The Beginning of a JourneyA Chapter by Kyle P.
stole out of my bed. It was completely dark outside except for the moonlight. The time of day did not matter to me: I was still ready for my mission. Out of my room I walked, fully dressed. I walked straight into the main living area of our cottage via a circular hallway. I saw my pack lying idle by the front door.
I stepped forward, only to be greeted with a loud groan from the wood floor.
Ouch. Try to be quiet.
I decided to leap onto the nearby rug, where my steps would be muffled. I calmly walked towards the door. As I bent to pick up my pack, I suddenly remembered my hungry stomach. Slowly, I walked into our little kitchen. I opened the breadbasket and took a loaf out. As soon as it was tucked away firmly under my shirt, a lantern lit up the room.
I stopped dead.
As I turned around, I saw my older brother, Gordon. He was still wearing his nightgown.
“What are you doing up?” he asked me.
I thought quickly. My family didn’t know of my task yet. I had to be fast and witty.
“Um… well, this is kind of embarrassing, but I forgot to tell you that Mr. Aero wanted me to tend to his cows this morning.”
“It’s already morning?”
“Yes, it is. I had to count the hours in order to be on time.”
Gordon, who was obviously extremely tired, waved his hand at me as he yawned.
“All right, go on,” he said as he walked back to his bed.
“Get some good rest, brother,” I called. “You will need it for tomorrow.”
I left the front door of my small cottage and walked out into the moonlight. The air was cold, thick with humidity, and sharp as a razor. I felt my shirt pocket to make sure its contents were safe. I drew myself onto a path, shrugged so that my pack rose on my back. I set off at a brisk pace, breathing hard.
Along my journey, I saw the suburbs of the great city calmly sleeping through the night. Night covered everything. The shadows spread like a mold, clinging on to whatever it can. Only one window was light.
Perfectly fitting the plan.
After many minutes of walking, I reached the city walls. The black iron gates glittered with the reflection of many lanterns. The city was large and imposing. Many tall buildings with monstrous towers rose above the landscape of Centauria and imposed upon any visitor who dared to enter. Many sounds hit my ears as I approached the gate: men laughing, women talking, dogs barking.
Suddenly, a figure stirred on the wall above me. “Halt,” it said.
I stopped and looked at it. The figure jumped from the city walls and fell with a light ‘thud.’ It was a city guard. He stood up and faced me.
“Who are you and what is your errand?” he asked me.
I didn’t answer.
Still, I didn’t answer. I stepped forward. He drew his blade. It shone with the cold moonlight. My eyes flicked towards a movement in the shadows behind him.
“What are you doing here at this hour?”
I spoke for the first time. “I am coming to visit my cousin, Borden of Der Solverang,” I said with a foreign accent.
The blade lowered a hairsbreadth.
That was all that was necessary. Immediately, a shape emerged from the shadow of the gate and seized the guard by the head. A small blade flashed forward. There was a small sound as it sliced through flesh. The guard fell to the ground with slit throat. What was extremely unusual to me was that there was no movement up above. No one else looked down to see what had happened to their fellow guard.
I looked up at my comrade. “Good evening, Kedren,” she said coolly. The figure stepped out of the shadows to reveal a slender female human with long, flowing brown hair and deep blue eyes that pierced like arrows. She wore an elegant leather jacket that wrapped tightly around her torso and smooth leather pants that were perfectly shaped to her legs.
“Sarah,” I said. “I see you are ready for tonight.”
“What about the other guards?”
“They are dealt with.”
Sarah was always good with a blade.
She walked up to the gate, placed a hand on the lock, and said a phrase. It clicked open and so did the gates. We stole in and looked around. The city hummed with life. The main drag, paved with cobblestone and lined with sidewalks and hundreds of stores, cut through the heart of the city and ended right at the entrance to Divwed castle, where King Wilson ruled from.
We passed through the city without a word. We glared at any stranger who dared to stare at us with curiosity (you know, just the tell them to “back off”). We walked along the sidewalk, passing building after building.
After some time, we found our destination: the Red Ox. It was a highly respectable tavern. In fact, my father went there all the time. My brother enjoyed his time there also, so I had heard some fairly good things about it. As we entered, we were bombarded by sound, smell, and sight. Sarah walked ahead of me towards the bar. We both stood, keeping our eyes peeled for the next man in our plot.
Suddenly, the bartender asked Sarah a question. She turned to face him.
“Excuse me?” she said.
“Would you like something to drink, missy?” he asked again.
“I don’t know. What do you have?”
As they descended into conversation, I scanned the tavern. Over in one corner was a small band of common peasants playing music for the people. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Their music wasn’t that bad either. One man seemed to enjoy it quite a bit, since I saw him, tankard in hand, standing on the stage with the band and singing along with the song. Not that his voice was the greatest. Nor was he totally sober, but the whole mood of the joint was fairly positive and friendly. It sort of reminds me of a time when my Aunt Ruby said"
At the sound of my code name, I spun around and faced Sarah.
“Why don’t you go out and get my money pouch from the wagon?” she said. I recognized the urgency in her voice and played along with her in code talk.
“Of course, sweetheart,” I said lovingly. “I’ll be right back.”
I left the tavern and walked down the sidewalk a little to give the illusion that I was leaving.
After a few steps, I stopped. There was someone behind me. I could definitely sense it. I slowly turned around and saw him: a tall, cloaked figure.
The plan was coming together.
I approached him with a tentative smile. “How many times did Gordon, Son of Greyman, get chased by a mountain troll in the Black Forest?”
The password question.
The password answer. This was the right man.
“Good to see you Bill,” I said.
“Same to you Kedren.”
In less than a minute, Sarah was out of the tavern. She walked past the both of us, acknowledging Bill as she passed by. We followed her, trying to keep up her pace.
Soon, we were at our next spot: Wolf Lake. It was about midnight, so the only other people by the lake now were a few homeless dwarves who decided to stay the night by the lake.
And a tall man, also cloaked.
We approached him confidently. Again, the same question was asked.
The response came: “Four.”
“Hello, Caryn,” said Sarah.
“Hello you all,” was the reply from the silhouette that was Caryn.
Then, we were off to our final destination: Divwed Gardens.
Once we arrived there, shock hit us all, for there was no person waiting for us.
“Where could he be?”
“That traitorous fool!”
“He should be here even now!”
Indeed, why. Why was our fifth man not waiting for us there? Why were we left with four people instead of five? And, most of all, why was everyone complaining and whining and worrying? We could still pull off our stunt. We had a Plan B! Why don’t we just"
We all peeled our eyes to the spot that Bill was pointing at. A shadow approached us. I wasn’t sure of this one, however. Well, it seemed that Sarah was. She approached it confidently, almost with a certain cockiness about her.
She asked the question.
Again, the question.
Sarah looked at us and shrugged. Not knowing what to do, we all just shrugged back at her. She looked back at the stranger.
It started approaching us.
I backed away.
The others looked at me as if I were crazy.
“What’s wrong?” Sarah asked.
“I think we should go to Plan B.”
Sarah looked back at the figure. It was even closer now. Suddenly, a high, piercing screech entered our ears and made us all wince and grind our teeth. As it came into the light, I could see that it was holding a knife.
And it had blood on it.
“What were you saying, Kedren?” asked Sarah.
“I don’t think that’s Lesmine.”
“I don’t either.”
Suddenly, a rasping voice called out. “I have not an answer to your pitiful questions.”
Well, of course not. You are not in on our little club here, pal.
“But I do have a proposal.”
Now you’re getting somewhere.
“You are out to revolt against the corrupt King Wilson, are you not?”
“Yes,” answered Bill.
“So is my league of companions.”
“Why don’t we join together? We’d be stronger against the king!”
“Where is Lesmine?” I asked.
“Well, as for your little friend, let’s just say that, right now, he is resting… in pieces.”
“You!” I cried as I leapt out at him.
My sword flew out of its sheath and headed straight for the face under the hood. But a knife was there to block its path. Blood from the knife was flicked onto my cheek as our blades clashed. For a while during our duel, I thought I had the upper hand since my blade was bigger than his. But I was shown how terribly wrong a young man could be when he wields a sword against a knife. After a flurry of action, I was on the ground with a slice in my right bicep, a stab in my thigh, and a thin slit across my cheek. Oh, did I mention that my sword was flung about fifteen feet away and plunged to the hilt into the trunk of a tree?
Well, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place with this creepy guy who had a snake-like voice, lightning-fast reflexes, and a wit so sharp it could penetrate cold steel. At first, I thought I was toast, but soon enough, Sarah jumped onto Mr. Creepy.
And she wasn’t unarmed.
Nor was she alone.
Bill and Caryn had drawn their bows and, soon enough, had half a dozen arrows flying at the weirdo. Only three met their mark, but it did the job. The creature was on the ground, writhing in pain. Sarah drew her knife and plunged hard towards the cold chest below.
The knife definitely went through the skin, no doubt about it.
She had managed to pierce the heart. As soon as she did so, the creature shrieked.
But, all the stabbing and firing didn’t do anything worthwhile. His chest just spat out the knife and disintegrated the arrows. Lucky for us, the knife flew into my hand. I spun it along my fingers for a moment and then leapt up. I flourished the knife, cried out loud, and brought the blade down to where the face should have been.
Notice what I just said: should have been.
What that means is that as I brought the blade down to the face, the creature just became a writhing mass of smoke.
And I fell through.
My face met the ground with a happy impact. I immediately knew that something was broken. As I stood up, I saw that the knife had slid across the stones and was lying there, waiting to be picked up.
I looked at the mass and tried to frown. Trust me, with a broken nose that is bent almost 90 degrees to the right, it is hard.
The smoke died down for a moment and then floated away.
The last words we heard from it were, We shall meet again soon enough. By then, the crown will be mine and you all will be……gone.
© 2011 Kyle P.
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on November 16, 2011
Last Updated on November 16, 2011
Centauria, The Realm of the Irregular