The Violet Eyed Swordsman

The sun had just risen over the mountains that ringed the Toban Valley when the swordsman took his first steps into the town. Weeds grew unchecked through cracks in the stone road beneath his feet and he noted immediately that many of the homes had fallen into a state of disrepair. It was not the bright, lively place that he had hoped to stumble upon, but after three weeks traveling alone any sort of civilization was a welcome sight. Despite the emptiness of the streets he could feel eyes upon him and his hand hovered near the hilt of the katana he wore at his side, ready to draw it at the first sign of trouble.

Trouble, of course, was not what he was looking for here. All he really wanted was something warm to eat and a place to rest for a few days before continuing on. A breeze blew through the quiet street and he unconsciously pushed his unkempt black hair away from his eyes, which were a light purple color that most people he met found very strange. Finally he spotted a middle-aged man kneeling beside one of the rundown houses tending to a small garden and began to approach, keeping his hand near the blade all the while. 'Looks harmless enough...but better safe than sorry' he thought to himself.

He stopped about ten feet away and watched the man work for a moment, but it quickly became apparent that the gardener was not going to notice him standing there. He glanced around briefly, still feeling someone watching him but seeing no one else at all. Choosing to ignore it for the moment he spoke up in the most polite tone he could, not wanting to seem threatening. "Excuse me. Sir?"

The man jumped and spun around to face him, clearly startled by the sudden appearance of a stranger. He studied the swordsman's face for only a second before his gaze shifted downward to the sword at his side. Terror spread across his face and he backed away until his back was pressed against the wall of his house. "I ain't got nothing for you. Please, just leave us alone." His voice shook as he spoke.

For a moment the swordsman was stunned by the man's reaction. People were often wary of his weapon, but he'd never had someone react with such obvious fear. He raised both of his hands up and showed the man his palms, giving what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "Sorry if I surprised you. The name's Lliand. I'm not going to hurt anyone. I'm just looking for somewhere to get some breakfast."

The man looked him over suspiciously, obviously not quite willing to believe the words. While he did so he was slowly inching to the side, towards the door. "Look, kid...I don't know who you are, but if you're not with him then you should just get out of here. This town has nothing to offer."

"Him?" Lliand questioned, now slightly confused.

"I ain't got nothing more to say to you!" The man shouted in response, pulling the door open, quickly moving inside, and slamming it behind him.

Lliand just stood there for a full minute dumbfounded before turning away in time to see a curtain in a house across the path quickly shut before whoever who had been watching the scene from inside could be spotted. "What is going on here...?" He wondered aloud.

Continuing deeper into the town he found that the handful of people he saw outside reacted in very similar manners to the sight of his blade, everyone immediately shutting themselves up in their homes before he even got close. Something was definitely very wrong with this town. For some reason these people were terrified.

He wandered for another quarter of an hour, making his way to the center of the town where buildings were clumped closer together. Most in this area appeared to be businesses rather than homes and all of them appeared to be closed. Stands that looked like they had once been used by merchants stood broken and abandoned along the roadside.

Suddenly a woman's voice broke the nearly complete silence, shouting three words from down the road behind him. "There! That's him!"

He whipped around in an instant, his hand tightly gripping the hilt of his blade. He saw the woman who had shouted back away then quickly disappear down a side path, but it really wasn't her that his attention anyway. Two men were approaching him at a fast walk, each holding a long rusted knife in their hand.

The pair stopped not far from him, eyeing his weapon but not appearing worried as cruel grins spread across both of their faces. The larger of the two, a bald man with a huge scar running up his left arm was the one to speak first. "Well...looks like we got ourselves another troublemaker." His tone was casual, almost amused.

Lliand didn't budge an inch. He was ready to fight, but he wouldn't be the one to start it. That wasn't his way. "What do you want?"

"Not from around here, are ya boy?" The big man asked as he began to slowly advance. "Don't really matter though. We catch ya with a weapon, we kill ya. Boss's orders."

Before the bald man had even finished speaking, Lliand's katana was out of it's sheath and he had unconsciously taken a combat stance. "I didn't come here for a fight, and I'm still not looking for one. But I'm getting the feeling that we're not going to be able to talk this out." Against his will a grin appeared on his face as well, but not one of cruelty like his opponents. His came from an excitement at the idea of battle that he couldn't quite control.

With no more warning, the bald man roared and lunged. In a single flowing motion Lliand twisted to the left, avoiding taking the knife to his throat by less than an inch, and swung his blade upward. It's razor sharp edge removed the lower half of his enemy's arm with ease. The bald man's eyes widened in shock, but he didn't make a sound. Before he was even able to register the pain Lliand had placed his free hand against the man's face. He felt the power begin to flow through him and released it without hesitation.

In a sudden burst of violet light, a wave of electricity surged through his palm into the man's body. Small bolts arced through the air between them as the man, who was probably close to twice Lliand's own weight, was thrown several feet backwards onto his back. He was dead before he hit the ground.

He raised his blade and turned toward the remaining man, ready to continue. Instead he found his surviving opponent rapidly backing away. He dropped his knife in his panic, tripped over his own feet, and crashed down hard. "Wait! Don't kill me! I'm sorry! I ain't dumb enough to try fighting a mage." The man begged, causing Lliand to just scoff in annoyance.

"You attack me unprovoked, attempt to kill me, then ask for mercy as soon as you start losing?" Lliand gave the man a piercing glare for a split second before he seemed to suddenly snap out of it and his grin returned.

He sheathed his sword, turned, and began to walk away. "Go tell your boss I'm not interested in his rules. Whoever the hell he is." He called back as he heard the man scamper to his feet and take off running the way he had come from.

No sooner had the man made it far enough that Lliand could no longer hear him than he was stopped by another voice. "! Mage!" A man was calling in a somewhat hushed voice, just loud enough to be heard by his intended target.

Lliand turned his head to see an elderly man, dressed in what could be best described as rags, standing in a nearby doorway. Lliand stopped walking and cocked an eyebrow in response. "I don't suppose you're going to try to kill me too?"

The man smiled a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "If it's not too much trouble...I'd like to talk to you."

Sayos stood in the dining hall of the manor on the edge of town, looking out over his territory through an open window, when he was abruptly interrupted by one of his underlings bursting through the door in a panic. His passive expression didn't change at all as he turned his head to view the man out of one eye. "Boss!" The man blurted without waiting to be addressed, "Dels is dead! There's a mage in town...!"

"I see. And did this mage cast a spell that caused you to forget how to knock? Or how to compose yourself in the presence of your master?" Sayos asked, his voice smooth and threatening.

"No...sir, I..." He never got any farther than that. Sayos lightly placed a single finger on a small knife laying on a nearby table. Seeming to react to the touch, the blade launched through the air and struck the man directly between the eyes.

His lackey dead, Sayos calmly walked across the room and out the door, taking only a passing glance at the body as he went by. "Worthless...what am I paying you scum for if I have to deal with every problem myself..."