Departing

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Departing

“I’ve seen sandstorms that are less dangerous than her,” Ineni said as I burst through the door of the Crimson Snowfall.

“I’ll be fine.” I bounded up the stairs and into our room.

Wyanet stood over her bed, stuffing her rucksack.

“Wy, are you okay?”

“They are a terrible people. They break hearts, and damage lives, then run off like nothing ever happened.”

“You’re still going to help them though, aren’t you?”

Wyanet threw her rucksack on the floor. She leapt across the room and stared up into my face. “We have to.” She balled her fists and thudded one into my chest. “If those… those… Wasi’chu are telling the truth.” Her other fist pounded my chest. “We have to try to help them.” Tears lined Wyanet’s eyes. She punched me a few more times, and fell into me, sobbing. “Why did he leave? Was I not good enough? Did I not love him enough? Why did he abandon me?”

I wrapped my arms around Wyanet. She put her full weight into me, and we fell to the floor. “I don’t know. I don’t know why anyone does what they do to others.”

The door clicked open. Phebes walked in carrying a long narrow box of dark polished wood. “Ope! Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt anything, but this box is kind of heavy, and I didn’t hear any voices, so I thought you guys had left, and…”

Wyanet wiped her eyes and sat up. “ You are not interrupting anything.”

“What’s in the box?”

“Oh, yeah, this.” She slid the box on one of the beds. “I don’t know. That old woman gave it to me.” Phebes adopted a faux voice of authority. “When you learn its secrets, it will be a powerful blessing for you and your friends.” She rubbed her muscles. “I don’t know though. It’s kind of heavy, and awkward to carry. I wonder if it’s worth anything, or if it’s going to be one of those ‘the power was inside of you’ deals?”

Wyanet ran her fingers along the smooth wood. “Have you not opened it yet?”

“Not yet. She gave it to me after you two ran out, and after she gave it to me she pushed me out the door. I didn’t know what to do, so I came…”

“It could be something useful.” I interrupted. “Open it.”

Phebes thumbed open the three brass latches. She grabbed the corners of the lid and started to lift, but jumped back, dropping the lid. “Maybe we should check to see if it’s trapped? I’ve heard that people like to do that to keep things safe.”

“It was a gift, given to you freely.” Wyanet put her hand on Phebes’s forearm. “Why would someone give you a gift if they wanted to kill you?”

“Maybe, you’re right.” Phebes grabbed the lid and tossed it open, throwing her hands in front of her face afterwards.

Rich violet silk lined the inside of the padded box. Letters of silver leaf painted on the inside of the lid read ‘Passion burns as fire’. Inside the box rested a long, slender, sword with a cruciform guard. Mounted in the pommel of the sword, a heart-shaped ruby glittered in the light.

Phebes lifted the sword out of the box. “This isn’t what I expected.” She pulled the sword from its scabbard. “It’s a little longer than the sword I learned with but better than the scimitar I was using.”

“It is a beautiful weapon,” Wyanet assured her.

Phebes resheathed the sword. “When are we leaving?”

Wyanet and I looked at each other.

“If you wish to come with us, pack your things. We will leave once you have packed.”

“I kind of wanted to see the show tonight. We never get things like that up in Last Oasis.”

Wyanet snatched up her things and stomped out of the room.

I started collecting my things. “Time is important, we need to go as soon as we can.” I slid my sword into my belt and stuffed my other belongings into my rucksack. “Meet us downstairs when you’re done.” I left and went down to the common room.

After ten minutes, Phebes descended the stairs. She wore the armour she took from a Dark Elf Captain. The tip of her new sword thumped against every step. “I’m ready to go.”

Wyanet nodded. “Let us go.” 

We started toward the door. 

Ineni stepped out from behind the bar, a bulging waxy canvas bag in his hand. “Wait just a minute.” He handed the satchel to Wyanet. “A little food for the road.” He stepped back and looked us all over, pride in his eyes. “You kids take care of yourselves out there. The roads and forest can be dangerous. You can all come back anytime you like. Travellers are rare around here, but they always bring a nice change of pace.” Ineni extended his hand to Wyanet.

Wyanet, unsure what to do, grasped Ineni’s hand.

“Good luck and safe travels. May the Father of Understanding guide you, and keep you all safe.”

We left the Crimson Snowfall and walked in silence to the edge of town. Half a mile outside of town, a group of people worked cutting down trees and digging a narrow ditch. Phebes studied the entire group as we passed.

“I have to say goodbye to someone.” Phebes jogged off the road toward the workers.

Wyanet and I stopped and watched. Phebes ran up to Dwarf bellowing orders. The Dwarf grinned and laughed from his chest. He clapped Phebes on the back and sat down on a stump while she spoke. The Dwarf pulled his hat off and clutched it to his chest. The Dwarf looked at the ground then back up at Phebes and gave a slight nod of his head. 

Phebes walked back to us. She looked back to the Dwarf and sniffed. “I’m all set.”

Wyanet pivoted on her heel and continued down the road. I fell in beside Phebes. “Did you know that Dwarf?” 

“Whurbin? Not very well. We were in the same workgroup in Delara, but we never really talked.”

“Why did you need to tell him goodbye?”

“Whurbin’s clan are allied with Ulfgar’s. I asked him to tell Ulfgar’s clan how he died.”

“Ulfgar is the Dwarf you travelled with?” Wyanet asked.

Tears glistened on the edge of Phebes’ eyes. “Yeah. Ulfgar found me after I left Last Oasis.” Phebes dabbed at her eyes with her hand and sniffed. “The night the Goblins found us, Ulfgar died trying to protect me.”

Wyanet tugged the rag from her belt and offered it to Phebes. “We have all lost loved ones. We keep moving forward, so their memory does not die with us.”

The story will continue, October 17th.

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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!

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The Fortune Teller

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The Fortune Teller

We strolled into Bauerndorf’s town square. Shops and houses lined the sides of the plaza. Three garish vardos and a fourth covered wagon sat circled in the centre of the square. A wide platform stretched between the back of two of the vardos forming a stage. A dyed cotton curtain hung across the back of the stage. A caravan worker stringing strings of small lanterns in the low branches of a tree above the wagons spotted us and descended his ladder.

“Madam Rada is expecting you, folks.” He helped us up onto the stage and held back the curtain. “She’s in that wagon there.” He pointed to the third vardo and dropped the curtain behind us.

The tree the wagons circled around blocked out much of the afternoon sunlight. Ropes connected at the roof of every wagon supported bright sailcloth walls that tickled the cobblestone road. We stepped into a private world, unknown to us but standard to the travellers. A little girl smiled at us and tugged at her mother’s skirt. Phebes paused to wave at the girl. Wyanet descended into the camp. She marched to where we had been directed and threw open the door without knocking. 

Sage, garlic, and peppermint-scented air billowed out of the wagon. A bag of garlic dangled above the bed at the front of the wagon, another spilled its contents on a small round table. An ancient human pulled herself from her bed. Her clothes favoured a long-dead and forgotten fashion. She walked at an angle with a knotty blackthorn cane.

The elderly woman eased herself into a chair beside the table. “Wyanet, sit down you damnably proud woman.” She quipped, her voice strong and quick. “You too Damian, we haven’t got time for games. Phebes…” 

Phebes jumped and dropped the jar she had been inspecting. She juggled it twice and caught it. 

“Try not to break anything.”

“Are you, Madam Rada?” 

“Who else would I be, foolish boy?”

“How do you know our names?” Wyanet demanded.

“I know a great many things, Wyanet, avenging raven of the first people.”

“Why did you want to see us?” Phebes asked.

“A great danger plagues our homeland and all the people of Crescent Moon Bay.”

“You’ve got the wrong people, we aren’t heroes,” I interjected.

“Enough foolishness.” Rada chided. “Did you or did you not just risk your lives to free hundreds of slaves, and rescue a noble girl?”

“Yeah, but we got paid to do that.”

“Were you paid to free those people?”

“No, it just sort of happened.”

“Sounds pretty darn heroic to me, and I bet those people would agree.”

“I guess.” I surrendered.

“I think you’re a hero,” Phebes mumbled behind me.

“Calm yourself girl, we haven’t time for your hormones.” Rada continued. “In Crescent Moon bay something is slaughtering the adults. Many of the children there are now orphans, and starve to death on the streets.”

“That sounds like an issue for their own leaders to solve.” Wyanet snapped.

“There are more problems than that. The land is poison. Crops refuse to grow. The fish in the bay float to the surface of the water. Monsters roam the forest, and the sun rarely touches the ground.”

“What do you think we can do to help? We aren’t gods either.”

“Your group is destined for a fate greater than the sum of your collective abilities.” The wagon grew dark, a single candle flared to life on the table. The shadows behind Madam Rada took on a life of their own. “More are yet to join you.”

The shadows coalesced into the shape of a Minotaur with a great war hammer. The shadow figure roared a challenge.

“Some, you call family.”

The shadows shifted, the Minotaur transformed into a muscular giant manning a ship’s helm.

“Others, you will think to be an enemy.”

The giant collapsed into a sphere and expanded back out into the form of a dragon. A gout of shadow flame licked the ceiling.

“One will teach you the meaning of life.”

The dragon’s flames turned to storm clouds, and the dragon shifted into the shape of a naked man, dancing in the rain.

“Your friends will shatter your trust.”

A second shadow man with a sword as long as a lance formed out of shadows. He drove his sword into the chest of the dancing man and lifted him from the ground.

“Many will join you for a short time, and leave you again. Every one of them will be changed for having known you.”

The shadows turned into a tiefling, then shifted through many other forms. The never lingered on one form for more than a second.

“In your hour of greatest need, they will all stand beside you.”

The shifting shadow settled on the shape of a Faun, his horns rose several feet above his head. A grin split his face and he started laughing a silent laugh. A chuckle filled my head, but none of my companions laughed. The figure started to grow, consuming the entire space behind Madam Rada.

“Enough of this.” Wyanet blurted out. “How can we even trust you? Your kind is known for making up stories to frighten children.”

The candle extinguished itself. Light returned to the space. Madam Rada shook her head. “Wyanet, you poor, sweet, heartbroken girl.” She grasped Wyanet’s hand in hers. “The young man who broke your heart, was not of the same breed as my troupe. He and his company a little more than common tricksters. They prey on innocent people’s purses, and vanish before anyone knows what has happened.”

Wyanet yanked her hand away. “You are all the same.”

“We are not. My people seek the deep knowledge of the world, and we wish to share it with everyone we meet. The world is made of songs, and stories, it is our responsibility to share them. If people wish to pay us, that is their choice.”

“You blow into settlements, capture the hearts of the people who live there, then leave again when you get bored. Your people aren’t gentle summer winds like you pretend. You are Autumn storms. You destroy everything you touch.” Wyanet stormed out of the vardo.

Madam Rada turned to me. “Go after her young man. Remember what I have told you. I know you will all make the proper choice.”

I pushed back my chair and started for the door. Phebes at my heel.

“Phebes, if you don’t mind, I would like a moment more of your time. I have something to give you.”

Phebes gave me a nervous look. “I’ll meet you guys back at the tavern.”

I nodded.

“The angry woman went that way.” The little girl exclaimed as I exited the vardo.

“Thanks,” I mumbled and ducked through the torn sailcloth wall.


The story will continue, October 10th.

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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!

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Loose Ends

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Loose Ends

Bauerndorf’s market square bustled with the arrival of the freed slaves. Oil lamps and torches mounted on poles illuminated the area. The staff of Crimson Snowfall, with the aid of several intoxicated farmers, worked to erect festival tents. Erdan, with the help of the other slave leaders, directed the survivors where to go.

“I am going to leave you here,” Kalista said as we entered the village.

Wyanet dug into her rucksack. “Before you leave, take these, as payment for your help.” She extended a fistful of coins to Kalista.

“I couldn’t.”

“You stayed to help us. These people are free, and that girl is safe because of you. You deserve an equal share of the reward.”

Kalista smiled, shook her head, and pocketed the coins. She turned to me and wrapped me in a bear hug. “Try to loosen her up a bit,” Kalista whispered in my ear. “And don’t take life so seriously. You’ll find a reason to stop running eventually.” She kissed me on the cheek and winked at Phebes. “Take care of each other. If you need my help in the future, get in touch. A new adventure is always a nice change of pace.” Kalista took off down a side street and vanished around a corner.

Wyanet, Phebes, and I continued through the village toward Crimson Snowfall. The tavern hadn’t changed since we left. The smell of chicken stock hung in the air. Chairs had been strewn about. Half-filled tankards and unfinished meals cluttered the tabletops.

Ineni, Crimson Snowfall’s owner, backed through slatted wood doors. He carried a steaming pot the size of his torso. He thunked the pot onto the bar top and beamed a warm smile at us. “The blessings of the Everlight are upon me, look at who she sent back through my door.”

Wyanet stepped up to the bar, pulling the Baronet’s satchel from her pack. “We returned to make amends for our robbery.” She counted out twenty-four gold dragons, our combined share of the reward, onto the bar. “If you have an opening, we also need a room for the night.”

Ineni picked up three of the coins. He weighed them in his hand, inspecting their authenticity. “Your tab, before you ran off, was two dragons a day plus meals.” He shifted some of the coins into a smaller pile. “Food was extra.” Another four coins shifted to the second pile. “And alcohol. That bottle Kalista smashed wasn’t cheap.” Five more coins. “For a room tonight, that’ll run five more dragons plus security, paid upfront.” Ineni moved the spoken amount to the other pile, leaving no coins on the bar. He tossed a coin in his hand to Phebes. She fumbled the coin and collected it from the floor. A second dragon flew to me. I caught the small coin with no effort. Ineni extended the third to Wyanet, pinched between his thumb and forefinger. “Minus one, each, for services rendered to the community.”

Wyanet took the offered coin.

“Word in town is you freed all those people outside, and brought sweet little Katerina home. Normally, I wouldn’t house vagrants, but I’ll make an exception for heroes.”

“We aren’t heroes,” I said.

“We did what we could, but it was not enough,” Wyanet added.

“So the rumour about Killian is true too? That’s a shame, he was going to be a better man than his father.” Ineni shook his head. “The room you used last time is still open.” He handed an iron key across the bar and swept the coins into a wooden box. “I need to get back to work. Those refugees need food.”

Wyanet and I made for the stairs.

“Um, is it okay, it’s cool if it’s not, but if I, uh, stay with you guys?” Phebes wrung her hands and held up the coin Ineni had given her. “This is all the money I have.”

Wyanet tossed the satchel with the last of the reward in it to Phebes. 

Phebes’s eyes got wide. “Uh, thank you. But, um, is it still okay if I stay with you? I’m not really used to being alone.”

Wyanet quirked an eyebrow. “If you wish, but we do not plan on staying here long.”

“That’s totally cool. Thank you. You guys won’t even know I’m here.”

I awoke late the next morning. Sunlight gleamed through the little window. Phebes and Wyanet continued to sleep in the small beds. I pulled on my clothes and went down to the common room. Erdan sat at a table, hunched over a glass, an empty liquor bottle his only companion. I pulled out the chair and sat opposite him.

“Erdan.”

The Elf jumped at the sound of my voice. He focused on me. “Daymin!” he hiccuped. “Share a drink wit me.” Erdan emptied his glass, and reached for the bottle. He bumped the bottle, knocking it off the table. The bottle clattered on the wooden floor and rolled under another table. “Whoops.” Erdan giggled. “What… Can I do you?”

“Where are you going, now that you are free?”

“I.” Erdan pointed a finger at me, then dropped his hand back onto the table. “Don’t know.” A fit of giggles wracked the Elven warrior.

“The people here need help. They don’t know how to protect themselves.”

Three sets of thunderous footsteps rumbled up behind me. Heros, the Minotaur, hauled another table over to ours. Another Minotaur, even bulkier than Heros, dragged over a handful of chairs. A Half-Orc, miniscule compared to his companions, retrieved the lost liquor bottle and returned it to the bar.

“Oh! Hey guys!” Erdan hiccuped. “What are you all doing here?”

Heros shifted to look at the Half-Orc. “Sark, can you help him please?”

Sark nodded and hoisted the drunk Elf into bulbous arms.

“Where. Are we, going?”

“You’re going to sleep this off,” Sark replied in a gentle voice.

Heros sat in Erdan’s chair and the other Minotaur sat beside him. Their chairs groaned under their considerable bulk.

“I, we, wanted to thank you, Damian.” Heros grabbed the other Minotaur’s hand, lacing their fingers together. “Without you and your friends, Adrastos and I would have never seen each other again.”

My posture stiffened, my cheeks warmed. “What are you going to do next?”

“We are heading to New Horizon. It has been too long since we’ve seen home.” Adrastos replied. “It should be simple enough to book passage back to the Isle of Horn from there.”

Wyanet came down the stairs, wearing simple clothes, and joined us. She sat down beside me as Heros leaned in.

“What danger is there?” Heros whispered.

Sark returned and pulled up another chair.

“Goblins,” Wyanet said. “The camp we lead you through was active a few days ago. They have captured many farmers and sold them into slavery alongside you.”

“We bled them some before we went below ground, but got overrun.”

“I know the tribe,” Sark interjected. “A Bugbear named Clarg raided my farm a year ago. They slaughtered my goats, and burned down my barn.”

“It is my understanding, the Baronet and the other settlers pushed them off the lands here.” Adrastos replied.

 Wyanet nodded. “Their leader was killed, and one of his brothers took over. I believe they are gathering strength to destroy the settlers who have come to this area.”

Heros leaned back in his chair rubbing his snout. 

Adrastos leaned in. “They are nothing but farmers and craftsmen here?”

“A volunteer soldier or two, but no true training.”

Heros kissed the back of Adrastos’s hand. “Whatever you choose to do, I’m with you.”

Adrastos leaned back in his chair and exhaled through his nose. “Sark, are you okay staying another week or two?”

“If it means protecting others, I can wait a lifetime.”

Adrastos pushed back from the table. “Go speak with the others. Gather together anyone who wants to stay and help. Heros and I will go speak with the Baronet.”

“What do you plan to do?” Wyanet asked.

“Training these people will be a near-impossible task. They’ve got lumber, and we’ve got the manpower to build a solid palisade, with the help of the other freed slaves. Heros and I will negotiate payment for us. We all just left slavery, I’m not going to force these people back to it.” 

The Minotaurs and Sark left together.

Phebes, half asleep, stumbled down the stairs. She plopped in a chair and yawned. “What’s for breakfast?”

“We haven’t eaten yet.”

A girl in her early teens, her bright red hair in a braid, walked up to our table. She stumbled on the hem of her dress and caught herself on the edge of the table. “What can I get for you?”

Phebes yawned again. “I’ll have coffee if you’ve got it.”

“What’s coffee?” The girl squeaked.

Wyanet frowned at Phebes. “Tea, and whatever Ineni has prepared will do.”

The girl nodded and disappeared back to the kitchen, tripping twice as she went.

“Did I do something wrong?”

Shouts and laughter penetrated the glass from outside.

“You did nothing wrong. This is a new settlement, and many things are unknown to them.”

“Oh, okay, I think I understand.” Phebes adjusted her shirt. “What are we… you guys doing today?” Phebes slumped her shoulders and lowered her head. “Is it okay if I, like, travel with you guys? I don’t really have any friends, and I’m, like, far from home, and I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“You are welcome to travel with us, if you choose. We will not force you to do anything you do not want to. Damian and I have not yet decided what our next plan is.”

“We could stay in town a bit longer. I’m sure Heros and Adrastos would welcome more help.”

The door to the tavern flew open. A garish Gnome dressed in a bright violet doublet marched into the tavern. A dark-skinned Human, in a vibrant, puffy, orange shirt, followed the Gnome.

“Ah! Finally! Some living people!” The Gnome clapped his hands together. “I was beginning to think I’d stumbled into a ghost town.” The Gnome and his Human companion sauntered over to our table. “Why, I don’t believe my eyes! Milosh, is that Wyanet? Princess of the First People, captain of the Ghost Nation, the Avenging Raven herself?”

Wyanet shrank in her chair.

“I do believe it is.” The Human responded in a low vibrato.

The Gnome grabbed Wyanet’s hand. “You simply must come to our show tonight. It’s free to the public, and anyone who is anyone will be there.”

Ineni emerged from the kitchen. He crossed his arms and glared at the flamboyant duo.

The Gnome glanced at me and jumped back. “Except for you, you have to pay. Unless, you bring your cute friend.” He winked at Phebes and let go of Wyanet. “Milosh, give them a flyer.”

Phebes blushed. Wyanet scowled. The Gnome skipped over to the bar. Milosh leaned in over our table and placed a small paper in the centre. “Madam Rada wishes to speak to you.”


The story will continue, October 3rd.

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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.


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.

Subscribe to be notified when new content is posted

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.