“Say another word. Literally, one more word. Please. I am asking you to give me an excuse.” The large man stood in front of two other Dottari, his form draped in black chainmail and menace. The heavy shield over his back bore the crest of Cheliax – the large red circle, quartered by a cross. His gloved hand gripped and uncurled on the heavy mace at his side, and he glared at the students before him with a sadistic glee. Flanking him on either side stood two more Dottari, short swords at the ready, waiting on a signal as the large man spoke. “The charges against each of you are as follows. One, violation of his regency Barzellei Thrunes curfew, which exists for your safety. Two, possession of the writings of the poison pen and Aldo Mondragon. And third – public demonstration of support for treason.” In front of the men, a half-elf student of the academy stood his ground. He spoke in a shaking voice, his hand grasping the hand of the human girl beside him – the rest having fled at the sound of the Dottari’s approach. “Sir. I can pay the fine for the curfew, even the fine for the papers….but I’m not supporting treason. This has to be a misunderstand-” A backhand cut the words out of his mouth. The commander spoke again. “You were sighted near the Long Roads, and you were heard announcing support for Aldo Mondragon. Your friend was seen helping to pass out writings by known dissidents. That shows support. And we need to protect our city from scum like you that want to see Kintargo burn. We are, and will remain, a bastion of law and order under Barzellei Thrune. And I will show you what happens when you mock the law that protects you.” His hand curled around his mace as he grinned.

Five Minutes Prior -

Corthos had stuck to the rooftops, moving in relative ease in the night. The dark brown of his robes blended easily, and he had been wandering the city all evening to try and trace Dottari guard routes and habits. He raised the mask only briefly, sipping at a small flask that he had kept on him before lowering it again. Beneath him, he watched a Dottari patrol move slowly through the street. They turned leftwards, picking up speed. Corthos grinned. He knew the likely location thanks to watching it two hours prior – the Alabaster Academy. Likely just looking to pick up some coin from the people stuck out after curfew. He lifted his riot bag and his cane, smirking. He had replaced Aldo’s canesword with something a bit more practical now – a dark cherry wood and iron cane that ended in a Raven’s head, the beaked handle sharpened enough to fight with. He hefted it and took off at a run, leaping from rooftop to rooftop with ease. Rarely, he glanced down to make sure his assumptions were correct – so far, he had been dead on. He made one last leap, arms outstretched, rolling to a halt as he heard the Dottari yell. He stood still and watched as the crowd scattered, leaving only two students against the three Dottari. When the drew their blades, he made his decision. Reaching into the riot bag, he pulled out a small bag, and he waited.

Current time -

As he grasped his mace and began to unhook it, the two men flanking the captain stopped. Something had come careening in between them, hitting directly in the middle of the Cheliax crest of his shield before landing between the group. It laid between the three, sputtering, a small flame burning on it. One of them reached down to toss it aside. As he stood back up, the fuse burnt out in his hand, and the firework made a small pop. He grinned at it, almost laughing. A moment later, the firework shrieked into life, emitting a deafening whistle in his hands that caused him to drop it, grabbing at his ears. The other two also fell back away from the item, confused and yelling. Above them came a blur of motion, the blunt edge of a came cracking into the neck of one of the Dottari and knocking him to the ground with a thud. A moment later, the alley was silent as something landed atop the source with a heavy crunch. A hooded figure stood between the men, dust billowing up around him as he landed on the firework. He spoke in a low voice, quiet but focused. “Gentlemen.” The Dottari moved quickly, turning their attention to the new foe. As the first guard swung his blade, the man stepped casually to the side. He raised a cane between them, blocking the blow easily. The captain swung his mace, and the man ducked beneath it with a graceful flourish, popping back up a moment later to slam the head of his cane into the bridge of the first guards nose. The Dottari reached up, wiping away blood from the now-broken cartilage. In a rage, he swung again. Again, the cane was brought up expertly against it. A swing of the cane was ducked by the guard, and when the captains mace approached, the figure rolled under it.

Corthos popped to his feet behind the captain, readying himself as the guard came back at him. This time, he was prepared. As the guard came within reach, Corthos swung the cane in a low arc – the beak of the head hooking just above the man’s greaves and knocking him off his feet. A quick downward swing left him on the ground as well, as Corthos found himself staring across at the Dottari captain. He smiled under the mask, extending a hand and making a small gesture to provoke the man to him. The captain readily obliged, crossing forward with a looping swing of his mace. Corthos ducked under, his return swing bouncing off of the captains armor. The man grinned, swinging downwards again, his mace catching only robe as Corthos continued to move. A second swing by Corthos was countered by the captains gauntlet, and he swung his mace in a tight arc directly into Corthos’ chest, feeling the solid impact. The man in the mask stood tall and still, not moving even as the captain slowly retracted his mace. There was a look of growing concern on the captains face as he glanced at his mace and then back at his foe, who seemed no worse for the wear. “What in the nine hells….”

Inside the mask, Corthos winced, struggling to drow breath even as he stayed placid. The voice came out again, low and calm. “I am the wrath of the oppressed. I am the embodiment of your sins made form, here to take penance. I am a reckoning unto you. I. Am. La’reth. And I walk among you. So go – flee now, and know that the eyes of fate and of history are watching. La’reth hears the outcry of a people oppressed.” The captain stepped back, eyes wide, still glancing down at his mace. Corthos tapped his cane twice, turning the head to reveal a sharp blade. “Go now, or take your own risks.” The man glanced back down, then backed away, turning to flee the street. The students watched closely from where they had taken up hiding, and the man stepped forward, beginning to offer a thank you. Instead, he was met with a cloud of smoke as Corthos snapped one of the smokesticks, turning and arcing his grapple back onto the rooftoop. He moved fast, climbing with the smoke and pulling the rope after him once he was atop the roof, laying still. He removed the mask and rolled onto his back with a gasping breath.

He held his ribs, trying to make a mental count and be certain that the mace had not helped add more pieces. He laid there for a long time, even after the students had gone home and the Dottari woke slowly beneath him, laying there as the captain brought back others to search the area. It was only after they had started to find ways to the rooftops that he had moved, and he had taken an erratic route to avoid being tracked.


Hell's Rebels novemberdarling