I stood up cold and shivering I thought about the last 24 hours and all the circumstances that had lead me to this moment.
The morning after Malygos and I had a little night time adventure I awoke earlier than normal. I waited for the others to wake but it seemed like time was as cold and frozen as Northreach itself. My patience finally got the better of me and I strolled off to the streets to gather some intel. On my way out the door I passed by the inn keeper.
“Hey tell my friends I’m off to the market and I should be back around mid-morning”.
“Aye misssss…….” He replied with a wink and wicked smile. And as I walked out the double doors my gut was telling me there is something wrong with that lad.
When I got to the market it was busy as usual merchants setting up goods for the daily sales and my personal favorite early morning trading. I spent the next few hours using mine and Malygos new favorite friend acquiring goods for our adventure. I had pulled in a really good haul too, a few potions, a ring, cloak, couple wands, and even a really nice diamond for Taki all safely inside my new bag of holding, also acquired via staff ordered. Down to my last 2 charges and ready to head back to the inn I couldn’t believe who I ran into, that moron from the night before who was supposed to set up the bola meet. Using my bargaining tool I struck up another meet with his boss. The boy returned in a few minutes, he was pale looking and sweating profusely, and I was thinking “jeez did you just run a marathon, where the hell did you go”.
“My master said to bring you down to the wharf in 15 minutes “. He stammered the words out like a 2 year old. Again I was thinking to myself, “What a friggin retard I hope he has the time right”, maybe that’s why last night failed.
“Ok boy, agreed”. I replied after looking him up and down like a diseased dog. 15 minutes later we arrived at an old beat down boathouse on the wharf. I was given the all clear to come inside.
“Wait here” I was told.
“OK, but make it fast, I’ve got places to be”.
Normally my vast years of wisdom would have told me something was wrong. Here I stood alone in a dark boarded up boathouse that looked like the next strong fart would blow to pieces. But greed and failure had blinded my senses, and I was unaware of the choke hold that was slowly being wrapped around my neck. The boy returned and he wasn’t alone. Two tall figures remained in the shadows as the boy emerged with a box in hand. A sudden fear hit me like a dagger in the back, it wasn’t the same boy as before it was the one from the inn early this morning.
“Well here we are, come take a look”, he said with that same wink and smile just as wicked as this morning.
I approached cautiously trying not to show any signs of alarm or fear. As I stood over the box and laid eyes on the bola that dagger in my back gained a voice, a cold and familiar one.
I turned around slowly to face the Dark Deliverer.
“Well hello Desmund, I see you have lost some weight” trying to remain positive and in control.
“Yes I have and it doesn’t seem to suit me Azule” he started walking closer.
“In fact that’s why I am visiting lovely Northreach, I heard they have the best meat and every meal is served with iced tea” now just within arm’s reach
“Iced tea all the way up here, Huh sounds like someone pulled another fast one on you. Getting a little slow in our old age are we” trying to remain positive.
“Oh yes, iced tea made all the way up here and brewed with the cleanest clearest shards of ice….”
As that last word spewed from his mouth it wasn’t cold enough not even from his mouth to keep his deep red eyes from burning a hole right down into what little soul I had left. Only that burning sensation I was feeling was around my neck, as a ten pound bola was being tied around it and hooked to a boat anchor. The loud clanking of chain against metal and splashing water snapped me out of whatever trance I was put under. In that instant right before the end I realized the dire situation in which I was and the good friend I wasn’t. Really I hadn’t told a soul where I was going or when I would be back, and more than that I don’t think I’ve been a good enough friend to think twice about if I wasn’t back at mid morning. I was alone and I suddenly felt what I could only imagine Malygos could have felt when I abandoned him in the dessert to suffer alone and without a friend, a dark lost place. I was snapped back to reality with Desmunds voice.
“And I plan on getting me a whole pint full”
I wanted to scream but my throat was on fire, dry and hot, desperate for anything to put it out and fast.
Desmund came in close, gave me a hug and planted a kiss on my cheek.
“Goodbye my muse”
I was ripped from his arms and plunging into darkness deeper and deeper. I fell for what seemed an eternity past killer whales, fish, through the abyss and out the other side. The water was blowing out the other side of this reverse canyon like a mad geyser, and still I fell past hills,mountains, and into grey skies and there I landed. I awoke on a dark black rain cloud, thunder and lightning rang out as rain ticked against my armor. A strange little floating light buzzed about me like a wisp of the swamp. Bouncing and bobbing about it finally stopped, frozen right before my eyes. Mesmerized by a beauty I have rarely seen, I did what any rational person would do I wretch out and touched it. Into form it took, of a beautiful man made of the purist celestial light.
“Hmmm…….. so you are what the fates have dealt me”.
“What do you mean, where am I”.
“Oh child you are dead, on your way to the grey ashen fields of nothingness, a place of void and still”.
“Then why did you stop me you should have let me go”.
“I did no such thing, it was the world who delivered you to me”.
He spent what seemed an eternity explaining the cosmos and light vs. darkness, good vs evil, the deeds of men, and the tardiness of gods and when he finally finished I hadn’t heard a fucking word he said. I grabbed him by his neck and asked him again.
“You didn’t answer my question, why me”?
Startled and looking deep into my grey eyes his own questions became answered.
“Ahh…. now I understand, come we must train”.
Palaeluc was his name, and we spent another forsaken amount of time talking about his family and ancient history shit I could care less about, all the while sparring every minute with every weapon we could, I was permitted breaks to play a song or two but it was right back to fighting. Battered and sore I finally stopped.
“No more, I’m done, no more fighting”.
There was a long pause and the rain froze in place then he spoke again.
“You are ready, but you are not done and there will be more fighting, lots more. You will take back your kingdom, and throne. You will avenge the death of your family Queen Azule’ and there on your throne you will play the melodies of your mother once again”. He was taking something from his robe.
“But first you will help me, remember the brother I told you about the young wild one”.
I stared at him like he had two heads, and he stared back realizing I had only heard half of what we spent the last century talking about and the other half was probably mixed and jumbled in my small tiny human brain.
“Here is what you will do, take this coin to the old man deep in the market of Northreach and he will give you what you need to get my brother back”.
“And how do I find your brother”
“That’s easy, he is with the wand holder at all times, kill the wand holder and you will find my brother, then bring him back to me”.
“So that’s it I just find this wand, does this wand have a name”.
“Why yes Azule it does, it is the wand of Orcus”.
“What if I say go fuck yourself”.
“Do this not and I will drag every person you have ever loved or cared about from whatever realm dead or alive that they might be in and you will watch me torture them for the rest of existence”.
He then handed me the coin he had pulled from his robe and when I went to say yes he touched my forehead. The rain started to fall again, as did I. Falling like a rock from the tallest mountain right back the way I had come, back into the darkness. When I came to I was lying on the boathouse floor hacking water out of my lungs.
“Are you ok”’ a young voice asked.
“I saw what those men did to you, and when they left I pulled you out with the dock pulley”.
“Thanks kid” I spat out as I stood to my feet.
What a dream I thought to myself as I replayed the events of the last 24 hours through my mind, only it seemed longer than that and there was so much information that it seemed more than a days’ worth of events, names, and places. Hurting from my neck wounds I pulled my violin out and incanted those familiar words only nothing happened, in fact I wasn’t even that good at playing.
“You son of a bitch” I yelled at the top of my lungs.
Furiously I played over and over again and again but nothing but reckless mad harmonics came out. All I could think was the motherfucker had tricked me, he stole my music, that’s all he wanted was my music, it was real the whole thing was real. I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out an old ancient coin that I have never seen before.
“Here kid I hope she plays for you as well as she did for me” I handed off my violin and started off toward the market once again. I spent the next two days tracking down the one they called “Old man”. I couldn’t believe how long it took me to find this guy he was a couple blocks from my inn and in a rundown alley all by himself, normally I would have found him in 5 minutes. I approached the old blind man. He stuck his hand out and didn’t say a word. First I thought he was begging but then I remembered the coin. I placed it in his hand, immediately he fingered it rubbing every corner of it, when he was done caressing the coin he pocketed it and stuck his hand out again. You greedy bastard I thought to myself. I sat there for a few minutes contemplating. I reach in my bag, “oh shit my bag of holding where is it”. Franticly I searched my gear to no avail, “Desmund you piece of work”. He took it when he hugged me. I handed the old man a hundred gold, he pocketed it and stuck his hand out once more. Now I was pissed, I paced back and forth in the alley cursing this blind stranger, never once did he say a word.
“Give me my coin back” I wretch around him to take from him once what was mine, and he slapped my hand away, and stuck his hand out once again. “What the”, I sat down in front of him waving my hands in front of him. He never moved or winced a muscle.
“Give me my coin you old piece of shit” I found myself blurting out in anger.
“Fine here take this” I gave him a gem. He pocketed it and stuck his hand out again. Angered I handed him more money and more gems, and the hand stuck out again and again. I went to tackle the old fart and as I came in he smacked me across the face faster than bolt lightning and replaced his hand to its normal place just as fast, had it not been for the red mark across my face I wouldn’t have believed he moved at all. I pulled my dagger out and for a brief moment I thought about it but instead I laid down the dagger in front of him, then my armor, short sword, he caressed every item scooting them ever closer to him and hand outreached once more.
“Look here you greedy little man if you don’t give me what’s mine I will turn your world upside down in a heartbeat”.
He didn’t move, I couldn’t even tell if he was breathing. So I went to kick his teeth in. The next thing I know I’m lying face down in the alley gasping for air.
“Alright you mute monkey, you want money here take it” I stood up pulling a huge bag of platinum from my backpack, I twirled it around and swung it at his big fat bald head. In the blink of an eye I had been disarmed and robbed, the hand ever flat palm up. I threw trash and rocks at him, and he just blocked and replaced his hand outreached. I stormed over in front of him and threw my gems at his feet, and more money, and when I was down to my last gem I thought I have lost my mind.
“Give me my shit back, or the next thing you’re going to get is an oil can” I started to grab for the gear I set before him and the old man slapped my hand away and shamed at me with one finger back and forth, then signaled palm up more money. Not until I handed the tart my last coin did he grab all that I placed before him scooped it up and took it in the tent behind him and when he opened the curtains I could see a whole other world on the other side different races walked by as if I were inside looking out, he returned a few moments later and handed me a blanket roll.
“Are you shitting me, is this a joke. What the hell am I supposed to do with a 70,000 gold piece blanket, huh asshole” quite frankly I was still pissed off, mostly because I couldn’t play music but this whole event was aggravating. The old man bowed and walked through the tent curtain once again.
“That’s right you better go get the rest of…… whatever shit it is I bought”
I waited and after a few moments I set the blanket down and ripped the curtain back, nothing just an empty dirty tent. After some time of kicking and screaming the tent into oblivion I calmed myself grabbed my baby blanket and headed back to the inn. I threw the blanket on the bed and fell down tired and worn out next to it. The next morning I unraveled the blanket and inside laid the most beautiful set of assault gear I have seen with a note attached that read.
“Wild was the young and protective the older was, but together all the same, just say his name”.