|Series||The Journey by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Nineteen|
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Chapter Twenty: The Beginnings of a FamilyEdit
As the wondrous rays of a new day snuck through the curtains of the newly wedded couples' room, Sparrow began to stir for the day. He smiled as the events of the previous day and night came flooding back to him. He could not remember ever being as happy as he did when he and Hammer shared a kiss sealing their wedding vows of how they would love each other for all eternality.
He turned, still smiling, though his eyes softened, as he took in the beautiful naked woman next to him. He was happy enough just to lay there and watch her sleep while the birds sang outside. It was to their song that Hammer awoke. She stretched before smiling at her husband.
‘Good morning,’ she mumbled as she snuggled into Sparrow’s chest. ‘Hmm, I could lie here all day.’
‘So could I, but we both know that in five minutes we’ll become restless and gladly jump out of bed.’
‘To true,’ Hammer laughed. ‘So what shall we do today as our first official day as a married couple?’
‘I’m happy to do whatever you want to do, as long as I don’t embarrass myself.’
‘I think you’ve already done that a few times without my help,’ Hammer said pointedly.
‘Exactly; I can’t have any more, can I?’
Hammer chuckled slightly.
‘Why don’t we go to Oakfield and see what has changed since we last saw it a year ago?’ she then suggested.
‘Fine by me,’ Sparrow replied as he climbed out of bed. ‘It will be good to see how the Golden Oak is going, and I’m sure that Robin and the other monks will have some sort of blessing to give you.’
‘You’re probably right,’ Hammer agreed climbing out of bed.
Once dressed, the couple headed downstairs making it in time for breakfast. Penelope had gone all out into making them a scrumptious breakfast to celebrate their first day as a married couple.
‘Good morning,’ Hammer greeted cheerfully as her and Sparrow took their seats. Walter was already at the table.
‘Please don’t yell,’ Walter groaned with his head resting on the table.
‘I wasn’t. What’s wrong with you?’
‘He’s got a hangover,’ Penelope said disapprovingly. ‘I’m surprised neither of you have one too.’
‘Why would we have one?’ Sparrow inquired, shoving some toast in his mouth.
‘You were consuming alcohol like it was water! I wouldn’t be surprised if Reaver comes out looking like Walter!’
‘I’m never letting him talk me into drinking with him again,’ Walter groaned.
‘Yet I’ll probably still manage it,’ Reaver said, calmly walking downstairs. ‘You don’t look too good, kid,’ he added.
‘Why is it that you three are fine when you drunk even more than me!’ Walter demanded.
‘Alcohol is water for Reaver, so he appears sober even though he is drunk,’ Sparrow explained. ‘Hammer and I are no strangers to alcohol too. It’ll take a lot more to give us hangovers.’
‘But it is doing nothing good to your insides,’ Penelope said sternly.
‘We know, Grandma,’ Walter groaned.
‘So where are you two lovebirds going for your honeymoon?’ asked Penelope. ‘Anywhere special planned?’
‘We’re just going to Oakfield. Other than that, nothing exciting,’ replied Hammer.
‘Why don’t you go overseas?’ Reaver suggested.
‘Reaver, the last time I travelled by sea, was when Sparrow and I left Bloodstone after asking you about tombs in Wraithmarsh,’ Hammer informed the Thief. ‘For the entire trip I felt as though I was going to vomit. I do not want to spend my honeymoon vomiting.’
‘And I don’t want her feeling sick either,’ Sparrow added, kissing his wife’s hand.
‘Not at the breakfast table, please,’ Reaver groaned. ‘You’re making Walter sicker than he already is.’
At that moment, Walter ran from the table, upstairs, looking like he was about to vomit.
‘I rest my case,’ Reaver chuckled.
After breakfast, they said goodbye to Reaver, who was heading home, before Sparrow and Hammer packed their bags for their unplanned honeymoon. During this time, Penelope looked after her grandson. By the time they were packed, it was lunchtime. Penelope refused to let them go until they had had some lunch. With lunch out of the way, the Heroes headed for Oakfield.
‘So is there anything special you want to go after Oakfield?’ Sparrow asked his wife as they walked merrily along.
‘Not that I can think of,’ Hammer replied thoughtfully, ‘but I haven’t seen much of Albion to know. What about you?’
‘I have seen most of Albion and I cannot think of a single, spectacular region for a holiday,’ Sparrow admitted. ‘Besides, we’re Heroes. There is no such thing as a holiday for us. It’s like you said; there are balverines and bandits behind every tree and once you kill them, two more take their place.’
‘I wish there was an end to it all,’ Hammer sighed. ‘For once I would like to travel somewhere without having to fight anything to get there.’
‘One day we might be able too,’ Sparrow said wishfully, ‘and when that day comes, we will travel down the road, hands on our weapons, expecting to be ambushed at any moment.’
‘You’re right. We would definitely be paranoid and suspicious,’ Hammer laughed, but her laughter soon became a groan when she saw a group of bandits waiting for them up ahead. ‘Don’t these people ever get the message?’
‘They’re bandits,’ Sparrow said as that explained everything. ‘If they were intelligent, they would be in law school.’
‘We heard that, Bandit Killer!’ one of the bandits growled.
‘That was the point,’ Sparrow snorted, drawing his sword while Hammer drew her hammer.
‘Heard ya got cha self-hitched,’ the bandit continued, looking Hammer up and down. ‘Bad idea; I thought that you would have learnt from your father’s mistakes. We’ll make sure to have some fun with her, making you suffer before generously putting you out of your misery.’
Sparrow’s eyes darkened dramatically.
‘No one threatens my wife!’ he growled.
‘Besides, I’m not a helpless maiden,’ Hammer said calmly, putting a restraining hand on Sparrow’s shoulder.
‘We know very well who you are, Sister Hannah.’
‘Good, then you’d know that there is a very slim chance of any of you living, unless you walk away now.’
‘We are not petty criminals, girl! We are bandits! We do not cower before such idle threats!’
‘That was an idle threat?’ Sparrow looked blankly at Hammer.
‘Apparently,’ she sighed, before swinging her hammer, knocking the head bandit into another one, smashing his skull and killing him instantly. Sparrow then leaped forward slitting two bandits’ throats. Together Hammer and Sparrow bobbed, weaved, and dodged the bandits’ attacks, taking minimum damage before continuing on their way.
‘At least we know this won’t be a paranoid journey,’ Sparrow said casually, slinging his arm around Hammer’s shoulders.
Hammer chuckled slightly.
When the Hero couple arrived in Oakfield they felt their jaws drop. They were astounded. The fields were full of lushest green grass and crops. All the shadows which h haunted the town had disappeared too. Children were running around laughing and business seemed to have increased.
‘I didn’t think the region would have changed this much in such a short period of time,’ muttered Sparrow in awe.
‘Sparrow… look!’ Hammer grabbed his arm and pointing at the Golden Oak’s home.
Sparrow felt his jaw drop even lower. The Golden Oak had become a beautiful tree.
‘What the -? Oaks don’t grow that fast, do they?’
‘Who cares?’ Hammer laughed. ‘The Lords of Light may have accelerated its growth. Come on, I want to see the Temple.’
She tore off down the path with Sparrow running after her.
Many Oakfield citizens greeted them enthusiastically as the couple ran past them. Many kids had even attempted to race the Heroes, but they were forced to give up as the Heroes were too fast for them. When they arrived at the temple of Light, Hammer abruptly stopped. Sparrow ended up running into her.
‘A little warning next time, please,’ Sparrow grumbled. ‘Why did you stop dead, anyway?’
‘Look around and you’ll see,’ she whispered.
Sparrow did and his eyes widened. The Temple had expanded and was built in white marble.
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ Hammer continued walking forward.
‘It’s amazing,’ muttered Sparrow.
The Heroes found the Abbott, previously known as Brother Robin, and the other monks inside the main Temple trying to quieten something
‘Have you got an animal in here?’ Sparrow inquired, startling the passive monks.
‘It is good to see the both of you again,’ Robin greeted. ‘I believe congratulations are in order. I am sorry I wasn’t able to make your wedding. I was actually about to come and see you to give you your presents.’
‘Robin, you shouldn’t have,’ said Hammer.
‘This is from your father, Hannah. He told us to give it to you once you were married.’ Robin handed her a letter.
‘My father?’ Hammer frowned, utterly confused. ‘H-he knew that I would leave the life of a monk and marry
Frowning, Hammer began to read the letter, tears forming in her eyes. When she was finished, she was crying, but smiling at the same time. She mutely handed the letter to the concerned Sparrow. He quickly read it.
To my dear Hannah,
If you are reading this than I am no longer with you and you are now married to a charming young man.
Apart of me always knew that you did not belong here. You were always destined for greater things. I know that is why the young adventurer, Sparrow, has come. What other reason would he be here for? I know that your destinies are intertwined and I can only imagine how you two teenagers are behaving in the Wellspring Caves.
My dear, please know that I am so proud of you, and always will be. I know that you will be great at whatever you set your mind to and wish you the best. I pray you will live a life of happiness.
Giving you and my son-in-law my blessing,
Lots of love from,
Smiling, Sparrow embraced Hammer tightly.
‘Thank you,’ Sparrow said, speaking on Hammer’s behalf. ‘It is a wonderful gift.’
‘That is not the only gift. We have one for you too, Sparrow.’ Robin nodded to one of the monks.
Frowning, Sparrow watched as the monks disappeared before reappearing with a beautiful black Labrador puppy. Sparrow accepted the pup mutely and smiled as she wagged her tail and attempted to lick his face.
‘Her name is Pearl,’ said Robin. ‘She’s nine weeks old. She’s also a very rare dog; even rarer than Dalmatians, but we though you would like her. To be honest, you look strange without a dog by your side.’
‘Thank you,’ Sparrow whispered.
Sparrow and Hammer discovered that they had their very own room at the Temple and that night, before they went to bed, Sparrow put Pearl into a warm corner on some pillows. She didn’t like that. She ran over to their bed and tried – in vain – to join her master. Realising that she couldn’t get into the bed, she sat there whining. Sparrow groaned.
‘Just ignore her,’ Hammer breathed. ‘We’ll only have to tolerate it for three to four nights.’
Pearl whined again.
‘Stuff it,’ Sparrow groaned, rolling over and picking her up. He put Pearl in between himself and his wife.
While Pear wagged her tail enthusiastically and curled up next to him, Hammer gave him a look.
‘I am not listening to that all night,’ Sparrow said stubbornly.
‘You do realise that she’ll want to sleep with us for now on, don’t you?’ Hammer asked.
‘So what will happen when we want to, you know –‘
‘Uncle Walter can babysit her.’
‘I bet Uncle Walter will appreciate that!’ Hammer laughed.
Sparrow and Hammer stayed in Oakfield a month, during which time they help protect the region from hobbes, beetles and the occasional bandit. Sparrow also entertained the villagers with his puppy training skills. As intelligent as Pearl was, she was extremely stubborn. If you trained her with food, she would ignore all your commands and would desperately try to get the food. However, when he trained her on praise alone, she would either obey or she would decide to be naughty and run off to play in the water. One time, Sparrow ended up finding her at the tavern, sucking up to everyone for pats and cuddles.
The trip back to Bowerstone was difficult. While Shadow, who would growl and attack bandits, Pearl wagged her tail and tried to lick them to death.
‘Some guard dog you’ll be!’ Hammer laughed fondly, picking Pearl up and cuddling her.
‘Yeah. The worst thing she’ll do is lick them to death!’ Sparrow laughed, patting his little girl’s head.
When they arrived in Bowerstone, many people stopped to watch the excited puppy. She was going crazy with all the new smells and people. She kept trying to run off in all directions, not that she could; Sparrow had her on a lead.
‘I think she’s going to be a strong girl,’ Sparrow muttered as Pearl pulled on the lead.
‘Good thing you’re not a weakling,’ replied Hammer, opening the front door.
The moment they were inside, Sparrow let Pearl off the lead and the moment she was free, she began to run around, taking everything in.
‘We’re home!’ Sparrow called out.
Walter and Penelope hurried downstairs.
‘You look better than the last time I saw you,’ Sparrow joked as he embraced Walter in a brotherly hug.
‘Oh shut up!’ Walter laughed. ‘It’s good to see – What the -?’
Pearl had just jumped up at him.
‘This is Pearl. Missy, this is Uncle Walter.’
‘Uncle Walter?’ Penelope laughed. ‘She’s beautiful. Hello, beautiful! Oh aren’t you gorgeous!’
‘You love sucking up to people, don’t you?’ Sparrow said to Pearl, before saying to Walter, ‘I’m waiting for her tail to wag off.’
‘I can see why!’ Walter laughed, getting down on the ground. Pearl ran over to him.
‘Is she toilet trained?’ asked Penelope.
‘Yes and no,’ Sparrow replied, trying not to laugh as he remembered a few of Pear’s accidents, especially when she went outside a door and Hammer then came along, in her socks, and stood in it. ‘She’s getting better. If she makes a mess, tell me and I’ll clean it up.’
‘About the only time he ever does clean,’ Hammer said, looking at her husband fondly.
‘You’ll need to start cracking the whip, Hammer,’ Penelope joked.
‘So… are you two home for good now?’ asked Walter.
‘We’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning to have a breakfast picnic in Bower Lake to watch the sunrise,’ replied the Hero of Strength.
‘That sounds very romantic. Did you decide that, Hammer?’ Penelope inquired.
’No, Sparrow did.’
Walter and Penelope looked surprised
‘I can be romantic sometimes!’ Sparrow said, sounding offended.
His family laughed.
The next morning, Sparrow and Hammer didn’t end up going to Bower Lake. Just before they were about to leave, Hammer ran to the bathroom about to vomit.
‘Not again,’ Sparrow groaned to the excited Pearl as they went after Hammer.
They found Hammer bent over the toilet, vomiting.
‘Still convinced that you just ate something funny?’ Sparrow asked, leaning against the door frame. ‘This has been happening for – what? – two weeks now? And you’ve been eating the same food as me. Admit it, Hammer, you’re ill.’
‘I’m not sick, Sparrow!’ Hammer snapped, getting up to rinse out her mouth.
‘Really? Then why have you been vomiting every morning for the past two weeks?’ Sparrow demanded.
‘I don’t kn –’ Hammer broke off, eyes wide. ‘I have to talk to Penelope,’ she said suddenly, hurrying past Sparrow to the older woman’s room.
‘Did you understand what she was on about?’ Sparrow asked Pearl. She only butted her head against his leg. ‘I didn’t either. Come on, let’s go for a walk.’
Understanding what Sparrow meant by walk, Pearl ran downstairs and to the front door.
At least someone’s happy this morning, Sparrow thought fondly as he followed Pearl.
Together Pearl and her master walked through Bowerstone Market heading towards Bower Lake. He gathered it would be best if he spent the morning to himself as he had somehow managed to annoy Hammer. He swore that he would never understand women. They never seemed to make any sense.
With nothing to do, Sparrow followed Pearl around Bower Lake absently. They eventually arrived at the Bower Lake Gypsy Camp and headed up to its lookout. Pearl ran ahead, and when she arrived at the lookout, she collapsed to the ground and began to relax.
Sparrow smiled at her as he crossed the bridge, which led to the lookout. However, his smile soon disappeared and was replaced with a startled expression as an elderly lady suddenly wrapped her arms around his waist.
‘Oh, Charlie!’ she exclaimed.
‘Um, I’m sorry, ma’am, but I think you have me mistaken with someone else,’ Sparrow muttered awkwardly, looking down at the elderly woman. She looked older than Penelope.
She looked up at Sparrow. She blushed and quickly let go of him. She also began to cry.
‘Oh, I’m sorry, dear,’ she apologised through a sob. ‘I thought you were my darling grandson, Charlie. I bought him here for his birthday, but now I cannot find him! He ran off saying that he was going to play adventurer in some nearby cave called the Tomb of Heroes.
‘The Tomb of Heroes?’ Sparrow repeated. ‘I know where that is. I can go and get him if you’d like.’
‘Oh, thank you, dear! I’ll quickly write a note for you to give him so he knows that you are a nice stranger he can trust.’
With Granny Miggins’ note in hand, Sparrow headed for the Tomb of Heroes; he left Pearl with Granny Miggins. She was not old enough to go adventuring yet.
The Tomb of Heroes was located next to Hero Hill. For years it had been completely submerged by a small lake. As he headed there, he began to wonder how old Charlie was. At first he thought that Charlie must have been an adult, but the way Granny Miggins was going on, he began to assume that he was a little kid and his granny was that blind that she couldn’t tell the difference between a child and an adult.
With this in mind, Sparrow walked through the Tomb of Heroes calling out to Charlie as though he was talking to a little kid.
‘Charlie? Are you in here? Granny Miggins sent me! It’ll be alright! Charlie?’
When Sparrow entered the back chamber, he heard the sound of hollow men and saw two hollow men attacking a man maybe a few years younger than Sparrow; a fellow adventurer. The Hero hurried forward and helped the other adventurer defeat his enemies.
‘I say, spectacular fighting form,’ the adventurer said cheerfully to Sparrow once all the hollow men had been destroyed. ‘Thanks for the help. It’s good to see a fellow adventurer.’
‘I’d say,’ Sparrow replied, looking around. ‘Have you seen a small boy around here?’
‘A small boy?’ The adventurer blinked. ‘No, I’ve only seen hollow men. Why?’
‘Charlie’s grandmother told me that he was lost down here,’ Sparrow explained. ‘She even gave me a letter to give to him to prove I’m here to help him.’
Sparrow absently took out the letter. The moment the adventurer saw the letter, he snatched it out of Sparrow’s hand saying that he recognised the hand-writing.
‘How many times do I have to tell her that it is Charles, not Charlie?’ he huffed, scrunching up the letter he had just finished reading.
‘Wait! You’re the grandson Granny Miggins sent me to look for?’ Sparrow gasped. ‘The way she was talking, I thought I was looking for a child.’
‘I don’t blame you,’ Charles sighed. ‘I swear she forgets that I am a grown man.’
‘So what are you doing down here, if you don’t mind me asking?’
‘I’m trying to get some treasure out of this sarcophagus; however, every time I try to open the ruddy thing, those blasted hollow men attack. Do you think you could give me a hand?’
‘Sure, why not?’ Sparrow shrugged, preparing himself. He had nothing else to do anyway. He might as well have a little bit of fun.
The moment Charles started working on the sarcophagus, groups of hollow men began to appear. Sparrow met the oncoming enemies’ full-fold. However, on several accounts, some hollow men made their way passed Sparrow and bothered Charles. Eventually, though, they managed to open the sarcophagus, but found no treasure, only a note.
The two adventures exchanged a look. Charles grabbed the note and read it aloud.
To whoever reads this, we're really sorry, but we may have accidentally cursed this tomb when we took the Normanomicon book from this coffin. You might want to make a run for it!
Max and Sam
‘That’s inconvenient,’ Charles grumbled, drawing his sword, before glancing at Sparrow when the Hero sighed.
‘What is with those brothers? You’d think that they enjoy realising creatures and cursing things,’ he sighed, picking up his sword.
‘You know them?’ Charles asked as he chopped off a hollow man’s arms.
‘Let’s just say I’ve cleaned up a few of their messes.’
Together the adventurer and the Hero fought their way out of the Tomb of Heroes. Once out of the Tomb, they headed back to Bower Lake Camp where Granny Miggins was anxiously waiting.
‘You’re pretty good with a sword,’ Sparrow commented on the way.
‘Thank you. When I was a little kid I always dreamed of being an adventurer so I convinced my parents to send me to blade school,’ replied Charles. ‘What about you? Did you go to blade school too?’
‘No, I’m self-taught. I’ve been training since I was a child too.’
Charles looked Sparrow up and down, clearly impressed. He then noticed the Guild Seal pinned to Sparrow’s coat. His eyes widened. He saw the exact same symbol in the Tomb of Heroes. He now knew who and what Sparrow was.
‘You know, you are different to how I imagined a great Hero like you would be,’ Charles said conversationally.
‘Things are often exaggerated,’ Sparrow shrugged before jumping as Granny Miggins flung her arms around his waist.
‘Oh, Charlie!’ she sobbed. ‘I’ve been so worried about you!’
‘Um,’ Sparrow looked imploringly at Charles who looked exasperated.
‘Granny, I’m over here,’ he said tiredly.
‘Oh.’ Granny Miggins blinked up at uncomfortable Sparrow before hugging grandson.
‘I think I’ll just leave you two to it,’ Sparrow said, backing away. ‘Come on, Pearl.’
Together master and canine hurried back home to Bowerstone.
When they arrived home, they found Penelope making lunch, looking very excited while Hammer was sitting anxiously at the table. Walter was on his way to Brightwall. He was taking a new supply of books over to Samuel and the Academy.
‘Are you okay?’ Sparrow asked Hammer warily. He did not want to get into another argument.
‘Um, yes,’ she replied, looking at him nervously.
Noticing this look, Sparrow looked at Penelope who only smiled back at him.
‘Sparrow, do you want to have a family someday?’ Hammer asked cautiously. ‘Do you see children in our future?’
‘Yes, I do,’ Sparrow replied as he thought back to the vision Theresa had showed him.
‘Would you be ready to be a father yet?’
‘I guess so.’
Sparrow knew that she was tip-toing around something and moments later he realised what. He also felt like an idiot.
‘You’re pregnant, aren’t you?’ he whispered.
‘Please, don’t be angry –‘
‘Why would I be angry? This is wonderful!’ Sparrow exclaimed, quickly embracing her. He was too excited to even be hurt by her thinking that he would be mad.
‘You truly want this baby?’ Hammer asked, becoming her cheerful self once more.
‘Yes, I do… as long as you want it.’
Hammer kissed him passionately instead of answering.
Before they knew it, Hammer gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. At first, Sparrow was happy enough just to gaze upon his new born son, but when Hammer asked him to hold their little boy, Sparrow became scared. His son was so tiny that he was scared that he was going to hurt him.
‘You won’t hurt him, Sparrow!’ Hammer laughed.
‘Here, dear….’ Penelope placed the baby boy in his arms, and showed the proud, but nervous; father how to hold his son. Sparrow looked so awkward at first, but he soon relaxed and gazed lovingly down at his first born.
‘What are you going to name him?’ Walter asked quietly.
‘Logan,’ Hammer replied immediately, ‘after my father.’
Adjusting to life with a baby was difficult. Logan cried at all hours of the morning, waking everyone up, and only Hammer was able to calm him down and put him off to sleep.
‘Somehow I get the feeling that Logan will grow up to be a Mummy’s Boy,’ Walter yawned on the tenth day.
‘I hope not,’ Sparrow grumbled. ‘I feel totally useless. Every time I try to help Hammer, he starts crying.’
‘Give him time, Sparrow,’ Penelope said wisely. ‘Walter’s uncle was the same way until he was a little older.’
‘I hope you’re right.’
The three of them then jumped when Logan began to cry again.
That night, when Logan had finally gone to sleep, Sparrow and Hammer laid in bed taking quietly.
‘I think we should find somewhere else to live,’ Sparrow suggested to Hammer. ‘Find a place of our own.’
‘I agree. I love living here with Penelope and Walter, but I think Logan might be too much for them, even though they are too polite to say so,’ replied Hammer. ‘Besides, this house will be too small when he is up and running around with Pearl.’
‘True, this place is too small for an energetic dog like her too,’ Sparrow agreed, absently patting the said puppy’s head gently. ‘Is there anywhere you’d like to live? Oakfield?’
‘I think I’d like to remain in Bowerstone,’ she replied thoughtfully. ‘Fairfax Castle is up for sale. Why don’t we move there? Penelope and Walter could even live there with us if we did. It’s that big that they wouldn’t even hear Logan at night.’
‘Maybe.’ Sparrow didn’t know if he was ready to live in the building Rose was murdered in.
‘Why don’t we have a look tomorrow, and then we can decide?’ Hammer suggested.
The next day, Hammer and Sparrow went to Fairfax Castle while Penelope babysat Logan with Walter.
When they arrived, a butler greeted them before giving them a grand tour of the castle.
‘And here is the main study,’ the butler said.
When Sparrow entered the room he walked over to the place Rose was murdered. He didn’t hear a word Hammer and the butler were saying. As he looked around the room, he expected to see the ghost of his past. He expected to see Lucien shooting Rose. He thought he’d even see his eight year old self go flying out the window, but it never happened. He did not relive the horrid even of his childhood. All that happened was Rose’s voice echoing in his mind saying;
It’s okay, Little Sparrow. Don’t be afraid.
‘What do you think, Sparrow?’ Hammer asked, leaving the butler and going to her husband at the replaced glass window. ‘Is something wrong?’ she added, when she saw his facial expression.
‘This is the room where Rose was murdered.’ Sparrow’s voice was emotionless.
‘Oh, Sparrow, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t even thinking when I suggested we should live here.’
‘You weren’t to know,’ Sparrow said gently as he embraced her.
‘But I should have! I’m your wife, after all. Come, let’s look somewhere else –‘
‘No, we should buy it.’
‘But, Sparrow –‘
‘There is something I should have told you a while ago,’ Sparrow interrupted again. ‘Theresa showed me a vision of my future. In the vision, I lived here in the castle for I was the King of Albion.’
Hammer’s eyes widened and gasped.
‘It was no coincidence that you suggested this place. It just shows that we are getting closer to the unpreventable future. Logan is proof of that.’
‘Then let’s inform whatever the butler’s name is,’ Hammer said cheerfully.
An hour later, Sparrow and Hammer owned Fairfax Castle, which they named Bowerstone Castle. With all the paper work taken care of, the Heroes returned to Penelope and Walter. They then explained to their friends of their buy and that they wished them to move in with them. At first, Walter and Penelope politely declined, saying that they didn’t wish to intrude, but after much encouragement, they agreed.
Over the next few weeks, they moved into the castle. Nothing happened at first, but on their second night living in the castle, Sparrow and Hammer awoke to Logan screaming and Pearl growling and barking angrily. The Heroes leaped out of bed, scared, knowing that something bad must have happened. Pearl had never growled before, except for the time Sparrow had to practically stick his hand down her throat and pull out some plastic.
Out of bed, Hammer and Sparrow saw three bandits standing above their baby’s coat while Pearl desperately tried to protect her master’s son. She knew these people were bad and were not a friend to anyone.
‘GET AWAY FROM HIM!’ screamed the panicking mother.
Sparrow felt his blood begin to boil and his heart began to pump with fear. With these emotions weighing heavily upon him, Sparrow sent the bandits flying into the opposite wall before in paling them with electric blades.
Hammer ran to her baby.
‘Is he alright?’ Sparrow was right behind her looking down at his son.
‘He’ll be fine,’ Hammer said, sounding relieved.
‘I’m going to check out the rest of the castle. Will you be alright?’
‘Of course. Am I or am I not the Hero of Strength?’
‘Good point.’ Sparrow grabbed his sword and left the room.
‘Be careful,’ Hammer whispered while Pearl whined next to her with a sore paw.
When Sparrow was halfway down the corridor, he met the butler.
‘I’m sorry to bother you, sir, but it would seem that the castle is under attack,’ said the butler in his usually monotone. He was the one person in the entire castle who Sparrow could not stand. ‘It would appear that the intruders entered the property through a secret passage in the library.’
‘How do you know that?’ Sparrow asked suspiciously.
‘I was in the main entry and saw them exit from the library.’
With one last suspicious look, Sparrow headed for the library. He met up with Walter in the main entry fighting off some bandits.
‘You’ve gotten sloppy,’ Sparrow commented to Walter as he joined in the fight. Walter had been too slow to dodge an attack.
‘Give me a break,’ Walter snapped. ‘You should know better than anyone that I’m not a morning person, and I didn’t go to bed until later!’
‘Okay, don’t get your sword in a knot,’ Sparrow said as he smite the last bandit.
‘Very funny. Anyway, they seem to be coming from the library.’
‘The butler said that there was a secret passage in the library upon which they entered,’ replied Sparrow, leading the way into the library.
‘How does he know that?’ Walter was immediately suspicious.
‘He said that he was here when they came out of the library,’ Sparrow shrugged.
‘Do you believe him?’
‘No, but I have more on my mind than the butler. Now let’s dance,’ he added as they entered the library where a group of bandits stood waiting.
‘You and I have different definitions of dances,’ Walter stated blocking an attack.
‘Fighting is just another form of dancing,’ Sparrow laughed.
‘Hammer’s right, you are insane.’
‘Thanks!’ Sparrow continued to laugh.
With the bandits defeated, Sparrow and Walter looked around for the secret passage.
‘Hey! How’d you get in here?’ Walter demanded, looking up at the second landing of the library.
Frowning, Sparrow followed his gaze and saw that he was talking to the butler.
‘I slipped in when you were fighting,’ replied the butler as the two friends approached him. ‘If I may be so bold, sirs, I would venture to suggest that this was their point of entry.’ He pointed to a bookcase. ‘It may be wise to investigate the matter further.’
‘You’re joking, right?’ Walter said sceptically. ‘It’s just a bookcase.’
‘Maybe not, Walter,’ Sparrow said, examining the bookcase. ‘Reaver has a secret passage at his Bloodstone mansion which is hidden by a bookcase. It can only be opened from the inside or by pulling a hidden lever.’ Sparrow began to pull on random books. It was this way Sparrow managed to find the hidden lever.
Walter jumped as the bookcase began to move.
‘I guess you were right,’ Walter grumbled to the butler, ‘but how did you know?’
‘I saw a bandit use the passage.’ The butler turned to Sparrow. ‘I regretfully have to announce the end of my brief tenure at your service, sir.’
‘Really? Why?’ Walter questioned, eyes narrowed. Sparrow was mimicking his friend’s expression.
‘My predecessor neglected to inform me of the highly hazardous nature of the post, and I am of a somewhat nervous disposition as you have no doubt noticed.’
‘You don’t seem nervous to me,’ Walter accused.
The butler ignored him.
‘Good day, sir,’ he said to Sparrow before leaving.
‘I don’t like him,’ Walter said bluntly.
‘I can tell,’ Sparrow sniggered. ‘I doubt you’ll ever have to see him again.’
‘I hope I don’t. So should we do as he suggested and investigate?’
‘There would be something wrong with me if I didn’t!’ Sparrow joked, entering the secret passage followed closely by Walter. As they entered, the bookcase closed behind them.
‘Why do I feel like we have fallen into a trap?’ Sparrow muttered.
‘That’s because you have, Sparrow.’
Out of the shadows stepped Slayer and his men.
‘Serious, did you really go to all this trouble to kill me?’ Sparrow asked exasperated.
‘Not just you, Hero, but your son too,’ Slayer informed Sparrow, casually. ‘As we speak, your butler is heading to your room to rid the world of your son and beloved wife.
Sparrow paled dramatically, as did Walter.
‘No one threatens my family!’ Sparrow growled through clenched teeth. His Will began to swarm around off him. He was also shaking with anger. ‘You will pay for everything you have done to my family, Slayer. This trap you laid for me shall be your doom!
Walter, Slayer and the bandits took a few steps away from Sparrow. The Hero was reminding Walter of the night the Oakfield Massacre. Maybe the evil Sparrow wasn’t gone after all.
Before anyone could react, electricity began to fill the room. In moments the bandits were nothing more than burnt skeletons. Sparrow stood there shaking with anger and panting, but he was also relieved. Slayer would never again threaten his family and his descendants, and without Slayer, the bandits would all fall apart and cease to exist. His family was free.
‘Sparrow?’ Walter asked nervously from behind him.
Sparrow’s anger vanished immediately as he turned to look at the younger man. His anger was replaced with guilt when he saw the fear in Walter’s eyes.
‘Walter… I’m so sorry,’ the Hero apologised. ‘I didn’t mean to lose control like that.’
‘It’s okay. It’s only natural that you’d experience such rage. I would have too.’ Walter still looked a little nervous.
Sparrow nodded to him and attempted to get back into the castle.
‘The passage door is looked!’ said a frustrated Sparrow. ‘That fraud of a butler must have snuck back in and locked it from the other side!’
‘I knew there was something rotten about him!’ Walter snarled before looking down the passage. ‘If we can’t go back then we’ll have to go forward.’
‘But we don’t know where this leads too!’ Sparrow argued. ‘This most likely leads away from the castle and by the time we get back, it might be too late!’
‘I know, Sparrow, but what other choice do we have? We can’t just stand here hoping that the door will magically open. Besides, Hammer is no weak prey. She’ll be watching Logan like a hawk, and I’m sure she can handle that petty butler.’
‘You’re right,’ Sparrow said eventually.
The friends hurried through the secret passages only stopping long enough to defeat hobbe hollow men who were lurking in the shadows. Near the end of their journey, Sparrow and Walter entered a strange chamber. In the middle of the chamber, on a column, on a podium was a strange bottle.
Sparrow and Walter exchanged a look before walking up the podium towards the strange bottle. As they were about to reach the bottle, they both jumped violently as an invisible, cheerful game host began to talk.
Congratulations on acquiring this fine Potion of Highly Surprising Transformation; the latest in gender bending technology said the voice. You now have the power to change your sex. Warning; gender change is permanent. Potion will evaporate upon leaving this dungeon. Side effects may include unsettling new odours and unnatural hair growth. This magically recorded message has been brought to you by Lionhead Alchemy Incorporated.
Sparrow looked down at the stunned Walter.
‘I don’t know what’s scarier; that message or that potion,’ he joked, walking over and picking it up, before looking at it curiously.
‘You’re not going to drink that, are you?’ Walter began to panic.
‘Course I am,’ Sparrow said seriously.
Walter dropped his sword and his jaw dropped, looking horrified.
A few several moments the friends just stared at each other before Sparrow burst out laughing.
‘I’m only kidding!’ he laughed. ‘I have no intentions of changing my sex, although, I cannot understand why anyone in their right mind would make a potion like this.’
‘Maybe they weren’t in their right mind,’ Walter muttered with a slight shiver. ‘Let’s get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.’
Turned out that the secret passage led to Bowerstone Cemetery; Sparrow was thankful that they didn’t end up too far away from the castle. Together, the friends ran back to the castle praying that Hammer, Logan and Penelope were alright. As they ran through town, many guards and citizens turned to look at the top and shoe less Sparrow and Walter in his pyjamas. Some citizens turned their noses up in disapproval while other wondered what was up with the two men, especially Walter who was usually well dressed. They were used to seeing Sparrow dressed as a dag.
When Sparrow and Walter arrived at the castle, they saw two guards carrying the dead butler away. Hammer and Penelope stood at the entrance with a servant, who was holding Logan. The moment the two women saw the two men, they hurried forward and embraced them.
‘Thank goodness you’re alright!’ Hammer exclaimed, holding Sparrow tightly. ‘I was beginning to worry about you when you didn’t return and the butler showed his true colours.’
‘I’m sorry. Are you and Logan alright?’
‘Of course. It’ll take more than a butler to defeat me and get to Logan.’