Summitch could see the peak of Dragon Fang Mountain catching the bright sunlight.
|From the outcropping of rock reaching out above the trees, Summitch Salmagundi could see far below into the sweeping valley. He watched as merchants loaded cargo onto caravels in Freedom Harbor. And he imagined the sound of the small waves of Crystal Lake lapping against the shore's edge. It was here that the valley descended deep into the dark waters below.
High behind him, Summitch could see the peak of Dragon Fang Mountain catching the bright sunlight. The rich ore veins that decorated the hard stone face of the mountain reflected streaks of light back down to him. The summit of the great mountain seemed to beckon to him. He had been a climber since he was small. Often it was the only way to avoid the beatings of larger boys at the orphanage.
Inner City Orphanage sat in a thickly forested patch of land below Dragon Fang Mountain. The shouts of deckhands loading vessels with cargo carried from Freedom Harbor early in the morning and often woke Summitch before the other children. It was the only life he had ever known. With no parents to speak of, no relatives to call on, and no master from whom to apprentice - Summitch was a complete orphan.
One the very early mornings he would sneak out of the rickety window above his bed and out onto the limb of a nearby tree. Up he'd climb - to the highest, and most fragile branches. From here he felt huge - as if he could survey the entire world - as if he was master of the entire world. Coming down from the swaying branches often reminded him how weak and small he really was.
Grabbing his skinny ankle as his bare foot sought purchase on the nearby rain barrel, Brandigun Klos yanked Summitch out of his perch and back down to the hard cold ground. The other children gathered around in a circle to observe the regular ritual. A beating that would continue to affirm Brandigun's place in the pecking order, and serve as an example to anyone else that dared challenge that position.
A stiff breeze mixed with a hint of rain brought back Summitch from his memories. That time in his life had been so long ago now - but the scars still felt raw and fresh. They never seemed to completely heal. Although devoting his life to the rituals of Libila had served as a mighty salve. Passing through the region on a mission to retrieve a lost artifact of Libila farther to the north, Summitch felt a tinge of nostalgia in the Freedom Market. He turned east with little hesitation and put his feet on the familiar path back to the orphanage. Nothing would stop him from stepping off the path he was destined to trod. And Libila would forgive a side trip down memory lane any day.
So he wound up in front of the Inner City Orphanage and appeared to most of the dirty brood inside as another passing gawker. Just someone who was pondering the pitiful life of one cast aside by society and dumped in this temporary home. Little did the children vying for his attention know how familiar he was with their plight. He passed by slowly - there would be no sense in entering the orphanage. He'd left nothing inside these walls worth recovering. The bidding of Libila was his life now.
Further down the road he noticed a small foot path headed up into the hills. Taking the path he found the tree with the mighty branches and secure footholds that carried him to this perch. And from up here he felt the hint of power and command that eluded him as a child. But Libila had given him that too, hadn't she. It was only a matter of time, Libila promised, before he would rule a corner of this world with her. That he would command fleets of ships, armies of men, and drive fear into any who opposed him. But there was work to be done yet.
The artifact would not stay hidden in obscurity forever. In fact, others were already trailing Summitch as he made significant headway into the mystery of it's origins, powers, and resting place. He suspected the poor fools he'd dispatched thus far were merely thieves or fame seekers. His purposes for the item were far more noble and far more grand. Nothing short of mastering the world had been Libila's promise. And Summitch Salmagundi intended to hold her to that promise.