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Contents Copyright by Bruce Durham unless noted otherwise
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The door exploded from its hinges, striking the dirt floor of the warehouse with a loud whump and throwing clouds of dust curling toward the lofty ceiling.

 

Two men entered, each clad in fine leather armor, embroidered cloaks and bronze helmets crested with tufts of horse hair. Still clutching a stout oak ram between them, their eyes scanned the dim interior, picking out a dozen figures frozen by the violent intrusion.

 

The men smiled grimly, and the log hit the ground, raising another flurry of dust. Stepping clear of the entrance, they threw back their black, silver trimmed cloaks, garments identifying their affiliation with the Palace Guard, and drew long, straight edged swords.

The taller of the two, a scarred and seasoned campaign veteran, shouted, “Stand to! In the name of King Hyrdin of Pyrra, you are arrested for treason.”

 

The dozen scruffy brigands and thieves remained transfixed, slack-jawed and wordless. A heavy-set man with an angry flap of skin in place of an ear stepped away from a makeshift table of stacked casks and snapped to the three henchmen standing with him, “I thought Sworly was guarding the door.”

 

“He was.”

 

The deep voice had boomed from beyond the warehouse walls, and moments later a tall figure strode through the gaping entrance, dragging an unconscious brigand by the collar of his tunic. The massive hand opened and the brigand hit the floor.

 

The newcomer was tall and thickly-muscled under a lamellar breastplate. Strapped to his back the hilt of a great two-handed sword reached over his bald head while a broadsword and knife adorned his belt. Crossing his arms he snarled, “You boys have trouble hearing? You are under arrest for treason.” His gaze shifted to a knot of men fingering their weapons. “Don’t even think about it.”

 

Missing Ear scowled. “If the charge is treason, then we are dead already.”

 

The newcomer pursed his lips. He glanced at the shorter of the two guards. “The man has a point, eh Raggs?”

 

The guard called Raggs stroked the chin of his pasty complexion, his face scarred from countless battles and pockmarked from some childhood illness. Drawing a finger along a scar he nodded; a barely imperceptible motion. “I say he does, Cade.”

Dark Assassin
Excerpt
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