Sometimes I do writing because I’m bored at work. This is a little short story/chapter 1 that happened today. I don’t intend to actually make it into something, but thought I would share. Make use of the blog and such.
He just kept smiling, a sheepish, almost pathetic grin. This boatman wearing little more than rags, a straw hat, and a tarnished silver ring couldn’t keep a straight face. The Templar of Tyr stared him down. He knew there was more going on, but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. The barge was carrying five bundles of straw downriver with two other travelers, but the boatman, he knew something.
“Y’know it’s not every day we get folk of your sort travelling up north to Mirkas country. Most of the time I’m moving my wares all by my lonesome. Sometimes the lizards get uppity on the banks and take turns smacking up the barge. Little bastards they are. If they weren’t so damned big I’d make some coin skinnin’.”
He was rambling. The Templar continued his glare, compelling the boatman to speak truth. Unfortunately, truth isn’t always helpful. The boatman continued to ramble, occasionally stopping to draw on the small cigar that had been idling in his hand.
“Can’t say I make a whole lot of money doing this sort of work. Not that it’s hard, particularly. Sit on the boat, keep an even keel. Town of Braden will be up here on the right in another day or so. Maybe we’ll stop there for a night. I usually do. That’s a Mirkas town yanno, different sorts of folk. They don’t mind me, figger I’m a simple man and such.”
Mirkas, the ruling kingdom on the northern half of the country. Years ago this might have been an issue, but the King was long dead and the kingdom a mere shadow of its former self. Still, the people there might not be welcoming of a Templar from the southern lands of Princeton.
The Templar looked over at his companions, both wizards of different sorts. One wearing heavy armor and carrying a two-handed sword. An odd type of wizard that weaved magic through the use of weapon katas. Tall for a human, muscular, Vincent the Vociferous. He was on edge, something had set him off, his eyes scanning the landscape of open grassland. Vincent was a dangerous sort in too many ways. Quick to anger, and brimming with arcane energies that were also quick to release.
Miles was different, perhaps not completely opposite, but where Vincent was causing a ruckus, Miles was pleased to slink off into the shadows and strike from the safety of obscurity. A Shade, practitioner of shadow magic, also trained in Princeton at the same academy as his companions. He too was large for a human, just over 6′ tall with a solid build. He too was alert, not as jittery, but ready to act if need be.
Danstev was the tactician of the group, the analytical mind that could pick people apart. Perhaps the blessings of Tyr facilitated this ability, perhaps it was natural instinct, or the intimidation of a clean-cut, hardened, well armed and armored battle-priest staring you down. Danstev was imposing in a way that could cause anyone to lose their appetite. This boatman was either truly an idiot, or had nothing to hide. The Templar assumed the prior to be the case.
The Templar turned back to the boatman who had looked down at his map for a moment and gave a little mutter. Danstev cleared his throat, the boatman glanced back up and locked into the glare again.
“Oh, no it weren’t nothin’, old maps and such. Thought there’d be a couple more trees on this way, guess we came a bit further than I thought.” The boatman nervously chewed a bit on the end of the small cigar. “Not a problem for me, most of the stuff on the front end of the barge is just grasses. Ain’t gonna be any worse if it takes another day or less. I guess I’d normally have it spread out a bit more even, but with travellers and all. Hey, now there’s a thing.”
The boatman flicked his small cigar high into the air. Danstev, Miles, and Vincent alike watched it arc and land in the river. Danstev sighed, and turned back to the boatman, who was currently sprinting across the surface of the water 30′ or so upriver, holding onto his straw hat to keep it from flying off.
“Arrows, flaming ones.” Vincent looked up, then grabbed his pack and threw it across the river towards the bank before diving in after it.
Miles leaned back against the bundles of grasses as the arrows hit the deck. Danstev stepped into the very small wheelhouse. Flames smoldered on the barge, but the bundles began to burn.
“Dude, that’s not normal grass.” Miles took a step back from the bundles, then turned around and opened a portal to the shadow realm and dove inside.
As Miles climbed inside, the grasses exploded into a blast of flames licking at his heels. The front of the barge broke into pieces, and large sections of floorboards separated, revealing more grasses underneath. Danstev took three running steps out of the wheelhouse for the edge of the barge and the opposite side of the river before the rest of it exploded sending him tumbling mid-air.
A thought went through the Templar’s mind as he hit the water, fully realizing the amount of heavy armor he was wearing. Shit
Vincent, also clad in heavy armor met the bottom of the river quicker than he anticipated. An experienced swimmer, like most of the citizens from Princeton, did nothing for a man wearing several thousand gold pieces worth of steel. He held his breath and began to trudge, a minute passed, then another, and finally his head broke the surface and he started to crawl up over the side.
Miles took a moment sitting in his personal shadow pocket to pat out the smoldering bits on his boots. Then he opened another portal and spilled into the river now surrounded by burning fragments of the barge. Bobbing in between pieces, he made his way to the bank, and took a low position in the grass waiting for the attackers to reveal themselves.
Disoriented, the current dragged Danstev, he struggled to get a footing, sucked in a painful mouthful of water in an unvoluntary gasp for air. Finally catching hold on a log, he lunged towards shore and right into a large stone with his face. Another swallow of water hit his lungs, burning severely. Finally his head broke the surface of the water where he started coughing loudly in an attempt to breathe in sweet oxygen. Loud enough however, for the archers to get a bead on him as he dragged himself into the grass.
Vincent the Vociferous stepped up onto the grass with his sword clenched tightly in one hand, two armored warriors ran up in an attack, one wielding a pole-axe, the other a broadsword. His eyes sparked in anticipation as arcane energy surged through him in tandem with his adrenaline.
The pole-axe overswung, landing at Vincent’s feet, he kicked it wide to the side and pulled his own weapon in a low vertical defensive position as the broadsword swung in with an overbalanced overhead slash. He leaned under the stroke and threw a kick landing on the backside and causing his enemy to stumble forward into the river. The pole-axe continued with the arc from the kick into a full circle and slammed into Vincent’s inverted high guard, slamming his sword against him. He held the guard for a moment and then shoved off. The pole-axe wielder took two steps back, Vincent followed with two steps of his own into a pair of spinning diagonal slashes, channeling blasts of energy through his blade, and connecting both times.
Miles had prepared two acid infused arrows, and took the advantage to let fly on the backpedaling pole-axe warrior, the first missing, and the second glancing off his breastplate. As he began firing, so did the other enemy archers nearby as they made a long arch towards the opposite bank. Three shots drilled into that already injured and choking Danstev, punching right through his armor in two places, and catching him near his elbow joint. Darkness took him as consciousness faded away, barely breathing, while slowly bleeding to death.
The broadswordman charged for Vincent’s flank landing a solid blow, the pole-axe cleaved dangerously close to him as he dodged out of the way. Vincent was no stranger to fighting multiple enemies, and went for the weakened pole-axe wielder first, diving in past his defenses he thrust the point of his blade low, missing and nearly touching the ground between the legs of his target. He grinned, much to the dismay of the pole-axe wielder, as another blast of energy erupted from the tip, launching it upwards and slicing him in half.
Miles flung a small fireball in between the archers, causing the grass nearby to erupt into flames and singeing both of them severely. One of the bows was ruined by the flames, but the other stood up and took two quick shots with his, grazing Miles in the leg with one. The other sprinted towards him, stopping suddenly with one fist out before a blast of fire erupted from it and sent Miles sprawling backwards into the wet grass. He laughed a bit, the his form faded into incorporeal shadows, and he flew up into the smoke caused by the burning grass.
Vincent followed through with the motion and brought down the reverse overhead slash into the waiting horizontal guard of the broadswordman, who collapsed to his knees under his overbearing strength. Abruptly, Vincent released letting the broadsword flail upwards in the air, and threw out a plated boot directly to the jaw of the broadswordman, crushing it and shattering teeth in impact. The broadswordman fell to the ground limp in a bloody pile.
Meanwhile, Miles still concealed by smoke dropped a larger fireball between the two archers. The resulting blast incinerated the pair immediately, unfortunately consuming most their loot as well. He fell to the ground, landing in a dextrous roll then made his way over to the charred bodies where one of them had crawled to his knees. Miles drew his short sword and plunged it precisely through his back, puncturing lungs and heart combined. The archer collapsed into death. Miles picked off a ring and a small sack of gold from one, and a scarab necklace from the other.
Vincent stood over his kills, wiping down his blade with a cloth, rinsing it in the river, and wiping it down again to clear off the blood.
“What happened to Danstev?” He asked as Miles made his way over.
“Dunno. Guess the boat blew up eh? Maybe uh, you think he’s dead man?”
Miles pilfered through the bodies, finding a scroll tube and a smaller bag of gold.
Vincent looked around, and spotted Danstev across the river. The broken Templar of Tyr was leaving a trail of blood in the river turning the waters near him dark.
“He’s there, looks to be dying. Perhaps I will need to remind him that death is unacceptable.”
“Go easy on him eh? It’s his first time really being out here with us. Besides, he’s not totally dead, probably. You think?”
“What did you find Shade?”
Miles grinned and held up his two fists full of loot. Vincent pulled on the necklace and inspected it closer. It was a plain steel chain, but the scarab at the end was gold and inset with a large, but badly flawed, Emerald. By touch, Vincent could tell it had some magic infusion.
“This may aid him. Emerald scarabs are known to heal, although they are fragile. Take it to him.”
Miles shrugged, opened his portal and climbed inside, then popped out 20 feet away over the river and popped into another one. He did this several times, popping in and out of small portals in mid-air, before ending up on the other bank where he laid the scarab onto the Templars chest.
The scarab lit up, healing energy poured through it and into the Danstevs chest. He swelled up, then his eyes opened, and he started a gurgling scream from pain as the arrows were pushed back out of his body and his flesh began to un-tear itself. Miles took a step back, smiling as if he had done good work, pleased with himself. Finally, the Templar coughed up the last of the water in his lungs, and rolled onto his side, pushing himself up onto a knee, head bowed.
“Thank you… Miles… Blessings of-”
“Nope, none of that stuff. Maybe Vince will want em. I’m good.”
“Fine. Tell me then, what’s the current situation?” Danstev testing his healed body, slowly stood to his feet.
“Uh, yeah, while you were out I guess, they’re all dead. We handled it. Found some loot. We’re probably a day or so in the middle of nowhere, and the barge exploded. So we are gonna be walking for a while.”
Vincent heaved a hook across the 60′ of river, Miles ran down and secured it for him. Then the large Arcanite proceeded to pull himself across the river with his pack mostly floating behind him. He made his way out of the river and walked over to Danstev, still dripping.
“Templar. You went the wrong way, always exit to the right.”
“Yeah, thanks, I’m fine. Who were they? Any indication?”
Vincent pulled out the scroll case, the insignia of the Del-Tross, a rather high-end mercenary group from Mirkas was imprinted on the leather. Danstev popped it open and pulled out a contract with their names on it. He began to read through the details.
“How.. They know what we look like, our names, where we’ve been for the past two weeks.” His brow furrowed. “This is signed by the King of Mirkas, the King has up to date information on us, and wants us dead.”
“Ain’t the King been dead since the war ended?” asked Miles.
“Indeed.” answered Vincent.
“Either someone is impersonating his signature, and quite well, or the confirmation of his death has been greatly exaggerated.” The Templar sighed, as the last known graduates of the now-ruined Princeton academy, they had one purpose.
“We need to find the King,” Vincent stated plainly “and return him to death.”