By Chino

The masked man slowly crept through the shadows towards the entrance to the temple. He paused next to the huge bronze doors, marking the passage inside. Faintly, he heard prayers being recited from inside. He cursed and slowly drew his polished Cineran fighting dirk from inside his cloak. He hadnt wanted it to come to violence, but he knew what he must do. Ever so slowly, the masked man opened the door, pausing every few seconds to make sure that he hadnt been heard. When the door was open enough to slip in, the man entered the temple and eased the door shut behind him. Glancing around, he could see that he was in a long hallway, which ending in a large room bathed in torch light, the altar room. That was where he had to go, and that was where the recitation of prayers was going on. Quietly and cautiously, the man made his way towards the light. His thoughts drifted to the deed that he had done to get into the mess.......

It had happened a few days before, down by the docks. The man, Shroud is his name, was stealing from the fisherman. Unexpectedly, a man in a hood approached Shroud. Shroud sensed danger and twirled around, jabbing with his dirk. From more luck than skill, the dirk hit home, easing between the hoods ribs. The hood groaned once, then fell to the ground dead. Shroud was stunned, he hadnt killed someone before and he was to terrified to move. Another group of three hoods, walked out of the alley, saw their fallen comrade, and attacked Shroud. Very quickly, the hoods had Shroud unconscious, bound, and on the way back to the hideout.

Shroud bolted upright, and looked about his surroundings. He was encircled by a large band of hoods, all of them with weapons drawn. One hood, whom Shroud assumed was the leader, stepped forward and addressed Shroud. "You have murdered one of our brother, usually this is punishable by death, but we have a use for you. If you succeed, we shall forget your trecherous deed, but if you fail, the penalty is death." Shroud quickly got to his feet, and took a few steps towards the man. Instantly though, the rest of the hoods, stepped forth, blocking the path to their leader. Shroud shrank back, and muttered, "Looks like I got no choice." The man nodded and continued, "We need a golden statue of our goddess, you may find one in her temple just south of here, go and get it for us." Shroud was handed his dirk and armor, and he turned a trod out into the streets......

Shroud shook his head, driving away the memories, and began to concentrate on his task at hand. He gazed around the corner into the altar room, and saw a lone priest kneeling before the altar, and on the altar stood the statue, the only thing that could get him out of this mess. Shroud crept up behind the priest and leveled his dirk. He swallowed, closed his eyes, and stabbed with all his might. The priest cried out in pain once, but then fell to the side dead, his blood staining the floor about him. Shroud felt sick, but fought back the feeling of terror to run from this place. He was so close to succeeding. Quickly he grabbed the statue and turned around, ready to run. Then he saw them, priests, priestesses, and acolytes, standing in the doorway, blocking his escape route. Shroud started panicing and looked around for another way out, when suddenly the room filled with divine light. Shroud dropped the statue, and fell to his knees. "Please forgive me, forgive me!!!" Shroud cried out. A pale white hand reached down towards him. "You shall pay dearly for desecrating my temple, you infidel, very dearly." were last words Shroud heard before passing out.

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