|Series||The Journey by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Seven|
|Next||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Nine|
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WRITTEN: 30 May 2012
Chapter Eight: Sparrow's New LifeEdit
‘He wouldn’t want to be going anywhere,’ Sparrow grumbled as an awful yodelling met his ears. ‘What on earth?’
Sparrow had never heard anything so horrible in his life. Even his father’s singing wasn’t that bad! However, there was something familiar about the yodelling and eventually curiosity got the better of his as he went in search of the source of the racket. He eventually found the source.
‘Oh… it’s only you,’ Sparrow said, sounding disappointed as he stopped next o Barnum.
'By the illustrious gossoons!' Barnum yelled, jumping. He hadn’t noticed Sparrow’s presence. 'It's you again! Our fates do seem to be interbindified, don't they, my good friend?’
‘If you say so,’ muttered Sparrow.
‘As a matter of fact, I can think of no one better to become my new business partner.'
'”Business partner”?' Sparrow questioned, withholding a groan. He was yet to hear of one of Barnum’s ideas being successful. 'You've come up with another plan?'
'Oh yes, it's my most sagacious plan yet,’ Barnum said enthusiastically. ‘It was inspired by my newfound faith in Toby.'
'That's the Temple of Business and Yodelling,’ Barnum explained. ‘It's through Toby that the idea came to me. Take a land rotten to its very core and morph it into a friendly holiday park for the whole family. One day, Westcliff will be a tourist entrapping amusement zone. I just need a small investment to get me started.’
Sparrow didn’t look too thrilled at the idea.
‘I earnestly certificate it that you will get every crumb of it back, with a heap of interest, naturally,’ Barnum persuaded. ‘We'll be richer than Toby himself, the founder of the Temple.'
Sparrow stood there thinking it all over. The chance of making more money did appeal to him, and it wasn’t as though he was going to need his money in the Spire.
‘Sure, I’m in,’ Sparrow said at last, handing over a bag of gold. ‘But if this doesn’t take off, you better find a way to get my money back!’
‘Of course I will, my friend. I shall notify you by letter when I have completed the project. You'll see constipated changes, I swear by Toby. I shall begin my enterprise at once.'
‘Fine. Send the letter to my house in Bowerstone Old Town,’ Sparrow said, before walking off, wondering if he had made the right decision.
As Sparrow left Westcliff, with no particular destination in mind, he became aware of a strange glow coming from the Shadow Pendant Grim had given him after joining the Shadow Cultists at the Temple of Shadows. He was being summoned.
Curious as to what Grim wanted, Sparrow headed towards Rookridge immediately. It took him several days to get to the Temple of Shadows and when he arrived, Tarquin told him that Grim was waiting for him in his quarters. Sparrow immediately headed to Grim’s quarters.
‘You wished to see me, Master?’ Sparrow said when he stood before Grim. Sparrow only sunk low enough to call Grim “master” because he respected the evil man.
‘I did,’ replied Grim. ‘I have not seen you around here lately. Could it be that you have changed you alliances? Is that why you never returned with more Light monks?’
‘Of course not!’ Sparrow said coldly. ‘The guards caught on and I had to flee from Oakfield, which was highly embarrassing.’
‘Well, what would you say if I was to give you a chance to take revenge for your humiliation?’
‘I’d asked what kind of revenge?’
‘It’s the kind of revenge where you eliminate every living soul in Oakfield.’
‘Define every living soul…’ Sparrow said uncertainly.
‘Every man, woman and child that is currently in the region,’ Grim said with a dark gleam in his eyes.
‘Master, you know that I can take someone’s life without a second thought, but I cannot kill children.’
‘And why not?’ Grim demanded.
Sparrow opened his mouth to answer, but closed it once more. He did not know why.
‘Listen to me, my young disciple,’ began Grim. ‘By destroying Oakfield, you will have the Shadows’ alliance, which means you can be one of the most powerful men in Albion.’
‘Would I be invincible enough to help me revenge Rose?’
‘Of course. The Shadow’s reward their loyal followers,’ Grim said, playing with Sparrow’s weak emotions.
‘I – I’ll do it,’ Sparrow said hesitantly. He was wondering what Hammer would do when she discovered what he was about to do. He shook the thought away though. He needed to do this. By doing this, it would increase the outcome of success for revenging Rose.
‘Excellent!’ said a delighted Grim. ‘I have long dreamt of this day when the Temple would count among its members a truly malevolent soul. You are a venomous Shadow among spineless half-wits. You will find two such stuck-up simpletons awaiting you in Oakfield. Go there now and make me proud.'
‘I will,’ Sparrow swore, before heading off to Oakfield.
He arrived in Oakfield five minutes till midnight and found his way blocked by tow wagons. As he wondered who was stupid enough to park there, he climbed over them with Shadow on his shoulders. When he was on the other side, he noticed two dark figures watching him from the shadows.
‘Show yourselves, before I kill you where you stand!’ Sparrow warned.
'You must be the one then,' said a shadow-worshipper as he came out of the shadows with his companion. 'Grim's new favourite. I suppose being just moderately evil just isn't good enough anymore.'
'You mean "bad enough", surely?' said his companion.
'Of course. Now, let us not waste time,' continued the first. 'We could all be in bed by now. Anyway, as you can see we've blocked the exit for you. No one can escape. So take your time, and kill everyone you see.'
'Not us though,' the second said hurriedly.
'Yes, except for us.’
Sparrow nodded his head and withdrew his blade. It was time to go hunting.
He moved silently around the town, being nothing more than a shadow, pouncing upon the unexpecting drunks on their way home. He made sure to avoid the tavern where a great number of villagers and guards were. He would attack there last. That way, he could remain unnoticed. So instead, he broke into all the houses, slaughtering people in their sleep; men, women and children alike. His coldness knew no boundaries, though deep down, it killed him to be slaughtering the innocent children.
With the houses containing only the dead, Sparrow swiftly made his way to the Temple of Light, where he found the remaining monks holding a meeting.
‘It cannot be true!’ one of them exclaimed. ‘Why would Sister Hannah travel with the monster, Sparrow? No, the rumours cannot be true! She would never!’
‘Maybe she doesn’t know what he is really like,’ the Abbott said quietly. ‘Maybe she is still being fooled like we all were. I hope he won’t hurt her.’
‘I’d be more worried about your safety than Hammer’s safety,’ Sparrow said coldly, startling the defenceless monks.
‘You! What are you doing here? What do you want with us?’ demanded the Abbott.
‘I thought it’d be obvious,’ Sparrow said, blocking the Temple’s exits with walls of fire, before he plunged his sword into a monk’s chest. He then took care of the rest. He purposely killed the Abbott last so he could see what happened to his precious monks.
With the monks destroyed, Sparrow dropped the fire barriers and left the Temple grounds. As he was leaving the grounds, the town’s warning bells began to sound. His handy work had not gone unnoticed. Sparrow hurried to the tavern to prevent too many people from leaving. He did not want to go on a wild goose chase for anyone.
When he arrived at the Sandgoose, he found the doors all locked and Oakfield’s guards outside. The sheriff wasn’t there.
‘Aww, are you all here to see me?’ Sparrow asked with an insane laugh as approached them.
‘Sparrow… we should have known,’ one of the guards growled. ‘You’re crossed the line this time, young man.’
‘Listen, Sparrow… we don’t want to fight you,’ said another guard, calmly. ‘So why don’t you make it easy on yourself and surrender. Don’t jeopardise your future any more than you already have.’
‘Nice try,’ Sparrow said indifferently before he attacked.
The guards actually proved to be a challenge for Sparrow. They were more skilled than he gave them credit for.
‘Surrender, son. You cannot win!’
‘If I can fight trolls and balverines, then I think I can handle a bunch of under-paid guards!’ Sparrow growled, but he was wrong.
The remaining guards managed to get his sword away from him. They then were able to get him to his knees and tired his hands behind his back… with chains. Sparrow struggled to free his hands, but it was no use. They were bound too tightly.
‘There. Now calm down, son,’ said a guard, wiping his sweaty brow. ‘Matt would be turning in his grave if he saw what you have done.’
Sparrow momentarily ceased his struggles.
‘He’s dead?’ he question quietly.
‘Good! I hope he suffered painfully!’ Sparrow began to struggle again, while the guards gasped at Sparrow’s behaviour to Matt’s death.
‘I’m sad to hear that you feel that way.’
‘Then let me put your misery!’ Sparrow said angrily, summoning numerous dead warriors to help him.
The guards had not expected this; hence, they had dropped their guard, making themselves easy targets for Sparrow’s dead minions. In minutes, Sparrow was surrounded by dead guard bodies as he struggled to his feet.
‘Kill all who are inside the tavern!’ Sparrow ordered. ‘Except you,’ he nodded to one of his minions. ‘Find the key to these chains and let me out.’
Sparrow watched as his minion searched for the key to release him, while listening to the screams of the remaining Oakfield citizens, trying to get away from the dead minions who were determined to end their lives.
By the time Sparrow was free from his chains, his shadow minions were finishing off he last handful of citizen. Sparrow smirked and dismissed his followers. He then headed back to the two shadow cultists waiting at the region’s exit. He did not notice the seven year old boy watching him fearfully in the bushes, though this was a good thing, seeing as the boy was to play an important role in Sparrow’s future.
‘May I just say, that was magnificent!’ exclaimed the first cultist. ‘You maybe ever so slightly eviler than I, and for that, I salute you!’
‘We’ll report your success to Grim at once!’ said the other.
The cultists then unblocked the road and went back to the Temple of Shadows. Sparrow shortly followed them with the warning bells ringing in his ears.
When Sparrow entered the Temple of Shadows, he found it deserted. This confused him, but he soon found out why… all the cultists had gathered in the centre of the Temple. When they caught sight of him, they all began to cheer and congratulated him on his victory in Oakfield.
‘Well done, my disciple!’ Grim said proudly from the front of the room.
‘Thank you, Master,’ Sparrow said tiredly.
‘Come with me,’ Grim ordered. Sparrow obeyed and followed Grim to the head cultist’s private quarters.
Once inside Grim’s chambers, the cultist turned to Sparrow.
‘Sparrow, even though you have been with us for a few months, you have done more for the Temple than any other member,’ he said. ‘You are definitely a malevolent soul and a loyal follower. It is for this reason that I will teach you how to channel the dark energies of the world.’
‘Really?’ Sparrow said eagerly, his tiredness vanishing instantly.
For the next two hours, Grim taught Sparrow how to channel all the dark energies surrounding him, and by the end of the two hours, Sparrow felt weaker than he had ever been before, not including the time Lucien tried to kill him. In fact, he was that weak that he ended up collapsing in Grim's quarters and slept for several days.
Sparrow remained at the Temple of Shadows for a week, learning all he could from Grim, before heading to Bowerstone Market so he could head back to Westcliff, figuring that he couldn’t delay going to the Spire any longer… he was wrong.
As Sparrow crossed the Bowerstone Bridge, wondering why there were hardly any guards around, a rock hit him in the side of the head… hard.
Sparrow looked around to see who had thrown the rock, but he couldn’t see anyone who might have done it, but he soon did when he was hit by another rock. Sparrow walked over to the railing and looked down at the docks. Arfur was standing there with another rock in his hand. When he saw that he had gotten Sparrow’s attention, he made a “come here” gesture.
Curious as to what Arfur wanted, Sparrow went down to the Bowerstone Docks to meet him.
‘What?’ Sparrow asked coldly, stopping in front of him.
‘Hang on, you’re not Matt,’ Arfur said, stating the obvious, looking Sparrow up and down. ‘You look a lot like him though.’
‘And you’re only just realising this?’ Sparrow asked indifferently. ‘Rose was right. You’re an idiot.’
‘Rose?’ Arfur questioned, before his eyes widened and whispered, ‘Sparrow?’
‘Well, well, well. You were just a nipper last time I saw you, running around with that sister of yours.’
‘You thought that I was my father before… why were you looking for him?’ Sparrow inquired.
‘You’re Matt's son? Why doesn’t that surprise me? It explains why you destroyed those beetles and didn’t give me those warrants when I asked you so nicely,’ Arfur said, before answering Sparrow’s question. ‘I knew your father as a kid, and when I stole something, he told a guard. Since that day, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for him to get revenge. You couldn’t tell me where he is, could you?’
‘Nope, though he’s probably in a graveyard somewhere,’ Sparrow shrugged.
‘Pity. Anyway, while I’ve got ya here, I’ve got a little proposition for you.’
‘What kind of proposition?’ Sparrow asked suspiciously.
‘These friends of mine, fine fellows to the last, they’ve fallen into a touch of vexation during a… routine commercial transaction,’ said Arfur. ‘You know how it is. Certain commodity needs to be got hold of, and the proprietor is, shall we say, disinclined to flog it off to the said gentlemen. Well, you restrict trading like that the whole economy collapses! So, we’re going to have to nick it.’
‘Cut to the point, Arfur.’
‘The mark is a farmer in Brightwood. He used to be a guard, so we could use someone like you. What do you say?’
‘I say, what’s in it for me? I don’t do things for free.’
‘How about I forget about you killing those beetles and the warrants; it’ll make us even.’
‘As if,’ Sparrow snorted. ‘I don’t care if you hold a grudge against me or not. Besides if you seek revenge on me, you’ll be killed.’
‘I see that you’ve grown up to be a hard case like your sister,’ Arfur groaned. ‘Fine, I’ll give you five hundred gold.’
‘Make it a thousand and you’ve got a deal.’
‘Fine,’ Arfur sighed, pulling out a bag of gold, counting the contents, before handing it over to a smug Sparrow.
‘Now, my boys are a touch wary of strangers,’ Arfur said now that the transaction had taken place. ‘A professional hazard, you see. So when you get to their camp, you need to whistle three times.’
‘Off you go then!’
‘You haven’t told me where to go.’
‘Oh… they’re at the Brightwood bandit camp.’
‘Right.’ Sparrow then made this way to the Brightwood bandit camp, wondering how the bandits would react to him.
When he arrived at the bandit camp, he was surprised to see the barricade door wide open. It was then he wondered if Arfur had been entirely honest with him. He also wondered if he was about to walk into a trap, just like he had at Bower Lake Bandit Camp. With this in mind, Sparrow cautiously walked into the camp. It was empty… at least Sparrow thought it was until the sound of hushed voices met his ears.
‘Pretty quiet, hey?’ someone whispered. ‘Anyone got a pack of cards?’
‘No. Now shut it so we can listen out for whistles!’ another growled.
Rolling his eyes, Sparrow whistled three times.
‘One… two… and… that was three, wasn’t it?’ whispered the first.
‘Yeah,’ whispered the second. ‘Time too jump!’
Sparrow’s hand automatically went to his sword. He did not like the way the second person said “time to jump”.
‘I don’t know. It’s pretty high,' the first said uncertainly.
Sparrow heard the second person let out an annoyed growl, before the first bandit fell out with a scream and landed ungracefully at an unimpressed Sparrow’s feet.
‘Er… that hurt!’ the bandit groaned as he looked up at Sparrow. The moment he saw Sparrow’s face, he jumped up and aimed his pistol at Sparrow.
‘What are you doing her, Bandit Slayer?’ the bandit leader demanded, jumping out of the tree in which the other bandit was pushed out of.
‘Relax. I will not attack you unless you attack me,’ Sparrow said calmly. ‘Arfur sent me to help you with your little problem.’
‘Good. About time Arfur sent us a competent grafter,’ the bandit leader said approvingly. ‘Call me Ripper. That weasel told you what we’re after, right?’
‘He told me that you wanted to nick something from an old guard,’ replied Sparrow.
‘Yes, though he’s a farmer now. Sent thirty years on patrol before he packed it in for a life of soil-bothering,’ said Ripper. ‘Thing is, the farmer, Giles, he’s got a little item tucked away in his basement we’d really like to get our hands on.’
‘Did you say his name’s Giles?’ Sparrow asked quickly.
Sparrow didn’t answer. He was thinking back to the day his father abandoned him and Rose. Hadn't Matt said that he was going to visit an old friend named Giles? Maybe this old guard was the Giles Matt had spoken of and maybe Sparrow would find out where Matt had gone instead of coming home to Rose and him.
Ripper, having mistaken Sparrow’s silence, narrowed his eyes and said warningly, ‘Don’t you even think about getting it for yourself.’
Before Sparrow could reply, the other bandit said, ‘Damn it, Ripper! I told you I’d get it. Just need a little more time is all.’
Ripper turned to the bandit looking highly annoyed.
‘You lost, what, three men last week? Another two this week? You’re building yourself a nice little graveyard,’ he said sarcastically, looking over at a bunch of rough tombstones.
‘I got the wife, didn’t I?’ the bandit sulked.
‘Yeah, and that really helped us out, Ethan!’ Ripper snapped. ‘Now he’s got an army of his pig pals to protect the farm. They’re probably getting ready to hunt us down too.’
‘And you think this guy can take them all on?’ Ethan demanded, looking Sparrow up and down.
‘He is the son of the Hero of Southcliff and has bested many good bandits, like Thag,’ replied Ripper. ‘I’ve got a feeling our new friend will succeed… or die trying.’
‘Believe me, I will succeed,’ Sparrow said confidently.
‘Once can hope. Listen, if you try taking the stuff in the basement for yourself, we’ll kill you ourselves,’ Ethan warned.
Sparrow wasn’t impressed.
‘Your threat has very little meaning to me seeing as bandits are always trying to kill me and are always failing,’ Sparrow said coldly. ‘Where is this farmer?’
‘We’ll lead you to the farm, but any fighting in there will be done by you,’ said Ripper, before motioning to the two bandits still hidden in the trees. He and his bandits, then lead the way to Giles’ farm, which was only a minute away. Ripper and his men stopped on the road which led to the farm.
‘You’re on your own from here on, Adventurer,’ said Ripper.
Sparrow nodded curtly and headed into the so-called farm, where a dozen guards stood waiting.
‘Here comes one of them now,’ growled a farmer, who Sparrow assumed to be Giles.
‘I’m not a bandit, thank you very much!’ Sparrow snapped.
‘Apologise, stranger,’ Giles apologised. ‘Welcome to my farm.’
‘Don’t welcome him, Giles,’ one of the guards said coldly. ‘He’s a cold blooded killer!’
Giles seemed surprised by the news, but then he looked sad when he saw how young Sparrow was.
‘You guards know me so well,’ Sparrow laughed horribly as he summoned some more dead minions. ‘By the way, you should have just given Ripper what he wanted.’
The guards and Giles immediately knew what Sparrow intended to do and prepared themselves for a fight. They knew that they weren’t fighting any ordinary bandit and the fight ahead would be very difficult.
‘Kill everyone, except the farmer,’ Sparrow ordered, before turning his attention onto the guards.
This time he did not underestimate them. He had learnt from his mistake during the Oakfield Massacre. For once in his life he had a strategic plan instead of leaping head first into battle. He was not going to allow himself to be arrested again.
The fight ended up lasting roughly five minutes because of Sparrow’s unfair advantage of Will and his dead minions. It was for this reason that all of the guards fell, leaving Giles to fight all by himself.
‘Why is it that you ordered my friends to be killed and not me?’ Giles demanded as Sparrow dismissed his minions.
‘Because I have a question for you about Matt, the Hero of Southcliff,’ replied Sparrow, now standing less than a metre away from the farmer.
‘And what makes you think I know anything about him?’
‘Because I know that he went to see a man named Giles roughly thirteen years ago.’
‘So? That doesn’t mean I’m that man –‘
‘Did you know that his son is still alive?’ Sparrow interrupted.
‘Sparrow’s still alive?’ said a shocked Giles.
‘I never said what his son’s name was, meaning that you are the man I seek seeing as the Giles I’m looking for would know and care.’
‘What do you want to know about Matt?’ Giles sighed.
‘Where did he go after seeing you?’
‘He headed to Rookridge… said he had business with an old girlfriend there.’
Sparrow’s eyes darkened dramatically. So Matt abandoned his children all for some woman.
‘Do you know who the woman was?’ Sparrow asked, trying to sound casual, but he was unsuccessful. He could not stop his voice or body from shaking with anger.
‘No, I don’t,’ Giles said suspiciously. ‘Why do you care?’
Sparrow, who was still trying to regain control of his emotions, did not answer. In fact, he didn’t do anything. He just stood there shaking. Giles took this time to examine the young man in front of him. It was then that he realised how much the teenager resembled Matt. It hit him.
‘No. You’re Matt’s son?’
Giles was that shocked to learn that his friend’s son had become a murder that he didn’t even react when Sparrow aimed his gun at him.
Giles let out a gasp before he fell to his knees and finally to the ground… his eyes unseeing.
Not even sparing a second glance at Giles’ corpse, Sparrow went to where he knew Ripper was waiting for him.
‘Well, Adventurer?’ Ripper asked eagerly, when Sparrow stopped in front of him.
‘Giles is dead, as are the guards,’ replied Sparrow.
‘Thanks for your help, Adventurer,’ Ripper said with a nasty grin on his face. ‘But seeing as you have killed so many of us, we can’t really let you leave here alive.’
As though that was a secret cue, Ripper and the three other bandits drew their swords and attacked.
‘Big mistake!’ Sparrow growled, before finishing them off.
With nothing left to do in Albion, Sparrow decided that it was time to head to the Spire. When he arrived back in Westcliff, he quickly located Hammer in the tavern, before sneaking to the docks so she wouldn’t see him. He didn’t want to talk to her. Not after what he did in Oakfield.
He had just reached the dock gate when…
‘I thought I told you not to try and sneak off?’ Hammer scolded from behind him.
‘I couldn’t see you so I thought you had left,’ Sparrow lied.
‘Nah, I told you I’d wait for you,’ Hammer grinned. ‘So, you ready to start your glorious military career then?'
'Glorious isn't the word I would use,' Sparrow grumbled as they headed down to the docks. 'Can you imagine me in a uniform? Obeying orders, without any cheeky comments or anything? I can't even go one day without making some sort of smart comment to Theresa.'
'I've noticed. Besides, I’m sure you’ll be fine,’ Hammer said confidently. 'So, have you pretty much got the main land sown up?'
'You could say that.’
'Well, here I am to say my goodbyes,’ said Hammer. ‘You know the last thing I said to my father, before I went to the ritual caves?'
'I can't remember. I can't remember if I said goodbye or not. That's the funny thing about goodbyes; you never know when you'll get another one.'
‘Is that why you’ve come to say goodbye to me? Don’t you believe that I’ll succeed?’ Sparrow asked coldly.
‘No! I'm sorry! I didn't mean… this isn't like that. You'll do great out there,' Hammer said quickly.
‘Good save,’ Sparrow muttered, stopping in front of Lucien’s sea captain and handing him a slip of paper indicating that he was a Crucible Champion to join Lucien’s army.
'Right, no personal effects allowed on board, and no weapons… and no dogs,' said the captain.
'Don't worry, I'll look after fur-face here, and you stuff as well,' said Hammer.
Sparrow grudgingly handed her his weapons, Guild Seal and all his other belongings, before stopping Shadow from sneaking onto the ship.
‘Oh no you don’t!’ Sparrow grabbed Shadow by his collar and pulled him next to Hammer. ‘You cannot come with me this time.’
Shadow began to whine.
‘That’s not going to change my mind,’ Sparrow said firmly. ‘Besides, I need you here to keep Hammer out of trouble and protect her from balverines. How else will she make it back to Theresa alive?’
‘OI! I’m not incompetent!’ Hammer snapped indignantly.
Sparrow ignored her and boarded the ship, ready to start his new life in the Tattered Spire.