Time went by slowly and soon the sun sank down and the streets turned dark. Glow lamps maintained by the city officials were powered up with magic stones by several men wearing long wooden stilts. They strolled along the streets from lamp to lamp and inserted the magic stones into crystal like orbs while children ran and played between their stilts.
The pale glow of the glow lamps and the long stilts made the lamplighters look like some kind of deformed monster from where Tyrier sat, hidden in the shadows of a building arch. He had his team rotate duties on keeping an eye on the alleyway, making sure to observing anyone suspicious hanging around.
He forced himself to eat despite not feeling hungry as he knew he will need the strength later. Soon the skies turned to darkness and the inadequate lighting from the glow lamps barely lit the entrance of the dark alleyway.
He forced himself to be patient and continued to wait until he heard the chatter of hooves. Checking his wristwatch, he found the time to be 11:34 PM local time.
"Three to all, we got an incoming carriage approaching. Should be our own."
"One, roger. All teams stay sharp!" Tyrier whispered into the squad channel and gestured Wolf and Tavel who readied themselves.
The single land dragon pulling the carriage snorted and growled as the driver yanked its reins, pausing the carriage just before the alleyway. The door facing the alleyway opened and a cloaked figure stepped out and the driver hit the land dragon with a whip making it hiss and the carriage rocked forward leaving behind the hooded figure.
The figure made a slow turn and observed his surroundings before he disappeared into the dimly lit alleyway. "Claymore One, this is Origin, I'm in the AO now."
Trism heard a double burst of static from his hidden earpiece and he nodded to him as he walked alone into the dark alleyway and stopped right next to an upturned crate that had an empty bottle innocently placed in a certain angle.
He glanced back and down the alleyway which both sides were brick and mortar walls, only about 50 paces in length and seeing no one in the alleyway, he waited. Soon, the city's bell toiled, signaling midnight and he frowned before he whispered in the squad channel and asked. "Origin to Claymore One, any sight of our tango?"
"One to Origin, negative."
"Two to Origin, negative."
"Three to Origin, negative."
Trism paced on the spot and thought to himself that could it be a bust? He decided to wait for another while more just in case, if not, he will recall everyone and call off the mission. Suddenly he heard a scrape of a boot and he spun around in surprise and saw a filthy looking beggar standing behind him.
"You the client?" The beggar asked in a serious tone.
Trism nodded and he pretended to adjust his collar while keying his throat mike. "Yes, I am the client."
"Good come, follow me," The beggar gestured Trism and he walked off to the opposite end from which Trism had entered the alleyway.
Trism followed the beggar and tried to engage him in conversation but was met with silence. He gave up and followed beggar in silence. After a few twists and turns, the beggar suddenly stopped and took out a black hood. "Wear it."
Trism acting as the role of a noble, frowned and hissed in displeasure, "You want me to wear such a filthy item? There are fleas and is that blood?"
"Put it on, or there will be no deal," The beggar gave a cannot be bothered shrug.
Trism sighed dramatically and flapped the hood a few times to get rid of whatever creepy crawlies that inhabited the hood before slipping it on. Instantly, his world turned to darkness and even the night sounds of the city vanished.
He panicked as his senses were cut off and he quickly pulled the hood off and gasped in genuine fear. He glared at the smiling beggar and pointed a shaky finger at him and cursed, "You dirty low born! How dare you!"
The beggar gave a grin and said, "Oh, I am sorry. I forgot to tell you this hood is enchanted. All sounds and sight will be blocked off when the person wears it."
"You!" Trism covered his surprise with feigned anger and was about to throw the hood away when the beggar stopped him.
"Wear it or the deal is off, Also do not remove it again or the deal is off," The beggar repeated his earlier words. "Don't worry, someone will lead you to see the meeting."
"You better not be tricking me!" Trism warned and said. "Or I will find you and you will not like it when I do."
"Ha," The beggar gave an unbothered laugh. "You are not the first nor will be the last to say that."
"Hmph!" Trism straightened his cloak and slipped the hood onto his head and wondered if he could still hear the radio. "Lead the way."
As his sight and hearing were blocked off, he took heart to the fact that the elite team of Claymore One soldiers was on his back. Suddenly he felt someone binding his arms together with a rough piece of rope and the hood was tightened around his neck.
He panicked slightly as he did not expect the constant reports on the squad channel to be cut off too and getting tied up. He felt hands all over his body as someone searched him for weapons. His long dagger was taken away and even the hidden boot knife.
Once the person was satisfied, Trism felt his bound hands being jerked forward and he could only bite the bullet and soldier on.
The person led him through another series of twists and turns and he could only blindly and deafly stumble along and with two of his senses blocked, it was hard to gauge time and direction.
Finally, the person leading him stopped pulling the rope and he also paused in his steps. The hood covering his head was suddenly yanked away and he flinched in the sudden brightness and sounds of his new surroundings.
As he was recovering from his ordeal, someone removed the bindings on his hands and he quickly rubbed his eyes.
"Sit." A muffled voice spoke and Trism's eyes had recovered enough to spot the shape of a chair before him. His eyes finally adjusted to the light and he saw a clearly masked figure before him, silhouetted behind a glow lamp that hid his features from Trism.
Trism slowly sat down and at the same time, he tried to observe his surroundings, finding himself in some sort of room, with rough wooden paneling for the walls. He cleared his throat and put on his best act, "Such treatment to nobles! This is outrageous!"
The figure did not seem offended and only said, "My apologies, young lord, this is all to protect ourselves and yourself."
"How do you call this rough treatment as protection?" Trism slapped the table and crossed his legs. "I demand some form of compensation!"
The figure appeared unfazed and instead continued as if nothing has happened, "What is the nature of your manner which requires the services of the Stalkers?"
Trism frowned, "Hmph! My cousin was almost killed by your people! I demand you to cease the contract on my cousin and give me the names of those who put such a contract on her life!"
The figure leaned back on the chair and said, "We pride ourselves to be professionals and we will never fail a contract. Should we fail the contract, we will refund every coin back. And of course, we will never delve any information on our clients nor the details of the contract to others."
"I don't care!" Trism continued his act by slapping the table. "You better tell me who wants my cousin dead!"
"Pray tell, who is your cousin?" The masked figure asked.
"Of course its Lady Titanna of House Rothschild!" Trism replied in a smug voice. "The future Lord and Master of the city of Norshelm!"
"Hmmm," The masked figure seemed to be contemplatingTrism's words. "And what is your name?"
"Me?" Trism puffed up his chest and replied. "I am Trism Von Kilmer!"
"Trism Von Kilmer?" The figure paused for a while. "And you hail from the City of Euthax?"
"What Euthax?" Trism snorted and said. "I from the Capital!"
"Ahh, my mistake," The figure seemed to nod. "You say there was a contract on your cousin, Lady Titanna?"
"Yes!" Trism nodded, feeling that he had passed a small test from the person. He and Titanna had worked out an identity beforehand with him posing as a cousin from the Capital. "Just the night before!"
"And what happened to Lady Titanna?" The figure asked. "And... the killer?"
Trism glanced around fugitively and gestured the masked figure closer while cupping one hand next to his mouth. The figure leaned forward to listen and Trism used one hand to pull the figure's shoulder closer and whispered into his ear.
He had palmed a tiny tracker about the size of a large bean and lightly stuck the tracker's super adhesive surface against the figure's clothing as he whispered in secrecy to his ear. "She's alive, but very badly wounded. As for the killer, she's dead. Killed by the guards!"
The masked figure gave a sharp intake of breath as he leaned back, giving Trism a chance to observe his features. The mask he wore was made out of pure black metal that was molded into a face shape with silver swirling patterns covering its entire surface. The masked Stalker wore a long sleeve black leather coat and even his hands were in black gloves and his body size was like a head taller and larger than Trism.
"Before the killer's death, she announced she was from the Stalkers!" Trism slapped the table again. "Now I want to know who ordered my cousin's death and cancel the contract! Money is not a problem!"
The masked figure sat there and kept quiet for a while before he rapped the table once. "We have no idea of such a contract."
"Do not lie!" Trism stood up and slapped the table again. "Offend my family and I will bring the wrath of the Emperor down on you!"
"I tell you what," The figure seemed to back down. "I will speak with my associates about this issue and give you an appropriate reply within three days!"
"THREE DAYS?" Trism banged the table again. "I give you one day!"
"Do not push your luck, boy!" The masked figure stood up, his bulk casting a shadow over Trism as a killing aura radiated out. "Three days and you shall have your answer!"
"D-done!" Trism did not need to feign his fear as the bloodlust from the Stalker was strong enough to make his knees quake. "I- I will expect to hear from you in three days' time!"
"Lead our guest out!" The figure said to someone and the hood was thrown over his head before his hands got tied up again.
Trism blindly followed the person out and after a while, the hood was suddenly removed and as he reorientated his surroundings, he found himself back at the same alleyway alone. On the upturned stack of crates were his weapons and he used them to cut the bindings off his hands.
He quickly left the dark alley and hit the send on his throat mike. "Claymore One, Origin, what is your status, over?"
"Three, Origin, we have you in sight. Marines escort on their way to you in five mikes."
"Origin, what about the tracker? Is it working?" Trism anxiously asked. When he was training in spycraft in Haven, the hoomans had demonstrated the usefulness of such a magic device and he was wowed over.
"One, Origin, signal strength five by five and the fish has taken the bait."