A flash of lighting illuminated the night sky and the city of Americh. The thunderstorm was one of largest in the past decade, and heralded the coming of winter. Over a quarter of a million people lived here in one of the largest cultural melting pots on Gaia, and most of them had come here because they were running from something, or to profit at the expense of others.
For once Orn was in a foul mood. They had been travelling for 7 days straight and it had been raining for the last 4. They had been forced to take shelter earlier in the day, and now it was close to midnight. It wasn’t the cold that was to blame for his mood. Orn actually considered it the one positive thing about the whole ordeal. It was the continuous rain and the deafening cracks of thunder – it made it hard to speak to the others, and worse, it made everyone seem tense and uncheerful. He tightened his armor to prevent more water from soaking his clothes – a useless gesture. Orn let out a small sigh. They would reach the city in an hour or so, and then he would be heading for the nearest Tavern. Analise had told him that she knew the best Taverns in town, and right now he absolutely had no reason or wish to doubt her.
Analise knew that the best Taverns in town where located in The High Area – away from all the lowlifes and filth that lived in the other parts of town – and that they where expensive, very expensive. The rain was getting on her nerves, and arriving in Americh after dark, followed by thunder and rain loud enough to drown out your cries for help, and your eventual dying screams, didn’t exactly have a calming effect. It seemed like an appropriate welcome-home party. Pulling up her collar to shelter from the hard rain, she reassured herself that her friends would at least be able to defend themselves – and her – if thing should take a turn for the worse. She caught herself imagining what would happen if they were mugged by one of the street gangs. She smiled. It would be a short and bloody fight, unless they managed to escape fast. Yi Ling would probably try to stop her and Orn from chasing after the left-overs and dealing out a bit of wrong-party-to-mug justice. Yi Ling would most like succeed. Funny thing how she always seemed to come out on top of any discussion. She gave Yi Ling a sidelong glance. A burst of lightning flashed behind the small Shivaneese woman and lighted up her silhouette. Analise shook her head and kept walking.
Over a year of searching and she still felt like she was getting nowhere. Yi Ling took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. The rain wasn’t bothering her, but she felt tired and cold. Just focus and carry yourself with dignity and honor and the world would balance everything out, she told herself. Americh was not a place she would enjoy. So much poverty, selfishness and depravity in one place was not natural – a place born of fear and greed. It would be a perfect place for her quarry to hide himself. But she would find him, bring him to justice and restore the honor of the monastery and her own pride. Orn and Analise had proven to be good companions. Orn was a worthy fighter, a bit loud and uncivilized, but she had never seen anyone taken so many deliberate hits in battle and still laugh after all foes lay dead or maimed at his feet, claiming it was a good and enjoyable fight. And Analise always seems to be somewhere unexpected. She was a good kid, but lacked balance and patience. There were no doubt that she possessed great power, but she was wild and unfocused. In an odd way this appealed to Yi Ling's heart. The poor girl had lived a life where death, betrayal and pure survival was the agenda of the day. The last of her friends, the dark skinned Estegian was a completely different matter. She had bought him from a slave trader out of pity, and had given him his freedom. Now he travelled with her trying to figure out how to live as a free man. Yi Ling suspected that he felt he owed her a debt, and she had tried to explain several times that she wanted nothing for her kindness, but it seemed like he didn’t understand the concept of freedom.
He understood freedom. It was right here. Walking in pouring rain besides three other people that perceived him as equal. No, he understood freedom, but old habits die hard, and he did feel indebted to her no matter how many times she tried to explain it to him. But then again, he hadn’t tried to explain why he would like follow to her for a long long time. Where would he go otherwise? He knew how to fight and to serve, but being paid to serve and kill didn’t appeal to him. So for now he was content to follow and explore the world, knowing that he could go anywhere he pleased. Besides he liked Orn the Giant for his way of laughing at the world and seeing humor in the face of death. He enjoyed the company of Analise, She didn’t much require conversation, and she seemed comforted by that fact that someone she could trust was watching her back. Yi Ling was different. She had an air of composure, calm and purpose about her. Sometimes he felt that if the end of the world where upon them, she would remain calm. So, he would walk in rain and thunder enjoy a freedom he could not explain.
A lone shadow stood atop of a building watching the four walk into the city. The figure gave a satisfied nod, took a running jump across the rooftop to the building on the other side of the street and landed with the grace of a cat. A full 60 feet. So they had finally come. The Master would have to be told, and fast. Yes very fast indeed. The figure sat off with inhuman speed across the rooftops, jumping from one to the other – never faltering, never missing a step. The figure already knew the order that would be given: Capture the Ever-born, kill the other three.