... and never change their spots, either," muttered Evnik, gripping the hilt of his sword tightly. He steeled himself before striding over to the door, casting a wary eye over the numerous windows, each potentially hiding a quiver of crossbow bolts aimed in his direction. In an act of both great courage and lunacy, he grasped the brass knocker and rapped it three times.
Instantly, a small peephole slid open, and a pair of beady little eyes scrutinized him from head to toe. "You don't have to do this, Evnik," said the owner of the eyes. "You should turn back while you still can."
"I am a man of honour, Salin," said Evnik calmly. "Perhaps you should let me in, old friend. Your boss is expecting me."
The peephole slid shut with a snap. There was the sound of muffled clinking, before the stout wooden door creaked open. "On your own head be it, then," muttered Salin. "If it's still on once the Thief of Kings is done with you."
Evnik folled Salin through the winding corridors, never taking his hand off the hilt of his sword. They passed few people along the way; those Evnik made eye contact with greeted him a dirty look and a sneer.
"Don't expect good manners from anyone in here," said Salin, quite unnecessarily.
"Of course," said Evnik. "The Thieves' Guild is infamous for its hospitality."
"This ain't a hospital, innit?" a cloaked figure they had just passed shouted out. "You think we s'all clerics or summat? Greatest fool o' a warrior I've ever seen."
Evnik ignored him. "Now I know why this is called the Thieves' Guild. Its members have all had their brains stolen."
"We did have that Illithid insurgency a couple of weeks back," said Salin, "caused huge problems with the shadowmages on Level 9." He stopped abruptly in front of a pair of wrought iron gates. Beyond it was a short passway leading into an small arena. Evnik could see the rings of seats filled with thieves, vagabonds, muggers, robbers... every rogue in the city must have been there. Directly opposite him sat Kulthas Daggerhand, the Thief of Kings, atop a throne which appeared to be made of solid gold, encrusted with gemstones, sitting on an ornately carved stone dias.
"Good luck, old friend," said Salin, pushing the gates open. "I have a front row seat, in case you need - you know - help."
"I'll be fine Salin, thank you." Evnik strode through the gates, into the centre of the small ring. Jeers rained down on him from all sides, not to mention the various rotten fruit and broken bottles. Kulthas Daggerhand remained motionless, his face hidden by the shadow of his hood.
The arena fell silent. "Greetings, Lord Daggerhand," Evnik said loudly. "I believe it's time to attend to our unfinished business." He drew his sword, and leveled it at the Thief of Kings.
With a short, harsh laugh, Kulthas Daggerhand rose from his seat. "You have great courage, little man. Few would dare venture into the very heart of the Thieves' Guild. And of those who do, none make it out alive."
He stepped off the dias, walked over to Evnik, and placed his chest against Evnik's leveled sword. "Go on then," he growled. "Strike me."
Evnik didn't even flinch. "I will not strike a man while he is unarmed. Draw your weapon, and let's finish this."
The Thief of Kings threw back his head and roared with laughter. "I knew it! You are weak. Weak like all the others."He turned and put one foot on the dias, then stopped. "You have the chance to finish me off and you throw it away."
"It would not be right," said Evnik. "I am a man or honour, Lord Daggerhand."
"Your warrior's rules do not apply here, little man," Kulthas Daggerhand growled. With astonishing agility, he grabbed the hilt of his blade and whirled around, knocking Evnik's sword away with the force of his turn. "There is only one rule here: you die, you lose."
"Let's hope that you're not a sore loser, then," retorted Evnik, and he brough his sword around for another blow, only to be parried by the Thief of Kings. The clash of steel on steel was drowned out by the cheers of the surrounding rogues.
With a mighty kick, Kulthas Daggerhand sent Evnik flying into the stands. He landed, disoriented, in the hands of Salin, his old friend. A mighty cheer erupted from the rogues, and the Thief of Kings turned to face them, hands held high in victory.
With the Rogue Lord distracted, Salin whispered in Evnik's ear: "There is no hope of you winning this fight. I can help you. Just cheat a little. Your warrior's code of honour does not apply here."
"It might not apply to you," said Evnik, "but it applies to me." He struggled to his feet, his sword at the ready. "En garde, Lord Daggerhand."
Angered, the Thief of Kings charged at him. Evnik sidestepped, leaping onto the dais and falling into the seat of the golden throne. Kulthas Daggerhand lunged at him, but Evnik managed to evade once again, but stuck out his foot and tripped the Thief of Kings, sending him sprawling into the throne, knocking it over with a loud thunk.
The crowd roared. A dagger knifed through the commotion, but bounced off Evnik's armour. "This is between me and him," Evnik shouted. "Stay out of this!"
Kulthas Daggerhand had gotten to his feet. The crowd fell silent at the sight of his second sword, its blade gleaming in the flickering torchlight.
"The Plunderer's Blade," someone whispered, and before long the whole arena was muttering these three words. Evnik, however, wasn't privy to the weapon's legacy, and merely called out, "One weapon only, Lord Daggerhand."
Grinning, the Thief of Kings rushed at him again, the Plunderer's Blade whistling as both blades sliced through the air. Evnik managed to parry him again, but was still adamant. "One weapon only!" he shouted again.
"Chivalry is dead, boy," Kulthas Daggerhand growled. "You die, you lose."
He glanced over Evnik's shoulder, catching the eye of one of his trusted assassins. The assassin nodded inperceptibly, then unsheathed his dagger. With a mighty war cry, the Thief of Kings shoved Evnik backwards, impaling him on the knife. Evnik gasped with shock, and his sword slipped from his hand.
As the life ebbed from his body, Evnik's last vision was of a crowd surging forward, daggers drawn. He heard the Thief of Kings growl, "He's all yours, boys," and slipped into blackness as his corpse was dragged under a hundred merciless blades.
We had English test today.
The Edna Man