Chapter 2 - Part 3

Chapter 2 - Part 3

A Chapter by Gaelan_Hamilton
"

Casren and Saul assist the drunk man in the Notched Blade whilst Baelir has an attempt at...chivalry...

"

“I’m talking to you!” shouted the thug leader once more, leaning over the drunk man’ s table so that he was only inches from his face. Since the group’s arrival, they had done little more than shout at the man, who was yet to show any sign of awareness, still slouched over unconscious from the alcohol. Casren had seen them enter, but didn’t know how best to aid the man, especially due to his distance from him. If he rose up against them now, Casren ran the risk of driving the manic leader over the edge to potentially harm the drunkard, but if he sat by and did nothing the situation could end up with that outcome anyway. He had to pick his moment exactly. Catching Saul’s eye seemed the best option �" he was much closer, better protected, and in an ideal position to interject. It was possible that he had also come to the same conclusion, and would strike at any moment. When he moved, so too would Casren.

  One of the other thugs stepped up towards their leader and asked in a deep, unintelligent voice, “Uh, Jotin, why ain’t he movin’? Is he dead?”

“Don’t be an idiot Doled, of course he ain’t dead. He just needs a hand with waking up s’all!” cried the leader. He grabbed the drunk man’s greasy hair and slammed his head against the table, blood beginning to ooze from his nose. The man’s eyes fluttered open, swerving wildly before settling on Jotin. He frowned and sighed.

“Jotin,” the man acknowledged.

“Farren. You know why I’m here. Why don’t you just hand over the gold you owe me for getting your miserable existence into Patharis, then you’ll never see me again? Very fair of considering how long you’ve kept me waiting,” Jotin said, his hands still tightly grasping Farren’s hair.

“I would, but I’m afraid I don’t have it. Being a Bard isn’t exactly the best paid of professions and I'm already paying double to stay here,” Farren responded, oddly coherent for someone who had been unconscious a few moments ago.

  Casren gasped. Did Farren just say he was a Bard? He couldn’t believe it; the Bards were a secluded order, sworn to isolation from all others. What was one of them doing drunk in the Notched Blade?

  Jotin clearly wasn’t satisfied with Farren’s answer, shaking his head with false pity. “I’m really sorry to hear that Farren. See, around here we don’t care who or what you are. If you owe money, you pay it, and if you don’t pay it well…bad things happen. If you had just taught us the Song, then maybe we could’ve turned a blind eye. But with no Song and no gold, you’re screwed mate,” Jotin said, bringing his sword close to Farren’s throat threateningly.

“Unhand that man. I am a guardsman and I will have you arrested for assault,” ordered Saul with all the authority of the law.

Seeing his chance, Casren stepped towards the group to back up his friend. “You have no right to harm him. I am Prince Casren Enndosius and I command you to leave that man in peace.”

Jotin turned his head to look at Casren, not removing the sword from Farren’s throat. He seemed surprised, but not overly concerned by Casren’s presence. “With all due respect, ‘your Highness’ I don’t give a toss about whatever orders you give me. All you have to back you up is one guard. I on the other hand have half a dozen men with me who won’t hesitate to gut you and your dog should I tell ‘em to. This man owes me, and I ain’t leaving until I get what I want, or his insides are decorating the floor. So I suggest you shut your high born mouth and let me get on with my business.”

  Unable to see a way out of the situation, Casren stood helplessly by, worried what Jotin would do next. He looked over to Saul, who looked just as defeated as he felt. There was nothing they could do. The thug smirked at his victory and then turned back to Farren.

“So what do you say Farren? Are you sure you don’t have the gold? Or does this have to get messy?” Jotin asked.

“This is your only chance Jotin. Walk out of here now, and you and your companions will live to see another day. You don’t have to do this.” Farren murmured in a hushed voice. What on Gharas? The man had a sword at his throat and no weapons, yet he was giving out threats. Did he not understand what was happening?

  Jotin paused for a moment, then leaned his head back and barked out an uncontrollable laugh. His men began to join in, until the whole pub was filled with their laughing. Casren looked to Saul and managed to meet his gaze. He nodded, warning him to be ready. Finally the laughter came to an end and Jotin grinned at Farren, wiping a tear from his eye.

“I really am going to miss having you around. Kill them boys!”

  The henchmen responded instantly, drawing their weapons and leaping towards the three of them. Jotin backed off slightly, letting his men do the dirty work whilst he remained safe from a distance. Two men had decided to take on Saul, and he was desperately trying to fend them off, wielding his giant two-handed broadsword and slashing at his assailants with wide arcs. The heavy plate of the city guard was incredibly effective, deflecting any blow that got through Saul’s guard. Casren only had a few seconds to take in this information, as the thug who had spoken out earlier, Doled, had decided to attack him, wielding a savage looking spiked mace. Hastily, Casren grabbed his dagger from its holster, holding it defensively. The small blade would be useless at blocking any swings from such a blunt weapon, so the evasive approach was his only option �" he would dodge attacks and slice at any exposed points when he could.

  All the while they fought, Farren simply sat in his seat, his straggly hair falling down over his face as he stared into the bottom of his drink. Why doesn’t he help us, Casren thought as he dodged another swipe from the mace. He and Saul were greatly outnumbered without his help, and could only keep fighting for so long. Casren wanted to scream at him, to demand for his help, but the thug kept him too occupied.

  Out of nowhere, a second thug crept up from his rear and kicked at the back of his knees, causing Casren to collapse to the ground. He rolled onto his back, getting ready to push himself back up, but one of the men pinned him to the ground while the other kicked his dagger from his hand. There was no way he was getting out of this. Casren looked over to Farren, still sitting there uncaringly and begged, “Help us.”

  The first thing Casren noticed was the low humming noise. It was soft and almost inaudible, but he found himself completely fixated by the sound. For a brief moment he wondered whether one of the thugs had swung their weapon at him while he wasn’t paying attention, and that what he was hearing was just the air being cut through by a blade, but he looked up at them to find that they too were listening to the sound, perplexed by its presence in the middle of a fight. After a few seconds, the humming morphed into some kind of singing, but the language was foreign to Casren. It sounded vaguely Elvish, all flowing and silky, yet he did not recognise any of the words. What was even stranger was that it sounded as if there was more than one voice singing underneath, all different yet somehow the same. Then it occurred to him �" Farren was a Bard, the voice had to belong to him. He was helping them.

  The thugs cried out in shock. Casren turned to see them wrestling with their own weapons as they fought to be free from their owner’s hold. They were being drawn in by Farren’s voice, the metal magnetised by the power of the song. When every weapon was out of reach from the thugs, the song changed again. It became faster, more aggressive, and it terrified Casren to guess what Farren would do with the weapons next.

  He didn’t have to guess for long; each weapon spun in the air until they were pointing back at the thugs then launched towards them, slashing and stabbing at the men. Some of them tried to flee from the turncoat weapons, rushing towards the exit, but there was no escape from their onslaught. Within minutes every single one of them was dead, including Jotin whose sword had cut open his throat, just as he had intended to do to Farren. The Notched Blade’s floor was slick with blood, but at least the danger had passed. The singing faded into silence and the weapons fell to the floor with a series of thuds and clangs.

 Astonished by what had just happened, Casren simply lay on the floor staring up at Farren in awe. It was so bewildering to know that such a simple looking man contained within him the knowledge to make inanimate objects bend to his will. He found himself wondering what else Farren was capable of doing; healing the sick, burning down entire forests, lifting a mountain, drying up an ocean, the possibilities seemed endless. Yet there he sat, drinking his ale as if it had been nothing. How could that be? He jumped when Saul gripped his shoulder, he had been so overwhelmed by his thoughts he hadn’t noticed him approach. Saul looked just as shocked as Casren, but there was also a hint of concern. It made sense �" having someone as powerful as Farren live in Bellagon unchecked must be worrying for someone in authority. If he had been a more violent man there would be very little the guards could do to stop him if he went on a killing spree �" all he had to do was sing a few notes and every armed man would be dead within seconds. The more he thought about it, the happier Casren was that the Bards lived in seclusion. Yet something about Farren told him that he posed no threat to the people of Patharis. Perhaps he could even be of assistance.

  Saul helped Casren to his feet and asked, “Are you alright?”

“Yes I’m fine.”

“We should go.”

“What? Why?” Casren asked surprised. He could tell Saul had been unsettled by Farren’s abilities but he didn’t think he had been that put off.

“I don’t trust him. Come on, let’s go,” Saul pulled at Casren’s shirt gently, trying to bring him towards the door.

“No, I want to talk to him,” Casren insisted, shrugging Saul’s hand off him.

“Casren�"“

Ignoring him completely now, Casren walked away from Saul over to Farren’s table and sat opposite him. The Bard’s eyes lifted to him at the sound of Casren’s chair scraping against the floor, but he said nothing.

“What you did back there, it was amazing. Thank you for helping us,” Casren said gratefully.

“You asked for my assistance and I gave you it. That is all. Now if you don’t mind I would like to return to my drink,” Farren dismissed.

“How did you do that anyway? I’ve never seen anything like it before. And why are you here, I thought the Bards of Reality never left their Monastery?” Casren probed, suddenly desperate to find out more about him.

“I was taught how many years ago. Why I am here is none of your business,” Farren snapped, annoyed by Casren’s questioning.

“Actually it is our business,” Saul chipped in, his tone official. “We need to know you aren’t a threat to the people of this city.” 

Farren sighed. It was clear he was uncomfortable with the subject, but couldn’t see a way around telling them. “…I was exiled.”

“What for?” Casren asked.

“Nothing your people would consider illegal I assure you, but I broke one of my vows and to my Elders that is considered a crime. I would appreciate it if you didn’t ask further.” There was sincerity to his words that assured Casren he was telling the truth.

“Very well, I understand. Listen, I am putting together a party to go on an important mission to save Gharas. We could use someone like you.”

“No.” Farren stated, draining his cup.

“Why? You could help a lot of people, redeem yourself for whatever you were exiled for�"“

“I do not require redemption for what I did!” Farren snarled, slamming his empty cup onto the table angrily. He seemed to startle himself at the bang from the cup, suddenly ashamed by his outburst. Sighing, he looked away from them, closing his eyes sadly. “I have done my share for this world, and all I got in return was pain. I’m done helping people. Find someone else.”

  Farren pushed himself out of his chair and headed towards the bar, though a little unsteadily from the alcohol. Defeated by his refusal, Casren slumped back against his chair, watching the Bard stumble away from them. He could have been so useful to them, but instead he chose to stay here and drown himself in liquor and sorrows. It just made no sense why he wouldn’t help; he seemed eager enough before in the fight when Casren had asked, so why wouldn’t he help save Gharas? The past was the past, no matter how dreadful it had been there was always a chance for the future to be better. Whatever had happened to Farren before had crushed him so completely that he was blind to anything beyond his next drink. It disgusted Casren �" a defeatist attitude was no use to anyone, all it would result in would be Farren lying dead at the side of the road, drowning in his own alcohol soaked vomit without anyone caring that he was gone. He desperately wanted to help Farren, he felt a strange sort of responsibility for him, like he had with Delsan the Halfling earlier, he simply could not leave him in his struggle.

  Sighing behind him, Saul said softly, “Come on Casren, there’s nothing you can do.”

“No.” Casren leapt to his feet sharply, pushing Saul out of the way and stormed towards Farren. Grabbing at him, Saul tried to drag him back, afraid of what he or Farren may do. Sensing the disturbance, Farren turned and watched the struggle, an eyebrow raised.

  Saul’s strength was too great for him, and he began to bring him slowly towards the door. Refusing to give in, Casren writhed and heaved with all his might, desperate to get to Farren and prove to him that he was right. In a desperate last attempt, Casren bellowed, “This isn’t what you want Farren, I know it! Don’t let your past destroy you!” Whilst he didn’t respond, Casren saw him frown in something that could have been thoughtfulness, but he was torn from view as Saul finally hauled him out of the Notched Blade, slamming the door behind him. Finally Casren submitted, accepting that his chance had passed. The Bard was lost to him. Even if he did go back in, that considerate look in his eye would evaporate the moment he had his next drink in his hand. There was nothing more he could do.

 

  Strolling through Bellagon, Baelir whistled contentedly as he walked down streets at random. Saul's 'unlocked' apartment had been empty when he arrived, so instead of heading back to the castle and wait for Casren's return, he had decided to wander around in the off-chance he managed to bump into them. He wasn't as familiar with Bellagon as some of the other cities - he found the architectural style too dull and lacking in imagination for him to enjoy spending time there. Each city had developed their own unique building style over the years, so as to promote the idea of independency and pride in diversity, but the soldiers had never bothered to decorate - constructing bland, grey buildings lined in monotonous blocks, making street arrangements more 'efficient' with the space available. Whilst overpopulation was something of a problem, Baelir didn't see how a bit of creative design or at least a lick of paint would hurt. That was why he spent so much time in Pecunis; each merchant strived to make their store as vibrant and enticing  as possible, with the exception of Nok who was too busy to care. It made the city delightfully chaotic and random in appearance, which is what life is all about really.

  Kicking a loose stone, he sauntered onwards, not really caring where his feet led him. He had done is part in convincing Nok, now he could do wanted, at least for the time being. As much as he hated to admit it, the clash with Abareth had shaken him up a bit - he had no idea he would go that far over something so trivial. It made him dangerous, perhaps too volatile to still be an asset, although he wasn't convinced he was beneficial to begin with. Would Casren and their father believe him though? He doubted it, not after their public dispute at the Collisphere; they would simply assume he didn't want to put up with Abareth and had made up a reason not to bring him along.

  Something in the distance distracted him from his deliberation. It was an odd sound coming from up ahead, but he wasn't close enough to make out what it was yet. Moving closer, he recognised it as a woman crying faintly, down a tight alley to his left. Curious and bored of the walk, Baelir headed down the alley towards her. When he was within a few feet he noticed that she was a Halfling, wearing a shabby looking dress as she huddled against the wall in a foetal position. He frowned, wondering if this was another case of Halfling abuse - too many times had he heard of people hiring them as servants then beating them to within an inch of their lives. Many blamed them for their confinement to Patharis, but Baelir held no ill will to them. If anything it was the humans' fault for tempting the Elves, not theirs, but no one saw it that way, not with a human King ruling over them.

  Not sure what the correct decorum is with helping sobbing women, he cleared is throat and asked, "Um, hello? Are you all right?" The woman turned to look at him when he spoke, and Baelir found himself gasping at the sight of her. Long ebony hair fell down around her shoulders in flowing curls that matched her flawless olive skin and coffee brown eyes. She was so wispily thin, she looked too delicate to touch, as if she would shatter just by having someone brush against her.  Baelir couldn't stop gazing at her, she was just too beautiful to be real.

  Out of nowhere she leapt to her feet and ran to him, wrapping her tiny arms around his waist as she wept into his chest. Utterly taken aback by her sudden approach, not to mention the crying, he hugged her back, speechless.

"T-thank goodness you found me! There were these men, they attacked me! I, I was so scared they were going to kill me!" The Halfling wept, lifting her head while she spoke before burying it back into his shirt.

"Shh, everything's going to be fine miss, I'm here to help. What's your name?" Baelir asked soothingly.

"Petyi," she responded meekly.

"Nice to meet you Petyi. Which way did they go? Do you know why they attacked you?" asked Baelir, putting on as brave a voice as he could to assure Petyi he could help her.

"I don't know! It all happened so fast! I didn't recognise them so I've no idea why they hurt me! I've never done anything wrong in my life! They took my purse as well." Petyi sobbed, hugging him even tighter.

"Don't worry, I can help you. I am the prince after all," Baelir said, putting extra emphasis on the word 'prince'.

"Y-your Prince Casren?! Oh your Highness, I am honoured!"

"Um, I'm Baelir actually," Baelir murmured awkwardly, somewhat deflated  that she had thought of Casren first.

"Forgive me your Highness!" Petyi pleaded, releasing him to bow deeply.

"Think nothing of it! Now then, I suggest that I escort you to the nearest guards' barracks so that you can give them a description of the men that attacked you. What's more, I'll be sure to tell them that this is a top priority matter to be dealt with as quickly as possible, and I'll use my own independent sources to try and track them down too. You'll have your money back in no time," Baelir said, smiling at his own ingenuity. He didn't even have his own men, not beyond servants anyway, but it couldn't hurt to tell her that he did.

"Thank you Prince Baelir but I am afraid I don't have the time to go to the guards; my landlord is waiting for me to pay the rent - that was why I had my purse with me, it was carrying my wages in it. I don't know how I'm going to pay it now."

"I see. Well if you think he'd be prepared to wait a couple of hours I could bring by whatever money you need later, I don't have enough on me at the moment. You could pay me back when your attackers are arrested," Baelir suggested hopefully.

"That would be wonderful! I live at, um, 242 Stonecrust Street, apartment two," Petyi told him, and he repeated the address over a few times in his head to memorise it.

"Excellent, I'll head home to get it immediately and meet you in a bit."

"You truly have a generous heart Prince Baelir. I'm sure I will be able to thank you properly later," Petyi said suggestively, planting a soft kiss on his cheek before heading back to her apartment, looking back at him once with a smile.

  When he was sure she wouldn't turn back, Baelir punched the air in victory, thrilled by the prospect of meeting her later. He could not believe his luck; yes her mugging was terrible but it had given him the chance to meet the most attractive woman he'd ever seen and she appeared to like him too! Besides, she didn't look as if they'd hurt her that badly, they had probably been after her purse more than anything else, especially if she had been carrying a whole month's rent in it.

  It occurred to him suddenly that it was entirely possible that he did have enough money on him after all, he had forgotten that he had brought some gold with him in case Nok had asked for some payment upfront. Based on her clothes Baelir doubted Petyi lived in the most upmarket of apartments, so the money he had would probably suffice. Grinning at the realisation, Baelir reached for his money pouch he kept at his side to recount how much he had brought with him. Maybe she would 'thank' him straight away when he gave it to her.

  For some reason, he couldn't find the pouch. There was no way that he had left it back in the castle, so he was confused by it's disappearance. He double-checked every pocket but still could not find it. Where in the name of Patharis was it? A wave of understanding flooded over him with icy coolness. Petyi had hugged him.

  Belting full speed in the direction Petyi had gone, he cursed under his breath at his stupidity. Petyi had been way too eager for his help - someone who had really just been mugged would have been terrified by someone approaching them, instead of cuddling the first person that happened across them in a secluded alleyway. It had all been a ruse to get his gold.

  At the end of the alley he looked onto the adjoining street and skimmed over it to try and locate Petyi, but she was nowhere to be seen. He turned around, then back again, utterly baffled by her quick escape. From above he heard a woman's voice laugh. He looked up to see Petyi halfway up a pipe stretching the height of the tall building, beaming down at him. In her hand was Baelir's pouch, which she waved at him teasingly. "Thanks for the gold your Highness, this will do very nicely," Petyi cackled with hilarity.

"Give me that back you...you thief, you!" Baelir cried, unable to come up with a wittier insult.

"Oh, well when you put it like that, sure."

"Really?"

"Gods, no!" For a Prince you really are a bit of a dimwit. Catch you later, pretty boy," Petyi called, blowing him a kiss with the hand still grasping his pouch. She turned to face the pipe and began to scale it, climbing with the ease of a squirrel. For a few seconds Baelir stood and watched her effortless climb, completely mesmerised by the talented scrambling. Convinced that he could match Petyi's pace, he took a firm grip of the pipe and hurried up after her.

  As it turned out, it was actually pretty damn difficult. There were no footholds from which to push off of, so he had to rely on his arms to pull his weight up, slowly but surely. It wasn't long before his muscles screamed in agony from the ascension,  yet Petyi appeared to have no problem at all, the distance between them stretching further and further as she sped upwards. When she reached the top she looked down at him and giggled at his struggle, so sure that he would be unable to catch her that the could take a few moments of rest before going on. Unfortunately for him however, she didn't wait too long before she turned and ran from view. Refusing to be defeated, Baelir poured all of his energy into climbing the last few feet of piping. He hauled himself up over the rooftop, collapsing into a heap as his painful arms throbbed.

 Turning his head in the direction Petyi went, he just managed to catch a glimpse of her leaping onto another building. Baelir groaned and forced himself onto his feet, hurtling after her uncontrollably. Luckily his legs were in a much better state than his arms, so he could begin to try and catch up. Forcing his legs into the biggest strides they could manage without getting caught up on themselves, he pelted into a full on sprint, impressed by his own speed.

  Before long he had reached the gap that he had seen Petyi jump across. It was at least six feet in length, with an alarmingly high drop waiting for him if he missed. Taking a deep breath, he sprang forward, keeping his eyes dead ahead and on his prize. Baelir landed with a thunk on the other building, rolling as his feet hit the ground before darting back onto his belting sprint. In front of him he could hear Petyi laughing, reassuring him as it meant he had at least made up some distance from the arduous climb. If anything he felt that she was going easy on him - she barely seemed fazed by the rooftop chase, happily prancing along without looking at all out of breath.

  The roof they were running along began to slope downwards, making maintaining balance extremely challenging as the tiles shifted under their feet. Petyi did not slow down however, the unsteadiness posing no trouble to her as she accelerated even faster before diving from the roof onto the street below. Baelir on the other hand stumbled hysterically, his feet slipping with every step as his arms flailed in an attempt to steady him. With crushing inevitability, he lost his footing completely and went spiraling down the remainder of the slope before crashing to the ground. The impact reverberated excruciatingly through him and he cried out in pain. He would not be defeated there though, and so he forced himself up and continued the pursuit, although at a much slower pace than before and with the inclusion of a limp. He had no idea where the girl was leading him, but he wasn't going to have fallen from a roof for nothing, that much was certain.

  



© 2014 Gaelan_Hamilton


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Added on January 29, 2014
Last Updated on January 29, 2014
Tags: fantasy, mage, magic, wizard, adventure, royalty, elves, dwarves, halflings, gods, swords, bards


Author

Gaelan_Hamilton
Gaelan_Hamilton

Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom



About
I'm an aspiring writer from Scotland currently studying Professional Writing Skills at college in Glasgow. As part of the course and also in my free time I write a lot of poetry, short stories and .. more..

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A Chapter by Gaelan_Hamilton