Background | K'Thir Forest | Ironfist Stronghold | Forglar Swamp | The Underdepths | Sundered Lands | Forsaken Wastes | Savage Tundra | Shattered Peaks | Savage Tundra Expansion | Drums of War | Nora Surge | Dawn of Elements | Ancient Awakenings | The Angels Descend | Rise of Serkan | Words of Malalain | Broodcall | Heralds of the Dragon Gods | Dire Covenant | Maljaran Frontier | The Failed Expedition | The Fall of Magnus Hahndor | The Inquisitor's Dream | Gift of Light | The Seventh Siege | The Old King's Crown | Wild Alliance | Endless Wonder | Broken Shard Stories | Plague of Ba’lah | Ronin | The Descent | Plans | Visions of Amareth | A Field Report | Spirits Beyond | The First Disturbance

I didn’t wake up with any plans that day, understand that. People don’t start their morning and say “Today, I’m going to kill someone.” I got up and just wanted to finish making that table before I collapsed again. Have a brother like Archie, though, and something will change. It’s good when you’re young, but grow up and try to do honest work with a war on and there’s enough change already.

So three weeks ago, in the evening, I went out to meet whomever it was I was supposed to meet. That was all he’d told me, just walk out to this little grove two miles west -- “You can finally do something for our great cause, Brias, you can craft history!” even if history has never been my craft.

Two elves met me out there, a woman named Bel’anur, and a man, whose name I can’t for the life of me remember, even though he did more of the talking. I didn’t expect them to introduce themselves, honestly, but as soon as I walk into the grove he approaches and tells me his name and and hers. So, I go forward and shake their hands and say

“Evening. Brias.”

The man looks over my shoulder and says

“Did you bring anyone with you? Your brother?”

I hadn’t even thought of it. So I said

“No. Should I have?”

They looked at each other and Bel said to him “He’ll be perfect.” I didn’t realize it then, but that was the moment. See, I figure for everything you do, there’s a moment that makes it happen, a spot where the branches of your life split apart and you choose one or the other without realizing it, and I can tell it was that moment because right after that they turned back to me and the man said

“No, you shouldn’t have.”

When I asked why, he explained: they didn’t want a professional, because they didn’t need a professional -- someone predictable and dangerous and obvious -- they just needed someone in the right place at the right time. Which was frustrating as an answer, because I still didn’t know what it was they wanted me to do. I said as much.

Well, he told me. He was blunt, and she didn’t say a word. Just went right into it: “We need you to kill someone.”

I didn’t have any training for that kind of job. I was taught how to use a bow and a knife like everyone else as a child, but a few hunting skills do not a killer make. That’s not me, and I never thought of this as my time. This isn’t a time for the working man. War is the time for those who have really trained for it, those who are happy to fight and maybe even ready to die for money or a cause. A war starts up and the fighters go. But this war isn’t stopping, and at some point we’ll run out of happy mercenaries and all you’ll have left is a bunch of miserable carpenters.

So it was a foolhardy of me to accept, because I always thought I would be part of the latter group, that my lot was patience and diffidence. But here’s why I did:

Something needs to stop. Neither I nor anyone else in Farewood nor, I hope, any other elf in the Forest is crazy enough to think they can stop the fighting with the Nefari by themselves, or the other battles that are eating up our age. But something needs to stop, so we stop the smaller things, and K’Thir has been stuck in its own private little chilly war for too long now. It doesn’t matter who comes out on top, so long as someone does, so long as one side survives. De’lim wants something, the Circle wants something, and all the rest of us just want them to be done with it; they’re what’s really hurting the forest now. The two sides stare at each other. So when the rocks finally fly, whoever throws first needs to make it count. The first hit needs to be the last. And they were giving me a chance to throw that rock, and it might work.

Although I don’t remember that going through my head at the time. After they explained what they wanted, exactly, I turned to the man and said “When” and he told me -- “Three weeks from tonight” -- and I said “Where” and he told me -- “Upon the celebration of his return, at the colonnade in K’Thras.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so I said goodbye. Bel said goodbye, and then the man said goodbye, too.

And that was that. They left the grove, and left me to kill Menalaus.


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