by B. Gabriel
Mercenaries of fantasy land. WIP
The Rogue Novice
Panting breath, skin full of bruises, sweat dripping from the chin to earth, bright sky, a tall gate and a weary man standing in front of the Duran city gate. The man took a long way to the city and reached his destination with a pale face. He fell, smiling and laughed.
"I'm here master, what the hell should I do now?", the man talked to himself while out of breath.
"Hey! You okay?", asked the City Guard.
"well, how do you define okay? Is a man falling to the ground and out of breath looks okay to you? - quite sarcastic reply given by the man to the Guard.
"what's your name sir?", The Guard asks in full curiosity while approaching the man.
"my name is Raziel Elfraam, Novice, and no occupation.", the man replied.
"A rogue huh?", the guard asked a sarcastic rhetoric question.
"yeah, whatever...", Raaz replied while keeping his breath.
"do you have a specific destination in the city, mister Raziel el..".
"A tavern, that's where I'm going. But, I forgot the name. I heard it's a famous Tavern with a lot of Sellswords in it."
"There are lots of taverns with a lot of Sellswords in it. -
"No, this one is different, the employees, they're the Sellswords. You got me? -
"ah... I see. I'll have someone to get you there. Wait for a moment." The guard left and went to the barrack.
"The hell? You're leaving me lying here under the hot sun? great service mister Guard, great fucking service!" Raziel yelled at the guard, but the guard only waves back at him without even looking back. Raziel closes his eyes slowly and starting to lose consciousness.
The central of Duran City is crowded with activities, merchants, blacksmiths, armorer, flower girl, and of course, sellwords. The atmosphere of the city is quite deceiving, it may look crowded and uncontrollable but there's always a city guards stand around in every corner of the city. The sellswords are many, some of them are also in conflict, but never with the city guards. They only do their business and leave when they finish. The guards however, keep things in order and preventing collateral damages. With all the crowds in the city, comes a cart with a royal army crest going straight, dispersing the crowds and, in the inside, there is a special guest. Raaz started to become conscious and realize he is in the cart, he looks outside the curtain and sigh in relieve.
"You think I'm going to send you out of the city? You're a special guest, the owner of the Tavern tells me that there will be a man looking for his Tavern, worn out. Also has a rough attitude, a Rogue... so I reckon it must be you. Do you know the name of the man you're going to meet?" the guard lean his body toward Raziel.
"no, if I do I would have said his name instead of recalling the name of the tavern. He told you to pick me up? is he someone special here?"
"quite special, everybody in the circle of military and Sellsword knows him."
"I thought so..."
Raziel still looking out of the cart, seeing so many sellswords walking around the city, he feels awkward. He wonders how can so many sellswords cooped up in the same city and how many sellswords are there in the entire Kingdom.
"Too many Sellswords here, but not so many with a skill of an Expert"
the guard looks out of the window. He points to a group of Sellswords, with tired faces, worn out leather armor, wandering around looking for business to do. They are no good at all besides from putting their lives at risk for a couple of shillings,
"Those guys are only good at harvesting a farm or do labor jobs. More like a farmer with a sword on their waist. Sword to cut down grass and rats and alike. Bahahaha."
The guard laughs hits his own lap. He took out a bottle and drink from it like a thirsty horse, he put back the bottle with a royal army crest in it back to his back pouch.
"*scoff* they're a joke, the man you meet and his 'employees'..." he makes the quote gesture with his fingers. "they are on a different level far from those people."
"A tavern owner and a sellsword leader... Interesting. The man has a name?"
Raziel look to the guard and expecting an answer. His curiosity has taken him to a liking of this mysterious tavern owner he's about to meet.
"Grover Blaque, the Death Merchant... sounds familiar?"
Raziel's reaction hearing the sound 'Death Merchant' makes the guard smile. To Raziel, that name rings a bell, and a loud one. So loud it reminds him of his master for that name is the name of his master's dear old friend, and he realize why he was told to come and meet him.
"What? Him? Who doesn't know the Death Merchant. That man sells everything, even death if you request it. No wonder I'm being picked up by the royal army. Is he still helping the King?"
"sometimes, when the King requires his assistance. For a reasonable price, of course." The cart stops. "we're here. Get out of the cart. I got a lot of things to do." he leans back and looks toward the tavern which is right in front of the cart's door.
Raziel steps outside and stops midway. He looks back to the guard,
"What's your name?"
"Norrick Creighton, Spearman, Gate Master.", Norrick answers without looking at Raziel and closes the cart's door.
Raziel turns back and walks to the tavern. He smiles and talks to himself,
"now... what kind of place is this tavern. I'm about to find out."
he opened the door and surprised for what he sees is not like what he expected. His expectation was wrong, and he is shocked by the truth. His imagination didn't even compare to the actual reality of the tavern. And he admits that he is wrong about the place he just entered.
The Tavern is called Blaque's Tavern, the name is written on a big wooden plank with a red and black paint and its quite an eyecatcher. Placed on top of the Bar and top of the front door. People will see it before and after they entered the tavern just to be sure they know where they are. The crowd fills the whole tavern with people drinking and eating, feast or no feast there is no difference between them, they all have fun while filling their empty stomach. Raziel thought it will be a sellsword only tavern and not this crowded. When he entered the door, the sound of the crowd fills both of his ears, he can't even hear his own thoughts. In the midst of the crowd and unyielding noise of the feast, a lady in a wooden wheelchair approach Raziel and poke his arm. Raziel surprised and back off a few steps.
"Can I help you with something, sir? You look a little lost."
Says the girl with a soft and gentle voice. It regains Raziel's hearing back to normal and forget about the noise of the crowd. Raziel was staggered looking at her beautiful face. She has a shining green hair and quite a pale complexion. A cherry lips, and a bright green pair of eyes that could widen the smile of any men who sees them. This girl is no doubt a maiden, a princess of this tavern. Raziel swallows and snap his self-back.
"I'm here to see mister Blaque.", he said it with a stuttering voice.
The girl's eyes got brighter and think for a while with her index finger on her lip.
"oh... I think he went out just a while ago. Maybe... I'm sorry, I'm not sure..."
she felt guilty and shy at the same time. Her attitude makes Raziel lost himself staring at her clumsy expression as she keeps trying to recall something while scrabbling her green hair.
"if you don't mind, would you wait for him here? I'll get you something for the wait. I'm sure he'll be back soon."
the girl reassure herself. She turns around her wheelchair and move quickly to the bar. But with all the crowd, it's a bit challenging for her to get around. She keeps asking for excuses to pass but the crowd doesn't seem to recognize her at all. Raziel runs quickly to her side. Just before Raziel could catch on to her, suddenly a loud and a firm voice breaks the crowd.
"Move out the way!"
shortly after, a vine and a wooden root moves fast and sleek like a snake coming out from the ground. Pushing the crowd away from her path and binds the feet, trapping the crowd in place. Then she moves her wheelchair slowly to the bar without any obstacles. She turns her head back to Raziel.
"please, this way."
Her voice is gentle again. Raziel was shocked that a girl with a soft and gentle voice could shout and control a vine and wooden roots as if it was her own limbs. He keeps silent. He walks slowly to the girl passing the grunting banded crowds. One of them even apologize to the girl with a humble tone. Raziel stops take a step back,
"who are you?"
The girl now remembers that she forgot something important,
" ooh my... how rude I am. I haven't introduced myself yet. Please excuse my clumsiness, sir..."
she looks at Raziel hoping he would finish the sentence.
"Raziel, Raziel Elfram. A rogue."
"please excuse my clumsiness sir Raziel Elfram, the Rogue."
She bows her head down humbly.
"My name is Flora Rosenburg, Green Mage. I'm a Receptionist here. I was informed about a Rogue with an Orlyn cape pin who will come to see Master Blaque. I saw your pin, so I've no doubt it is you. It must be a long journey from Orlyn to Alvatore. Once again, I'm truly sorry for my clumsiness that makes you less comfortable."
She bows her head again.
"do you have an empty room?"
"yes, of course sir Elfram. Right this way."
She quickly moves her wheelchair to Raziel's front and guide him. Raziel didn't take any step.
"it's okay, just show me where it is. I 've troubled you enough." Raziel sighs.
"okay sir, it's the last door after the left turn.", she points the corridor on her left
Raziel walks slowly to his room. His steps describe perfectly how a weary traveler have walked a thousand kilometers and waiting for a comfy bed to lie on. He opened the door. Fall right on the bed and asleep within seconds.
Three days has passed. In the other room in the same building, a man sitting in a chair wearing black coat with red accent on it, writing on a log book that says 'Contracts' on the top of the page he was writing. The man looks young, not too young, but not too old either. He has a black hair, quite long 'till it touches his shoulder. A monocle on the right eye, and a blind white eye on the left. He hums a melody while writing. He enjoys himself in his study room. Until a knock on the door stops his hum and makes him question the knock.
"Yes, who is it?", he asked in a disappointed tone.
"It's Flora, master. The rogue has awakened. I thought you would like to know.", says flora in a trembling voice
"Oh, Flora. Come in.", Flora opened the door and comes inside the room
"I'm just gonna finish this last line... and... done!", he puts his pen to its holder and stand up. He stretches his body while walking out of the room.
"Let's meet our special guest now, shall we?"
"Yes, master Blaque."
Amid the crowded Tavern, Raziel sits while having a feast. He eats and drinks like a hungry wild beast. A man approaches him from the back. He pats his shoulder.
"how's the food, mister Raziel Elfram?", The man asks gently.
"not so bad.", Raziel keeps chewing.
"Glad to hear that. I am the Master of this Tavern. Grover Blaque, at your service. But you can call me Grob, for short. How was your trip?"
"Quite arduous. Nice tavern you got here. And that beautiful Royal lady too.", Raziel looks sharply at both Grob and Flora.
"Royal? Hahaha... you got quite the eyes to spot a royal, huh?", He laughs. He steps back as Raziel stands up.
"but, it would be a shame, if she were to die here with you. Along with the ruins of this tavern...", he faces towards the man. Suddenly the atmosphere changes, and the crowds ignored. Both Raziel and Grob looks each other fiercely.
"you've come far. It would be a shame, if you were to die here after your delicious meal, Raazmael Elziria Houndstein.", Grob smirks. Raziel in the other side with an intimidating expression as he is ready to shred Grob apart and turn the place upside down.
"tch, as the moon comes down, fades into the dark, the hound calls with fearless eyes and cries the howl of war. The blood of the enemies scattered and the blood of the hounds, none.", as Raziel recite, he holds his sword tightly in his back
"Oh ho ho, you're reciting the battle etiquette of the Houndstein royal family. I suggest you're about to kill me, aren't you?", Grob is cautious as his stance changes.
Raziel lungs towards Grob. Sword on the back unsheathed. In a blink, he swings to Grob's neck. "Master!", Flora calls but the sword is too fast as it reaches to Grob's neck. Blocked by Grob's gauntlet.
Raziel take a step back, suddenly a sharp wooden root thrust from his back, missed, shreds his clothes. He takes a quick step forward, sword ready. A loud scream of anger echoes "stay away!" flora swing crosses her arms. Couple of wooden spears emerge to stop Raziel. a swing of Raziel sword cut through all the spears. Flora learns that his sword is way too sharp for her wooden spears. a confidence turns bad as Raziel comes closer with his sword pulled back.
"Flora behind me!" Grob pushes her and run towards Raziel, "come boy!" he throws a flask to the ground and creates a black smoke, covering Raziel's vision. But Raziel's instinct outshined his own eyes. He throws his sword, thrusts Grob's left shoulder where it should've been in his heart. blinded by the fog Raziel guides himself to the sound of Grob's panting breath. Jumps towards him "there you are!" pulled his sword back. Grob growls hard. He puls his right hand and lifts his finger. suddenly Raziel was tied by an invisible thread as the black smoke clears, the thread starts to get more visible and binds harder. Raziel is completely immobilized.
"Not a good idea to kill a man in his own house, boy.", Grob grabs the nearest chair and sits down.
"I'm not trying to kill you, I'm just curious about your companies. If I really wanted to kill you, my sword would've been in that beautiful Lady's chest instead of you shoulder.", Raziel smirks.
"My companies? You mean them?", as the black smoke clears, Raziel sees a lot of people with their weapons, surrounding the room, steady and ready to kill him if he makes another move.
"So, they're your sellswords?", Raziel looks around the room, examining each of the sellswords.
"My sellswords? Hahahaha! You're so funny!", the whole tavern is filled with his laugh.
"They are NOT my sellswords! They are on their own. I never own someone. But, they owe me, and you also, mister Houndstein...", he puts his face closer to Raziel's. looking deep in his eyes.
"Owe you what?"
"Your life... but, if you choose to fight us all. It's up to you.", Grob walks to the bar, and sits. "Gillian, put down your bow. Give me a drink, will you?", A young man with a spectacle drops down his bow and arrow. He has a unique spectacle with a crystal frame. A brown hair, light complexion and a good posture. He takes a bottle from the drawer and pours it in a glass. passes it to Grob on the other end of the bar.
"it doesn't sound nice to hear a runaway Royalty from the Orlyn to die in a tavern in Alvatore kingdom, right? Or, what's worse, an Orlyn Royalty, wrecks havoc in a bar in Alvatore kingdom... it'll make quite a situation, you know?", silence is the only thing that comes out of Raziel mouth. He took the wrong move. Though he could fight back, what comes after it, would only make things worse.
"Why would you change your royalty name into something ridiculous like, Elfram?", he gulps down the drink, put the glass down. He approaches Raziel again and loosen the threads releasing Raziel from its bind. Raziel stands up, sheathed his sword with his head down.
"Just forget about my royalty name. its Raziel Elfram now.", he walks to the main gate.
The Sellswords of the tavern make way for him while staring sharply. In their mind, 'this rogue could kill any of us at any time', judging by how he fights, its no mistake they all would be cautious. His precision, vision, speed, and instinct tell how deadly he is in battle. They know that a rogue is very dangerous despite of them not having any class, means their fighting style is unpredictable. Only when you fight them then you would know. Well, their judgement isn't wrong, as Raziel walks to the gate, Grob calls for him,
"Raziel! Where are you going? Your room is upstairs!"
"Going for a walk. Sightseeing the city.", Raziel keeps walking. He waves and disappears in the city crowd.
By the disappearance of Raziel the Tavern Sellswords are finally at ease. They put down their weapons and starts to look around the mess. It will be a long day for them having to clean up after the fight. Some of them sighs. Some of them grunts. They starts sending some customers home. They're closing. Grob sighs hard. He walks across the mess looking around. He calls for everyone's attention.
"everyone... sorry for the mess. That is the man I talked about before. This is not a good start but, I hope you all would welcome him. He could make a good battle power to us."
"yes master!", everyone responds with only that word, no arguments launched.
"Will he do a contract?", a man in a waiter uniform asks to Grob.
"Perhaps, lets just hope he will. He looks like he couldn't live without swinging his sword or having the tense of battle.". Grob cleans his coat off the dusts. He picked up a bottle from the ground and drink from it.
"There's no contract today so, after the cleaning, just call it a day.", Grob walks back to his study and everyone continues their activity. For some time, the tavern is out of business.
The twilight comes, the sun is dim and the people of the Duran city began to close up their business as if they were afraid of the coming dark, or perhaps, their fear was no mistake. With all the sellswords mostly do their business in the night. Raziel walks around the Duran market. Passing by merchants and sellswords. Thinking what he should do in the upcoming days working with a man named Grover Blaque. Will he become a sellsword, or just work as a taverner? More question comes to his head. He thinks, maybe if it wasn't for vengeance he wouldn't ended up where he is.
The vengeance for his master. The massacre of The Andwin Royal Family of Alvatore Kingdom. Reminiscing his foul action driven by anger, hatred and revenge. He remembers every blood spilt, every swing of his sword. Every head decapitated. All the tricks and tools and weapons he made just to massacre the whole Royal Family. He felt guilty. He keeps walking without knowing where he is going. The market has passed. Now he walks towards a dark alley not knowing where he is.
As he remorse the past. A tall figure standing in the other end of the alley. Bears a sword, unsheathed. Reflects the twilight beam. Raziel still doesn't notice his existence. Until the unknown figure slams his long sword to the wall. The sound echoes the whole alley ad reaches Raziel's ear. Now he notices. He becomes cautious, grips his sword at the back, left hand on the back holds a throwing knife. He stares deeply to the figure. The alley is too dark for him to see. But, he could see the sword reflection.
"If you don't want to fight, sheath your sword. This is a narrow alley. Your longsword will be a burden.", Raziel didn't take any steps. The darkness is an advantage for the enemy.
"You're right.", voice of a man, middle age. A little gruffy. He steps back deep in the dark. Raziel is keeps his stance. He saw another reflection in the dark. it was a thrown sword. He dodged it. That sword is too heavy to be blocked. The unknown man comes out from the dark, runs to him and delivers a fast blow to raziel's chest. It hits him hard. Pushes him back far. He managed to balance himself and back on his feet. After the blow, blood is dripping from the man's arm and he realizes it's been cut. But, he didn't say anything, he didn't grudge or grunts. Silence. He looks for his arm. He found it and picked it up.
"That was a quick counter. And very deadly too. I lost an arm, for a Silver Shilling.", the man holds his own arm. He shreds his sleeve and begin to cover his right arm that's been cut.
"The price for killing you is way too low. With your battle rank, it supposed to be Gold Shilling.", the man looks at Raziel. He is tall, a beard, and a short black hair with a tattoo near his right eye.
"Shilling? You mean the Shilling for paying the Sellswords?"
"Mm-hmm.", the man nods. "now, would you kindly let me go? This is an unfair contract. Killing you will be for nothing if I only get Silvers."
"The hell? After that hard blow you think I'll let you pass?"
"very well... then death it is.", the man put his left hand down to the ground.
"I won't let you go anywhere. I'll bury you here.", a stone walls emerge. Blocking a way out for them. Raziel pulls out his sword. He sprints to the man. throws a couple dagger. A stone wall appears in front of the man blocking the dagger. "I thought so...", Raziel slows down. He tightened his left gauntlets. He smashed the stone wall and it shattered revealing his opponent. The mysterious man grabbed his hand and throw him to the ground. Raziel grunts. The man screams of battle cry. He stomped raziel's chest hard and kicked him far. Raziel hits the wall and bounced. Shortly a stone pillar hits him from below as he about to touch the ground. He coughed out blood. The man jumps over him and delivers a powerful smash back to the ground. Raziel screams of pain, but its not for nothing. He managed to plant his sword in his opponent chest, right after the hit. It was a perfect execution of counter attack. The man goes silence. He coughed. Then fall slowly but hard.
Raziel tries to stand up with the pain in his chest. He falls again. Again he stand up and lean on the wall. We walks out the alley while hugging the wall. He pulls his sword, cleaned it and sheath it. He continue his walk, then he saw another man standing in the end of the alley. He cant see who it is, his visions blurred and the backlight of the twilight makes the figure dark. a gentle but loud voice echoes.
"That... is the kind of greeting from the sellswords of Alvatore.", as the man comes closer, he gets more visible. A monocle on the right eye and a blind left eye.
"Grob...", Raziel fell down, unconscious.
"Don't worry Theofratus. I'll take care of your dear apprentice. As a part of my vow, to continue your legacy. Starting with this Rogue Novice."
The sun drowned. The moon comes.
Another strayed Hound. Another Master.
A new day, another contract. Another battle to be fought.