Do. Not. Fear.
He had told himself this so often it had become a mantra.
He stood at the corner of Wind street and Long alley, dressed in black, cloaked in shadow, palms sweating, a knot in his stomach. Aiden had melted into the shadows like smoke on the wind. He had followed his mark for days to become familiar with his movements. Within minutes he would be in sight, heading toward the dock on Mill Pond.
The man was a half-orc named Belok and Uncle Emmitt wanted him to get a message. He didn't question his Uncle. Talingarde is a large city with plenty of room for 'businessmen' of all persuasions to have room to operate. Unfortunately for Belok, he had strayed into Emmitt's territory. Aiden, was to deliver a message.
The city watch had never really bothered with Emmitt. So what if a few crates went missing from the ships in the harbor? Who cared if some of the passing caravans didn't fully declare their goods? Emmitt had done more to keep the peace than half a dozen guard captains in years gone by. Those had been the good old days. Now, there were more and more Paladins and Inquisitors of Mitra prowling the streets. Their interminable presence had all but choked Emmitt's peaceful smuggling operation. Aiden knew of a potentially lucrative deal between his Uncle and the Long-hand gang but unfortunately, Belok had moved in and within months had a lucrative protection racket operating. Aiden had a soft spot for orphans, beggars and needy. Long years in this city had taught him they were often the best sources of information on the street. He looked after them and they looked after him. It was something he had learned from Emmit after he had rescued him as a squalling babe from that grim, disease-ridden whorehouse. Worse still, Belok's presence seriously jeopardised the deal with the Long-hands.
There. The half-orc turned the corner. But he wasn't alone, a tall, broad shouldered human man accompanied him. Protection. Wise, but futile.
He moved swiftly and silently. "Do not fear" he told himself again. First, remove the threat.
His first strike sliced through the human's knee, driving him down to the ground with a grunt, his second ended hilt deep in his throat. Send a message. Twist. Let Belok see the blood flow.
The Half-orc turned to run. Despite his small size, Aiden was faster than most of his kind and, living up to his family name, he closed the gap between them in a heartbeat. Leaping, impossibly high, he vaulted over his prey, his left arm grasping in a kind of headlock. With a twist, he threw his weight backwards and flipped them both, somehow landing on Belok's chest, the razor sharp blade a fraction from his throat.
"You were foolish to come to Sandpoint, Belok."
"P...please. I have money.
"I know." said the halfling with a snarl. "taken from the folk of Emmitt's Place. You should have remembered, Belok, there are eyes in the darkness. Always. I am to deliver a message so you should not forget your foolishness."
The blade pierced the half-orc's right eye as easily as if it were passing through water.
Suddenly, the air was filled with noise and light, several thunderstones cracked all around him. He was dimly aware of being thrown to the ground by a well armored human, a dog snarling in his face, straining at the leash, eager for his blood. Stripped of his weapons, bleeding from nose and mouth he was hauled away. To his amazement he saw Emmitt standing in the gathering crowd. He was laughing with a man Aiden didn't know but recognised from his clothing as a member of the Long-hands.
It was in that moment that he realised for the first time what he was. A tool. A disposable tool that had served its purpose. The man he called Uncle but loved like a father had betrayed him. Used him to remove the competition and to gain favour with his new business partners. He swore to himself that no matter how long it took, no matter what he must do, one day he would look his Uncle in the eye and demand to know if all the gold was worth his life. Then he would remove his lying tongue and watch him choke on his own blood.