Kusari the Masked – Part One

Zach Rainey, Entertainment Editor

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The world is a grand place full of champions, people of inhuman abilities, power, and eminence. However, this eminence can be of a wide band whether it be of a king from a famous nation or the cold assassin that ends him. The art of assassination is a cold and mysterious one with orders of cryptic origin and dark résumés popping in and out of history. Among such assassins that have the blackest of stains on their hands is a man of inhuman qualities; the relentlessness of his nature and power he wields has led to the deaths of many monarchs in cold and swift fashions. This assassin has no true name, having long discarded it to a point of it being dubbed an unsolvable mystery to even himself. So, to give a name to this regicidal blade, the underworld of which the assassin guilds spawn nicknamed him after his most prominent traits; his massive chains he used as weapons and the signature mask he has worn since the blood of his first target pooled on their floor. Among such titles he has earned are the “Chain Assassin,” “the under-iron,” “the masked massacre,” and his favored name: Kusari the Masked.

Kusari has few friends and even fewer people who know much of what he looks like as all his business is purely confidential. That being said, the few warlords and royals who have made his acquaintance have all described him with a similar phrase: “He’s Death’s will that only acts by grace of the finest coin.” As previously mentioned, the masked massacre lacks in the way of known visibility; though on this day, a certain employer was either blessed or cursed with his malevolent form. The majority of his attire was colored with varying pitches of blacks and grays. Of this dress that drew the least attention was his large, black tunic cloak and the blood red sash tied around it at the waist. Covering the assassin’s cold arms and swift legs were gauntlets and boots. Each were made of shiny, fine black scales from some form of reptilian beast. Under the tunic, it hid a chest plate of similar armor but far leaner and thinner, clearly meant for swift movement over stark protection. From there, came his two most distinct pieces of attire: his blood drinking chains and his signature mask.

The Under Iron’s infamous chains were of incredible length, being three times the man’s already impressive height. The height, however, was left unnoticed due to the chains being wrapped and weaved around his neck in a fashion akin to a scarf. The chains swung at abdomen length, and the iron’s movements did not make a single sound. Lastly, of the most distinct of the man’s traits was of course, the mask. The mask covered his entire head, leaving nothing for one’s eye to see of his flesh. The complexity of the iron metal and the sinister design it took made it obvious that the mask was forged by both a master blacksmith and a master magi. The mask’s design was that of ancient depictions of eldritch shadows. A near faceless visage revealed soulless, glowing red eyes, small crooked horns similar to ears, and black flesh shaped to mimic thick, oval eyebrows. The employer took Kusari’s appearance in for a moment, wanting to remember their hired blade’s mysterious form, for they did not know when they would get the chance to see it again.

“I’m here for the supplies,” Kusari spoke, his voice as deep, apathetic, and cold as the winter’s harshest air.

“Naturally, I’m sure you know exactly why this particular tool is necessary for the mission, Under Iron,” the employer began, kicking over a long, purple transparent cylinder. “This was designed by highly gifted enchantresses, warlocks, and loremasters,” the employer continued, not paying mind to Kusari who was not even looking at the artifact, simply putting it inside his cloak and beginning to walk towards the door of the hideout.

“So that device has a guarantee for fulfilling its purpose, as I hope you are?” the annoyed figure snapped, calling into question the Masked Massacre’s reliability. Some assassins would be coaxed into acting out from such a comment as reliability is an assassin’s greatest asset in the underworld next to skill.  But the cold assassin did not even flinch, simply walking out the door, not even regarding the insult as worth his time. For words of venom were too few to falter the coming blood of monarchal origin that so filled Kusari’s mind.

The raven crested kingdom of Vitrsumar is a very old and well respected land. It was once a land of ancient Vikings and barbarians with a pantheon of warrior gods that ransacked the continents long before even the Draco kingdom had been conceived. But even the most bestial of people are bound to evolve as time passed. Through extensive cultural diffusion and discovery, they too developed the monarchal governing system like most of the major nations. The once feared and highly revered pantheon of these old people known as the Drenge Tívar have nearly faded from cultural existence.  Only old symbols and architecture remain from this old god’s rule. Few remember the olden ways, and none know more than the elder king of Vitrsumar, Forneik. He was named the “Elder King” for his miraculous longevity and for having lived 206 years and not looking a day over 60. His wisdom and extensive connections around the entire world have earned him respect from even the Draco Kingdom’s highest nobles and blood templars. And this king who has brought so much stability to the lands is Kusari the Masked’s mark.

Elder King Forneik’s mountain peak castle was silent with the cold air of Vitrsumar nipping through the ancient stone walls. Only somber candles, kept immortal through runic art, kept the cold truly at bay. The metal clanking of the royal guards’ armor echoed through the halls, always vigilant of threats even during times of peace. At the moment, Forneik was within his inner sanctum, a personal study and throne room where he spent hours spending his time reading, studying, and completing his royal duties. This room was deep within the castle, but that meant nothing for someone of the masked massacre’s caliber. Hours before, Kusari had snuck into the castle through hiding in the monthly food stuff shipment, having already paid off the farmers who supplied the castle with substantial coins to keep silent about it.

From there, he had snuck through the castle, already having the entire castle’s infrastructure and guard schedules memorized by heart, knowing exactly where and when to move from place to place to best keep himself hidden. However, the time of being a stalking shadow on the wall is nigh, for at the peak of night, the shadow shall strike its host. From the 3rd floor guest room, the under iron emerged, two of his chains unwrapped and held in his armored hands, ready to feed his weapon’s fresh blood. Within the next two minutes, the time it would take to get to the entrance inner sanctum, the third royal guard squad would take their position at the doors. Naturally Kusari planned for this as taking those five soldiers out was essential, and it would be another forty minutes until the next shift came in, more than enough time to get the job done.

“You hear? The Rathia Marauders died in Hon’ad!” gossiped one of the guards at the front of inner sanctum doors.

“You’re kidding!? What about Hannibal ‘The Rampage’? I heard he once survived falling in an active volcano! No way he died!” spoke a female guard with the third one just stoically listening as the two gossiped about out of kingdom affairs.

“I hear he’s MIA; the Draco kingdom blood knights sent to check out the situation didn’t find his body, only traces of his blood leading inland.”

As these two chattered, the last guard’s eyes began to grow heavy as the long hours of protecting the ancient fortress began aking its toll. As this sleepless guardsman’s eyes fell down and sprung up seamlessly, a humanoid, black figure appeared in his line of sight, and the moment his eyes fell and shot back up after registering the figure, it was gone.

“Did you see that?” the tired guard whispered, unsheathing his bastard sword and trying to use his heavy eyes to absorb his surroundings.

The other guards, having absolute trust in their comrade, took their blades in hand and readily followed his lead. With their paranoia setting in, their breath moved slowly and the flaring flicker of immortal flames matched their absorbed heartbeat in an weary synchronization. This chilling silence was finally broken with a dropping bead of sweat from the brow of one of the guards, its tiny splash sounding like a giant crash to the group. Although this fear could be considered cowardice, in actuality, it was simply well toned instincts’ years of combat in this harsh land. To them, it felt like a snake coiled around them; its invisible form adding to the terror as a beast coils to strangle its prey in cold constriction. Their instincts were fully realized with a being appearing in front of them in a mutual blink between the three. It was Kusari the masked in his full chained guise!

The moment the guards were able to register his appearance, the assassin acted. With speed no normal man should ever have, he slammed his armored fist into the lady guard’s face, the attack not making a sound even as several of her teeth shattered on impact. The other two guards, in an act of retaliation, swung their blades in unison at the Under Iron. This was a poor decision as Kusari easily ducked between the swings and grabbed onto the swords, shattering them between his fingers, rendering the guards defenseless.

“Admirable effort,” the masked massacre said plainly as the guards all attempted to attack him with punches and kicks, all of which he dodged and ducked away with ease.

“You get to live,” he rewarded, untangling several of his chains and flinging them at the trio, which like snakes, wrapped around them.

As the guards vainly struggled to get loose, the air around them got thin; the very air in their lungs was being drawn out like it had a mind of its own! They gasped and coughed as their consciousness dimmed with their breath, and the strength of the chains made it an effort to even struggle. After a few more moments of struggle, the three lost consciousness, and the chains slithered off them and knitted themselves back into their dormant state.

“Two seconds ahead of schedule…” Kusari realized, walking past his unfortunate victims and taking the spare time to absorb the door’s look for a moment.

The massive, finely crafted oak door was five times larger than the assassin with an intricate mural of the dozens of mysterious Drenge Tívar images and their favored mortal warriors of the past; if Kusari didn’t have a job to do, he might have taken the time to study the door.

“And, back on schedule,” he rectified, kicking the mighty door open with a powerful kick, so powerful the door was shot out of its hinges which oddly didn’t even make a sound.

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Kusari the Masked – Part One