Legends of Cobalt

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Haunted Stair

“What are you looking for?” A little voice asked from the entrance to the Shrine of the Dawnfather.

Wyanet, Phebes, Bucephalus and I jumped at the sound. Weapons flew from their scabbards. We readied for an attack.

The little girl with the blue-tinted skin stood in the entryway. Fresh cuts marred her forearms and mud-stained the front of her dress. Tears trickle down her face. “Are you going to kill me?”

Wyanet lowered her club. “We are not going to kill you.”

I fumbled with sliding my sword back into its scabbard. “We’ve been looking for you. We’ve got some work for you.”

“Oh,” the girl’s shoulders sank and she started undoing her dress. “Groups cost extra, and he’s not allowed.” She pointed at Bucephalus.

“Not that kind of work,” Wyanet stopped the girl. “We need a guide. We will pay you well for your help.”

“What kind of work did she think we meant?” Phebes whispered to me.

“That’s much easier,” The girl fixed her dress.” Where do you want to go?”

“Men have vile appetites,” I whispered back. “We’re investigating the shrines in the city, but we don’t know where the rest of them are.”

“Why do you want to do that? Most of ‘em have got destroyed.”

“Do you know which ones haven’t been?” Bucephalus asked. “Those are more important than the defiled ones.”

“Sure, Mister Cow-man. It’s on the other side of the city though.”

Bucephalus leaned against the tree in the centre of the shrine. “There’s only one?”

“Yup!”

“Take us to it, we thought we’d have a long day today.” Bucephalus marched toward the door.

“Wait,” The girl held her hand up. “You said this is a job. What ‘s my pay?”

“I’ll give you the same rate as last time,” I reached for my coin pouch.

“What if that’s not good enough?” The girl crossed her arms.

“I will double it when we reach our destination,” Wyanet offered.

The girl smiled. “That’ll do it. Let’s go.”

We walked North. Phebes walked beside the girl.

“I grew up on the streets too.”

“That’s nice,” The girl replied.

“Do you have a name? Where do you sleep? Is there a place that gives out food for the kids?”

“My parents never gave me a name, but my customers call me Nellie.” She ducked down an alleyway. “Stop asking questions. I don’t want to wake up with a stake in my heart.”

We walked for over an hour through a suspicious city. Nellie led us down alleyways and through abandoned houses until we came to a marble building surrounded by dead gardens. Stone tigers on pedestals flanked steps leading up to an archway. Soft orange light glowed through the archway and several large windows.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Bucephalus stepped beside Nellie.

“Yup, other than the main temple, this is the only active shrine in the city.”

“This isn’t a shrine for the Raven Queen, is it?” I rubbed a tiger’s snout.

“No,” Bucephalus sighed. “It’s not.”

Wyanet brushed my arm. “Who is it for?”

“The Father of Understanding.”

Phebes stared at the tigers. “What’s wrong with that? Our plan still worked. It’s just a different guy than we thought.”

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Bucephalus scratched his head. “He doesn’t have any priests or priestess here, and there haven’t been for years.”

I smacked Bucephalus on the back. “Let’s check it out.”

Braziers lined the walls of the vacant shrine. A six-foot-tall marble pedestal carved with images of angels and a tiger fighting an army of undead rose in the centre of the room. A bronze statue of a man in a loincloth stood triumphant on the pedestal. The statue held a sword and a blackthorn club in one hand and a twisted knot in the other. The firelight from the braziers reflected off of the statue, making it glow.

“Why is he naked?” Phebes’s face turned pink.

Bucephalus went to the wall of the shrine and studied the floor. “It depends on who you ask. According to his priests, it’s because no secrets can be held when the world sees everything. Personally, I think it’s because he wants to flaunt how big his cock is. There are even rumours floating around he’s got a handful of bastards here on Cobalt.”

“Does this god not exist in Last Oasis?” Wyanet asked.

“No,” Phebes tugged at her collar. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen him before. Is it warm in here?”

Bucephalus tapped his hoof around the base of a column. “He exists, but his worship is rare amongst Elves. I don’t think he has a shrine in any Elven city.”

I stared into the eyes of the tiger on the base of the statue.

“What does this represent?” Wyanet ran her hand over one of the angles. “This work is beautiful.”

“I think it’s… “ Bucephalus started.

“A battle from the God war,” I interrupted. “The Father led the host of Celestia against the combined forces of The Whispered One and The Deathbringer. They outnumbered him, but he managed to defeat them and capture the sword Orna from the Deathbringer.”

Bucephalus scrunched his eyes together. “That sounds about right. How did you know that?”

I shrugged. “It sort of came to me.”

Bucephalus nodded. “Keep looking, there has to be something.”

“Does anyone else hear crying?” Phebes circled to the opposite side of the pedestal.

“It’s coming from back here!” Nellie called.

We moved around the pedestal. Nellie stood with her ear pressed against the stone. 

Bucephalus rapped a knuckle against the stone. A hollow thud echoed back. “There’s something behind here.” He pulled his warhammer from his belt and pushed Nellie out of the way.

Wyanet grabbed Nellie and held her back with one hand. Phebes knocked an arrow. Bucephalus reared back ready to strike.

“Wait,” I stepped up to the pedestal and studied the carving.

Two sphinxes, one with a man’s head the other with a woman’s, stood on their hind legs. They stood on their hind legs with their front paws meeting in the middle. Both heads stared back at us. I reached up and put my thumb in the male sphinx’s eye.

“You’re the priest in the party and you wanted to destroy the temple.” I pressed the eye and it gave way.

The pedestal clicked twice and started to rumble. The sphinxes parted inward. A steep staircase descended into inky blackness. A spectral woman waited at the top of the steps. She wrung a blood-stained rag in her hands. Tears stained her face. She paused to look at us. The spectral woman’s eyes turned black, her jaw fell open revealing a maw of razor-sharp teeth. She let out a blood-curdling, ear-splitting scream that echoed off the walls.

Wyanet and Phebes dropped their weapons. They pressed their hands over their ears. I winced and pulled my sword free. I slashed at the spectre, but my blade passed through her.The banshee laughed and lunged at me with claw-like fingers. I dropped my sword and jumped backwards. I bumped into Nellie. She stood still as stone, a slight smile on her lips. Wyanet and Phebes writhed on the ground behind her. I got back into a fighting stance.

The banshee raked her claws across my chest. A chill, like the deepest ocean on the darkest night coursed through my veins.

Bucephalus’s war hammer connected with the banshee and knocked her away. “Stay out of the way, I can handle this.”

“Fuck that.” I dashed around Bucephalus and landed a haymaker on the banshee’s jaw. I followed through with an uppercut and a knee to the chest. Every blow sent a jolt of cold energy through my body. 

The banshee slashed at my chest again. I blocked the attack and a halo of blue fire descended on her. Radiant flames consumed the banshee. She screamed until her form vanished.

“How did you do that?” Bucephalus panted.

“What?” I shrugged, “You can’t punch ghosts?”

“We should keep going.” Nellie stood at the top of the stairs.

Bucephalus grabbed the collar of Nellie’s dress and hauled her back. “We should not do that. We should get more help, then delve into the haunted stairway. You’ve got no sway in the decision anyway.”

“She’s right. We have a lead, we should follow it.” Wyanet took a shaky step forward.

“We can’t. We don’t know what we’re running into,” I put my back to the stairs. “We can wait until morning. We have friends who want to help, let them.”

“Everyone quiet,” Bucephalus ordered. “Does everyone hear that?”

We stood in silence. The rattle of bones and armour shuffled closer.

“I’ve been in a spot like this before,” Bucephalus sighed. And I had better fighters with me last time. We need to leave. Now.”

The story will continue, April 16th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Legends of Cobalt

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Unknown Secrets

“What am I supposed to do with the child you’ve imprisoned in my wine cellar?” Bella rushed up to us and got inches from Wyanet’s face.

“It’s taken care of,” Bucephalus pushed past Bella. “Lord Tiarna is sending someone to take her into custody.” He pulled out a stool at the bar and sat down. “Serving girl! I need a drink!”

Bella’s eyes burned. “No you don’t, you’ve damn near drained my store as it is.” She stomped over to Bucephalus and pushed her chest against his. “Not a single drop of which has been paid for.”

Raisa appeared at the kitchen door.

“I told you, the Conclave will pay you once I make it back to the Isle and document my expenses.” Bucephalus turned to Raisa. “Get me some ale.”

Bella poked Bucephalus in the chest. “Money six years from now isn’t going to keep my business open tomorrow.” She poked him again. “This freeloading cow is not to have another drop of any alcohol until he pays for what he’s already drunk.”

Raisa nodded. Bucephalus snorted, stood and puffed out his chest.

“Am I interrupting something?” The young man from Wolfhearth manor strolled through the door. Phebes trailed behind him.

The colour drained from Bella’s and Raisa’s faces. Bella lowered her head to the man. Raisa ducked back into the kitchen. 

“What can I do for you m’ lord?” Bella hurried behind the bar. “Can I get you something to drink? If you’re hungry, I can prepare whatever we have.”

Phebes threw her arms around Wyanet, then me. “I thought I was going to be stuck in that jail cell forever. I didn’t know if you guys knew I was in there, I thought I would have to change my name, because you know being on the inside changes people.”

“No ma’am, I don’t need anything to eat or drink.” The young man gestured to Phebes. “I’m here to return this delightful woman to your company and find out what they agreed to.”

Wyanet pulled a quartered piece of paper with a wolf head wax seal from her pocket. “We signed a contract naming us an independent task force under the employment of Lord Tiarna.”

Phebes furrowed her brow. “Wait, what?”

‘Our first job is to find and destroy a cult of the Fallen Gods.”

“If we manage to do that,” I added. “We will get more jobs from Lord Tiarna.”

“So we’re mercenaries now?” Phebes asked.

“That is what it’s called when someone pays you to fight their battles for them.” Bucephalus smirked at Bella.

“You’re still not getting anything until I get paid.”

The young man clapped his hands together and grabbed Wyanet’s shoulders. “Welcome to the pack! If you need extra help, let me know. I do nothing but paperwork and sit through meetings anymore. It’s all so boring. I could use a bit of excitement again. Speaking of which, I need to get back to the manor.” He nodded to Bella and left.

“Do you know who that was?” Bella whispered.

“Lord Tiarna’s personal servant?” Wyanet shrugged. “I do not understand your noble ranking system.”

Bella’s jaw hit the floor. “That was Lord William Tiarna. The second son of Lord Miles and heir to Vercingetorix. He’s the second most powerful man in the city.”

“Whatever his rank is,” Wyanet took a seat at our table. “We need to get to work finding this cult.”

“While I was in prison,” Phebes sat down beside Wyanet. “I had the idea that we should check the other shrines in the city to see if they’re ransacked too. The guards wouldn’t tell me anything, but maybe if we find out who destroyed that shrine we could find the cult.”

“You might be onto something there,” Bucephalus put his arms on the table. “There’s a rumour in the Inquisition about corruption within the clergy in Spinel and its surrounding regions. Bishop Berthwald, with whom you’re well-acquainted, is believed to have abandoned his faith in the Raven Queen. No one can find the evidence to prove it though.”

“She’s the one that rules over death, right?” Phebes asked.

“Sweeney taught me she is the patron of destiny,” I replied.

Bucephalus waved our statements away. “Yes, yes, death and destiny. The point is, her followers balance on a thin line between law and chaos.”

“Why does any of that matter?” Wyanet leaned back in her chair.

“I’ll get to that,” Bucephalus pulled a piece of chalk from his pocket. “All the cities in the new world large enough to have a temple, connect to the shrines in their city.” He drew a ten pointed star on the table. “If a shrine is sacked and abandoned by its caretakers, the secret passage connecting it back to the temple can’t be easily used.” 

“The undefiled shrine shows us which section of the clergy to start with,” Wyanet smiled.

Bucephalus brushed his thumb down the side of his snout. “Exactly. And I’d wager that the shrine of the Raven Queen is undamaged.” He clapped Phebes on the back. “Good idea, blondie.”

“Oh, uh, it was nothing.” Phebes stared at the wood grains of the table.

“I’m all for blaming the church,” I said. “But what if we’re wrong? We’re making a lot of assumptions with little information.”

“We start with the church,” Wyanet put her hand on mine. If we are wrong, we will keep looking.”

Raisa brought a platter with fresh bread, hard cheese and a small bowl of strawberries to our table with a pot of tea.

“We should have a guide, none of us know the city very well.” Phebes grabbed for the teapot.

“What about Raisa? She did well last night.” Bucephalus bit into a strawberry.

“I’m sorry,” Raisa blushed. “I’ve had enough dangerous adventures to last for a few years. Besides, I can’t skip the supper shift again. Bella would be furious.” Raisa ran back to the kitchen.

  “The first day we were here, a little girl showed me around town. If we can find her again, I bet she’d be happy for an easy coin or two.” I ripped off a chunk of bread.

“Where is she?” Wyanet sipped her tea.

“I don’t know. She didn’t tell me how to find her,” I replied. “She didn’t even give me her name, now that I think about it.”

Bucephalus sighed. “What did the mysterious child tell you?”

“All she told me is if I needed her She’d find me.”

The story will continue, March 12th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Summoned

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Summoned

“You three need to come with me,” The Constable demanded.

“I beg your pardon,” the mutton-chopped Elf intervened. “Are they under arrest?”

The Half-Orc constable shrugged. “ I don’t know. An Elf girl we arrested last night listed them as contacts. My captain ordered me to find them. He ‘as a few questions for ‘em” 

“That explains what happened to Phebes,” I whispered to Wyanet.

“Well, if it isn’t dire, it can wait a few more hours.” The Elf man pulled a wax-sealed envelope from his pocket. “I am here on business for Lord Tiarna.” He extended the envelope to me. “Lord Tiarna wishes to speak with the four, three, of you immediately. I am to escort you to his manor.”

“What about my orders?” The Half-Orc spun the Elf man to face him.

“I do apologise,” The Elf man turned away from the constable. “As you know, the orders from Wolfhearth supersede orders issued under the authority of the council.” 

“Typical.” The Half-Orc unclipped his cloak and removed his helmet. “ The rank and file get ordered to do something, and some fop from Wolfhearth tells ’em no.”

“You are more than welcome to follow them to the manor. You may collect them when my Master has finished.”

“Fuck off.” The constable’s lip curled, revealing a small tusk. “I don’t get paid enough to be an errand boy like you.” The Half-Orc jutted his chin towards Bucephalus. “Oi, ‘orn-’ead, when you’re done with the dandy.” He hooked his thumb toward the Elf. “Come to Seventh armoury. If I ‘ave to come back ‘ere again, the lot of ya are in trouble.”

“Can we have a moment to collect some things?” Wyanet asked.

“I am sorry,” the Elf man put his hand on my back and pushed me toward the door. “We are on a strict schedule and I have a carriage waiting outside to take you to Wolfhearth.” He hurried to the front door and held it open for us. “Come along.”   

“That was rude,” Bucephalus snorted and lowered his head.

“I don’t care,” the Constable pulled out a stool from the bar. “Oi, barmaid, got any food ‘round ‘ere?”

I fell into step beside Wyanet. “What do you think this is about?”

“I do not know, but I doubt it is good.”

“He wants our help with something.” Bucephalus clomped behind us. “Why else would he send a carriage?”

We stepped out into a light morning drizzle. A black carriage, painted with gold filigree and pulled by two shaggy horses waited for us. The Elf man opened the carriage. Wyanet and I climbed in. The Elf man started to close the door and stood in front of Bucephalus.

“I’m sorry Father, you will have to ride on the back. There isn’t enough space for you to fit inside.”

Bucephalus grabbed the door and forced the Elf man out of the way. “I’ll fit.”

Bucephalus put a hoof on the step. The carriage leaned at a dangerous angle. Wyanet slid across the cushioned bench into me. Bucephalus forced his way inside and sat hunched on the bench opposite us. The Elf man closed the door and climbed up beside the driver.

An hour of nervous silence passed by with the city streets and houses of increasing value. We stopped at an iron gate in front of a dull manor house. Two guards in black and gold livery pulled the gates open. We continued on a gravel path toward the house. Our carriage stopped out in front of the main door. Wyanet, Bucephalus and I exited the carriage. Carved stone walls soared over us.

  “Give the letter to the guards, they will take you to Lord Tiarna,” The Elf man announced.

I Pulled the crumpled letter from my pouch and approached the liveried guards huddled around a brazier.

“What’s your business here?” A guard called.

I handed her the letter. 

She produced a small knife and cut the seal open. The guard’s eyes skimmed the letter. She ripped up the letter and tossed the scraps in the brazier. “Take ‘em inside. Lord Tiarna is expecting ‘em.”

A man in his early thirties leaned his spear against the stoop and ascended the first few steps. “Follow me.” He pushed open the door and entered the house.

I climbed the stairs. The first guard stopped Bucephalus. 

“You two need to surrender your weapons, even if you’re invited.”

Wyanet pulled her dagger from her belt and offered the hilt to the guard. Bucephalus grumbled and removed his shield and war hammer.

“You’ll get ‘em back when you leave.”

In the entry hall, a grand staircase greeted us. Wood panels of carved relief on the walls depicted scenes of wolves hunting in the forest. As we entered, a little girl hiding on a balcony above darted away. The second guard closed the door behind us.

“Wait here,” the guard moved past us. “Lord Tiarna is in a meeting. I will inform him that you’ve arrived.” The guard opened a sliding door to our right and stepped through it.”

“Who’s got the lead?” I whispered to my companions. 

“We work together,” Wyanet studied the room. “If one of us lies, the others support them. Let him speak first. We do not know why we are here, make him tell us.”

“Their obsession with wolves is unsettling.” Bucephalus thumbed a bannister railing shaped like a snarling wolf head. 

“Why? Did a pack of wolves eat someone in your family?” I quipped.

“No,” Bucephalus growled. “They’re predators, who prey on the weak.”

The door slid open. A mismatched group of men and women spilt into the entry hall.”

“You must give us more. Without the merchant guilds, this town would be dead already.” A Halfling in a silk shirt with a waxed beard demanded.

“What about my girls and boys? They’re the ones keeping the city alive.” An Elvish woman in a fine dress protested. “Without them, how would any of the taxes get paid?”

A bored man in his mid-twenties ushered the group to the front door with the aid of the guard. “Lord Tiarna has given as much as we can. Our staff and their families all depend on what we have. What we have left we give away. If you want or need more, you’ll have to get it another way.”

The guard shepherded the last of the group out.

The young man turned to us with a smile. “I see Simon found you. I hope he didn’t give you too much trouble. Come on, he’s waiting for you.”

The young man led us into the parlour and slid the door shut. A tired man in his fifties hovered over a writing desk. He sifted through a stack of papers.

“I give them seventy-five percent of what my family and I bring in and they demand I make those who depend on me starve.” The older man pulled off his spectacles and tossed them on his desk. “Please, sit. We have much to discuss.” He waved to a collection of couches in the middle of the room.

“Why have we been summoned here?” Bucephalus demanded.

The old man leaned back on his couch and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “If you haven’t figured it out yet. I am Lord Miles Tiarna, and I need your help.”

“The city’s starving. We can’t sow the fields. Blah, blah, blah.” The younger man grumbled.

“Why do you need our help?” Wyanet inched forward to the edge of the couch. “There must be others who are more experienced to help you.”

“In short, Ms Wyanet, no one else wants to help us.”

“What makes you think we want to help?” I replied.

“You’ve been doing it since you arrived in the city.” Lord Tiarna leaned forward and steepled his fingers. “Upon arrival to the city, you stopped Bishop Berhtwald from assaulting a River Runner woman. The same night, you rushed to the aide of a woman dying in the street. My border guards have also informed me that you are seeking information on the mass murderer known as the Ripper. I might be missing something, but these all sound like helpful actions to me.”

“I’m trying to get home, but they won’t help me with that,” Bucephalus replied.

“Yes lieutenant I’m aware of your mission, but I should also remind you of your vows.” Lord Tiarna paused and looked back at Wyanet. “Where is Phebes of Last Oasis? Has she left your company?”

“She got arrested last night,” I replied. “They’re holding her at Seventh Armoury.”

The younger man sighed and started writing a note. “I’ll go get her out.” He set down the pen and ladled a glob of wax on the paper before pressing a brass seal into it. “This is boring anyway.”

Lord Tiarna rolled his eyes. “My city, and the entirety of Crescent Moon Bay are in dire shape. If we can cleanse my city Vercingetorix can serve as a staging ground to heal the entire region.”

“We’re not heroes. What can we do to help anything?” I remarked.

“There is a cult for the Fallen Gods operating in my city. Find them, and destroy them.”

“We have already done something your men could not,” Wyanet stated.

“What?” Tiarna leaned in.

“Wy?” I pulled her back.

“He is offering us his patronage.” Wyanet turned back to Lord Tiarna. “We have captured the Ripper.”    

The story will continue, March 5th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

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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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Legends of Cobalt

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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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Legends of Cobalt

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To Catch a Killer

“Hey there mister, looking for some company?” Raisa walked arm in arm with Phebes towards me.

I stopped an arm’s length from the girls and looked them over. Misty rain drenched us.

“I’ll take you.” I offered my arm to Raisa.

Raisa hesitated. “Are you sure you don’t want both of us? Ya see, nights here get rather chilly.”

“I’ve only got money for one of you, and I don’t want her.” I projected my voice shy of a shout.

“If money’s an issue, we can give you a discount. I don’t want to leave my friend out in this weather alone, ya see.” Raisa matched my tone.

“That’s all right,” Phebes kissed Raisa on the cheek. “Go and have some fun. I can find my own company tonight.” Phebes smiled at me and went to where Wyanet lurked.

Raisa took my offered arm and we set off in the opposite direction.

“What was that all about? It wasn’t part of the plan,” I whispered.

“We have to be convincin’ don’t we?” Raisa whispered back, “What next?”

“I don’t know. Let’s wander around and hope something happens.”

“This isn’t working,” Raisa sighed after a few hours. Water dripped from her nose and pasted loose strands of hair to her face.

“I know, but what else are we supposed to do?”

Thin fog rolled in around our ankles.

“I have an idea.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m supposed to be lookin’ like a whore, right?”

“That is a central part of the plan, yes.”

“Well, we’ve been wanderin’ for hours lookin’ like a married couple out for a stroll.” 

“What are you suggesting?”

“There is an alleyway a block from here. We duck down it, you slip me a few coins and we act like the Ghost Nation and have sex beneath the sky.”

My face grew warm, despite the damp cold air. “Do you think that’ll work?”

Raisa stepped in front of me and pressed her lips to mine. “It’s worth a shot.” 

Raisa grabbed my hand. We half-ran half-walked to the alleyway. We went ten feet down it and stopped at a mound of broken crates and old barrels. Heavy fog pooled at our knees. Raisa spun around and pressed her body against mine.

Raisa kissed me again. “Make it look convincing.”

My hands found their way to Raisa’s hips. I kept kissing her.

“I’m sorry mister Von Veltliner.” Raisa put her hands on my chest and pushed me back a step. “Times bein’ what they are, I need the money before we do any more. I’m not one to complain’, but I don’t work for free either.”

I scowled and pulled out my coin purse. I pulled two dragons from the leather pouch and slapped them into Raisa’s hand. “Keep the change.”

Raisa slid the coins into a pocket and wrapped her arms around my neck. “Shall we continue?”

I started kissing Raisa again and lifted her onto a barrel. Her fingers undid the knot on my sash and pulled it away. I slid the sleeves of her dress off her shoulders and started to undo the lacing on her corset.

A little girl’s voice echoed down the alley. “I wondered when you’d leave the safety of your tavern.”

I stopped and looked over Raisa’s shoulder, pulling her closer.

“Is it The Ripper?” Raisa whispered into my ear. Fear lined her words.

“Yes.” 

Jack pulled a cleaver from beneath her cloak. She ran toward us and leapt into the air.

I spun Raisa away. The cleaver punched into my back. Blood welled from the wound and mingled with the rain. I pushed Raisa toward the mouth of the alley. I turned on Jack, my hand shot to where my old sword used to sit but closed on nothing.

“Shit,” I mumbled.

Jack stepped toward me. My blood dripped from her cleaver. “Get out of my way. You don’t have to die tonight. All you have to do is let me kill the whore.”

“Wy! We found her!” I settled into a fighting stance, a jolt of pain thrummed through my back. “That isn’t going to happen.”

“I’ll go through you to get to her.” Jack stepped closer and pointed her cleaver at my chest. “I have no problem killing both of you.”

“Put the knife down, and come with us. We won’t hurt you.”

Jack launched herself forward. She swung her cleaver in an upward slash. 

I responded with a crescent kick from my back leg. I knocked the cleaver out of the way, planted my foot and used my momentum to throw a spinning heel kick. My foot connected with Jack’s jaw, knocking her to the ground. 

 Jack skittered across the pavers and landed on her feet. She scowled back at me. “I’ve got other ways to get past you.” Jack popped the cork off a flask at her hip. Thick, heavy fog spillt from the flask. Jack giggled as the fog filled the alley.

Bucephalus’s hooves thundered past the alleyway.

“Shit,” I muttered as I extended my hands. “Faery Fire!”

The heap of old crates and barrels glowed a soft pink. I waved my hand in front of my face. It carried the same soft pink glow. Metal thunked against wood. I spun toward the sound. 

A pink glow outlined Raisa. She cowered in a ball on the ground. Wyanet, also glowing pink, stood over Raisa. Her war club held Jack’s pink glowing cleaver at bay. Wyanet punched forward with her shield.

Jack jumped back, dodging the shield. Jack pivoted and sprinted at me.

My back foot slid into a horseback stance and I brought my fists up in front of my face.

Jack lunged toward the wall. She kicked off it and shot at me like an arrow.

I skipped forward to meet her. I planted my front foot and punched forward with both fists. Jack collided with my fists, her momentum flipped her over my head. 

Jack’s cleaver clanged against the ground. She gasped for air after she landed.

I scrambled to pin Jack in place.

Jack rolled away and jumped to her feet. She dove towards her fallen cleaver.

Bucephalus bellowed and rushed into the alley from the other direction. He lowered his shoulder and tackled Jack to the ground. Bucephalus picked Jack up by her lapel. He threw her against the wall, picked her up again and repeated the process against the other wall.

Jack slumped to the ground in a heap. 

Bucephalus moved towards her again.

“Bucephalus! Enough!” Wyanet yelled. “We need her alive.”

Bucephalus rounded on Wyanet. His nostrils flared. He took a step towards Wyanet. Wyanet tightened her grip on her war club.

I stepped between them. “Where’s Phebes?”

Bucephalus and Wyanet stared at me.

“How should I know?” Bucephalus grumbled.

“I gave her her weapons, and I lost track of her after that.” Wyanet slid her club back into her belt.

I scanned the roofline above us for another pink outline.

“Shouldn’t we,” Raisa shook. “Tie her up, or somethin’?”

Bucephalus pulled a coil of rope from his belt. “Good idea.”

I unfastened my bloody, rain-soaked cloak and wrapped it around Raisa. She put her arms around me and clung tight.

“We should take her to the constable and be done with the whole business.” Bucephalus synched the last knot and hoisted Jack like a sack of potatoes.

“We need to take her somewhere to interrogate her. I do not think the constable will believe what we tell them.”

“Don’t look at me Missie, you’re the one with a room at an inn.”

“Won’t you be cold?” Raisa mumbled to me.

“I’ll be fine.” I craned my neck to look at Bucephalus. “We can’t keep her in a rented room forever.”

“We could keep ‘er in the storage cellar.” Raisa chimed in. “There’re some old chairs we can tie her to. We can also go in through the back, so no one will know she’s there.”

“Once again, the serving girl has the best plan.” Bucephalus set off walking toward the Atropa Belladonna.

“We should try to find Phebes,” I said to Wyanet.

“She’s a big girl,” Bucephalus called back. “Let her take care of herself.”

“We do not have the time,” Wyanet put her hand on my shoulder. “If we linger we will get caught. Phebes will have to make due on her own for now. We can find her in the morning.” Wyanet started after Bucephalus.

“Don’t forget that cleaver!” Bucephalus called again.

I collected the knife from the cobblestones. A dark evil laugh filled my mind.

The story will continue, February 20th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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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.