--------Two years after the Siege of Ponitaly----------
I sat on a barstool at an inn called, “The Sleeping Cerberus”. It was a rather nice wooden lodge with not too many customers showing up as it was on the far outskirts of Stallongrad, a major trading hub a while up north from the ruins of Ponitaly. My robes were slightly tattered from the years of use and hunting for those responsible for the fall of my once great city, Ponitaly.
Ponitaly… not a day has gone by since I left….
The screams, the fires… everything destroyed…
“So what’ll you have?” the innkeeper said to me interrupting my thoughts, he was a sandy coloured earth pony with a brown scruffy beard and a shaggy short brown mane.
“You know me Bill, stop joking around,” I laughed a bit despite how feeble I sounded.
“Aha, gotcha Shadow! Water it is!” Bill went over to the tap and poured the clear crystal water in one glass, went to the tap next to it and poured a dark orange coloured beverage for himself.
I never touch that stuff… it tastes absolutely foul.
Bill gets back to the bar stand and hoofs me the drink from across the stand, I tip my head to him in thanks and chugged the water down quenching my thirst.
Wow… who knew that a flavorless liquid would taste so good?
“Hey Shadow don’t drink all of it at once, wouldn’t want my regular to bust the urinal again!” Bill laughed as he joined me by chugging down his own drink.
“Hey Bill, that was one time!” I said holding up a hoof in protest.
“Well I still need to thank you for beating up those good for nothing bandits, even if it did cost me a toilet…”
“Please, it was no trouble at all. Let’s just call it even,” I said holding out a hoof towards Bill.
Bill grasped my hoof and shook, “Agreed."
After many minutes of friendly conversation about the weather Bill asked me while taking a sip of his drink, “So Shadow how was your trip to Hoofington a while back?”
“It was…. interesting…”
I punched the battered and bleeding unicorn ambassador right across his face. I let go of him and he sulked to the floor coughing out a thick wad of crimson blood from his throat.
“I won’t stop till you tell me where he is…”
I kicked him in the stomach and the rest of his body fell to the ground.
“ARG! YOU SAVAGE!” the unicorn shouted out in pain as he clutched his side.
I picked him up by the throat of his neck and readied my hidden blade against his cheek there was a faint dark red glow emanating from my body but I didn't notice or care.
“I’m not going to ask again, TELL ME WHERE HE IS!” I shouted at him while aggressively poking my knife into his skin.
“Balthazar…” I replied coldly.
“I don’t know where he is! I’m just an ambassador!”
“Wrong answer…” I said plunging my blade into the diplomat.
Politians and diplomats always say the wrong things at the wrong times; they’re always a threat to ponies. Even when they comply they will still corrupt the ponies of the cities that they serve, or rather... serve them.
It doesn't matter which position they fill or who they are, there is no safety once corruption takes hold...
I silently arrived at the Minister of Defence’s office which was located at the top section of a tower overlooking the city, my hoofs had slight rope burn from the cables I climbed earlier.
The elevator was busted but really who needs a working elevator?
Using the darkness of the night to my advantage I sneaked past the guards and took out the ones that I couldn’t get around. Finally I reached my objective, the Minister's workroom; I open the door and see the Minister, an earth pony wearing formal attire standing close to a large stain glassed window pondering.
With the Minister distracted by his thoughts, I walked up behind him making absolutely no sound on the wood floor. When I was directly behind him I quickly spun him around and grabbed his neck with my hoof. Before he could yell out for help I smashed his body through the window shattering it into tiny shards of glass.
The Minister was over the edge with only my hoof holding him up by the scruff of his neck as he dangled helplessly above the street below.
“WHO ARE YOU!? WHAT DO YOU WANT!?” the Minister shouted at me as he took a glance down below him.
“You know very well who I am, Templar.” I grinned.
“You’re an assassin!? Please! I’ve done nothing wrong, I’ll tell you anything you want to know, just please let me go!” he pleaded; I nodded my head to let him speak.
---5 minutes later-----
“I told you all I know, so please let me GO!”
I let go of my hoof.
The Minister’s eyes widened as he fell to his death.
I began to walk away from the window and heard him screaming for help all the way down until a loud thump was heard.
His shouts ceased.
“You better be careful nowadays Shadow, I hear that many strange things are happening within the government. I know that the Princess would never commit to greed and corruption but I can’t say about the rest of those political boot-lickers. Especially the High Duke…”
“You mean Balthazar?” I asked not noticing myself clench my empty glass harder.
‘Ya that pony. I tell you Shadow, everyday gets stranger and stranger.” Bill said refilling his glass with water this time.
“Ponies are dying or disappearing or some other nonsense. Personally I think there’s a conspiracy going on, I don’t even think Stallongrad is safe anymore…”
How could I forget? It was the first place I went to right after the siege…
“BARRICADE THE DOOR! DON’T LET HIM IN!” a councillor shouted to his private guard as they barricaded the front door to his estate.
As the last piece of furniture piled on the barricade a furious knocking sound came from the other side of the door.
“LET ME IN! HE’S RIGHT BEHIND--- ACK!”
A few moments after the sream a blade plunged through the wooden door panel, a dark red rage filled eye peered into the building.
I was angry, confused and pissed off. I grunted and took my eye from the hole and looked around the estate for an alternate way in, I pointed my head up and saw the roof. Using my wings I quickly flew up to the estate's roof, there was a skylight leading directly to where the councillor and his guards were.
I smashed through the glass with my hoof and dived headfirst right onto a guard examining the door, the force crushing his spine. The guards were shocked but quickly recovered and pulled out their swords as the made a protective arc around the councillor.
“You are finished Assassin!” the councillor shouted from a safe spot behind his guards.
I stood up from the dead guard and popped open my hidden blade and took out a throwing knife from my satchel.
I advanced quickly to the guards in front of me, one slashed his sword but I ducked underneath and stabbed him with my blade in his lower abdomen. A second guard rushed to me with his sword held up high but didn’t get a chance to swing as I spun around slicing his neck with my throwing knife.
With two ponies dead I ran to a third guard and vaulted over him stabbing his back in the process, as soon as I got off him I tossed my knife right into the eye of a guard next to the councillor. He had a look of shock in his face and gestured his last remaining guard to deal with me.
The guard who looked like a new recruit dropped his sword in fear, “I surrender!”
I approached him and placed a hoof on his shoulder, he relaxed a bit until I plunged my blade deep into his gut, he had a look of surprise and slumped to the floor, dead.
I turned my attention to the councillor and menacingly made my way towards him with hate in my eyes.
“I WILL NOT DIE TODAY ASSASSIN!” he shouted as he turned around to flee.
Yanking the knife I thrown into the guards eye, I held it in my right hoof and gave chase to the councillor as he made his way around a corner and into a long narrow hallway.
Giving the knife all the strength I had, I whipped it through the air right into the councillor's left foreleg.
“AAAARRRHH! You’ll pay for….” he fell to the ground and quickly turned his head around as he saw me advance towards him.
“NO! No no no no no!” he started to shuffle backwards.
I slowly kept moving trying to strike as much fear into him as I myself had experienced, as I have endured.
I pull out my hidden blade.
“NO! STAY BACK!” he kept shuffling until he got to a wall, he was trapped.
Nowhere to run…
Without hesitation I quickly stab his other foreleg so he won’t be able to walk.
The councillor shouts out in pain and curses me, I don’t care about his insults all I cared about was the information leading to my target Balthazar.
“You will tell me where to find the High Duke,” I stepped on his front arm and it snapped. “Or else things will get worse from here….”
“YOU MONSTER! I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BALTHAZAR!”
“That’s not what your friends told me… *SNAP* ….. councillor,” I crushed his broken arm once more with my hoof.
“ARG MY ARM! LOOK, I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!”
“Then I guess you aren’t useful after all…” I said sinisterly and his skin turned pale.
I readied my blade as I pulled my arm back to deliver the final blow.
“Requiestcat in Pace, bastardo...”
“Shadow you should be careful when you’re out traveling, speaking of which what do you do exactly?” Bill said, breaking my thoughts.
“To be honest Bill…”
I can’t tell him I’m an assassin, not only would I be put in danger but he would also.
Just need to give him a vague answer with some truth...
“…I don’t know. Maybe I could start rebuilding my life somewhere peaceful when all this craziness ends.”
“Well I think that’s a good plan, at least you’re not as moody as the first time you walked into my inn.”
I might not appear as angry, but it's an illusion. The hate I have has grown immensely over the years..."
Bill raised his glass up high, “TO EQUESTRIA NOT GOING COMPLETELY INSANE! CHEERS!”
I raised my glass to his and replied, “Cheers.”
We then chugged our drinks realising that both our glasses were empty.
“Um, maybe I should refill these?” Bill stifled a laugh.
While Bill was busy refilling our drinks I looked around the inn room for the reason I came back here.
I got the intel from that ambassador in Hoofington despite the fact that he knew nothing about Balthazar, but at least he information on… her.
“So Shadow, what brings you to my inn again after all this time?” Bill asked still refilling our drinks.
“I guess you can say I’m waiting for somepony.”
“Oh ho! Shadow’s getting romantic, looks like you finally got a special somepony.” Bill laughed happily.
No, I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t do that to Flora.
All my happiness and love was taken from me the day she died.
How can I experience joy when my only love is gone… forever?
“Ah… no It’s strictly business,” I replied.
“Oh, I see. Well don’t give up hope I’m sure there’s somepony perfect for you out there.”
“I doubt it Bill, I’ve lost a lot and I feel I’m about to lose more…”
And right on cue a pink mare wearing official red Templar armor, a white hood and who carried a bow walked into the inn and sat at a round table.
I quickly whispered to Bill, “Sorry Bill but duty calls, hope to see you again soon.”
I stood up from my barstool and turned to the mare as I walked closer and closer to her until I was right at the other side of her table.
“Finally, I can’t say just how bad your service is around here,” she said looking through a menu. She took her eyes off it and looked up at me staring her down with my menacing hood as she couldn’t see my face.
“Sniper-shot….” I said casually in my Ponitalian accent.
“Wait! How would you know my….”
Realization hit her across her face as she noticed my tattered assassin robes and my hidden blade getting ready to strike.
She flipped the table and I ducked around it as she headed outside the door. I gave chase until I saw her get onto a Templar carriage pulled by four ponies.
“GET GOING! HE CAN’T CATCH US!” Sniper-shot shouted at them which made them run.
A rope from behind the carriage to park it dangled down the road as they got further away.
I leaped for the rope and managed to get a hoofhold at the very end as the carriage started to drag me down the dirt path.
My hoofs gotten a good grip and I pulled myself closer to the carriage while still sliding on the ground. Sniper-shot looked back and saw that I was advancing towards her.
She turned to the stallions driving the carriage and shouted, “Knock him into the rocks!”
Instantly the carriage swerved to the left then the right bringing myself in a large arc off the path and into some shrubs.
Wait a second… my wings aren’t broken!
I opened my wings and my body glided upwards so that I was paragliding over Sniper’s carriage she saw this and responded by aiming arrows at me.
One wised past my head, wow that was close!
Ignoring her arrows I pulled myself closer down the rope line until I grabbed onto the carriage’s side, I pulled myself over the edge and stared straight into an arrow bolt aimed right between my eyes.
“You always were a newbie Shadow,” Sniper-shot retorted.
“And you always were too slow!” I sweeped my leg under her and she tripped while releasing the arrow into the skull of one of her drivers.
The driver stopped moving and dragged the other drivers down under the carriage making it topple over and around crushing and killing the drivers. Once it stopped I pulled a dead body off me. My side was bleeding a bit from a wooden splinter but it wasn’t too serious so I looked around the wreak.
A few seconds later Sniper-shot came out coughing and bleeding from a pile of debris and tried to run off from her attacker.
*ARG!* she shouted as I stabbed her in the back before she could escape.
I spun her around and let her lie in my arms as a traditional assassin’s kill.
“WHY!? WHY DID YOU BETRAY US!? YOU WERE MY PARTNER, I TRUSTED YOU!”
Sniper-shot coughed and spat out a wad of blood onto the ground, “Why…. why Shadow? The Assassins were weak and fillyish especially the Observer. I once believed in the creed and the tenants until the day that YOU showed up. A pony with actual sense and who was the best damn partner I could ask for.”
“Don’t try to flatter me Sniper-shot,” I coldly said to her.
“At least with Balthazar and the Templars they know what they’re doing, they want peace as much as we did and the Assassins were too nervous too scared to do anything about it. That’s why they all died. I loved to see that place burn Shadow… I loved it when I finally killed that smug bastard of an Observer straight into his insane heart as he fell…”
I had enough of this and stabbed her in her chest once more, she groaned in pain but gave me a slight devious smile.
“Good luck… trying to catch… Balthazar……..... newbie”
She closed her eyes and with one last breath she departed from this world. I placed her back down on the ground and punched the ground next to her in my fit of rage.
Balthazar corrupted these ponies, my partner included. He’s the sole reason I’m what’s left of the Assassins. It was his mistake to let me live, it…
I turned around and saw an icy white unicorn wearing business clothes and thick square glasses clapping mockingly to me.
“Oh the irony of it all Shadow, an assassin killing an assassin. That was certainly entertaining to watch,” the Templar Accountant said.
“Dave… what do you want? Come to finish the job Balthazar couldn’t do?”
“No no no Shadow, all I seek is Balance brought to Equestria, plus I’m too interested in you to kill you now,” Dave said with a smile.
“You see Shadow you possess a gift like no other pony I’ve seen in a very long time.”
A gift? That's just what the Observer said…
“But anyways I’m not here to play, let’s talk business. Can I make a proposition Shadow, one that benefits both of our goals?”
I crossed my hoofs, “I’m listening….”
“I’ll give you the location to the pony you’ve been hunting all these years for all your family and assassins he killed.”
“What!?” I couldn’t believe it.
“I will give you Balthazar’s current location right now, and you can do whatever you want with that information.”
“And what do you get in return?”
“If it all goes according to plan Equestria will be balanced and you’ll have your revenge.”
My revenge? After years of hunting I’ll be able to bring justice to Balthazar!
But Dave… isn’t he a Templar?
How do I know this isn’t a trap?
Dave held up a hoof with his accountant smile, “Deal?”
It is my only lead right now in years and I’m desperate.
I gave my thoughts a while to think until I reached a conclusion.
“Deal,” I blankly said not shaking his hoof.
Balthazar must die, at ANY cost.