Compulsion

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The wind hissed out of the northwest, carrying with it hints of ice and sand.  It snapped and snarled through low, stunted trees and drifting dunes and chased harried gray clouds through a turbulent sky overhead.  And it insistently pulled at the cloak and clothing of any travelers unlucky to be caught out in it, as the season turned and harvest became winter.

Yet, for one traveler, it carried more than ice and sand.  It carried doom.

With his cloak held tightly around his lean elvish form, Kolangelo Kriss leaned into the wind, letting it dart into the spaces beneath his hood and roughly caress his face.  Yet it didn't bite as deeply as the omega mark on the back of his left hand.  It was his leash, his master, burned into his flesh by a vengeful and dangerous magic user.

Without that mark, he would've been leagues away, as far away from the dangerous and unpredictable reaches of the west.  Yet, the wise have said courage is found in unlikely places.  And for Kol Kriss, it was found in a mage's mark.

He glanced around the corner and grimaced at seeing the two human guards slowly walk towards his hiding place, their cloaks whipping about their bodies in the wind. 'Well, isn't this a monumentally bad idea!'  He darkly mused.  Only to feel the burn of the mark on the back of his hand sear deep along his arm in response to his unspoken thoughts, reaching into his body to squeeze his heart.  'Alright, alright!  I get it.  You want it done.  So it gets done.'  Mages and their long reach; how he hated them!

A gloved hand took hold of the leather wrapped hilt of the bastard sword that jutted over his right shoulder as he gathered himself.  Then, with a shout, he leapt out from behind the corner, drawing his blade in one smooth motion.

The first guard barely had time enough to regrip his spear before a hard cut opened him up from collarbone to navel, slashing down across his torso.  Then Kol was ducking the second guard's weapon, the honed point whispering as it scraped along the side of his hood.

A quick backhanded slash chopped that spear in half, momentarily removing the threat.  Then he was forced to use his return swing to block a hard stab at the center of his chest.

Having dropped the truncated haft of his weapon, the guard slowly circled, a serviceable sword held at the ready even as his cloak continued to snap and crack around his body.  His eyes, however, never left Kol.

For his part, the elf returned the favor, watching the slightly heavier human for any signs that would telegraph his intent.  There!  A twitch of the man's shoulders.  Instinctively Kol moved to counter, his training taking over.  The man's thrust was turned aside, his following overhand cut blocked then the elf was spinning on the ball of his left foot to deliver a hard, angled cut across the man's body.  And, much like the opening cut that took out the first guard, this attack saw equal success, slicing through the man's chest and twisting him to the side before he dropped to the sandy ground.

Stepping in close, Kol swiftly hammered his sword point down through the man's sternum, piercing his heart.  He couldn't afford the man, wounded but alive, raising the alarm behind him.  A similar blow to the first guard ensured he too was dead.  A quick wipe of his blade on the first guard's cloak then he was sheathing his sword and moving forward, his green eyes keen as a hawk's as he tried to pierce the shifting clouds of dust and frozen rain that swirled along the street.

As many western ports were, Tagne's Reach was built on the slope of plain to shore.  Along the plain, tall, thick walls protected the free port from overland attack.  Cutback streets then wound their way down the hillside to the water where a breakwater was erected, the sea end of which had a fortress built upon it to protect from a seagoing assault.

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