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First Blood

((A post from Tai's pre-Tong days))

Tai held his breath, the fingers of his hands wrapped so tightly around the hilt of the razor sharp knife that his knuckles were white. He was nearly upon the sniper and the realization he was about to kill a man was hammering away at the back of his skull. Milo had been right; Jingo, the local Defias lieutenant, had no intention of actually paying Milo for the jewels they’d stolen – not when they figured they could simply ambush these Stormwind burglars.

The Defias had put the word out on the street that they were in the market for precious stones. Milo, a bit slower on his feet now but still the cleverest thief and conman Tai knew, had been concerned from the start that the Defias were not to be trusted. The enthusiasm and excitement of his protégé, however, led him to take the work; Tai could be very convincing, Milo had ruefully noted to himself. How many times had he encouraged Tai to give up this life, and make his way in the legal world? It never took though, and, to be honest, Milo was flattered by his pupil’s devotion.

The two had worked one of the more well to do districts in Stormwind. Tai had come to Milo’s attention after he pulled off a string of daring burglaries. Milo had come to Tai’s attention at a card game in a cellar in Old Town; over the course of the evening, Milo had managed to win a hard earned week’s worth of stolen profits. Tai had never caught the trick, but knew a master when he saw one. Tai never asked for a copper back – he only asked Milo to teach him, show him what he knew.

The two had taken to each other, at first gradually but eventually they had become close friends. Perhaps it was that friendship that had led to Milo’s lack of judgment about this job. Still, he was no fool. He had sent Tai to scout the area and see if this was a trap – and of course it was.

Now as the sniper lined up his rifle, clearly aiming at Milo, Tai swallowed hard, his pulse pounding, almost unable to move. The sniper held his breath – and Tai knew this meant he was about to fire. This realization flicked a switch somewhere deep down in Tai. No longer hesitating, Tai knelt down hard on the man’s back, his hand slipped over his mouth. With a smooth, firm stroke, Tai slit the man’s throat. Blood spurted out onto the sand and grass. Pushing the dying, mute man aside, Tai picked up the rifle and tried to aim at Jingo.

Trying to look through the scope, Tai could not stop his hands from shaking. The gurgles of the dying man sounded far away but for the life of him Tai couldn’t keep the rifle still. Ah screw it, Tai thought. With that he pulled the trigger.

Down in the valley, a puff of dirt went about 25 yards from Jingo. A second shot came closer – and Jingo suddenly realized that the gunfire was aimed at him. Cursing, Jingo turned and fled. Tai’s lack of accuracy with a rifle had Milo doubled over in laughter. Finally, collecting himself, he waved with a smile to Tai.

Up on the hill, Tai forced himself to smile and wave back, giving the ok sign, not feeling ok at all. Tai struggled to his feet, picking up his knife and shouldering the rifle. He stopped though and looked down into the still open eyes of the now dead man. He forced himself to take in the scene. He took in a deep breath and headed down the hill, trying to hide the shaking he felt in his knees.

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