In the City of Alsforth, capital of the naval empire of Grand Prydain there is a place called Ashbury Square. It is a dead-ended courtyard in the maze of back-allies and cul-de-sacs which make up the part of the city known as the Shades. The urban equivalent of a box-valley, it is not the sort of place one would wish to stumble by accident at midnight. Unless, of course, it happens to be the second Michaelsday of the month, and one happened to have a taste for blood sports.
The alley was crowded, on this second midnight Michaelsday, filled with spectators while a line of participants. Amongst the throng were four people who, though unknown to each other, were bound together by fate.
The Festivities of the evening was a ritual as old as time itself, honoured in ancient Ravena. Two armed men, fighting till one yielded victory.
Vincent Strom’s Job was simple to phrase. Make sure the illegal events of the evening went smoothly. Easier said than done when the job in question was to keep a group of armed warriors from killing each other. And when you factor in a second, more covert assignment, it became even more complicated.
This is not the sort of place you would expect to find someone like Yelenya, Student Professor of Alchemical Studies. However months of study and research, desperately seeking for an answer to a question whose implications shook the foundations not only of her own field but of the entire world…
Newspapers that morning had reported that an attempt had been made on Virtuoso Tristan Silverberg’s life. Whether routine mugging or assassination attempt, no one was sure, but the world-renown violinist took no chances. He turned to the known proving ground for mercinaries and thugs as an ideal place to find a worthy protector.
The pistoleer Suzanna Griffin’s past is shrouded in mystery. Who she is, who she was, is no longer important. Only the test. Guns, sword, fist, knife. Her proving grounds that she was as good as any man when it came to dealing death.
In the torchlight of the square, the action began. The combatants faced off against one another, and dark horse Susanna managed to defeat the obvious favorite Yorik Penders. It was at this point that the mark of the evening, a seller of rare and exotic books arrived. Before she got a chance to engage her, Vincent began crazying at Yelenya, while his own agent, a human woman dressed up to look like an elvish mage, moved to broke the deal.
Meanwhile, Tristan approached Suzanna, offering her employment as a bodyguard. She agreed reluctantly, but negotiations about price were cut short when Tristan caught sight of a man with a golden signet ring. For reasons known only to the Virtuoso, he began following, his new bodyguard at his heels.
Right as the deal was about to be made… the man with the ring grabbed the book from the seller’s arms, and hurled a container filled with acrid smoke onto the ground, flooding the square and causing a stampede as the participants fled for the exit.
All four of our heroes leaped in persuit of this thief, but will they catch him? Only time will tell.