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A Mysterious Note

Omen Tailamont

Stratics Veteran
The Hand of Treachery vomited.

It wasn't the first time in the past few hours. More than likely, it wouldn't be the last either. With as much strength as the wounded mage could muster, he slammed his shoulder against one of Empathy Abbey's many wooden doors. He prayed there was a bed within. As it gave way with a sharp creaking beneath his weight, Omen Tailamont nearly fell, barely keeping to his feet as he spilled into the room.

He vomited.

Blood and stomach fluid spilled onto the stone floor as he doubled over in pain and finally collapsed to his knees. He could feel the remainder of whatever vile poison he had been struck with coursing through his body. His entire being ached from head to toe and he could feel the warm liquid of his life's blood gushing out of the wound in his side, causing his fingers to stick together.

"****ing rangers," he cursed to himself with a pain-filled laugh. He paid very little attention to the sounds of the door opening once again behind him.

"M'lord..." The aging man was clad only in a light yellow robe. His voice was soft and, to someone else, probably soothing. To the Hand of Treachery, however, it was already incredibly irritating. "M'lord, you can't...," the man gulped "...be in here. This room is..."

Still on his knees and grimacing in pain, Omen snapped his head to the side: "Find me," he interrupted through clenched teeth, "a healer... before I snap your neck, old man!"

An empty threat to be sure. He was in no shape to snap so much as a twig at the moment, though, he hoped the sharp note of his tone would be enough to propel the monk to action. As he spoke the last of the words, his strength finally gave and he rolled onto his back. With effort, he pushed himself backwards, propping himself up against the wall.

He vomited.

As Omen's vision cleared, the monk in the doorway had been replaced by a slender young woman; easily no more than seventeen or eighteen summers in age. He swallowed hard and studied her.

"Who are you?" he finally managed.

The young girl's voice was soft, almost sweet and her eyes were glued to the floor in submission. "Are you one of the men who calls themselves The Hand?"

Omen laughed and coughed simultaneously. He spit something onto the floor next to him; more blood, perhaps? "If you knew anything about The Hand," he groaned. "You'd know that that was a very dangerous question."

Undeterred, the young woman answered almost immediately, "Apologies, m'lord. My mistress instructed me to give this letter to one of the Hand men." Her gaze never left the floor as she spoke.

"Whom do you serve?"

Again her answer was immediate, however, he could sense a certain amount of reluctance in her voice. It was as if saying the name aloud, perhaps for the first time, somehow made something real for the young woman. "I serve Ms. Blackwell, m'lord."

The Hand of Treachery searched his recollection. So many people had come and gone over the years, he couldn't be sure, however, he was reasonably certain he did not know the name. "I've never heard of her," he answered at last. The young woman looked towards him slightly, perhaps out of reflex, but, quickly caught herself and returned her eyes to the floor. The look of confusion that had been evident on her face, however, had told the mage what he needed to know. He quickly motioned for her to approach. "Give me the letter."

She stepped lightly towards him, approaching cautiously- as one would a poisonous snake or a wild animal. Delicate, yet tentative fingers held out a small piece of parchment unceremoniously folded into a square.

No wax. No sigil. Either this Blackwell person wasn't certain her messenger would complete her task alive and wanted as little trace as possible in the event of her death, or there was no sigil because she had none and was not highborn. Interesting either way, but, thoughts for another time...

The Hand of Treachery snatched it from her before slumping back against the wall once again. There was a long moment of silence in the room before he noticed the young woman was still standing there. "Go," he snapped.

"M'lord," she whispered softly, "my instructions were to wait here while you read the note..."

Even more irritated, he unfolded it and read silently.

To the Hand,

I have heard of your interest in Yew as well as it's Governor. I can be found at the Horse's Head in Jhelom to discuss matters. Consider the girl a gift to do with as you please. I do not need her returned.


Omen Tailamont refolded the note and considered the words it contained. He had no idea who this person was or what exactly they wanted. In his experience, however, very few people did anything altruistically. There was always a catch.

"You belong to me now," Omen informed the young girl. He watched as her shoulders sagged slightly at the news. Had her life just become better... or worse, he wondered. "Return to Jhelom and tell your former mistress that I will be in contact with her shortly to arrange a meeting." The young girl nodded. "Once you have returned, I will send a carrier pigeon for you with further instructions. Understood?"

"Yes, m'lord," was the curt reply. With that, the young woman departed the Abbey.

Still crumpled against the cold stone wall, Omen placed his head in his hands. Where were the damned healers?
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