I happen to be a writer, and on occasion I like to post Fiction stories for my readers to check out. Sometimes these stories are just random ideas. Other times they are stories I wrote and the contract fell through so they are just gathering dust. Its up to you to figure out which is which.
This particular Short story is called Truth and Consequences .It involves two of my more abrasive dungeons and dragons characters going on an adventure together. The world and setting of this story comes from Josh Weekley. If you you enjoy the setting of Braeton and the tapestry of the pseudo historical world, he’s written a novel set in the same world called ‘Crown of the Dwarf King’. Check it out on Lulu.com.
This is the second part of the story. Part one can be found here.
It did not take the three ruffians ten heart beats to look at one another than back to the priest. A priest whose large muscled arms and strengthened chest could be easily identified from under the holy vestments of crimson silk. Unlike the smaller blond haired traveller, this new comer seemed to present them more of a fight. And it was hard not to agree with the wisdom the strange priest afforded them. There would be more room to swing large axes and two handed swords outside.
As the three men pushed past Aelfric, the half-elf’s gaze turned to the priest. His grin resumed its usual place on his square and pronounced chin. Gerrit slid a bandaged hand against Aelfric’s square shoulder, nodding to the younger man. “It will be fine. The host always protects us.”
“Father,” Aelfric said his head shifting to the priest who stood almost four inches shorter than him. “I was hoping to talk to you.”
“It’s as they say my son,” Garret said, his slavarian accent speaking with a kind and entertained swagger, “Confession shall be much more rewarding afterwards. Now we go, yes? We teach these heathens why one produces respect, not the ill of strangers.” The half elf heard a few words of a religious sounding tongue whisper from the priest. And for some reason he felt confident, and blessed.
Father Gerrit walked out after the three men who had decided on the exchange, followed closely behind by Aelfric. The night air had a season chill to it. The fighter’s thin blond hair swam like silk across his back. There was stillness and a quiet among all five combatants that spoke of the emptiness of the village itself.
The largest of the three opponents quickly unbuckled the huge battle axe from its restraints on his back and pulled it free. His huge meaty hands squeezed the weapon’s handle with a heavy grip. The smaller two men followed his advance. The ginger unsheathed his huge broadsword from his back, letting its blade cleave the air with a savage importance. The blond ruffian pulled a smaller sword from his hip. With its curved menacing blade it looked just as savage as the other two opponents.
“I imagine you two lads have already prayed to the host.” The large raven haired man said whirling the huge axe in an ease of skill
Aelfric had followed with the three ruffians and pulled his wooden shield from his back and clamped it to his forearm. His much smaller short sword was soon free from the sheath that hung at his waist. Father Gerrit wore no weapons of use in a close quarter fight. He had left his mace in his room. But judging by his calm demeanor it was not bothering him to enter this fight without weapon. “He always knows those of the pure soul.” Gerrit spoke. “But if you three would like a prayer before we start I could be, persuaded.”
The largest of the ruffians howled in anger. His body snapped forward a surprising speed. He stepped with his right foot. His huge leather boot smashed the ground. The dreadful blade hefted towards the offending priest.
Gerrit’s reaction illustrated, this wasn’t the priest’s first mortal bout. He rocked his hips to the left letting the heavy blade swipe past his shoulder. He leaned towards the larger man. Wadding his left fist he slammed his knuckles into the man’s chest.
The priest’s action wasn’t enough to level the axe wielding ruffian. But it caused the man to lose his momentum. Gerrit didn’t wait for retaliation however. He leapt towards the large man without abandon. The flat of the priest’s forehead slammed into the axe-wielding ruffian’s own with a bone shattering report. The priest’s opponent lost his legs in that instant and crashed to the ground.
The smaller curved blade of the blond ruffian slammed repeatedly into Aelfric’s wooden shield shaving off chunks of timber. The Ginger however with his larger blade whirled through the air again causing sparks against the small short sword blade. The unrelenting attacks causing the half elf to take more and more steps back. Fighting real people were not so much like all the practice he had done, at his father’s manor. And it didn’t feel the same as the kobolds and other forest denizens he had come across in his journey so far. He couldn’t die in such a stupid fight. He winced and closed his eyes, as another barrage hit his shield. He had to get on the offensive. He opened his eyes to meet the harsh steel of the broadsword again. This time the force of the steel did more than rattle the blade.
Aelfric felt his heart lurch in his chest. His grip on the sword handle loosened and the blade fell from his hand. A dry gulp rose in his throat. He pulled the shield to block the ginger’s scimitar once more. He felt his life ticking away in the pattern of the men’s attacks that had gone on for ages in his mind.
It was the high pitched twang that cut that dreaded illusion from his mind instantly. He turned his head towards the ginger with his sword still hanging above his head. The attacker seemingly frozen posed to attack. It was as though he was using all his strength just to keep the sword hoisted in that position. Then Aelfric’s eyes saw the reason for the strange turn of events. A single arrow was lodged in the man’s thin neck. Torrents of blood oozed down his shoulders splattering on his sandy leather boots.
Feeling the pent up anger Aelfric twisted his body to the side. He moved the wooden buckler into the frozen Ruffian’s chest. He felt bones twisting and popping through the battered timber. The Ginger haired ruffian fell to the ground in a jarring thud.
The blood pumped through Aelfric’s ears as his body turned fully now. The gravel and dirt slid across the heels of his boots as his sword arm arched towards the coming Scimitar. A firework of sparks danced between the two blades as they met. Aelfric’s natural strength lent him the extra force. Taking a step towards his attacker as the blades clashed a second time, the blond felt his own feet peddle backwards. “I’m a noble!” Aelfric spat “Of the house of Fwyendor.” He brought his sword against the scimitar a third time.
The third clank caused the blond ruffian to lose his footing completely. He fell hard to the ground his backside landing on the gravel and peat. Aelfric reeled his body around, his elbow bending allowing the sword to slide past his back. He whirled the blade in a silvery arc ready to meet the bare neck of the thug.
“NO!” Father Gerrit spat from Aelfric’s left. The simple word caused Aelfric to halt in his attack. The point of the half-elf’s blade barely scratched the man’s neck. A single thread of crimson dripped singularly down his neck.
“What?” Aelfric asked turning to the man who was his partner in this massacre.
Gerrit moved towards the half elf and his prone attacker. The priest brought the heel of his boot into the man’s skull in a simple snapping motion. The blond had little chance to fight the sudden attack. He only felt the force against his face and unconsciousness found him swiftly.
“We do not kill for such trivial matters, as tavern brawl.” Gerrit spoke, as the last member of their opponents fell softly to the ground. “Mortal injury is only acceptable because they were not good men, and because you have me with you. Perhaps, being this close to death will allow them to see Host in new light yes?”
“But the Arrow,” Aelfric said turning his gaze to the strange priest.
Father Gerrit had squatted down to the ginger who sat crumpled in the floor, with an arrow still lodged in his throat. With strong fingers the priest pulled the lodged shaft free. New blood sprayed from the wound, glittering the priest’s face with scarlet dots. “He is not dead. Very close, but hand of Host, shows mercy. It allows even the mostly gravely of black souls a second chance.”
Aelfric watched as the priest stood up from what appeared to be cadaver. Gerrit resumed his full height and closed his eyes. He brought his hands up his chest. His fingers touching in a pyramid shape. the noble looked on as the priest hung his head low. The thin pale lips began to murmur something. Again it was in the priestly language he had only heard at Sunday mass. He himself wasn’t sure what he was saying. However he did feel the hairs rise on the back of neck. And then without warning a yellow light flashed over them.
A warming touch heated Aelfric’s skin like a summer’s sun. The warm caress raised goose bumps over his smooth skin, lighting his nerves with dizzying cacophony. Those warm waves didn’t just invade his flesh however, that same kindness fell over his mind, sending a solid reassurance to rattle his mind. A sort of confidence only a father, only a creator’s kind words and approval seemed to invade the half-elf’s mind. But as quickly as it had come, it had ended. And he felt hollow. Like for an instant he had everything he had ever needed. And in a moment later, he was left with questions, which only he could answer for himself.
“What…what was that?” Aelfric asked, turning towards the priest. The young fighter trying his best to clear his thoughts, yet retain that feeling of presence that was gone to soon.
“It was holy mantra.” Father Gerrit said. “What you feel my friend, was the touch of host. It is how one in service to revered one feels all the time. But beyond touch, it does more. It can give life, but for those who serve the darkness it, take life as well. For our friends, well…” Gerrit nodded his head towards the man who moments ago was gushing blood from an arrow wound. When Aelfric’s eyes looked towards the ginger’s neck it was not as smooth as it was on the day he was born. But all that remained of a deadly wound, was a puffy red area the size of a quarter.
“But your holy aura does little, to put these three on the job I hired them to do.” A third, more labored voice called from the tavern’s doorway.
The two men turned their heads slowly. Aelfric tightened his grip on the handle of his sword as he turned to meet what could be another opponent. “Please, put that that sword away child.” The crone said. Her small squinted eyes focused on Aelfric.
The old woman stood balanced on a thick walking stick. Her hunched and withered body seeming to huddle around the ordinary staff. Her face was small and round, set with fragile gray hair. She didn’t bother to do anything fancy to her long impossibly thin hair save for the square of scarlet fabric that sat on the top of her scalp to keep the long mane from her eyes. Around her drooping shoulders she wore a simple cotton shawl, looking to have been made from the same fabric as the square that sat atop her scalp.
“These men were working for you, daughter of the host?” Gerrit spoke finally. “They should be on feet, in day’s time. Then they shall be model employees I should think.”
“Dear priest,” The old woman said, and hobbled a few steps closer. “By the host, if it was only the work that was required. But time is of much import.” Her small squinty eyes glazed with water. “They are mercenaries, called in from Hayward, for the rescue of my grandson. Now with them in such a state, I suppose I will have to relent. It’s a shame; I do not fancy giving those who do evil, any fortune for such acts.”
Father Garrit looked at the woman a moment. The Priest’s dark eyes focused on her features. He noted the way the folds and wrinkles moved with her thin and dried lips.How her small and squinty eyes glazed and looked past them, as though there was something important past the Adventurers’ shoulders. Her body though hunched over a gnarled and uneven walking stick, seemed to elect a power from the neck and shoulders as she spoke. It was not just her who he put under a microscope when he was spoken to. This scrutiny was taught, of all inquisitors. One never knew where they would find evil, and in which forms. But in this instance, he was taken away from his usual diagnosis, by his companion.
“That is awful!” Aelfric exclaimed. His thinner body stepped past Gerrit coming towards the old crone. He softly pressed his hands across her weathered soldiers. “To think you have not a single brave man, among this village that you had to go out of this place and hire a hero to dispel this great injustice.” The Half-Elf spoke threatening a ham-fisted monologue.
The Crone’s head slowly craned upwards to meet the half-elf’s gaze, though not quite meeting the fierce and determined gaze. “What are you saying?” The Crone shook her head weakly. “No I could never ask strangers to pick up such a task, not without some sort of reward.”
“This priest and I, we could never ask of such a thing.” Aelfric said to her affirming her suspicions.
“Actually, if I were to do it a donation would be much appreciated.” Garrit said, but his voice seemed to be ignored in the conversation going on in front of him.
“Oh, my prayers have surely been answered. Then perhaps I should tell you the whole story.” The old woman said.
“I don’t believe I have agreed…” Garrit began only to realize that ignoring of him was continuing.
“I am Genevieve Fuller, my late husband Clifford was an adventurer, I suppose sort of like you two. But he did it for money and fame. But gold he did get enough to set us up for a comfortable life together. In my old age, I suppose I have become something of a patriarch in Barlaeworth. I am well off, but enough to lend money to those who need it, and do well for my children and grandchildren. Everyone knows who I am. And it’s been said, I reckon its mostly chatter, that my family is more of a force within Barlae Worth, than any duke or lord.”
Aelfric nodded listening to the woman’s story. Father Garrit tightened his arms against his large chest. He had gone quiet realizing if anything he should listen to the story. Apparently he’d been volunteered, for something. But he wasn’t about to go in blindly. He hadn’t made much of a decision either way as to the motives of this crone.
“Now unfortunately, with the sort of power I have, its often that the town comes to me to make decisions as far as civil obedience goes. And that brings us, to the problem at hand.” She cleared her throat loudly. “We’re a far removed sort of town, and its quiet the haven for brigands and thugs, and from time to time we have to kick, the unsavory types out of town, if we hear they might not be seen so well in the light of the host. And the town folk usually come to me for that final decision of such matters. And so, a few of those unsavory types who have been kicked out of our town, banded together under the leadership of one of the worst thugs, to ever have come from this small village. A wicked boy who is a native of Barlaeworth, who regrettably never really got a good chance in life. I have nothing against the other races.” She spoke and again nodded in Aelfric’s direction. “And you probably know better than I do about how being a half-breed in human society is hard. But where you my lord, went to the way of the light, Turlok went to the way of thievery and murder. You see his mother was impregnated by an Orc.”
Aelfric’s face showed a tightened expression. His slender eyes glazed with the pain. The reason he was out to prove himself was because of that very reason. The way his father, and brothers treated him, hiding the bastard elf son. He knew how easy it would have been to turn that anger into destruction. How much hardship he had felt by the way others looked at him. Humans had the grace of the host, but the elves had the grace of their own gods. But a half-elf, was thought to have neither. Many believed half breeds like Aelfric were without souls. They were treated like animals.
“So this group of exiled, criminals,” Gerrit said trying to get back to the topic at hand. He had no desire to listen this woman’s memoirs. “They kidnapped your grandson? For what purpose, do you think? If you kicked them from town, why would they ask for ransom? Wouldn’t there vengeance be better spent just killing him?”
The old Crone finally turned her head towards the Inquisitor. She was careful not to look directly into his eyes. There were too many stories about what could happen if one stared into such a man’s face. “I believe they want to get the ransom and then kill him out of spite. That is why I had to do, what I’ve never even considered. Bringing men who kill for hire into Barlaeworth. I fear if I do just simply pay them it will not be enough.”
“It is not way of The Host to kill indiscriminately.” Gerrit said, snapping his head to the side in a flurry. His dark eyes looked to the half elf with a piercing snarl. Hoping his anger could force the half-elf’s lips sealed. “But neither is letting innocent life be taken by those who seek the sin of vengeance.” He paused, looking at the old woman whose face turned from his gaze. “You my child will pray for the safety of your kin. Judgment for those who have taken him, will be made by those who have been appointed by the one true god. We will deliberate the path that must be taken and exact punishment as the hand of the host.”
The old crone didn’t speak. Her open mouth instead let out small in takes of air between her deep sobbing. “I…” she tried to say but nothing came out.
“It is a cave going towards the mountains? How will know where this place is?” Gerrit asked
“It’s half a day’s ride from here.” The old woman finally said, her voice deeply labored with her tears and deep breaths of air. “You will pass an old Dread sign post, not an hour outside of their encampment. If you… if you pass that signpost you will soon see a clearing. Then you will just look on the east for the face of the mountain. Keep going towards that mountain face and you will find their camp.”
“Appears to be easy enough,” Aelfric said stepping forward to line his shoulders with the smaller priest. “You said something about giving us horses?”
“yes, you are free to have anything I have to give you.” The old woman spoke.
“We will prepare for the journey ahead, with your charity.” Gerrit says, “We will leave at first light tomorrow.”