Legends of Cobalt

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https://dreamforgeproductions.com/2019/03/21/desperate-times/

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About Last Night

Raisa opened the door butted against the back of the Atropa Belladonna. A handful of stairs vanished into a dark void.

“Anyone have a torch? Raisa asked.

I grabbed the hilt of my new sword. I whispered the arcane word for light, and bright light flared from the hilt. I descended into the cellar first.

Barrels and clay jugs filled any available space in the room. A narrow path from the stairs led to another door. Four timber pillars supported the ceiling. Rushlight stands extended from each pillar. Raisa brushed past me towards the second door.

“This is where we age and store our wines and liquors.” Raisa grabbed a box of matches from a ledge by the door and lit the rushlights.

“Anything in any of them now?” Bucephalus dumped Jack on the uneven stone floor.

“No,” Raisa blew out the match. “Even if there were, I wouldn’t tell you.” 

The outside door thumped closed and a metal bar clunked into place. I ended the spell on my sword.

“Strip her down.” Wyanet jogged down the stairs. “Make sure she doesn’t have any more weapons.” She knelt beside Jack and loosened the knots on her wrists. “We should gag her as well.” Wyanet pulled a knife from inside Jack’s coat. “We do not want her calling for help.”

“I’ll see what I can find.” Raisa disappeared into the next room.

“We need to set a watch on her as well.” Wyanet ran her hands down both of Jack’s legs. “I can take the first shift.”

“I’ll go second,” I chimed in.

“Neither of you are going to do that.” Bucephalus sat on one of the barrels. “You’ve got a room upstairs, I don’t.” He crossed his arms. “I’ll stay down here all night, you two enjoy your bed.”

“We need her alive in the morning,” Wyanet straddled Jack.”

“It’s easier to interrogate the living, I get it.”

Raisa came back with a rag towel in hand. “This is all I could find.” She handed the towel to Wyanet.

Wyanet forced the towel into Jack’s mouth and tied it behind her head. We levered Jack into a sitting position and tied her to one of the support pillars.

“Are you certain you will be fine alone down here?” Wyanet asked Bucephalus.

“I’ve been in worse places.”

“There are extra rushlights by the door, try not to use them all. And stay out of the barrels,” Raisa said. “I’ll bring you something to eat in the morning.”

Raisa led Wyanet and I into the next room. Shelves lined every wall of the room. Empty boxes labelled for various vegetables filled the shelves. Another door stood beside a wooden staircase leading up. Raisa waited for us to go up first and followed behind.

We emerged into a dark kitchen. Wyanet kept walking towards the common room.

“Percy?” Raisa closed the cellar door and wrapped her arms around me.” I’m sorry you got hurt because of me.” She brushed her fingers over the slash in my back. “I can stitch it up for you if you want.”

I winced at her touch. “Oh, that?” I reached my hand back to the wound. The dull light of my healing ability pulsed from my palm. “It’s nothing. I promised Bella you wouldn’t get hurt.”

Raisa nestled her head into my chest. “Still, if there is any way I can repay you? We started something before Jack showed up.” She slid her hand down my back. “I’ve got my own room if you wanted to finish.”

I took Raisa’s arms in my hands and stepped away from her. “Raisa, I’m sorry, I can’t. It wouldn’t feel right. My heart already belongs to another.”

“Oh,” Raisa slumped. “She’s a lucky girl.”

“Her name is May. We lived and trained together for most of our lives.”

“Where is she now?”

“I don’t know. Something attacked and destroyed the place we trained. As far as I know, I’m the only one who survived.” 

Silver wrapped her arms as far around my neck as she could.

“If you change your mind,” Raisa kissed me. “My room’s open.”

“Good night, Raisa.” 

I worked my way through the dark common room to the stairs. Wyanet piled her armour and clothes in a pile beside the desk while she slept in the bed. I locked the door and got undressed. I tugged my travelling blanket out of my pack and curled up on the floor.

***

“Percy, Percy wake up.” Raisa knelt beside me with a hand on my shoulder.

My eyes snapped open and I shot up. Cloudy light crept in through the window. Raisa blushed as my blanket fell away.

“Ceph said she’s awake. He sent me to fetch you.”

I wiped the sleep from my eyes and reached for my pants. “Did Phebes ever make it back last night?”

“I haven’t seen her, and she wasn’t with Ceph.”

“Go tell him we’ll be right down. I’ll get Wy up.”

Raisa left the room. I pulled on my clothes and shook Wyanet awake. “Jack’s awake, get dressed.”

Wyanet sprung from the bed. She got dressed and strapped her dagger around her waist. We rushed down to the cellar together.

Fresh rushlights flickered in their stands. Raisa and Bucephalus waited for us in the dim light. Jack’s worried eyes darted back and forth between them. Wyanet squatted down in front of Jack.

‘We are going to ask you several questions.” Wyanet grabbed the knot holding Jack’s gag in place. “Do not scream when I remove your gag.”

Jack nodded.

Wyanet worked the knot loose and stood back.

“Where’m I? Why’m I tied up? What you gunna to do to me?” Jack blurted out.

“You are safe. We are not going to hurt you,” Wyanet reassured her. “What is your name?”

Jack nodded. “My name is Jacquline, but the fathers an’ the others call me Jack.”

“Do you remember what happened last night?”

“Not really. I walked down a street and saw a man an’ a woman doin’ som’in in an alley. I don’ remember anythin’ after that. I feel like a cart hit me.”

Wyanet shot a look at Bucephalus. “Did you say anything to the couple?”

‘I don’ remember.” Jack’s eyes went wide. She fought at her bindings. “Where’s my knife? I need it. The Fathers ‘ill beat me ‘gain if I lost it.”

“Relax,” I held up a stiletto from the pile of knives we took from Jack. “We’ve got all your knives right here.”

“That’s no it.” Jack continued to struggle. “I need it. Where is it? I need it.”

I put the stiletto down and hefted the cleaver. A voice urging me to kill filled my head. “Is this the one you’re looking for?”

Jack stopped fighting. Her eyes narrowed and her lips thinned. “Give it back, ranger. Then we can finish what we started last night. I’ll kill you, then your little whore over there in the corner.”

Raisa sprinted from the room, tears in her eyes.

“You do remember what you did last night?” Wyanet accused.

I set the cleaver down. The voice left my head.

Jack’s eyes returned to panic. “Please, give it back. I have to do what it wants. ‘Nd if I don’ give the Fathers bodies, I starve an’ worse.” Tears rolled down the girl’s face. “Please let me go.”

Bella knocked on the door and stepped into the wine cellar. “There’s a man here from the constabulary for you three.”

“What does he want?” Bucephalus grumbled.

“He didn’t say, but I imagine it has to do with the little girl tied up in MY cellar.”

“She’s Jack, Bella.” I pointed at the stack of knives. “She’s the ripper.”

Wyanet replaced Jack’s gag.

Bella’s face paled. “You three go deal with the constable. I’ll make sure the door is locked.”

Wyanet, Bucephalus and I went back to the common room. A Half-Orc wearing the grey poncho and plinth helmet waited by the fireplace. An Elvish looking man with thick mutton chops of hair on his face stood at attention beside the bar. The gold brocade in the Elvish man’s waistcoat glittered in the candlelight.

“Are you Percival Von Veltliner, Wyanet of the First People and Lieutenant Bucephalus of the Inquisition?” the Elvish man asked.

‘“That depends on who’s asking,” I sidled around the bar.

“Isn’t there a fourth member of your party?” The Elvish man continued, “Where is Phebes of Last Oasis?”

“She left last night and has yet to return,” Wyanet moved to my side.

“That’s all I needed to know,” the Half-Orc grunted. “You three need to come with me.”

The story will continue, February 27th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Late Night Guests

The iron gate slid open on well oiled hinges. The light orbs in the cavern ceiling glowed like the light of a full moon. We slipped through the gate and sprinted along the stone path to cover.

“Stay low.” Rolen whispered as we all crouched in a barley field. “Watchers still patrol the fields during the dark cycle.

We slithered through the grain fields. Rolen lead us on an hour long trek towards a collection of orange lights flickering on the opposite end of the cavern. Ten feet from the edge of the last field, a Dark Elf riding a reptilian bird stopped in front of us.

I crouched as close to the ground as I could without disturbing the crops. My hand found my sword hilt and rested there.

The dark elf studied the field, his mount licked the air.

My heart pounded in my ears. I heard Stargazer pull his sword from its scabbard. Caeldrim snapped his fingers somewhere behind me. 

The barley rustled and shifted.

The Dark Elf focused on where the noise came from.

Strix shot up into the air and raced towards a dark patch in the cavern ceiling. 

The mount jumped back a step, chirped once, and spit a gout of fire at the owl familiar. Bright light washed over everything and faded away in an instant. The Dark Elf punched the creature in the back of the head, muttered something, and yanked the creature’s reigns back towards the path. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. 

We waited another minute, and crept out of the field. We slunk our way across open ground towards a large stone carved building. We worked our way to the back of the building and pushed back a worn silk curtain into a dim room. Puddles of the artificial moonlight reflected off of old tool heads and vanished in mounds of burlap bags.

“What was that thing?” Kalista hissed.

Rolen came through the curtain last. “The Watchers call them giant striders. They prefer them to spiders.”

“And they breath fire!” Kalista half shouted.

Caeldrim brushed past Kalista heading for a window. “Yes, they’re very intimidating monsters.”

“Keep your voices down.” Wyanet scolded.

“Wait here.” Rolen declared. “I will go upstairs and tell Bibi you are here.” He went to the darkest corner of the room and vanished into the shadows.

“We should try to learn the guards patterns.” I offered. “We don’t know how long we will be here.”

“Good idea Half-breed.” Caeldrim replied and crouched beneath a window. “We might be able to figure out how many there are at least.”

“Why do you call them that?” Wyanet demanded.

Caeldrim looked back to Wyanet. “Call them what? Half-breed? It’s what they are.”

“Damian is human, and Kalista has a proper name.” Wyanet replied.

Caeldrim stood up, squared his shoulders, and puffed out his chest, inches from Wyanet. “Your lack of years can be forgiven, but you will speak to me with respect, woman.”

My hand crept to my sword.

Wyanet didn’t move. She stared up at Caeldrim. “I have no respect for those who use the circumstances of their birth to place themselves above others.”

Caeldrim sputtered out a collection of meaningless syllables and stomped back to his window.

“What was that all about?” Kalista whispered into my ear.

I pulled her toward the front of the building. “Don’t take it to heart. Wyanet is still pissed at you, but she doesn’t like to see others treated poorly.” I paused for a second. “Kalista, why are you here?”

Kalista looked at me, confused. “I already told you, it’s complicated.”

“Not what I meant.” I rubbed the bridge of my nose. “You’re from the Archipelago. You love booze and people, and you are more flamboyant than a peacock. Why then, are you staying in a tiny farming village on the frontier instead of New Horizon, or one of the other eight cities?”

Kalista crossed her arms and looked away from me. “Maybe, I wanted to try a small town life.”

“If that was the case, half the town wouldn’t hate you and the other half wouldn’t be trying to have sex with you. Tell me the truth.” I turned Kalista back to face me. “And don’t try to say you’re running from something either. Runners don’t settle down, I would know.”

Kalista dropped her arms and rolled her eyes. “Fine. Five years ago Clas hired me as scout for his expedition. I was sixteen, and the only woman in the militia. I never felt safe when we made camp, they all made me nervous. After a few close encounters with Baldrick, I always stayed in the followers camp” 

“Wait,” I interrupted. “Baldrick as in the kid who guards the manor house?”

“No, he’s a junior, and his father was a disgusting man. I’m glad he’s dead.” Kalista paused for a second. “Never trust some one over thirty who tries to coerce a sixteen year old into their bed.” She spit on the ground. “I got close with one of the officer’s daughters in the follower’s camp. She was a few years younger than me, and her father wasn’t happy about our friendship. He wanted to have sex with me too and fucking his daughter’s friends would have been unacceptable. A few weeks ago, she disappeared.” Kalista wiped at her face with the heel of her palm. “At first I thought she had run away without telling me. Baldrick had an eye for her too, and he was her father’s most trusted friend.” Kalista sniffed. “When I saw that cage in the Goblin camp, and realised they might have gotten her.”

“Don’t worry.” I cut her off. “If she’s down here, we’ll find her.” 

Nervous silence filled the air. Half an hour crept by. Heavy feet thudded against wood. An ocean-deep gravelly voice spoke from the shadows. “Rolen said you were down here. Come with me. Bibi wants to talk to you.”

Wyanet and Caeldrim crouched, frozen beneath their respective windows. I stayed still.

“I know you’re there. I can see all four of you.” The voice spoke again. “If we wanted to turn you into the Watchers, we would have done it already. Bibi is waiting.”

Wyanet moved first, keeping her spear parallel to the ground. “Where is Rolen?”

The voice chuckled. “He is in no more danger than the rest of us Miss.” A match flared and lit a candle. The warm little light reflected off the face and tusks of a seven foot tall half-orc. “Watch your step here, the stairs are dark and hard to see.” The half orc stepped to the side to let us pass. “There is food and drink if you would like it. Be careful with the curtain, sometimes it likes to stick to ya.”

Wyanet and I ascended the stairs together. We pushed back a heavy black curtain. The scent of fresh bread and hearty stew buffeted our nostrils.

A slow ragged voice called from beyond another curtain. “We are in here.”

   

The story will continue, July 25th.

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.