“Of course, I don’t have so widely esteemed reputation as you, but that’s partially my doing. I make no show of my kills, you see. I am but a shadow and a whisper…a ghost that moves silently among men. My appearance sudden and terrifying. My departure leaves behind no trace, but the dead.”
~Raithe, Shade 2: Kingsblood
Those are some of the first words Raithe boasts to Shade upon their epic meeting in Shade 2: Kingsblood. Now I know I touched on this character in the blog, The Who’s Who on Shade 2, but Raithe was so much fun to write I can’t help but say more about this ballsy, but chillingly capable rival.
Raithe is in many ways a flip-side to Shade. He is clad in white, as opposed to our dark anti-hero, with mysterious powers that make him terrifyingly elusive even to our accomplished Dark Elven assassin. Raithe’s cockiness even exceeds Shade’s own. His barefaced arrogance is a mixture of his astonishing talents and zealous ambition that truly sees himself as the world’s deadliest assassin. Shade is the past and he is the future, as Raithe believes. And so, at long last when Shade meets Raithe for the first time, he sees what it’s like to be ridiculed and belittled by a foe oozing with as much confidence as him.
I won’t say anything else about Raithe himself. I’ll let the free sample below speak for itself.
The lack of a worthy rival in Shade 1: Waiting Game was one of the few criticisms we received on Shade’s original work. We set out to establish Shade as the apex assassin of Covent and Waiting Game certainly did just that. We treated readers to a wild action-packed ride of what happens when the world’s deadliest assassin gets into the world’s longest lasting bar fight with a powerful mobster.
Of course, this approach left some readers thirsting for a more worthy rival for our seemingly invincible assassin. Shade wiped the floor quite easily with Lewd and his goons after all. Shade was more tested by unexpected enemies, like the undead in the Ruins of Garrlohan and the Sharlak in the Sharkgates, than his primary antagonist—the Troll with the winning smile. Again, Shade 1 was supposed to establish a seemingly untouchable legend. We built that mountain up pretty big and it can only go downhill from there.
Let’s start with Raithe. Here is another free writing sample of Shade and Raithe’s first meeting from Kingsblood—the upcoming sequel to Shade’s original book. The scene is the Hall of Kings. Shade waits up on a ledge, silently watching over the king of Doljinaar like a dark guardian angel. The king is unbeknownst to his presence. The palace is locked down, but neither can anticipate the ghastly foe that is about to slip into their midst…
An Excerpt from Shade 2
Kingsblood Chapter Twelve:
A Ghost and a Whisper
Shade looked up just as a bright glowing form descended from the stained glass oratory domed window. He blinked. It had been a ghastly humanoid figure. The Dark Elf’s heart froze. A ghost!
The ghost resembled a man clad in baggy white cloths. He wore a white turban embedded with a single sapphire stone on his head. A cloth mask had been wrapped over his mouth and nose. The ghost’s icy light blue eyes chilled Shade’s blood, but the apparition did not appear to spot him. It landed silently on the throne room floor and turned to face the king. Shade’s eye widened in alarm.
The ghost materialized before his very eyes and transformed into the living flesh of a man. It wasn’t a ghost at all.
“Greetings, your Godliness,” the eerie ghost-man smirked through his mask at the king.
“Who are you?” King Magnus shouted, “How did you get in here?”
The ghost-man unsheathed a pair of half-crescent daggers that resembled sickles. The deathly blades curved back over the handles and continued up to his mid forearm. Hand sickles. He took a gracious bow. “I am the last face you will ever know.”
“Guards!” the king called.
Captain Aagren let loose a bellowing war cry and charged. The other Majesterium raised their pikes and stormed forward.
Shade watched as the ghost-man met the guards head on. He faced at least forty guards. The Dark Elf gasped.
The man moved with an alarming swiftness—a dead match to Shade’s own speed. He tripped Aagren and then parried two Majesterium. He spun with swift well-placed slashes and cut three guards down at the hairline chinks in their armor. He danced around the other guards blocking and spilling blood. His footwork was masterful. He danced across the floor like an arrogant showoff hitting every move.
Aagren swung his great axe wide.
The ghost-man merely laughed and half-faded. The blade passed harmlessly through his body.
The captain gasped.
Shade blinked. He could not believe his eyes. His mind was still flying backward reeling by the dazzling lethal gracefulness of the ghost assassin. He realized after all these long years he may have finally found a true equal. The Majesterium fell at a record pace. Six. Eight. Twelve guards down in a matter of seconds.
“Guards!” the king shouted even louder, “More guards!”
No one else came. The throne room doors remained closed.
Shade heard shouting from behind the doors, but still no one came. The clash of steel also sounded from the hallways, at which point he decided he had waited long enough. He grabbed a hold of a curtain. He wrapped the rich violet fabric around his waist and jumped. He swung across the throne room and descended on the duel—a hunter of hunters. He would teach this swaggering young upstart a thing or two.
Shade landed noiselessly behind the ghost-man.
The Shaltearan Assassin had made short work of most of the Majesterum. Twenty-six down. The ghost-man ducked Captain Aagren’s mighty swings. He blocked and dodged two other Majesterium. Aagren was bleeding in at least three places, but he fought on. King Magnus stared on in shock. He backed slowly away.
The ghost-man whirled around blades flashing and two Majesterium fell dead.
A small handful of Majesterian guards pulled a lever and activated a secret door. Part of the stone wall slid to the side revealing a hidden tunnel.
The guards waved for the king to make a run for it.
“My king, my king!” one of them shouted, “This way!”
“Your king isn’t going anywhere,” the ghost-man boasted.
Shade walked right up behind the cocky assassin. “Oh, yes he is,” he said loudly and kicked the man in the back.
The ghost-man fell forward and sprawled face first on the ground.
The Dark Elf shouted, “Run king!”
King Magnus stared back at him in disbelief. Aagren glared in confusion, but shuffled over to his king. He was still glaring at Shade as he escorted his king toward the secret entrance.
The ghost-man did not appear at all concerned about the king’s departure. He simply stood up, folded out the wrinkles in his cloak and turned around. He regarded Shade with a cool confidence that crawled deeply under the Dark Elf’s skin.
Shade recognized that cocky condescending look. It was the same look he gave his own adversaries. It dripped of belittlement and ridicule. Now he really hated the man.
“Ah, the great Shade,” the ghost-man beamed widely, “we meet at last. I knew it was only a matter of time before our paths crossed.”
The king disappeared behind the secret door. The wall slid back in place, but the ghost-man did not so much as cast a cursory glance back.
Shade grimaced, “And just who in the Shadow Realm are you?”
“I am Raithe,” he said in a cordial tone and took a gracious bow, “Shaltearan of the Ninth Rank. Nine-hundred and ninety-four kills to my credit. Six kills to the Tenth Rank and I start you. Funny, the Shalton should let you count for all six.”
“You can try.”
“My apologizes, Shade, where are my manners? It is proper to finish introductions before moving onto threats. I consider this meeting a true honor.” He bowed again, this time lower. “Of course, I don’t have so widely esteemed reputation as you, but that’s partially my doing. I make no show of my kills, you see. I am but a shadow and a whisper…a ghost that moves silently among men. My appearance sudden and terrifying. My departure leaves behind no trace, but the dead.”
“Oh, I’ll make you a ghost alright,” Shade smirked.
“My dear, Shade, must we be so cross with one another?” Raithe gestured broadly. “Why won’t you pass the torch of your own free will? Must I pry it from your dead fingers? You do not yet see full circle. You are the past and I am the future. You will understand by the end why your skills have grown obsolete.”
“You seem so sure of this.”
“I told you,” he grinned again, “it’s only a matter of time,”
Shade scowled. “We’ll see.”
Raithe sprung forward suddenly. His swung his eerie sickle-like daggers at the Dark Elf. Shade swiftly parried blow for blow. Raithe pushed him back through sheer veracity, but Shade did not miss a step. Shade turned the attack and pushed the man sharply back. Raithe calmly blocked Shade’s blows. Then Raithe recaptured the advantage before Shade turned it back again.
The two assassins recognized the skill of the contest as a clash of historic beauty and grace. Then the pride turned bitter. Shade caught his cheeky foe across the right cheek. Raithe gritted his teeth and wiped the trickle of blood off his cheek. He slashed back and caught Shade across the right cheek. The two assassins glared at one another and rubbed their light wounds in mutual disbelief.
Shade was infuriated. He may have stung Raithe’s pride, but he had been dealt an equal blow. Worse, he still had not wiped that smug smirk off the Shaltearan’s face and he got the feeling Raithe was still holding back on a few wild cards.
Raithe grinned in amusement, “That’s enough for now.” He floated suddenly upward by some unknown magic. A brilliant white light shined around him shimmering with golden sparkles. He drifted slowly backward toward the nearest wall. “Catch me if you can, Shade,” he laughed mockingly, “I have an audience with the king.”
Then to Shade’s shock Raithe passed right through the wall. His jaw dropped as he stared at the solid masonry. He heard Raithe’s crowing laughter echo loudly through the wall. Shade cursed and dashed madly for the throne room doors.
Look for more free chapters of Shade 2: Kingsblood coming soon to www.chroniclesofcovent.com