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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 22nd day of Eating, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 96 > Continuing Series > Into the Battle: Wintroq’s Story--Part Two

Into the Battle: Wintroq’s Story--Part Two

by meratocat

"They refused, didn't they?" Corinth said as Wintroq walked from the forest with a downcast look to himself. "One month." Corinth muttered walking off, "Just one measly month."

     Wintroq sighed as he turned to look out into Laxcorna. Lanterns were turning on, and torches were lit as darkness settled in. Soon most everybody would be asleep, without any knowledge that they may only have a month until total destruction from the forces of Vernok.

     He sighed, and then started on a walk into the midst of the city. Perhaps the stroll could ease the lingering fear of war.

***

Eruna slid both of her twin daggers into the belt of her cloak as she walked into the fire-lit pathways of Laxcorna. She eyed all streets and pathways to make sure that no one was following her. Laxcorna was an alien city to her, having grown up in a distant land. The stars of her otherwise blue Zafara fur shone a light yellow, but otherwise she was perfectly concealed in the darker sections of the streets.

     Eruna kept the sound of her breathing low as she followed the fire Zafara before her. Her paws were situated upon the rims of her daggers handles, and she rubbed her fingers over the green emerald spheres that were situated atop their handles. As soon as the Zafara would stop, she would be ready for him.

     She bared her teeth in silence. She hated having to be so far away from her hometown for just a single job, but she was being paid well for it, so she took the job anyway. She was an assassin from the far away deserts, and she had been summoned by the Zafara warlord Vernok to do his biding.

     The two cities were on the verge of war, she knew that, and so Vernok hired her to come down to Laxcorna and to do away with this Zafara. He was a warrior of the Laxcornian army, one of high rank. According to what she had picked up from villagers talk, he was Wintroq, friend to the renowned warrior Corinth.

     Eruna stopped in her tracks as Wintroq did the same. She looked around the dark passage that they were in and smiled. There were no prying eyes to be seen, so she could get this done without having to make a break for it. She would complete her job, hide the body, and then make her way back to Gerake to receive her pay. The twin daggers slipped from her belt with a sullen silence, and she prepared to strike down upon the Zafara warrior in the gaps between his armor.

     Wintroq was ready for Eruna as she jumped out at him. As he had walked he had noticed the glint of firelight off of her blades. So as the would-be assassin swung her daggers down at him, Wintroq did a quick turn, and swung his sword at her, and even though Eruna dodged the direct cut of the blade, it still threw her daggers from her hands, and before she could turn, Wintroq had a firm hold of the collar of her tunic in a vicelike grip which would not be lessened easily.

     Noting her lack of armor, and her simple attire, Wintroq knew this Zafara to be an assassin. "Who sent you?" he stated quietly, but firmly. Eruna just looked back at him with unmoving hazel eyes, and a face of stone. "Who sent you to destroy me!?" Wintroq yelled this time, and gave Eruna a shake.

     She just grinned at him. Even from her distant lands, she knew of the knight's code of chivalry, and through it, the warrior could not kill her out of cold blood. "I don't have to tell you. You can't do anything to me warrior."

     Teeth bared, Wintroq lifted her face to face with him. "You're right. It would go against my code of honor to destroy you." He peered into her eyes, a deep hard look. "I cannot do anything, but my sister… she does not follow any set of rules." And so lowering Eruna to the ground, but still keeping a tight grip to her collar, he started to walk off towards the forest.

***

Zarrel Charmain watched as Wintroq strode up into her dwelling for the second time in a little over a day. "I have already told you that I cannot help you in the battle against…" She started to say with chagrin, but then she noticed the assassin in her brother's grips. "Now what have you dragged our of the water?" Eruna couldn't hold back a gulp as she realized that Wintroq's sister was the infamous Zarrel Charmain.

     "This assassin --" He had forgotten that his sister had the same profession for a second. "Tried to destroy me!"

     "She seemingly failed," she pointed out. "You can let go of her now. Kirin and Dorono will make sure she does not go anywhere." Wintroq dropped Eruna onto her face. "Come here." Zarrel Charmain led him away from Eruna.

     "I have seen this one before," Zarrel hissed. "I watched as she passed through this forest towards Laxcorna a few days prior to this one, but since it is not uncommon for creatures to pass through this way, I let her go. If I had known she would go after you… I would have…" She slashed at nothingness with her dagger a couple of times. "Even so, I can still make her wish she had never been born if that is what you want?"

     "No. I just want to learn who it was that hired her to come for me. And why -- she will not tell me, because she knows that there is nothing that I can do to make her tell, being of the Code of Honor."

     "That is why I live freelance, Code of Honor! Pah!" Wintroq looked at her, the thought rising to his head of how different she would have been had she not grown up under the care of an assassin, and herself, and instead been raised in the ways of the noblemen like he had.

     "That is why I want you to question her, because she knows that an assassin has no code to follow, and that you can do away with her at any time."

     "We hold no written code, but there still is a lot to being an assassin that many do not know of." Zarrel said straightening her back. "I will get the information you want, plus more if you need it. I shall find you later, and let you know." And then she started to walk back to Eruna.

     "Oh yeah!" Wintroq said grabbing Zarrel by the shoulder. "Here are her weapons, you can have them." And he handed her the set of twin daggers, each with an emerald on the top, and a finely polished blade of silver.

     "At least her taste is right. These blades could cut a hair," Zarrel pointed out, but before she could walk away, Wintroq stopped her once more.

     "Let her live," he commanded, and Zarrel scowled.

     "She tried to destroy you! Would have if you hadn't been so alert."

     "I don't care. Leave her alive. I will have her put in the dungeons." Then he added more quietly. "Though she does not have to know that you will." And then Wintroq turned and stride away, leaving a grumbling Zarrel Charmain to walk back to the assassin Eruna.

     "So…" she started, pulling out her blade, and rubbing the tip against her throat. "I have a few questions to ask you…"

***

By the time Wintroq made it back to his home on the edge of the woods, more then half the night was gone, and he was dreadfully tired. Like a lump, he half-walked, half-crawled to his room, and into his bed, and then laying down, fell asleep with his armor and mail still upon his back.

     When he finally did awake, late in the afternoon, Wintroq found that he had the worst cramp in the world, and could hardly even sit up. "That is definitely the last time that I ever fall asleep in not only chain mail, but armor too," he said trying to pull a kink out of his leg to no avail. So then, with much discomfort, he walked out anyway, donning a much more comfortable Babaa wool tunic and pants, though he still had his sword and sheath hung around his waist.

     "Of any day, why today!?!" he moaned to himself as he walked slowly across to the training grounds where pages were training with wooden practice swords. Today he was supposed to show a demonstration on the art of sword fighting, and in his current state of body, Wintroq wasn't so sure that he could even lift his own sword let alone show a demonstration.

     Some of the older pages snickered when they saw Wintroq stroll up so late but a warning glance from Corinth made them straighten up. "I guess that it is time that I show the demonstration?" Wintroq sighed, and put his hand to his sword hilt.

     Corinth looked at Wintroq, and picked out the signs of weariness. "I am sorry," he said bowing to the boys waiting for the demonstration, "but Wintroq's demonstration will have to wait, for I have an urgent message for him. Sir Wyol will take charge until I return." At this, many groans could be heard, none of the pages or squires liked Sir Wyol, because he was hot-tempered, and his patience was slim to non-existent while Wintroq acted like more of an equal, though they still knew enough to not anger him.

     As they walked away from the hearing range of the trainees, Wintroq turned to Corinth. "What urgent message?"

     Corinth smiled. "Well, I had to get you out of there somehow. By the looks of you, you have been out probably all night! The last time I looked that bad was after the Battle of the Green Marsh, where I was hit on the helmet with a mace, and woke up a day and a half later in a mud puddle with a Mortog staring into my face. And if that wasn't bad enough, the thing exploded on me!" Corinth turned to Wintroq with a big grin. "Why are you so hung over?"

     Wintroq's expression changed to one of Chagrin. "Let's just say that I didn't quite take off my armor and mail before falling asleep."

     "What happened? I know that you are not some blockhead squire, who forgets at every turn what to do, so why is it that you were too tired to shed your armor?"

     "Long story."

     "I have time."

     Wintroq sighed and shook his head. He knew Corinth would not give up until the story was related to him. "I was attacked. By an assassin, last night."

     Corinth looked into Wintroq's eyes, and seeing truth, motioned for them to walk farther out towards the forest, and he did not speak until they were within its boundaries. " 'An assassin!?!' I thought that your sister was the only one around here, and she wouldn't go for you."

     "Well apparently, the one who attacked me isn't from around these parts," Wintroq said remembering the style of clothing that Eruna wore.

     "Who hired her? Why?" Corinth wanted to know the same answers as Wintroq.

     "I don't know! I left her in the custody of Zarrel with the sole promise that she would get answers from the other, and not kill the her in the process."

     "When will we know?"

     "As soon as Zarrel is ready to tell us," Wintroq said, but before he could say another word, Corinth was walking off to find Zarrel Charmain. "I said she would tell us when she is ready."

     "I do not care, there is a swell chance that that assassin was hired by Vernok, and in that case, she may have valuable information for us." Wintroq shook his head as he hurried off after the fast moving Corinth.

***

As they neared the clearing in which Zarrel Charmain resided, they ran into Zarrel herself, who looked as if she could punch a hold in a tree, with her fists clenched so tightly that her knuckles turned white, and her teeth grinding against each other. Besides her strutted the inseparable Dorono, Kirin wasn't to be seen.

     "Is everything okay?" Wintroq said as Zarrel strode up to him. He could practically imagine the steam coming from her head.

     "Okay! Everything is most certainly not okay!!!" Dorono growled in response to Zarrel's yelling. "That Eruna! That daughter of a…" And then Zarrel started to yell out many forms of colorful language which would not be appropriate to rephrase. And she was at last calmed down as Kirin approached, and laid a hand upon her shoulder.

     "Peace Zarrel!" Corinth yelled out. "What do you mean? And did you find anything on that assassin who was after Wintroq?"

     "That dirty, little…" and she went into her colorful phrasing once again, and would not be silent until she cursed Eruna to her hearts content. "That assassin… Eruna is her name. She was sent to destroy you by Vernok. No surprise I'm sure." She clenched her fists once more. "I got a good amount of blabber from her about her home lands, but nothing much that is useful about Vernok."

     "Where is she?" Corinth said taking a steep up, the sunlight glinting off of his helmet.

     "Gone," Zarrel said between clenched teeth.

     "Gone! How?" Corinth called out.

     "I will answer that," Dorono said in a deep voice. "You see, she was more clever then she seemed, and I guess that before you took her, she popped a small vile into her mouth, and kept it under her tongue. It must have been a sleeping potion of some sorts, and Eruna must have let it leak into our water bottle when I gave her a drink of it. She waited until both Zarrel Charmain and Kirin had both fallen asleep from its effects before she worked at her ropes slowly freeing herself. I was away, taking a round of flight, and so I did not take any of the water, and thus, was wide awake as I flew back into our clearing. When I saw Eruna leaned over Zarrel with her dagger, and free, I thought of the worst. So with a screech that scared her away, I ran up to Zarrel and Kirin, relieved to find them alive."

     Dorono growled, and then closed his eyes tight with sadness, "Though if I had not come… I dread to think of what might have happened."

     This seemed to calm Zarrel down somewhat. "Do not worry Dorono. You saved me, even though Eruna got away." And Dorono smiled at this, just slightly.

     Wintroq turned to face Corinth. "Well then we are back to where we were before. Stuck trying to find a way to defeat Vernok when he finally comes, which he will. His army is much larger then ours…"

     "Yet he still fears you." The two warriors turned to look at Kirin who had spoken. "He still fears you enough to send out an assassin to get rid of you Wintroq. He fears what you can do to him. Which means that there is still a chance."

     Corinth thought about what the trained assassin had said, and then shook his head, but not in disagreement, only in wariness. "There is always hope. This just gives us a shred bit more, and we will need every shred of hope we can get to save Laxcorna." And then he along with Wintroq turned and slowly walked from the forest, headed back to the training grounds.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Into the Battle: Wintroq’s Story--Part One

Into the Battle: Wintroq’s Story--Part Three

Into the Battle: Wintroq’s Story--Part Four


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