Heroes in the Night

A JP by Tahjerius, LSP, and Rosmary

The doughty companions walked steadfast through the early spring night. Kalena took up the lead. Her tread was catlike, making not even the smallest sound. Though seasoned warriors and moving with long, graceful strides, V and Shel's steps were less measured and they did not perambulate with the complete silence of the former assassin who was extensively trained in the arts of stealth and concealment.

Kalena had greatly missed the action and adventure of her previous life in the Two Kingdoms; despite her poisoning it had been so invigorating chasing down that assassin through the city streets, over the rooftops, and shedding blood once more for a worthy cause. Finally she was doing what she did best and feeling useful again. That all said, she found she wasn't much enjoying this slipshod rescue mission that might have once so amused her. There was far more afoot in Gerda's abduction that they were gradually uncovering and she did not like blundering into something they knew so little about. It was dangerous and stupid. As was operating in a weakened state of health. Neither, however, could be avoided if Gerda's life was to be saved.

Not farther than thirty yards short of the warehouse, Kalena sighted a pair of patrolling sentries, their figures caught in the light from the windows that were casting shards of faint radiance across the open ground in front of the storage building. Indicating a spot behind a narrow stand of trees that provided cover from the guards, she crouched on a knee there, and motioned for the others to join her.

“What are they doing that they need to work all night for?” Shel wondered, seeing people moving about busily inside the illumined structure.

“They must be operating on a timetable of some sort,” Kalena said contemplatively, her elegant brow furrowed.

V let out an anxious breath. “If so, they're not the only ones. We'll end up blowing our cover when the Karvossian soldiers get here. That could be in five, maybe ten minutes tops.”

“Well we can't just charge in,” Shel warned in a whisper. “There may be a small army in there, too many even for us to handle.”

“I can take a quick shufti to see what we're up against,” Kalena volunteered, already starting to rise.

“No, we won't have time for that,” V said urgently. “Let's stick together and use the element of surprise while we still have it.”

Kalena nodded her head at his words and smiled gamely. “Then if we're to make our move, the first order of business is neutralising those guards outside without raising the alarm.”

V squinted into the night, his eyes still not recovered from earlier. “There are only two of them, right?”

“Three,” Shel corrected, her vision the sharpest in the group.

“Three then,” the bounty hunter amended. “One for each of us. We can take them down more or less simultaneously.”

“Sentry takedowns are one of my specialties,” Kalena said, casting a dubious look at her two companions. “It can be a bit tricky doing it quietly, preventing the person from making any noise...”

V lifted an eyebrow. “I'm no amateur, and don't forget who trained me...”

“Your father. Of course, I meant no offense...”

“No, it's alright. I understand being a little concerned about doing something like this with people you haven't worked with before,” V said, glancing at the sizable half-orc woman as he spoke.

“I'm not a lumbering oaf,” Shel said, clearly reading his thoughts. “My mother taught me to hunt game in the Sarnian wilds. Just because I'm big doesn't mean I can't move quietly.” She pointed to V’s boots, “It won’t be hard to move quieter than you, your soles are hard.” She pointed to her own bare feet. “I’ll make far less noise.”


Breaking away from Vistlend and Kalena, Shel stalked her target, moving slowly and stepping just when the man stepped. As he was looking out to a small line of trees, not forest but a set of windbreaks scattered around the warehouse, she made her move while he was distracted, creeping up behind him and quickly clamping her large green hand over his mouth. His eyes shot open wide ready to try and scream through the tight grasp, but then felt himself lifted off the ground. His assailant he soon realised was much larger, whose elbow crooked around his neck, the powerful bicep flexing and cutting off his airway. Kicking and flailing, his heels beat against Shel's thighs, and he slowly weakened, his moans and pleas growing more quiet and staggered until his head finally drooped.

Shel let out a sigh at the necessity of what she had just done, and dragged the man over to a bush, tossing him in after making sure it wasn’t a bramble patch.

At the same time as this occurred, Kalena was gliding easily through the shadows and closing on the rightmost sentry, using the sparse vegetation for cover. An old predatory power she had not felt in some time had risen inside her. Her breathing slowed, her every sense fully alert and fine-tuned to utmost sensitivity. Like a silent wraith, she appeared next to the guard and drove her open hand into the side of his head behind the man's ear. The sentry stumbled, groaning inaudibly as dizziness instantly overcame him. With calculated finesse, she directed another blow to a precise spot at his lower neck. The man's eyes rolled back and he crumpled unconscious to the dirt.

A short distance away, V's elven eyes focused on the third guard as best he could. His darkvision helped some, but he struggled somewhat in the colorless dim light. Even still, as his hands dug into tree bark and he began to scale upward, he felt at home; he could do this blind. Perching in the tree, he eyed the guard from up high, moving his feet quickly, holding his arms out to keep his balance. Casting a quick glance down to the guard, he figured he needed to move a bit further forward to get in good enough position. Just beyond him another branch stretched out, though even in the blacks and whites of his night vision V struggled to see it. He wouldn't complain.

Dipping forth, he leaped for the second branch, and this jump was child's play; he was used to leaping from branch to branch, for his life at times, as practical training had been a favorite of his father's. But he was also used to abusing his legendary Blacksparrow vision, spotting suitable branches with only moments to spare before he would ever touch them. But all of a sudden, V realised, flying through the air, that this cakewalk of a jump might be too much for him in his current condition.

"Grrgh!" V exclaimed through gritted teeth, his torso colliding with the branch, and through luck, a fair amount of sheer will, and the branches own hearty nature, he managed to wrap his arms around it and hold on.

Now dangling from the branch, V looked to his target, who had turned and begun searching for whatever had caused the noise.

"The hell was that?" the guard said, his hushed tone barely within earshot of the elf.

It had almost seemed like he had blown it, but then V remembered that the guard was human; in the dark lot he would not be able to see nearly as well. The man carried a torch, but even with the boon of the firelight he had not completely made out the hanging elf. This advantage would not last long. V began swaying on the branch, back and forth, slowly building momentum.

The guard squinted, the movement alerting him to the intruder's location, but the elf was ready now. One more swing back, and once he hit the apex of his next forward swing he let go. By the time the poor guard had noticed, there was over 200 pounds of swarthy elf coming straight at him. He would have shouted to his comrades, but the twin boots that crashed into his face and jaw pretty much shut him up. He teetered a bit, before gravity became too much for his reeling body and he gave way, suffering a second debilitating collision as his face crashed into the ground.

V landed into a roll, before stopping in a crouch. He stood and turned, seeing the ex-assassin and half-orc fighter approach.

Kalena frowned in plain disapproval of the noise that was made. “I heard a shout,” she said, looking between V and the downed guard. “Were you injured?”

"I slipped on the jump," V simply said, standing, a slight squint in his eyes as he gazed at the warehouse. "But I sorted him out."

“Barely,” Shel reproved. “And you were worried about me being the noisy one? Any louder and you might have brought every guard in this place down on us. Come on, we need to move him off the path.” She stuck a finger out at V, “Grab his legs, and maybe next time you do it clean, rather than trying to showboat. You nearly broke his neck along with your own.”

The elf proceeded to move the body, wordlessly. There was a silence in the air, but in short time it was done.

"Alright, let's get inside already," V spoke in an uncharacteristically serious and stern tone, making a solemn vow to himself to do better, even with his current disability.

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