Linnius pushed the wheeled cart that he used
to deliver drugs to the local apothecaries
back to his workshop after the morning's round
Business had improved over the past several
months, with the increasing stability in the
region and the respite lately from invasions of
rats or undead. Linnius pulled the cart to
the back of his workshop, then went inside.
He knew when he entered that something was not
right; the house 'felt' different. Only after
he saw who sat at his kitchen table did he
relax his guard. "Matog," Linnius said, "this
It had been several months since she had last
appeared to him. Then, it had been to tell
him to stay in Highgate until further notice.
Now, Linnius guessed, 'further notice' was
about to be given.
"Hello, Linnius," Matog said with a brief
smile. "Yes, it has been a while. I've come
to warn you that events are about to begin
"Oh?" Linnius leaned the cart against a wall
and joined Matog at the table. "What's going
"Myradin Glennis, your...Duke of Greenwall, is
making plans to leave the city. You must
leave, as well."
Linnius blinked. "And...do what, tail him?"
Matog shook her head. "You must travel to
Montagne, in Dakarta, and befriend an assassin
there. She has accepted a contract to kill the
woman Myradin loves. You see where this will
"I presume the Duke will oppose anyone who tries
to assassinate his mistress." Linnius glanced at
Matog. "But I don't think that woman has been
seen in Highgate for several months."
Matog nodded. "Correct. She is elsewhere, and
Myradin is going to her. Her assassin also
follows. If Myradin is present when the
assassin makes her move, he will intervene,
possibly to his detriment."
"Then why don't you just ask me to kill the
assassin?" Linnius asked.
Matog snorted. "Because it is not yet a matter
of vengeance--though it might become one, if
this assassin succeeds. No, I want your mission
to be clear. You are to keep Myradin from getting
killed. Otherwise, you are to remain neutral."
"I can't warn this woman whom the Duke wants to
protect?" Linnius questioned, frowning.
"No." Matog gave him a firm look. "Gods work
under strict rules, Linnius; there is only so
far that we can go, when we intervene in the
lives of mortals. If Ilena ib Roun lives or dies,
it will be because her efforts or those of her
friends succeeded or failed. You are no mortal's
friend, Linnius; you serve me. You must learn to
see the path of the world as I see it."
Linnius stared at her. "I'm not a god, Matog.
I'll live and die as a mortal, and I will have
to answer to mortals for my actions. I can't
just stand aside, when I know an assassin is
after someone. And I don't think you'd want
me serving you, if I were the sort of person
"In this case, what I want for you is not
important," Matog said. "What matters is
maintaining the long-term balance. If the
price of that balance is that a woman dies,
then so be it; many more will be saved, later
on. This is how it must be, Linnius."
"Perhaps it is," Linnius replied in a hard
voice, "but I don't have to like it."
"Even so," Matog agreed. She looked at Linnius.
"The assassin is a woman named Lenara Maharet
Khasir. She is a member of the Insiders faction
of the Dakartan Assassins' Guild. Her contact is
a man named Isulien..."