Arckes (stalker of Dacar) VS Pascal the Gnome
"Fortune beds with whom it pleases, so by all means I pray luck is a lady."
It was the second week in the fall and the day was closing its doors; a red moon was laying its stolen rays across the earth, and a small gnome was busy peddling his wares about the streets of Dacar. He was only out because on the night of a harvest or sanguine moon, blood is supposed to be unclean and most fiendish creatures keep to themselves; he wasn't necessarily superstitious, just cautious. Fate had given him his trade, and it would not bode well with his livelihood should it be swept under the rug along with the rest of the sands of time. Not a hundred years before being something like a tailor, as he was, was unheard of since everyone made their own clothes. Fortunately a plague swept across the land and raped it of its peoples. This purge caused a tremendous labor shortage for one of the first times in history resulting in a need for paid labor. Pascal, the gnome, was merely a part of the middle class that rose out of these new wages dispensed among the people, so that they could actually afford to purchase things like tunics and trousers. Fortune beds with whom it pleases.
Either way he wasn't selling much; the guild had refused to upgrade him to a master craftsman and after being in the business twenty years with two master pieces to his name one would think he would have been a shoe-in. Since he obviously did not get the title many had begun to think he was slipping and the quality of his work had dropped, naturally this was bad for business. The strange part of it was that he was not becoming feeble at his practice; he was as good as he had ever been. The only reasonable answer was racial based jealousy. He was the only gnome to enter into the practice of being a tailor in the area, and he refused to take on any apprentices. Most of the board felt he was arrogant and knew full well the capabilities of his species within their spectrum of interest. Gnomes are to clothes what orcs are to mercenaries, plain and simple. A refusal of title could veritably force Pascal out of town, which the council of course felt was in its best interest. This was Pascal's conclusion, and he was going to put in his two copper pieces before the matter was settled.
Naturally the way to get the last laugh in any such matter is to kill a few people. He quickly selected the guild members who he found to be the most arrogant in his eyes and slit their throats with a small knife he used for cutting leather. Three bodies were discovered in the morning, and Pascal was gone; it obviously didn't take the other council members long to figure out what had happened. Pascal was never exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.
The Chalk Crowd, as the tailors' guild was commonly called, took little deliberation about dipping into membership dues to hire an assassin, but they were going to need a stalker-type since this prey also had to be tracked. They looked to an old business acquaintance, per say, who had infrequently dealt with their competition over the years; his name was Arckes. Although he was humanoid there were only rumors as to his species, everything from half-rock golem to lich. He knew a little magic, but seldom used it for more than intimidation and instead let his bardiche do most of his talking. He had bright red hair that was almost orange and gave off a slightly glowing appearance as if the flames of hell scorched his scalp, and his skin was an odd tint of yellow, almost like a leper. Suspicions were common about him as rumors had spread about a battle in Köln, which he participated in where although he had been struck many times the blades seemed to bounce off of him as though he himself were made of some strange metal. Either way the infamous stalker of Dracar was once again set forth with a task.
It took little time for a professional like Arckes to find Pascal, since the gnome had taken to once again selling clothes from a street vendor he had established. Although personal confrontation was normally his preference, Arckes had already decided Pascal was little more than a miscreant and not worth the time of walking over to; instead he fired an arrow from his longbow, which stood seven feet high, and hit just inside the small sales cube the gnome had erected. The entire little unit exploded into flames as the fireball spell from the projectile took effect.
The flames writhed about Pascal as he lunged out into the street, but he was consumed even as he fell down into the dirt road. The fire died down around the charred body, and Arckes moved in to claim the ear that would bring him his gold. He crouched in low with his knife, but just as he moved to cut off the little flap of flesh the gnome rolled through his legs shooting needles out from his sleeves into the stalker's back. Arckes simply shrugged off the small piercing darts as they fell from his form and reached back to get his bardiche.
"So you're Arckes," spoke the gnome to his assailant, "I have heard of you and your dealings with the pocket-cutters before, but I had yet to meet you. Too bad it couldn't be on better circumstances."
Arckes wheeled about, glaring at his prey, "I find the circumstances quite pleasing," he went silent just as he brought the pole-arm in a full arc, but the gnome needed barely to duck to dodge it. "If you've heard of me then you are quite aware that I am invincible."
"Don't go reassuring yourself; after all, you can't be completely immune to pain," Pascal smiled a crooked little smile as he lunged forward into the air, coming just over another horizontal swing from his hunter, and as he did so he fired more needles, but this time at Arckes's eyes.
"AHHH!" Two of the needles submerged themselves deep within the stalker's right eye causing its blindness. "You shall pay gnome. Your only hope is that I accidentally kill you too quickly!" The beast charged forward driven by rage. This worked to Pascal's advantage however, as he hopped out of the way, tripping the mad man into the dirt.
Pascal hurried off down the street, trying to make his way out of the frying pan, but whether or not he would become fuel for the fire had yet to be seen. Pascal had thought that he may gain a price on his head after killing the three guild heads, so he had set-up a quick escape route for himself. As soon as he felt he was far enough away from Arckes, so that the madman couldn't shoot him down before he could make his escape, he pulled a small circle of fabric out of his pocket and laid it down on the ground. The circle began to grow, and when it grew large enough Pascal dived head-long into it. What resulted was his appearance up through a carpet several thousand miles and one ocean away. He had always planned to return home, and not ever one for sea voyages, had made himself a quick teleportation portal should he ever have need of it.
The gnome had now returned to his dear sweet mother's home, and it was a marvelous place for him. She lived in a gnome community so the house was proportioned just for the littler folk, which made the place feel all that more comfortable to one who had been out and about in the world of the bigger folk for so long. The larger homes and places always felt drafty and empty, but now instead of feeling alone Pascal felt warm. Very warm.
Pascal leapt as if jumping back from himself when he felt his flesh begin to melt from a fierce bit of fire that had somehow taken hold of his cloak. He threw the robe from him and stamped out the small fire as quickly as he could. "What the hell?" he said aloud. He began to think, but was cut short as a voice answered aloud.
"Yes, I suppose for you it shall be Hell."
Pascal easily recognized the voice because he had heard it only moments before.
"How did you…"
"Find you? I am a stalker type assassin that practices magic. I do not come cheaply either, and that is for a reason. You can run, but you can't hide little man." The tone in his voice was something terrible that one would only hear in nightmares.
"I'll make you a deal! I'll never go back there, and you can get your bounty and just let me go. Just tell them that you killed me, and they'll never know the difference!" Pascal was getting desperate. His voice started to rise higher and higher as he had begun to squeal out his bargain.
"But I enjoy the kill. And either way, you took my eye; I am going to make this slow and painful for you. But first I want to see you squirm, so I think I'll tell you about just what it is I am going to do," the omnipresent voice boomed throughout the house as if it were the voice of a god.
The next day Arckes came in to collect his bounty from the Chalk Crowd, but he brought no proof of his deed. "How can we believe you killed him?" Arckes merely glared up at the remaining guild heads, who were seated around him at a table that resembled a series of judges' desks and benches, and they rephrased the question. "Are you certain he is dead?"
"The matter has been taken care of." The treasurer of the guild, seated just to the left of the middle man, tossed down a hefty bag of gold to Arckes, who caught it with one hand and set it into a pack on his back. "It has been a pleasure doing business with you." Arckes walked out of the chamber and into the free air.
Arckes had considered taking a trip across the ocean. If he told the story right he might be able to pick up high-price business from a certain mother. A mother who had walked in to find that her son had returned home, but had also hung himself from the central beam of her house with his rope belt. She did not yet know why, but the stalker was more than prepared to give her a 'why' that pointed back to a certain group of tailors.
By: Matt Katch