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before the agent moved. He'd spent a day and a night in his hiding place, molded into a crevice between two large trees. His hooded shroud took on the color and texture of bark, and the special unguent on his hands and face had the same mimetic properties. While he was hidden, elves of the village had passed within arm's length of him. He could have struck them down with impunity, but such were not his orders. He had a specific target, and his new masters did not tolerate deviation. As shadows lengthened in the Skyshroud Forest, the agent stirred his stiff, aching limbs. His legs burned with the sensation of a thousand needles pricking his skin, but with his altered senses he was able to block out the discomfort, just as he disregarded any feelings of hunger, fear, or remorse.
Villagers went about their evening tasks. Greenish light from their foxfire lamps filtered down, and for a moment the agent froze, startled by his own faint shadow on the
black water beneath the trees. He craned his hooded head and saw the tree dwellers pass unconcernedly over him, scaling their vine ladders and bridges with practiced ease.
The large tree house in the center of the settlement was his target. The village had been denuded of warriors by the recent attack on the Stronghold, but a lone elderly elf in
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