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The Dagger's Grin

Unseen, a tight grin and glittering eyes followed the fisher as he trudged befuddled away from the tavern. Formless black seemed to flow like some oily liquid from shadow to shadow, noiseless.

This was life. This was the vibrant energy of running a thumb along whetted blade. The fear, the suspense brought such crystal focus. Life in the light was so vague and flavorless in comparison.

This one was a coward, but he was big and quick. He was the veteran of countless tavern brawls and had a sneaky, vicious streak. That could be dangerous. That could be deadly. Perhaps this would be the last one. The Black licked his lips, then bit the lower, hard. Wanting, hating, fearing. Perhaps this one, perhaps this burly laborer would stop him.

Even befuddled with drink, the heavy halfling must have sensed something. He turned under the lone street lamp fronting the boatyard, but there was nothing down the dark, cobbled Road. Some few half-timbered houses still showed lit windows, but this late no one but drunks and the watch were out. Behind him the soft susurration of the low swells of Stone Bay and the rich smell of Fisherman's wharf were reassuring. Ahead of him, up the hill, he could make out the faint strains of merry music from the Helmet. Grunting annoyance at his case of nerves, the boatman turned toward home, coming face to face with an ominous black form.

With an oath, he jumped back, but the form floated closer, staying shapeless and silent within arm's reach. The big fisher knew that form, as much as any, so he didn't reach for his billy. What did The Black want this time?

The figure reached up casually and uncovered it's face. The fisher, no one, had ever seen that face. Surprise stiffened the sailor another moment as shock tripped his mind. Of course! Now it all made sense! No wonder... and another realization ripped through him. He scrabbled for his billy, fear, desperation and drink making him clumsy. It did not matter. It was already too late. He was too slow. He was not the one.

The black shadow drained away. A still form lay in the Road, slowly surrounded by a pool looking black as ink under the warm yellow light of the lamp.

Below the wide eyes and the grimace of horror gaped the dagger's grin.

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