|Series||The Journey by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Two|
|Next||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Four|
|← Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Two||Chapter Chronology||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Four →|
WRITTEN: 9 May 2012
Chapter Three: Journey to a Hero: The PilgrimEdit
To get to Oakfield, Sparrow first needed to pass through Bowerstone Old Town. The moment Sparrow stepped foot into Old Town, his jaw dropped. Theresa was right when she said that it had changed. It had changed so much that he barely recognised it. Gone was the dark, depressing town and it was replaced with a bright, happy town with gardens of different flowers, white little picket fences and stalls with not a beggar in sight. He wondered if he had anything to do with the region’s change for Theresa did say something about his actions.
Just as he was about to head further into town, a sheriff stopped him. Sparrow momentarily wondered if the guards had discovered that it was him who had robbed all the stores, though that theory went out the window when the sheriff said:
'Well, hello again! Wow, you've changed since you were last running around this place. But I recognise what's in those eyes: goodness, decency, and respect for the law!'
Sparrow frowned slightly. He knew the sheriff’s voice and he eventually knew where from.
‘Yes, it’s me.’ Derek smiled down at him.
‘How did this happen?’ Sparrow asked, motioning to the changed Old Town.
‘After you gave me those arrest warrants, I broke up Nicky the Nickname's whole crew, and Lord Lucien made me sheriff! Of course, then he disappeared…' He shrugged. 'But crime is way down, and urban renewal has transformed this neighbourhood into the most desirable district in Bowerstone.'
'I can see that,’ Sparrow said, looking around again. It was hard to believe that this was the town he used to live in. He guessed that his choices did have an effect on things, like Theresa said.
'Fantastic, isn't it?’ Derek said happily. ‘Anyway, this is for you and your sister.’ He handed Sparrow two cards.
‘What are these for?’ Sparrow asked, pocketing them both. He didn’t want to explain to Derek that Rose was dead.
‘Seeing as you two are good friends of the Sheriff, you'll find the shopkeepers will give you a discount on all goods and services, if you show them that card.’
‘Thanks, Derek,’ Sparrow said awkwardly.
Sensing Sparrow’s awkwardness, Derek said, 'Well, I won't take any more of your time. Stay out of trouble, won't you?'
‘Of course,’ Sparrow lied.
Derek smiled, clasped him on the shoulder and walked off.
The road to Rookridge was uneventful, but when Sparrow arrived in the region and headed down the road, a man came running past him yelling about bandits. Automatically, Sparrow drew his new sword and continued down the path when a new voice met his ears. It wasn’t a bandit.
'He-ey, thank you Bandits!' said the voice.
Up ahead was a carriage on its side. It had a couple of dead bodies hanging out of it. Beside the carriage was a tramp looking through the remains. When he caught sight of Sparrow, he paled dramatically.
'Oh, eh – hello – eh, this isn't what it looks like,' he stammered.
Sparrow ignored him, picked up a bag of gold and walked on.
Walking along, Sparrow and Shadow came to a purple flag with a skull-like symbol on it and what looked like a bull's skull on top of the flag post. They were about to enter bandit territory.
Sparrow was about to walk past it when Theresa stopped him.
Frowning, he looked up and realised that she was right... again. On the cliff up ahead were bandits with their rifles at the ready. They hadn't seen Sparrow yet.
Charge them and you'll be out numbered. Why not dispatch them from here with your gun?
‘And where’s the fun in that?’ asked Sparrow.
You will live longer than a few seconds, Theresa said bluntly. Do not charge them. Listen for once.
‘Fine,’ Sparrow sighed, before doing as she said.
‘Happy?’ he asked her sarcastically now that the bandit threat was gone.
Upon receiving no answer, Sparrow shrugged and continued along the rocky terrain, fighting a group of six bandits, who provided some entertainment for Sparrow, before he came across a small camp with three bandits casually lying around a small campfire.
Remember your gun. This could be over before they know it.
‘Not this time, Theresa. I’m going to have some fun with them,’ Sparrow declared, before running into their camp throwing fire everywhere and making them dance. He swore Theresa made an unapprovingly noise through the Guild Seal.
With the bandits burning in their camp, Sparrow continued on his way to Oakfield. About a minute later, he came to a bridge which was the only crossing to Oakfield. It was probably for that reason that the bandits decided to destroy the middle of it.
'Look, another traveller,’ said one of the three bandits standing on the other side. ‘Want to get to Oakfield? You'll have to swim, sonny.'
'Ha, yeah jump!' said another.
'Jump! Jump! Jump!' the first two bandits chanted, before a third yelled, 'Dive!'
'What?' the first two bandits said.
'Sorry,' the third said quickly.
'You always have to be different!' said the second bandit angrily, before looking back at Sparrow. ‘Hey, what's the matter? Are you afraid of heights?'
‘No, I just thought I’d give you a warning that when I get to the other side of this bridge, I’m going to break your neck, throw one of you off the bridge, and burn the third,’ Sparrow said coldly.
The bandits laughed.
‘I did warn you,’ Sparrow shrugged and began to back up with Shadow on his shoulders.
Sparrow, don’t you even think about it! Theresa warned sternly.
‘I never do,’ Sparrow laughed, before running as fast as he could towards the middle of the bridge. Upon reaching the middle, Sparrow jumped and only just made it to the other side where Shadow hurriedly jumped off his master’s shoulders and pushed one of the bandits off the bridge to his death. Meanwhile, Sparrow broke the second ones neck and set the other one on fire.
‘I did warn you,’ Sparrow laughed, before walking off towards Oakfield with Shadow happily walking next to him.
When they arrived in Oakfield the next morning, Sparrow was greeted by local sheriff.
'Didn't expect to see a new face today; two new faces, even,' he said. 'Made it through without much trouble then, did you?'
‘Only a few bandits who were stupid enough to try and kill me,’ Sparrow said with a shrug.
'Well listen, this town is a peaceful place, so stay out of trouble or you'll have me to deal with!' the sheriff warned.
‘Whatever. Where can I find the Temple of Light?’ Sparrow asked impatiently.
‘Turn right here and when you come to a T-section, turn right again and head towards the tavern. Once at the tavern, turn right and follow the path. It’ll take you straight to the Temple,’ replied the now annoyed sheriff who didn’t appreciate Sparrow’s attitude.
Oakfield is among the lusty regions of Albion, Theresa said as Sparrow headed towards the Temple of Light. It owes its fertility to the Golden Oak, which lives for only a few decades before producing a single golden acorn. The monks of the Temple of Light replace this acorn and as the tree re-grows, so does the farms around…
‘Fascinating, but what has it got to do with the Pilgrim?’
Just see why the Abbott is quite nervous about this ritual.
‘If I must,’ Sparrow groaned, though he was a little gleeful knowing that he was starting to annoy Theresa again.
By late morning, Sparrow arrived at the Temple of Light where three monks were arguing.
'Father, the sacred texts say that only two monks can enter the cave, no one else,' one of the monks argued.
'I'll not send my only child into unknown danger without protection. I will find an escort and that's the end of it!' the Abbott said firmly as Sparrow walked in.
‘Heh, hem,' said one of the monks as he noticed Sparrow’s imposing presence.
'Ah, hello there, my child,' the Abbott said, looking Sparrow up and down. 'I wonder… Brothers, leave us,' he said to the monks he had been arguing with, before turning once more to Sparrow. 'Let me take a look at you for a moment… erm… armed… quite imposing, alright, but … no, I think not. I cannot trust our community's survival to a complete stranger. Perhaps if you built up a reputation I'd be more inclined to trust you.'
‘Sure,’ Sparrow sighed, before leaving the Temple. He didn’t want a reputation, though the more he thought about it, the more appealing it became. If he became famous, imagine all the fun he could have.
‘Hey, Theresa, do you know how I could make more renown?’ Sparrow asked as he walked back to the Sandgoose, Oakfield’s local tavern.
So now you’re going to listen to me? Theresa asked sounding slightly annoyed, proving that Sparrow definitely knew how to get under her skin.
‘Do you want me to find this Pilgrim or not?’ Sparrow demanded. ‘’Cause I’m happy enough to go to the Spire and kill Lucien without the help of these other Heroes.’
If you do that you’ll be dead before you even drew your sword, Theresa said bluntly. Go to the Sandgoose. An old acquaintance of yours needs your help again.
‘My help again? I haven’t helped anyone –‘
Except when you were a child, before Rose’s death.
‘That’s because I was blind to the truth,’ Sparrow huffed.
Or because you cared, just like your father did.
‘He didn’t care. He abandoned Rose and me when we needed him the most!’ Sparrow said angrily, making a few citizens of Oakfield move away from him in fear as he stormed into the Sandgoose and looked around for someone from his childhood.
No one looked familiar to him. Of course, that was until he walked into someone. Surprisingly, the person he walked into didn’t look upset about being nearly knocked over. Instead, he was grinning broadly at Sparrow.
'Well, wrap me in pigskin and call me a sausage!’ the man exclaimed. ‘Look who it is! It's me! Barnum! From Bowerstone, remember? You helped me with my picture taking business!'
‘Ah yes. The bloke with the picture box,’ Sparrow said indifferently. ‘You’re the sucker who gave my sister and me a gold piece just to stand there.’
‘Er, yes. It never took off, still gamplussed about that one,' Barnum said, not sounding put off by Sparrow’s tone, nor did he care that Sparrow snorted at his last comment, though that might have been because he misinterpreted it. 'Yes, good times. Anyway, that was a long time ago; lots of exciting adventures since them. Look at you now, all grown up! A proper adventurer too! I bet that sister of yours is really proud!'
‘I wouldn’t know,’ Sparrow said emotionlessly. ‘Let me guess, something troubling has happened to you… again.’
‘Yes, I'm in a bit of a custard, right now… and it was all going so well,’ he replied.
‘What happened?’ Sparrow asked in a bored voice.
'I made the deal of the century just the other day. This wonderfully strange fellow sold to me the bridge in Rookridge. Cost me every last piece of gold I had, but a thing like that pays for itself, what with all the trade tolls and everything! Only now the bally things fallen to pieces, and no one can get close enough to reconstructify it.’
‘Let me guess, the bandits have being preventing reconstruction?’ Sparrow said, after all, it would explain those three bandits he killed at the said bridge.
‘Yes. Bunch of sprockless rotters! You couldn't give them a proper seeing to, could you?' he added desperately, looking Sparrow up and down. 'For old time sake? Oh, I'd be positively ambidextrous if you would. You can even have my old thesaurus. I know it by heart anyway.'
‘I am not taking care of bandits in return for an old book,’ Sparrow said stubbornly. ‘My price is that you have to tell everyone what I did in Rookridge.’
‘Deal! I knew that I could count on you, old friend! Please be careful though! These villains are a dangerous lot!'
‘Bandits are as dangerous as an old lady. When I’m through with them, they’ll know what it means to be dangerous.’
Sparrow then left the tavern and headed back to Rookridge to have fun with some more bandits.
Once in Rookridge, Sparrow followed two bandits back to their hideout, which turned out to be the old Rookridge inn. Little did Sparrow know; the bandits had set a trap for him. It was no secret amongst the Rookridge bandits whose son Sparrow was. Each of them craved to revenge their past bandit comrades and to spill the Hero of Southcliff’s blood.
The moment Sparrow and Shadow entered the inn; two bandits closed the doors behind them, while several others aimed their guns at their enemy’s son.
‘Look who has come and paid us a visit, men,’ the leader, Dash, said mockingly, before coming serious and barking out, ‘Kill him!’
Sparrow, who had been expecting this, grabbed the closes bandit to him, and put him in the firing range. He was instantly killed by his fellow bandits who had started shooting at Sparrow. The young Hero then did the same action to the other bandit who had closed the door, before running up the inn’s stairs, sword in hand. The bandits, having discovered that it was too dangerous to shot Sparrow, also drew their swords, hoping to draw his blood; and they succeeded a couple of times when Sparrow got over confident. Of course, these were only cuts to Sparrow due to his Hero blood. However, none of the bandits succeeded in killing him, but he succeeded in slaughtering them like lambs.
With the bandits lying dead at his feet, Sparrow realised that the leader had escaped. Cursing, he walked out onto the inn’s balcony and saw Dash standing on a rail line in the distance.
'You think you’re gonna catch me?’ Dash yelled out to Sparrow, while Shadow snuck towards him. ‘Why do you think they call me Dash, stupid? I could out run the guards before I was out of nappies! What chance have you got?’
Sparrow smirked and showed him. In one quick movement, he withdrew his rifle and shot the bandit knocking him to the ground where Shadow then attacked, killing him. He then returned to Sparrow with Dash’s goggles, and blood, in his mouth.
‘That was nowhere near as fun as I thought it would be,’ said a disappointed Sparrow, taking the goggles out of Shadow’s mouth and patting him on the head. ‘Come on, boy. Let’s head back. Barnum had better have stuck to his end of the deal.’
Sparrow didn’t bother hurrying back. When he did arrive back in Oakfield, he noticed that a lot of people stopping and whispering about him. He assumed that Barnum had stuck to his end of the deal. When he arrived back at the Sandgoose, he found Barnum pacing back and forth anxiously. When he saw Sparrow, he looked at him expectedly, for the young Hero’s facial features would reveal neither succuss nor failure. Instead, Sparrow rummaged through his bag and withdrew Dash’s goggles.
'Ah, the Hero returns triumphant!’ Barnum said loudly for all to hear. ‘A stupendous success! Jolly well done!' he said joyfully. 'Of course, it turned out that those deeds weren't entirely genuine -’
‘You don’t say,’ Sparrow muttered sarcastically.
‘Still, at least it's not me that has to fix the bridge now. Okay, so I might be broke, but I'll bounce back, always do. Anyway, here's my trusty thesaurus, as promised. You never know when you'll be caught in a lexicological quandary,' he finished cheerfully, handing Sparrow the thesaurus, before saying goodbye and leaving.
Sparrow watched him go, before chucking the thesaurus in his bag. He then headed to the innkeeper to get a room for the night.
The next morning, Sparrow awoke to Theresa saying happily: You’ve done it. Almost everyone in Oakfield has heard of you. Return to the Abbott.
‘I will in the morning,’ Sparrow groaned, half glaring at the Guild Seal.
It is morning, Sparrow.
‘Then I’ll go there this afternoon when I’m not sleeping!’ Sparrow said hotly, and he was true to his word.
After lunch, when he finally decided to join the land of the living, he had a quick bite to eat, before heading back to the Temple of Light, ignoring the citizens who were pointing and whispering about him. The Abbott was waiting for him when he arrived.
'It's you!' he said when Sparrow came to a halt in front of him. 'I prayed for your return! I heard about what you did in Rookridge. I think you could be of great use to us. Come, walk with me a while.' Sparrow grudgingly followed him out of the Temple and down the path. 'Now, nourishing the Golden Acorn is done with holy water from the Wellspring of Light, but the Spring is located in a nearby cave, which is said to be quite dangerous. Our sacred texts say only two monks must enter the cave. The strongest and a second of the Abbott's choosing. Obviously this concerns me, especially since our strongest monk is my own child! So instead of a second monk, I have decided to send a protector of the first… and that's you – if you are interested.'
‘Honestly, it doesn’t interest me in the slightest –‘
Sparrow! Theresa said warningly.
‘- but I’ll do it for you.’
'Good. The cave is just at the end of this road,' the Abbott said, stopping at the edge of a waterfall crossing. 'You probably passed it on your way here. Our strongest monk shall be waiting be waiting for you. Now, I must gather the others and prepare for the blessing.'
‘Right,’ said Sparrow, before hurrying down the path. He did not notice the sad look the Abbott gave him.
Our first Hero awaits us, even if they do not yet realise it, said Theresa.
‘Whatever,’ Sparrow said as he approached the Wellspring Caves. As he approached he could hear someone singing. Sparrow found it surprisingly beautiful.
'Down by the reeds,
Down by the reeds,
Swim the sirens of Oakvale,
out to the seas.
Down by the reeds,
Down by the reeds,
Float the souls left unbroken,
by White balverines…'
Sparrow rounded the corner and saw a big, strong girl with reddish-brown dreadlocks and wearing a monks robe, sitting on top of a pillar with some sort of alcoholic drink in her hands. She was roughly his age. Sparrow knew that this female monk was the Pilgrim. He also knew that they were doomed unless she broke out of her passive nature.