It had been a long time since Ohanzee Nightshadow had been as far north as Blackriver. He hated to be so close to Syrea, the county from which he had fled so many years ago. But work had led him to the north, and Blackriver was the closest village that he felt safe to rest at. Blackriver was a not a bad town by any means. But like most small northern villages, it didn't see much growth, and the citizens were much less than trustworthy of strangers. Ohanzee had passed through the town before during his flight from Vadim and his soldiers. It had not taken him long to realize why the town was named Blackriver. The water of the small river than flowed past the fields appeared black because of a dark kind of shale that littered the bottom of the stream.
Ohanzee sat alone at a table in the main hub of the village's sole inn. The inn, entitled the Fiddling Cricket, seemed to be a gathering place for everyone in Blackriver. Farmers, who seemed to be the majority of the population, stood at the counter discussing the harvests and what they were going to plant when next season came around. Most of the beasts kept away from Ohanzee, but fortunately no one seemed to be talking about him. The pine marten was not wearing his mask, since it was the rather noticeable garb of an assassin. However, this did leave him exposed to anybeast who might know his face.
Ohanzee was only partway through his small meal when an odd creature sat in the chair directly across from his. He had trouble seeing what manner of beast it was, for it was wearing brown hoods and robes. Ohanzee could tell that it was male from its distinctly masculine build. Ohanzee first dismissed him as a monk, but he soon realized there was something odd about him. He didn't appear to be in the inn for food or company, as he merely looked at Ohanzee. The pine marten gave the strange beast a distrustful glance and asked, "can I help you?"
"No sir," replied the hooded figure, "you already have." That having been said, he rose from his seat and walked to counter of the inn. Ohanzee's heart beat fast as he took in this strange turn of events. Something was off, he just needed to figure out what before it was too late. His fear only compounded when the hooded beast turn to one of the farmers, a hedgehog, and said, "how oft is it that you see a summer sun rising on a winter's morn?"
The hedgehog, a tough and worn looking creature, replied in a remarkably well bred tone. "Never, for the great sun in the sky knows the seasons and its place," he said. After this strange exchange, both beasts left the Fiddling Cricket in unison. Ohanzee was trained assassin, and he was now quite certain that the strange passage had been a code, and that someone was after his life. But exactly who he could not be certain. He went over the strange words again and again in his mind, "how oft is it that you see a summer sun rising on a winter's morn? Never, for the great sun in the sky knows the seasons and its place." The verse seemed so familiar to Ohanzee, but he just couldn't place his finger on where he had heard it.
Suddenly, it struck him like a ton of bricks. It was a phrase from a play he had once seen. "That was a line from The Shadow of Winter," Ohanzee muttered to himself, "Lady Ania was the lead in that performance." The pine marten was no great patron of the arts, but he would occupationally attend Ania's performances. He had always fond of the girl, since he had no family of his own. Snapping out of his fond memories, Ohanzee rose from his seat. The Shadow of Winter was an old Syrean play, and the only ones who would know it would be Syreans. In that case, he had to get out of the inn, and fast.
Ohanzee knew that it would be madness to leave the Fiddling Cricket by the front entrance. The imperial agents would obviously be waiting there to ambush him. So Ohanzee decided it would be best to leave the back way. Pushing past patrons, the pine marten leaped over the counter and headed for the exit behind it. The innkeeper shouted something at him, but Ohanzee didn't stop to hear what it was. He threw the door open and ran out onto the snow filled street, letting the door slam shut behind him. However, it seemed that his quick thinking had done little to help him.
There was a group of about half a dozen beasts standing in a half circle around the inn's rear exit. In the center of this partial ring was the hooded beast who Ohanzee had run afoul several moments ago. But the pine marten was no so worried about him as his companions. The other beasts in the blockade were Syrean soldiers, easily recognized my the insignia on their shields. In their paws were small axes and swords, all leveled at Ohanzee. "So, Ohanzee Nightshadow, the former assassin of the king," the hooded beast began, "did you think you could outwit the empire with a simple trick like that?"
"By the hammer and serpent," Ohanzee growled, "since when was Blackriver an imperial town?"
The hooded beast gave a cruel smile and spoke, "it came peacefully under the empire's control several months ago. Now, come peacefully and perhaps King Vadim will spare you life." Ohanzee knew that this was not true. The king had no mercy for those that failed him. The pine marten's paws went to his blades.
One of the soldiers stepped forward, his face hidden by his helm. "Drop your weapons traitor," he snarled, " or I'll smash in your skull." He menaced Ohanzee with his mace. Ohanzee's mind raced as he tried to think of a way out of this situation. He was a skilled assassin, and he thought he could take out any imperial soldier one on one. But he stood no chance against five of them out in the open. Had he finally fallen into the Empire's clutches?
OOC: For reference, Syrean soldiers have equipment rather like the chap on this page: http://xenophon-mil.org/rushistory/medievalarmor/parti.htm