|The Happenings I|
|Series||The Happenings by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Next||The Mage and The Crucible|
|← The Pilgrim||Chapter Chronology||The Mage and The Crucible →|
CHAPTER FIVE: THE LIFE OF A HEROEdit
‘Call me Hammer!’ replied Sister Hannah, taking Theresa’s hand.
The moment Hammer took Theresa’s hand, they both disappeared in shimmering blue light leaving Storm and I by ourselves.
‘I have taken Hammer to the Guild,’ came Theresa’s voice through the Guild Seal. ‘You’ve done well, Hero. You have gathered the first of the three Heroes, and we are now one-step closer to defeating Lucien’s plans. However, it will take some time for Hammer to overcome her grief, and longer to explain her role in Lucien’s downfall. Perhaps this would be a good time to upgrade your equipment. I believe there is a small sale in Bowerstone. It may be well worth the visit. I will call you when Hammer is ready.’
‘You’re the boss,’ I muttered, chucking Storm a treat. ‘Come on, boy. Let’s head back to Bowerstone.’
Just as we were about to leave the clearing, the new Abbott of the Temple of Light came over to us.
‘Where is Sister Hannah?’ he asked.
‘She’s gone, and she won’t be coming back to the Temple for a while.’ I answered.
‘Yes, our grief over the Abbott’s death is hard, but it must be even harder for her.’ he said sadly, before handing me something. ‘I thought you might like this. It’s a leaf from the Golden Oak, to show everyone what you have done for us.’
‘Thank you,’ I replied.
The new Abbott gave me a small bow, before heading back to the Temple of Light. After a closer look at the golden leaf, I packeted it and as a last minute decision, I decided to remain in Oakfield and have a better look around, but before I did that, I need to get a job for my moneybag, even with all the gold I had found, was too light for my liking.
To do this, I went to the notice board outside the Sandgoose to see if there were any jobs, and I was in luck Fred the farmer was looking for someone to cut their family’s firewood. Upon reading this, I headed in the direction of the mill and the house next to it. When I arrived, I knocked on the door and a little girl with blonde curls and bright blue eyes answered.
‘Hi sweetie. Is Fred around?’ I asked.
The little girl nodded before yelling out, ‘DAD!’
Fred hearing his daughter’s call, came downstairs and over to the front door.
‘Hi Fred, my name’s Sparrow. I’m here about the job.’ I said.
‘Sparrow? As in the adventurer that got rid of the bandit leader Dash in Rockridge, and helped with the Golden Oak ritual?’ asked Fred.
‘The one and only.’
‘Then you have the job. The wood is out the back.’
‘Okay, thanks. I’ll start straight away.’ I said, before heading out to the back of the house and when I saw the woodpile, I nearly had a heart attack. The amount of wood that was there…it would take me hours! However, I reminded myself that I had time, so I began chopping.
Over and over again I picked up the wood, chopped it down the middle, then picked up another and did the process again. One thing I could say about wood chopping was that it was absolutely and positively…boring. It was that boring that I lost track of what I was doing and started daydreaming about everything and anything that involved excitement – and before I knew it, I had finished…it was also nine o’clock at night. I had been working none stop for twelve hours without knowing it.
Groaning, I went and picked up Storm, who was asleep, and headed to the Sandgoose to see if there was a room for the night.
After twelve hours sleep, I went back to Fred to claim my pay. Turned out that with all the work I had done yesterday, I had earned the title of a level four woodcutter, according to Fred. Anyway, I took my well-earned ten thousand and seventy gold pieces and headed to the stalls. At the produce stall, I bought the usual fruit and vegies, before I went to the other two stalls outside the Sandgoose. Seeing that the weapon stall was having a twenty-five percent sale, I hurried over to purchase some more ammo. After that, I went to the clothing stall and picked up some more dog treats for Storm and I was about to leave when a certain perfume caught my eye. I picked it up and looked at it closely. It was labelled “Eau D’Hobbe”. Opening the bottle, I smelt it and realised it smelt exactly like a Hobbe. Bottling it, I walked to Martin the clothing vendor and handed over the money – he hesitated.
‘Um, are you sure that you want that…particular perfume to wear? Cause not many citizens like that perfume.’ Martin said hesitantly.
‘Don’t worry. I only plan on using it when I try to sneak past Hobbes to hide my scent.’ I replied.
‘I haven’t heard of anyone doing that before, but good luck with it!’ Martin said excepting the money before adding, ‘Listen, you couldn’t do us a favour, could you?’
‘Depends what the favour is,’ I replied, putting away my purchase.
‘Well, you see my friend Sara is a sculptor and she has been looking for someone to make statues of…and I was thinking that you would be a good candidate seeing as you are a young and very attractive adventurer. In return, her sculptures would create renown for you.’ Martin said, making a very persuasive case.
‘Sure, why not? Could be fun. Where can I find her?’ I said.
‘Thank you, Adventurer! Just follow this road and you’ll find her. You can miss it!’
I headed in the direct that Martin pointed and soon found Sara the Sculptor.
'Hi Sara?’ I said, making sure that I was talking to the right person.
‘Yes, that’s me,’ she replied, not looking up form what she was doing.
‘I’m Sparrow. Martin sent me to modal for you.’ I continued.
Now she was giving me her full attention.
‘Did he now? Let me take a look at you!’ she suddenly commanded. I slowly spun around for her. ‘An adventurer! Why didn’t I think of this before? What better way to encapsulate the struggle between brutal struggle and enlightening intellect? And such a remarkable physiognomy – I shall immortalise you at once!’ she declared happily, ushering me on to a podium. ‘our goal is nothing less that the creation of life…in animating the inanimate. To insufflate with soul. But I need your help. You must strike a pose long enough for me to draw a mental sketch, and only stop when I tell you to. Now lets the virtuosity commence.’
I briefly thought over how I would pose and decided to pose as someone blowing a kiss.
The moment I started posing, Sara started to take in every detail of my body looking from me, to the block of stone she had and back to me again. I don’t know how long this went on for, but she eventually said that I could stop and when I jumped down she cried out;
‘Bravo! The ideal has become real! You have reached into the embers of the ephemeral and pulled out the fire within. You can leave now.’ she added. ‘I must work on the statue. I shall call it, “The Sematrics of Stillness”. It should be ready next time you pass through.’
I then left Sara to her work, not sure if I liked her or not, and I decided that I might as well head to Bowerstone.
The trip to Bowerstone was even more eventful than the trip to Oakfield, okay no, they were probably the same…but I’ll let you decide. Anyway, as I entered Rockridge, I decided to check out the dark cathedral I saw on my way to Oakfield. However, before I could check it out, a group of bandits attacked me. With the bandits defeated, I headed up the road to the dark cathedral and outside the cathedral was a man in a robe, however, it wasn’t like the robes the monks at the Temple of Light wore, no, these robes were dark and blood red (though some of it could of actually been blood).
‘Excuse me, madam. Can I interest you in joining the Temple of Shadows?’ The cultist asked when I stopped in front of him.
‘So this is the famous Temple of Shadows, uh? Well in that case, my answer is “no”.’ I said, turning away, even though I dying to see what was inside.
‘Now don’t be too hasty! This is a unique opportunity, after all. We don’t have any lady members yet, but we’re expanding all the time.’ he said persuasively.
My curiosity was now too strong.
‘How do you join?’ I asked.
‘The entry requirements are quite simple,’ he said quickly, now that he had my full attention and interest. ‘The Temple insists that all potential members perform an act of nefarious evil.’
I did not like the sound of that!
‘Now of course, when I joined, it was kicking the crutches off disabled beggars.’ He said, nearly making me laugh. That wasn’t evil, it was just…wrong, cruel. ‘But you’ll…you’ll have to…eat…five crunchy chicks.’ he said, looking like he was going to be sick.
I thought it over. I never ate meat, especially when it was still alive, but I really wanted to see what was inside and something was telling me that it would be a good thing to join, even though I didn’t know how it would be a good thing.
‘Okay, I’ll do it,’ I said.
‘Ahh…excellent! You’ll have to swallow every last bit you know. The feathers. The bones. The…the beak. Urgh, excuse me, please,’ he added as he tried not to throw up.
That didn’t help my stomach. Taking a deep breath, I accepted the five chicks off the cultist and ate one, nearly throwing up as I did.
‘Ah! I can’t believe you did that! It was still alive!’ The cultist exclaimed.
Taking another deep breath…I ate the second.
‘Ugh…I think I’m going to be sick! That one was still fluffing when you swallowed it!’ he said, going a bit green.
Why is he going to be sick? I thought as I swallowed the third. His wasn’t the one eating them.
‘Three! Argh, you ate three!…The last one who got this far dropped dead! We could still hear the chirping in his stomach…ugh…’
I wished that he hadn’t said that. It was hard enough as it was without him adding to it. After a few moments, I ate the fourth and, once again, his comment didn’t help.
‘There goes another one…extra crunchy…ugh…you don’t have any scruples, do you?’
‘Everyone has one,’ I replied, before I swallowed the final chick.
‘That, that is the vilest thing I’ve ever seen! And this, coming from someone who never misses Torture Tuesday’s, mmm!’ said the cultist.
This confused me. I couldn’t understand how he was grossed out over what I did, when they torture people…unless their torture was tickling people.
‘Anyway, yes, welcome to the Temple,’ he continued. ‘You’ve earned your place among the Shadows!’
I walked with my head held high through the archway, leaving the cultist to practice his evil laugh (and man did he need the practice!). Once I was put of his range of sight, I slipped behind a column and threw up. After washing my mouth and taking a weak health potion, to make myself better, I realised that Storm was shaking with fear.
'Hey, Storm it’s all right! Nothing’s goings to hurt you!’ I said, trying to calm him down.
Once he had calmed down, I had a quick look around the cathedral…and was not impressed. There was nothing there! As a result, I started cursing until I saw a flight of stairs leading down into a black pit.
‘Maybe I need to go down there,’ I mumbled to myself. ‘There better be something worth wild down there, because I better not have eaten those chicks for no reason!’
Gathering up my courage, I headed down the stairs with Storm close behind me. Upon reaching the bottom, my way was blocked by another Temple cultist and a locked door.
‘Welcome, young disciple, to the Temple of Shadows,’ he began smoothly. ‘I am Cornelius Grim. You have entered a venerable society of dark worship, with a long history of wicked deeds and opprobrious transgressions. Friday is poker night,’ he added, nearly making me laugh. For an evil society, they didn’t seem as evil as people describe them to be. I was definitely starting to believe that Torture Tuesday was tickling someone with a feather.
‘Now, proceed down the hallway to our unholy wheel of misfortune – the most gruesome and terrifying device ever conceived.’ Grim continued. ‘The instructions are right next to it!’ He added, before opening the door.
Following his instructions, I proceeded down the hall where I came upon a group of Shadow Worshippers.
‘Hey, look boys! We have out first female member!’ called one of the cultists, running over to me. ‘I’m Alastair.’ he said, shaking my hand.
‘Sparrow,’ I replied.
‘Well, Sparrow, you have come at a wondrous moment,’ said Alastair, leading me over to a giant wheel with different pictures on it. ‘Tarquin captured a group of the Temple of Light monks to put in the circle.’ he said happily.
‘Put into the circle?’ I questioned.
‘The Sacrificial Circle,’ explained Alastair, pointing to the circle in front of us. ‘The shadows just can’t get enough sacrifices, jolly well love them, they do, especially the Light monks. Each victim you bring into the Sacrificial Circle earns you a nice little bundle of loyalty points, and with the Temple of Shadows Award Scheme, once you’ve earned enough points you can collect a really quite smashing prize. Tarquin, bring through the victims!’ yelled Alastair.
I turned to see the cultist that had granted me membership waltz in leading no less than ten Temple of Light monks, whom were all chained together. Once the monks were in the circle, Tarquin ran to a lever just outside the circle. It was then that one of the monks recognised me.
‘You!’ he exclaimed angrily. ‘How could you betray us? Were you the one that planned the Abbott’s death? Did you kill Sister Hannah, too? Is that why she has disappeared? You traitor, Sparrow! You…’
Whatever else I was, I did not know, for Tarquin had pulled the lever and the wheel behind me started to spin, and when it stopped, all this lightning electrocuted all of the monks. Once the last monk had fallen, the cultists all turned towards me. I gulped.
‘So, you have the Temple of Light’s trust, do you?’ asked Grim, stepping out of the shadows and walking towards me. ‘Well, my friends, I believe that we have found the key to the Temple of Light’s undoing.’
‘What do you mean?’ someone asked.
‘What I mean is that we have someone highly trusted by the Light as one of our members. Why not use that to our advantage, and have young Sparrow sabotage them from within?’ answer Grim.
With that said the cultists started cheering and handed me a Shadow-worshipers uniform, before leading me away to celebrate.
* * *
I managed to escape the Temple of Shadows just before dawn, and I didn’t stop running until I was at the Rockridge lookout, and the only reason I stopped was to watch the sunrise. Something that was always perfect. Something that would never change. Something that could never be ruined…
My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the sound of someone crying. I looked around and felt my jaw drop. Just meters away from me was a ghost. A ghost! An upset ghost, as a matter of fact.
‘Are you all right?’ I asked, even though she clearly wasn’t.
The ghost jumped and looked at me.
‘Are you…are you looking at me? You…you can see me?’ she asked.
‘Well, seeing as I asked you if you were all right, I’d say “yes”.’ I replied.
‘Oh finally! I’ve been wandering this place for so long, so lost. So…so angry.’ said the ghost. ‘I needed to find justice. Maybe you can help me? You have no idea what I’ve suffered!’ she continued before I could answer. ‘The pain that still keeps me in this world.’
‘So, why are you here?’ I asked tactlessly.
‘I was going to be married, you know. To Alex, the best looking man in town. We spent so long planning the wedding. Picking out the flowers, the food. Choosing the music, the words to speak, and then the big day came and…he didn’t show up!’ answered he ghost.
‘Please, you are the only one to bring me justice. I want him to feel what I felt that day.’ pleaded the ghost. ‘The pain. The humiliation. I want his heart to shattered in so many pieces he can’t go on living! Will you help me?’
I took one look at her desperate face and knew that I would regret it if I said “no”.
‘I can see how much this hurts you…so, I’ll help you.’ I said before adding. ‘Um, what’s your name?’
‘Yes, excellent!’ she said, ignoring my question. Maybe she would answer it the same way as she answered my first question. ‘It won’t be easy, though. You’ll have to make him fall in love with you, utterly and completely!’
‘That shouldn’t be a problem,’ I said, thinking off all the people in Bowerstone who were in love with me, along with Oakfield and Bower Lake.
‘Then, when his ready to except your proposal, when he can’t imagine his life without you, give him this.’ she said handing me a piece of paper, ignoring my comment.
I accepted the paper and read it aloud;
It's time for you to know the truth. I don't love you. I never loved you. This was all a game for me.
You are empty and deceitful and I hope you never find the slightest glimmer of happiness in this life.
‘I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of the right wording.’ she said, once I had finished reading. ‘And even longer putting it onto paper.’
‘Well, the words will reach their goal.’ I muttered. I was starting to have second thoughts.
‘I am incorporeal after all, which makes it all the more impressive that I managed to get this too!’ She said, handing me two books. ‘In case you need the help, I know I did.’
I looked down at the books she gave me and noted that she had given me Wedding Bells and The Art of Seduction.
‘You’ll find Alex in Bowerstone living his life while I’m stranded between worlds.’ she said bitterly, before adding, ‘I’m Victoria, by the way.’
Happy that she had finally answered my question, I replied, ‘I’m Sparrow,’ before I headed off to Bowerstone, going past bandits (I swear bandits breed like rabbits) without a fight due to my bandit shirt. Anyway, I eventually arrived back at Bowerstone Old Town and as soon as I entered the city, I heard a couple of angry voices.
‘It’s you fault, Max! You’re the one that found it!’
‘You’re the one that read the words, Sam. It’s your fault!’
‘You’re the one that said I was chicken if I didn’t read it in the first place! Ha!’ argued the one named Sam.
‘Yes, but you’re the one that…hey, look!’ said Max, catching sight of me before the two of them ran over to me.
‘You have to help us!’ exclaimed Sam.
‘He raised the dead!’ They both cried out in unison.
‘Of course I’ll help, but how did you raise the dead?’ I questioned.
‘Oh thank you,’ sighed a relieved Max. ‘You see, we read out loud from this book we found called the Normanomicon…’
‘You’re the one that found it, remember?’ said Sam.
‘Yeah, and you’re the one that read – oh, never mind…the thing is…’ began Max.
‘The thing is we accidently summoned a few hollow men.’ concluded Sam.
‘So, let me get this straight.’ I said. ‘You found a strange book and decided to read from it, even though you didn’t know what it would do, and as a result, you summoned, what? – ten hollow men?’
‘Um, when Sam said a few hollow men, he really meant a few hundred.’ admitted Max.
‘A hundred! You summoned a hundred hollow men!’ I exclaimed. ‘Okay, where’s the ruddy book now?’
‘They have the book,’ answered Sam. I didn’t need to ask who “they” were.
‘Only because you dropped it, you big chicken!’ snapped Max.
‘We need you to clear the graveyard so we can get the book and send them back to where they all came from!’ Sam said ignoring Max’s comment, before adding, ‘where do you think they came from?’
‘I don’t know! You summoned them!’ snapped Max.
‘Next time you want to explore graveyards, hit yourself with a mallet instead.’ Sam snapped back.
‘And next time you want to read a book, hit yourself with a giant axe instead!’ replied Max.
I took this as my cue to leave and to fix the mess the two brothers had made. So I headed towards the Bowerstone Cemetery, leaving an arguing Sam and Max behind.
‘You’re just mad cause you can’t…read ancient languages!’ said Sam.
‘Oh yes. I wish I could make lots of corpses appear who want to eat me whenever I wanted!’ Max said sarcastically.
‘I knew it. Always so jealous.’ said Sam, but it was the last thing I heard them say, for I was now out of hearing range.
When I did arrive at the cemetery, I knew that I was in the right place, and not because of the sign saying “Bowerstone Cemetery”, or because of all the graves. No, I knew that I was in the right place due to all of the people running past me screaming about hollow men and the dead coming back to life.
‘Come on Storm, let’s go and kick some hollow men butts.’ I said, drawing my sword as I walked down the main path.
As I was walking down the path I came to a group of chickens pecking around outside a gate (random, I know), but what interested me was what was inside that gate…hollow men, and it was a big group of them too! Grateful that they hadn’t seen me yet, I quietly ran up to them and destroyed five with one blow. Now I had their attention. Even though I was out numbered fifteen to one, I was still able to defeat them all without breaking a sweat. Once I had defeated them all, I noticed the body of a lady lying on the ground. I quickly hurried over to her, but she had been dead for a while.
‘Sam and Max better hope the guards don’t find out that it was them who summoned the hollow men,’ I sighed, turning to Storm, except…he wasn’t next to me. I swore he was next to me a second ago, I thought, looking around for my dear friend. I soon found him digging…on someone’s grave!
‘No Storm, you can’t eat the bones under there!’ I said hastily, getting to my feet, but I needn’t have worried for Storm soon popped his head back up with a hat in his mouth before running towards me.
‘I’m sorry I had so little faith in you, Storm.’ I said, patting him on the head and accepting the hat.
Upon examining and dusting off the hat, I realised that it was a highwayman’s hat, and it was a very stylish one. Shrugging, I plonked it on my head, not caring about what people thought, and headed up to the cemetery’s mansion to see if any hollow men had gone up there.
I was about to cross the small bridge that lead to the mansion when I heard the noise of hollow men appearing underneath the bridge. I drew my rifle and started to pick them off one at a time as they ran up the main path trying to get me. I soon defeated those hollow men as well, and then I made my way back up to the mansion. When I arrived, I saw that there was no evidence of the living dead around so I headed back the way I had come, and then continued down the main path to the main graveyard.
Now, just before the graveyards opening there is a path that is said to lead to a bandits meeting place. I was just about to go down that path when I heard screaming, coming dorm the graveyard. Looking down towards the screaming I saw twenty hollow men and this lady screaming and crying over a body, ignoring the slowing advancing hollow men that were closing in on her. I didn’t even hesitate. I flew faster than the wind down to the graveyard and slaughtered my dead enemies that wished to take another innocent life.
‘Thank you,’ sobbed the woman, crying over her husband’s body.
‘I only wished that I had made it sooner,’ I replied, before running into the graveyard where more screams could be heard.
After my triumph off another twenty hollow men…I saw it. I saw the Book of the Extremely Dead – it was inside a blue orb. With this in mind, I checked the rest of the graveyard, but found nothing, so I headed back to the path that lead to the “bandit’s meeting place”…and I found some more hollow men fighting a guard. Thinking that the guard could use my help, I hurried forward and helped him. Oh, how wrong I was. The moment the last hollow man had fallen, he started to yell and lecture me before he stormed off with me giving him a rude gesture behind his back. The nerve of some people. They always think that they know best!
Slowly my anger evaporated and I became aware that the fog throughout the graveyard had disappeared.
‘Come on Storm, let’s go and get that book and get out of here,’ I grumbled.
However, just as I was about to past the group of chickens again, I saw another Demon Door. Figuring that Max and Sam could wait, I hurried over to the Demon Door.
‘You!’ said the Demon Door loudly, when I arrived in front of it. ‘Please! Meat! So hungry! I was man. Long time ago. Ate meat. Lots of meat. Then was Demon Door. No more meat. Only hunger. Please, feed meat now!’
‘Okay, I’ll see if I have any on me, though I highly doubt it.’ I said, and I was right. Not a single piece of meat on me and why should there be? Why would a vegetarian carry meat? ‘Does it have to be meat?’ I asked the Demon Door.
‘MEAT!’ said the Demon Door. ‘NOW!’
‘Okay, okay.’ I said, looking around to see if there was a meat stall or something.
It was then that my eyes fell on the group of chickens and I knew what I had to do. Taking out my rifle, I shot the closes chicken before picking it up and chucking it in the Demon Door’s mouth.
‘Ahh…meat! Meat good! You go inside now.’ said the Demon Door, before he split in half allowing me to the Forgotten Keep.
Inside the Forgotten Keep, I found a chest covered in moss, but it was the contents that I was more interested in. Flinging open the chest lid I discovered three potions: Balverine Strength, Practice Skill, and Infused Will. Uncorking each potion, I drank all three of them, choking on the Practice Skill potion cause it tasted like sweat. I had always wondered if the label on the bottle was true. At least now I knew, but I wished that I had found out some other way.
* * *
When I arrived back at Bowerstone Old Town, I found Sam and Max standing in the same place as I had left them. They both looked very worried and anxious.
‘Here you go, boys.’ I said, walking over to them and handing Sam the Normanomicon.
‘Right, what page was the undo spell on…?’ Sam muttered aloud, flicking quickly through the Normanomicon’s pages. ‘Oh, here we are!’ He cried happily when he found it. ‘Tantri! Barada! Kandra!’
‘Mukluk!’ Max added. ‘What?’ he added when he noticed Sam and me giving him a funny look.
‘Thank you for helping us!’ Sam said, ignoring his brother. ‘Is there anyway we can repay you?’
‘Yeah, don’t raise the dead again!’ I said, before saying a quick goodbye and continuing to Bowerstone market, thinking that it would be the best place to look for Alex. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, judging by Victoria’s attire, she looked like she was part of the middle class, so I assumed Alex would be too, which meant he would like in Bowerstone Market.
It was only when I arrived at Bowerstone Market did I realise that I had a major problem…I had no idea what Alex looked like. All I had to go by was the fact that Alex was the “best looking man in town”.
Sighing, I decided to go to the Cow and Corset, seeing as it was a Friday night and most of Bowerstone men went and got themselves drunk on a Friday night.
Upon entering, I could see that it was a full house and the best-looking man in the tavern was covered with girls practically.
‘Please tell me that’s not Alex,’ I muttered as a barmaid walked past.
‘No, that’s Reaver. The sexiest man in Albion.’ The barmaid said. ‘How can you not know who he is?’
‘Never mind that, but do you know where I can find someone named Alex?’ I asked, hoping that it wouldn’t be a common name.
‘Try up stairs, honey. He’s the only man sitting by himself,’ she replied, before walking off.
Taking her advice, I went up stairs and saw only one man sitting by himself, and may I say, he was not a good-looking man. He had long, messy, oily, dark brown hair, an unshaven face which was also oily and I won’t even start on his clothes. Beggars looked cleaner than he did.
Gathering my courage, I went back downstairs and booked a room; before I went in with Storm and got changed into the hottest outfit I owned and got ready to seduce Alex. In the end, I was wearing my short hot pants, thigh high boots, a corset, crop top jacket and dark make-up with my long hair down and all wavy.
As I left my room, all the guys stopped and stared at me.
At least I know that it will work with guys. I thought, hoping none of them would come up to me, unless it was Alex.
As I walked through the tavern to Alex, more and more people stopped and stared at me. I came to a halt in front of Alex and said, ‘May I join you?’ and I got no answer. Frowning slightly, I tried again, and still, there was no answer. Getting annoyed, I just sat down next to him and said, ‘Hello?’ while waving my hand in front of his face.
It worked. I got his attention for he turned and faced me with a dead look in his eyes. ‘Oh, I didn’t see you there,’ he said, his voice sounding dead as well. ‘Isn’t it amazing? All these people, they look so happy, don’t they? I’m sorry, don’t mind me. My name is Alex. I’m…I’m sure you’re a really nice person, but…I’m not much of a talker these days.’ That was the last thing he said, before he hopped up and walked off. His seat didn’t stay empty for long, neither did the ones around me for all these people can and started to try and convince me to have a drink with them.
I was able to excuse myself and I hurried downstairs to see if I could find Alex, but he was long gone. I swore.
‘That’s not a very lady thing to say. And who would have thought that a beauty like you could even say such a thing.’ came a smooth voice from behind me.
‘Looks often can be deceiving!’ I said, turning to face the man named Reaver. I noticed that I was getting many jealous looks from the girls, and boys, who had been swooning over him.
‘Well said,’ he said, as his eyes greedily took in my body, a look I did not like. ‘How about you join me for a drink and tell me a bit about yourself?’ he continued, rapping his arm around my shoulders and leading me to a table.
‘Why? So you can get me drunk and hopefully get me into bed with you?’ I snapped, throwing his arm off me. ‘Listen, Reaver…I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but I am not that kind of girl!’
I then stormed back upstairs, to my room, with Reaver calling out to me, ‘We will meet again, sweetie. I can guarantee it.’
The next morning, the news of my brief meeting with Reaver had spread throughout Bowerstone. No one could understand why I turned him down. Most people thought that I was mad to do such a thing. However, their gossip did benefit me in one way. I found out that Reaver was from Bloodstone and he was also a pirate, a thief and that he was the best gunman around. It is said that he could shoot the captain of an “enemy” ship, no matter what the distance was and regardless of the conditions. It was said that all his shots were legendary and that no one could equal his “impossible” shots.
I just shrugged off the last piece of information, figuring that it was just him boosting. How wrong I was.
* * *
Over the next few weeks, I spent all of my waking hours seducing Alex, except when I was working and sorting out my new house I bought near the augment shop, where I dumped all of my un-needed belongings I found on my travels.
Eventually the day came when Alex started to drop hints of a proposal.
‘I’m just the luckiest man in the world. I never thought that I would find happiness again.’ Alex told me, as we stood on the Bowerstone Bridge. He was no longer the hideous man I first met. Instead he was now a good-looking man. Clean-shaven, hair now short and soft brown, and his clothes were now presentable too. Since he met me, he had come out of his depressed attitude and had started to take care of himself.
‘I never thought that I would deserve it,’ he continued. ‘There’s…something I’ve never told you. I almost got married once before. She was a sweet girl, but…we were both so young…too young. I got scared and ran away the day of the wedding. I hurt her so badly. She…she took her own life. I’ve carried that guild around with me all these years, never dreaming I could love again…until I met you!’
I stood there shocked. So that’s why he did it. I now knew the reason for his actions, and as a result…I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t break his heart. Even though we had only known each other for a few weeks, I now classified him as a friend, and a friend wouldn’t do what Victoria asked me to do. So instead, I ripped up the rejection note.
‘Why are you tearing up that piece of paper?’ Alex asked, confused by my actions.
‘I need you to come with me to Rockridge,’ I said, ignoring his question. I was going to take him to Victoria.
The journey to Rockridge was not fun. Do you know how hard it is to protect someone who does not know the meaning of stealth? Anyway, after fighting off bandits, we finally arrived at Rockridge lookout.
‘What are we doing here, Sparrow?’ Alex asked, but it wasn’t me that answered.
‘What is he doing here?’ Victoria screeched, scaring the crap out of Alex.
‘Vic-Victoria? Vicky? Is that really you?’ stammered Alex.
Victoria ignored him.
‘What is he doing here? Why didn’t you do as we planned?’ she demanded.
‘Alex is here for the two of you to sort everything out. Feelings, thoughts and whatever else you need to sort out.’ I replied calmly, despite the fact I had one furious and one confused person looking at me. With that said, I walked off to give them some space, but I kept an eye on that all the same. I did not want another death!
After sometime, I saw Alex motioning me over to join them.
‘We’ve talked everything over,’ Alex said happily.
‘And that included what I asked you to do,’ add Victoria. ‘I asked you to do a terrible thing…I’m just glad you knew better. I had never thought about how much he had suffered already. Treat him well, won’t you? – or I’ll be back to haunt you!’ she said, before saying goodbye to Alex and disappearing.
'I'm sorry too, Alex.' I said as we walked back to Bowerstone.
'I understand why you did it and that you don't actually love me.' Alex said sadly.
'You're wrong, Alex. I do love you, but only as a friend.' I said firmly. 'I never lied about that.'
'I know,' said Alex, taking my hand.
After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Alex spoke again.
'What are you going to do now? Are you going to stay in Bowerstone?' he asked hopefully.
'I don't know. If I can find a job or quest to do, I'll take it gladly. I hate not having anything to do.' I admitted apologetically.
'No surprise there,' muttered Alex, before adding, 'Listen, I heard someone in the Cow and Corset last night complaining about the archaeologist in Fairfax Gardens. Apparently, she's been bothering everyone that comes by to get them to find ancient artefacts. Maybe you could do it?'
'Do what? Find artefacts?' I said thoughtfully.
'Why not? Not only will you have something to do, but you will be helping the archaeologist out along with other citizens.' persuaded Alex.
'Yeah, I think I will! Thanks Alex!'
'It's my pleasure.'
* * *
When I arrived at Fairfax Garden, I found the archaeologist standing near an archaeological dig site.
'You! Are you willing to risk life, limb and more as you quest for the lost remnants of lost civilisations?' asked the archaeologist as I walked over to her. I raised an eyebrow at her rudeness. 'Oh, I suppose you want to know who I am?'
'That would be nice,' I replied.
'People are so conventional this time in era,' she muttered before saying to me, 'My name is Belle and I'm Albion's foremost archaeologist.'
'Nice to meet you. I'm Sparrow.' I said politely, though I didn't know why I even bothered.
'Okay, now will you embark on a marvellous adventures in search of ancient artefacts or not? Will you face unspeakable danger to find antiquities? Will you...'
'You can stop with the "inspirational" words.' I interrupted, showing that I wasn't impressed. 'I'll do it.'
'Excellent!' she said happily. 'We must find every last one of these artefacts! My research proves conclusively that the first artefact is hidden somewhere in the oldest part of the city.' she added.
'Right, I'm off to old town then.' I said, before walking off.
Even a child would have known to go to Old Town to find the scroll. After all, it was given that name for a reason.
Eventually, Storm found the scroll down one of the alleys of Old Town. Not even paying attention to what was on the scroll; I shoved it in my bag and headed back to Belle.
When I arrived back at the dig site, Belle's greeting to me was a snapped, "haven't you found it yet?".
Frowning, I reached into my bag, pulled out the scroll and handed it to her.
Without as much as a thanks, Belle handed me a piece of paper.
'This is what my latest research indicates will be a good target,' she said, before walking off, examining the scroll as she went.
'You're welcome,' I yelled sarcastically after her, before reading the paper she had handed to me:
All the ancient texts point to an artefact hidden near the ruins of an Old Kingdom structure. One of the texts mentions a "dark cathedral overlooking the ocean". At least, I believe that is the correct translation.
'It better be the correct translation,' I muttered bitterly, before thinking over the clue. 'I don't know anything really about the Old Kingdom structures, so that part won't help me, but the "dark cathedral overlooking the ocean" might. Let's think. Which areas of Albion are near the ocean? Hmm, Bloodstone, Westcliffe, Oakfield, um, and Rockridge. Well, Oakfield is out of the picture...I got it. It's in Rockridge near the Temple of Shadows!' I yelled happily, making the people around me stare.
After finding the ancient scroll in Rockridge, Storm and I headed back to Belle.
'Here's the scroll,' I said, handing it over to her.
'Very good. You have done a great service for anthropology and all that,' said Belle, as she handed me another piece of paper, which sent me to Bowerstone Cemetery seeing as it was "where the dead dwell".
After I found that scroll and gave it to Belle, Belle told me that she had no more leads and that she would be in touch with me when she did.
Sighing, I headed back to Bower Lake to sort out my caravan, gathering up all my belongings and then putting it up for rent. I would no longer need it now that I had a house in Bowerstone. However, it was then that Theresa spoke to me.
'Come back to the Guild when you are ready.'
'Finally,' I muttered. I was afraid that I would have to find something else to do. 'Let's go, Storm. I'll race you to the Cullis gate that leads to the Guild.' I said, taking off.
Surprisingly, I was the one that won that race.
'Better luck next time, boy.' I said, before using the Cullis Gate to the Heroes Guild.'
Link to next chapter: http://fablefanon.wikia.com/wiki/The_Mage_and_The_Crucible
Written: July 2011