Chapter 1

Aunikka stopped her relentless attack on the stuffed leather bag she had hanging in her quarters. She heard the villagers shouting, she could not tell whether or not they were cries of anguish or joy, but either way she was curios. She walked to her window and looked out at the city of Rogue. It had gotten its name from its lack of affiliation with any of the empires in the lands, the only other city like this that managed to support itself was the Ivory city, but that was a merchant town run by Mercenaries, mercenaries Aunikka aspired to join.

She hadn't thought she would ever become any type of warrior as a child, it was true that many of Rogues men and women learn to be soldiers, however, Aunikka was never a fighter. Her father was a general during the Noxxe Wars, he led the most destructive force in the Alliance Armies, the Rogue Dragoons. He retired after the war and took to training three of the most promising students to come to the city, Julia Kazar , Ian Dresari, and Loki Wolfe.

Julia was one of Aunikka's best friends, Ian wasn't so much as a friend as an acquaintance, both of them were locals of the town so she knew them before her father took them as his apprentices. Loki Wolfe was her friend too, he wasn't from Rogue though. He was from the Zephyrus Mederi, a city of healers that was considered to be Rogue territory, the Rogue's would defend them, and in turn they would send their naturally gifted healers to the Rogue's for use the armies. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, the Mederi kept the Rogue casualties down, the Rogue's kept the Mederi free.

Loki was sent to the Rogue's at age 12 when it became evident that as a healer he would never thrive, but as a warrior he would. By then he was already nearly six feet tall and weighed several more pounds than the other boys his age (he wasn't fat, farm work made him strong). It was obvious that he was an outlander. All the Rogue's had pitch black hair, pale white skin, and eyes that were the same color as the midnight sky. He had dark brown hair, rust colored eyes, and his skin was almost olive, like those in the far off Romani Empire.

He was probably her fathers favorite student, he had no conscious love of killing, but as a warrior he had a deep blood lust, in battle he would tear through ranks of soldiers without pause or tiring. A few years after her father started training him there was a raid on the town, what remained of the Noxxe wanted to destroy those that had destroyed them. The main army was off, there was an army massing in the Rogue Wilderness and it needed to be destroyed.

Her father and his disciples were all that was left to defend the town when it was attacked. Aunikka could recall the screams of the dead and dying like it were yesterday, feel the horrible heat of the fires, smell the stink of burning flesh and hair still. Her father had taken Loki with him to strike at the raiders commander while the other two tried to evacuate the town.

Her father and Loki were ambushed, Loki was only 16 at the time, she was 9. They fought endless streams of soldiers, then she remembered seeing Loki leave, he left her father. The wrath of all those soldiers as they found the man who crafted the doom of their empire was unimaginable. Her father was killed, it was Wolfe's fault. He left her father to die.

That was why she has spent her last few years training. He left a year after the death of her father and served in the armies that left Rogue to destroy the cities enemies. She had spent the last nine years he was in the campaigns training for the day he returned, the day she could kill him and let her fathers soul rest in peace. She was training with the mercenaries of the Ivory City to become an agent of theirs, the Eburnius Umbra.

She had become adept over the years in the use of a little known or used weapon. It was almost like a long thin shield that covered her entire forearm, at the end of it were three long, curved claws, each about a foot and a half long. The other ended in blades only, like 18 inch knives attached to a shield. The usage of the weapons was much like the usage of the Suwayyah of the land of the Caste. The weapons were difficult to learn, but once learned they were more deadly than any other on the field of combat.

Of course martial arts from the Middle Kingdom were also a part of her training, a weapon can break at any time, it is necessary for a true warrior's body to become a weapon. She had mastered 3 type of martial arts by training with the other soldiers in Rogue, she doubted she could defeat Wolfe by the use of any martial skills though, her father had him trained thoroughly in two martial arts, and she knew that he had learned more after that time.

He used a sword like almost everyone else did. Swords, compared to her weapons, were slow and clumsy, she could easily defeat him in armed combat. She watched out the window, people were tossing rose pedals out the windows, it must be the return of some great hero. The Rogue people were grateful to their Champions.

She narrowed her eyes... his hair was not black. Wolfe had come back. That filth had returned to her town, her home. The place where he abandoned her father to die, the place where she lived in peace. He had come to destroy her, he had come knowing he was not wanted, knowing he was hated. It was a challenge of her honor.

She tied up the tight leather armor that she wore and slipped on her claws. She would meet him at the altar of the War God, that is assuming he did not stop at his mistress the Goddess of Death first. She slipped out of her quarters unnoticed, she was good at stealth. She was training to be an Assassin. Kill a general and end the battle before it begins, end it with one casualty instead of thousands.

She waited by the Altar. There were already people there, the Oracle Tal'Deries, several soldiers and captain. Wolfe had left the land and returned a hero, a Champion of the Light. She couldn't kill him here, not unless he affronted her. That would be easy enough to get him to do. He was a man, and she was a woman.

A very attractive woman, her chest was full (which she didn't always like as those 'things' got in the way of her in some cases), she had long legs and a beautiful face. None of the woman in Rogue were hairy like some of the woman in the outlands, people believed that it, along with the eyes and skin, was from the Elves, that somewhere in their veins flowed the blood of the elves. Men liked that, the smooth body. She was wearing tight leather armor, she was rather revealed, he would look her over and take in the details of her body that he could, and that would be her excuse, he wanted to violate her.

She saw him coming down the road. He had on armor that covered only his shoulders and chest. His boots were made of metal with white wolf fur covering most of the outside. His cloak was wolf fur also. His face was roughly shaven, his hair was cut to only a few inches. All the soldiers wore short hair, long hair would get into your eyes. Aunikka's hair was even short, though not as short as the men's. His eyes seemed to bear the weight of the lives he had ended... no sorrow he felt was enough. He had killed her father, she was only 9.

He looked with disdain at the altar in front of him. Since he had left it had grown, it was nearly a temple now, with pillars and stairs and a statue, it lacked a rough still, the Rogue's believed there gods should not be penned up by walls and ceilings, that they should be free as the humans were. The sight of the growing altar disgusted him.

He opened his mouth, though his words were quiet, almost muted, everyone caught everyone spoke, "This god... this altar... I have seen war, I have seen whole armies killed, fields soaked with blood, this god should not be worshipped, it should be damned... it should be hated and destroyed..."

He wasn't announcing this to the people, rather he was talking with the oracle. He spoke in a hushed voice as if there were a chance he would not be over heard. He glanced at all the people lined around the altar, many of them angered by his words, his eyes lingered over Aunikka's chest a little longer than they should have, now was her chance. He was a discarded hero, and he affronted her honor.

"My face is up here" she said angrily.

He ignored her and continued to look down the line.

She stepped forward and fell into a fighting position. He looked at her in the eyes. She felt the weight of those he had killed now too, his eyes swam with sorrow, they spoke volumes of the things he had seen, "I will not fight, I will not end another life" he said in a hushed voice.

"Then you will die" she said.

She brought one clawed hand down to him, he raised his arm and deflected the blow. She looked at the arm he raised. The gauntlet he wore was a weapon in itself, it covered his forearm and elbow, on the end of each finger, coming straight down from the tip was a barb, maybe an inch and a half each. She glanced along the length of the gauntlet and found no damage to be reported from her attack. She swung twice more and he deflected both attacks. She kicked and he dodged back.

She hated herself more than him now. She had her chance for vengeance, it was there, right in front of her, the chance for her father to rest finally in peace, but she had lost it. She couldn't kill him, he was a warrior from the wars, her combat experience was only training and sparring. He was a real warrior, she was just an excuse for one.

"I'm sorry for whatever I have done to you" he said, and she was sure nobody else heard it.

He walked away towards the place long abandoned that he called his home. The oracle walked over to her, they were friends, he had taken care of her when her father died. He was almost like a father to her.

"Aunikka..." he said, "It wasn't his fault, I know you will not accept this from me, but know that you will accept it, in time"

"He killed my father" she said without looking at him, "And I will kill him, in time"