“This does not concern you, Ranger. You may go,” the Rider said with disdain. Cain turned his face to Shane, eyeing him. The face he’d chosen as his disguise was oddly expressive, and the look it wore was a smug, knowing sort of look. “As for you two,” the Rider’s continued indictment called Cain’s gaze away. The Rider’s own glance moved first to Cain, then to Marcus, emphasizing his intended audience. “You two are bound by the laws of the Goldori Empire to come with me.” The Rider motioned with his gauntleted hand and a half-dozen men drew swords. “Come with us peaceably and we will not harm you.”
Cain laughed, his chosen form’s voice a surprisingly deep baritone. “Firstly, you do want the Ranger. You just don’t know it yet.” He gave Shane a knowing wink. Turning back to the Rider, he began again. “Do you really think I won’t resist?” Cain gazed down the road, a thought occurring to him. “What happened to the refugees you passed on your way here?” His tone had suddenly lost its playful quality, taking on an edge.
“That is not your concern, Assassin!” the Rider snapped. Cain’s eyes narrowed, darkened.
“Why? Why did you kill them, Puppet? Was it just a matter of course, or did you think twice before you massacred the refugees?” Cain’s voice was filled with emotion, with anger and indignation. The Rider drew his own blade, sneering at the Assassin.
“It’s not my place to question Imperial Orders. I was told, specifically, that you would be here, now, and to bring you in. Dead or alive.” Dodging the question. But his voice never faltered. Cain’s hand snapped to his blades. “What do you care, Assassin?”
“I thought you’d say that,” Cain quipped, voice cold. That expressive face was smiling, a vicious, predatory smile. He began, then, to laugh, the deep baritone falling apart, collapsing and disintegrating into numerous, unsettling voices. His lean features and black robe remained a moment, then in a flash of black fire exploded into Shadow again. In a time when magic was untrusted at best, the effect was unsettling. Even the horses fidgeted and backed away, whinnying anxiously. “Would you like to know?” the Shade asked, voice seemingly edged in madness as he slowly drew his blades. “Why your Empire sent you to die?” The Shade leapt, tackling the Rider from his horse, landing precariously among several horses, including one spooked and riderless. “I didn’t think so.” And the blades began to fly.