So for anyone who follows me on Twitter or takes a gander on the side panel where my feed is shown there you may have noticed for the last… oh week or two at least… I have been talking about how I have been writing still since my last story I wrote and posted here.
This third fantasy story of mine is ending up significantly bigger than my other two stories so far being the size of the other two combined and still not done. So I decided instead of having people read a 13k+ word story that I will instead put it up in parts spread out over maybe a week or two of being posted. On one hand it gives anyone wanting to read it an idea of what I am currently writing and on the other it spreads it out enough that I can hopefully finish it up in a reasonable time.
Yes I know I could just wait until I had it completely done… but I feel like I wouldn’t be posting anything on the blog other than the occasional thoughts of bad taste in anime every week… and I want to have more than that showing up. So… DEAL WITH IT!
Enjoy Part One of my next story Betrayal:
The horse plodded along the well-trodden road on a particularly normal sunny day. Its rider was in a half dozing state as they traveled, only seeming to wake long enough to make sure the horse was still on the road before returning to that half doze. The horse didn’t mind, it had many riders before the current one. Some would whip his sides into a frenzy trying to reach their destination in some sort of haste that made no sense to it. While others would simply use him to pull some wooden wheeled carriages or as a pack horse, which he personally detested being used as. So the horse did not complain, especially since this rider was particularly light.
The horse and rider continued like this for many days pulling off to the side of the road at night or finding a small copse of trees if the weather was bad. On another one of those particularly normal sunny days though the horse caught a whiff of a peculiar scent on the wind. He flicked his ears, shook his head, and whinnied getting his riders attention. The horse didn’t wish to continue, he did not understand that smell but his instincts told him not to go near it. But the rider who had barely controlled him before now forced him in the direction of the smell.
The horse whinnied again when they rounded the hill and saw before them what caused the smell. Its rider whistled at the sight. Before them a ransacked wagon train was in the final stages of burning itself out and around the wagons were corpses of various races. Some were also burned while others lay unceremoniously where they had fallen but even more disgusting even to the horse were the ones who were tied up to quickly built posts as if they were some sort of warning to leave. Wanting to leave the horse whinnied again but then picked up a new smell from the mass in front of it.
The horse pranced about skittishly, flicking its ears and bobbing its head. Its rider tried calming it but it was too late as the new smell was upon them. A large club came crashing into the back of its rider’s skull. Its rider slid unconscious from the saddle and that was the last straw for the horse as it ran as fast its hooves could take it away from the scene. Its hooves crashing on mud, leaves, wood, and bodies alike as it left protecting its very life.
Mathias groaned, the back of his head felt swollen and he had a splitting headache to boot. He blinked allowing his sight to return slowly through the throbbing that was blotting out his senses currently. As his sight gradually returned so did his other senses as such he started taking in a lot of information all at once that did no favors to the headache he was dealing with right now. Besides the splitting headache he also noticed his hands were tied behind his back and his feet were bound together in front of him. Where ever he was it was dark, though thanks to his elven eyesight he didn’t have too much trouble making things out in the gloom.
He was currently propped up against a corner so he was able to make out mostly everything in the room he was held in. There were three others in the room a half elf like himself, an elf, and a human. The elf was currently in the trance like state elves used when “sleeping” while the half elf seemed to be trembling slightly not far from the elf. The human was staring intently at the single door that the room had. None had apparently noticed Mathias waking up yet though which he was slightly thankful for at the moment.
Finally through his throbbing headache he was able to start pinpointing sounds. A flap of wings outside the barred window, the cheers of at least three men somewhere outside the door, the skittering of multiple rats followed by the cursing of a drunk fourth man, a conversation between a fifth and sixth man interrupted only by the steady intervals of someone sharpening a blade. Mathias let out a small sigh, it appeared they were just common bandits, which made him sigh even louder. He was getting rusty if a group of bandits got the better of him.
His sighing though caught the attention of the others in the room. While the human did not stop staring intently at the door he was the first to speak.
“So it looks like the fourth one brought here is alive still,” he said in a matter of fact tone.
The female half elf sighed in relief, “That’s good. When they brought you in you were clearly in a rougher condition than any of us were.”
Mathias did not immediately respond but finally replied, “Any idea who is behind holding us here?”
This time the elf replied, “Seems to be common cutthroats. As to why they are holding us though is beyond me.”
Mathias chose not to continue the conversation and none of the others seemed intent on doing so either. Though occasionally to break the silence one of them, usually the half elf woman, would try striking up some random conversation. Through this he learned the others names and not much else, the female half elf was Sacae Talman, the elf called himself Aiden Raine, and the human was Garrett Dalaran. They continued like this for nearly a week and he met only one of their captors, apparently one who lost a bet and was forced to feed the prisoners. Luckily for Mathias though the bandits apparently didn’t search him thoroughly as through some excruciating effort he was able to finally pull his dagger out of his right boot one day after the bandit had left after feeding them. Quietly Mathias finally cut through the ropes that bound him, but then pretended to still be bound and he waited.
The following day like clockwork the bandit showed up to feed them, grumbling curses the whole time. Suddenly a horn broke the semi silence the room had and calls of alarms could be heard outside of the room from the other bandits.
“The hell is going on out the…” the bandit feeding them began saying but he was cut off as he felt something pierce his skin at his neck.
The bandit saw Mathias stand up next to him and his arms, which were supposed to be bound, were in a half defensive half offensive stance one hand wielding a small curved dagger. He brought his hand to his neck and pulled it away sticky and dyed red with his blood, he then coughed once spilling out more blood before his body collapsed and let out a gurgling sigh as he died.
Sacae’s eyes went wide and she clamped her mouth shut to stifle any sound she may have made meanwhile Aiden’s and Garret’s simply stared at what happened. Mathias began to go from person to person cutting their ropes. Garret stood rubbing his wrists as Aiden went to their recent captor and started searching through his pockets and pocketing things here and there. Sacae stood quietly in a corner seeming to collect her thoughts. After he got them all out of their binds Mathias went to the door and quietly looked into the hallway.
They were in the last room at the end of the hall a couple of torches hung in their rings on the walls that lit the dirty hallway. The hallway was empty and Mathias could just make out the sounds of yelling and fighting outside. He turned back into the room to the others before speaking up.
“Sorry for keeping that a secret from you all, thought it would be better if you all didn’t tense up when he showed up.” Mathias said dryly explaining what just happened.
Garrett shrugged, “Think nothing of it.”
Mathias grinned lightly, “The hall is empty so we can get out of here now. I suggest though you all might want to stick with me for now.”
Aiden shot an eyebrow up but said nothing more. Sacae joined them seeming to have collected her thoughts now and nodded.
The group left quietly down the hall before they reached a small common room where the bandits probably drank themselves to sleep each night. In this room they found their various belongings among other useful things they decided to take with them. Exiting the building they were held in they came out to a courtyard of a ruined keep where they came across the bodies of ragged men who could only have been their captors. The next thing they noticed was the fact that spears and polearms were now pointed at their throats by armored soldiers.
Mathias heard Aiden swear behind him and saw Garrett reaching for the greatsword he brought with him out of the building. Mathias was about to tell them both to calm down but then a horn split the air twice and a voice yelled out.
“Lower your weapons you dolts!” a sharp commanding voice pierced the air after the horn.
Riding up on a powerfully built white stallion a female in black leather armor came up to the surrounded group, most of the polearms still pointed to the group.
“Did I stutter you idiots? I said lower your weapons!” the human stared icily at the soldiers.
Quickly the soldiers took a step back and lowered the weapons with confused looks. The human on the horse sighed before looking at Mathias.
“I swear to Alddar you get in the weirdest circumstances Mathias.” She groaned.
Mathias grinned, “But Liara my dear. Don’t you just love saving me?”
Liara looked down from her horse exasperated, “No Mathias. Last time I checked you were not a damsel.” She continued looking at Mathias annoyed but finally chuckled lightly.
Finally Liara looked over the other three who were next to Mathias, “Let’s see here… I suppose they were being held here as well…”
Liara seemed she was going to continue but at that moment another rider rode up next to her, “Lady Liara, the two cowards who ran into the woods have been taken care of. We can return home now.” He said briskly.
“Ah, thank you captain. Get the troops moving I will join you shortly.” Liara said nodding her head.
“Milady I must insist you join us now. Grand Duke Trathane would have my head if anything were to happen to you.” The captain glared towards Mathias and the others.
“Captain. I know of your distrust of other races, but if you so much as glare at Mathias again I will take your head off before my cousin had the chance.” Liara’s stare was icy and her voice dripped acid at the suggestion.
The captain’s eyes went wide for a moment before they steeled up and he saluted Liara and he barked out orders to the soldiers. Liara watched him leave with the soldiers before she relaxed.
“I am sorry about that Mathias.” Liara said solemnly.
“Don’t worry Liara,” Mathais said with a forced chuckle, “You know I am used to it. Many humans don’t trust other races and half breeds are some of the worst hated upon.”
Liara turned to the group with a half grin planted on her face as she looked over the group.
“So let us see here…” she tussled her hair lightly, “Any chance I could get some introductions here?”
Sacae bowed lightly first, “I am sorry for my delay Lady Liara, I am Sacae Talman from the Wizard Council.”
Liara waved her hand, “Please. Just Liara. I am far from any lady. ”It is good to hear from you now though, you were due a week ago.”
Aiden bowed with extravagated elegance next, “Aiden Raine, bounty hunter, I decided to take in some of the sights on my way. The inside of this decrepit building was most excellent I assure you.”
Liara raised an eyebrow with a slight grin on her face, “Oh I am sure.” Finally she turned to Garrett, “Going by your armor… a Paladin?”
Garrett bowed lightly, “Forgive me but I am no Paladin. Though my father was and I inherited his armour.”
“Hmm…” Liara seemed content with the answer though, “Well then I extend my welcomes to all of you and would be happy to extend a place to stay in Val Ald if you all would like to take it.”
After their introductions they all quickly caught up to the column of soldiers and travelled over the next few days to the capital of Alddar, Val Ald. Upon entering the city the soldiers went one direction while Liara, Mathias, and the others headed another. The city was a bright city with white marble and stone making up most of its buildings. Pennants of many colors flew from buildings while gardens and flowers were commonly seen at every home. Colorful signs swayed in the light breeze out over the streets indicating various shops.
“I never get tired of seeing all this color.” Mathias mused to no one in particular.
“You spend too much time in the north Mathias. You get used to all that stone-faced blandness of Malorians or that barbaric look of the Kathorians.” Liara sarcastically replied.
Mathias shrugged, “It is good to see the world though Liara.”
Liara smirked but chose not to reply.
On their way down one particular street next to a large open square a file of fully armed men in white and gold steel marched across a bridge and blocked their path. Each of the men’s faces were hidden by their helmets and their freshly polished armor seemed to not only shine the sun’s rays but even take them in making them seem to glow themselves. One of the men stepped forward, unlike his allies he wore no helm his golden hair framed his face and cascaded across his shoulders.
“You. The knave who brazenly wears our armor tainting it to the very core. Who are you?” the man said, his tone authoritve and powerful.
Mathias saw Garrett tense up as he stared at the man refusing to answer.
“I believe I asked you a question you insolent brat.” The man’s eyes hardened.
“Alright Lord Vathar that is quite enough. To what do we owe the pleasure?” Liara said a tinge of annoyance in her voice.
Vathar looked coldly towards Liara, “I do not believe I addressed the brat of the court.”
Liara’s face went livid and it was clear she was about to pour out a good amount of verbal obscenities at Vathar when a horn split the tense air. Suddenly both groups were surrounded by soldiers with brightly polished breastplates. Striding in between the two groups riding atop a white stallion a man in a light blue doublet with a red cloak on his shoulders looked at both groups, the golden crown on his head slipped slightly as he finished.
“Cousin. Vathar. Why do you argue on my streets.” The man said matter of factly but underneath that was a tone of pure authority. No one could possibly argue against that voice.
Vathar and his assembled Paladins got onto one knee, as well as Garrett, “Grand Duke, you honor us with your presence.” Vathar stated, an acid look seething out of his eyes as he noticed Garrett also kneeling.
“Oh please Vathar. I know you care for me about as much as you care for other races that are not human. Get off your knees.” Darian scoffed lightly as he got off his horse.
Vathar and his men got off their knees but he noticed Garrett was still on his. Vathar spat, “Nothing, milord. Something that I am sure will resolve itself later.”
Without even waiting for a reply Vathar whipped around and left back across the bridge with his followers. Darian sighed as he watched the Paladins march off before he turned to Liara’s group and that is when he noticed Garrett.
“Rise good man. There is no need to bow to me.” Darian said.
“That is wrong milord, my parents told me all about you. I know there is all the reason to show respect.” Garrett said.
Darian scratched his short beard, “Well rise anyway. You’ll scratch that armor if you keep kneeling on the stones.”
Garrett slowly rose but stood at attention in front of Darian. Darian raised an eyebrow towards Liara who simply shrugged.
Darian returned the shrug before turning to Mathias with arms open, “Old friend. It is good to see you again.” He went in for an embrace before Mathias could even reply and glanced at Liara who was seeming to grow livid again and he backed off after a few moments with a grin on his face.
“Now then! No need for us to remain here. I must insist you all come to the palace with me.” Darian stated giving no room for argument, “I am having a feast and you all are invited!”
With a quick command the group was surrounded by Darian’s guards and were paraded through the city straight to the palace before they could even think to argue. At the palace they were all separated by attendants and were forced to bathe, clean their hair, and dress in rich doublets and hose or dresses. When they all met again before entering the throne room they all seemed like completely different people. Mathias fiddled with his rich black doublet before Liara stepped up in her flowing dark blue dress and slapped his wrist.
“Stop fiddling with it Mathias.” Liara said icily fixing his doublet.
“Both you and your cousin know I hate these rich things,” Mathias replied practically pouting, “Can’t see why I couldn’t have just worn my normal clothes after all.”
“Because the pompous ass likes his ceremonies and everything else really to be flashy is why.” Liara shrugged.
Mathias looked at the others as they joined them. Aiden seemed to be taking to the whole thing worse than he was groaning and complaining at the evergreen doublet he was wearing. Garrett seemed fine wearing his red doublet though he seemed to miss his sword and armor more than the rest of the group. Meanwhile Sacae’s red hair no longer framed her face but was brought up as a side ponytail that cascaded over one shoulder. Her red dress hugged her frame tightly extenuating her curves and on her left hand a ruby ring adorned her white fingers. Shortly after they had gathered a short and stocky man that could almost be confused as a dwarf stepped out of an alcove next to the wide doors that led into the throne room.
“Lady Liara. Are you and your guests… ready?” The man gave a quizzical look over the group with his statement.
“Open up the doors Bertram.” Liara gave a leveled stare to the short man.
Bertram sighed, “I suppose they will do.”
He turned and clapped his hands twice. The doors into the throne room opened slowly by the guards on the other side. In the throne room various nobles who were mingling before the feast stopped their conversations and turned their heads towards the new arrivals. Bertram stepped forward and was about to speak when Liara put her hand in front of his mouth.
“Bertram. I think my cousin knows us and you do not even know our guests. So don’t bother.” She said before striding away with the group towards the throne.
Bertram’s face was livid and he spouted obscenities under his breath as he left the throne room. Liara strode across the throne room with the others in tow under the whispers of the elite surrounding them. She stopped short of the throne where Darian sat with an exasperated and pained look.
“Dear cousin, did you have to make Bertram so mad?” Darian questioned, “You know he will take it out on me later.”
“It’s good for you Darian.” Liara replied icily, “Teaches you to stop making mistakes. Such as parading me through the town and then dressing me up at home.”
Darian visibly winced at her words before standing from his throne. He scanned the crowd before stopping and raising his voice, “Fea. Can you entertain our guests while I speak to Liara and her friends?”
A young blonde haired elf in an emerald dress stopped from her bustling of placing platters on a table to give a small curtsy and a radiant smile, “Of course dear.”
Darian smiled back and then led Liara and the group to a room down the hall from the throne room. The room was part study and part a small common room filled with bookcases, sofas, and armchairs with a single desk in the back. Darian took off his crown laying it on the desk as he sat behind it he motioned for the others to take seats. Mathias sat on a sofa with Liara sitting next to him.
“I see you and Ifeara are as happy as ever.” Mathias commented towards Darian.
Darian smiled again, “Yes. Though it was rocky at first since it was a political marriage.” Darian seemed lost in thought for a few moments before returning back to the conversation, “Anyway, perhaps we all should talk. I believe I recognize some of our guests but let us introduce each other anyway.”
Sacae started first with a short curtsy, “Sacae Talman. I was sent here by the Wizard Council. They said I would learn more when I arrived though.”
Darian nodded, “Those old codgers tend to get lazy with their duties. I will fill you in later of course.”
Sacae nodded before seating herself back in the armchair. Aiden shrugged and didn’t bother to stand but he spoke next.
“Aiden Raine, bounty hunter.” He said curtly, “Understand there is a nice bounty you are apparently offering. Came to look into it.”
Darian stared intently at Aiden before replying, “That is correct. As with Lady Talman though you shall wait.”
Aiden shrugged again just as Garrett removed himself from the wall he was standing next to and kneeling in the center of the room facing Darian.
“Garrett Dalaran milord.” Garrett said simply refusing it seems to say anymore.
“Dalaran?” both Liara and Darian said simultaneously staring at each other. Darian tentatively spoke up after clearing his throat, “I must ask. Would this be the same Dalaran…”
“That was accused of betraying the Paladins and murdering the last Divine Commander. Yes.” Garrett interrupted.
Darian’s face hardened seeming to weighing whether it was worth it to continue the conversation or not. Mathias decided then to stand and put a light hand on Garrett’s shoulder. Garrett flinched lightly but looked up at Mathias his eyes dark and unreadable. But Mathias just smiled down at him pointing to an armchair.
“I believe there is a story behind you friend.” Mathias said quietly, “I do love a good story if you wouldn’t mind?”
Garrett simply stared at the floor but slowly nodded before taking a seat in the armchair. Noticing all eyes in the room on him he nervously coughed before starting.
“Ten years ago when I was still a small lad who was nothing more than a simple stable hand and squire for my mother and father who were respected Paladins there were rumors of a new Chosen of Alddar. I heard she was only a few years older than me and I thought it would be interesting to see her face to face. But I ended up stumbling upon conversation between a group of Paladins. They were talking about assassinating the current Divine Commander at the time.
I of course took this news directly to my parents but when they brought the news to the Divine Commander they were laughed at and sent away. Shortly after that was when we noticed people close to us in the Paladins started disappearing. We were smuggled out of the city by the last people we could trust but soon after it seemed that the Divine Commander was murdered and my family was blamed for his death. My mother died shortly after holding off our pursuers while my father took me to a remote mountain village where he trained me.
The rest is pretty much known already. I was travelling from the village we lived in to here when I was surprised by those bandits and taken hostage.”
The room was quiet after the story, Mathias was scratching his chin while Darian and Liara seemed lost in thought. Aiden shrugged after the story and seemed to just sink lower into his armchair. After a moment Darian cleared his throat and spoke up.
“So if what you say is true,” Darian chose his words as carefully as he could, “your family is innocent but someone else within the ranks of the Paladins is to be blamed.”
Garrett nodded slowly, “But I was young and never caught their names. I only know of the ones who blamed my family.”
Darian’s eyes hardened, “I get the feeling I may know them as well.”
Garrett stared directly at Darian as he spoke, “Vathar Bamlan. Divine Commander of the Paladins.”
Mathias whistled lightly as Darian groaned inwardly, “Would be hard to pin it on him though.”
“I know this,” Garrett hanged his head, “But I came here hoping to find something, anything, which could clear my family name.”
Stroking his beard Darian spoke up again, “Well for now I will believe you so you will not have to worry about my men doing anything to you. But the Paladins are a… separate matter altogether.”
Liara sighed loudly and looked to Darian, “I am getting tired now cousin. Why don’t we finish up our matters?”
Darian glared at Liara but shrugged, “Well it may work out I suppose for everyone here. Aiden your bounty is to look into this group of black robed men prowling the countryside setting fire to shrines and small churches to Alddar.”
Aiden shot an eyebrow up, “Sounds easy enough I suppose.”
“Don’t take it too easy though something just doesn’t seem right about it all.” Darian then turned to Sacae, “Lady Talman I must ask you to accompany Aiden. These fires are not natural in any way.”
Sacae made a quizzical look to Darian, “Unnatural how exactly?”
“The very stone of the churches and shrines have melted for instance. Last time I checked only certain explosions or magical fires could melt stone easily.” Darian replied slightly sarcastically.
Sacae nodded lightly to which Darian smiled before turning to Mathias and Garrett, “As for you two. I would like to request you both accompany them. While I fully trust in the skills of Lady Talman and Aiden I personally would feel much more relaxed if they had more assistance.”
Garrett quickly saluted and agreed to join the other two. Mathias smiled and turned to Darian, “Certainly, on one request of course.”
Darian groaned lightly and eye’s started to dart around, “What exactly will you ask for this time?”
Mathias’ grin didn’t leave his face as he replied, “Liara will join us.”
Darian’s eyes went wide and his face livid but before he could even say anything Liara replied, “Agreed.”
Mouth agape Darian simply stared at the two before he sighed loudly and sand back into his chair waving his hand, “Very well.”
Mathias stood and bowed deeply if somewhat exaggeratedly, “Then we shall take our leave Darian.” Before waiting for a reply he left with the others in tow where once in the hallway Liara led them down another hallway and directed them each to rooms they could use for the night. They all left for their separate rooms without much else to say that evening as they knew they would meet again early in the morning to start out their journey.