Legends of Cobalt

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Decay

We scaled the small cliff below Masinissa’s tower house. The ghastly green beam of the lighthouse passed over our heads every few seconds. We reached the top of the cliff and hauled ourselves over the short brick wall crowning it. The four of us crouched in the bushes against the wall. The scent of wet soil and rot overpowered my senses.

“Fayaad and I will start at the top of the tower and work our way down.” Katsu pointed to the lantern room of the lighthouse. “We’ll take out the watchman up there so you two can enter the main building.”

Althaea and I nodded that we understood. Katsu tapped on Fayaad’s back and the two darted out of the bushes. I watched the two assassins pick their way across the failing garden and scamper up the side of the lighthouse. A dark figure outlined by the spinning green light shuffled around the catwalk. The two assassins slithered onto the catwalk, flanking the guard. The guard brandished a weapon at the assassin he could see. The second assassin stabbed the guard in the back and shoved them over the railing.

Althaea and I slipped from our hiding spot. We followed the stone paths to a door at the base of the tower. Two guards in full-face helms and chainmail stood on either side of the door. They carried long halberds and an axe hung at their hips. A green-flamed lantern hung on a hook above the door.

We laid bellies concealed by a thin wall of tall grasses. “Are they White Guard?” I whispered to Althaea.

“They are. Hit them quiet and hit them quick. We can’t let them raise an alarm yet.” Althaea slid her elven daggers from the scabbards on her back. “You’ve got the left. On my mark. One. Two. mark.”

I sprang from my hiding place. I charged forward and drew my sword. My sword plunged into a guards abdomen with a forward lunge. I pulled back and followed through with a heavy overhand slash. The strike cleaved through several metal rings. I trailed the slash with a spinning kick. My heel landed on the guard’s clavicle. The stutter of breaking bones vibrated through my body. Taking a deep breath, my chi flowed through my body and I unleashed another flurry of attacks. I pushed my foot through the guard’s knee. The guard moaned as his leg snapped and he fell forward. My knee thunked against the visor of their helmet. A dull pain throbbed through my leg. The guard hit the ground while I spun away. I pushed off with my other leg and slammed my sword into the guard’s spine.

“Did you need to be so excessive?” Althaea flicked the black gore from her blade. 

I pulled my sword free and wiped it on a rag tied to my belt. “You said hit them quick. I didn’t want to give them a chance to get back up.”

Althaea shrugged and put her daggers away. “The night’s not over. Try the lock, I’ll keep watch.” She turned her back to me and watched the dark garden.

I shook the door handle, the lock bolt rattled against its box. “It needs to be picked.”

“Switch me spots.”

Althaea knelt down and fiddled with the lock. An icy gust of wind off the bay shook the grasses and flickered the lantern light. The door moaned open on rusty hinges.

“We’re in.”

The smell of salt, rotting flesh and mouldy grain stormed through the open door. We covered our mouths with our hands and forced our way through the stench and hanging bodies.

“What do you think this place is?” The bile climbing from my stomach burned my throat.

Althaea wretched, “It smells like an abandoned larder.”

The door slammed shut leaving us in total darkness. I forced the chunks of my dinner back down.

“One second I can give us some light.”

“Don’t,” Althaea wretched again. “If it smells this bad, I don’t want to see it.” A strong slender hand latched onto mine. “I think I saw the door over here.” Althaea tugged me with her.

We fumbled our way through the dark room. Our hands caressed many slimy corpses and our shins uncovered several crates.

“Found it.” 

Althaea threw open the door. The stale air rushed in and pushed back some of the stench of rot. We tumbled into the kitchen gulping mouthfuls of the cleaner air.

“Do you smell that?” I whispered.

“If it’s death and vinegar, then yes.”

“No,” I took a deep breath. The ever-present scent of decay made me gag. “Incense. It’s faint, but it’s there, below everything else.”

“Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter.” Althaea pointed at a narrow staircase. “You clear this floor, I’ll do the next and meet you in the other tower.”

I left the kitchen through the service door into the dining room. Dust flitted through the air and clung to the box-littered dining table. The smell of sour meat filled the air, undercut by the growing scent of incense. I passed out of the dining room into the entry foyer. Green lamp light silhouetted a pair of guards outside the front door. The wooden floor creaked beneath my feet, but the guards didn’t move. A staircase clung to the wall of the foyer and another door stood opposite the dining room. I turned the handle and eased the door open.

A fresh wave of decaying flesh curled my nose hairs. Pale green light glittered through the cracked door. I held my breath and slipped inside. Pine boxes six to seven feet long sat in ordered rows and stacks. A spiral staircase of wrought iron poked out of the stacks of boxes near the outside wall. Green-flamed candles burned steadily on the walls. I took two more steps into the room. The flap of feathered wings startled me and I dove behind a stack of boxes.

A small vulture glided down the stairs and perched on another stack of boxes. The vulture’s head took in the room, it jumped to another stack and looked again. I watched the vulture repeat its actions four more times before it swooped back to its first stack. The vulture locked eyes with me, cawed once and flew back up the stairs.

I left my hiding spot and followed the vulture up the stairs. The staircase terminated in a library. Magic orbs of sun-bright light bumped against the ceiling. Incense smoke clouded the air and warded off the smell of rot from below. A second spiral staircase between two bookshelves ascended another floor.

I climbed the stairs. My feet made no noise on the heavy iron steps. My head rose above the next floor. A wooden catwalk circled the room halfway to the glass ceiling of the tower. Magical equipment, bubbling cauldrons and racks of spell components covered the floor. The bulky, scaly form of a lizardman hunched over a table. I inched from the stairs and hid behind a rack of drying herbs.

“You can come out. I know you’re there. My familiar sssaw you in my morgue.” The lizardman hissed. He turned and watched me emerge from my hiding spot. “I need a fresssh brain for my exsspiriment.” He patted the mound of stitched-together body parts on the table behind him.

Movement on the catwalk overhead caught my eye. “I’m not giving you anything, Masinissa.” I settled into a defensive stance.

“You act like you have a choicess.” 

Masinissa grabbed a rod off the table and muttered in the language of the arcane. A figure launched itself from the catwalk. It knocked Masinissa to the ground and rammed a blade through his skull.

The story will continue, November 12th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Legends of Cobalt

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Skyway Road

“How do we get to Dawnsky Wharf?” I stood in the assassin’s armoury with Fayaad, Katsu and Althaea.

“We’ll use the skyway road.” Althaea slid a matched set of stilettos into her boots and synched a brace of throwing knives to her waist.

“The streets get dangerous at night,” Fayaad dabbed oil into the joints of a wrist-mounted crossbow. “The skyway road ees just as dangerous eef you don’t know where you are going. Eets not too late to back out.”

Katsu stepped around a rack of spears. A long sword with a gentle curve hung at his hip. “He’ll manage. It’s time to go.”

“You’re only bringing one sword?” Althaea slid two more slender elven blades into scabbards on the small of her back.

I shrugged, “I don’t need more than one.”

“Don’t beg any of us for a spare eef you lose eet.” Fayaad shoulder checked me as he walked out of the armoury.

“He’s upset that you’re coming with us.” Katsu offered me one of the assassin’s blowpipes and a dozen feathered darts. “He spent fifteen years training and he still isn’t allowed out on solo missions. Don’t worry about Fayaad. He’ll get over it.”

I refused the offered weapon. “I don’t want to join your secret society. I’m here to help my friends do what they need to and leave.”

“We know that,” Althaea smiled. “But Fayaad thought Aramil and I should have killed you in Ringtown.”

“That’s not reassuring.” 

I followed the assassins up to the hidden library. My friends and the other assassins sat in near silence attending to personal distractions.

“What are we doing back up here?”

“The skyway road doesn’t run along the ground.” Katsu unlatched the floor to ceiling window. A gust of damp air flickered the fire and the candles. “Fayaad, go.”

Wyanet grabbed my shoulders and pulled my forehead to hers. “Be careful. I will not be there to get you out of trouble.”

Fayaad launched himself out the window.

I winked at Wyanet. “I’ve got a few extra tricks up my sleeve.”

“Althaea, go.” Katsu waved at the sea elf.

Althaea stared at me. “This is the fun part.” She sauntered to the window, crossed her arms and fell backwards out of it.

“Percy, your turn,” Katsu ordered.

I approached the window and stuck my head through it. The flat-topped roof of the next building stretched up from the ground. Fayaad and Althaea waited fifteen feet below on the neighbouring roof.

“Don’t worry,” Katsu clapped me on the back, “The ground will catch you.”

“Not helpful.” I kicked off the window sill. Cool air rushed past me. The roof hurried to meet me. I braced for the landing. My foot connected with something soft. I tucked my head and dropped my shoulder to roll out. I pushed again with my front foot. Whatever I had landed in slid back and I flopped onto my face.

Fayaad snickered. Althaea gasped and offered me her hand.

“Did you think we risk breaking a leg every time we leave?”

I brushed myself off and made sure none of my gear broke. “Hard telling.”

Katsu landed behind me. “I’ve never seen anyone so graceful.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Come on, it’s a half-hour jog to Dawnsky Wharf.” Katsu jogged to the edge of the roof and hopped onto the ledge. “Last one there has cleaning duty.” He jumped to the next roof and continued running.

Fayaad and Althaea chased after Katsu. I chased all three of them south-east along the rooftops. We dodged crumbling chimneys, vaulted over pungent alleys and scaled walls where we had to. The flap of our cloaks, the creek of leather armour, and the slap of our feet marked our passage through the grave silent night. The stench of brine and rotting fish filled the air the farther we ran.

Katsu and Althaea sprinted up the sloped roof of a rowhouse and vanished over its crest. Fayaad wheezed on my heels. I reached the peak and stopped. Wind-tolled bells and ship rigging whispered in the wind. The first two assassins waited on top of a monger’s pavilion thirty feet below. A wide cobblestone road made a chasm between us.

A swift blow blasted into the back of my knee. My legs buckled. I twisted and landed on my back. Clay shingles broke beneath me and dragged me toward the roof’s edge. Fayaad jumped over me, a smile on his face.

My hands scrambled over the clay shingles. I tipped off the roof. Shingles smashed on the dark road that hungered to grab me. I calmed my panicked and racing mind. I focused my chi and fell into the plane of shadows. I ran as far as I could the dark plane and forced myself back into the material plane. I landed in a three-point stance behind the assassins.

Katsu caught Fayaad’s armour and hauled him the rest of the way onto the pavilion. “What happened?”

“Percy tripped.” Fayaad took a few steps further onto the roof. “I tried to catch him, but he fell too far for me to do anything.”

I pushed katsu and Althaea out of my way.

Fayaad’s eyes expanded in the gloom. “Percy! How did you…”

I jabbed my fist into Fayaad’s nose. “I didn’t trip, he pushed me.”

Fayaad staggered back to the precipice. His eyes rolled around and snapped into focus. Tears and snot rolled down Fayaad’s face. He balled his hands into fists and took a meaningful step toward me. Rage burned in his eyes.

I slid my right foot into a fighting stance, narrowing my body.

Katsu stepped between us and put a firm hand on Fayaad’s chest. Althaea wrapped an arm around my abdomen and pulled me back.

“Enough.” Katsu turned his head to look at me. “Whatever issues are between you can wait. Right now we are a team and need to work together. If we don’t, none of us will survive the night.”

“I’m sorry,” Fayaad relaxed. “I did try to catch you.”

I shifted back into a normal stance.

“That’s settled for now.” Katsu pointed at a building to my right. “Masinissa is up there. Let’s move in for a closer look.”

Katsu and Fayaad ran together across the monger pavilions and boat sheds lining the shore. 

“That’s an interesting trick you did.” Althaea ran beside me. “I know magics for teleportation exist, but I thought only wizards, druids, and the arcane gifted could use them. How did you do it?”

“Like I said, I’ve trained for years to fight from and manipulate shadows.”

The story will continue, October 8th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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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 on one of our posts.

Legends of Cobalt

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Plots and Plans

“Thees weell be diffeecult no matter how many allies we have.” Fayaad unrolled a gridded map of Spinel castle and the surrounding grounds.

Aramil sharpened a knife by the fireplace. “The keep is always crawling with White Guardsman and that’s on the one day a year when the gates are open.

Althaea said, “We can sneak in. We’ve done it before.”

Katsu shook his head. “It won’t work again. Master Orryn and I found one way in, but they blocked it up after they killed him.”

“Besides,” Bucephalus added, “Not all of us are as quiet as a pixies fart.”

“Why do we not attack the castle head-on?” Wyanet pointed to a drawbridge on the castle. “With some help, Bucephalus and I could pull that down and we rush in.”

“You want to storm a castle keep,” Aramil buried his knife in the floorboards with a well-practised motion. “With only nine warriors.” He took several intentional strides toward Wyanet. “Against an unknown number of hostile individuals and no clear exit.” Aramil put both hands on Wyanet’s shoulders. “That’s the kind of reckless plan I can get behind!”

“Despite Aramil’s enthusiasm, a frontal assault has too many variables to be anything but mass suicide.” Katsu sank into a chair.

Wyanet braced herself on the table opposite Katsu. “What is wrong with my plan?”

“Many things,” Katsu rubbed his temple. “For starters the aforementioned unknown hostiles. Second, the iron portcullis behind the drawbridge. Third, we wouldn’t be able to fight for long. We’re assassins, not soldiers like you and the priest.”

“Then we will start a rebellion.” Wyanet slammed her fist on the table. “If the people suffer as much as you claim, they will fight beside us.”

“How would we feed and equip a rebellion?” Katsu mirrored Wyanet’s posture. “Not to mention training a rebellion. Have you ever seen what happens when a mob tries to fight disciplined soldiers?”

“We can train them.”

“Enough,” Serephina snapped from the corner. “We are not enemies.”

Katsu fell back into his chair and Wyanet took a step back from the table.

“If we wanted to try forming a rebellion,” Phebes interjected, “How hard would it be? We’ve done it before and won.”

Katsu remarked, “Not well enough to matter.”

I studied the map. “It would take time we don’t have. William is at most five days behind us.”

“The White Guard are trained like the Draconic Legions,” Althaea added. “With what we have, any rebellion we start would be like throwing a jellyfish at a kraken.”

“The White Guard is only one obstacle.” Serephina cut in, “We also face a vampire lord. How do you intend to beat them?”

“Percy will…” Phebes started.

Bucephalus interrupted, “We have a way around that. Don’t worry about the details.”

Aramil wagged a finger. “It’s not nice to keep secrets from friends.”

“Especially when those secrets could kill your friends,” Althaea added.

“How can we weaken the White Guard?” I asked, “Is there another person or place we could attack and draw them out first?”

Serephina slid from her chair and pulled a stack of papers bound in twine from a shelf. She sighed and set the papers on the table. “I fear our enemy is more hydra than serpent.”

Wyanet unbound the papers and lifted the top sheet. “Who is Sypax Masinissa?”

“Sypax Masinissa is Sofka’s principal advisor and archivist. He’s a lizardfolk shaman who fled The Cradle after Drako and the Serpent-folk went to war. Masinissa is the one who closed the ports.”

“Why close the ports of a starving city?” Phebes read over Wyanet’s shoulder.

“He claimed sheeps brought the blight,” Fayaad explained.

“The White Guard will protect this man?” Bucephalus rounded the table to see the dossier.

“They already do.” Althaea grabbed a leather map case from the mantle. “Masinissa is one of the two advisors who don’t live in the landing district.” She rolled out a map of Spinel and its various wards. Althaea pointed at a section near the harbour labelled ‘Dawnsky Wharf’. “Masinissa lives here in a light tower house overlooking the merchant docks.”

Phebes tugged at the map to get a better look. “Where are we?”

“We’re here in Trader’s Alley.” Althaea moved her finger on the map.

‘You said there are two people who do not live near the Duke.” Wyanet asked, “Where does the other one live?”

“They’re in the Iron Cloister.” Althaea stood up and crossed her arms.

“Can we attack them both?” Wyanet leaned over the map looking for the ward. “Spread the White Guard even more.”

“That’s not a good idea,” Fayaad replied.

“The Iron Cloister is a fortress.” Aramil elbowed Fayaad and his sister out of the way and traced the outline of the district. “It’s the barracks, armoury, training ground and storehouse of Sofka’s standing army. The entire district is separated from the city by a separate defensive wall. The White Guard never goes there because it is better defended than the palace keep.”

“Even if we could get into the Iron Cloister,” Katsu stated. “We can’t assassinate someone we’ve never seen.”

Bucephalus snorted, “How do you not know what a politician for your city looks like?”

“No one has seen the true face or heard the true name of the War-minister,” Serephina interrupted. “The people of Spinel call them Ironhelm because they never remove their great helm. Ironhelm doesn’t leave the cloister, but when they do, they terrify all who witness them.”

Aramil pulled his knife out of the floor and slid it into his belt. “If you want to live, avoid Ironhelm and the cloister. Let your friends in the army you allege is coming deal with them.”

“It’s settled then.” Katsu crossed his arms and made eye contact with Serephina. “Tonight, I’ll go with two of my brothers and assassinate Sypax Masinissa. Tomorrow, we’ll combine our strength and assassinate Sofka and the rest of his house.”

“That will not work,” Wyanet replied.

“What’s wrong with it? It’s basically your plan.”

Serephina smiled. “Think it through again, Katsu. What is our goal in attacking Masinissa?”

Katsu thought for a moment and looked at the map again. “To pull some of the guards away from Sofka and his keep.” A torch blazed behind Katsu’s eyes. “New plan. Tonight we’ll raid Masinissa’s tower house. Once we do enough damage and spook Masinissa, we’ll pull back and regroup here.”

I stood up beside the table. “I’m going with you.”

“No,” Fayaad blurted out. “You don’t know our ways.”

“We’re assassin’s, not babysitters.” Aramil started for the stairs. “You’ll get in the way and slow us down.”

“I’ve trained for more than half my life to be able to manipulate the shadows around me,” I protested. “I’m just as skilled as the rest of you.”

Serephina returned to her chair and stroked her chin. “Katsu, Percy will join your raiding mission. If he trained in the way he claims, you might learn something from one another.”

Katsu grinned, “Try to keep up.”

The story will continue, October 1st,  2020.

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Leave a comment below!

Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

http://bit.ly/2tUG9va

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 on one of our posts.

Legends of Cobalt

If you enjoy our content, please sign up to receive an email anytime we post, donate to our Ko-fi page, or follow us on twitter.

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Follow the author on Twitter: 

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March of the Dead

“Our mission is to kill Duke Iliya Sofka. He has failed his people. It is time for change. The people need a leader who serves them,” Serephina declared.

“We thought we succeeded in assassinating him a few years ago. I watched Master Orryn sever Sofka’s carotid myself. Three days later, the White Guard raided us. They captured Master Orryn. That bastard watched as a team of horses ripped Master Orryn limb from limb.” Katsu slammed a fist on the table. “One of our initiates tried to help him. The guards hauled her away too and we haven’t seen her since.”

Serephina placed her small hand on Katus’s and relaxed his fist. “We have lost many brothers and sisters in our time here. Often we thought we had won, to discover our failure days later. There is some force keeping Sofka alive that we can’t beat.”

“In my time wandering the world, I have found you can not kill something that is already dead,” Wyanet replied.

Bucephalus added, “Not without the aid of the gods or powerful magics.”

Aramil dropped his chair back to its proper number of legs. “You mean the old bastard is already dead?”

I thumbed through the extensive stack of papers Serephina had given us. “Do you know anything about Sofka’s daughter?”

Althaea frowned, “He doesn’t have a daughter.”

“We have watched the palace for years. We have never seen a child belonging to the Duke,” Serephina replied.

“Hees wife died feefteen years ago,” Fayaad said. “She never bore a child. Many thought her eenfertile.”

Phebes interjected, “His daughter wasn’t born through his wife. He adopted her after his father died.”

“She’s the one we are after.” Bucephalus clenched and unclenched his fist. “We don’t care about the duke.”

“The duke’s daughter is the true cause of this sickness,” Wyanet stated. “We came to kill her.”

The assassin acolytes shifted in their seats and backed away from the table.

“You want to kill a child,” Katsu accused.

“I did not realise the murdering of children was an issue for goblin-kin.”

“One of us has publicly murdered someone, and it’s not the one with goblin blood.”

I extended my arm across Wyanet’s chest. Serephina pounded a fist on the table.

“Enough! We are not enemies here!”

“Yes, master.” The assassin acolytes bowed their heads.

“Why do you hunt this girl?” Serephina steepled her fingers in front of her face.

“The girl is not mortal,” Wyanet replied. “I do not know of a name in my language or yours that can describe her. She is a perversion of life.”

Bucephalus rolled his eyes. “She’s a vampire.”

“How is that possible?” Serephina looked at Bucephalus. “The Inquisition eradicated the curse of vampirism centuries ago.”

“There are many places the combined authorities of mortal empires and the Cardinal Conclave do not reach. It is possible a vampire hid away in one of our blind spots. The Ravagers still roam the plains, it is also possible they created the curse anew.”

“Is it possible Sofka is a Vampire as well?” Katsu asked.

“It’s possible,” I nodded. “Nellie could have turned him or whoever their greater master is.”

Katsu waved away my statement. “A vampire is tough enough to believe, I doubt a vampire lord escaped everyone’s notice.”

“We are out of our depth, Katsu.” Althaea interjected, “You watched master Orryn kill Sofka yourself, but he still lives. Perhaps it would be better for us to take any information we are given as plausible.”

“There must be something else we missed.”

“I have much to discuss with my acolytes,” Serephina interrupted. “You are welcome to our home as you like. Don’t leave the property, we will tell you what we decided when we are done.”

***

We explored the ransacked inn. I followed a creaky narrow staircase to the roof. My feet thudded across the heavy wood. The rain had stopped and a thin fog from the bay replaced it. A small shed with a heavy lock stood beside the roof access trapdoor. Rows of kneehigh planter boxes ran the length of the roof. A waist-high brick wall enclosed the entire space. I walked along the barren planters and leaned against the wall facing north.

“Do you think we’re doing the right thing?” Phebes asked from behind me. “I know helping people is a good thing to do and all, but are we the right people to do this?” What qualifies us? Just because we know how to fight, doesn’t mean we should go looking for them. What is Ceph is right? What if we all die here? We’re the only ones who know what’s happening. Maybe we should have gone to the Conclave like Ceph said. Wouldn’t an army of the gods be better for this?”

I stared at the rooftops that stretched out to the city’s curtain wall. “I don’t know. I didn’t want to come here. I don’t even want to be labelled a hero. I want a quiet life in a small cottage hidden in the forest, but Wyanet saved me and I still feel like I owe her.”

Phebes leaned against the wall beside me. “We could leave together. I don’t think our friends would argue.” She put her hand on mine. “We could do whatever we wanted. Go wherever we want to, and never have to worry about doing things we don’t want to. It could be you and I, us against the world.” 

“I can’t.” I pulled my hand back. The soft glow of lamplight glittered on the other side of the curtain wall. “Wyanet and I have been through a lot together. She still needs my help. I can’t abandon her yet.”

“It’s natural to have doubts in the face of death.”

Phebes and I jumped at the sound of Althaea’s voice.

I spun around. “How did you get up here without one of us hearing you?”

“You were distracted.” Althaea sat on the edge of one of the planters. “And I am an assassin, remember. You’re doubting your abilities. I don’t blame you. We face impossible odds and all of our futures are unclear.”

The clouds above our heads began to churn. 

“When Aramil and I left our home beneath the sea, we were terrified of what might happen to us. Our future was uncertain then as it is now, but we trust each other and we trust our friends. We don’t know what the future holds, but we face everything together. If we succeed, we succeed together.” Althaea put a hand on each of our shoulders. “If we fail, we do that together too. When we stand beside our friends and loved ones, regardless of how frightened we are, we grow and get stronger.”

The boiling clouds over our heads glowed with a sickly pale green light. Thunder shook our bones. A vortex of swirling green-glowing clouds spiralled to the sky from the centre of the city. Moans and lamentations of the dead filled the city to a deafening roar. Thousands of spectres descended from the clouds and lifted themselves from beneath the cobbled streets. The sea of ghosts formed a ghastly procession and marched toward the city keep.

I ducked beneath the wall. “What’s happening?”

Phebes dove between the planters. “Are we safe?”

“We’re safe,” Althaea leaned against the wall and watched the ghosts on their journey. “As far as I am aware, the parade has never harmed any of the living.”

“What are they?” Phebes got back to her feet and stood beside Althaea.

“We call it the parade of phantasms.”

I watched the spectre of a crying boy run along the street below. “Why are they here?” 

Althaea shrugged, “No one knows. Every night they gather and march to the keep. The legend is that they gather to hunt whatever ended their lives.”

“They have a creepy beauty to them,” Phebes replied.     

 “With your help,” Serephina appeared at my elbow, “They will soon find rest.”

The story will continue, September 24th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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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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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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