Most Rogues are looked upon with contempt or loathing by civilized folk, or simply ignored altogether. There are some among the ranks of the Thieves, however, who command respect through fear, and whose names are voiced with either dread or hatred: Assassins. Not content with stealing gold or plunder, these grim professionals steal lives instead, killing for their wages, trading blood for gold. Some Assassins are ruthless predators, who've developed a taste for blood and thrill at the act of killing, while others are grim professionals, bringing a kind of honor even to the direst of professions. However they approach their profession, every Assassin must be able to do three things: get close to their target, kill them quickly, and escape uncaught. The ease with which an Assassin performs the first and third tasks marks the difference between an amateur and an artist.
Stealth, agility, and a knowledge of locks and lockbreaking are the Assassin's greatest tools, along with an intimate knowledge of blades and where to drive them home. There are some Assassins who are less direct, however, and began their dark careers not as Rogues but as Wizards, and use magic instead of a dagger. These dark magicians have practiced the art of murder so long that every Assassin learns spells of stealth and shadow, evasion and death. Coupled with intensive training, an Assassin's magical talents make him a formidable foe indeed, a killer who can walk unseen in broad daylight, or even pass through doors.
In any battle, the mightiest weapon is one that strikes unseen. If history has taught anything to the peoples of the World, its grim lesson is that anyone can be killed, if the killer tries hard enough. What use is the strongest steel armor against the poison lurking in a cup of wine? A Warrior or Wizard may be invincible in open battle, with their foes before them, but even they must sleep sometime, and cannot parry the knife that comes from behind. In these days since the Turning, death has lost its permanence but not its sting: though the Champion of a guild may only stay dead a few hours after he tastes an Assassin's blade, his absence may well turn the tide of a Guildwar. Truly, the Age of Strife has kept Assassins busier than ever, and as long as there is profit in it, these harbingers of death will lurk in the shadows, waiting to strike.
There's a lot you can learn just by looking at a man, you know. Yourself, for instance: when you shook my hand I noticed the scars of sword practice on your fingers, and could feel the strength in your grip. You hold your head like one who's more used to wearing a helmet, and your eyes have strayed to the windows five times in the last two minutes. You also flex your right hand nervously as if it wants to hold something - a sword, I'd bet, by the look of you. You're strong, careful, and seasoned. Every bit the warrior I've heard tales of. You're a match for any foe on the battlefield, but now you're fighting a different sort of battle, aren't you? Otherwise you wouldn't need me.
I've looked over your proposal, and I want to tell you up front that there will be some complications. Edmund, the Master Thief of the Scarlet League is a very wealthy man, and his mansion is a real fortress. Oh, I'll take the job, but I'm warning you that it won't be easy. I'm among the best at my grim profession, and I'll get the job done, but it will cost you extra. You've set no conditions for Master Edmund's death, save that he expire within ten minutes of midnight tomorrow. Planning a bit of a guild siege, are we? Not your usual style, but a cunning move, removing him just as your forces strike. It will probably work, too, his lieutenants aren't the brightest bunch. I'm just a bit worried that one of your lackeys might mistake me for a Scarlet Leaguer as I'm on my way out and things might get unpleasant. No matter, I'll just take a different escape route.
I'll enter in disguise, posing as a merchant ready to do business. It's a disguise I've used before, and the League has done business with me under that name, so few questions should be asked. I'll count on you to provide me with some rare weapons to sell them. I think ten thousand crowns' worth should do the trick. Don't fuss, my good duke, you did agree to pay all my expenses! Anyway, I'll wait until after dinner, be escorted to my guestroom, then stealthily make my way to Edmund's chamber. Don't worry, I'm no stranger to shadow, and can walk invisible through broad daylight if the need arises. We assassins have all manner of arcane tricks we call upon in our trade. Once into his chamber, a bit of bladework and all is done. I'll secure myself a servant's uniform to hide in the tumult, then make scare once you lot attack. Should be able to pull it off without too much trouble, and I'll even be sure not to alert Edmund's guards, which you might appreciate.
One final point, I will be expecting my payment in advance. Of course you'll understand - it is after all possible that you'll lose your little fracas with the Scarlet League, even if I succeed in my job. Oh, and there's one other complication. Master Edmund approached me last week and tried to hire me to kill you. Don't look so shocked! He didn't offer me nearly as much payment as you did, so take heart: you've nothing to fear from me. Although if I were you, I'd be careful what I ate and drank, and where I slept for the next few days. After all, many of my colleagues aren't as discriminating as I am when it comes to their wages. I could tell at a glance that you're a careful man, let's hope that you're careful enough.