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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1998865-The-Druids-Creed
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #1998865
The story of an orphan boy and a precious gift.
I'm hoping to get some feedback on this, it's a small bit I started writing a few months ago and never quite finished, but a few of my friends liked it so I'm hoping to continue on with it. I'm just looking for a bit of motivation I suppose and some honest reviews. I know it may be a bit sloppy, and this also isn't the finished product. But I do hope you, the reader, enjoys it.

Prologue

The smell of this place was that of a long deceased carcass. Foul and pungeant, putrid, nauseating. It was cold here. Damp, disgusting. But it was certainly a very suitable place for hiding. For plotting malicious deeds and cruel intentions. The cave wasn't a very large enclosure, perhaps no larger than a common hut in one of the smaller villages throughout the many kingdoms of the world. Located just off The Silver Coast, it was nestled in a narrow passage near the peak of Gronax Mountain. Although it was quite secluded, the entrance still produced quite a terriffic view of the surrounding countryside. The cave floor was partially covered in moss, littered here and there with some areas disturbed, obviously due to steady traffick in the area. Near the center of this place was a small pool of water, not out of the ordinary, but still special in its own way. A rough looking table was set up in the far corner, furthest from the entrance, with several bottles of brewed concoctions scattered atop it's wooden surface. Several ingredients were also there, such as Owl Feathers, Naga Scales, and ground Roc beaks, only to name a few. Torches were distributed strategically along suitable positions on the Cave's walls, keeping the place as well lit as possible, without drawing the attention of any wanderers. Kneeled near the edge of the pool of water, an old, weary man kept his eyes locked onto the shimmering puddle. Thick, brown robes covered his fragile body, while a beaten, worn down hood was pulled over his head, covering his face and keeping the torchlight out of his eyes. The man was an old Druid, and at one time, he was a hero. A protector of the people, and a servant of King Promus. The Arch-Druid of the kingdom of Trafalia. But those times were long gone. The people of that land stripped him of his title, and cast him out, accused of bedding the King's daughter, Princess Natalia, while she was consumed by his very own magics. They never believed a word he said. All of his friends, all of his students, his own family, gone. Abandoned him to be exiled to Gronax Mountain. But they would pay for what they had done to him. Oh yes, they would pay.

Chapter 1: The Marketplace Thief

The smell of roasted pork drifted effortlessly throughout the bustling city streets, passing under every nose and whetting the appetite of all who could detect the delicious scent. The sound of steel-on-steel pierced the warm air as Bartholeme the Blacksmith worked diligently, forging his best work yet. A dual-bladed broadsword, with a hollow center. His clerk was yelling to the crowds " Swords, axes, shields, and the best armor around! Protect yourself and your family, buy a good, sturdy sword from the famous Bartholeme! " Other stalls included that of alchemists, hunters, outfitters, chefs, butchers, entertainers, and the occasional whore looking for her next business trip. Travellers from all over came to this place, every day, to trade goods and try to make their living. Most were honest, but there were always those who were not. Not to say that the thieves were bad people necessarily, they were only doing what they had to do. Thieves in this city were the less fortunate of the population. They had no food, money, or trade skills. But what they did have were families. Families who needed to be fed, and they would take whatever they could to ensure that they could accomplish that task. Usually just enough food to get them through the night, but if that wasn't an option, they would take things of value to trade for food. The most commonly targeted stall was Gradia's Fine Jewels and Trinkets; a stall full of precious gems and assorted trinkets, usually of significant value. The problem was that the City Watch had posted extra guards there, due to the recent increase in thefts in that area of the market. Curious eyes of the purest Emerald watched these guards, studying their every move. Their habits. Their shift changes. Anything and everything that they did, every movement that they made, was being tracked. Behind those eyes, a young, sun-kissed face lay hidden behind a hooded cloak, buried in an intricate fusion with the shadows in which he was crouched in. Tarrol was a young man, barely old enough to be considered an adult, but still young enough to be seen as a child. Not too many advantages were afforded to him, he was an orphan. He had no friends. No family. Nothing to save him from the cruelty of this world or those in it. Growing up, the young boy would watch the thieves of this area religiously, doing his best to take mental notes on their actions. In order to survive, he would have to become like them. He could have been a beggar, but the odds of success in that field of work were much lower, and much less rewarding. It wasn't always like this, though. When Tarrol first came to this city, the young boy had hope. Aspirations to become something great, to make something of himself. Apprenticeships were sought and denied at every turn. " You? You think you can be a blacksmith? Why, boy, you can't even lift a hammer! You'll never be able to do this job! " " You want to be an Alchemist? Tell me, what is the first rule of Alchemy? " Of course, Tarrol had no idea what the first rule of Alchemy was. He hadn't a clue. " I'm sorry, boy. An Inn like this is no place for you. Why, I'll be havin' to bury you in the back in less than a week, as rough as it gets in here. " Thieving was all he could turn to. But discouragment wasn't something he was familiar with. Optimism, however, was. Suddenly, his thoughts of the past evaporated. A fight had broken out in the distance between a large, dark-skinned mercenary and a fat, bearded man. It seemed that it was something to do with the price of the goods the fat man was offering. The jewelery stand guards sprinted towards the brawl, ordering both men to cease the assault under threat of arrest. In a rare show of speed and agility, Tarrol sprinted as hard as he could for the jewelery stall, using the cover of night and the crowd of people to his advantage. The vendor, Gradia, was too occupied watching the commotion up the street in the direction of the brawl to notice the young man shoving gems and trinkets into his pockets as quickly as he could. As the crowd began to seperate, Tarrol knew his window was closing quickly. The guards would be on the way back by now and he knew he had to move fast. Without further delay, the young man spun around and began to walk the way he came, his pockets bulging full of jewels, amulets, rings, and necklaces. " Stop, thief, or you will die. " The words chilled him to the bone, but more importantly, caught him off guard. In his four years of petty thievery, he had never been caught before. Not even once. And now, he was caught red-handed, with the biggest haul he's ever managed. Slowly turning around, Tarrol moved his hands to his head, as slowly as he could manage. Sweat poured off his forehead now, stinging his eyes and blurring his vision slightly. Trembling, he dropped to his knees. " I surrender. Please, don't kill me. " The Guard Captain approached the young thief, placing his blade against his neck. With a malicious smirk, the Captain spoke. " You have been caught stealing jewels, not just from any street vendor, but from King Promus and the Royal Treasury. As Captain of the Guard for this district, I sentence you to death by execution. "

Chapter 2: No Honor Among Thieves

" You know, it tends to go a lot more smoothly if you don't try to resist the Guards. They don't really like that too much. " The words sounded distant, almost. Like an echo on the herizon. " You okay, kid? " Tarrol sat up slowly, immediately placing his left hand over the right side of his ribs. Eyes fluttering rapidly, the young man attempted to clear his blurred vision. " They beat you pretty bad. Can you even hear me? " With a slight nod of his head, Tarrol acknowledged the words of the stranger. " Where am I? " he asked, although he already had a general idea. " You're in the Palace Dungeon, kid. You've been passed out for a long time. They really put one on ya. " The stranger handed Tarrol a cup of water, instructing him to drink. Gladly obliging, the young man finished the cup in only a couple of swigs, wondering if the stranger would get him more. " The well's over there, kid. You just have'ta pull the rope and a big bucket full of water comes up. " Tarrol waited until he could see things a bit better again and made his way to the well, doing just as the stranger had instructed him to. Once the bucket was in his grasp, he looked at the cup, back to the bucket, and at the cup again. With a quick flick of his wrist, the cup flew over his shoulder, the bucket being brought to his lips as he tilted it back, chugging the water like a dehydrated demon. " You tryin'a drown yourself? " No response was given as the water was continually consumed. Once he could take no more, Tarrol dropped the bucket back down into the well. " Sorry, stranger. I felt as though I hadn't drank in days. My apologies for my...erm...drinking. " For the first time, Tarrol looked at the large, black iron bars that kept him locked in this place. Beyond them, a plain stone wall stood, with nothing particularly interesting about it. The only thing there was a single torch mounted to the wall, though it didn't put off much light. Or perhaps Tarrol's senses still needed time to adjust. " You won't see much out there. Then again, you won't see much in here, either. " Although the words were depressing, Tarrol knew them to be true. He decided that he could use a friend in this place, if for no other reason than to pass the time with conversation. As he turned to look at the stranger with whom he'd shared this cell, he felt his jaw drop. This...this...thing, it wasn't a man at all! Well, it looked like a man, but it was...green! Green skin with red eyes! And it was more muscular than any man he'd ever seen! His eyes looked down at the things mouth, wondering if it would eat him. Jagged teeth and a pair of tusks were quite visible, though the tusks came from the creature's jaw. He continued to trail his eyes down, studying the creature. All the thing seemed to be wearing was a primitive-type loin cloth, and a necklace with a rather large tooth attached to it, though it was unclear what it belonged to. The thing cleared its throat rather loudly, and Tarrol nearly jumped through the iron bars. " What's the matter with you, kid? " Before Tarrol could answer, he heard words come from somewhere else in the dungeon. " Pipe down in there, damn you! I'm trying to read out here! " The big, green man-like thing moved to the iron bars, sending a retort. " Didn't know you knew how to read, you gnave! " Tarrol had no idea what was going on, but he knew the other speaker must be a guard. " Shut up, scum! You're the one behind the bars, I'm free to do as I please! " The creature nudged Tarrol on the arm, startling him a bit. " Watch this, kid. " Trying to hold back a chuckle, he yelled back at the guard outside. " Hey, your mother's in here! I thought I told you I didn't want to see her anymore! " With that, a loud rustling noise was heard, as well as some sort of metal-on-stone scraping. The noise kept getting louder, closer. Finally, the guard was standing at the door to the cell, carrying a steel sword in his right hand. " I'll come in there and put you down like the dog you are, scum. You're a long way from home and you know nobody here would miss ya." The green man responded, though now he seemed a bit agitated. It wasn't about fun anymore, it seemed. With his voice resembling more of a low growl than regular words, the stranger responded. " You come in here, I promise you I'll break both your arms and both of your legs. " The threat seemed as real as any, and Tarrol knew the big thing could probably do it, too. " Why waste my time? You're just a stupid Orc, anyway. " With that, the guard walked away. Tarrol had listened to the whole ordeal, but the last part sort of left him in awe. An Orc? Here? He had heard about Orcs before, due to the fact that in his free time he enjoyed listening to conversations in the marketplace. Sometimes, people mentioned the Orcs of the North. He had also heard some things about Elves, Naga, Dwarves, Centaurs, Trolls, Nymphs, Merfolk, and even Dragons! Quickly he left his thoughts behind as he began to ponder what an Orc would be doing locked in the Royal Dungeon of Thrale. As far as he knew, King Promus only allowed Humans in the Capital City, at least he had only seen Humans here. " You're an Orc? " The question just kind of slipped out of Tarrol's lips before he could really stop himself. The Orc began to respond, but was interrupted by a loud banging noise. " Where is the new prisoner? " The voice was one that Tarrol had not heard yet, then again he had only heard two other voices since he had been concious. " Uh...uh...he's right down there, sir! Can I get you anything? " Tarrol began to feel fear creep into his mind, weighing heavily on him. What did this person want with him? Was his execution going to take place early? " Shut up, you fool! Go get me the jewel thief, now! " Hurried footsteps quickly approached the cell door, and soon the same guard who was there before once again in front of them. " Come out of there, boy, now! You've been summoned by the Royal Advisor! " Tarrol took a few steps towards the door, but before he could continue, the Orc put a large, heavy hand on his shoulder. " Good meeting ya, kid. I have a feeling that this won't be the last time we talk. " The hand was removed and Tarrol continued out the cell door, down a stone hallway, being hurried by the guard behind him. " Walk faster, damn you! " Tarrol moved quickly past the other cells and finally came to rest in front of a desk. A book titled " How To Properly Satisfy A Woman " was laying on the surface of he desk, which nearly made Tarrol laugh. Suddenly, a black drawstring bag was placed over his head, and he was being led out of the room. It seemed his time to die had come.

Chapter 3: Choices

There were eyes, eyes all around him. He could feel his imminent doom looming in the distance, testing his bravery all the while. Castle servants whispered as he passed them, hoping that his soul would find peace in the afterlife. Sweat poured off his entire body, causing his eyes to burn and blur even behind the black bag covering his head. Or were there tears there? It was impossible to tell. Based on the circumstances, the young man couldn't really be blamed for crying. He'd only lived less than a quarter of his life. Perhaps he would meet his parents in the afterlife? Well, that may not be so bad. Yes, that may be quite nice, actually. Tarrol found himself laughing out loud, causing a swift smack to the back of the head. " Why are you laughing, fool? What is funny about this situation? " The Advisor said harshly. Nothing was funny about this, truthfully. Tarrol must be going mad. Suddenly, the group stopped after making several left and right turns. " Open those doors. " Said the Advisor. The two guards quickly moved to the doors and pulled them open. Tarrol could feel a presence very near his right ear. " If you make one wrong move here, I'll run you through myself. Am I clear? " Both of Tarrol's eyes burned now. His lungs burned. In truth, the young man would have preferred being ran through with a blade. It was merciful compared to this man's breath. After coughing several times, Tarrol could only nod his head. The Advisor roughly shoved him through the doors, leading him into the room. Even through the black bag, Tarrol could see that this room was brilliantly lit and very well decorated. " Kneel before your king, scum. " said the Advisor. Tarrol felt a hard kick to the back of his knees, and he fell, catching himself with outstretched hands. Quickly, he was forcibly adjusted to a position on his knees and the black bag was ripped from his head. This place was magnificent! Tarrol found himself looking around in awe at the tapestries on the walls, the elegant columns in the corners, everything was so beautiful! A long red carpet was laid perfectly straight, leading from the door to the massive marble staircase, all the way to two thrones, one larger than the other, but both made of solid gold. There, sitting on the larger throne, was none other than King Promus himself. Tarrol found himself suddenly bowing down, his hands stretched out as far as he could manage. That was the proper thing to do, he thought. For he had never been in the company of royalty before. " Rise, young man, and please tell me your name. " The King had a very soft-spoken voice, but there was a commanding tone there. One could just feel the authority in his words and feel compelled to obey. " Yes, my King. " Tarrol rose up back onto his knees and began to speak, when the King interrupted him. " No, no, boy. I mean get on your feet. " Feeling foolish, Tarrol rose to his feet and began to speak as clearly as he could. His nerves had never been tested in such a way as these last couple days. " My name is Tarrol, sire. " Promus nodded his understanding and began to speak again. " Leave us. " Not sure he understood, the young man responded. " Erm...where do I go, sire? " Promus shook his head. " Not you, boy. Him. " The King was indicating his Advisor, clearly this time. " But sire! You cannot be certain! " Argued the Advisor. Promus wasn't a large man. He was of average build, if a little plump. A full beard, grey in color, and grey hair on his head. Not exactly an intimidating figure, but those eyes. They were clearly weathered, experienced. They had seen things most men couldn't imagine. And that was his advantage. Making sure to bow before leaving, the Advisor made his way out quickly. Promus sighed, turning his attention back to Tarrol. " Now, boy, where were we? Ah, yes. They tell me you're set to be executed soon. Something about stealing jewels in the Marketplace? " Only nodding, Tarrol remained silent. There were no words that could justify his actions, in his own mind. " Boy, I'm not here to belittle you. I'm simply asking if you believe yourself able to accomplish a similiar task once more. " What was going on here? Tarrol found himself wondering if the King was toying with him. " Erm...I'm not quite sure I understand, sire. " Promus looked intently at the young man, patiently responding. " I will not go into full details, but I am giving you a decision. A choice, boy. Either you accept this task and carry it out, or you go back to the dungeons and await the gallows. My Guard Captain seems to think you have exceptional skill in stealth, and an above average intelligence. You would be a good fit for what must be done. " Tarrol thought for a moment before choosing rather quickly. Not that there was much choice to make for the young man. " I'll do the task. But what must be done, sire? " Promus smirked slightly, motioning for Tarrol to come closer so that he could explain. " A number of years ago, I had a trusted advisor. He was like a brother to me. And he was also my Guardian, and mentor to my daughter. He was the Arch-Druid. One night, he was caught...violating...my daughter. He had put her in a spell-induced sleep and had his way with her. The act was witnessed by a servant girl, who reported it directly to me. Everything inside me screamed to put him to death, but I could not bear the thought of blood on my hands. I had him exiled to Gronax Mountain, rather than killed. But now, the threat of him returning for vengeance is too great to ignore. This is where you come in, boy. " Tarrol found himself wide-eyed, listening to the whole story intently. Also, there was a fire in his heart. A burning desire to serve justice to that Druid, no matter what had to be done. The King resumed speaking. " You must journey to Gronax Mountain, Tarrol. You must discover what the Druid is doing, what he is planning. But I warn you here and now, you must not let him catch you. He shall certainly slay you on the spot. The man is beyond powerful. I implore you, boy. If you get a good opportunity, slay him first. You will be doing a service to your King larger than you will ever know, and you shall be rewarded as such. You will be a Hero of Trafalia. " Those last words really hit home for Tarrol. Being a Hero...that would make his parents proud. His thoughts were interrupted when the King spoke again. " Now, do not be mistaken. Gronax Mountain isn't the only dangerous part of this quest. You will certainly find yourself in situations of which the only way out is combat. It is for this reason that I will assign you a guide. A companion, of sorts. But you will choose what type of companion accompanies you. I offer you three choices, Tarrol. " I offer you the choice of the Warrior. He is strong, fierce, and deadly in close combat. However, he cannot participate in ranged fighting, for he only carries a longsword and shield, but he is heavily armored. I offer you the choice of the Archer. He is fast, agile, and silent. Ranged combat is his specialty, though he will struggle tremendously in close combat. He carries a longbow, a full quiver of Stonebeak Arrows, and is lightly armored. Lastly, I offer you the choice of the Mage. He is powerful, wise, and resourceful. He can participate in both ranged combat, and close combat, though his mana reserves will only hold for a short time. He carries a magical staff and wears magical robes, though they offer little protection. Tarrol began to speak, having come to a decision. " I choose..."
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