A WiP Prolouge
Darkness is a powerful ally, and men
that can utilize it are some of the most
dangerous walking this earth.
- Nightmaster Noxos of Tresdon
The street was silent and the moon was shrouded by the thick clouds hanging above. Good. The black figure swept out from the door, behind him no light to attract attention. The muddy street was dry and filled with refuse. The man dexterously navigated with his trained eyes, despite the darkness. He kept to the stone walls of the wattle and daub houses that flanked the street on both sides. A few steps and he reached an intersection and saw the glow of a lantern coming from the street to the left. The man took the road to the right, quickly rounding a corner to not be spotted, tightening the cloak and hood around himself as he did so. Wouldn't do to be caught by the night guards, not now.
He hurried down the street and took an alley to the left. The alley was narrow and filled with rubbish and broken planks. Hard to see in the darkness but the man knew they were there. There was a shape sitting against the wall, unmoving. The man recognized something dark staining the ground around the man. Shit, another route. There was a low growl coming from the alley as the man backed away. A human-sized figure appeared at the far end of the alley. He ducked to the right, out of the alley, avoiding detection by the creature, which now prowled down the alley, towards the corpse, making a chittering noise as it did so.
The man tried to shuffle away silently but there were some loose cobbles that he kicked. This sent them skittering over the other cobbles on the street. Silently the man cursed and began running, down the street, away from the dark creature. As he hurried down the street he could hear something scraping the cobblestones a bit behind him. He rounded another corner and reached a small square with a well in the dead center. Two other paths led from the square, one to the right and one dead ahead. As he rushed into the street the moon came out from it's blanket of clouds and stared down upon the world.
He turned around to see a creature rounding the corner. It's build that of a man hunching forward. Its legs bent and feet with claws scraping the cobbles. The torso was bulky and the arms hung down both sides, with four gleaming streaks on the end of each arm. Razor-sharp blades as fingers. The head was something grisly, it was hunched forwards and round. There were three crimson eyes side by side. With a dull gleam the creature studied him after coming to a halt. The head was split in twain by a large mouth with canine fangs in two rings within the mouth. The creature didn't regard him for long, as it snarled and with blurring speed charged forwards. The man drew his longsword from underneath his cloak. The iron was gleaming dully in the shine of the moon as it was unsheathed.
The creature struck out as it approached but the man stuck his longsword in the way of the blades, that was the creatures fingers. The impact raked up his arms as he used both hands to parry the blow. He followed up with spinning around in a circle and lashing out as he came face to face with the creature once more. The strike was too high and it sailed above the creatures head. Cursing, the man jumped back as the creature advanced. Its arms slicing the air in front of him in wide arcs of gleaming streaks. He lunged out with a backhand slice that reached for the guts of the creature but the creature twisted it's body and the slice met nothing but air. The creature jumped away, readying itself. Then it stamped it's feet to the ground and leaped forward, intent on catching the man in the chest. He noticed in time and rolled out of the way as the creature leapt forward. Its blades arced out towards him as he rolled away. The creature struck the water well face first. The well with its loose rock wall caved and many of the rocks were sent crashing down into the water below. The creature itself managed to avoid the fate of the rocks due to its size but was dazed for a moment.
The man got to his feet and rushed the creature as it was recovering from it's crash landing. He stabbed the creature right through the center eye, the creature trying desperately to move away and intercept the blade with it's own but failed and was struck through the head. Its leathery skin parting ways as the blade pierced straight through its skull. It appeared on the other side, slick with blue blood and bits of purple mass. The creature convulsed, spasming as it sank down to the floor. The man waited for the creature to down fully and then withdrew the blade. A Ghyr, I got lucky there, it's juvenile, a bit older and it would've taken my head. The man looked around. There was a light source approaching from the way he had come. Other than that nothing could be seen. Shit, night watch. Time to leave. The man wiped the sword on the leathery skin of the creature then sheathed it. He wrapped the cloak about him as he ran down the street opposite from whence the watchmen were arriving. His muffled leather boots helping him to remain undetected until he was out of sight of the patrol. That run in with the Ghyr had been a close call. Not one he would like to repeat with any of the denizens of the night.
He noticed he was close to the destination. He took to the walls once more, remaining in the darkest shadows. He spotted something flickering across the rooftops a bit down the street and froze in place. What was that? Fardal? Erkyr? His heart beat unbearably loud, it was a wonder no one heard it. He remained unmoving for what seemed ages, until he resumed his weary sneak down the street. A turn to a street to the left and then another at the next intersection and then he spotted his goal. A house not far down the street with a sign hanging above the door, which he knew was of a quill and ink.
He began moving forward along the wall but before he reached it, a group of men with lanterns came rushing down the street. The man dove into one of the alleys just in time to see them rushing past. swords in hand they were pulling a handcart upon which lay the corpse of a green scaly humanoid creature. Wide eyes stared blankly and a sabre teethed mouth had transfixed into a permanent grin. A Fardal. He held his breath until they were out of sight. He let out a deep sigh, then started to move. He noticed his boots were covered in dung that had been dumped in the alleyway. He shook them to clean the boots, sending spatters of dung in every direction. To have this happen... And to my new boots nonetheless. He then covered the rest of the distance to the door of the house that was his destination.
He darted up to the door and looked around. Seeing nothing he knocked twice. Then he waited a few heart beats and knocked once. He heard movement from inside and the unlocking of the door. He stepped back and the door opened outwards. He slunk in once the door was open enough. Then closed the door and took off his hood as he turned to face the room. The room he was in now was moderately sized, a classical commoner house of wattle and daub, the interior being wholly of wood. Two windows faced the street but were blocked by flaps of wood. There was a staircase on the far wall from right to left, leading to the upper floor, whilst a fireplace dominated the left side of the room. In the middle of the room there was a simple table of wood with some simple chairs. On the table a candle was flickering and a scroll was laid out with a quill and ink at the side.
"It is good that you have come, Theredian." The man who had opened the door said, his voice relieved.
The man was of middle age with a light brown, rough-cut hair reaching down to his neck. A stubble of a beard on his chin, a few days old. His features were that of a Herali, a people that were common in this land. Soft chin and cheeks, a sturdy, hard, straight nose that wasn't very large yet looked sort of out of place in regards to the other features. Eyes like two circles on either side of his nose. The man's skin was as pale as if he had not seen the sun in a long time. He was wearing a red, plain woolen tunic and some gray wool pants. These ran down to the ankle boots that covered his feet. The man gestured for Theredian to take a seat at the table.
Theredian nodded his thanks and moved over and removed his cloak. His rough-cut black hair reached down to his shoulders. His face was narrow and his eyes oval shaped and his skin fair. His features were hard and the nose large and crooked, typical of the Margali, another of the common people in this land. Formerly the Margali had been a tribal people but in later years they had been evolved into their own civilization. As Theredian had removed his cloak, the clothes underneath were revealed to be a boiled leather hauberk with arm guards and leggings, dyed black. On his feet were stained leather boots and at his hip he wore a dark leather belt and sheathed in it was his longsword.
"It wasn't easy, Taubar. It never is. It's been a while." Theredian said and sighed as he sat down on the chair.
"I ran into a Ghyr. Mean and nasty as anything I've ever seen. A straight up demon." Theredian replied shaking his head.
"You got away?"
"I killed it. Wasn't easy."
"Your skills are as good as ever, Theredian!" Taubar exclaimed. "To kill a Ghyr... Not bad, not many could claim that."
"As I said, wasn't easy. Now..." Theredian's voice trailed off as he produced a message written on a piece of paper. "I was told to bring you this, you'll know what it means of course."
Taubar extended his hand and took the message as Theredian continued.
"One more thing, what do you know of the one called Remard?"
Taubar frowned and placed the message on the table to the side. Then looked up at Theredian.
"There are many that go by that name-" Taubar started.
"You know which one I'm interested in. " Theredian interrupted impatiently.
"My sources tell me that he has hired the crossblades. The reason remains uncertain. What's more, they seem to be heading into Ardenland." Taubar shifted uncomfortably.
"Ardenland?" Theredian stroked his chin. "Why in the world would he be heading into Ardenland? He'd be heading into the jaws of Pavandar..."
"Perhaps. His reasons remain hidden to us. Tell me Theredian, what do you plan to do?" Taubar asked.
"I intend to pursue. Those are my orders." Theredian said, his voice as cold as ice. "He has been judged a threat."
Opposite of him, Taubar gulped.
With that Theredian got up and with a fluid motion set his cloak around his shoulders. He glanced at Taubar who sat with his gaze turned to the table and the burning candle.
"I hope for your sake you do not find him." Taubar finally said.
Theredian stood there in silence.
"Do not face the crossblades. There are greater powers at play here than you know." Taubar continued. Theredian remained silent. "I would not see a friend throw his life away!" Taubar exclaimed desperately. I see your concern friend and I appreciate it. Yet I have set my path and must walk it.
"Farewell Taubar." Theredian said with finality and turned to the door.
He slunk out into the night to join the shadows once more. Taubar stood in the room alone.
"I hope you fail in your task, despite the bond between us. For all our sakes."