrean advanced on the prone figure, who suddenly jumped out of the bed and lunged at Yrean with a concealed knife. Yrean waited until the last moment and then side stepped the man’s attack. Unfortunately Yrean’s assailant was quicker than Yrean and changed the angle of his attack. His blade penetrated Yrean’s upper arm, glancing off the bone. Yrean did not show any outward signs of pain, and cocooned inside the Void it only felt like a fly landing on his skin. However the wound started t o bleed profusely and the blood quickly flowed down Yrean’s arm and started to drip onto the floor. Knowing he had to finish this fight quickly, Yrean feigned pain and loss of concentration and sank to his knees, without taking his eyes off the man. Closing the distance between himself and Yrean, he kicked out aiming for Yrean’s head. However, Yrean was ready for him and swayed to one side, parrying the kick on his uninjured arm and turned most of the blow to one side. Yrean stepped away from his adversary, realising that the advantage of surprise would no longer work, Yrean decided on a different tactic. Pulling a throwing knife from its place of concealment, Yrean through it, aiming for the man’s chest. However the man was wise to this and dodged to the left, which was exactly what Yrean had hoped for and a well placed kick to the groin, followed by a bone jarring upper cut laid the man out. Taking a quick breath, Yrean moved swiftly, not knowing if the sounds of the struggle had alerted anyone or not, and grabbing the man’s hair Yrean lifted him from the floor. Reversing his grip on his dagger, Yrean used the pommel to smash the man’s larynx and then dropped him to the floor. As Yrean exited the room, the last sounds he heard were the dying gurgles of his last victim. Yrean had a dilemma now, he knew he would need to rest up for a day or so as the wound to his arm was deeper than he had realised. He also knew there would be a hue and cry raised throughout the city over his work this night. Having to explain how he got an obvious knife injury would not be easy, but neither would it be that easy to make his way to a place of refuge. Cutting a strip of cloth from his cloak, Yrean hastily bound up the wound and then made his way back to his lodgings, he needed time to recuperate and hopefully he would have at least a day and night of rest.
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