|Series||The Journey by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Five|
|Next||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Seven|
|← Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Five||Chapter Chronology||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Seven →|
Chapter Six: Journey to a Hero: The MageEdit
When Sparrow and Shadow arrived at the Heroes Guild, the first thing he noticed was that it had been cleaned. The second was that Theresa and Hammer were there waiting for him.
‘I’m back! Did you miss me?’ Sparrow asked Theresa, ignoring Hammer all together.
‘Yeah right,’ Sparrow snorted. ‘Been doing some Spring Cleaning, have we?’ he added, looking around the Chamber of Fate.
‘Well someone had to clean this pigsty,’ said Hammer, ‘and I couldn’t see you doing it.’
‘Of course I wouldn’t do it!’ Sparrow said indignantly. ‘That’s servants’ work!’
‘What? Are you a noble?’ Hammer asked, taken back, as she looked Sparrow up and down.
‘My father was crowned King of Southcliff, making me a prince,’ Sparrow informed her arrogantly. ‘Plus, I’m a decedent of the Archon.’
‘This is getting us nowhere,’ Theresa said sternly, talking more to Sparrow than to Hammer. 'I believe the second of our Heroes, the Mage, is in Brightwood.'
‘Care to share how you came to that conclusion?’ said Sparrow.
'There is a powerful Will user there named Garth –‘
‘No,’ Sparrow said sharply. ‘He was there the night Lucien murdered Rose!'
'You didn't tell me that!' Hammer said accusingly to Theresa. 'How are we supposed to trust him?’
'Garth believed that Lucien's interests in the Old Kingdom were purely academic, like his own,' Theresa explained patiently. 'And Lucien, for his part, thought that Garth was only a brilliant scholar. When each learned the truth of the other, their partnership ended… violently.'
‘Do you trust him?’ asked Sparrow, his eyes narrowed dangerously.
‘I believe he will help you,’ Theresa answered honestly.
Sparrow said nothing. He only stared at her, while Hammer looked between them.
‘Where in Brightwood is he?’ Sparrow asked, eventually.
‘Brightwood Tower,' replied Theresa. 'I have seen a vision of him toiling on some ancient technology there. Surely he intends to stop Lucien, but he cannot do so without help. Go and inform him of our intent.'
‘What if he doesn't accept?' Hammer asked.
'Then he’ll have me dragging him back here, whether he likes it or not,’ Sparrow said with a careless shrug.
‘That’s a good way to build trust,’ Hammer said sarcastically.
‘Whatever,’ said Sparrow. ‘Now why don’t you do something useful and do some more cleaning.’
‘What? No, I’m coming with you!’
‘Like hell you are! I work alone!’
'Sparrow is right, Hammer. You should remain here,' Theresa interjected calmly, making Hammer look at her in disbelief and Sparrow smirk.
'Why? I'm ready!' Hammer argued.
'With Lucien still searching for Heroes, it’s safest for you here,' Theresa said firmly, leaving no room for arguments.
'Fine,' Hammer grumbled, 'but don't think that you are holding me back when the action starts.'
'Go now,' Theresa told Sparrow, ignoring Hammer.
'So I get to stay here with Miss Barrel of Laughs, while you go out into the world?' Hammer said loudly as Sparrow walked back to the cullis gate. 'Great.'
‘Just think, now you have more time to clean,’ Sparrow said contemptuously, before using the cullis gate that led the Hero Hill.
When Sparrow arrived in Brightwood, he knew immediately that something was wrong. He didn’t know how he knew, but something in the atmosphere around him didn’t feel right.
‘Theresa,’ Sparrow began as he drew his sword, looking around. ‘What’s going on?’
Someone or something is coming your way. Theresa sounded worried and unsure. I have never felt anything like it.
‘That can only mean one thing,’ Sparrow muttered, before tearing down the path. Someone or something was after Garth. Sparrow knew that it was the only logical explanation.
After several wrong turns, Sparrow arrived at Brightwood Tower. At the same time, a strange, flying, upside down, greyish black pyramid appeared too.
‘What is that?’ Sparrow exclaimed taking a step back, as it shot white beams at the ground.
It’s a shard, Theresa explained, an ancient device of great power. You must hurry. Lucien's men are attacking!
Sparrow knew this to be true for the white beams the shard had sent towards the ground, turned out to be it transporting Lucien’s men. These soldiers were the same size as the Albion guards, except they were dressed completely in black, with their faces with hidden by a black mask. Only their eyes could be seen.
'Should I kill you here or shall I...' began one of Lucien's men as they headed towards Sparrow, but he never got to finish his sentence. The reason for this was the fact that in one quick move, Sparrow slit his throat. He wasn’t going to stand there all day waiting for them to attack.
By slitting the soldier’s throat, Sparrow had enraged the fallen soldier’s comrades, which meant Sparrow had the joy of fighting his way to the top of the tower, where Garth was located. However, just as he got to the staircase leading to Garth, Sparrow heard something crash to the ground above him. He could also smell smoke, suggesting that there was a fire on the landing above.
Sparrow ran to the top of the stairs and found his way blocked by a roaring fire and fallen beams. He looked into the room beyond.
Garth was standing near the balcony, with blades around him for protection, while a strange man in black with a bald white head that had black things sticking out of it advanced on him. They were talking.
'I'm never going back there, you hear me?' Garth said stubbornly to the enemy.
'You're wrong!' said the other, with an air of confidence.
'You think I'm scared of you?' Garth demanded with a laconic laugh. 'You're a freak! Lucien's failed experiment - nothing more!'
'You left to soon, Garth,' the man replied. 'Lord Lucien's experiment was a radical success.'
The Mage’s eyes widened with shock.
'You are coming with me,' the man said, getting ready to attack Garth.
It was then that Sparrow intervened. He had managed to get into the room by climbing up the railing of the room.
‘Not if I have anything to say about it,’ he yelled, swinging his sword at the enemy, who only just managed to dodge his attack.
‘I have no time to play your games, boy,’ the enemy said, clicking his fingers.
Sparrow watched on helplessly as the Shard beamed him and Garth up and flew away.
Sparrow swore loudly.
There was nothing you could do, Theresa said gently.
'Who was that man?’ Sparrow demanded angrily.
That was Lucien's Commandant, Theresa sighed. Lucien's strength grows ever more formable, as does his knowledge of ancient machinery and the Old Kingdom, it would seem.
'That's comforting,' Sparrow said sarcastically.
Come back to the Guild, Theresa ordered, ignoring Sparrow’s sarcastic remark… as usual.
Once more, Sparrow found Theresa and Hammer waiting for him when he arrived back at the Guild. Only this time, Hammer was standing impatiently, tapping her foot while Theresa looked thoughtful.
'It sounds like you needed my help after all,’ Hammer said to Sparrow as he stormed in. ‘I knew I should have come!'
'What? You think your presence would have made much difference? Don’t make me laugh!’ Sparrow said coldly, before turning to Theresa. ‘What do we do now?’
'We cannot allow Lucien to keep Garth,' she replied. 'You must get him out of there.'
'"There" being the Spire?' asked Hammer, forgetting that she was meant to be glaring at Sparrow. 'We don't even know what's inside that thing; let alone how to get there.'
‘’Course we do,’ Sparrow said ignorantly. ‘We take a ship there and slay anyone who gets in our way of getting Garth.’
‘If we do that, we’ll be dead before we even get off the ship!’ Hammer exclaimed.
‘Speak for yourself –‘
‘Sparrow, Hammer is right,’ Theresa interrupted firmly. ‘Even you would not be able to fight an unknown force.’
‘Then what do you suppose we do?’ Sparrow demanded. ‘It’s not like we can walk up to someone and ask them if they know how to get into the Tattered Spire!’
'True, but there's one who might know how you could get inside,' replied Theresa. 'When Lucien left for the Spire, he essentially abandoned his staff. His old butler, Jeeves, now spends his days at the Cow and Corset.'
‘I remember that creep,’ muttered Sparrow, while Hammer said, ‘His butler? I bet he saw his fair share of dirty dealings. Well, if it means a trip to the pub, we'll just have to make that sacrifice.’
Sparrow snorted. He knew that Hammer would be at home in any region of Albion as long as it had a local tavern… a little like himself.
'The task requires tack and delicacy,' Theresa said calmly. 'Something I believe you are unfamiliar with, Hammer.'
Sparrow started laughing, while Hammer stared at Theresa.
‘Why are you staring at me?'
'This is the part where you say, "no offence",' Hammer said bitterly. ‘Besides, he’s as tackless as me!’ she added, pointing accusingly at Sparrow.
‘Hammer, why don’t you be a good girl and remain here being tackless and indelicate,’ Sparrow said coldly as he walked over to the cullis gate.
‘Why you little –’ Sparrow didn’t hear the rest of Hammer’s angrily sentence, for he was already being taken to Hero Hill.
Once Sparrow was back in Bower Lake, he ran like the wind to Bowerstone. He knew that he had to move quickly if there was any hope to rescuing Garth. Even when he was in Bowerstone, he did not stop running. Many citizens jumped out of his way as he tore passed while others shook their fists at him for running into them or knocking them over. Sparrow didn’t care though. All he cared about was finding Jeeves, so he could get even closer to revenging Rose.
Outside the Cow and Corset, Sparrow straightened up his clothes, fixed his hair, and walked calmly into the inn, heading straight to the barman.
'Ah, what an honour it is to have you back in my inn once more, Adventurer,’ said the barman. ‘The usual drink and room, I suppose?’
'Not this time. I hear that a man named Jeeves spends a lot of time here. Have you seen him?' asked Sparrow.
'Yes, go up the stairs and he is in the second room to the left.'
Sparrow nodded curtly to the barman and went to the room the barman mentioned, stopping momentarily to flirt with a barmaid. Stopping outside Jeeves’ room, Sparrow could hear his voice from within.
'...with a thousand I could by a house, and where does one even find Concubines? Is there a shop?' Jeeves was saying as Sparrow quietly slipped into the room, locking the door behind him. He then stood there waiting for Jeeves to notice his presence as the old butler examined his reflection in a mirror.
'I could buy a new wing, something without mice in it. So many options! So many... I see you!' Jeeves has finally noticed Sparrow’s presence.
‘I’m glad. I was beginning to believe that I was invisible,’ Sparrow said coldly. ‘I’ve come to ask you some questions about Lucien –‘
'Well, well, well… another offer?' Jeeves interrupted, his eyes practically dancing with greed.
‘Offer? I haven’t offered you anything!’ Sparrow snapped.
‘But you will,’ Jeeves smirked. ‘You wish to know all of Lucien’s dirty little secrets.’
‘And let me guess. You will only answer my questions for a price,’ Sparrow growled.
‘Better even. Everything you want to know is all written down, and I know where. And here's something else that's written down: my price!' He handed Sparrow a scrap of paper, which Sparrow screwed up and threw it away.
'That is my final offer,' Jeeves said angrily. He wasn’t impressed by Sparrow’s actions. 'Take it or leave it. Lucien's diary is a riveting read, I assure you. I'm sure some private investor will make a nice little spot for it in his equally private home. Now unless you want a proposition, I suggest you leave me to my whisky.'
‘I’m not leaving until you tell me where Lucien’s diary is,’ Sparrow growled.
‘Then give me the money and I will part with the information,’ Jeeves said firmly.
‘Oh, I’m not parting with my money,’ Sparrow said coldly, ‘but if you tell me where the diary is, I’ll give you something even more precious: I will let you keep your life!’
Jeeves’ eyes widened with fear.
‘You w-wouldn’t,’ he stammered.
‘I would,’ Sparrow replied calmly. ‘Tell me, Jeeves. Was it you who disposed of the street girl’s body after Lucien shot her and her little brother?’
‘H-how do you know about that?’ Jeeves asked suspiciously. ‘Only Lucien and I knew about the death of those children.’
‘So you knew that one of them was a Hero?’ Sparrow questioned, ignoring Jeeves question.
Sparrow smiled coldly at him before making several dead souls appear next to him. Grim taught him how to raise the dead to fight for him.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t answer your question before,’ Sparrow said disdainfully. ‘I know all about the night Lucien had the guards bring him the children. After all, I am the boy he shot out the window.’
‘Im-impossible!’ he gasped, but the closer he looked at the teenager in front of him, the more he knew it to be true.
‘Now, Jeeves, are you going to tell me where the diary is, because believe me, my minions here won’t hold back in tearing you from limb to limb.’
‘Okay, I’ll tell you!’ Jeeves exclaimed, eyes the dead warily. ‘In Bower Lake, lying in the shadow of the hill named after the Heroes, are the stumps of three trees. In that spot have I buried his diary!’
‘If you are lying, I will hunt you down and kill you with my bare hands,’ Sparrow threatened. ‘But there is one more thing I want to know.’
‘And what is that?’ Jeeves asked warily as the dead disappeared.
‘What did you do with my sister’s body?’
‘She now lies in Bowerstone cemetery,’ Jeeves replied nervously. ‘With nothing but her name engraved on the headstone.’
Sparrow relaxed slightly. At least he now knew that they did let her body rot in the garbage.
Sparrow calmly left Jeeves’ room.
He is far too cowardly to double cross you, said Theresa. She didn’t sound happy about something.
'He would be a fool to do such a thing,' Sparrow growled. Those around him sent him frightened looks and hurried out of his way.
Hurry to Bower Lake and find the diary.
‘I already know where it is,’ Sparrow said calmly. ‘You should know better than anyone that I know Bower Lake better than I know the back of my own hand. I know the exact location.’
Sparrow was telling the truth. Growing up, he use to sneak out of the Bower Lake camp and would explore the region.
Upon arriving in Bower Lake, Sparrow ran with Shadow right beside him, to an area that was usually covered in Hero Hill’s shadow, at a certain time of day, with three stumps in a circle. When Sparrow arrived at the location, he blinked and stared at the massive mossy boulder in the middle of the stumps.
‘That wasn’t there this morning, was it?’ Sparrow asked aloud, slowly walking towards it.
Shadow grabbed hold of the bottom of Sparrow’s pants, preventing him from going any closer to it.
'What’s wrong, boy?' asked Sparrow, stopping and bending down next to his loyal companion, who had started growling at the boulder.
Looking at the boulder suspiciously, Sparrow stood up, conjured a big ball of fire, and threw it at the boulder. This wasn’t one of the smartest things Sparrow had ever done, though it wasn’t the stupidest either.
It turned out that boulder was in fact a forest troll. It also turns out that it had been asleep. Sparrow now knew not to throw fire at a forest troll, especially when it’s asleep, for it makes them extremely angry.
Fighting a troll turned out to be a difficult experience for Sparrow. In fact, this was the hardest enemy he had ever faced, and by the time he killed it, he was covered in more cuts and bruises than he had from all his other battles combined. He didn’t know how many times the troll threw boulders at him or how many times it sent rocks charge at him as he looked for its nerve points. All he did know was that he was sore all over, including places he didn’t even know existed.
‘I’ll take being shot any time of the week over fighting trolls,’ Sparrow grumbled, pulling out his spade. ‘Okay, Shadow, find the diary.
Shadow sniffed around for a while, before barking and starting to dig.
‘And here I was thinking that Jeeves had double crossed me,’ said Sparrow as he began to dig up the diary.
Once Sparrow had uncovered the diary, he bent down, picked it up and flicked through its dirty pages, but I could not read anything within. The book was filled with strange sigils and odd runic characters.
Sighing, and feeling as though he was being made a fool of, Sparrow slowly walked up Hero Hill and used the cullis gate to get to the Guild.
'Welcome back,' Theresa said, as Sparrow stepped out of the cullis gate and headed towards her and Hammer. 'I trust finding the diary was not too difficult.'
‘Depends if you put trolls into the too difficult category,’ Sparrow groaned, collapsing into a chair and drinking a health potion, while Shadow lay at his feet. ‘I never want to see another troll again.’
‘Oh, did the big, strong, arrogant Hero get a lot of owies from a big, bad troll?’ Hammer asked in a shocking baby voice.
‘I’d like to see you do any better!’ Sparrow snapped. ‘You wouldn’t even be able to get close enough to it to kill it!’
‘Enough,’ Theresa said exasperatedly. She was getting tired of the two teenagers arguing. ‘Bring the diary to me. I will translate it for you.'
‘You can come and get it yourself,’ Sparrow groaned. ‘I’m not moving from this spot. In fact, I’m going to sleep.’ He rested his head on the desk, next to the chair he was sitting on, and closed his eyes.
‘You’re tired after fighting one troll?’ Hammer asked, sounding a little sceptical, while Theresa went through Sparrow’s bag, looking for the diary.
‘Listen, Hannah… I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since… I can’t even remember when,’ Sparrow growled, not even bothering to open his eyes. ‘I’ve gone weeks without any sleep. So forgive me if I’m a little tired!’
‘Westcliff,’ Theresa said suddenly, interrupting Sparrow and Hammer’s argument again. She had the diary open in front of her.
'What about it?’ Hammer asked. ‘And how can you read that?'
'I see other worlds than this one, but that is not the issue at hand,' replied Theresa. 'Lucien is recruiting guards from Westcliff.'
'Oh come on, Westcliff’s a dump full of thugs and brawlers,' Hammer scoffed. 'The only thing there is that arena.'
'The Crucible,' said Theresa, 'those who win it are physically tough, but mentally weak. Lucien is recruiting the winners as guards. The two of you must enter the Crucible in Westcliff and emerge victorious. It is the only way into the Spire, the only way to Garth to rescue him.'
'At last, some action!' Hammer said eagerly, walking to the other side of the room to pick up her hammer. She had found it while cleaning the Guild. Surprisingly, it was still in good condition, but she would have to buy a new one.
‘What? No, “I work alone” comment, Sparrow?’ she added, when he hadn’t said anything.
She got no reply.
Frowning, she turned and looked at him. He had fallen asleep at the desk.
‘Huh, I guess he wasn’t lying about being tired,’ Hammer said, looking down at Sparrow’s tired figure. ‘You know, he actually looks like a nice guy when he’s not scowling or speaking. He doesn’t seem like an arrogant, heartless jerk.’
‘He’s not, even when he is awake,’ Theresa said quietly as she pulled a blanket out of a nearby chest and covering Sparrow with it. ‘He’s just misunderstood and lost.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘In time, you will see. Just… don’t be too hard on him.