The further adventure of Silverbolt in Rathmore.
|Temple of Danu Beaumont Square Three Days After Rexwords Attack
The man in the mask paced in front of the polished stone figure. A woman with long flowing robes, kind face, holding a basin with three spirals carved into it. The Statue had an almost supernatural presence to it.
He stopped for a moment and pulled the knife from his belt, "My name is Silverbolt, and I have no idea how I got here. How does that happen in the first place? Not that I mind my life was going south where I come from."
He went through a series of moves ending in a ground strike, "I suppose I should give you a name. Even though you already have one. How about Ellie-May? It makes you seem more approachable."
The knife began to move between Silverbolts dexterous fingers as he walked, "I wasn't supposed to be Silverbolt, I wanted to be a profiler, someone who specializes in catching people like Rexword. All of those dreams vanished the moment my powers went active."
He rubbed the back of his neck with the blade, and goosebumps erupted all over the area, "Thanks to the Black Howler, I grew up friendless. My parents were so disappointed when they saw the first crackle of energy leave my fist, Ellie-May. You would think I chose to be superhuman in the womb. It was because of them I never really used my powers."
The knife was sheathed and unsheathed rapidly, "After they left me on a random street corner, I entered the foster system. At eight years old, I was more than a match for any adult. More than a few foster homes were shut down because of me."
Silverbolt laughed sadly, "I started talking to statues around this time. They were safe and couldn't reject me. I knew they weren't alive, but it became my way of sorting things out. You are now a part of that tradition, Ellie-may."
I bounced around until I was thirteen before being placed with the Matarazzo family. At first, it was awesome. I had trainers teaching me how to fight and use firearms. They gave me this armor and mask. I thought they were turning me into a superhero."
Silverbolt threw the knife at the wall angrily. It embedded itself up to the hilt, with metallic ringing, "I was wrong. They were training me to be a killer. I know, I know, how cliche. The matriarch of the family Graziella permitted me to teach her lost boys a lesson."
The knife finally wiggled out of the wall, "At seventeen, I tore a crime family apart. I didn't kill anyone, Ellie-May, I wanted to, but I spared them for Graziella's sake."
Silverbolt twirled the meteor hammer, "Graziella named me Silverbolt. She said the meteor hammer struck like a silvery bolt of lightning. A name I still wear the name to honor her, the only person who loved me for me."
Silverbolt took off the mask and looked at the silver lightning bolt, "Your world is amazing. I haven't seen much of it, but I already like it here. There is nothing for me back in my world. I have a chance to start over here, please don't take it away."
As the masked hero left, a hooded figure stepped out from behind a polished pillar. A lock of purple streaked hair licked the edge of the hood. A smile touched the face of the eavesdropper as she left the temple.
Delirious Butterfly Brothel.
Madame Cuttle held the shovel up to the trio of men holding their swords up to her. Long brown hair hung in her eyes, and she was trying to blow it off to the side. It was the same every week. A flick of the ugly toothless man's sword almost exposed Madame Cuttle to the world.
Their boss, Louis Nethersole, wanted to use her brothel to sell illegal mind-altering potions. A request Madame Cuttle refused. Lady Clara herself had given her business permission to exist. Madame Cuttle was not going to throw it away for some wannabe crime lord.
A toothless man lowered his sword, "Look, Mr. Nethersole just wants the protection money or the deed to the brothel."
"Mr. Nethersole can shove his head up his saggy arse. I am not giving up my home just because some lecherous bastard wants it. He can have it over my dead body," Madame Cuttle said as she blocked a clumsy sword strike with the shovel.
Toothless slapped his knee with merriment, "Madame Cuttle, we can arrange for that to happen. Why waste your life trying to save whores?"
Madame Cuttle swung the shovel narrowly missing toothless. She snarled at stood in front of the door, "They are not all whores, some are girls with no home. I give them work and keep them fed, and I encourage them to find apprenticeships with local businesses."
Toothless motioned the men forward, "Kill the bitch and all the girls inside. Nethersole wants to start fresh. Who are you?"
Madame Cuttle turned saw a mask with a lightning bolt down the middle. His stance was odd, and his weapon was a knife at the end of a chain. The long trench coat swept the ground behind him, and an outstretched hand dared them to attack.
A man with a wandering eye and the intelligence of a quail rushed toward the masked man. The masked man raised his fist, energy crackled around the chain, and then a brilliant flash of light. Wandering Eye was temporarily blinded before a metal-clad fist knocked him out.
Toothless and his other dirty companion, were not so sure of themselves now, "Mr. Nethersole has eyes everywhere. He will send people after you," he said. Toothless knew he couldn't fight this man intimidation was all he had left.
"Mr. Nethersole will learn to fear the thunder and flash of Silverbolt. Tell Nethersole the brothel is off-limits from here on out," Silverbolt said. He raised his hand and let the energy crackle around the chain.
Toothless grabbed his dirty companion and took off, "This isn't over Silverbolt."
Silverbolt handed his trench coat to Madame Cuttle, "You should stay warm. You could be in shock. I will have to put Nethersole on my list of things to do."
Madame Cuttle looked at Silverbolt strangely, "Are you mad? People will think you are a whore chaser. Being kind to me will do you no favors."
"Every man concerns every man I think Buddha said that...right you don't know who that is. Your life matters, especially to young women who have nowhere else to go."
Madame Cuttle gestured to the door, "Can interest you in a cup of tea?"
Silverbolt walked towards the door, "Sure, I have some questions for you anyway."
The inside of the brothel was immaculate and brightly colored. Lavender and incense drifted in each of the Flamboyant rooms. The women wore low cut dresses and paraded themselves around the moment Silverbolt entered.
A rather vivacious woman with purple streaked black hair walked up to Silverbolt, "A new client Madame Cuttle?"
Silverbolt moved away from her, "Actually, I am a member of the city watch. I have a few questions for Madame Cuttle."
"He chased off Nethersoles men for us, Constance. I don't think our services hold any interest for him. I need to change. I will be back in a few moments."
Constance sat down across from Silverbolt and gave him her best smile, "I don't service the men, in case your wondering. I work for Madame Cuttles seamstress. Is there a Mrs. city watch?"
"No, I don't have time for anything but the job right now."
Constance held his hand, "I can wait."
Madame Cuttle returned wearing a fine blue gown with her hair neatly brushed. She rolled her eyes, "Constance, leave the poor man alone. Mr. Silverbolt is here on business. I am so sorry..."
Silverbolt took the coat and donned it once more, "Does the name Rexword ring any bells?"
Madame Cuttle shook her head, "Rexword would come in here expecting free services, drunk out of his mind. The only time he paid, he asked one of the older women to act like his mother."
"When did he stop coming?"
"On the night he paid, he was deep in the bottle. My girl was doing her thing, and he freaked out. Rexword started beating her and said he wouldn't be her plaything anymore. I had to knock him out."
"It explains a lot. Do you know where someone would find illegal potion ingredients?" Silverbolt asked.
Madame smiled a little, "Are you ready for an ironic twist?"
Silverbolt raised an eyebrow, "Nethersole?"
"You know where operates out of?"
Madame Cuttle grinned, "How about I draw you a map?"
Broken Down Hut Outside Rathmore
Rexword stared at the empty cage with worried eyes. It has been three days since the creature escaped, and it is all his fault. He has searched the whole city twice and has come up empty-handed. The creature's propensity for torture does not compare its hunger for the lives of children.
It happened just after his battle with Silverbolt. He came back to see the warding on the cage scratched out. Not only had the warding been scratched out, but the creature also left a message for him.
"How many will die in your name?" had been scrawled in the bottom of the cage. Rexwords blood still ran cold at the sight of it. He brought the creature to Rathmore, and now it had a large supply of victims. His hand trembled fiercely. How badly did he need a shot of whiskey or maybe a cup of wine?
He tugged on the dirty, straw-like hair, desperate to keep his feeble mind focused. Lady Clara was supposed to suffer, and no one else. Rexword had planned to leave the creature in an iron mine where it could contemplate it misdeeds, or find someone versed in the magical arts to help deal with it.
The creature had mentioned Ettie just before it escaped, "What would you say if you could see me now?"
Rexword was truly at a loss, in his current state, he was no match for the wretched creation of the void. Worse still, he had one singular dose of the potion left. He had set it aside in case of an emergency. Rexword intended to use it the next time he encountered the fell creature.
He stroked the straw doll, "I am so sorry Ettie, I hope you and your mother are not watching me right now. You two were my world, and in losing you, I lost myself. I just wanted the pain to stop." Tears streamed down his face.
"My misdeeds will never allow me to see you again, even in the afterlife. Even so, I shall do everything in my power to make this right. I will ask for lady Clara's mercy and hope she will allow me to help capture it once more."
Rexword grimaced as he put the doll down, and tucked the potion in his belt. He hoped the hero known as Silverbolt would accept his help.
Nightengale Plaza North Rathmore
Nethersole was displeased. His henchmen had failed to procure the brothel as he had instructed. The whore house was a pivotal part of his plan. Having his shop in a central location would increase profits.
He ran his fingers over his face. It was still baby smooth. Truthfully, he had an irrational fear of facial hair. It was the only part of his job he hated serving people with filthy facial hair.
The shop bell rang twice. It always sounded like money to Nethersole. His shop had done well since he expanded his inventory. True he was coloring outside the lines, but bankruptcy was the enemy. He grew up poor and refused to be so again.
His glee quickly turned into discomfort, for two reasons. First, an elderly wizard with a long grey beard had walked in. Second, a masked man was looking at his premium draughts. He kept these under glass and on velvet pillows. His men had mentioned a man in a mask when they returned.
Nethersole couldn't stop cringing because the beard was seriously freaking him out. He shifted his focus to the man in the mask.
"Can I help you?" he asked casually. The man in the mask looked up at Nethersole, nodded, then walked up to the counter as if he owned the place. Sure he was unnerving but not nearly as unnerving as the abomination growing out of the wizard's face.
"Yes, My name is Silverbolt, a member of the city watch. I have a couple of questions for you. Are you okay, dude?"
Nethersole could not stop staring at the beard. It was a bastardly long one, easily the most disgusting thing he had seen all day, "I am a nervous person by nature."
"Are you Mr. Nethersole?" the masked man asked.
"I am indeed, and who might you be?"
Silverbolt grabbed Nethersole by the doublet and slammed his face against the counter, "Don't cry for help, your not so merry men are already tied up in the alley. You had better stay here too, old-timer."
The elderly wizard nodded and stroked his beard, Nethersole made an odd retching noise, "Are you scared of beards Nethersole?"
Nethersole's eyes went wide, and his face was whiter than fresh linen, his hands gripped the counter, "N-no, I am not."
Silverbolt looked over at the elderly wizard, "Could you come here for a moment?"
The elderly walked towards the counter and was fiercely struggling against Silverbolt's iron grip, "I have some questions, Nethersole. Answer them, and I leave your business intact. Lie, and you will be spending some quality time with his beard."
The elderly wizard slowly stroked his beard in front of Nethersole, who made another retching noise, "Maybe it'll teach him to lower his prices."
Silverbolt slammed Nethersole's head against the counter, "Has a man named Rexword come here for potion ingredients?"
"I don't remember. Maybe some coins will jog my memory."
Silverbolt look at the bearded man, "Come closer." Silverbolts tone was neutral and almost conversational.
Nethersole was crawling out of his skin, trying to escape the beard's influence, "What kind of a monster are you?"
"A monster who wants answers about Rexword. Has he been here?" Silverbolt demanded, slamming his fist on the counter next to Nethersole's head.
The elderly wizard got right into it and started lowering his beard towards Nethersole's hand. Silverbolt was having a hard time keeping a straight face, as Nethersole screamed like a girl.
"Okay, okay, I'll talk. Just get that disgusting thing away from me."
The elderly wizard backed off. Silverbolt pressed Nethersoles face into the counter, "You had better tell the truth, or I will ask our magical friend here to give you a beard that won't stop growing."
Nethersole looked at the elderly wizard, "He has all the ingredients to make a hair growth formula. A couple of magic words could change it to facial hair growth."
Nethersole nodded, "Rexword was a regular. His mother was dying of some illness. He was better off without her if you ask me."
"Let me guess there was an incestuous relationship going on?" Silverbolt asked.
"It started shortly after his father left. He never returned. The mother thoroughly used Rexword in ways no child should be."
"What about Rexword's wife and child?"
"Rumour had it his daughter was the result of a union between him and his mother. The wife was unable to conceive and did whatever Rexword asked of her."
"How did his family die? During his attack on Lady Clara, he said something about Starvation." Silverbolt said.
"It is true, but not in the way you think," Nethersole said.
"What do you mean?"
"Rexword fell into the bottle after his mother died. He lost his job at the mine, and his wife and daughter slowly withered away in front of him." Nethersole said with pity in his voice.
"Why did he blame Lord Beaumont?" Silverbolt asked.
"Simple, Lord Beaumont was a cruel bastard. His reign was most infamous. Lady Clara is a much more competent ruler."
"It makes sense an addict lives in denial until he can admit there is a problem," Silverbolt said, pausing. "I am going to let you up, on two conditions. One, if I need information, you will provide it. Two, the Delirious Butterfly is off-limits. In exchange, you get to keep your doors open."
The elderly wizard held up a bottle, "I have the hair growth potion, a drop should get a nice mustache..."
"You have a deal, and you have my word. Rexword is in town today I sold him some the remaining ingredients he needed," Nethersole said.
Silverbolt let him up and walked out after taking the hair growth potion. He thanked the elderly wizard and bolted down an alleyway.
His eyes caught something laying among the refuse. He couldn't ignore it, deciding to investigate. Three beggars lay dead, crushed to death. A steady river of blood flowed from under the bodies.
It didn't make sense. Rexword was a murderer but didn't seem like the type to kill the homeless. Second, if it was Rexword, why weren't the bodies burned or clawed to death? He felt terrible for leaving the bodies behind, but with Rexword in the city, he had very little choice. The only thing he could do is head to the castle with all possible haste.
The audience chamber was Clara's favorite room. She lived to hear affairs of state and helping the locals solve their problems. Politics got her blood pumping. Her dedication to the city was starting to gain the support of the council.
Clara was busy reviewing the new trade proposal from Amarthaine, and scoffed, "Lord Wexler must think I am a fool. Our goods are worth twice its asking price." Clara would take it up with the lord directly,
at her earliest convenience.
She was about to call the treasurer to review the month's budget when she heard metal boots hitting the stone floor. There was screaming and shouting echoing out in the hall.
"I have to see Lady Clara, the city is in danger, and it's my fault." a rusty voice cried.
Fists hitting flesh could be heard now, "That is enough out of you, Rexword. The people are going to want a messy trial, and I am sure Lady Clara can't wait to order your execution."
Clara tried to ignore the cries of Rexword. However, Rexwords shrill screams moved her to action. She peacefully walked out into the hall. The watchmen saluted her, and Rexword fell to his knees.
"We have been looking for you," Clara said, pulling her dress out his filthy hands.
"He came to turn himself in my lady. He also wishes to speak to Silverbolt, or you. This maggot claims a monster is loose in the city," The portly guard said.
Rexword was a pathetic sight. His body was shaking from what appeared to be a withdrawal of some sort. Clara could see the torment in his eyes, realizing death was far too good for this man.
"You had better speak truth Rexword, or I will throw you in a hole, and leave you alone with your thoughts until you die."
Rexword couldn't look at Clara, his voice was shaking, "I caught a deadly fairy creature and used its blood to make my potion..."
Clara growled and kicked Rexword in the gut. An odd squeaking noise escaped Rexwords mouth as he fell prone to the cold floor, "FOOL. What kind of dark fairy?"
Rexwords nose was bleeding, and the guards forced him to his feet. Clara now inspired fear, and he knew the worst was yet to come, "A kludde, my lady..."
A pointed toe caught Rexword in the groin, causing the guards to wince in sympathy. "You knew the legends, yet you were dumb enough to bring the creature into my city," Clara said.
The guards forced Rexword to his feet. He looked sickly green in color now, "I planned on keeping it long enough to get my revenge."
Clara balled up her fist, drew it back, and swung for Rexwords nose. Blood splattered on her fist, followed by a gut-wrenching noise. Clara felt sick upon hearing it, but her stomach held.
"Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and breathe out when you strike, it adds power to the impact," Silverbolts familiar voice said from behind her.
Clara turned to him, "I will remember that. Rexword claims a deadly creature is loose in the city. Is there any truth to those words?"
"Rexwords right, I found three dead beggars. I bet your dead mother would love to hear all about it." Silverbolt said in a malicious tone. "I know everything Rexword, including how your family died. It was your fault."
Rexword started blubbering, "It's not my fault. It's not my fault."
Silverbolt grabbed Rexword by the bloodsoaked shirt and lifted him off the ground, "Shut up, Rexword. I know your mother used you as her plaything. I also know you slipped into madness when she died. Your family is dead because you were drowning in a bottle. Now, how do I stop it ?"
Rexword mumbled something unintelligible. Everyone looked at each other confusion. Silverbolt held up a fist crackling with energy, "Stop wasting my time and talk."
"A silver and Iron witch trap bottle. It has to have the correct runes on it, or it won't work. Now please no more," Rexword said. Thanks to Silverbolt, the lies he told himself began to fall away. The agony was far greater than any physical suffering.
Clara pulled on her copper locks in frustration, "Where are we going to find one of those?" Her fists shook with rage, "Answer the question," She yelled in Rexwords face.
"Constance Foxwhistle, she runs a shop at the south end of the city. Dulac Lane, I believe," Rexword said. "I have a request..."
Clara could not believe the audacity of Rexword, "Why should I listen?"
Silverbolt knew exactly why. "I don't have the power to take it on my own. I am going to need to Rexword to capture it. Isn't that right?"
Rexword nodded sheepishly. Clara rolled his eyes, "I am not letting my would-be assassin go just because..."
Silverbolt headed for the door, "We all have to do things we don't want to do. Rexword and I fought as equals, which means the creature must be more powerful than he is. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, never forget that Clara."
Clara sighed and kicked the ground, "I concede your point, Silverbolt."
"I am off to see Constance...Does she know a Madame Cuttle?"
Clara smiled, "Yes, she does."
"I was afraid you were going to say that. Well, I am off."
Clara agreed, "While you are doing that, I shall brief the guards and city watch...You do have more of that wretched potion, don't you, Rexword?"
Rexword nodded, "Yes, I only have one dose left."
"See if Constance knows anything about Kludde. Especially where it prefers to hide," Clara said.
Constance's Odd Job Office Dulac Lane
Constance entered the old house made of wood and stone. Her father had built it for her mother as a wedding present. It was the only thing she had left of a loving father. It was hers now, and she had started an odd jobs company. It didn't bring in much money, but it invited adventure and discovery into her life.
The smell of smoke was in the air, and a thick cloud was coming from the fireplace. Red coals burned low, getting the fire going would require a bit of moss and dry wood. In a few moments, a roaring blaze had replaced the hot coals, Constance smiled at the accomplishment.
Constance placed the meat package on the table. She was grateful the butcher needed a hand cleaning up the shop near closing. He offered her some beef cubes for her effort. A few moments later, the smell of stew filled the air, reminding Constance of talks with her mother, while she prepared meals.
Using a thin branch, Constance lit the candles next to the easy chair and pulled out a buckskin tube, with an iron buckle. Her mother was an artist of unparalleled skill. Inside the tube were drawings of visions her mother had on her deathbed. She undid the clasp, releasing the familiar aroma of ink and parchment mixed with charcoal made her smile.
Her mother pushed the drawings into Constance's hand just before she took her last breath, "He will come, and he will be alone. Remind him he does not have to be."
The first picture depicted the man in the mask bearing the lightning bolt in the middle, "He is everything you foresaw and much more. He is a bit of grump, but I find it endearing. Father would have loved him.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a banging on the door, "Constance Foxwhistle, I need to speak with you." A muffled male voice said.
Constance didn't trust knocks on the door in the evening. She was a woman living alone, an easy victim for anyone with misdeeds on their minds, "I am closed for the evening, please come back tomorrow when I am open."
She put the drawings back into the tube and hid it under the chair. The banging resumed startling her a little.
"I am here on an urgent matter. Lady Clara sent me," The voice pleaded.
"I am not falling for that trick. Tell Lady Clara I will help her when I am open tomorrow. Goodbye now."
"Is that your final answer?" the voice asked.
Constance was annoyed now, "Yes, it is my final answer. Now leave, or I shall call the city watch."
"The hard way it is then." the muffled voice said.
Constance watched in horror as the door flew inward off the hinges kicking up a cloud of dust, obscuring the entrance. Heavy boots hit the wood with force, and she could smell the electricity in the air. She clutched a frying pan tightly in her hands, ready to strike at a moment's notice.
The dust settled, and the mask with the lightning bolt shone in the dim light of the candles. Constance immediately felt self-conscious. Her dress was dirty, and her hair was unbrushed.
"Mr. Silverbolt, perhaps next time you could announce yourself?"
Silverbolt dusted off the long coat, "I will. Do you have a witch trap bottle?"
Constance looked at him sideways, "I have a couple why?"
"A kludde is loose in the city. We can't kill it..."
Constance sprung into action and began moving wooden crates, "Or else seven more will take its place? I am familiar with the legend. I spent six months working with a top tiered enchanter." Her hands closed around the bottle and etching tool, a sigh of relief escaped her mouth.
"Can you hurry it up? Time is of the essence here."
"Can I change into something clean? Honestly, I want to be presentable for Lady Clara. It is an opportunity to expand the business, after all."
"I will wait outside, just put some haste on it will you."
Ten minutes later, Constance was changed and ready. Her satchel filled with the items she would need, "Where's your horse?"
Silverbolt took her in his arms, "I can navigate the city faster than a horse. Hang on tight."
Constance had no objections. She felt very much at home in his strong arms. He was silent as leaped over barrels and crates."
"Are you looking for a Mrs. Silverbolt?" she asked.
"No, I thought we had this discussion?"
"Just making sure, I won't mention it again."
"What if you met the right person would you change your mind?"
Silverbolt ignored the question. "Look, we have a job to do. How about you tell me what you know about Kluddes and their habits."
Constance felt a little sheepish, Silverbolt was right. She started talking about the creature to the tiniest detail. He prayed for the situation resolved quickly. He had a feeling Constance would get more annoying as time went on. Knowing his luck, it would take them long enough for Constance to drive him insane.