Mara

Meanwhile...

Ultor had his own task to accomplish.

The sun was hidden behind a wall of dark clouds, casting a shade across the city of Mara. The toiling masses thriving in the city, always coming and going, living and dying went about their business, oblivious to the blood being spilled deep in its bowels.

Ultor had left his battle brothers, those he had fought and killed with once before, only a span of weeks ago. Cevero, the patrician, a man who wielded no blade, but seemed to have some sort of divine favor about him, had decided to free the senator Tiberius, a man the group had already fought to capture. Ultor didn’t understand the reasoning for it, only that it was “politcal.” He shook his head at this, called it folly, but in the end he bowed to the will of the Fates.

Cevero and Lanx were to do the heavy lifting work of the prison break, while Ultor split off on his own to secure a passage away from the city. It seemed like easy work, which did not sit well with the battle-hardened man. His place was in the thick of it, with his spear carving a bloody swath through the hordes of his enemies.

But at least this way he was alone with his gods. So he walked, through the twisting corridors of the city, sticking to back alleys whenever possible so that he could carry his weapons more openly. It was hard to hide an eight-foot spear on your person, no matter how large one was.

He had been traveling in this manner for some hours, his head bowed in silent whisperings to whichever gods listened, if any, when a figure clad all in black emerged from the mists that cursed him.

“You’re one of the worms that kills for the Martamian, aren’t you?” he asked, his voice a rasp that cut through the dark. Ultor inclined his head but a fraction, and opened his left palm facing down.

“I kill for the gods,” he smiled, and bowed slightly in reverence. “But I do work with the patrician, if that is what you’re asking.”

“Some kind of zealot, that it?” he spat on the ground in front of Ultor, and pulled a bronze shortsword from beneath his cloak. “Well, might be that it’s time to go see your gods in person, on behalf of our master.”

Ultor looked closely at the man as he threw his black cloak over one shoulder, revealing an old, dented breastplate that had been painted black somewhat recently, from the look of it. He wore a black tunic beneath it that stopped just at his knees. His feet were sandaled in dark brown leather, and upon his shins were greaves of iron that had also been hastily painted black. The man had a nose that looked like it had been broken more than once, and a scar that shortened his chin somewhat.

Mercenary. “If the gods call me, I will come, and gladly. But for now, my friend, let us pray together.” And with that, he spun the longspear and snaked it out in front of him, extending it a full ten feet, and directly into the man’s throat. Blood spurted from it in a brilliant crimson mist.

“Justice!” he heard cries from behind him, and to his sides. The alleyway was narrow, but it seemed that there had been men secreted away on the rooftops, who were now leaping down to join in the prayers.

Ultor smiled to them, and prayed for the gods above to receive his sacrifices.
The man to his rear charged, but Ultor spun just before the attack would have landed itself in his back, and used the blunt end of his spear to send the man sprawling. Just then, another man, this time from the right, flew at him, his shortsword flashing close enough to Ultor’s chin that he must have lost a bit of his beard.

He rolled backwards, over the dead man’s body to give himself a little bit of room. The last man, the one who had leapt down from the roof on the left, tripped over the corpse as he attacked too eager for blood. It was a foolish mistake, and one that Ultor was glad to exploit.

His spear swung in a crimson arc, disemboweling the sellsword, cutting through boiled leather and bronze as if it were silk. Without stopping the swing, he brought it back around over his head in a vertical arc to bury the steel in the third man’s temple, the sound of cracking bone echoing down the alleyway.

The last man, the one who had leapt from the right-hand rooftop, stopped in his tracks. His eyes darted between his friends corpses, each dispatched with the grace of a man who had been born to kill.

“You will see justice, I swear it,” he said, the point of his sword drooping in his hand. A coward, Ultor thought.

“We all see justice in the end, boy,” Ultor replied as he relaxed in battle stance. “Do not run from death. It is nothing man should fear, for it is a gift from the gods. Come, let us dance once more, and I will guide you to the heavens myself.”

The man stared at him for a moment, the fear plain in his eyes, before he broke and ran. Ultor shook his head in disappointment, then hefted the longspear over his head and threw it. There was a meaty THUNK as the steal sank into the coward’s back, followed by the sound of his corpse slapping wetly against the pavement.

He walked up to the body, and wrested the spear from it. “A blade in the back is no way for a man to die,” he said, and closed the man’s eyes. Then he stood, and with both hands wrapped about the haft of his spear, he pressed his forehead to the weapon and said a prayer for the men’s spirits as they fled the mortal plain. “Go forth, and tell the gods that Ultor sent you.”

And with that, he left the alley, and was able to secure the boat that would take them from this dull city.

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