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PrologueEdit

"Maker, look at 'em all..." Waldimer Howton murmured, as he watched from a roof in Lowtown. Below, the streets, they had counted at least a dozen slavers in the armor of the Tevinter Imperium.

The slavers will among hundreds of other people wandering the streets that night, either staggering out of the Hanged Man after a night in their cups, haggling with the unlicensed after-dark merchants, or any number of other activities. Still, that the slavers were even here was troubling. Kirkwall had been the center of the Tevinter Imperium's slave trade for centuries, but over a century ago, an uprising had ostensibly put an end to all that. It was not a city that was particularly friendly towards slavers.

And yet here they are, Endre Glendell thought. "We've got our work cut out for us," he said to his companion.

They made their way over to the roof of the house next door. Below, three of the slavers, all blind stinking drunk, had wandered well away from their fellows. One was taking a piss against a wall. The other two were leaning against the opposite wall, impatiently waiting for the pisser to finish.

"C'mon, Terius," one of the leaners groaned. "We've got to report back to the boss."

The other leaner shrugged. "I'm wouldn't be in too much of a hurry, Orano. Danarius is not going to be pleased hearing that we still haven't found that sodding elf."

The one called Terius grunted. "You'd think it'd be easy to find an elf covered in glowing tattoos..."

"Not much of a challenge, are they?" Waldimer said, looking uneasy.

Which is why they make good targets, idiot, Endre thought. He sighed. Waldimer was new to the cause, and squeamish about killing. Endre had tried to warn his Auntie Holl to wait before sending the boy out on these missions, but all he'd accomplished was convincing her to send him along as a chaperone. The Howtons were old money, she'd explained. If their son got involved in the abolitionists' cause, it would bring in more financial backing.

So far, though, money appeared to be the only thing Waldimer brought to the cause. Supposedly, he knew how to use a bow, but he was so damned fat. His chubby fingers barely managed to nock his arrows half the time, and his aim was appalling. All the money in the world won't make him useful, Endre thought.

"I'll handle the two leaners," he said. "You take care of the pisser, and try not to mess it up."

Waldimer nodded, and Endre dropped down to the alley. He'd been doing this for five years, and managed to dispatch the third slaver with very little effort. This cost him the element of surprise against Orano, though, and he struggled for a minute or two before putting his dagger through the eyehole in Orano's helm.

That's when he heard the thwip-PING behind him. Damn it, he thought, the idiot aimed for the head. He spun round and aimed for just below Terius' belly. Thankfully, Terius hadn't managed to pull up his breeches yet and as he groaned in pain, Endre grabbed his head and slammed it against the wall as hard as he could. That knocked the slaver unconscious. Endre then grabbed the spent arrow and shoved it through Terius' eye to make sure he never got up again.

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