The Return

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The Return

“Are you ready?” Wyanet asked Katerina.

Katerina huddled close to Kalista, her tattered gambeson wrapped around her lithe frame. Katerina looked at Wyanet with puffy red eyes. “Yes.”

Wyanet lead our party down the moonlit path from the edge of town to the Baronet’s manor. Kalista supported Katerina, I walked beside Wyanet, and Phebes lagged at the rear.

“You do all the talking,” I whispered to Wyanet. “You’re in charge.”

We approached the front gate. Two lanterns hung from poles on either side of the iron barrier. Baldrick stepped out of the shabby guard shack. He held out a fresh glowing torch. “Who goes there?”

I outpaced Wyanet and grabbed the torch in Baldrick’s hand. “Nothing personal kid.” I shoved Baldrick back into the shack. The entire structure shuddered and the sod roofing sloughed onto the ground.

“You can’t do that!” Baldrick squealed. 

I tossed the torch into the dirt. “We don’t have time for your games.”

The others marched up to the gate. Baldrick’s eyes got large as Kalista shepperded Katerina past.

“The gate is locked,” Wyanet announced.

I extended my hand. “Keys.”

Baldrick pulled an iron key ring from his belt and placed it in my palm, his eyes never leaving Katerina. I tossed the keys to Wyanet who threw open the gate.

“We need to warn the Baronet of the Goblins first.” Wyanet turned to Katerina. “He will not listen if you are with us.”

“You’re right.” Kalista grabbed Katerina’s hand. “I don’t know how he’ll react about Killian.”

Katerina buried her face in Kalista’s chest.

Kalista wrapped her arms around Katerina’s heaving body. “Go ahead. We’ll wait here.”

Wyanet and Phebes started toward the front door. I grabbed Baldrick and pulled him to his feet. 

“Stay put and behave yourself.” I tapped the angry red cut on Baldrick’s face. “And watch out for Sprites. I hear they like to attack sleeping guards, and I saw a group of them up the road.”

Baldrick’s eyes got large. “You’re kidding right?”

I walked away.

“He’s kidding… Right?”

The Kresege Manor house loomed over Wyanet, Phebes, and I. The house stood dark except for the study window. Wyanet shifted her spear to her left hand and ascended the stairs to the front door. She pounded on the heavy door three times.

Muffled shouts and shuffling feet worked their way to the door until it eked open. Jasper, the Baronet’s manservant, scowled at us. “Do you have any idea what the hour is?”

Wyanet palmed the Halfling man’s face and shoved him backwards into the anteroom. “We need to speak with the Baronet.”

Jasper tripped and fell on his ass. “This is downright rude, and most irregular.”

Phebes and I followed Wyanet into the candlelit anteroom. “This is more important than your courtly rules.”

“Where is he?” Wyanet demanded.

“Jasper?” The Baronet called from his study. “Who is at the door?”

Wyanet thundered into the study with Phebes in tow. 

I hoisted Jasper to his feet by his fluffy robe. “There are two more people waiting by the front gate. Would you be so kind as to go and fetch them for us?”

Jasper gaped at me.

“What is the meaning of this!?” The Baronet bellowed.

I slipped into the study behind the two women.

“Your village is in trouble.” Wyanet declared.

The Baronet watched me slip into the study. “I’m certain it is honey, but the men will decide.”

Fire flickered in Wyanet’s eyes. I unbuttoned my cloak, threw it on the floor and climbed into an armchair.

“Have you found my children?”

“I’m not the one you’re talking to.” I pointed at Wyanet. “She is.”

The Baronet’s eye twitched. “Please, take a seat.”

Wyanet leaned her spear against the wall and sat in the armchair to my right. Phebes pulled over the chair from the writing desk and sat on the other side of Wyanet.

“We have found your children,” Wyanet said after we had all settled in the stuffy room. “But, there are more important things we need to discuss.” 

“What could be more important than one’s own children? As a woman, you would agree with that.”

Wyanet scowled. “There are Goblin slavers gathering in the forest a short distance from here. They work with the Dark Elves of Delara, beneath your feet. All of your people are in great danger.”

The Baronet waved his hand. “Your woman’s brain must be mistaken. We drove the Goblins off this land years ago, and I’ve never seen a Dark Elf around here.”

Phebes unbuckled her breastplate and threw it at the Baronet’s feet. “We took that from a dead Dark Elf captain.” She lifted her shirt to show her spiderweb tattoo. “They gave me this after I got caught trying to help your children. Is that enough evidence for you?” 

The Baronet’s face flushed and he crossed his legs. He focused on anything that wasn’t Phebes. “That doesn’t mean anything to me. How do I know that that isn’t some fashion trend amongst Elven youth?”

“Perhaps the three-hundred freed slaves in your marketplace will convince you.” Wyanet remarked.

“Dozens of which were sold by Goblin slavers.” Phebes lowered her shirt.

The Baronet’s lips thinned. “You brought three-hundred refugees to my holding?”

Jasper rushed into the study followed by a gust of cool air. Rivulets of sweat tracked lines down his pale face. Jasper stood behind the Baronet and whispered in his ear.

Katerina barged into the stuffy room, fury on her face, hand in hand with Kalista. “Jasper, you ridiculous old man, I do not need to be announced in my own home.”

The Baronet went white as a ghost, tears welled in his eyes. “Katerina?” He pushed out of his chair, his legs shook as he walked toward his daughter. “Is that really you?”

“Yes, Father.”

The Baronet clasped Katerina’s shoulders and beamed at her, tears trickled down his face. “My children are home. Where is my son?” The Baronet moved Katerina aside and looked into the anteroom behind her. “Where is Killian?”

Katerina wrapped an arm around her father. He pushed her away. 

“Katerina, where is your brother? This isn’t amusing.” The Baronet turned to the three of us sitting. “What have you done with my son?”

None of us met the man’s gaze. Wyanet shifted in her chair.

“He’s dead Clas.” Kalista blurted out. “We tried to save him, but couldn’t get to him in time.”

The Baronet stepped back from his daughter and acknowledged Kalista for the first time. “I should have known you had something to do with this. I bet you let him die, just to get back at me.”

Katerina attempted to step between the two. “Father, Kalista had nothing to do with this.”

The Baronet rounded on his daughter. “Take that filthy coat off and go to your room.”

“Please, Father, listen to me.”

The Baronet slapped Katerina. Her head snapped to the side. “I gave you an order, now obey it. We’ll speak of this insubordination in the morning.”

Katerina shrugged Kalista’s gambeson to the floor and fled the room crying. Wyanet leaped to her feet before Phebes and I could move.

The Baronet spat in Kalista’s face. “If I ever see your whore face around my family again…” 

Wyanet boxed the Baronet’s ears before he finished his threat. The Baronet stumbled back several steps. He caught himself on his desk.

Wyanet brandished her dagger. “If you ever strike a woman again, I will lead the entire Ghost Nation back here, and burn you from history.”

Clas looked at us, dazed. Jasper watched, petrified, from the corner.

“Get out of my house. All of you. Get out. OUT! NOW!”

My left hand curled into a fist. “We completed the job you gave us. Give us what you owe us, and we’ll leave.”

The Baronet glared back at me. His eye twitched. “You half-assed the job, you get half.”

“All.” Phebes and Wyanet flanked me. “An Elf died to avenge your son, and let us bring your daughter home. All, or you’ll have a different problem.”

The Baronet continued to scowl. “Jasper, pay them what we agreed to. Then tell the guards to kill them on sight if they ever come near the manor again.” The Baronet stormed out of the study.

“Wait here. I will return shortly with your money.” Jasper ordered with the dignity of a wet cat.

Jasper returned five minutes later carrying a small satchel emblazoned with the Baronet’s seal. He extended the bag to me in a shaking hand. Wyanet grabbed the bag. Jasper flinched.

“The master of the house has asked me to escort you from the property.”

“We know the way out.” Wyanet brushed past the terrified Halfling.

“Ineni’s next?” I asked while we walked down the road toward the village.

“I agree, he might still have a room for us,” Wyanet replied. “At the least, we can pay off our debt to him.”

Phebes pointed to a roaring fire in the centre of a half circle of wagons camped beside the creek. “What’s that?”

Kalista pushed Phebes along. “I don’t know and I don’t care, but it can wait until the morning. I want to sleep in my own bed right now.”

“For once,” Wyanet said. “I agree with Kalista.”


The story will continue, September, 26th.

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Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

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Best Laid Plans

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Best Laid Plans

“This plan is insane.” I whispered to Kalista as we crept along stone beams wide enough for two people to lay side by side and not risk falling off.

“This is the only option.”  her hood and muffler quieted her voice. “A direct attack on the palace is suicide, and if we can’t win here, well…”

“It’s a total failure.”

Kalista pointed to the gathered crowd of three hundred Dark Elves below us. “I bet that’s Caeldrim and Erdan.”

Two figures wearing helmets and armour wove through the crowd where she pointed. “I think you’re right. Can you see Wyanet and Phebes anywhere?”

“Not yet.” Kalista checked the  quiver of bolts on her hip. “That’s a lot of people.”

“We just need to get the kids, and get out. We’re not here to kill everyone.”

A bell somewhere in the steeples above us began to toll. Strix swooped down and landed at our feet.

“Time to go, wait for the signal.” I focused my chi and stepped into the plane of shadows. Anger, anguish, despair, and sorrow chewed at the edges of my mind. They whispered in my ear until I returned to the material plane. 

I stood on the stone beam opposite Kalista. The bell continued to toll.

“Princess.”

She jumped off my back and floated in front of me.

Two guards pulled open the arched wooden doors to the cathedral. The moaning hinges echoed off the high ceiling. 

“I need your help to get down from here.”

“Make way! For the Matron Mother, make way!” A powerful female voice bellowed, filling the whole sanctuary.

“I’ll need your help to get down from here.”

The crowd forty feet below my feet parted down the middle, creating a clear pathway to the altar. Thirteen Dark Elf women, adorned in full glistening black armour, carrying spears and shields marched into the cathedral

Silver nodded her head and returned to her hiding spot.

The thirteen soldiers shifted and formed half an arc in front of the altar.

“Long live the Matron Mother!” The powerful woman bellowed again.

Cheers erupted from the crowd. Four Dark Elf men, clad in loincloths, carried a throne on their shoulders. An aging Dark Elf woman sat upon the throne, a scepter topped by a silver spider in her hand. Behind the throne, three more Dark Elf women, all wearing resplendent armour with a floor length cape, marched side by side. 

A human girl in her late teens, escorted by two priestess, followed the Matron Mother and her court. The girl wore a gown of sheer silk. Her honey blonde hair hung loose behind her back. The priestesses half dragged, half pushed the girl behind the procession.

Thirteen additional soldiers brought up the rear of the procession. The last soldier guided a human boy with the same honey blond hair as the girl. The soldiers finished the arc in front of the altar, with the boy held at its crown. The doors thudded shut, and the pathway filled with spectators again. The slave men set the Matron Mother’s throne down to the right of the altar and stood behind her at attention. The three women stood in front of the soldiers, opposite the Matron Mother. The Matron Mother rose from her throne and signaled to the priestesses. 

I scanned the crowd. Caeldrim and Erdan stood a few rows back from the soldiers. I still couldn’t see Wyanet, Phebes, or Rolen. I looked across to Kalista. She kept fidgeting with her crossbow, her eyes locked on the human girl down below. 

The Matron Mother ascended the stairs to the altar. The priestesses flanked behind her, the girl between them.

The priestesses marched the girl to the back of the altar. A twenty-foot tall humanoid representation of the Demon Queen of Spiders loomed above them. They latched silver manacles to her wrists,  hooked slender silver chains to the manacles and forced the girl back. Gears clicked together, hoisting the girl into the air by her arms. She dangled six feet in the air, between the outstretched hands of the statue. Tears poured down her face.

The Matron Mother turned to face the gathered crowd. The priestesses placed a box of onyx containing eight daggers on the altar. The Matron Mother raised her hands high, and chanted in Undercommon.

Movement behind the three court women caught my eye.

The Matron Mother moved behind the altar and grasped the first dagger.

Bells started to sing a frantic song somewhere out in the city. 

The Matron Mother turned to the girl. Whispers swept through the crowd. The girl continued to struggle. The Matron Mother brought the dagger level with the girl’s navel. 

Startled shrieks and gasps overtook the crowd as Rolen forced his way to the line of soldiers. He shoved past the soldiers and grabbed a noble woman wearing a green cape by the neck. Rolen pulled a sickle knife from his belt and plunged it into the noble woman’s chest and abdomen.

A woman in the crowd screamed. Rolen’s victim fell to the ground, clutching her many stab wounds and gasping for air. Rolen raised his knife above his head and turned to face the crowd, “Uhuru!” 

The soldiers jumped into action. Two rushed forward and stabbed Rolen. The others pivoted in a single action and formed a shield wall. The remaining noble women pulled their rapiers from their scabbards and faced the panicked crowd.

Rolen crumpled onto his victim, dead. Caeldrim, with the help of Erdan pushed through the fleeing people toward the wall of spears and flesh.

The Matron Mother turned back to the girl, raised the dagger, and began chanting again.

Kalista screamed and loosed a bolt toward the altar. A priestess jumped behind the Matron Mother, catching the bolt in her heart.

The crowd continued to scramble for the door and safety. The Matron Mother spun away from the girl. She shouted above the clangor, “Kumwua mvulana, kuwazuia!”

The soldier captain let go of the boy, and readied to strike him down with her scimitar.

Caeldrim roared as loud as thunder and leapt over the soldier’s shields. Erdan charged into the shield wall behind his captain with all the strength he could muster. Kalista loosed bolt after bolt into the backs of the soldiers.

I sprinted down the length of the beam toward the altar. At the last second,before I collided with a support pillar, I jumped. I crossed my ankles and spread my arms like wings. A sensation, like getting tickled with a feather, swept over my skin. I followed an unnatural arc toward the girl.

The Matron Mother ambled through a concealed door behind the altar, her slaves in a tight group around her.

I stretched out my hand to grab the girl. The magic coursing over my body, stopped. I scrambled for purchase on anything. My hand brushed the girl’s stomach, both arms shot out, and wrapped around her thighs. The girl screamed in pain. 

“I’ll get you down. Give me a second.”

“Please hurry.” She pleaded through gritted teeth.

I extended my left arm and grabbed hold of her shoulder, and pulled myself up. The girl whimpered and cried. I wrapped my legs around her waist.

“Are you Katerina?” I pulled my sword loose.

Katerina nodded.

“This is going to hurt.”

“Get… me… free.”

I raised my sword as high as I could, and swiped at the thin chain holding us up. My sword bounced off the metal. Katerina screamed. I felt the shock wave pass through her. I struck the chain again, bending one of the links.

“It hurts so much.” Katerina cried into my chest.

“Almost…” I readied for a third strike. “There!” My sword sheared through the silver chain. I wrapped my arms around Katerina as we fell. I landed on my back, Katerina on top of me, gasping for breath.

The second priestess loomed over us, a dagger in her hand. I attempted to roll over. The Priestess hefted the dagger, ready to drive it downward. A blood soaked spear tip erupted from the priestess’s chest. Blood sprayed over Katerina and I. The dagger clattered to the ground.

Wyanet undid Katerina’s second binding. “We need to go.” She hoisted Katerina to her feet and grabbed my hand. “Are you injured?”

I took a deep breath. “I’ll be fine.” I pointed to Katerina. “She’s got at least one dislocated arm.”

“We can tend to that later. We need to get back to the others and escape before more soldiers get here.”

“Where’s Phebes?”

Wyanet pointed to a handful of soldiers swinging at an overwhelmed Phebes.

“Stay behind her.” I pointed at Wyanet. “She’ll keep you safe.”

Katerina held onto her arm. “What about my brother?”

“We will save him as well.” Wyanet strapped her shield to Katerina’s back.

I started jogging towards Phebes. “Kalista! Time to go!”

I charged the soldiers engaged with Phebes. I jumped into the middle of the fray, slicing the hamstrings of one as I went. I shoved Phebes after Wyanet and Katerina. A soldier thrust her spear at me. I blocked her attack and countered with a kick to her solar plexus. Kalista swung down from the rafters and finished the woman off with her saber. I blocked another round of attacks. Kalista ran after Phebes. I disengaged and ran towards Caeldrim.

Caeldrim held the boy in one arm as he defended against the Dark Elf captain, and the two surviving noble women. Erdan dueled with the rest of the soldiers. Strix swooped past me and spit a gout of fire at the captain. I couldn’t get past the Dark Elf’s defense.

“Take the kid!” A rapier thrust bounced off of Caldrim’s pauldron. “Get them out of here!” He blocked a swipe at his head and rolled, using the attack to block another rapier thrust.

I pressed as close to the Dark Elf women as I could. Caeldrim held still. I shoulder rolled between his attackers. My arm wrapped around the boy. I took one step. A rapier passed by my head. 

The boy gasped. 

Caeldrim grunted.

The boy went limp in my arms.

I tripped, the boy tumbled from my arms.

Katerina screamed “Kilian!”

Caeldrim looked at the limp, lifeless body of Kilian. Anger flashed in his eyes. Strix circled over our heads. “Damian, go. Take Erdan with you. I’ll hold them off.” Strix swooped past me and spit another firebolt.

“You’re coming with us!” I scrambled to my feet.

A rapier pierced Caeldrim’s chest. He grabbed the blade and broke it with his scimitar. “GO!”

I hesitated, then sprinted after the others.

Kalista supported Katerina. Wyanet tugged Erdan by his armour. Phebes lead the group out of the cathedral. I paused at the threshold and looked back. Blood flowed from several fresh wounds on Caeldrim. The Dark Elf captain soaked in a pool of her own blood. Strix circled the remaining three, spitting magic spells from his beak. Caeldrim kept fighting, and the area disappeared into a magical darkness.

Wyanet charged back up the stairs. I grabbed her and held on tight.

“What are you doing?” She demanded.

“We don’t have time.” I pushed Wyanet back down the steps. “He sacrificed himself to give us some more.

Our party huddled at the bottom of the cathedral stairs. Up the street, a full company of soldiers jogged toward us. Several of them rode atop giant spiders. 

“This isn’t over yet.” Erdan readied his sword.

“What happened?” Naal rode out of the alley behind us on a strider, leading several more of the bird monsters.

I climbed onto the closest one. Phebes hoisted herself into the saddle behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist. “Rolen broke the plan.”

“Bastard got himself killed.” Erdan jumped onto another strider.

Wyanet mounted her own creature. “We do not have time to argue.”

Kalista and Katerina climbed onto the last strider together.

“Naal, do you know how to get us back to the farms, without taking us through that?” I pointed at the approaching wall of armour.

“This way.” Naal turned his strider back the direction he came from and spurred the beast to a gallop.

The story will continue, September 19th.

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Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

Show us your fan art at us with the hashtag #CobaltLegends on instagram and twitter for the chance to be featured one one of our posts.

Brace

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Brace


“What happened to her?” I asked Wyanet as Phebes walked by with a bandage pasted to her forehead. 

Wyanet rolled her eyes, “She tripped and hit her head on a rock.”

Caeldrim, spattered with blood and grinning, came up to us. “Looks like everyone survived.” He clapped me on the back. “What a glorious day.”

“I did not know slaughtering people in their sleep was dangerous work.” Wyanet quipped.

“The work of the butcher is brutal, but someone must do it.”

“Captain!” shouted Erdan. “We found the Warden’s stash!” He hefted a quarter cask onto his shoulder, “Come celebrate with us!”

Caeldrim’s grin widened. “My men need me.” He jogged back over to Erdan.

Wyanet and I walked toward the slave house. “Is Kalista still here?” Wyanet asked.

“Surprisingly. I think she’s serious about staying.”

“Damian, Ms. Wyanet!” Rolen called from behind us. 

Wyanet and I waited for him to catch up. 

“My friends, come join in the celebration. This is a most joyous cycle.”

I shook my head, “Sorry Rolen, it’s been a long day. I could use some rest.”

“I do not drink after battle anymore.” Wyanet added.

Rolen smiled and nodded. “I understand my friends. The road ahead of us is long, and we have little time to travel it in. Rest, my friends, we will make our plans in the morning.”

“Go enjoy yourself, Rolen. You deserve it.” Wyanet replied.

Wyanet and I ascended the stairs of the residence in silence. As we entered the common room, Phebes exited the kitchen.

“Oh!” Phebes jumped in surprise, sloshing some of the liquid from the cup she held.  “Aren’t you guys going to the party?” 

“We wish to sleep.” Wyanet replied, “It has been a long day.”

Phebes took a sip from her cup. “Yeah, I’m pretty tired too. Where are you guys going to sleep?”

“We haven’t gotten that far yet.” I interjected.

Phebes eyes lit up. “You can stay in my room! It’s not very big, because it’s just me and I don’t have a husband, or even a boyfriend for what it matters. Oh, but  I only have one blanket. It’s pretty warm down here most of the time anyway, but I don’t mind sharing.”

Wyanet frowned. “We do not want to be a burden.”

“It’s no problem! We can all cuddle up together. It’ll be like a sleepover! At least that’s what I think sleepovers are like, my teacher never let me have any.”  

Wyanet waved Phebes past her. “If it is not an issue, then please lead the way.”

Phebes skipped past us and lead us up several flights of dark stairs to the top floor. We walked down a long hallway. Floor to ceiling curtains lined the walls at regular intervals. Candles, mounted in reflective sconces, filled the gaps between the curtains.

“This one’s mine!” Phebes exclaimed, as she pulled back one of the curtains on the outside wall.

A candle in a sconce, similar to the ones in the hall, illuminated the tiny room. Hooks on the back wall held a simple tunic, and a second set of slave’s clothes. On the floor beneath the clothes, a small wooden box rested with a closed lid. The corner beside the box hosted a heaped up blanket and a worn out pillow. 

I stepped into the claustrophobic space and unclasped my cloak. Wyanet set her spear on the ground against the wall, and untied the cynches that held her armour closed. I folded my cloak and place it on top of my rucksack. “Is there a place we can wash up?” I pulled off my shirt and added it to my pile.

“Uh,” Phebes tried to not make eye contact.  “Yeah, it’s over there.” She pointed back down the direction we had come. “It is actually my turn to bathe tonight, but I’ve only got two towels, but I might be able to get another from someone else.”

Wyanet pulled her shirt off and undid her chest binding. “It is fine, Damian and I have made do with much less in the past.”

We bathed and went to sleep.

 I dreamt of an idyllic beach with silver-white sand and a magnificent azure sky. A tiger, with fur the colour of snow and stripes of blood red crimson, roared waking me from my slumber. I rolled over to face where Wyanet had slept the night before. Wyanet had vanished. Phebes continued to sleep against the wall opposite me. A puddle of drool collected on her pillow.

I got dressed and braided my hair. Silver inspected Phebes’ limited belongings, and Gazer stood sentry at the door. 

“Phebes.” I said in a low tone.

Phebes snorted and rolled away from me.

“Phebes!” I shouted.

Phebes eased her way into a sitting position. She yawned and wiped the spittle from her face. The tunic Phebes slept in hung off of one shoulder.

“Where’s Wyanet?”

Phebes yawned again and looked around her tiny room. “Where’s the other woman?”

I rolled my eyes. “I just asked… never mind.” I snatched up my remaining belongings and stalked out of the room.

Silver flew across the chamber. She landed on my back and turned invisible. Gazer grabbed onto my leg as I walked past him.

“Was that a Pixie?” Phebes asked after me.

I strolled through the empty halls. I found my way down to the gathering room. A mix of people sprawled out across the floor. The whole room reeked of stale alcohol. Rolen stood over a table, analyzing a makeshift map.

“Good beginning, Damian.” Rolen beamed.  

“Where is Wyanet?”

“She is guiding the free people who don’t wish to fight down the tunnel. She should return soon.”

“What about Caeldrim and Kalista?”

“Caeldrim is with Erdan, teaching others how to fight. Kalista is instructing the ones who can’t carry a spear to use a crossbow.”

“When are we planning the assault?

Rolen placed a hand on my shoulder. “Heros, Caeldrim, myself, and the other leaders stayed awake into the early morning. We have decided on everything.”

“What is the plan?

Rolen chuckled and guided me back towards the kitchen. “Relax, my friend, get some food. Help your companions if you wish. Tomorrow will be bloody, and we should value this period of quiet while we can.”

Rolen helped me scrounge up some day old bread and off coloured fruit. I bit into a peach, juice dripped down my chin. “Why are you doing this?”

“I don’t understand your question.”

“This whole rebellion. You’re a Dark Elf, leading a slave rebellion. Don’t you feel like you’re betraying your people?”

Rolen scratched his beard and scowled. “These are not my people.” He ruffled his beard again. “I am only half Elven. My father was a slave. He impregnated the youngest daughter of a minor house. I was a slave before I even drew my first breath. My grandmother executed my mother because of me. These aren’t my people, and this rebellion gives me the chance to strike back at my bitch of a grandmother.”

I finished my peach and chucked the pit into a bin. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to open an old wound.”

“Not every person in this world, above or below, are as kind as you. Many get crushed under someone else’s boot, and want nothing more than revenge.”

I left Rolen and wandered out to the yard. The artificial sun shone down on a ragtag group of twenty-five people with sticks . Caeldrim patrolled their loose ranks, issuing orders and adjusting grips. A second group of equal size trained with Erdan a short distance away. I knelt on the ground near the training area. I put my sword on the ground and started meditating.

Five minutes passed. Someone loomed over me, staring. I opened my eyes and fell backward. Naal hovered inches from my face.

“Have you met her? How often do you go back? How many others did she send?” Naal asked in rapid succession.

“I… don’t…”

Caeldrim appeared behind Naal. He grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. “Damian, I could use your help.”

Naal gave each of us a final glance and walked away.

“Darklings are a strange race.”

I brushed myself off and retrieved my sword. “What do you need my help with?”

“Nothing, you looked like you needed saving.” Caeldrim grinned. “I did want to talk to you though.”

“About what?”

“It took me awhile to figure out, but I know where you trained. I saw the destruction at the Lost Temple. No one in my company thought anyone survived.”

I tensed up.

“Your master was a brilliant and skilled fighter, but he was a fool for hoarding the artifacts he did.”

“What does it matter? He’s dead now.”

“There are still people in the planes who will want you dead, because you knew him. You should be careful. Make an effort to hide who you are and where you came from.” Caeldrim clapped me on the back. “There are more forces at work in the world than any of us even realise.” 


The story will continue, August 15th.

Only one more chapter left before a break!

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

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Sanguine Liberation

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Sanguine Liberation

Chaos bustled around us in eerie silence. Freed slaves looted their house and its storerooms for anything weapon like. I dropped the flap to the rear entrance.

“Watch his back. Do not dare abandon us again.” Wyanet ordered. 

“I’ll manage if she does.” I added.

Rolen approached Wyanet, Kalista, and I. He handed Kalista and I both an unlit torch. “Do not forget to signal us when you finish.”

I stuffed the torch into my belt. “We’ll be as quick as we can.”

“Everything rides on you three. If even one of the Watchers survives, our plan will fail.”

“Us three? Wyanet isn’t going with us.” Kalista said.

The man in the turban with the glowing tattoos stepped up behind Rolen. “I will be assisting you.”

Kalista and I glanced at each other.

“Three will make the work go faster.” Rolen interceded. “And make me less nervous about failure.”

“It also makes it easier for us to be discovered.” I countered.

The man stepped past Rolen and addressed me directly. “I was born in a world of shadows and darkness. I no more increase the risk than the chance of success.”

“What is your name, friend?” Wyanet asked.

“I am Naal.”

“You need to go. If we debate this any longer we’ll be out of time.” Rolen declared.

“Let’s go.” I conceded. 

“Be careful.” Wyanet said.

“You too.” I replied.

Kalista, Naal, and I slipped out the rear entrance into the artificial night.

“I’ll take the first one. Spread out and get the others. Meet back at the gate when you’re done.” I ordered.

The three of us jogged into the grain fields. I stopped after a short distance, the other two continued to tear deeper. Two minutes passed in silence crouched amongst the barley. My sword slept in my lap. A Dark Elf carrying a lance atop a strider ambled past. I crept from my hiding place and out of the field. I tiptoed, as quiet as a cat on a rug, behind the creature. The strider stopped and cocked its head to the side. It let out a small chirp. The guard whispered something in his native tongue and patted the beast’s neck.

I leapt onto the strider’s back behind the guard. My hand clapped over his mouth before he could shout. My sword sliced through his throat with ease. The guard gurgled twice and slumped from the saddle. The strider thrashed and cawed. I climbed into the saddle, gathered up the reins. I stroked the scaly neck of the frightened beast with my free hand, calming it down.    

I urged the strider forward, digging my heels into its sides. I found the main path, and followed it. I passed over a dead strider, a bolt protruding from its head. A dead Dark Elf bathed in a pool of her own blood nearby. I guided the strider down a diverging path. Four hundred yards later, my mount stumbled over two more dead guards and a shattered lantern. Further down the path in front of me, a guard charged toward me on a strider.

“Ongeya Kengele!” The guard shouted. “Kumekuwa na mauaji!”

I kicked my strider into a run. I raised my sword. 

The guard figured out my intent, and leveled her spear.

A single heartbeat. 

I knocked the spear away, opening the guard’s defense.

Another heartbeat.

I twisted my wrist into an uppercut strike. My blade kissed the hollow of the woman’s exposed throat.

The guard jerked the reigns of her strider into mine. The beasts collided, mine yelped and tripped. I jumped from the saddle and tumbled into the flanking cornfield, like a squirrel that missed a branch. I scrambled to my feet and retreated deeper into the ordered rows of corn. 

“I do not know who you are,” The guard said in common with a thick accent. “Surrender yourself now, and I may let you live.”

I made myself as small as I could and wove my way through the stalks, parting them with excessive care. A single rank of eight foot tall leafy stalks separated me from my opponent. Her gaze settled on me and she smiled.

I sprung from my hiding spot. My sword plunged through the strider’s body until half the blade had vanished inside it. The creature squawked and cawed in pain. It thrashed back and forth, jerking my sword from my hands.

The guard struggled to control her dying pet. It stumbled about and crumpled to the ground beneath her. The guard got back to her feet and locked eyes with me. She gave a mighty battle cry and rushed me, on foot, with her lance.

I shifted my footing into a horse-back stance. The guard thrust her lance at me. I blocked it with my arm and grabbed onto the shaft before she pulled it back. I stepped forward and broke the lance on my left forearm. I stepped again, and rammed the lance head into the guards thigh. 

She grunted and swung what remained of her lance like a club.

I grabbed her wrist in my left hand and twisted under her arm, pulling the lancehead with me as I went. I summoned all my strength, and plunged the broken weapon into the woman’s back. The lancehead punched through her armour. She coughed once, spit a glob of blood onto my shoes, and slumped to the ground.

I took a few deep breaths and retrieved my sword. I looked around for the strider I had been riding, but couldn’t see it anywhere. Corn lined both sides of the path, blocking my view in almost every direction.

“Gazer, can you help me out a bit?” I said aloud in Sylvan.

Stargazer, the warrior Sprite, jumped from my back and became visible. He floated two feet in front of my face. “What do you need, Ceannaire?” He replied, also in Sylvan.

“Fly up above the corn and tell me if you can see anymore guards.”

“On it.” Gazer zipped into the air, vanishing from sight as he went.

A second, lighter, weight lifted off my other shoulder. I held out my hand. A Pixie wearing a green silk corset dress with silver brocade landed on my palm. A  silver circlet, matching the pattern of her butterfly wings, held her well cared for hair in place. She wore no shoes, but carried herself with dignity and pride.

A broad smile crossed my face. “What can I do for you Silver?” I asked in Sylvan.

Silver puffed out her chest, clasped her hands behind her back, and tilted her chin up. “I wish to help you, mo chorí.”

“Of course, I could really use it. I’ve lost my way in this field, and need to find the gate.”

Silver gave a little nod and fluttered out of my hand. “I would be happy to find it for you, mo chorí” Silver fluttered away, a trail of shimmering dust following her.

Gazer floated back down. He watched Silver as she flew away, his eyes wide and his jaw a little slack.

“Gazer?” I sung. 

Gazer spun around, his cheeks flush.

“What did you see?”

“Uh.” Gazer glanced back towards Silver. He shook his head to clear it. “I didn’t see any other guards, and the rude one with horns is waiting by the gate.”

Silver fluttered back towards us. Gazer winked out of sight and hid behind my neck. Landing in my outstretched palm again, Silver pointed towards the back wall of the cavern. “The gate is that way. The devil girl is there already.”

I moved my hand to my shoulder. Silver stepped off and grabbed onto my shirt before she turned invisible too. I jogged down the paths in the direction Silver had pointed. I emerged from the last of the crops into the freshly tilled and planted fields. Kalista waved me over when she saw me.

“You’re still here?” I teased.

Kalista shrugged. “My date got kidnapped, and I didn’t have anything better to do. How many guards did you get?”

“Two.” I replied. “Both of them were riding striders.”

“I got ten.” Naal declared. He walked past us carrying a severed head in one hand and a heavy curved sword in the other. He planted the sword tip into the ground. “This one had the guts to beat me last night.” He held up the severed head by a long white braid before chucking it against the wall. “He couldn’t even scratch me in a fair fight.” Naal walked towards the head, fighting with his belt. 

“Does anyone have a flint and steel, or a match?” I asked, staring at Kalista.

Liquid streamed onto flesh. Kalista’s mouth clenched into a thin line. 

“I thought you did?” Kalista said, turning away from where Naal stood.

“We were barely allowed tools.” Naal said as he shook off the last few drops. “The Watchers lit our fires for us when they went out.”

“Guess we’re doing it this way.” I mumbled and grabbed the head of the torch in my belt. I muttered some arcane words and magical light flared between my fingers. I let go of the torch head and waved it in the air above me. I buried the torch in the soil, and sat down away from the urine soaked head. 

“What now?” Kalista asked as she sat down beside me.

“Now we wait.”

The story will continue, August 8th.

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

Show us your fan art at us with the hashtag #CobaltLegends on Instagram and twitter for the chance to be featured one one of our posts.

Freedom Call

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Freedom Call

Wyanet and I stepped forward as Caeldrim, Kalista, and the half-orc piled into the breezeway behind us.

“The door there to the left.” our half-orc guide pointed with a meaty hand the size of my face.

We went through the door, pushing back another heavy black curtain. We stepped into a large room, illuminated by candles and a large blackened iron cauldron. Several dozen people of various races waited for us. Brass collars adorned their necks. Every man displayed a spider web tattoo on his chest. The women all bore similar tattoos on their abdomens. They all watched us in silence, moving out of our way as we walked past.

“Come and eat with us.” an ancient gnome woman sat in the centre of the room beckoned us. She wore a single piece of silk wrapped around her body. Rolen sat close by her, most of his armour removed. “Rolen has told us much about you.” the words stumbled out of her mouth with a heavy accent.

The slaves continued to move aside, shepherding us towards the woman. An Elf girl with silvery-blonde hair, covered in lean muscle, with a fresh angry-red spider web tattoo beneath her breast, sneered at us. 

The gnome woman gave us a warm, grandmotherly smile, as we sat down on the floor opposite her. “Welcome,” she beamed. “Heros, be kind and fetch some food and drinks for our guests.” A minotaur, who’s horns scraped the roof, nodded and turned away from the gathering.

“Let us help you.” I jumped to my feet, and Wyanet followed suit. 

“Sit, children.” The woman ordered. “We may be slaves, but this is our home, and you are our guests.” Wyanet and I sat back down. “I am sure you have figured out, I am Bibi.” She gestured around to the other slaves gathered. “And these are some of the strongest workers of the grainery.”

Heros returned with a luke-warm loaf of bread the size of a mango for each of us. He set small tin cups in front of each of us and filled them with water from a pitcher. He set a second, smaller pitcher down in front of us and rumbled, “Honey.” before he returned to the edge of the circle.

“Rolen tells us,” Bibi continued after Heros finished. “That you are searching for two children, taken from their home in the overworld. You need help finding them.”

Kalista crawled forward, took the pitcher of honey, and drizzled it over her bread.

“Every person in this room, wishes to be free.” Bibi said. “But every person here, also desires to continue to live. Life in chains, is not so bad, when the alternative is death.”

I looked around the gathered slaves. Many of them nodded in agreement with their leader. The Elf girl who had sneered at us, and a man with his whole head wrapped in a turban, I noticed, shook their heads.

“Why should we put our lives at risk, for a fanciful dream of freedom? We are safe here, and everyone knows it.”

“This is the life you choose?” Wyanet jumped to her feet. “You all choose a life of servitude to masters who care little about you? You choose to plant seeds that you will never harvest for yourselves? This does not look like a life worth living.”

“You preach to a group that has no interest in your scripture.” Bibi scolded.

Wyanet glared a withering stare at the old gnome. I got to my feet beside Wyanet. “We aren’t offering you some dream of freedom. We opened the gates ourselves. The guards are gone. You could walk out of here tonight if you wanted to.”

Murmurs rippled through the crowd.

Caeldrim clambered to his feet, his hand on the scimitar he had taken. “Why even let us up here if you weren’t interested in what we had to say?”

“You are here, because I wanted to talk you out of your foolish ideas, as I have done for many others before you. Forget these Ideas of rebellion. Forget those you have lost. Your lives, and the lives of many others are not worth the price you ask.”

“You’re wrong.” The Elf girl interjected. She pulled her collar off her neck and threw it at Bibi’s feet. “I came down here to find those kids too.”

Kalista dropped her bread and tried to melt into the crowd.

“I lost a friend in the process. I came here to help people, not to be a slave for the rest of my life.” The Elf continued.

The half-orc removed his collar and added it to the Elf’s. “I want to see the sun rise again before I die.”

Heros ripped his collar off and roared. “To smell the sea salt air again!”

“To feel the heat of my forge again.” A Dwarf bellowed.

Rolen leaned towards Bibi and whispered in her ear as more collars got thrown onto the growing pile.

Bibi shouted over the cries for freedom. “You are all fools, who will get us all killed.

“Then we’ll die for something!” Rolen shouted.

All the slaves cheered. 

“Listen up!” Rolen yelled. “We have plenty of work to get to. Our enemy sleeps nearby. Every passing second is another where we could get discovered. Gather the others, this cycle is for our liberation!”

Everyone in the room jumped to action. Some sprinted up the stairs, others raided the kitchen and the store room below.

“Captain?” A male voice with an accent like Caeldrim’s asked.

Wyanet and Caeldrim turned towards a broad shouldered Elf. The Elf bowed to Caeldrim. “That is you captain.”

Caeldrim’s face lit up. “Erdan? I thought you died years ago.” Caeldrim smacked Erdan’s exposed stomach with the back of his hand. “You’ve lost weight boy.” Caeldrim embraced Erdan. “It’s good to see you, Erdan.” The two walked away together.

“What is she doing here?” The Elf girl demanded and pointed at Kalista.

“Uh… Hey, Phebes, how’s it going?” Kalista slid behind me. 

“What did she do to you?” Wyanet asked.

“She abandoned me and my partner in the middle of the woods.” Phebes replied.

“You and I should have a talk.” Wyanet lead Phebes away .

“I wonder if there is any alcohol around here.” Kalista mumbled and disappeared into the crowd.

I grabbed the loaf of bread I had left on the floor and took a bite. I choked and coughed mid-chew. The man wearing the turban stood inches from me, studying me. Thick goggles covered his eyes. Tattoos of various looping patterns glowed a soft blue on the backs of his hands, the only exposed flesh on him. He grabbed my wrist. Ice cold pin pricks, similar to the ones I felt when I stepped through the plane of shadows, shot up and down my arm. I tried to break the strange man’s grip, but couldn’t.

“You have been to the plane where she lives.” He whispered. “Did she send you to find me?”

“Did who send me?” I tried to break his grip again. 

He held on tighter, his goggled eyes bored into my soul. He held on for a second longer, then let go. He brushed past me without another word.

Kalista returned sucking on an opaque clay jug. “Who was that?”

“I don’t know.” I took the jug from Kalista, and drank a long pull of a disgusting, yeasty beer. “But I don’t trust him.”

The story will continue, August 1st.

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

Show us your fan art at us with the hashtag #CobaltLegends on instagram and twitter for the chance to be featured one one of our posts.