Wyld Burcroft, the Hunter known to many as Mooncoat, could not think of anything he'd done to cause anybody to put a price on his head. All he had done was steal a few things from that mages guild in Aklana, nobody had even realized until he was out of the city. He sighed, and tugged the collar of his long, dark grey coat.
"This is going to be a bad week. I just know it..." he muttered as he once again began to walk down the road.
Some time after Burcroft had left, the Shadowknife finally regained consciousness. As he stared in the direction Burcroft had been traveling in, he could think of only one thing.
"That guy was scary. Cool coat though," he muttered as he quickly made his way down the road in the opposite direction. This job was bad luck, he didn't want anything more to do with it.
In the city of Aeriferre, a festive mood seemed to hang about as street merchants peddled their wares, children played and ran in the streets, and men and women of various ages and social classes walked to wherever destination they had in mind.
Deep within the city core, in a place accessible only to a few, an old man, a surly dwarf, and a young man sat. The young man was Mooncoat, the old man was a wizard employer of his named Summi, and the dwarf was Summi's bodyguard, the warrior Torin. The place they sat in was the former guild of the thieves' guild known as the Cutloose Gang, who had long since been driven out of town. Mooncoat liked to use this building, along with many others, in this city and in other cities and towns, for conducting business in.
"So, did you get the items I requested, Mooncoat? You are highly regarded as one of the greatest Hunters in the world, and for the sum that I offered you, you had best completed the job," Summi said, staring down his long, crooked nose at the man before him.
Burcroft smiled, although it was not visible behind the collar of his coat. "Don't you worry Summi, I've got your stuff right here. Now, about my fee..."
"And thank you once more for such a quick delivery, I knew I could expect the best work from the legendary Hunter, Senar," the tall wizard said as he finished pocketing the last of the items that had been brought to him.
Senar smiled, and the effect, with his scarred face, was a terrifying sight. "I told you Vessis, I always deliver, if the payment is to my liking."
"Then I take it you are satisfied with the sum I have given you?" Vessis asked.
Senar turned his head as he walked out the door, acknowledging the mage one last time. "Who said anything about money?"
As he walked into the depths of his tower, Summi allowed himself a short burst of maniacal laughter. Once that was taken care of, he unwrapped the items Mooncoat had given him. Among them were several gems of various sizes and hues, a small knife with runes of power scratched into the blade, and a blue Runescribe, which could write runes of power onto objects capable of holding such magic. Rare items indeed, and worth every last silver coin he had paid that foolish Hunter. The idiot had no idea what he had done.
Stifling another burst of laughter, feeling he'd rather finish his project, he turned to the wall to his left, and began to work. As he worked, lines drawn on the wall in various patterns bean to glow a foreboding green, and a humming sound began to emanate from the wall.
Burcroft felt the weight of the pouch of coins in his pocket and smiled, but as he thought of the rumors he had heard, the rumors of another Hunter in the city, he just couldn't amuse himself with thoughts of what to do with the money. The description sounded a lot like Senar, a person he had hoped he would never see again after that incident in the treasure vaults of Azein. That had been one nasty fight, one he would have lost had he not had the Silvermoon Coat, and it's magical powers.
'Yes, ' he said to himself, as he often did, 'If old that idiot is in town, my prediction of a bad week will be more right than I wanted it to be.'
Vessis, much like Summi, was in his place of study. He had a tower hidden deep within the mountains far to the west of Aeriferre. Unlike the other wizard, he allowed himself several minutes in which to laugh. Then, he too took out the items that had been delivered to him. Several gems, of various sizes and hues, a small knife with runes of power scratched into the blade, and a dark metallic Runescribe. Rare items indeed, and worth every last silver coin he had paid that foolish Hunter. The idiot had no idea what service he had done.
The wizard let loose another torrent of evil laughter as he knelt down on the floor to finish his work. As he worked, lines drawn on the floor in various patterns bean to glow a foreboding red, even as a screeching noise sounded from the center of the floor.
Occupied as he was with his laughter, Vessis never noticed the bol of red light that impacted his tower, not until he felt it burning through him.
After some time wandering through the streets, Mooncoat reached his next destination. It was a dark alley, some ways away from the city core, containing within it a small, dingy bar. He enjoyed coming here, not because of the alcohol, which was lousy, not because of the patrons, who were boring when they weren't annoying, but because the owner was Oras Tibi, one of the few people he chose to call a friend. As he walked towards the alley, he immediately realised something was very wrong. Smoke was hovering above the area, and rubble seemed to be strewn about. He made one final turn, and gaped. Where Tibi's bar had once been was now a large, smoking crater. The bar and several other buildings had seemingly been obliterated. He looked to his left, towards a crowd of onlookers. Looking them over, he grabbed one, a tall man wearing the traditional garb of a bard, holding a flute in one hand. He slammed the bard against a nearby wall.
"Tell me what happened here,' he growled, as the terrified bard struggled to escape his grip.
"I... I don't know!" the bard nearly screamed , fear overcoming him. "One moment, everything was fine, the next, there was a really loud screeching sound, it was horrible, and the entire alley just blew up. A lot of smoke and red light, but it wasn't like normal fire. It seemed like some kind of magic!"
Mooncoat looked back at the crater, sighed, and released his grip. "Alright, now get lost." With those final words, he went to see if anyone else could tell him anything more.
Straightening up, Jassis Klane stared after the crazy man with the really cool looking coat. "That guy is scary... but something big is happening, and he seems to be involved. This could be interesting." With those words spoken to himself, he quickly hurried off after the cloaked hunter.
Senar stared angrily. The bar belonging to Oras Tibi had always been a favorite hangout of his while he was in town, and now it, along with a good-sized chunk of the city, was gone. The Hunter found himself trembling with rage at the fact. He had grown up in this city, and over the previous few years had spent many an afternoon debating various subjects with Oras whenever he was in the city.
"I have no idea who you are..." he muttered under his breath.," but rest assured there is no place you can hide where I will not find you..."
With this in mind, Senar turned on his heel, and went to find someone who could tell him more about this disaster.
In the small inn in Aerriferre, Burcroft struggled in an epic battle. His opponent was fierce. His opponent was mighty. His opponent was a blanket. But it was a mighty and fierce blanket.
Finally getting the foul covering untangled from his legs, Burcroft finally rose from his bed. He had come to this inn to rest before going out to cause unbelievably gruesome acts of violence to happen to whoever had destroyed his favorite bar. After a full night of sleep, he was ready to do just that.
After changing into his usual combination of grey pants and a white shirt, he grabbed his signature coat from the chair he had draped it over the previous night. He donned the magical garment, and stepped out of the room, grabbing his hat on the way out.
Storming down the stairs and into the main room, he sighed. He had work to do, people to find, and revenge that needed planning.
Walking over to the bar and taking a seat, Burcroft signaled the bartender for a drink. Setting down a mug of the inn's best ale down in front of him, the bartender noticed the man at his bar looked oddly familiar, but he let it pass. He saw lots of people in any given day, and couldn't be expected to remember all of them.
Picking up his mug, Burcroft sniffed the brew, than sighed and pushed it off to the side, deciding drinking was not going to benefit his revenge plans.
Getting up, he left a copper piece on the counter, then set off, flexing his right hand and frowning.
"You look angry Mooncoat. If it's for the reason I think it is, you probably aren't nearly as angry as I am," a familiar voice from behind him said in a smug tone.
Burcroft's expression briefly changed, switching intermittently between fear, annoyance, and frustration, before simply taking on a look of resignation. "What are you talking about Senar?"
Senar took a seat on the stool next to Burcroft. "I speak of the large hole currently occupying the space formerly holding our mutual friend Raos Tibi's bar. Sound familiar, or must I refresh your memory further?"
Burcroft snorted. "No. You're right, naturally. There are very few things in this world that can really tick me off. That just happened to be one of them."
"So what do you intend to do now? Hurt a lot of innocent people while trying to find out what happened so you can brutally assault whoever did it?" Senar asked.
"Yeah, pretty much. Seemed like the best course of action."
"I agree wholeheartedly," Senar spoke, smiling ever so slightly. "Mind if I come along?"
"Sure why not," Burcroft sighed. "Could be useful, having an extra pair of hands along."
Together, the two Hunters exited the bar, paying for their drinks before getting up. The other patrons all took a deep breath as the two incredibly frightening men finally left.
Sumon looked over the work he had completed. A combination of gems and runes of wind and fire drawn into a pattern that only he knew, that all others thought was lost to antiquity. The Rune of Blasting, as it was known, had been a powerful weapon during the Runewar. But after the war, when humanity was nearly destroyed and runelore was almost lost, the last of the Talani had hidden their rune scrolls and many other powerful artifacts in a cave in the foreboding Syinriss'siss mountains.
He and Torin had discovered the cave some years ago. The rune scrolls had deteriorated considerably, but he had managed to keep one, and learned of the destructive force of the Rune of Blasting. And with the materials he had obtained from Burcroft, he had been able to complete the rune.
Torin, who stood to one side, raised his head and glanced inquisitively at his master. "My Master, what is it you intend to do with this rune? You've used it once, but only to destroy your brother's tower, and Tibi's bar... why did you destroy Tibi's bar anyway?"
Sumon sighed. "Torin, it is a long and involved story, full of intrigue, deception, and..."
"You refused to pay him and he barred you from ever coming back, didn't he?" the dwarf said, smiling under his thick beard.
The demented sorcerer glared at the diminutive warrior. "Perhaps so."
Torin allowed himself a few moments to laugh quietly, before getting back to his original point. "So what are you going to do with the Rune?"
Sumon blinked and stared at the rune in question for several seconds, before finally turning to Torin. "I... have no idea."
Now it was Torin's turn to blink, although his routine included sputtering and gasping in astonishment. "You have no idea.... YOU HAVE NO IDEA?! You went through all of this trouble, recreating the most powerful weapon ever created in runelore, and did it all with no idea of why you wanted to do it?"
Sumon smiled, and walked to the exit from his lab, saying to Torin "Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. Come, let us go and prepare for my ultimate assault against my enemies."
Torin stared after his employer. "What enemies...?" he questioned at the wizard's back. With a sigh of resignation, he followed. "Master, you may be a genius, but you are still one of the stupidest individuals I have ever met." With that comment made, he ran after Sumon as quickly as his short legs would move him.
Burcroft and Senar moved through, the city, their target in sight. That target was yet another bar in the long chain of bars, taverns, inns, pubs, and other establishments where numbers of men tended to gather and drink. Both men had found over the course of their careers that these places were often fountains of useful information.
However, one of them, having stopped and had a drink at every one of those establishments, was quite inebriated, barely able to speak coherently or walk straight. In short, Burcroft was tanked.
"An' ah shaid 'Thash tha one ah wahnt, so gib it tah meh now'. An' heh shaid 'Not ah chahnce, it's mine.' So ah took mah bag and..."
"That's nice Mooncoat."
The two eventually entered yet another dingy and grimy bar, this one advertising itself as 'The Snake's Head Pub'. Burcroft, his head cleared rapidly after having been dunked repeatedly by Senar into a barrel of water outside the door, looked around and spied two empty seats at the bar. He turned to his companion, saying "Come one, let's go sit down."
The two sat down, and got two drinks from the bartender. Burcroft drank water, having gotten fed up with the local beer. Bad enough normally, it was even worse after having spent all evening drinking it. After a time, Burcroft got up and stepped outside for air, leaving Senar to join in a nearby poker game.
Stepping outside, he took several deep breaths before turning to walk back in and discuss matters with his partner once again. But before he could open the door again, something large, cold, and heavy hit the back of his head. The Hunter fell, and soon saw only darkness.
Burcroft stirred, and slowly woke and came up to a sitting position. He was lying on the ground in a small room. The room had no furniture or windows, and only one door.
"I can't believe I let my guard down like that. That's a mistake only an AMATUER would make. I wonder where I am," he growled as he worked his way up to his feet.
Seeing no other course of action, he walked over to the door. He put his hands against it, and pushed, expecting only to waste his time. Instead, to his surprise, the door pushed out and down, crashing to the ground, and he fell on top of it. Burcroft slowly stood up again, and plucked the splinters out of his palms.
Turning around to look at the doorway behind him, he saw that while the door had been a new, sturdy piece of work, the hinges holding it to the wall had been rusted through, and had snapped when he had pushed against it.
"Well, as much as I hate bad maintenance, looks like it saved my life this time. Now to find out where I am," he remarked glibly as he turned to his right and began to slowly and quietly make his way down the long corridor.
Making his way through the hallways of wherever he has, Burcroft couldn't help but notice the scenery. What had started as gray stone blocks had started to shift in color and texture. Now the walls were black, and were a rough, seemingly natural formation. He allowed himself a moment to wonder about this before continuing his downward journey.
Sumon once again stood before the Blasting Rune, trying to determine what he could do with such power. Torin stood off at the side of the room, wallowing in glory. He had learned of Mooncoat's attempts at avenging the death of Oras Tibi, and had acted preemptively to stop the Hunter. Now Mooncoat was in a cell, and his master was free to act uninhibitedly. If his master would finally determine a course of action anyway, he could follow it uninhibitedly.
"Now Torin!" Sumon finally shouted, snapping the dwarf out of his thoughts, "I have decided! We shall turn this force upon each major city within the nation, until Queen Yaipa agrees to give into our demands!"
Torin sighed. He had been down this path of planning with Sumon before. "And what would those demands be, my Master?"
"You shall know soon enough, my cohort. You shall know soon enough," Sumon said, smirking as he once again drew power into the runes forming the Rune of Blasting. As the red and white lines once more glowed with magical energy, the light reflecting off the gems in a way Sumon couldn't help but find incredible, he had an odd feeling.
"I feel as though I've forgotten something important. Something very important... no, I don't think so. Whatever it is, it is not nearly as important as getting my revenge against the cheese market in Lavina."
Torin blinked. Again. Slowly, as his mind digested this fact, he managed to speak what was on it. "Revenge? Against a cheese market? REVENGE AGAINST A CHEESE MARKET?!"
Standing firm against his underling's shock, Sumon nodded. "Yes. Ever since they threw me out, had my mage's guild membership revoked, and had me banned from the city, I've not felt at ease. Now that I have the instrument of my revenge, it is time to take it."
"Man, you really are an idiot, aren't you?" Sumon was surprised at the snide comment directed not from beside him, but from behind him, at the entrance to the room. Turning around, he saw Burcroft standing there, coat flaring out behind him.
"How does his coat move like that? We're indoors, it can't be the wind..." was one of the many thoughts which passed through Sumon's mind as he turned to face the Hunter. "Mooncoat. What an unexpected surprise. You're going to try and stop me, I suppose? Defeat the bodyguard, stop the maniacal evil sorcerer, rescue the girl, and blow up the doomsday weapon? Escaping from my tower as explosions go off around you, making it out just as the entire structure collapses?"
"Other than the fact that there's no girl to rescue, yeah. That's pretty much the standard formula for this kind of situation, right?"
"Indeed," replied the mage.
"Very well then. Shall we get on with it?" asked Burcroft as he drew his coat together in front of him so that the garment covered him completely.
"I suppose we should," replied Sumon. He turned towards Torin, and pointed towards Burcroft. "Torin, get him!" he shouted as he jumped back away from the ensuing fight.
Torin stepped forward. He started to pull out his sword, but then stopped, and simply looked at the Hunter. He stood there, staring blankly, for several moments. After a time, Burcroft looked down, wondering if he had something on his coat. Seeing nothing, he looked up again. Unable to take it anymore, he finally asked "What are you staring at?"
Torin continued to stare for another minute before finally answering. "You are the legendary Mooncoat, slaughterer of men, bandit-slayer, considered the true bane of all who oppose you. I'm proud of my skills, but I'm not stupid."
With these parting words, the dwarf turned on his heels, walked to the door, opened it, and bolted. Sumon and Burcroft looked at the door, neither had expected this to happen, and neither was sure what to do now. Suddenly, a loud noise came from the outside, the sound of knuckles hitting flesh, followed by the sound of something heavy hitting the ground. Then came the sound of something being dragged along the rough stone floor. Into the room walked Alai Senar, dragging the unconscious form of Torin behind him.
"Hey, you lose this?" Senar asked as he dropped Torin on the ground and walked over to join Sumon and Burcroft where they were standing.
"Hey Senar, how are you doing?" asked Burcroft, feeling a grim sense of foreboding creeping over him. He and Senar had teamed up to stop Sumon, and now that that was happening, their partnership would end soon. And that could get messy. The vaults came to mind unbidden, and he pushed away those thoughts. There wasn't any need to worry, there were no zombies or magical power orbs this time.
"I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I just fought off an entire legion of guards making my way up here to save you, only to find you escaped already and tried to start fighting the evil guy without me. So naturally, I feel great!" remarked Senar in a cheerful tone with underlying sarcasm. Or quite possibly a sarcastic tone with forced cheerfulness.
"Good to know. Now, Mr. Sumon, where were we?" Burcroft asked as he turned to face the wizard once more.
"Well let's see. Your friend just defeated my bodyguard, now you have to stop me and destroy my doomsday device. Shall we try this again?" the wizard inquired as he put down the ham and cheese sandwich he had pulled out when the argument started.
"Fine my me. Work for you Senar?" Burcroft asked.
"Works for me too. Let's try and get this done fast."
As all three nodded at this statement, Sumon jumped backwards, and raised his hands into the air, calling forth his magical energies.
"You try and get behind him, I'll see if I can draw his fire," Senar suggested as the amassed energies began to form into a ball of lightning.
"Yeah, we could do that," remarked Burcroft grimly, "But I'm tired, hungry, and I have a hangover, so I'm just going to finish this now!"
With this proclamation made, Burcroft rushed over to the surprised wizard, and punched him in the stomach. The mage grunted, the magical lightning above his head fizzling into nothingness as he slowly toppled over. Burcroft smirked, and turned towards his partner. "See, all done. Now, shall we destroy this rune, and the rest of the lab?"
Senar also smiled. "You do realize that once we do, the entire place will probably go up in flames and likely the tower will begin to collapse, right?
"As if there was any other way this could end?"
The two quickly began to hack away at the wall with their weapons, taking slices and chunks out of the large rune with each hit. Satisfied that it could not be used anymore, Burcroft reached into his pocket. When he withdrew it, he had pulled out a small packet of powerful explosive dust.
"You grab Sumon," he told Senar. "I'm gonna torch this place."
"Will do," the other Hunter replied, walking over to Sumon and delivering a swift kick to the mage's head. After being satisfied that the mage was unconscious, Senar picked him up and slung him over his shoulder, while Burcroft did the same with Torin.
The two walked out of the room, and before closing the door, Burcroft tossed the packet into one of the numerous small fires burning within the lab. He then closed the door, noticing that already a loud whistling sound came from within the room. Upon turning around, he saw various cracks and ruptures forming in the walls that had nothing to do with his explosion powder.
He turned to Senar. "Run. Very, very fast."
Senar grimaced. "No need to tell me twice."
And the two ran down the hallway, both just barely keeping ahead of the magical flames filling the corridors and explosions bringing pieces of walls and ceilings down behind them.
Burcroft and Senar stood and gazed upon the burnt rubble that was all that remained of the stupid mage's tower. The fire had consumed so much of the base of the tower what hadn't burned already had collapsed, and the magical flames ended up burned out after several hours without endangering the surrounding area.
The two had delivered the mage and the dwarf to the local police, and had told the entire story of what had transpired. Sumon and Torin were both safely in prison now, likely for a long time.
The two Hunters stared at the tower a while longer, before turning to look briefly at one another. Nodding in silent agreement never to speak of this again if they had any choice in the matter, the two turned around and walked off in separate directions, to whatever adventures and riches awaited them in the future. Senar looked back one last time, curious as to where Burcroft was off too, but the man in the silver coat had already vanished.
"What the... how did he do that..." Senar muttered in shock, noting that there was nothing but flat plains around the area for miles. He then shrugged, chalking it up to another of the mysteries of his old rival, the Hunter Mooncoat.
A loud crunching sound caught Senar's attention. Looking towards the direction the noise came from, he saw a man dressed in the traditional garb of a bard, with a flute case and a harp strapped to his back, running over the gravel.
"GAH! I missed it. I haven't even found out what it is!" Jassis Klane yelled as he saw the smoking rubble. He turned, spotting Senar. "HEY! What happened here? Was it a climactic final battle? Oh that would have been so cool? Was there a powerful evil wizard, or a hero in shining armor with a huge sword? What made that big fiery mess, a dragon? What about that guy Mooncoat, was he here? Which way did he go? Come on, tell me!"
Senar stared at the overly enthusiastic bard. "No. Go away," he growled, turning and moving on his way. He had heard several rumors in the city, and it was time to look into some of them in more detail. "Perhaps..." the hunter mumbled to himself as he walked", "One day, I might team up with the Mooncoat again. Can't say that would be the worst thing in the world. As long as he stays out of my way until it happens..."
The legends of the mighty Rarehunters come and pass, and change as they are told, heard, and retold. Nobody can say for sure whether these tales are fully accurate, but then, who can really say otherwise either?