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)

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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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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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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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So We're Doing This

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So We’re Doing This

A flatbed wagon pulled by a pair of oxen sat out in front of the Atropa Belladonna. Two men in grey constable uniforms heaved a pinewood box onto the wagon under the eye of the chubby priest. The chubby priest paled at our approach and struggled on to the driver’s bench.

“Come along gentlemen,” The chubby priest collected the reigns. “There are heathens here making me ill.”

The constables looked at us, shrugged and climbed onto the wagon. The chubby priest snapped the reigns and the wagon lurched forward.

“How’d your mission go?” Bella called from behind the bar.

“About as well as building an igloo in the Nine.” Phebes flopped down at our table.

“How did you know we went out asking questions?” Wyanet sat down with Phebes.

“Your Minotaur friend,” Bella sauntered over to our table. “He mumbled about it all morning. He damned near drank all my liquor while he did it.”

“Where is he?” I pulled out my chair and joined the women.

“When that dreadful, fat priest got here he sprinted upstairs like his life depended on it. I like the metaphor ‘bull in a glassblower’s shop’ but it’s a little too on the nose. If you want, I can send Raisa to hunt him down.”

“That will not be necessary.” Wyanet stood up. “I can get him myself.” She vanished upstairs.

“If you don’t mind, Bella,” I leaned back in my chair. “Could you answer some questions about Jack when they get back? The town guards gave us next to nothing.”

“I expected they wouldn’t. They want to ignore Jack until they catch him” Bella started toward the kitchen. “I’ll get lunch going while we wait.”

Five minutes crept by in silence. Bucephalus staggered down the stairs ahead of Wyanet. Bella returned with a piping hot pot of tea and set it on the table. Wyanet forced the drunk Minotaur into a chair.

“You guys made it back! Howd’ id go?”

Bella sat beside Bucephalus and started pouring the tea.

“Oh, hey, can I get ale instead?”

Bella scowled and pulled a vile of clear liquid from her cleavage. “For the Heavens sakes, drink this.” She popped the cork off the vile and slapped it down in front of Bucephalus.

Bucephalus grabbed up the vile and shot it back. He coughed then turned toward Bella. “That wasn’t nice.”

“I hate drunks. Especially when they’re sloppy.” Bella took a sip from her tea.

“What do you know about Jack?”

“I don’t know much,” Bella leaned in. “And what I do know is hearsay.”

“That’s more than anyone else has said,” Phebes quipped.

Bella ignored her. “Jack showed up a couple of years ago. At first, they only targeted people in the temple district. Then they started killing all over the city. Jack’s killed dozens since they started. The entire city is terrified of them.”

“Has Jack only ever killed women?” I asked.

“They go after women who sell their bodies. Rumour has it though, they’ve killed some of the perverts who go for the little girls too.”

“Why haven’t they been able to catch Jack?” Phebes reached for her teacup. “It seems like it’d be pretty easy.”

“They’ve tried, many times, but Jack just appears and disappears like a cloud of smoke. Some from the old farms don’t even think Jack is mortal.”

Raisa brought a handful of baked potatoes over to us.

“I can think of an easy way to catch her.” Phebes continued.

“Please do enlighten us with your genius plan.” Bucephalus bit into his potato like an apple.

Phebes sat straight. “Wyanet or I pretend to be a prostitute. Percy pays one of us, then Ceph and the other one follow behind us. When Jack shows, we grab her.”

“Sounds like a good way to get killed.” Bucephalus took another bite.

“I think they tried that already.” Bella cut into her potato.

“It is not much, but it is a plan, and it is the only one we have for now,” Wyanet sighed. “I do not like being treated like an object though.”

“It won’t work,” Raisa sidled up to the table opposite Bella. “You two don’t look like you’re from here, and if Jack saw you last night, they’d know it’s a trap.”

“What are you suggesting Raisa?” Bella’s eyes narrowed.

“Use me.”

“No. Absolutely not. I refuse to allow it.” Bella crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair.

“Enough Bella!” Raisa’s hands balled into fists. “Women are dying. Not everyone is lucky enough to get taken in like I was. I’ve been powerless to help the girls I used to know, until now.  There’s a chance for me to do some good, and I’m going to take it.”

Wyanet forced her hand into Raisa’s fist. “You do not have to do this.”

“I do though. It’s what’s right and I always what to do what’s right.”

“One of us will be with her at all times,” Phebes offered.

“I’ll have an eye on her at all times. Because I guess I’m getting dragged into this.” Bucephalus slugged back a cup of tea. “Needs whisky.”

“See Bella, I won’t be in any danger. I won’t really be doin’ any whorin’. It will all be pretend.”

“Fine,” Bella slumped. “But if any harm comes to ‘er, you better hope The Ripper kills you first.”

“I have an idea for how to do it,” I sat up in my chair. “Raisa, grab a chair, I want your opinion on this as well.”

“She can take mine.” Bella pushed back from the table. “I don’t want any part of this idiocy.”

Raisa took Bella’s chair and leaned over the table.

“Do you have a spare dress Phebes could borrow?” I looked at Raisa.

“I’ve got a few, but they won’t be much good for fightin’ in.”

“That’s okay.” I shifted back to the rest of the table. “They’ll be the bait in our trap, but we need to figure out a way for them to leave here unseen.”

“They can take the carriage,” Bella called from the bar. “Grazer hasn’t left yet if you ask him, he could be the driver.”

“I thought you didn’t want to help?” Raisa snapped.

“I don’t, and that’s all I’m offering.” Bella went back to scrubbing the same spot on the bar.

“That’s transport covered,” I shifted to look at Bucephalus and Wyanet. “An hour after the girls leave, you two will shadow them on foot. I’ll wait for another half an hour, then follow. I’ll find and approach the girls like a prospective client. Phebes will break off and cover us from the rooftops. Then we will wander around and wait for Jack to attack us.”

“Why are you the one ‘hiring’ a prostitute?” Wyanet asked. “Out of all of us, you are the best at staying hidden.”

“It will look more realistic if I do it. Also, you’re better at saving me than the other way around.”

“Where am I supposed to carry my weapons? Won’t it be weird for a prostitute to be walking around with a sword.”

“Wyanet will have them.”

“What about when Raisa and I are together? Shouldn’t I have some sort of weapon on me then?”

“I can show you both how to hide a dagger,” Wyanet offered.

The story will continue, February 6th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Do We Run

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

Do We Run

“Something isn’t right here.” Bucephalus closed the door to our room and leaned against it.

Wyanet sat on the bed. “Are you referring to the little care given to a girl being murdered, or a priest abandoning his mission?”

Bucephalus huffed. “You have no idea what I’ve been through.”

“Stop it. Both of you,” I sat down in the desk chair and leaned back.

‘We’re going to hunt Jack down, aren’t we?” Phebes slumped in her chair.

“I thought you said the three of you weren’t heroes.”

“We’re not, but innocent people are in danger, and the people who can do something won’t listen.” I countered.

“We should spend some time today asking around about this Jack,” Wyanet suggested.

“Or, we could leave town today. Head north until we find a port and book a ship to the Isle of the Gods.” Bucephalus offered.

“No,” Wyanet stood up. “These people need help, and I will not leave them to their fates.” She slid her club into her belt. “If you wish to leave, you are free to do so, bt you will be travelling alone.”

Bucephalus looked at me.

“I suggested staying in the first place, and I am not abandoning my friends.”

“I need a drink,” Bucephalus sighed and left the room.

“Where are we going first?” Phebes pulled her armour on.

“We should speak with a peacekeeper. The information they have will be better than the rumours from the town’s folk.” Wyanet tied on her cloak.

I fastened my new sword to my belt. “Irven might know something, and he seemed amiable enough.”

Bucephalus scowled at us as we walked out the front door.

Grey clouds replaced the fine misty rain. Moisture slick cobblestone streets glistened as the city continued in its lifeless cycle.

“You folks leaving us already?” Irven smiled as we approached him. “I didn’t think we were that bad.”

“Actually,” I stepped forward, my hand on my sword hilt. “We have some questions you could be able to answer.”

Irven clapped his hands together. “Great! I see you found Rory.”

“What do you know about the Ripper?” Phebes blurted out.

The smile on Irven’s face vanished. “You’ve heard about him then?”

“Jack is a she, not he, and we met her,” Wyanet replied.

 “Step into my office. All of you. Quickly.”

Irven ushered us into a cramped room attached to the gatehouse. A barrel bursting with arrows and another with crossbow bolts sat beside the door. A handful of spears leaned against one wall. 

Irven closed the door and shuffled through us to his desk. “Have you spoken with anyone about Jack?”

“An Inspector asked us about the dead woman we found.” Phebes bumped into the spears and they all fell into one corner.

“We wish to help catch The Ripper, but we need more information?” Wyanet stated.

Irven frowned. “I can’t give you much without losing my job. What I can tell you is The Ripper is a mass murderer. He targets prostitutes and has killed nearly one hundred women. But, you say Jack is a woman?”

“Yes, The Ripper is a woman,” Wyanet replied.

“I’d say a girl is more accurate. She’s in her early teens, maybe,” I interjected.

“What did the Inspector say when you told them?”

“They ignored us. They believe the girl to be an accomplice, not the murderer,” Wyanet replied.

“How do you know it was her?”

“I spoke to her, or she spoke to me,” I replied.

Irven steepled his fingers. “Okay, I’ll pass it along to my superiors.” He leaned back in his chair. “I can’t tell you anything else, but I can give you several warnings.” He held up a finger. “One, don’t look like a prostitute.” He held up another finger. “Two, don’t go asking questions about The Ripper around town. The people are scared enough as it is and you’re not going to get an answer.” Irven held out his thumb. “And third, stay out of the constabulary’s way. They have enough problems without wandering vigilantes getting in the way.”

Wyanet puffed out her chest. “You expect us to stand idle while more people die?”

“My advice,” Irven sighed. “Leave Vercingetorix as soon as you can. There’s not much good left in this city, and more of it vanishes every day.” Irven grabbed a quill and a blank piece of parchment. “Go on, I’ve got work to do.”

Phebes walked behind Wyanet and I. “What now? If they don’t want us talking to people or getting involved, are we going to leave? Stay and get arrested? Forget everything and leave with Ceph?”

“We will talk to Bella first,” Wyanet replied. “She might know more. We will decide after.”

A warm gentle breeze caressed the back of my neck. I stopped walking and looked around. “Where are we?”

“I dunno, we didn’t come this way yesterday.” Phebes stopped beside me.

My eyes settled on a dilapidated octagonal building. A barren oak tree grew out of the centre of the building’s roof. 

“Hey, Wy, can we check this out quick?”

Wyanet came back and stood beside me. “Something isn’t right here.”

“I know.”

I walked up to the building and entered where the door should have been. Stained glass of a myriad of colours crunched beneath my feet. Splashes of dark brown stained the floor, walls and ceiling.

“It appears to have been a shrine.” Wyanet circled to the left of the oak tree. “Who would do such a thing?”

“I thought the Dawnfather was well-loved.” Phebes circled to the right. A stained glass window in the roof meant to resemble the rising sun painted her red.

“We should leave here immediately,” Wyanet pulled her war club from her belt. “This is an evil place.”

“What did you find?” I went to Wyanet’s side. A six-foot-wide eye, painted in blood, stared back at us from the palm of a left hand.

“My people know this as a symbol of undeath.” Wyanet pushed past me. “We are not safe here.”

The story will continue, January 23rd  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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 on one of our posts.