Legends of Cobalt

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From Shadow

Wyanet slid her dagger across the battered goblin’s throat. Brackish blood spurted from the gash at an alarming rate. The goblin grabbed at its throat and crumpled to the ground. The gang of boys tripped over each other to flee in horror. Bucephalus grabbed Wyanet’s wrists and pinned her to a wall. The building shook with the impact.

“Why did you do that? We’re here to help these people, not slaughter them for sport.”

Wyanet fought against Bucephalus’s hold. “It was a goblin. They are not people. They are monsters who will destroy everything we love. I did these people a favour by killing it.”

“Not all goblins are evil,” Bucephalus put more pressure on Wyanet. “If the people here thought they were dangerous do you think they would have let them in?”

“It could have been a scout,” Wyanet spit back. “Gathering information for the rest of its clan to come back and slaughter everyone.”

“We should do this somewhere else,” Phebes pleaded. “A guard might find us if we stay here.”

I put my hand against Bucephalus’s chest.  “Phebes is right. We need to get out of the open.” 

“You’ve seen what hides in these forests. The goblins are refu…”

Three darts with vibrant fletching sprouted from Bucephalus’s neck. He dropped Wyanet and staggered back a step. Bucephalus fell against the opposite wall and slid to the ground.

“Move! Now!” I grabbed Wyanet and shoved her towards the mouth of the alleyway.

A cloaked figure dropped into the alley from above. It knocked Phebes to the ground and pulled a black bag over her head. Wyanet ran to help. The cloaked figure pulled out a small tube then spit a dart at Wyanet. The dart sank into Wyanet’s left breast. Wyanet’s dagger clattered to the ground and she followed it.

I took one step to help. A second cloaked figure jumped at me from the roof. I caught the cloaked figure by the throat and wrist. Using their momentum, I hurled the second attacker to the ground. Shifting my weight onto the balls of my feet, I settled into a defensive stance.

The first attacker shot a dart at me. I caught the dart inches from my throat and tossed it away. A second dart pierced my thigh. A jolt of neurotoxin rushed into my veins. A third dart caught in my arm and a fourth in my chest. More neurotoxin flowed in. 

I took two steps toward our attackers. My limbs and mind felt heavy. Another step. A fifth dart pierced my neck. The toxin felt like part of me. The second attacker whipped out a damp rag and advanced toward me. I lashed out with a wild punch. The attacker ducked the assault then juked around behind me. A damp rag locked over my mouth and nose while an arm restrained me. 

I fought to pull the rag away. A sickening sweet smell overpowered my senses. My attack held fast. The edges of my vision became fuzzy. The strength of my muscles didn’t exist anymore. My legs refused to support me. The world faded to black.

***

   “Good work Acolytes. We’ll interrogate them when they wake up.”

My eyes opened to more darkness. I still couldn’t feel my arms or legs and my head pounded like Sumi war drums. My world spun. I closed my eyes to quell the nauseousness and make it stop.

***

My body bathed in the surf. Cool sea water soothed my heavy limbs and warm sand heated my skin. The resplendent visage of the Everlight blocked the sun from my eyes. My head rested in her lap. She stroked my hair and kissed my forehead.

“Trust these people. They will help you on your quest.”

The cool sting of peppermint overpowered the calm smell of the sea.

***

I opened my eyes again. Dim lights floated around the room. Sharp bindings bit into my wrists and ankles, holding me to an uncomfortable chair.  The world spun and my head throbbed. I closed my eyes to hold the world still, but it spun faster. The urge to vomit overwhelmed me. My breakfast splattered the floor beside me.

“Percy?” Bucephalus moaned, “Do you know where we are or what happened?”

“Ask me again when the world stops moving.” I fought back the urge to vomit again. “Where are the girls?”

“I think they’re behind us. I haven’t been able to look.”

“We are here Percival,” Wyanet replied. “Some of us are in better shape than others.”

Liquid splashed the floor behind me. Phebes coughed and spit. “I’m alright.”

Wyanet asked, “Did you get a good look at who attacked us?”

 “No,” Bucephalus jerked against his restraints. “They drugged me before I had the chance. Fucking cowards.”

The cold stone walls shifted into finer focus. “There were two of them. Both were well trained. Ceph, you’ve been here before, are you sure you don’t know who attacked us?”

“Bucephalus flexed against his bindings again. “The knowledge of the gods is infinite, mine is not.”

A door opened and two hooded figures stepped into my line of sight. One pulled my head back and poured a hot bitter liquid down my throat.

“Drink this. It will help the nausea.”

Bucephalus thrashed his head from side to side and knocked his cup away.

“Stay sick, see what I care.” The second person sneered.

Two more hooded people joined the first.

“Someone wants to speak with you four.” The person who forced the tea down my throat undid my bindings. “Don’t make any trouble and we won’t have to knock you out again.”

Our assailants forced us to kneel. The four hooded figures flanked the door. Blowpipes sat ready in their hands. A Halfling woman wearing similar armour to the hooded figures stepped through the door. A short sword dangled from her belt and a series of tawny braids wrapped around her head.

“Who are you and why have you come to Spinel?”

“We’re refugees from a farming village near Vercingetorix.” Bucephalus didn’t raise his head. “We’re passing through looking for food and work.” 

“Do you know where we can find some?” A line of bile-tinged saliva dripped from Phebes’s mouth. “I’m starving so much I could eat a goat.” Her cheeks puffed out and Phebes swallowed hard. “Maybe I’ll start with some bread.”

One of the hooded people stepped forward and smacked Bucephalus across the face. “Stop lying.” He stepped back into line massaging his hand.

“Of all the refugees I have seen, never once have I seen them murder their fellows.” The Halfling woman scowled at Bucephalus’s assailant. “If you are refugees, why did you kill that goblin?” Her penetrating gaze fell upon Wyanet.

“I am sworn to eliminate any evil that threatens the lives of others.” Wyanet met the Halfling’s eyes. “All goblins are evil. They threaten the lives of those I love. I will destroy them and their kin where I find them.”

“What is good and what is evil is based on perspective, warrior of the River Runner tribe. If you ask him, the bull-headed priest you travel with would condemn the entire faith of the First People as evil.”

“I am not a River Runner.”

“We came to Spinel to heal the curse on this land,” I interrupted.

The Halfling’s head snapped toward me. “What did you say?”

Bucephalus hissed, “Percy! What are you doing? We don’t know if we can trust them”

“Quiet!” A hooded figure ordered.

“Lord Tiarna of Vercingetorix sent us ahead of him. We encountered the enemy a number of days ago in Vercingetorix. We managed to wound it and make it flee. Lord Tiarna ordered us to go ahead of him and keep the enemy week. He will be here in a few day’s time with a force of liberators to destroy the enemy. We are here to help heal Crescent Moon Bay.”

The halfling stepped in front of me. She pulled her sword from her belt and rested it against my throat. “How do you know I don’t serve the enemy you hunt?”

“Someone I trust told me to trust you, and she hasn’t lied to me yet.”

“Well then,” The halfling re-sheathed her sword. “This changes things.”

The story will continue, September 10th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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