• The moonlight shone down from the heavens to the dark street below. A dark figure crept along the deserted alley, dressed in black leather with a long silk cloak. A royal purple feather was fastened to the band of a black wide-brimmed black hat. His emerald eyes glinted in the moonlight, and his jet-black hair hung in unruly spikes down to his shoulders. He was utterly silent as he moved, and he seemed to blend in with the darkness. His name was Auril, after a famed trickster hero of the Third Age.
    Auril quickly and silently ran through the dark alley until came upon a squat building with a small, round window. He reached in a pouch at his belt and pulled out a bent, but durable wire. He crawled up a pile of discarded cloth up to the window, and was about to insert the wire into the window’s lock, when he heard a yell of terror from a nearby street. What could it be? Someone was clearly frightened, and Auri (Auril’s nickname), being naturally curious, wanted to find out exactly what was happening.
    He slid down the pile of cloth, putting the wire back in his belt pouch, and started to run toward where he had heard the yell. Another scream tore through the air, but was suddenly cut off. A murder, Auri guessed, shuddering. Auri ran faster; he needed to find out whom the killer was, so he could turn him in. Auri didn’t like when people got hurt, even though he was a thief himself. Auri would only steal from people who were wealthy and didn’t need the stuff he took.
    Auri charged around a corner and slowed to a stop. In front of him was the back of the town sheriff, a mysterious but helpful law enforcer who caught many a criminal. The sheriff, who called himself Bloodhound, was like a dog hunting down a target, never giving up until he caught the culprit. Despite his expertise, he had never caught Auri. To Bloodhound, Auri was just a happy little boy who helped him solve small crimes every once in a while. Auri grinned. A few of those crimes he had “solved” by giving evidence that the owner of a lost item had just misplaced it. The truth was that he himself had stolen it, but Bloodhound never found out. Bloodhound seemed like a simple person, but there was something about him that bugged Auri. Maybe the scar…?
    Auri was about to step forward and announce what he had heard, when his keen eyes picked a detail out from the scene in front of him. Bloodhound was looking at a newly dead corpse on the ground, and was laughing. Laughing, and with a dagger in his hand. Bloodhound was the murderer, and he had a perfect guise too. Auri charged out and brought his elbow hard into Bloodhound’s back, drawing his rapier. Bloodhound gave a yelp of surprise and tumbled forward, smacking his head against the hard cobblestone street. Auri leapt forward and pressed the tip of his rapier against Bloodhound’s throat pinioning his arms with the other hand. At first Auri thought Bloodhound’s fall had knocked him out, but Bloodhound had stayed conscious after bigger whacks than that. Bloodhound arched his back and jumped upward, throwing Auri off, and getting himself back to his feet. Auri managed to shift his blade as Bloodhound jumped, scratching him on the cheek. Auri landed, catlike, in a crouch position, and looked up at Bloodhound.
    Auri cast his plumed hat aside, to the shelter of an overhang. Rain clouds had snuck into the sky as they fought, and now they released their moisture upon the town below. Lightning flashed, followed by booming thunder. Water ran down Auri’s jet hair, and down his neck, soaking him thoroughly. Bloodhound’s blood from the scratch mixed with rainwater and trailed down his face.
    Bloodhound snarled, “You can't win. I serve a higher leader, who’ll hire someone else to continue the killing, in the tiny chance that I'm injured. He wants a war, and this town will grow suspicious of even their neighbors for being murderers and thieves, if he can continue his work. The town will erupt in civil war, and he will reap the profit of selling to both sides’ valuable info and weaponry. But you won’t be able to do a thing, cause you’re going to jail.”
    Auri frowned. For what reason could Bloodhound put him in jail? Had Bloodhound guessed that he was a thief?
    “Tsk, tsk, found near a dead body, armed with a rapier, yup, you’re definitely the murderer,” Bloodhound reasoned, with a leer. “Who would the mayor believe, me or you?”
    Auri glared at Bloodhound. “Who is it you serve, and where can I find him?”
    Bloodhound laughed. “All I’ll tell you is that his name is Carnag E, but where he is, you’ll have to find out yourself. But no Carnag-hunting, cause you're going to jail!”
    "Carnag E? That's a really clichéd name. Its kind of obvious. Whatever, i guess its time to escape."
    Bloodhound started toward Auri, drawing his longsword. “You know that I can run faster than you, so don’t try to run away.”
    Auri grinned, “Maybe you’re faster running, but how fast can you climb?”
    Before Bloodhound could react, Auri ran and grabbed his hat, and leapt up to a low window ledge. He started to climb upwards, to the building’s roof. Bloodhound gave a yell of rage and charged after him, but when he got to the building, he was at loss of what to do. He tried to scale the rock wall but slipped on the wet stone.
    Auri made it to the top, and doffed his hat, speaking amiably, “Farewell, maybe we’ll meet on a sunnier day, eh?” Auri ran across the roof and jumped to the next, easily getting away from Bloodhound. Auri laughed, and bounded from roof to roof, until he came upon the edge of town. He leapt down from his shingled perch and ran into the forest, stopping at a small camouflaged dwelling made of branches and brick. He ran inside, tossed his cloak and hat onto a hook, and sat down, cross-legged. What could he do, he thought. He needed to find this Carnag E that Bloodhound had been talking about, and avoid Bloodhound at the same time. Auri shook his head. Nothing fancy, I’ll just go to the market and ask around for “Carnag E.” It was decided, he would get some sleep and go into town, where he would execute his very simple but effective plan. Halfway to his bed, he stopped. What to do with Carnag if he found him? Auri set his jaw. He would have to steel himself and kill Carnag.
    The market was busy, as usual, and Auri hadn’t found anyone who knew who Carnag was. He hadn’t seen Bloodhound either, which was good, but the day was wasting, and he hadn’t found Bloodhound’s boss. Finally, he came upon a tall merchant who sold a variety of exotic weapons, with a scar similar to Bloodhound’s.
    “Excuse me, do you know of someone named Carnag?” Auri asked, expecting the usual: “Nope, never heard of him.”
    “I am Carnag,” replied the merchant. “Do you want to buy something?”
    Auri took a step backward so forcefully, he almost fell over. “You’re Carnag E?” Auri stuttered.
    “Yes, why do ask?”
    “Nothing much, except I’d like to know, did you order Bloodhound to kill someone, and are you some sort of criminal mastermind?”
    Carnag smiled. “Bloodhound mentioned a witness who got away. You must be him.”
    Auri nodded, and then made a show, rolling up his sleeves, gesturing toward the weapon tent entrance. “Wanna settle this outside?” Auri asked.
    “Sure, why not?” Carnag replied. He took a huge broadsword from a hanger to his left, and followed Auri outside.
    Before Auri turned around to face him, Carnag sliced at Auri’s back with the weapon. Auri heard the blade whistle through the air, and rolled aside, but not without taking a small gash between his shoulders. Auri leapt up, drawing his rapier, feinted to Carnag’s left, then spun at his right. Carnag easily jumped back, smiling.
    “You’re going to have to do better than that,” Carnag said, making sweeps with his blade.
    Auri gritted his teeth and lunged back into the fray, determined to come out on top.
    Carnag’s weapon shop was next to a tavern, not noted for its occupant’s sobriety. A crowd started to gather, thinking it was just another drunken brawl. “Look, he’s just a kid, fightin’ the broadsword-wielding fellow” was one of the comments people shouted as they watched the combatants.
    Auri was starting to tire. There was no way he could keep this up. Thinking of a wild idea, he dropped his rapier.
    “I don’t want to kill anyone, just stop killing other people!” Auri shouted, giving a pleading look to Carnag.
    “You don’t want killing? Too bad.” Carnag swept his sword in an arc that would sever Auri’s head. Closer and closer it came. Someone in the crowd screamed.
    Suddenly, Auri dropped down, grabbed his rapier, and jumped back up, plunging the blade into Carnag’s heart.
    Auri whispered in Carnag’s ear, “I don’t want to kill anyone, but I have to, to stop even more deaths.”
    Auri pulled his blade out from Carnag’s chest and took two steps back, wiping the blood off with a handkerchief from his pocket. Carnag fell forward on his face, letting out his last breath. One person started to quietly clap. Most just stood there, stunned.
    “If you see Bloodhound, arrest him,” Auri yelled out. At that moment, he didn’t care whether anyone listened to him or not. Auri ran, he ran through the unmoving crowd, through the streets, alleyways, and forest paths, until he was back at his humble woodland shelter. He smiled. He had found a murderer and killed a dangerous and mysterious man named Carnag, in two days. As he fell asleep, he murmured, smiling, “I wonder if the next few days will be as exciting as the last few.”