I'm going to post this again for anyone who didn't continue to follow along in Chapter 3 after the "official" close of the poll. Sagarys couldn't help himself. He had to get his swords dirty too!
Sagarys, The Warrior-Scribe
Dark clouds began to gather overhead as the battle for Nikapolis commenced. The unreasonably rugged and handsome scribe, Sagarys, sat atop the roof of a tall building, affording himself a wide view of the hostilities playing out below. With parchment and quill he scribbled furiously, cataloguing the events as they took place in brilliant detail. He winced as a murder of crows fluttered from a nearby belfry, startled as single gunshot rang out, heralding the Iron Solari’s arrival on the battlefield.
“Never one for subtlety,” he quipped to himself as the Grand Marshall lowered his pistol. “Makes for a better story I suppose.”
Sagarys continued his vigil for some time, watching intently as the Grand Marshall conversed with the captain of the White Knights, and then again with the dark lord, Morello himself. Sagarys’ pen darted from left to right then back again as he went about his work like a man possessed. But it was this intense focus, this passion for his craft, that caused him to miss the sound of the soft footfalls creeping up from behind.
At least that is what he wanted his approaching attackers to believe.
He continued to feign his obsessive authoring as the men drew nearer, not wanting to alarm them until the last possible moment. There were three of them, he deduced from the rhythm of their gaits. He knew who they were. And he knew why they had come, though he was a bit surprised that they had found him in such a secluded spot. Nevertheless, a wry grin crossed his scruffy, leathery countenance as he considered the events that would likely transpire over the course of the next few moments. And so, anxiously, he waited. He waited until the nearest of them loomed just behind him. He waited until he could hear the cold wind whistling as it split around the edge of the man’s dagger. And that is when Sagarys made his move.
Inconspicuously, he reached down, making it look as though he was going to dip his quill into the small inkwell at his side. But instead, he grabbed that inkwell and threw his arm up and back, casting the ink into the eyes of the man that stood behind him. As he did this, he rolled back and kicked out with both feet, striking the man squarely in the sternum, blasting the wind from his lungs. The man stumbled back gasping as Sagarys rolled to his feet then spun on his heels to face the three men that were now spreading out to surround him.
“To what do I owe the pleasure, gentlemen?” Sagarys laughed as he drew forth the twin longswords that were sheathed at his hips.
The man Sagarys had struck caught his breath as he wiped the ink from his eyes.
“You know as well as any that the dark lord does not tolerate traitors,” the man stated bluntly. “He sent us to see to it that you are punished accordingly.”
At that, the three men – Morello’s assassins – lifted their weapons and brandished them toward Sagarys.
“Well then, by all means, proceed,” Sagarys replied as the wind blew his long blond locks across his face. “Who am I to stand in the way of the dark lord’s will?”
Smiling wide, Sagarys twirled his swords a few times before leveling them defensively before him, their blades humming eagerly as they cut the air.
After several moments of uncomfortable silence, the assassin to his left made the first move, lunging forward, a wickedly sharp rapier leading the way. Sagarys reacted with a speed so violent that the sheer surprise of it threw his attacker off balance. As the man’s rapier came in, diving toward Sagarys’ belly, the scribe turned and brought both of his weapons down and across. They struck the assassin’s rapier one after the other in rapid succession, deflecting the attack low and wide. Seeing that his opponent’s balance was compromised, Sagarys stepped in toward the man and followed through behind his parry with a heavy elbow that struck the man hard in the jaw, cracking bone and tearing ligaments. Dazed by the blow, the assassin stumbled past Sagarys. The injured man tried desperately to recover, but before he could, he felt a boot plant itself firmly on his buttocks. A moment later, he felt air rushing by him very quickly. And a moment after that, if only for just an instant, he felt the cobblestone street far below the rooftop as he slammed into it. Then he felt nothing at all.
With a flourish, Sagarys spun back toward the remaining two men who had yet to move in for an attack – and who were now much more hesitant to after witnessing that display of the scribe’s combat prowess.
“Oh, I can feel the justice! Can’t you?” Sagarys asked with a mock seriousness in his voice. “The wrath of the dark lord certainly is swift.”
The two men exchanged hesitant glances as if they were silently trying to decide which of them would try their luck next.
“Here. I’ll make the decision easy for you,” Sagarys said, breaking the silence. Then he dashed forward, sprang out, and tucked into a tight roll, coming up between the two assassins, his twin blades slashing at each of them simultaneously.
Both men sprawled backwards, narrowly dodging the scribe’s attacks. But one of them was not as quick as the other – the one to his right. This was something that Sagarys realized immediately. Capitalizing on the slower man’s mistake, Sagarys quickly reversed his grip on the sword in his right hand and thrust it back toward the man’s chest. Again, the man dodged.
Exactly as Sagarys had hoped.
As the man dodged back, Sagarys rose to his feet and brought his other sword up and in, slashing at the man’s throat. The assassin managed to bring his shortsword across to parry Sagarys’ attack at the last moment. But as he did, he took his eye off of the scribe’s right-hand blade which Sagarys had once again reversed his grip on. For a split second, the assassin felt a rush of exhilaration as he parried the scribe’s swing. But the thrill was fleeting, for a moment later Sagarys drove his other blade to its hilt in the man’s chest, piercing his heart, killing him instantly.
Without hesitation, Sagarys ripped the sword from the dead man’s chest and turned fast, sensing the rapid approach of the third and final assassin. As he did, he brought both swords across in a hard slash that was more meant to deter his opponent than it was to actually kill him, buying himself a moment to regain his footing. The strategy worked, for as he did this, the remaining man lifted both of his daggers to parry Sagarys’ wild swings. The resounding clash of steel could be heard from the courtyard below. The two men squared off and began to circle.
“You know, this could be quicker for the both of us if you just throw yourself off the edge after your associate,” Sagarys said.
He was completely serious.
For a moment, the assassin actually considered it. But Sagarys was impatient and the man was taking too long to decide. So instead, he rushed forward, longswords leading the way. He worked them furiously in a complicated, unpredictable twirling pattern that was just as much offensive as it was defensive. The scribe’s ensuing attacks were so fast and so violent that the assassin was forced onto the defensive. The man swung his daggers wildly, picking off strike after strike, deflecting them right and left. He dodged. He ducked. He sprawled. But despite his best efforts, he simply could not avoid all of the scribe’s attacks. Soon the assassin’s arms and legs were covered in deep slashes. Next his knuckles began to bleed. Then his shoulders. Then his chest, and his face. The scribe’s brutal attacks were coming at him from all directions and they showed no sign that they were going to stop. Sparks and blood rained down upon the rooftop. Then finally, after nearly a minute of enduring Sagarys’ relentless whirling assault, the assassin dropped to one knee, exhausted, his daggers clattering at his sides.
“Enough!” he cried out. “Mercy!”
Sagarys stopped mid-swing, the edge of his longsword coming to rest just below the man’s ear.
“Mercy it is then,” Sagarys replied, and he lowered his blades. “Go now and tell your master that I am a free man. If he sends another, I will come for him personally.”
With that, Sagarys sheathed his blades, turned, and began to walk away. A moment later, he heard the man rushing toward him.
“Fool,” he muttered under his breath, shaking his head.
In one fluid movement, Sagarys turned back, drew one of his blades, and struck.
The last thing that assassin saw before he died was his own headless body falling away.
Sagarys shook his head again and sheathed his blade once more. Then he pulled his black hood over his head, drew it low, and made his way off the roof. It would seem that, despite his best efforts, he had been drawn into this conflict.
Perhaps he should speak with the Grand Marshall.