The Mask of Night

Ismail. Farrow. Laila. Kaelan. Four people. Four tales. Before we are done, their stories will be irrevocably twisted together. Ismail is a secretive mage, hailing from the far reaches of the North. Though a formidable fighter, when the bodies pile up and the only enemy left is himself, the truth must emerge. Farrow, a talented demon hunter trying to piece together the fragments of his past, finds himself the centre of a manhunt. Laila, the thirteen year old firstborn heir to the Emperor's throne, must flee from a deadly conspiracy. And Kaelan. A ranger of some skill, he grows tired of his life among the forest. When the Forest Druids decide to help the Northern rebels, Kaelan joins them, and events rapidly spiral out of his control...

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7. Viva la Resistenza!

Three months previously

Venice, Italy

Rebels attack the great city of Venice. From afar they come, their numbers swelled by Italy's own dissatisfied citzens. Fire bursts forth from the buildings, and soldiers march through the streets. San Marco is defended valiantly by Venetian soldiers, but their assailants are too many. Fire and blood rain down on the streets of Venice, bathing it in revolution.

 

Dante, a young rebel soldier, cheers as crowds watch the Doge flees, chased down like an animal in his own city. San Marco has been taken. Some soldiers continue to resist, but as the Doge is hunted, and most likely killed, their courage is broken. Enormous groups of citizens have joined them, half the city turning against its oppressors. The main battle are over, only a few minor skirmishes left on the streets. Venice has fallen.

 

Camille, a frightened girl of no more than fourteen runs through the streets. When the resistance soldiers came in to the city, she was seperated from her father. Suddenly she turns a corner and runs into two men, clearly taking the opportunity to raid stores and inns of their liquor. She sees that they wear revoloutionary gear. Venice has fallen.

 

The Doge flees through the streets, followed both by rebels and his own soldiers turned against him. Terrified, he seeks shelter in a ruined house, cowering in the rubble. Some hours later, he emerges. Ash falls from the sky, the streets are barren and empty. Venice has fallen.

 

Suddenly Marco stops. He has been fighting since he could hold a sword, and his instincts are well trained. A dozen Venetian soldiers burst from a side street, laying their silver blades into the defenceless crowd. Marco runs forward, drawing his weapon. He kills three soldiers, but a fourth smacks him round the face. The soldier raises his weapon, ready to strike.

 

One of the men grabs Camille, lifting her up and holding her tight. Camille tries to scream, but a hot, sweaty hand clamps down on her lips. "What have we here, then?" The men chuckle in slurred Italian. Camille tries to scream again, but to no avail. She is helpless.

 

Suddenly, a sword beheads the Venetian soldier, saving Marco's life. A shadowed figure is crouched over the body, a flash of revolutionary red on his waist.

 

A blade pierces the drunkard's back, making him drop Camille. The same sword sinks into the other drunk's neck only moments later. A shadow stands over the body, bloodied sword naked in his hands.

 

The Doge collapses suddenly, startling an onlooking youngster. The boys parents were killed in the fighting, only two of many innocent civilians held hostage by the Venetian Republic. The Doge's robes are stained pink by his own blood, the tip of a sword protruding from his stomach. A shadow stands over the body, a smile on his lips.

 

Three lives, all in the same moment. Two saved, another lost. "Viva la Resistenza," says the shadow, and then it is gone.

Venice has fallen.

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