Desperation and Vengence

The last time we saw our fantastically, follically blessed heroes, The Enchantress has enchanted the Witch Doctor and used him to resurrect an undead army of elite dwarven warriors. The Wizard, Captain Crimson, Dr. Wolf, and the Marksman are finally reunited with the Scribe, the Inventor, the Hero, the Barkeep, and the Distiller. The Wizard engages in direct combat with the Enchantress, drawing her attention away from the rest of the heroes. Despite this, the heroes are wearing thin against the endless onslaught of undead dwarves. Captain Crimson, comprehending the fellowship’s disadvantage and the consequences of failure, directs the Marksman to climb the tower and signal the Mystic Wave to fire on the tower in an attempt to collapse the tower and the roof of the throne room. The Marksman takes off on the desperate maneuver, but the eyes of a Predator are upon him…


……………………………………………………………………………………………


The Marksman turns to face the horde. He shoulders his crossbow and fires two rounds into the crowd. The first round explodes, knocking down the undead dwarves and sending shrapnel and gore everywhere, clearing a hole to proceed. The second round trails smoke, then explodes leaving a dim haze in the newly cleared path. The Marksman, racks the handle of his crossbow, loading two more bolts onto the ramp. He then dashes through the fray, smoke signal tucked away in his vest, crossbow shouldered, and seax in his offhand, tearing like a typhoon through the horde. One dwarf catches an arrow to the shoulder, another an arrow to the face. The Marksman cycles between firing and loading, with intermittent periods of blade play, making his way through the fight. The Marksman continues this violent sprint towards the staircase but runs into a body like a tree stump. The Marksman stands up and straps the crossbow to his back, drawing his quillion dagger, finding himself square with a squat dwarf wielding a monstrous hammer. With a hollow grunt, the dwarf swings his hammer in a mighty arc over his body. 


When the hammer reaches it arc, the dwarf utters an ancient groan, bringing the hammer crashing into the space the Marksman used to inhabit. The Marksman, however, has quickly relocated sideways, feeling the the wind rush off the hammer. The Marksman rushes the dwarf, driving the quillion dagger into the knee swinging around onto the dwarf’s back, driving the seax repeatedly into it. The dwarf crashes to the ground and the Marksman recovers his blade.


The Marksman continues, slashing his way through the crowd. The Marksman finally reaches the stairway and begins climbing when suddenly…


*BOOM*


The stairs and railing shudder and begin to detach from the walls of the tower. The Marksman grabs onto the railing, searching for a place to bail off the crumbling staircase. He catches a glimpse of the Predator holding a bow, no doubt from where the explosion originated.


The Marksman leaps, grabbing onto a piece of wood and pulls himself back up into the tower and begins to start climbing the wooden supports. The Predator silently curses as he watches the Marksman climb out of sight, loading a grappling arrow into the bow taking up pursuit.


The Marksman meanwhile is climbing like mad up the tower braces. He has sheathed the quillion dagger and is keeping his seax knife in his off-hand as he climbs. There’s the sound of an arrow cutting through the air and the Marksman quickly swings his seax knife in response. 


*CLINK*


The Marksman’s seax knife deflects the arrow, turning to see the master assassin, balancing on the wooden bracing with bow in hand, eyes glaring at the prey that got away. The Marksman turns and and continues to climb. The twang of the bow resounds again, signaling The Marksman to again parry with his seax knife. This time the Marksman’s blade misses the arrow and it travels by, grazing his leg. The Marksman feels an intense burning in his calf where the arrow sliced through his breeches. He grimaces, but continues to urgently push up the tower’s braces, away from the advancing assassin. 


The Marksman finally reaches the top of the tower and looks around. The top of the tower opens up into a large platform with a giant mirror positioned above the stairwell. It is held up by an ornamental cord on and series of pulleys connected to a crank. This allowed the dwarves to adjust the mirror to shine the sunlight into the throne room. The sun was falling in the sky but the silhouette of a mighty ship slips across the waters. The Marksman reaches into his vest to pull out the smoke signaler from his vest but before he can light it, the an arrow flies past, striking the signal, causing it to fly out of his hand and hit the floor. 


The Marksman turns and sees the Predator standing with his bow, glaring at him. The Predator then throws down the bow, drawing his dual karambits. The Marksman draws his quillion dagger and the seax knife. The master assassin strikes hard and fast, swinging his karambits like a cat batting at its prey. The Marksman defends quickly, intercepting each strike with his blades, finding a small window in the master assassin’s series of strikes and delivers a quick jab with the quillion dagger, piercing the Predator’s robes just above his right hip. The Predator staggers back holding the wound. The assassin raises his blood covered head to eye-level, then glares at the Marksman, continuing his assault with renewed vigor. 


The Predator’s veracity catches the Marksman off guard briefly, driving him to a knee. The assassin stands over the Marksman, reigning down repeated blows upon him until he forces the quillion dagger from the Markman’s hands. The dagger skittering across the floor and over the edge, falling into the stairwell. The Marksman, acting quickly, launches himself upward, driving the crown of his head into the Predator’s face. The assassin’s mask, already cracked from the previous encounter, breaks, half of the mask crashing to the ground.


The Predator, stunned, swings the karambit at the Marksman but the Marksman sees it coming, delivering a spinning kick to the assassin’s hand, and knocking the karambit free. The blade flies out off the platform. The Predator, enraged that this engagement with the Marksman continues to persist and bleeding profusely from his wound, wildly charges the Marksman. The unexpected move catches the Marksman by surprise, the assassin wrapping the Marksman up into a tackle and slamming him into a support beam. A cry escapes the Marksman’s mouth as a cracking sound explodes from his side, his the seax knife falling from his grasp. The seax is kicked in the scuffle and slides to the far side of the platform, away from both the Marksman and the Predator.


The Predator, seeing the Marksman is unarmed and injured, begins to stalk toward him spinning his remaining karambit in hand. He takes a few swings but despite the cracked ribs, the Marksman is still nimble, dodging the strikes. A wild slice misses the Markman’s head as the Marksman rolls, but the Predator’s blade does catch the ornamental cord holding the mirror up. The cord frays but holds together by a few strong threads. 


The Marksman’s roll aggravates his injury, leaving him gasping for breath on the ground. The Predator stands over him once again, but this time the Marksman is unarmed. A swift slice with his karambit will end this hunt, once and for all. The Marksman rolls over and looks into the Predator’s eyes seeing satisfaction… and complacency. The Marksman takes a deep breath and focuses, firing an electrical blast from his palm. The tendrils of electricity slam into the master assassin throwing him backwards. The Predator gets up shaking off the magical attack, proceeding forward. 


“I see you’ve learned some of our deepest secrets, your father would be proud,” spits the Predator.


“I want to see your face,” mutters the Marksman, sitting back against the railing of the tower, fists clenched.


“What,” replies the Predator, unsure of what the Marksman said.


“Let. Me. See. Your. Face,” growls the Marksman.


“Sure, you won’t live to see anything else,” says the master assassin, removing what is left of his mask, “but why would you want your last sight to be my face?”

The Marksman coughs, grimacing as pain racks his body. He whispers, “I want to see your face as I avenge my father.”


The master assassin realizes there’s something he doesn’t know as the Marksman opens his hand releasing was plume of flame. The Predator blindly steps backwards away from the flame, stepping over the edge of the stairwell. 


The Predator is able to catch the edge, holding himself above the massive drop.


*SNAP*


The ornamental cord, after being sliced and now singed from the flame, fails under the weight of the massive mirror. The mirror falls and smashes against the edge of the stairwell, breaking the assassins grip on the ledge…


The Marksman limps to the ledge and watches as the Predator and the mirror fragments plummet to the throne room below...

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