The Spider and the Gnome

The gnome recoiled back. He anticipated a trap. And in a sense, he was right. But he was curious. Too curious to allow his assassin to accompany him this time. He was alone. The prey was isolated, and it was the perfect time to strike. But not with steel. Or even frost or flame. No. It was time to use a deadlier weapon.


He calmed down a bit when he saw the scroll in my hand. And with careful movements, he accepted the scroll. It was done. One more strand of my web had been woven. He had been given a choice.

Of course, getting to this point was not easy. It had taken too many resources and backalley deals to know about the Empire's movements. But I had gotten a clue. Hammerfall. The free orc outpost was quiet when I arrived, and the perimeter was secure. But when they started arriving, it was obvious that something was up. Gurubashi. Atai Guards. Red Blade orcs. Wolves of Mannoroth. Maahe of Burning Dawn. Others. And finally Mischa. It was time to step away from the shadows and take my place in this charade. I walked around them like I was minding my business. Unguarded words escaped their lips, betraying their intentions. They would go to Refuge Pointe. And if they were going to attack the Sons of Strom, it would mean that a certain human prince would be there at the front lines.

When the leaders started organizing their troops, it was time for me to take my position. I climbed on the walls and watched as the troops marched out from the gates. Typically the Empire allowed the orcs to go out first.

"Don't bite off more than you can chew."

Those simple words were more than enough to stir them up. Helpful advice disguised as an insult. And so predictably the Atai started to bark at me. They spewed off empty promises about killing me. Especially from Kel'jin. He had already failed once in killing me, so we both knew how hollow his words were. But he was more than willing to show it to others as well. Mischa stopped him from embarassing himself further, and the Gurubashi moved on. The orcs had probably already reached the front line. I waited for some time to make sure any followers would get bored, and then I rode to the front lines.

When I arrived, the massacre was already in progress. Human blood gathered into ponds at the base of the valley. Trollbane arrived late, and with inadequate troops. Fitting for a human, his self-preservation instinct was nonexistant, so he tried a few unsuccessful manouvers, even futilely trying to strike Mischa. The massacre continued for a while. He was probably being gripped with despair. It was time to make my move. I rode on top a small hill and showed myself. He took the bait, almost too easily and followed me away from the battle. I of course could not understand his words, but the pain behind them was all too apparent. But he also understood I was not here to fight him. The screams called him back into battle. And then I saw him. The gnome.

The gnome's eyes were hidden by his cowl, but I bet he didn't even blink when he unleashed forbidden magic at me. The assault was fierce, but he left an opening for me to teach him a lesson. A simple conjuration took him out of the picture, and I slaughtered his pet demon in front of him. But his infernal conjurations had also taken a toll on me. I had to retreat.

After mending my wounds, I slowly approached the massacre again. I spotted the gnome and lured him away from the group. I kept my gestures controlled, and convinced him to approach me. I was just about to reach into my robe when I felt metal between my ribs. Blood filled my lungs.


I was careless. No Alliance diplomat ever goes anywhere without an assassin. I limped back to the river and washed my bloodstained robe. I stitched the tears back together. At this rate, I would have to buy a new robe soon. Cloth doesn't heal like we do. The assasin probably broke some of my ribs just for kicks as well. I could not afford get struck again. The Empire must not see any weakness. Not yet, at least. I rode back towards the battle, and saw him again. The gnome Melnerag and Syskae had referred to as Tiberio. And this time, I would succeed.

OOC: Tiberio's account of the events is also available.

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