Seeking Fate's Tapestry
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The Seeking Fate's Tapestry, is a fictional epic story written by a Filipino writer named. It is published in Brooks' official newspaper with the same title.
The story is different from any other stories published within eRepublik. Players are invited to become characters for the story, a way to increase the number of her readers. In order for Brooks' to get wide influx of players to read her story, she sets auditions for character castings. Once a player passed Brooks' audition calls, she is then to answer a set of questions in order to formulate the players true character. The answers to the questions would likely be the characteristics of the players in real life.
- Hekter as Hekter, The Brave Hero
- Astra Kat G as Lady Astra
- Ariel David Buena as Ariel, the Cleric of Saint Cuthbert
- Ines Schumacher as Ines the Rogue
- as CruelBear the Monk
- as The Boss-Man
- as Commander Seisan
- as Xerdius Hoch Twice-Orphaned Kanavo’nilotha
- Manong Rizal as Manong the Shopkeeper
- Hekter's sister - Hekter's sister who always reminds him of his daily household chores
- Emily - Lady Astra's personal servant
- Master - an unnamed instructor who teaches about the Art for 128 years
- Sir Robert - High Priest of Saint Cuthbert, the Cudgel
Chapter One: Rude Awakenings
Standing fast against the darkness, the hero drew his longsword and charged the squat, big-headed monsters. Nine guttural battle-cries rang out as they charged him as well. Swinging his sword around easily, he fought through all nine of them. His armor still shining, he wiped their blood from his blade with a cloth and sheathed it smoothly. Stepping over their bodies without a thought, he approached the young lady he had just saved from certain death.
As he reached out for her a quiet tear fell down her cheek. "Oh, I knew you would save me." she sobbed, burying her face in his manly chest. "You are my hero, my Hekter... Hekter ...Hekter... Hekter... HEKTER!!!!!"
The shrill shriek of his younger sister yanked him out of the glory of sleep. "You are late for chores. The sun is almost up. You're gonna miss breakfast again." she smiled at the thought of him going hungry yet another morning. "I won't miss anything" he grumbled and swiped an arm at his annoying sister. Ducking under the half-hearted blow she giggled as she descended the ladder from his attic room, her duty done.
Looking up at his window from his bed he noticed the first rays of dawn. Rolling out of bed, he pulled on a shirt and went to the window. Looking out at the dawn he imagined the first rays of the morning glinting off of his breastplate. Then, his head dropping a little as he accepted today's reality and left behind dreams of tomorrow, he went to milk the cow.
“Miss….” Came a soft voice out of the darkness. “Miss, it is past time to get up Miss” the voice continued. Her eyes fluttered open and she stretched lazily, looking at her maid, who stood beside her bed.
“Good morning, Emily.” She smiled and cuddled further under the soft feather down quilt.
“Good morning, Lady Astra” Emily smiled warmly at her and waited patiently for her mistress to fully wake.
Astra sat up and climbed out of bed, slipping her feet into her silk slippers to avoid the cold of the stone floor. Emily led her over to a chair and started brushing her long hair while Astra rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
“Wash your face Lady Astra, you are going to be late for class again. You know what your Father said. If you are late once more, no more magic.” Emily chastised her gently.
Astra’s eyes flew open in panic and she frantically dipped her hand in a bowl of rose water and splashed her face. Taking the brush from Emily’s hand she twisted her hair up into a braid and tied a ribbon around the end. Rushing over to the wardrobe, she pulled on one of her white apprentice robes and practically flew from the room.
Running down the hallway as fast as she was able, her hair and robe fluttering behind her, was quite a sight. As she got to the door of her Master, the gnome teaching her The Art, she was stopped from entering by Emily’s hand on her shoulder.
“What Emily? I am almost late!” Astra glared at her, irritated that she, the supposed “Lady” looked a mess and Emily herself managed to get here and still look well put together. Emily held up her supply belt, spell component pouches hanging from it, and her uniform shoes in one hand and pointed to her feet with the other. “I don’t think the Master would quite understand your pink bedroom slippers Milady.” Astra grabbed her shoes, switched them with her slippers and entered the room.
Sitting down at her desk, she opened her study book to yesterday’s page. Happily she immersed herself in her studies of The Art, her gnomish teacher, chuckling softly at her habitual tardiness, attempted to look stern at his most promising pupil in his entire 128 years of teaching.
When the sun came over the horizon that morning, all the clerics had long since been awake and busy. He was no different than any of them, in that respect at least. Kneeling before a Priestess of The Cudgel he felt the power of his god flow through him, promising him the strength he needed to accomplish any goal that might be set before him today.
As he knelt there he felt a tingle begin at the back of his neck. Someone had begun watching him. Finishing his prayers, he touched his holy symbol and stood. He went to the door and almost immediately fell to his knees again for before him stood The High Priest of his God, Saint Cuthbert, The Cudgel. The Cleric’s full plate shone in the candlelight, always kept immaculate. He looked down at Ariel with stony, unforgiving eyes and gestured for him to follow, then turned on his heel and walked swiftly away.
Wondering what he had done wrong, he followed the High Cleric to the office held by that most pious leader of his faith. Head bowed with respect despite the fact that no one was looking at him, he decided he wasn’t praying enough. Or maybe not training enough. Or was it that he wasn’t devout enough? No, that couldn’t be it. There was almost no one here who was more devoted to the goals of the Church than he was. What could it be?
Entering the office, Sir Robert stood at his window, watching the sun rise for a moment. Ariel grew more and more nervous as the seconds ticked by. His palms began to sweat and he began to wonder if he might be being tossed out.
Sir Robert turned to face him and pointed at a chair. Ariel sat. “Do you know why I have called you here, boy?” Ariel shook his head no, then, realizing his mistake as Sir Robert’s eyebrow arched up, he hastily added “No Sir, I do not.” “We here at the Church know that you have been friendly with a certain…..adventuring company before. We would like you to travel with them again.”
Ariel stood up and, forgetting his training in his surprise blurted out “An assignment? That’s what this was about?” then flushed and bowed his head again.
“That’s right. An assignment for The Church of The Cudgel. A very important mission. We need you to stop a fraud from giving this Church a bad name.” sitting at his desk he passed a piece of paper to Ariel, who looked at it briefly. It was a report of a Cleric of St. Cuthbert killing a child in the street, declaring the heinous act to be “holy vengeance” for some crime. Looking aghast at what he was reading, Ariel quoted to himself, “Thou shalt protect the innocent from evil and shall lead thy children down the path of righteousness and good.” The High Cleric nodded in agreement. According to the teachings of St. Cuthbert children were not responsible for their own actions, they needed to be taught, not punished.
“Who has committed this atrocity in our Lord’s name?” Ariel demanded, forgetting protocol completely in the heat of his desire to smite this thing that dared to call itself “Cleric”. “Her name is unknown to us. You shall have to discover that on your own. She shouldn’t be hard to find though. Everything we know is in those papers you now hold. If you can, bring her back alive to face trial and punishment by the Church. If you can not, met out whatever punishment the Cudgel inspires you to. That will be all.” Just like that, Ariel was dismissed from the office. Taking the papers with him, Ariel went to his trunk at the foot of his bunk in the barracks and packed his things. Eager as he was to track down this foul blasphemer, he still did not forget to bow his head to the holy symbol hanging over the door on his way out of the church and toward his mission.
Running through an alleyway, her braided hair flying behind her, Ines felt as exhilarated as she always did after a job. This one may have been small, but any job is better than no job. Stopping right before she would be exiting she pulled off her coat and, turning it inside out and slipping back into it, she exited the alley and calmly walked down the street. A black-jacketed rogue had entered the alley, a lady in a frock coat had exited.
Whistling lightly as she headed back to headquarters, she smiled to herself at how easy the job had been. Then she frowned a little, aching for a challenge. All the jobs nearby were so very…..well…..easy. Shaking her head, she wished someone would find a real adventure, like a tomb raiding or an evil army to be stopped, or maybe even a dragon. “What’s a girl gotta do to get a little dragon hoard around here?” she muttered to herself as she entered the building that served as headquarters for their company of adventurers.
“What was that?” CruelBear asked from a corner of the room.
Practically jumping out of her skin, she shook her head at how darn quiet he was. “Stinkin’ monks” she muttered to herself, then put a smile on her face as she looked up at him. “Oh nothing, just aching for an adventure already” she put on her most sincere smile. Considering he could probably bite her in half, she needed him to have not heard that particular comment, not that he would, but still.
Rising from padnasana, or the lotus pose, CruelBear smiled down at Ines, way down. She looked up from her 5’8’’ up at his face over 4’ above her and again tried to look sincere.
“Don’t worry. I am sure we will have something to occupy your time soon enough. Why can you never be still?” he asked, bemused at her need to always be doing something. “Why can’t you ever be interesting?” she muttered but said aloud “Of course we will, I have no doubt. Dragons and necromancers can’t behave forever right?” she went to the table to sit. At his silent smile she got a little worried. “Right? You don’t know something I don’t do you?” Silence from him as he returned to his meditation. “Right? We didn’t do something stupid and actually kill ALL of the bad guys, did we?” Waving a hand in front of his face did no good. Making faces at a monk was never a good idea. Sighing, she went to the office to turn in the minor magic item she had been contracted to steal, err “liberate”, from the city guard and hoped they hadn’t done something stupid like that.
Putting the pail under the cow, Hekter sat on his stool and began the familiar task of milking. It ought to be familiar since he had done it twice a day for years. The steady, dull sound of the milk hitting the bottom and sides of the pail allowed his mind time to wander………………………………………………………………….
“I shall save you M’Lady! Fear not!” As the helpless damsel looked on in horror, the little monsters rushed him!
His longsword flashing in the light, he faced the enemy. One came at him directly and he thrust his sword forward through the foul creature’s guts. Pulling his sword free, he spun to the right and ended another life. The battle cries rising above him from behind warn him of the coming attack. He ducks into a roll to avoid two goblins leaping at him and comes up with sword arcing through the air, decapitating two of the bestial little men.
Turning about to face the last two foul creatures, he caught a leaping goblin and tossed him to the side. Swiftly blocking the sword thrust of the other with a backhand parry he turns the motion into a thrust and lets out a shout of triumph as his weapon glides into it’s open mouth. Making a gurgling noise, the creature falls and takes his sword, which is firmly lodged in the skull, along with it. Leaning down to retrieve his weapon, he finds it to be completely irremovable from the bone. The final goblin hits him with a tackle from the side and bites into his shoulder, attempting to remove a piece of his arm. Wrapping his hands around it’s throat, he pulls it painfully off of his shoulder and begins to squeeze the life out of it. Squeezing tighter and tighter, he watches the life fade from it’s eyes as it’s struggles weaken. To be sure of the creature’s end, he tightens his grip again…………………. ………………………………………………………………………………………….
“Ow!” Hekter rubbed his shin where the pain radiated from his slightly crushed foot. Patting her side gently he pulled the full pail away and smiled ruefully. “Sorry for squeezing you there girl.” He shook his head to clear away the dreams and carried the pail inside.
Astra looked up from her desk and rubbed her eyes wearily with one hand. She abhorred this part of magic. All the reading and writing and studying and copying. She glanced over at her master where he sat at his desk, keeping an eye on her, as always. She thought back and realized that she had never seen the Master Illusionist away from his desk while she studied. The old gnome looked up from his book and smiled at her. Then, quite unexpectedly, his voice came from behind her and to the left.
“I have bad news, Astra dear.” He said quietly. She turned to face her master with a smile on her face at his trickery but her face quickly fell when she saw his expression. “What’s wrong Master?” she asked, a boulder sized lump of unease settling in her stomach. It’s about me and my studies, I just know it.
“Your Father says that if you show no improvement by the end of the day today then you are done wasting your time, and his money, here. You will no longer be my apprentice.” He looked very sad. He had come to see Astra as the daughter he never had. To lose her would hurt deeply and his heart ached to see her potential wasted as some old noble’s trophy wife someday.
Her heart sank at his words. She had been tested for magical potential and had been told that she would be a great and powerful mage one day. Ever since then her dreams had been filled with arcane symbols and magical powders and great, epic adventures. Now her father’s impatience was going to steal that from her. She would be stuck marrying some man she had never before met and pretending it made her happy……for the rest of her life. Despair threatened to swallow her as tears filled her eyes and spilled over her cheeks. She didn’t think she could possibly show enough improvement in one day to save her future. She could hear the funereal dirge of the wedding march already.
Her beloved teacher’s arms went around her and he held her close, rocking gently back and forth and patting her back lightly. She leaned into his shoulder and prepared to weep for all she was worth. After all, as a young girl she had gotten plenty of practice getting what she wanted by crying. That is how she got her father to allow her to be tested in the first place.
“Not to worry, my child.” He whispered soothingly to her. “I think you should try again. If you can successfully cast a spell he must let you stay.” He smiled warmly as she looked up at him, hope creeping into her features and chasing the despair away, as hope was wont to do.
“Do you really think I am ready? Really? What about last time? What about what I did to your desk?” They both glanced over in the direction of his desk where the walls were still scorched from an accidental fireball.
He breathed deeply and smiled at her, the absolute picture of confidence. He was called a Master of Illusion for a reason. “I do. Come over here and give it a try.” Leading her away from all flammable materials and to a corner he had cleared out for this purpose.
She sat cross legged and closed her eyes to concentrate. Placing her open left hand on her knee, she used her right hand to reach into her spell component pouch. First her fingers found the pocket 3rd from the front, with the slightly crunchy texture. She sprinkled a pinch of specially dried moss from the willow tree into her palm. Then she reached into the 5th pocket from the right side and retrieved a pinch of quartz dust, adding it to the moss. Closing her fingers around her components she reached inside herself, desperate to find that hidden potential she was supposed to have, that she knew she had.
“Cilin khalayan shirak lingkaran”
She felt the components fuse together and opened her palm, and her eyes, to the sweet picture of victory.
Looking about the familiar city, Ariel felt an odd sense of homecoming as he headed down the streets he knew so well. He recognized the people who owned the shops and pushed their carts about, selling their goods or heading home to take care of their families. He wondered at this sense of belonging he felt here and wished he could feel this way back at the Church where he was finishing his training.
An older woman attempted to entice him into buying a sweetbun and he handed over a copper to her, then handed the treat to a child he noticed staring longingly at the cart. The way her eyes lit up at the sticky roll was well worth the copper it had cost him and he walked a little lighter after that.
As he approached the offices of his old company his footsteps slowed a bit. He had left unexpectedly before and hadn’t given much notice to the others. He feared they might be angry with him and might not wish to help. He had no doubt about some of them, but a few were experts at holding grudges. Not that he would deny them any retribution they felt he deserved for leaving like that, he just didn’t look forward to the punishment. He also knew that the punishment would be unexpected, and might take months to happen. Not the style of The Cudgel at all. Though, none of them worship St. Cuthbert so what can you expect?
He took a deep breath and pushed through the doorway, bracing himself for the verbal onslaught he was sure was coming.
“Well, well, well. Look who is slumming. Feeling a little less high and mighty these days or did you just get lost on the way to the heavens?” smiling at him from the table where a card game was laid out, Ines was as clever and dangerous with her words as ever.
“I am sure he just missed your lady-like charm, my dear” CruelBear smiled at Ines with his usual calm demeanor, though his comment made her stick out her tongue at him.
Ariel shook his head at their banter and again wondered at how very at home he felt. Like he belonged here. Smiling at the slightly shorter half-dwarf he said “What kind of place would the heavens be if you weren’t there, Ines?” “A boring one for sure.” She grinned at his good natured comeback.
CruelBear joined the fun by adding “But quiet. Blissfully quiet and peaceful” “Like I said, boring” she retorted and pouted slightly at him, showing her displeasure in a very feminine, adorable way.
“But everyone’s gold would stay where it belongs” Logan’s voice came from the direction of his office. To look at the slightly built human you would never know that he directed the actions of one of the largest adventuring companies known to history, almost the most successful one, too. Logan was standing in front of his favorite map on the wall, the one showing where their most successful and famous missions had been accomplished, and examining a contract as though uninterested in Ariel’s arrival.
Looking out through the smoky air, he filled his lungs with the familiar sickly sweet stench of burning hopes and dreams. The fire looked so beautiful against this early afternoon sky. He had forgotten how much fun this part was. Looking down at the ground he noticed a doll. It might have belonged to a little girl. The doll had black hair and a smile. Reaching down, he took the doll in his hand and viciously twisted her head off.
“I hate smiling children” he muttered and looked about for a black-haired little girl to match the disgusting little bit of fluff he now held in his hand.
Making his way through the devastation his band was joyously making he listened to the sweet music of the people suffering and felt true joy in his heart. His God would be so pleased with them this day, he might even receive a vision tonight to reward him for his good work.
Pointing his finger at a slightly newer member of the band, he barked out, “You! Find me the little girl that matches this doll!” and tossed the collection of rags in the direction of the boys newly scarred face.
The boy scrambles to catch it and, missing it entirely, fell on his face in the mud, splashing the boots of his commander. Looking up in terror he frantically tried to back away from the look that was being given to him.
“Look what you did! You got filthy mud all over my new boots!” the boot was lifted, placed squarely on the bridge of the boy’s nose and thrust forcefully back towards the ground. The satisfying crack of the boy’s nose, then neck echoed in Seisan’s ears like poetry.
“Now that,” he smiled to himself “was a proper apology. No matter, I will find her myself.”
He left the boy face down in the mud. That one will never miss a catch again. Laughter echoed off the walls of the nearby stone buildings that weren’t burning very well at all. They do make for a nice sound though. Plus, he liked the idea of the burned out homes leaving ‘bodies’ of stone behind. He always did prefer to scare whoever came next with all the bodies. This time there would be home remains as well.
Walking toward a building that wasn’t on fire yet for some unknowable reason, he went inside. Casting his eyes about, he searched for evidence of his chosen prey. Whistling lightly, he smiled as he noticed a small bed with a flower-patterned quilt atop it. Approaching slowly, his keen ears picked out very heavy breathing from below. Chuckling to himself he walked back and forth very slowly in front of the bed. The girl was so afraid he could feel it in the air, like an electric charge. It was magnificent, her fear. He couldn’t wait to actually see it.
Suddenly, he reached down and yanked the girl by the arm into the air in front of him. She began to sob, begging with him in her foreign tongue for her life. He couldn’t understand a word of it but that is what he assumed she was saying. No matter. Even if he could understand it wouldn’t have helped. Erythnul demands the destruction of all good beings, even the beautiful young ones. Especially the beautiful young ones.
He left the girl’s home and carried her into the street. “Hey! I got a target over here! Anyone want to play?” he called out.
“Play!” came the answer from down the street. A half-ogre. Perfect.
“Come and get her then!” he called back, holding the struggling thing out by one of her frail arms. The half-ogre charged them, the girls terror a jolt of pure ecstasy for him, and the last thing the girl saw before losing consciousness was his grinning face as he began the ‘game’ by swinging at her legs.
Hekter rubbed his forearm across his forehead to wipe the sweat away and keep it from his eyes. Looking around he felt despair thinking that this might be his life forever. Wrapping his hands around the handles of the plow he clicked his tongue, which started the donkey forward again. His arms are jostled up and down by the plow pulling through the soil as he keeps it on track. After awhile he knew he would get sore, his shoulders would feel pulled and his hands would feel a little raw. This land was never ideal for farming but his father was so stubborn. The plow jerked to a stop suddenly and Dolly made a noise of annoyance as she looked back at him, an accusation in her eyes.
“What?” he asked the donkey aloud. “I didn’t forget to check for stones….I didn’t.” he defended himself against the imagined onslaught of his work companion for the day.
Moving the plow to the side he found a rather sizable rock that should have been spotted by him when he was out yesterday, looking for just such a thing.
Dolly looked satisfied when he stood up and put the plow back after checking it for damage. There was none, thank the gods in the heavens. Putting the stone in a pouch he brought just for this, he set the plow straight and clicked his tongue.
Dolly didn’t move.
He clicked his tongue again.
Dolly sat down.
Hekter walked around to the front of the donkey and took her face in his hands, looking into her eyes. “Please get up girl. I promise, there will be no more stones.” An accusation glares out of her eyes at him. “I wasn’t daydreaming, I wasn’t! Okay, but no more daydreaming today. Really! Now can we go back to work?” His hands rubbed her soft nose and scratched behind one ear.
Dolly stood up and waited, Hektor returned to his place and clicked his tongue again. Dolly started off.
Hekter did not daydream, at least not at first. But, after awhile with the heat and the monotonous labor he just couldn’t help but wonder what else he might be doing in some other life……….
Breastplate shining he faced the beast. “I am afraid of nothing. Not even you, Dragon.”
“I am sorry Astra, but I have made my decision.” Her father spoke calmly, not caring that he was destroying her dreams. “A foreign prince has asked for your hand, my dear and you must be trained as a proper lady. Not spending your days holding bat guano or playing with village boys.” He leaned forward to emphasize his point. “Don’t you see, dear? You could be royalty.”
“But I don’t want to be royalty. You said if I showed improvement I could continue my classes. I did show improvement. I can cast a spell! I thought your word was your bond.” She didn’t think she could change his mind but she had to try.
Her eyes welled up with tears as he shook his head.
“I am sorry, my dear but I have already agreed. Upon your sixteenth birthday you will be sent to marry a prince. That is final and no amount of crying is going to change it. The paper’s have been signed and it has been agreed upon. I have given my word to the lad’s father and you will not make a liar or a deal breaker out of me. Besides, you can make a little light. What use is that in a real life? None, I say. After all this time, a little light? No, you are much better served as a princess than a mage. Now, if you want to pout you may take supper in your rooms. I will understand.” He smiled and added one last thing, as though this would make it all alright. “You may keep your magic things and study in your spare time if you like. You just can not take up your whole day with it anymore.”
Astra fled her father’s office and ran down the hallways of her large home, not caring if she looked less than lady-like or who she might run into. She fled to her room where she opened her wardrobe and, in a fury, tossed all her fine dresses into a pile on the floor. Grabbing hold of the lace and embroidery she gave a mighty pull and pearls went flying every where as the seams gave way. Grabbing another she yanked on the velvet of this dress but it was stronger than the lace of the other and would not tear.
Going to her desk, she withdrew the dagger she was only supposed to use to cut herbs and sliced into the purple velvet of the dress, leaving its thick skirts in tatters. Dress after dress fell to her fury. She had never felt so betrayed in her life. Trade her away like a barrel of ale, will he? Well, she will make sure it isn’t worth the trade, since it is all agreed upon already.
Tears streaming down her face, she destroyed her entire wardrobe of dresses. Everything she had to wear except her apprentice robes, there were two of them, and her riding clothes she wore when her father took her hunting once. These she tossed under her bed in hopes he wouldn’t notice they had been spared her fury and taken them away.
Then, looking at the devastation she had wrought she burst into real sobs and threw herself down on the bed. Utterly exhausted by her outburst, she lay there until her sobs were quieted by the blissful relief of sleep.
Logan led Ariel out of his office with a smile on his face.
“Ariel, as always, it is a pleasure to work with you. Maybe this time that church of yours won’t steal you back so fast.”
Ariel nodded and smiled, though he seriously doubted he would be away from training for very long after finishing this mission. It was only due to his connections that he had been chosen to go in the first place.
Logan called Ines and CruelBear over and was about to brief them on the mission details when he noticed someone was missing. Walking over to a door, he looked inside. “Nope, not there,” he muttered under his breath. Ines giggled a little and Logan walked over to her.
“Well, where is he? Went to the blasted library again, didn’t he.”
Nodding, Ines laughed again at Logan’s grimace. The last time Topy had disappeared into the Grand Library no one had seen him for weeks. There were books there the size of people and when Topy started studying it would take a typhoon to get him to stop.
“Well, I will tell you guys what is happening and you two can fill him in when you find him then.” CruelBear, Ines and Ariel all waited for Logan to begin, he was still annoyed that Topy had disappeared again and it took him a moment to compose himself.
“Ariel here” a hand is waved in his direction “has brought us a very interesting and profitable commission from the Most Holy Church of Saint Cuthbert.” The capital letters could be heard when he spoke, for Ariel’s benefit of course. Logan was a business man, most god’s didn’t agree with him so he was generally non religious.
“Apparently there is a woman claiming to be a Cleric of The Cudgel that is smiting everyone who looks at her cross-eyed. Including the elderly, small children and the priesthood of other faiths. Two priests dedicated to Ehlonna have already fallen to this pretender and the Church is most upset at the loss of life and it’s tarnished image. A young boy wearing the holy symbol of Saint Cuthbert was recently beaten almost to death for serving a most heinous God due to this woman’s actions. Ariel and the Church want us to seek her out and, to put it simply, smite her back. That’s all. Nothing too exciting, so sorry Ines, but no dragons or lich-kings this time. Maybe next time.”
Ines had been most excited when the briefing started, but as he spoke her face had fallen. No real need for her talents at all. Ariel would never let her sneak up on an enemy of the Church. He would want to tell them why they were dying instead of just getting it done. She had really been looking forward to some excitement, now it seems she will just be going along because their contracts required a certain number of associates to go on each job.
“Now go fetch your arcanist, hit the store for supplies, tell Manong I said hello while you are there, and get out so you can return and I can get paid. I mean,” he smiled “We can get paid.” and went into his office. The door closed solidly behind him and cut off further possibility of questions. Like, what was a rogue going to do on this mission anyway, couldn’t he send an extra big, dumb brute instead?
His breath came out in puffs of steam in the cold morning air. He was moving swiftly through the trees towards where he was sure Seisan would be. When he woke up that morning he had been greeted by pillars of smoke on the horizon. That meant great destruction, which meant Seisan would be there. It should be just over this rise.
Hearing a noise in the clearing ahead, Hoch drew his bow and broke free from the trees aiming it ahead of him.
Seeing what made the noise, Hoch lowered his bow and rushed forward to help. Crawling toward him was a human girl, maybe 12 years old, her broken and twisted legs dragging the ground behind her.
Taking her head in his hands he assessed the damage and knew right away there was no way to save her. Tears welled up in his eyes as he reached into his belt pouch. The least he could do was ease her pain.
“Help,” she croaked out, blood accompanying her plea.
Looking into her eyes, he asked her “Who?”
Confusion clouded her features. “Who did this to you, girl?”
“A tall man,” she managed, then was overcome by coughing, blood again spilling over her lips. Bleeding inside Hoch could see, she would be dead soon, but not soon enough. Her suffering must be great and he regretted prolonging it, but he had to know.
Wiping her mouth with a cloth procured from his pouch, he waited for her to try again, encouraging her with a look to continue.
“He was dark……not his body…….not his skin……but he seemed dark….and cold, so cold” coughing wracked her body again and this time Hoch took pity on the girl. She had said enough to confirm his fears…..and his hopes.
“I will help you,” he told her and hope lit up her features, saddening him. She must have been so pretty, before. Holding her in his arms, he tilted her head back and tipped a skin to her lips, saying “This will end your pain. This will help you sleep and when you wake, all will be better.”
She drank deeply, eager for the pain to be over. Almost as soon as her third swallow passed her throat she quieted, then died.
Throwing his head back, he let out a long bellow of mourning for the girl’s death. Tears streamed down his tattooed cheeks as he mentally sent her soul to the afterlife in the way of his people.
Laying her head down, he regretted not being able to bury her in the way of her people, but if he was to catch the man-demon there was no time for that. Seisan must not go unpunished for his many crimes, not against Hoch, nor against the many victims Hoch had come across while following the madman. Standing up, he bowed his head to her one last time, then ran ahead to her home, where the evil will finally die.
Reaching the edge of the village, Hoch saw a half-ogre. His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized this unexpected complication. No matter, Hoch thought to himself as he moved closer, keeping to the edge of the stone building. Ducking below the level of the fire was uncomfortable, but he had endured worse than this in his quest to avenge his first family. I can handle a single half-og the thought stopped midway as he noticed a twisted scar running from the thing’s forehead, across his face and around his chin. Looking closer, he saw another scar, this one across one eye. And there, was it? Yes! Burned into it’s cheek, a brand. A face, no doubt half-demon, half-boar.
Turning around, he went around the back of the building. There, standing on a hill overseeing his masterful destruction of this peaceful village, was Seisan. Hoch’s heart started to pound in his ears as the need to kill the man filled him. Seisan’s head turned to the left and he seemed to be looking directly where Hoch was concealed. Then, he looked at the destruction again and, smiling slowly, he threw his head back and laughed.
Laughed! How dare he laugh while Hoch’s cheeks were still wet with salt from a mourning wail. Starting forward, he stopped when he saw that the half-ogre was not Seisan’s only company. There were others, all scarred, all branded.
His eyes widening with realization, he backed away, slowly, then ran full speed into the woods surrounding the village. Heading as fast as he could go, the trees whipped past him so fast most people wouldn’t have been able to avoid slamming into one. Still, as fast as he was going, the laughter and the knowledge that accompanied it chased him, close on his heels. All he could see was her eyes, and the brand from their cheeks, foreheads, even over their eyes on occasion. And the word that accompanied that brand when seen in such great numbers, the cold knowledge of what Seisan had joined up with.
He was going to need help.
“Hey Boy!” a familiar and welcome voice called out. “Don’t you think it is a little late for all this, farming?” the laughter that followed made Hekter blush. His grandfather was always making fun of him for his wandering thoughts, especially since he got so distracted sometimes that he didn’t notice the sun leaving the sky. Like today, he was still attempting to plow a field even though he could barely see his hands on the handles, let alone where he was going.
“I will be there in a minute Grandfather! I am almost done with this part.” Then, to himself he muttered “I think” and went forward a few more steps to ensure that he had proven that he was still out here on purpose. Dedication was a good thing, distraction was not.
Walking calmly over to his grandfather, he stood up straight and pulled his shoulders back, attempting to look like the man he hoped to soon be. Smiling at him, his grandfather looked at him and shook his head, chuckling.
A frown creasing his brow he put his hand on Grandfather’s shoulder, asking “What? What is so funny?”
Shaking his head a little harder, he laughed again and said, “Nothing son, it’s just you are so very skinny. You look like a scarecrow almost.” Laughing harder now he tried to look sorry and failed miserably. “I am sorry grandson, I am sure you are perfectly average for a normal boy, it’s just that your father was so much more…….manly by your age.”
As Hekter’s face fell and his shoulders drooped, making his chest cave in a little his grandfather attempted to make amends. “I am sure you will fill out soon, don’t worry. Your mother was a late bloomer as I recall. Maybe you take after her.” Putting his arm across Hekter’s shoulders, he led him into the house.
Great, Hekter thought. I take after my mother physically. No wonder no girls ever notice me. Looking at the broad shouldered silhouette of his father did not encourage him at all. The entire family sat down around the fireplace to eat. They usually ate at the table, but when Grandfather came to visit it was a special occasion. The oldest member of his family preferred to eat around a fire. He said it reminded him of his adventuring days.
As the family talked amongst themselves about daily life and asked Grandfather about life in the city Hekter stared into the fire and left the business of eating to his hands and mouth to do without help from his brain. His mind started to drift as he stared into the flames and for once it wasn’t to stories of victory and adventure he traveled. This time, his mind went into the past, a few years ago. He was looking into a different fire then. A campfire. A girl and he had built it together and they were staying out abominably late because she was cross with her father and wanted him to worry about her a little. He remembered their time together fondly; because that night was the closest to an actual adventure he had ever come to, and would probably ever come to.
Everything about that night had seemed almost surreal. The sky was too big, the stars too bright. Everything was too beautiful and perfect to be real. Even the cold of the wind didn’t really bother them. They just huddled together a little closer to the fire and laughed at their boldness. They had talked for hours about anything and nothing. How he felt inadequate at home and she felt under appreciated. How he felt like he might never become a man, and she despaired of ever being happy as a ‘lady’. Then her father’s guards had found them and he had not seen her since. Although, his father had been informed that if he was caught compromising the young lady’s virtues again the guards would throw him in a hole so deep the sun would never grace his face with it’s warmth again.
A poke in the ribs brought him back to reality and he realized his sister was letting him know that the story was beginning.
“Well,” Grandfather started. “It was no big deal really. For adventurers like we were, a dragon was no big deal. We had dealt with worse than a small black dragon before. I mean,” he chuckled good naturedly and winked at Hekter “At least it wasn’t a green!” Everyone laughed at his joke. Only Hekter and his grandfather knew there was a real difference between black and green dragons. The first time he had heard this story, Hekter had practically interrogated his grandfather about dragons. The questions had gone on for hours after everyone else had succumbed to sleep.
“So,” he continued, “We approached the beast’s lair. Quietly, our rogue, little light fingered devil that she was, snuck right up to it’s snout and slipped an elven rope around twice and gave it a good sailor’s knot. Nothing beats a good sailor’s knot you know. I went right up to its face while Damian approached it’s side to the right and Jasper was on the left. Sheila gave us a nod to tell us the knot was as secure as it was gonna get and I poked the beast right over it’s big left nostril.” He poked his spoon forward to demonstrate how he poked.
“Well, it woke up quick, I can tell you and it wasn’t too happy about it. It’s head reared up and took poor Sheila right off her feet! She was tossed to the side and hit the wall. The crack as she hit was so loud it rang in my ears.” Looking a little subdued he said quietly “We were sure Sheila had tied her last knot. Well, that made us so mad that Damian and Jasper stabbed their swords right into both of its flanks. It reared up even more and it’s wings spread out so fast it took them both off of their feet. Hey, I shouted, down here!” he actually shouted the line and Hekter’s little sister, still a little sad at the imagined loss of beloved Sheila, jumped in her seat, which made everyone laugh a little.
“The beast took a deep breath and put it’s face right in front of me. Acid dribbled from between it’s lips and the rope just dissolved. It mouth opened wide and I leapt to the side to avoid the terrible spray that hit right where I had stood a moment before. Turning about, I knew I had to keep moving. So, I ran right at it. You see family, a dragon, once it has shot it’s killing breath at you, takes a minute or two to build it back up. That is when it is safest to get it. So, I ran right at it and thrust my trusty sword right into its left eye. My arm sank into it right up to the elbow” he declared, showing where on his arm he now carried a slightly twisted point where it had been inside the dragon’s head. “Well, it pulled me off my feet and had just enough strength left to toss me across the room. I landed and forced myself to my feet, prepared to face it again, but it wasn’t necessary. The beast was dead.” He smiled triumphantly and sat back down.
“Well, what happened to Sheila and the others?” Hekter’s sister asked.
Delighted that the story had found a good audience yet again, Grandfather answered her. “Sheila was just fine, the loud sound had been her wineskin popping and her tools breaking in their wooden case. Damian and Jasper were both also fine. Although, Jasper walks with a limp now. As for your brave Grandfather, my arm never fully recovered, and since it was my sword arm, that was my very last adventure. Not that I regret it at all.” He sighed and looked a little sad. Hekter shared his pain.
“Well,” father said, breaking the moment. “I bet Grandfather is tired, why don’t we all go to bed?” and stood up. That signified the end of the night, so everyone went to their beds. Except, of course, for Hekter. He sat up for a while longer, staring at the flames and thinking.
It was a quiet day. Most days are in an Adventurer's Shop. Even in a big city, most with any intelligence didn't want to make trouble for someone who knows as many heroes, and even villains, as the proprietor of an Adventurer's Shop.
Wiping a shelf to keep the dust off the merchandise, Manong Rizal kept an eye on a halfling fellow who was considering making the most unfortunate decision to walk out a bit heavier than he walked in without bothering with the lengthy and irritating process of actually paying for anything. At last count he was four rings and six potions heavier than the blessings of Yondalla could account for.
A young woman lightly clearing her throat got his attention for a moment. Looking up at him with eyes shining with thoughts of great magic she held out a ruby pendant on a silver chain.
"What does it do?" she asked in a voice tinged with fear. "Throw fireballs, summon elementals or fiends, teleportation maybe?"
His dry, old man chuckle effectively popped her bubble as he shook his head. "Nothing special, just very, very pretty."
He accompanied her to the sales counter to complete the transaction, for she had decided to buy it anyway.
As she was leaving, he cast his eyes about for the halfling. With alarm he realized the little fellow was almost out the door, slipping past someone very tall.
"Stop him." he called out and pointed. The familiar and frightening looking fellow reached down to stop him but the halfling was already gone.
Manong rushed to the side of one of his best customers and together he and CruelBear looked down the street for the little scoundrel. All that was evident was Ines coming, brushing off her shoulder.
Shaking her head she approached them. "What a rude little fellow," her sweet voice complained. softly. "Why, I think I might have a bruise." She pulled her shirt down over her shoulder to reveal the slightly red skin beneath. She pouted up at CruelBear and Manong as she awaited the response to the display.
They both attempted to look serious about it but Manong's eyes still searched the street for some sign of the halfling and the missing merchandise.
"It looks very serious," CruelBear indulged her. "Maybe I should take a look at it for you."
"Well, I suppose as a monk you do know a bit about healing." She turned and tilted her shoulder up for his inspection.
He brushed his fingers over the red area and bent low to look closer. "I think you will survive, just maybe." he smiled.
"I suppose so, but there is one more teensy problem." she covered her shoulder and put her hands in her pockets.
Standing, CruelBear tapped Manong to bring his attention back to Ines.
Sighing for the lost merchandise, Manong looked at Ines and smiled. "What is the problem?"
"Well, I don't know where to return all these fine things he managed to drop into my pouches." and brought her hands out to reveal four rings, 6 potions, a coin pouch and two pearls. Her lips pulled up into her familiar mischievous grin as Manong let out a laugh.
Ushering the two into the store, he noticed that a fine new dagger hung from her shapely hip.
Time passed but he didn't notice. His thoughts were far away, as usual. Smiling from the doorway, Hekter's Grandfather wondered if the boy would ever live in the real world or if he was fated to always dream about a better, more exciting life.
"So, boy. Did you notice the sun coming up or was it as sneaky doing that as it was going down last night?"
Hekter tried not to look startled but he failed. "You know," Hekter replied "For an old man who can barely walk anymore you sure are quiet." he frowned at his grandfather, a little sick of always being made fun of by a man he so respected.
Nodding to himself, Grandfather came over to sit by his only grandson. Putting a hand on Hekter's skinny shoulder, he smiled. "Help an old cripple carry a trunk?"
"Sure," Hekter returned the warm smile. They both got up and Grandfather pointed out a medium sized trunk sitting by the door. "Where do you want it?"
"In the storm cellar would do fine, thanks. Don't want anything to happen to it. Precious treasures beyond count in that old thing." a mysterious smile lit his aged features.
Hekter bent to pick up the trunk and carried it outside as his Grandfather followed.
They reached the storm cellar and Grandfather opened the trap door leading down underground. Hekter set down the trunk and, about to climb down the ladder, he paused.
Looking up at Grandfather he said one word. "Treasures?"
Simple was the question, and simple was the reply. "Countless and Precious"
Curiosity ate at Hekter as he turned back to the trapdoor, still hesitating. Looking back at his grandfather, his features twisted with an almost agonizing need to know what was in the trunk.
His grandfather reached into his belt pouch and pulled forth a large key. Reaching out his hand he handed it to Hekter. Unlocking the trunk with hands that trembled with excitement and, he had to admit to himself, a little fear, Hekter could barely contain himself. The lock fell away and he opened the trunk and looked inside.
In the trunk was a small box, about the size of a jewelry box he saw in a shop once when he went to the city with Father, a longsword in a sheath, a large item wrapped in a cloth and an old leather travel pack, the kind designed to wear on your back.
Hekter reached in and took out the travel pack with an almost reverent look on his face. Running his hand over the leather lovingly he looked up at his grandfather.
"The pack I wore on my back when I was a hero? Yes, it is. That is also the breastplate and cloak I wore, the sword I wielded and the box I carried my antitoxin, holy water and alchemist's fire vials in."
His eyes darted back into the trunk and he reached a hand in to touch the smooth wood of the box. Carefully setting the pack back into the trunk he lifted out the sword. It was heavy in his hand and was about two hands longer than his arm.
Standing, he took a wide stance and held the sword in both hands, though his hands overlapped each other when he did that. He laughed out loud as he swung it in a circle over his head. Grandfather chuckled and shook his head saying, "Not like that boy, You hold that weapon in one hand, not two."
Letting go of it with one hand, his sword arm dropped and the tip of the blade hit the dirt. Grimacing, he lifted it again and looked triumphant when he could hold it steady.
Setting the sword reverently back into the trunk he lifted the cloak off of the breastplate and, swirling it around his shoulders dramatically he fastened it and struck a most gallant pose.
Laughing, Grandfather said, "Shouldn't you put on the breastplate before you put on the cloak?" and pointed into the trunk with one finger.
His eyes alight, Hekter took off the cloak and lifted the breastplate out of the trunk. Setting it down on the hay piled nearby he looked surprised at how heavy it was.
Laughing, Grandfather said, "Heavier than you thought it would be isn't it?" At Hekter's nod he smiled. "Has to be heavy to protect you. If it was light, it wouldn't be able to do it's job, now, would it? Let's try this thing on, shall we?" Grandfather lifted the breastplate and put it over Hekter's head, settling the leather straps onto his shoulders and trying not to chuckle when the boy almost fell over.
Lifting it back off he put it back into the trunk. "Put it all back now, before your mother yells at me for putting ideas into your head." smiling indulgently Grandfather gave Hekter a slight push toward the trunk. Packing it all away again, Hekter closed and locked the trunk and carried it down into the cellar, his thoughts starting to wander already.
"Don't you tell your parents I let you try that stuff out, they would be furious with me." he warned.
Shaking his head gravely Hekter responded, "I wouldn't dream of it Grandfather. I wouldn't dream of it."
- http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/chapter-one-rude-awakenings-part-one-1133907/1/20 Chapter One Rude Awakenings Part One article by Josie Brooks in Seeking Fate's Tapestry.
- http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/chapter-one-rude-awakenings-part-two-1138088/1/20 Chapter One Rude Awakenings Part Two article by Josie Brooks in Seeking Fate's Tapestry.
- http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/chapter-one-rude-awakenings-part-three-1143355/1/20 Chapter One Rude Awakenings Part Three article by Josie Brooks in Seeking Fate's Tapestry.
- http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/chapter-one-rude-awakenings-part-four-1149303/1/20 Chapter One Rude Awakenings Part Four article by Josie Brooks in Seeking Fate's Tapestry.
- http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/chapter-one-rude-awakenings-part-five-1153546/1/20 Chapter One Rude Awakenings Part Five article by Josie Brooks in Seeking Fate's Tapestry.
- http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/chapter-one-rude-awakenings-part-six-1159688/1/20 Chapter One Rude Awakenings Part Six article by Josie Brooks in Seeking Fate's Tapestry.