The Harvest

The lonely hawk flew along the city walls, zig-zagging as it looked for a good perch. This part of the city was still mostly abandoned after the giant attack. Average citizens had no reason to frequent what were now ruins. Engineers and builders frequented the area but they did not have a large enough workforce to be everywhere. So it was that just like with other unused spaces, criminals moved in to use them. None of the criminals installed anything permanent but the area was perfect for uninterrupted secret meetings.

If the workers and criminals in the area bothered to look up, the hawk would have been fairly unremarkable. Some birds of prey did stray near the city and helped curb the rodent problem, especially in the damaged parts far from the hunting grounds of any feral cats. The part that was rather remarkable was that this hawk had a passenger. A tiny mouse clung to the bird’s neck feathers, managing to stay on even with the crosswinds up that high. The hawk made big swooping circles but finally came in for a landing in the remains of what must have been a wizard’s tower.

The mouse chittered and smoothed its fur before jumping off of the hawk. As it walked away, the mouse slowly transformed into the elven form of Becka. As she attained her normal form, she shivered and shook off the feeling of the magical transformation. She did not look pleased.

“That was weird,” she said. “That was really weird. I’m not sure if I hated it or liked it. My head is still spinning.”

The hawk shimmered and was instantly replaced by the form of the young druid Joshua. The young halfling was smug and gave a half-hearted shrug.

“That’s probably the effect of your intellect dropping to that of a mouse and then going back up,” Joshua said. “Though, in your case, it’s probably not that great of a difference.” He was perched a bit on top of a broken-down bit of wall. They were mostly enclosed in the top of the tower, giving them a bit of privacy.

“Watch your tongue, boy,” Becka said, her eyes narrowing with annoyance and the early rumblings of anger. “You know who and what I am.” She smoothed her cloak and tossed her auburn hair, an arrogant habit she had. She was a little more relaxed, sure that they would probably not be spotted anytime soon.

“Oh I know,” Joshua said with a smile. “The Harvest. The Coming Winter. The Butcher of Khull. I know all of your names and the reputation that comes with them.” 

“So you know that I could kill you in any number of ways,” Becka said. “I killed with a table leg. Ten soldiers with a table leg.” She gripped the hilt of her saber with a somewhat haughty expression.

Joshua nodded. “I’ve heard the stories,” he said. “I also know that you only kill criminals or enemy combatants. I am neither. You hired me to get you across the city.”

Becka’s eyes narrowed again. “Because you picked my pocket,” she said. “Which makes you a criminal. I also thought you would point me towards a shortcut through the sewers.”

“Sewers? Not ideal. You know what goes into the sewers, right?” Joshua asked with a smile. “Learning how to be a fish is kind of weird too. Fish are also somehow more stupid than mice.”

“We don’t have to be fish,” Becka said. “Do you ever just walk anywhere?”

“Ugh, not if I can help it,” Joshua said. “It takes forever. Look how quickly we flew.”

“Not exactly stealthy or safe,” Becka said.

“Look, we could sit around here discussing my methods or you could get on with the killing,” Joshua said.

“You’re not needed here,” Becka said, pulling out her bow to assemble it.”You can go.”

There was a long silence and then Joshua spoke. “Oh, what’s your exit strategy then?” Joshua asks.

Becka barely flinched. It was subtle but Joshua spotted it. “I’ll figure it out,” she said softly.

“Maybe I want to stick around,” Joshua said. “I’ve never seen an assassination before.”

“Suit yourself,” Becka said with a shrug. “If you get in my way, I will take you down.” She pulled out her quiver of arrows.

“Noted,” Joshua said and pulled out an apple to eat.

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