Chapter 1

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I remember being at the orphanage when I was five years old.  They told me my parents had 
died during the winter before. It had something to do with frostbites and infections.  I remember 
a little of it, my parents took turns going out of our small house to get firewood. It had been an 
exceptionally cold winter.  They never let on much that they were hurting themselves. 
The Talshari came to the orphanage that summer.  They are the most fearsome mercenary 
fighting force in all of Galand.  They recruit young boys by adopting them from crowded 
orphanages, parents who can't or don't want to take care of their children, and homeless boys 
on the streets.  The boys are taught for the rest of their lives how to be the ultimate warrior.   
Not that I had much say in the matter, but I jumped at the new opportunity before me.  I was 
angry about my parent’s death, especially since no one could explain to me why such a thing 
had happened. I gave everything to my training.  I gave everything to the Talshari, and took my 
vengeance out on our enemies whoever that might be. 
The Talshari save you from a mediocre, sometimes bleak life.  In return, you give your loyalty to 
the Talshari.  The Talshari only give their loyalty to the king and the highest bidder.  As long as 
they do not go against the king, they can continue to operate at will in Galand. And anyone can 
hire the Talshari for any reason as long as they are willing to pay the right price.  To act as 
personal bodyguards, defend your homeland, attack your rival warlord, or assassinate your wife 
and child. 
The Talshari had been life, and everything I knew. 

~Razer Leaf former Talshari Warrior 
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Razer ducked down the alley staying out of sight, while making sure the mother and young son 
could still see him and follow him.  The woman was pretty, with curly blonde hair, long legs and 
a face that would turn any man’s head.  Her son was only a couple months old.  She kept him 
close to her, with a body wrap.  She was only wearing a full night gown, and looked at him with 
an expression of fear.  Razer turned back away and scanned the alley ahead remembering 
what had happened less than an hour before that brought him to this situation. 

Two men scaled the castle wall.  Their black outfits, complete with hooded masks, made them 
invisible in the moonless night.  They used special small hooks to find the holes in the mortar 
and bricks as they moved silently up the wall.  When they reached the designated window, the 
first man lifted his head just high enough to see in.  The lights were out and the occupants of the 
room were sleeping.  Normally the narrow window, made for archers, would not have allowed 
the two men to enter, but several blocks had been removed for “maintenance”; just as they had 
been told. 
They slipped inside quietly, stowing the hooks in special pouches.  The one man was slightly 
taller, and leaner.  Even through the non-revealing cloths one could tell that his muscles were 
more toned and built.  They crouched low making sure that their entrance had not been 
revealed to anyone.   
Razer, the taller of the two, took a much deeper look around the room than his companion.  
Ever since his long talks with Priest Morey, he had been considering his actions and the 
morality of them much more in the past few months. He took in the female figure on the bed, 
and the crib within arm’s reach of it.  His stomach began to turn slightly. They had been told to 
kill the two people in this room.  They had not been told that those two were a mother and child.   
Razer gripped Jor’s wrist as he was pulling out the dagger that would be used once, and 
disposed of. 
“We can’t do this.  It’s only a mother and child,” he said in a soft but firm voice. 
“Get off me,” Jor tossed off the grip. “We were given a job to do.  We don’t question our 
assignments. You know that.” 
“I think this one deserves to be questioned,” Razer was becoming angry.  He had thought Jor 
would give pause and consider his actions in this matter. 
“You’ve been listening to that stupid priest too much.”  Jor stood up drawing out the dagger.  He 
started for the bed. 
He didn’t make it a step before a kick hit him in the back of his knee and a punch to the face.  
Jor staggered, but recovered quickly, flipping the knife over and attacking with a slash punch 
combo.  Razer easily dodged the knife and deflected the punch.  The two men moved around 
the room, as Razer angled himself away from the knife.   

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Jor quickly began to realize that he was out matched.  Despite being unarmed, Razer was 
delivering more blows and deflecting attacks much easier.  Jor thought back briefly to the times 
he had mocked Razer’s extra hours of training.  He also remembered the ferocity Razer brought 
to the battlefield.  It was only a moment’s thought though.  He was Talshari after all.  And 
Talshari were undefeated. They had both received the same training.  If a bystander had been 
watching they would not have been able to follow the movements. They would have also not 
been able to say who would win the fight, but Razer’s extra hours of training and exercise began 
to pay off. 
In a deft move Razer grabbed the elbow of Jor’s dagger arm, jerking it while simultaneously 
kicked at Jor’s knee.  While Jor was off balance, Razer grabbed the dagger with his opposite 
hand, twisted it out of Jor’s grip and slashed it across his throat.  Jor stayed there for a moment 
on his knees, before falling back with a slightly shocked look. 
Razer turned around and saw the women kneeling on her bed, the blanket pulled up around her 
and a shocked look on her face.  He saw her expression change and knew she was about to 
call for help.  He raised his hand to stop her, but before either of them said anything the door 
burst open and armed guards came in with cries of “Kill the assassins.” 
Razer realized quickly that it was a trap.  Get the assassins to do your dirty work than kill the 
assassins to keep your nose clean.  He ran around the bed to meet them, throwing the dagger 
as he did. A guard took it in the chest.  They had been expecting the catch the men by surprise 
and were not immediately expecting an attack.  Razer moved fast, grabbing the man’s sword 
before he hit the floor. 
The other men were quick to respond, attacking Razer in unison.  They were well trained and 
pushed Razer back, who defended multiple attacks at once.  He blocked a high attack and 
moved out of the way enough to dodge a sword aimed for his gut. He then twisted away in time 
to avoid two other attacks.  Fighting multiple enemies at once was nothing new to a Talshari 
He blocked one attack, circling his sword at the same time pushing it forward. The man fell 
away with a wound to the stomach.  The next man aimed for his head.  He crouched under the 
attack, and then pushed back up, his sword leading the way into the man’s chest.  Three guards 
remained.  He knew the commotion would attract other guards, or one of these three would run 
for help.  This had to end quickly. 
He did two spinning sweeps in succession knocking the remaining men on their backs.  He 
leaped up and over them as they began to stand, stabbing one in the chest.  Their backs to 
each other now, Razer spun around quickly, slashing at one man’s back.  His sword clashed 
with the remaining guard’s and it was only a moment longer, before that man fell. 
Adrenaline still flowing, he turned back to the woman.  Her look was one of extreme fear.  She 
had no idea what was going on.  All she knew was that several men were now dead and the 

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person who did it stood before her.  She held her breath, too scared to yell for help.  She closed 
her eyes, not wanting to see the blow. 
It never came.  She hesitantly opened her eyes. The man stood there with one hand up towards 
her.  The sword pointed at the floor.  
“Look,” Razer started, “I was sent here to kill you.  But I don’t want to kill you.” There was a tone 
of pleading in his voice, hoping that she understood she was not in danger from him.   
“My companion and I,” he indicated Jor who now had a pool of blood around him, “had been 
given an assignment to kill the two occupants of this room.  Nobody told us it was a mother and 
“Oh so you had a sudden change of heart,” her voice suddenly returned, laced with anger. 
“Yes I did,” he said shocking himself as he said it, even though he didn’t show it.  He realized he 
did have a change of heart, though it had happened quietly over a matter of months.  He silently 
thanked Morey, without fully understanding why. 
The woman hadn’t expected this answer and was again at a loss for words.  Razer knew time 
was short and tried to recover quickly. 
“Listen I know you don’t understand what’s going on, but you’re still in danger.  We need to get 
you out of here.”  He knew full well that whoever had arranged this, would be expecting news 
that everything had been taken care of.  They would also not be happy that things had not gone 
according to plan. 
She stood there staring at him.  Why should she believe him?  It could be another trap.  It could 
all be part of a plan to lure her away, and kidnap her, or leave her body someplace to be found.  
She shook her head slowly.  He did not know what to say to convince her.  He slowly walked 
over and placed the sword in his hand next to her on the bed.  She stared down, still in 
“Look this isn’t going to go unnoticed.  Someone is going to come around to make sure you’re 
dead.  I don’t want to see you or your child dead.  You need to come with me now,” he pleaded 
At the mention of her child, she looked over at the crib for the first time, and thought of her son.  
Why would someone want to kill him?  Why would someone want to kill her?  She looked back 
at the man.  His hands were spread out, and his look was sincere.  He was either telling the 
truth, or a good actor.   
“Where will we go?” 
“I know a good man.  He’ll help get this sorted out.” 

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She nodded, sliding off the bed.  She grabbed the baby wrap and began to secure her son next 
to her. 
Razer grabbed the woman’s hand as she got near and guided her down the alley.  They past 
apartment doors; stopping at 2B.  He knocked heavily on the door, hoping none of the 
neighbors heard it.  After a few moments, a small door at head level slide aside; to reveal a 
groggy, bearded man. 
“Razer, what are you doing here at this hour,” he said clearly shocked. 
“I need your help.” 
A second later the man nodded, and opened the door saying, “Come in.  Tell me what’s wrong.” 
He looked taken aback at the sight of the woman and child who followed. 
“Is the child yours,” the man asked Razer. 
“No they are from the castle Dupry,” Razer quickly answered. 
The man sighed.  The importance of abstinence was one of the many talks Morey had been 
having with Razer.  He was glad that at least in this instance that talk seemed to have taken 
hold.  He gestured them to seats in the living room, just behind him. 
“Apparently you have some explaining to do,” Morey said gravely.  He shut and locked the door.  
As the other two sat down, he lit a lamp, turning it down low, so that the light barely shown. 
As soon as the priest took his seat, Razer began to explain things.  Starting out by describing 
how Captain Mist of the Talshari had selected him and Jor for the assassination.  Morey sucked 
in his breath slightly at this.  He understood than man would always be at war, and good 
mercenaries were a part of that.  The thought of silent stealthy assassins displease Priest Morey 
more than the violence itself.  He wished that at the very least, everyone would stick to open 
warfare on the battlefield. 
Razer went on to describe the events that took place in the castle, emphasizing his heart 
change.  He didn’t fully understand why, but knew it was important to the priest.  Morey waited 
for Razer to finish.  He seemed relieved, by the end.  Up until then Morey had been standing.  
He sat down in a chair opposite them and sighed. 
“Well it appears that this young lady has quite a problem,” he indicated her.  He knew that Razer 
was in danger as well.  One certainly didn’t kill a Talshari warrior, foil their mission and expect to 
walk away.  And you most certainly did not leave the Talshari.  Despite that, he knew Razer 
could fend for himself in a way that the woman never could. 
Morey looked politely at the woman and the sleeping baby still strapped to her.  “Please tell me 
your name, as Razer here has failed to inform me.” 

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She straightened up and seemed very hesitant.  “Lady Dupry, wife of Lord Bompu Dupry, first in 
line to inherit the Dupry royal estate,” she said very formally at last.   
Both Razer and Morey looked taken aback by this.  “I stand corrected, you don’t have a 
problem, you have an emergency situation!  We need to get you back immediately,” turning to 
Razer he said, “Take her back to Lord Dupry right now.” 
“She can’t go back to the castle,” Razer stated.  “It’s a trap, someone at that castle arranged to 
have her killed.  Those guards came in on cue.  They knew we were there.  It was a classic kill 
the assassins to tie up loose ends deal.” 
Morey who had spent many months mentoring Razer was angry with him for the first time.  That 
notion was simply preposterous.  The guards had simply heard the fighting and had come 
rushing in.  He said so to Razer in a tone that let him know it was final and to stop arguing.   
Razer instead turned to Lady Dupry.  He seemed unfazed by the priest.  “Do castle guards ever 
patrol the hallways?” 
“Are there any stationed near your room?” 
“No.”  She said the second no softly.  One could tell that she was beginning to think about the 
same things as Razer. 
The priest was beginning to get frustrated as this.  She needed to go back to the castle right 
now.  He dismissed this growing train of thought, claiming that perhaps they knew someone 
would try and get into the castle.  That was why they had guards out on patrol.  Certainly no one 
there would be out to kill the lady of the castle.  No one had any reason to. 
Razer again turned to her, seeming not to hear Priest Morey, “Do you have any reason to 
suspect that anyone would try to kill you?” 
She stopped for a moment and sat there thinking.  She looked at neither man.  “No one that I 
can think of.  The only person who outwardly doesn’t like me is my husband.  He had wanted to 
marry some girl from the village, but it was all an arranged marriage between his parents and 
mine, I think something about a land deal.  But he wouldn’t kill me, he doesn’t have the guts for 
Lord Bompu Dupry slammed his fist on the table clearly outraged.  He winced, and began to 
massage the meaty part of his hand.  “You said she would be dead and it would be neat and 
clean.  Instead I have a huge bloody mess in my castle, with several of my men dead.”  If Lord 
Dupry had been foaming at the mouth, he would have looked even sillier then he already did.  
He wore poufy pants, a large floppy hat and a tight shirt.  He was the only one in the royal family 
that dressed like that, even though he kept insisting that it was the latest fashion.  No one else 
seemed to think it was very fashionable.   

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General Grip and Captain Mist both looked nonplussed.  Despite his attempt at bluster and a 
show of force, Lord Bompu Dupry was nothing compared to the people they were used to 
dealing with.  General Grip spoke calmly as if Lord Dupry was not acting like an aggressive fool. 
“Several of your men who were not supposed to be there.  It is quite likely that they blundered in 
and ruined the entire operation.  It’s likely that our missing man had to change his plans, when 
your guards stormed in.”  The general had other very different thoughts about the matter, but he 
didn’t feel it was necessary at this time to reveal that.  He had already dispatched some men to 
investigate the situation. 
“What are you accusing me of,” Dupry tried to sound angry again, but seeing how did not phase 
the two other men, his anger began to trail off. 
“I’m not accusing you of anything.  I’m merely stating the fact that you shouldn’t have had 
guards there.” Though in fact both Grip and Mist had moments before discussed that this looked 
like a cover up and Dupry was trying to get out of paying, by having his guards kill Talshari 
warriors.  Quite foolish it had been to send only a half dozen guards to do the job.  Any Talshari 
warrior on the battle field was worth at least 4 regular infantry soldiers.  And they charged their 
services accordingly. 
Bompu didn’t try to make excuses or cover anything up. Only those dead guards would know 
what orders they had been given.  Instead he changed subjects.  At the heart of the matter was 
the fact that his wife was still alive.  “I want her dead body by morning.  After all I did pay you to 
kill her.” 
“It will be taken care of,” General Grip assured him.  The general had had enough of listening to 
this goofball and began to walk out.  Captain Mist followed after him.  Bompu watched them go 
before leaving himself to seek counseling. 
The three sat in the living room of Morey’s small apartment.  None of them seemed to know 
what to do next.  Razer was convinced that someone was trying to kill Lady Dupry at the castle.  
Priest Morey thought otherwise, and Lady Dupry herself was still not sure what was going on.  
As they sat there in silence each with his own thoughts, Razer noticed something at the bottom 
of the outside door.  The light shifted as if someone was standing in front of it.  It was subtle and 
hard to see with the darkness, but Razer was trained to look for the subtle changes.   
He stood up drawing his sword.  “Get back quickly,” he hissed.  The other two looked 
bewildered, having no indication that something was going on.   
Razer didn’t have to explain himself when the front door and one of the windows burst in.  Two 
men came in, dressed exactly like Razer.  They didn’t say anything or make any demands.  The 
fighting started immediately.  The three warriors had all received the same training, their fighting 
styles were the same and for a moment it looked like an exhibition match and not a fight to the 
death.  Morey and Lady Dupry moved from the living room to the small hallway that led to 
bedroom.  Razer was fighting well, but it was hard to hold his own against these two.  He began 

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to wish he had a second sword, dual wielding had always been his preferred style, and it was so 
much better against multiple attackers. 
They moved around the room, metal ringing as the swords constantly clashed.  Razer kept 
moving in different directions, over furniture, twisting away, and ducking behind his opponents.  
To make it a more even fight, he had to keep only one attacker in front of him at a time.  Morey 
left Lady Dupry in the hallway, running into his room.  She was stunned and thought he was 
running away. 
He returned just as quickly, carrying a sling.  He hesitated, waiting for the right moment.  If they 
noticed him twirling a sling over his head, one of the men would be after them and it wouldn’t 
help Razer. He had to stun one, when neither was looking. In another jump over the furniture 
Razer had his back to the front wall, which meant both attackers had to turn and face him.   
Morey quickly raised him arm up, and just as quickly put it back down.  Razer who had no idea 
what Morey was doing had pivoted out of the way, turning the men at the same time.  Morey 
inwardly grumbled.  Dupry looked over at him. 
“What are you waiting for,” she whispered. 
“Shush,” was all he said, placing his hand on her wrist.  As the fighting continued, she placed a 
hand over her son’s head and backed away closer to the bed room.  At that moment he started 
to cry. 
Morey didn’t hesitate anymore.  He let fly two stones in quick succession.  Neither one hit their 
mark.  The attackers had looked over briefly at the sound of the cry.  Razer took advantage of 
them ducking the stones headed for their heads.  The first man attempted to evade the slice, but 
was too slow.  His sword hand was cut.  He dropped his sword and backed away until he could 
regain himself.  The second man was prepared however and easily deflected any attacks.  With 
a pivot and a side step he put his back to the wall, keeping Razer between himself and the flying 
The priest let loose another stone, just as the first man was backing away.  Without warning he 
took it to the side of head.  He gave a brief grunt before collapsing to the floor.  Razer now had 
the advantage.  All of the extra time he had spent practicing had made him the best combat 
warrior the Talshari had.  No one had openly acknowledged this, and a few had scoffed at him.  
When you are in a group of men who all think they are the best, what does a few extra training 
sessions mean.  At the time it had meant an escape from a reality Razer had wished he could 
have known. 
Now it meant lightning reflexes.  The other man made an angled slice with his sword.  In a 
circular motion with his own sword, he deflected the attacked.  Then simultaneously he snapped 
a palm into the man’s sword wrist, blocking any reversal, and kicked out the man’s knee.  As the 
man stumbled, he received another swift kick to the side. 

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Razer changed his palm block into a wrist grip.  His fingers squeezed into the wrist forcing the 
man to let go of his sword.  Razer brought that arm back around, turning the man’s chest 
towards him.  Razer’s sword slide between the man’s ribs piercing his heart.  He withdrew his 
sword releasing his grip at the same time.  The body fell as blood began to pour out. 
Razer’s face did not display any triumph or pride.  It was as it had been: a fight for survival.  
There was no need to take any pleasure in what he had just done.  He wiped the blade off on 
his opponent’s cloths and placed it back in the belt at his waist.  He did not have a scabbard as 
he had taken the sword from one of the castle guards. 
“It’s time to go,” he stated. 
Lady Dupry was still trying to quite her baby.  She looked over at him almost angrily. “I can’t just 
go somewhere with him.  Where would you have us go?” 
Morey said nothing.  He looked at the scene taking it all in.  While he didn’t want an 
unconscious man and a dead man in his apartment, that was the last thing on his mind.  He was 
trying to determine who they were here to kill: Razer or Dupry.  Were they here to punish Razer 
for turning his back on the Talshari or to finish the job from the castle or both?  He walked over 
to the stunned man looking down at him as if expecting answers.   
Each person stood for a moment in their own thoughts.  Razer still wanted to leave, while Lady 
Dupry now wanted go back to the castle and Morey was unsure of what was going on.  
Frustrated, Dupry took the crying child into the bedroom and shut the door.  They heard some 
more crying, and the whimper died down.  Morey turned toward Razer.  For once he didn’t have 
an answer for the man.  Razer walked over the unconscious attacker.  He took off the man’s 
belt, bound him with it, and used the mask for a makeshift gag, before propping him against the back of a chair.