Legends of Cobalt

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Secrets and Doors

  “Release them.” The halfling woman waved her hand at us. “We can help each other.”

“Master,” The hooded figure that had slapped Bucephalus protested. “They are wild and untrained. How do we know they won’t kill more innocent people? They aren’t sworn to our codes.”

“We have partnered with more dangerous individuals in the past, Acolyte. We are sworn to hold the corrupt accountable, sometimes that means allying ourselves with those who don’t take our oaths.”

“But, Master.”

“I have spoken. Release them, get them some food and show them to the initiate’s quarters.” The halfling woman turned back to us. “Rest and eat. We’ll speak more in a few hours.”

The acolyte, shorter than the rest, stormed out of the room. 

The halfling woman followed the acolyte out and the other three acolytes undid our bindings. They lead us through a well-appointed building to a set of small rooms. Each room contained a single bed and a small trunk.

“Get some sleep.” The tallest of the acolytes ordered, “Someone will be around with food and medicine in an hour or two. If you need anything else, let one of us know.”

I closed the door and fell into a dreamless sleep before I hit the lumpy straw mattress.     

     ***

A teal-haired elf woman shook me awake. The woman balanced a tray with a clay cup, a wooden bowl and a thin glass vial on one hand. 

I sat up in bed. My head throbbed, but the room didn’t spin anymore.

“Drink this.” The woman set the tray on the trunk and handed me the vial. “It will help the headache.”

I took the vial and drained the bitter liquid. “Where are we?”

“There’s water here, and some food if you can stomach it.”

“What is your name?”

“Master Serephina will answer all of your questions soon.”

The elf woman left the room.

“Your help is invaluable,” I muttered to myself. 

After draining the clay cup I spooned some runny oatmeal flecked with dried fruit into my mouth. Despite my stomach’s protests, I finished the oatmeal. The door opened and the Elf woman entered with my sword and rucksack.

“Master Serephina is ready for you.” She set my stuff on the bed. “Come with me.”

I followed the elf woman into the hallway. A male elf with hair that matched the woman’s lead Phebes and Wyanet toward us. Bucephalus followed the women with an annoyed human blocking his path backwards.

“That’s everyone,” the elf woman announced.

The elf man fell to the back of the group. “You’re not prisoners, but don’t do anything stupid.”

The three acolytes marched us down two hallways and up a flight of stairs. We exited through a wine rack into a dark room. The elf woman leading our party pulled a small lamp from her pocket.

“Watch your step. It’s a mess down here.” She shone a directed beam of light across smashed crates and broken bottles.

“What happened here?” Phebes asked.

“The hunger riots. They ripped through us over a year ago.”

We left the cellar up another staircase and entered a spacious room littered with broken tables and chairs. Tattered, moth-eaten velvet curtains dangled over a dusty stage on the North wall. A cold breeze blew icy rain through boards nailed over shattered windows.

“They thought because the inns and taverns continued to sell food, we hoarded everything to drive up the cost for profit,” The Elf woman said. “They raided every member of the Guild of Hostels, Taverns, and Inns.”

“We got off lucky,” The elf man interjected. “They killed one of our initiates, but we managed to keep them out of the hidden halls.”

“The Duke sent out the White Guard to disperse the crowd,” The elf woman continued. “Many more than one of our brothers died that night.” 

We walked up another five flights of stairs through a dismal ransacked building. We stopped at the end of a dead-end hallway. An empty frame clung to the wall by a single nail it’s painting laid in shreds on the floor. The elf woman lifted the frame and pressed a button concealed behind it. A section of the wall slid away. Through the new opening, a steep staircase ascended to another floor.

We climbed the stairs to a warm spacious room. A window large enough to fit Bucephalus through allowed the dark grey twilight in. A small fire cracked in a minor hearth. The elf man pushed past us and tugged at a book on a floor to ceiling shelf. The middle of the shelf swung inward to a hidden room illuminated by magic lights. A red-skinned hobgoblin and the halfling woman waited for us at a round table.

“Come in and sit down. We have a lot to discuss.” The halfling woman ordered.

We filed into the room and claimed chairs around the table. The elf man sealed the door behind us.

Phebes quipped, “You guys really like secret doors.”

“Our secret doors allow us to speak without the worry of eavesdropping.” The hobgoblin locked eyes with Wyanet. “And they keep us safe to plan our missions. Secrecy and anonymity are our greatest weapon.”

“I’m certain you have many questions.” The halfling woman steepled her fingers on the table. “We will get to your questions in time. We must introduce ourselves first. I am master Serephina Shadowquick. The elf twins are Althaea and Aramil. The human to my right is Fayyad, the hobgoblin on my left is Katsu.”

She stared at us expectantly.

“Nice to meet you all,” Phebes replied. “I’m Phebes of Last Oasis. He’s daaa…” Phebes stretched out the first syllable of my real name. “Percy VonVeltliner, she’s…”

“I am Captain Wyanet of the Ghost Nation,” Wyanet interrupted. “My warriors knew me as Goblin-killer.” Wyanet stared at Katsu.

“And you are?” Serephina intervened.

“Name’s Father Bucephalus. I serve with the Inquisition.”

Fayyad asked, “The Inquisition ees returning? That ees good news.”

“Not the Inquisition, just me.”

“I had suspected that was who you are,” Serephina leaned back in her chair. “I am sorry for the loss of your fellows. If I had known your mission before, we could have helped you.”

Bucephalus nodded in response.

“Now,” Serephina returned to her straight posture, “With the formalities out of the way, let’s move on to business. My students and I are members of a secret organisation. Our sworn mission is to hold those who would abuse their power and oppress the free will of others accountable for their actions.” Serephina pulled a sheaf of papers bound with a string from beneath the table. “It has come to our attention that Duke Iliya Sofka has betrayed his responsibilities. The power he holds has corrupted his mind and now his subjects suffer for it.”

Serephina slid the papers across the table to me. I caught it and picked it up. A charcoal drawing of an old man stared back at me.

“Our mission is to assassinate that man.” Serephina pointed at the drawing. “And I bet you are on the same mission.”

The story will continue, September 17th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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