Quick as a viper, the man drew his sword and plunged towards Jahlen, his blade a sliver of grey flame through the darkness, it glinted dull from the braziers, swallowing the light.
Jahlen's blade met the figures, steel rang on steel, clang. Then, both blades started to sing. A flurry of blows came toward Him, but Jahlen was fast, feline like agility kept him away from the thrusts. A swirl of midnight steel drank the flickering light.
Each blow was checked and parried by Jahlen, he lunged forward, but the man's shape seemed to merge with the darkness and Jahlen's blade cut through empty air. Again the steel met as one, an explosion of blades through the gloom, a paragon of finesse and grace. Both men seemed a match, and with that they stopped, stepped back and drew a breath.
"Good." The figure brushed back his sleek black hair, and took a deep breath of cold air, it ran through his lungs, and out again.
"You have some skill with a blade, but that alone will not save you."
The man grasped inside his cloak and produced a vial, of black-purple liquid.
"Here, drink it"
Jahlen broke his silence, he was a man of little words, or at least, he seldom spoke.
"If we wanted you dead, you wouldn't be stood here before me now, I promise you that, simply."
The man stepped forward and placed the vial on the cobbled street, and strode back again.
Jahlen could feel his eyes on him, burning through the gloom. As he reached forward and picked the vial from the floor. It was heavy, heavier than such a small thing ought to be, and it felt strange.
"A gift, from Dranec."
Jahlen stepped back, How? he thought to himself.
"Hah, do not look so shocked, Brother. We of the shadow do not give such gifts idly, we know you, intimately."
How can this be? I have not even been in the city two days. Jahlen, taken aback.
"I.. I don't understand, who are you?"
"But you look like..
"Dranec, yes, I am his older brother." He smiled.
"Drink it, and we are done for this night, though I cannot promise you won't wake up in a ditch. Hah, many have, more have returned to dawn without their wits, it is a test in itself. If your body responds in the right way, return to my brother on the morrow."
Jahlen held the vial up to the light of the brazier, the liquid within swirled of its own accord, the light lent it the image of embers within glass, its colour shifted.
"Drink." Dranon said again, smiling. He had a wry smile that much was plain. And he liked to use it.
Jahlen un-corked the vial, lifted it to his lips, wearily. And began to swallow, almost instantly the muscles in his chest tensed and writhed, he fell to his knees, a flash of purple light burned behind his eyes, and the darkness took him.
"Hah." Dranon laughed, turned away from the sunken figure of Jahlen's body and merged himself with the night.