- -Chapter 1-
On the 13th of August an 18 year old young adult strolled into a town known as Jiltamesh on a Dragon Horse. The guy's name was Tobias Alan Richette, but he preferred Toby.
Toby was on his own nowadays, he had packed up his belongings, kissed his mama good bye and headed north to the more populated provinces. He wore a brown trench coat of sorts that did a rather well job at hiding the rest of himself from the elements. He had blonde spiked hair, was clean shaven, and had blue eyes. He was of no impressive or demeaning height, he seemed rather toned and fit and carried a blue shield on his back.It was near the end of the day and the old geezers out in the town square were already packing up their games of checkers and Bokaline. Briefly, Bokaline was a card game where the objective was to end your turn with a hand as close to 17 points as possible.
Toby never liked Bokaline very much, too many opportunities to cheat, he knew well the secrets of card players' sinister ways. He stopped the "horse" at an Inn and dismounted. Out of the corner of his eye he saw some young women about his age walk across the street carrying buckets of water. The taller one giggled as she noticed Toby was staring directly at her. She had wavy brown hair whose bangs almost completely covered her sapphire eyes. She possessed an attractive figure that rivaled any other that Toby had seen. She turned away blushing and continued with her group of friends. At this point the apple that Toby was eating had been devoured by his steed. "Hey!" Toby said giving an incredulous look at his horse. "Well then.. It seems ill just have to leave you all alone out here while I get food inside the Inn." Said Toby, not actually disappointed and feeling a trifle mean. But what did it matter? Everyone else's horses/bear turtles/ dragon horses/ and Velocirabbits were outside. So old Shoescale wasn't totally alone.
Yes, Toby named his dragon horse Shoescale.
Toby entered the inn with low expectations. These were confirmed by the low ceilings and horrible smell of the burly men inside, but the room had a happy mood. Not a single soul looked sad or glum. Unknown to Toby, this was the aftermath of a wedding he had just missed. He sat at a table by himself, mulling over a glass of real Jolek apple cider. A delicacy he had not tried in years. The drink was warm and along with the taste of cinnamon he found the strange creamy sensation of vanilla in the mixture." Quite an improvement" he thought to himself. At the same moment that he sipped his second sip the entire room got quiet. Toby followed the gaze of a man 7 feet In front of himself to the door. Standing in the doorway was a large and tall man, no... Ork., with one hand bound by an iron clasp that he was currently trying to pry apart. The Ork was wearing a light blue tunic which seemed much too small for him, over that was a darker blue robe that covered most of his face, you could see that the hood however made no attempt at hiding his horns, which poked outward from his head and strained the fabric there.
He walked inside. Thud, thud, thud, thud. The sound of his leather boots against the wooden floorboards was loud enough to the cut the silence like a chainsaw. He finished his display of ominousness by sitting at another table in a back corner, he continued fiddling with his chain while also taking a drink from the waitress. The noise of happy near drunk groomsmen returned to the atmosphere as Toby finished his drink halfway. He stared at the hooded Ork for a moment before he looked suspicious. Toby didn't trust something about him. He could practically smell the fear and distrust in the room.
Toby's eyes widended in horror... he had left his shortsword in Shoescale's satchel. Now he was faced with an impossible predicament. If he left to get his sword and come back the Ork might take it as a challenge, but if he stayed the chances of him being able to defend himself were very slim. Tension was rising in the musty room as a hairy and gruff looking gang of men stood all around the Ork's table.
"Oy! We don't loyk your kind 'ere. Git goin' or we'll havta make ya!" the apparant leader said, very sure of himself.
The Ork responded, "Vhy should I? Arre you going to make me?" he said with an accent that sounded like a cross between French, German, and Russian.
"Ya I think I yam gonna havta make ya." said the man getting real close to the Ork, enough for them to smell each others' breath.
The Ork said, "Heh Good. Now I vount feel as sorry about it." With catlike reflexes the Ork grabbed the man by his neck and smacked his head into the wall. He then flippd the table up, grabbed it by it's center legs and rammed straight into the surrounding men. He pinned them up against the wall and the measly little room shook a bit.
Toby knew this was his cue to do something, anything in fact would be a good idea. He knew not whether to go get his sword and help the men or the Ork.
Or if he should just escape.
The Ork let go of the table, turned around and met the first man he had hit with a fist to the head. The man fell back agaisnt the wall and begged the Ork for mercy. "Mercy! Mercy please! Please just leave us alone and Ill buy you 12 drinks!" oddly enough, his gruf accent had dissapeared with his big tough guy act. The Ork said, "Keep your foul wines. I nevar wanted to be here in ze first place."
He stood up tall and straight, and walked out of the Inn without another word.
Toby sat there, his hands shaking his cup of cider and his face white with fear. Then, he heard Shoescale whining.
Toby lept up from his chair and ran out the door to see the Ork attempting to ride Toby's kirin.
"Hey! Get off!" Toby said grabbing the Ork's cloak and pulling him off form atop his steed.
"DAAH!" he yelled in surprise as he landed on the ground on his back.
Toby quickly pulled out his shortsword from Shoescale's satchel and armed himself, ready for a fight.
The Ork stumbled and had regained his balance. "Vhat!? Vhy you pull a sword on me? I have no weapon!"
"Strange, Orks didnt typically complain about things like that, they usually just picked up a rock and started beating you to death with it". Toby thought to himself. Toby then replied with, "Well... too bad! You ain't stealing my kirin!" he kept his guard up.
The Ork replied, "Steal? I vas not Shtealing! I.." Toby didnt let him finish, he ran up to him and bashed him with his sheild. The Ork stumbled backwards into a glass shop window. A woman inside screamed and called for help.
"Do not worry! I shall vanquish this beast!" Toby said like he was some kind of big deal, on the inside he has half proud of himself for sounding like a Hero, and also half peeing himself out of fear for what the Ork would do next.
The Ork stood up holding a broomstick in one hand and took a whack at Toby. That is, he mistakenly used the broom end, rather than the more effective stick end. Toby dodged the swing 1...2...3...4 times before he was tripped by it with a blow to his legs. "DID YOU JUST TRIP ME WITH A BROOM!?" He said attempting to stand up, but for some reason his voice actually cracked halfway through saying that and he began laughing at how ridicoulous he sounded. The Ork also started laughing and dropped the broom. He stood over Toby and said in a higher voice, "VHY YES I DID JUST TRIP YOU VITH A BROOM! HAHAHA." The Ork sighed and held his hand out for Toby to grab.
Apparantly the Ork thought the conflict was over and Toby thought it best to go along with it. Lest he suffer the wrath of an obviously delusional Ork. Toby took his hand and was hoisted into the air. "My name is Sukon leetle man. You are probably ze first human to knock me into a shop window! Hoho!" he laughed again and Toby laughed along with him awkwardly. Toby introduced himself as well and was cut short by another burst of laughter.
The woman who had screamed had called a local peace keeping force to the scene of the short brawl and they were there by the time Sukon had finished laughing. They arrived on white horses and were clad in chainmail armor that glinted in the sun. "Hey You! Ork! Come with us, and bring your friend too!"
"Aye, I don't need to go nowhere" Sukon said. "Isn't that right Me Buddeh Tony?" He said also.
Toby replied quieter to himself, "It's Toby... not Tony." (The Author wishes his fingers would realize this and stop writing Tony, or To y, everytime he tries to write Toby)
The Guards or police or whatever they were pointed crossbows at Sukon and Toby. "Oh. Vell since you put it that way."
45 minutes later Toby was sitting in a dungeon cell with Sukon, who was smiling to himself. "Now I know what you're thinking Tony. But don't worry, they don't know ive got a plan!" He whispered.
"It's still Toby." "And I still have plan." Sukon said standing up. "Now, for zis to verk (work) vhe (we) need trust. I told you my name vas Sukon. Vhat I did not tell you vas that I vas Sukon Daedris. The son of Jukon Daedris... You do not know vhy zis is important do you?" Said Sukon. "No. Not at all. And frankly I don't care-" Toby retorted. "My father iz the chieftain of the Daedris clan in the Orkain Dynasty. I'm royalty." Toby was now a little more interested. A few years ago a few Orks, Ogres, and Goblins got together and tried to make themselves into a nation of sorts. Apparently it had succeeded and here was real green skin royalty in front of him.
"Well.. I'm Toby Richette.. I'm not from royalty or an ex convict..." He said pointing out Sukon's old clasp. "Ahh. That. Well Joo see, I am not exactly favorite person around tribe." His half smile disappeared as he looked down at the ground. "I am war criminal."
Toby thought to himself, "oh great. Now I'm "'royaly' screwed." Sukon took a deep breath and looked back up at Toby. "Alright. You trust me now right?" Toby was screaming "NO." In his head but his mouth said "yes?"
"Aaah! Good." Sukon grabbed Toby by the collar of his coat and banged him against the bars. "I AM GOING TO EAT YOU HUMAN." He bellowed. Toby was disgusted and angry and scared at the same time. "WHAT!? WHY!?" He yelled trying to kick around. "YOU ARE GOING TO TASTE LIKE GOOOOOD SANDVICH."
A guard had heard the commotion and came down a flight of mossy stone steps. "Hey! Cut that out!" "HELP! IT'S GOING TO EAT ME!" Yelled Toby. "HUMAN FEAST!" Replied Sukon. The guard was horrified and pulled out his sword from his belt to start stabbing Sukon. Taking the cue Sukon reached through the bars, pulled the guard towards the bars and bashed his head into them. The guard was out cold as Sukon let go of Toby. "Quickly, grab ze keys on his belt." Said Sukon in his normal voice. Toby obeyed and reached for the keys. He accidentaly dropped them onto the floor and fumbled around for them. It was quite dark in the dungeon. The only light source was a torch at the stairs that the guard had came down. Sukon dropped the guard's body and assisted Toby. Toby had found the keys and began to open the lock. "Ah! Zer ve go!" Sukon bellowed out loud.
Toby opened the door but quickly closed it on Sukon. "Hey! Vhat are you doing!?" "I... I am going home. Home until I can forget all this and can show my face in this town again." Sukon's face turned dark. "Eet seems you vant to make an enemy boy." He said, his cheerful demeanor now serious. "I just want to get my name cleared ok?" Toby began walking up the stairs and regretted his decision. He went back down, and tossed the keys into the cell. "If we meet again. Hopefully it won't be on these circumstances." Toby said.
Toby rushed out of the dungeon and found himself inside a hallway. At the very end were heavy wooden doors. He needed to leave but not without his belongings. It was doubtful that they left everything in Shoescale's satchel, or that Shoescale was still even alive. But Toby was in a hurry since a changing of the guard was inevitable.
Sukon unlocked the cell door with a loud creak and stepped through the opening. The guard was regaining conciousness and feeling around the ground for his sword. Sukon grabbed the blade and smacked the blunt end of it into the guard's helmet. "Dah, zat iz how you stay." He ascended the stone steps towards the hallway. As he cleared the dungeon's entrance he found himself in the long marble floored hallway with the large wooden doors at the end. He carefully stepped across the floors and back into the open world. It was late at night and the moon and stars were out. Bright and shining they hung as Sukon enjoyed it for a moment.
He remembered his situation and began walking down the cobble street nonchalantly. As he walked he tried to remember why he was here in the first place... Oh... Right... he remembered. "Ex-royalty..." He whispered to himself as he found himself sitting next to the town's central fountain pool. He had his head in his hands and was mulling over the past few day's events in hazy detail. "My brother betrayed me, the House of Waghannon united with Daedris, I lost the challenge... I am zo stupid sometime." He felt himself breaking down inside as the faint footsteps of women in pure, luminous white robes calmly walked towards, and surrounded him. The tallest one asked him in an angelic voice, "are you hurt sir? Let us mend you." Sukon did not see them, but heard her voice well enough to know something was up. "No... I fine." He said lying. The tall one took a step closer. "Let us help you." She said once again. Sukon did not look up, he simply denied once again. The woman was becoming impatient. "Come with me... Now.." She said, almost grabbing his arm. "I told you I am fine!" Sukon said making a hand gesture as a signal.
Unknown to the women, Sukon's signal was seen by someone else, a young man who crept slowly behind up to the tallest woman with a dagger in hand. Toby nodded to Sukon as he continued to stall. "I can't.. I can't move, my legs are in extreme pain.." He said lying.
Everything was going according to Sukon's plan. Every. Single. Detail. Toby was glad he had met this genius of an Ork and was also glad that he no longer had to act like he hated him. That little performance about wanting his name cleared and feeling "bad" about leaving him was all so Sukon could get on the good side of these women. Woman rather. Actually, more like Banshee. At least 10 minutes after they were thrown into custody at least an hour ago a group of white clothed women came by and left them a black viscupid, a rare flower. Now, to a normal person this would seem like an act of sympathy or pity from women who appeared to be nuns. But this was not sympathy or pity, Viscupids are the calling cards of Banshees and the black kind isn't exactly garden variety. So, quickly formulating a plan before the Banshee could come by their cell again to eat them, Sukon decided to stage the entire drama to draw them out before midnight, when it would be most vulnerable. And Toby, oh Toby, the one that seemed most likely to betray a complete stranger played the part perfectly. The Banshee could read your thoughts so Toby obviously had to believe he was really being that selfish. And now as he was a breath's distance from the tallest of the 3 women, who were actually just one powerful Banshee, he sure did hope she didn't hear all of his thoughts just then.
Hope was shattered. All 3 women turned around to face Toby and began speaking in unison. "Oh I heard you Tobias Alan Richette, son of Gannel and Richard Richette. You thought you had me didn't you BOY." The three women's images were instantly combined into a single form. The banshee's body appeared to twist and contort until it looked like a ghost with a woman's face. It's eyes were totally black and hollow. It then began to scream.
Glass panes all over the town square exploded as Toby and Sukon covered their ears, being fired to their knees by the intensifying sound. The Banshee's mouth began to stretch wider so it could of course eat them when an arrow slammed into the cobbled pavement beneath the banshee. It stopped screaming and turned around to meet the attacker. 3 young women. All of whom which looked like the girls that the banshee had impersonated. Toby immediately recognized the tall slender brunette and smiled at her entrance. "Huh.. saved by common ladies." Said Toby to himself. The shorter of the 3 outstretched her palm as red and orange-ish fire began to engulf into a ball which she proceeded to throw at the Banshee. The banshee was too shocked to dodge the attack and was knocked off balance a bit by the blast of fire. "Hurry up boys, before it gets up again." Said the middle sized one with.. Green hair? Toby didnt have time to question her choice of hair color and simply followed her instructions. Sukon, however, was not in the mood of escaping and used the opportunity to stab the banshee in it's heart.
The Banshee screamed and began to gyrate until it exploded into dust.
Sukon brushed himself off and walked towards the women. "Um.. So.. Did uh you jhust zave oos?" He was kind of impressed and also kind of ashamed that the banshee had the upper hand the whole time. Toby didn't care. He was too happy that anyone came to save them. No matter who or even what they were.
"I saw you earlier kid." Said the brunette. "Kid? I'm no older than you are." Said Toby smiling. "So? You look like a kid to me."
She replied and held out her hand lady like. "Lady Donnel, witch hunter, cleric, part-time farm girl, and..." She whispered the next part in Toby's ear. "Amaran Spy" The next sound Toby heard was the loud thump of a miniature club to the back of his and Sukon's head as they both fell unconscious.
"Take them back to camp, if the big one wakes up put an arrow in his foot.." said Lia.
"Is that totally necessary Li- I mean uh... Ms. no.. um.. Lady Donnel?" asked the shorter one with blue-ish white hair whose name was Raena.
Lia looked down at her friend. She stiffed up her chin and said between gritted teeth. "Completely."
"Why do we even need these two bums?" asked Astrid, a green haired Jolek from the Elva woods.
"We were sent to find the Ork warcriminal. Obviously, this man-" she pointed to Toby "Is either a collaborator of the Revolutionaries or just osme poor guy caught in the political crossfire." Lia felt the slightest bit sorry for him...
but it passed.
She looked at her colleagues and nodded as the women dragged them onto a horse drawn carriage.
"Whew.. I thought the Ork was going to be heavy but this guy... gaaah." said Astrid using all of her slightly more than natural strength to lift Toby into the carriage. Being a Jolek she wasn't exactly built for heavy lifting or extreme exertion, but she did have remarkable endurance. Raena was also a Jolek, but from a different part of the country. She hailed from the Raven Mountains, a mountain chain at the edge of a region called the Badlands, a place utterly infested with monsters and horrible creatures. It's Amaran law to never enter the Badlands without permission from the king himself.
They exited the city gates claiming to have dead onboard that they were off to bury. The guard had trouble believing the fake weeping for "Cousin Jacob and his battle brother Duffti".
"Have you checked with the coroner? I don't want plague in my town Ma'um" he said. A quick flash of Amaran credentials and around 16 hundred gold changed his mind. He looked the other way as the carriage drove out of town.
Toby was the first to awaken. Their tiny caravan had been travelling for 2 hours and Toby had a splitting headache as Sukon also awoke grumbling.
"Well. this is interesting." Toby said as they lay back to back.
"Leetle man.. If we get out of this alive, we never speak of it ever again."
"Agreed Su. Agreed." Toby looked up at the ceiling of the carriage and contemplated the night's events so far. At this rate he wouldn't be surprised if fairies from sugarland told them that the color brown gets moldy when wet on tuesdays. Obviously, that clonk to the head was more disoreinting than painful. The cart was made of solid oak wood, no chance of breaking it. It had a canvas tarp over the top that concealed their bodies. If Toby could have seen outside he would've been able to witness a stunning mountain view, as the previous village was situated in a valley. It was early morning, dew had begun collecting on the tarp and was trickling onto Toby's face. Or, was it sweat? Toby was too disoriented to understand either way. "Any idea where they're taking us?" Asked Toby, who was staring at the side of the cart. Sukon was silent. He looked down at his feet and then arched his neck upward. He sighed and replied, "No." The tone in Sukon's voice was not one that Toby was hoping for. "I. huuuh. I must tell joo somesing Toby." Said Sukon quietly. "I do not know vhere zey are taking oos but I do know vhy." "What..? Why?" Asked Toby. "I am... Eh.. A wanted criminal.." "Oh." Said Toby, half surprised that he would just admit it like that, and not try to explain himself. "Yes. I was in the War of the Storms and betrayed my clan... and, zey were allies vith the original Amarans.." He said, ashamed. "Wait.. What? You were in the Storm War?" Toby said trying to turn over but failing horribly. "Dah." Said Sukon. "I served as a.. Uh.. Simple warrior.. All I had to do was guard a gate and check for plague carriers." "What a coincidence.. My brother was in the war too. He was a cleric chaplain. He did his best to keep his group alive.." Toby's voice cracked a bit. His eyes were red and watery. He laughed and smiled as he said; "he.. He was 18 when he left, he.. Fought at Gethuminial. That one town where the defector lived? Guess what?" His voice turned cold and angry, "that defector.. He killed my brother. And his whole band of brothers. My brother was a doctor! He took an oath before he left. An oath that he lived by, 'Do No Harm' and that man, that soulless man that betrayed his own people murdered my brother without any warning or challenge. I know it's war and alls fair but why! Why did that man get to live..." Toby cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. I probably sound like a whining little school child." Said Toby as the cart stopped abruptly. "No. It iz good that you still care. There are too many men that stop caring. There is a time and place for grieving but never stop caring leetle man. Never." The canvas flew off the cart and blinding hot sunlight pierced the two's eyes. "Touching pep talk Rebel scuzz, now get out!" Said a harsh voice, which belonged to the green haired Jolek. "Oy! I said move!" She said grabbing them by the shoulders and pulling them up a bit, enough for them to right themselves. Toby and Sukon struggled to get up but they did evantually. They were I'm the middle of a vast plain that sloped away from the mountain valley pass they had just left. To the north one could see the Raven mountains. To the west was more grasslands ending in thick forest. And lastly to the east was the rising sun against an amber sky. Sukon attempted to walk forward and ended up having Toby just on his back dangling. "Could Joo please seperate us m'lady?" Asked Sukon politely. The Jolek just stood there with a distasteful look. "If it makes ya walk faster." She said, unlocking a bit of metal between the two. They were both still cuffed but now could move on their own. The coach ahead of their cart opened as Lia and her apprentice Raena stepped out. "I trust you had a decent ride?" Asked Lia. "Would've been better if I KNEW WHY I WAS HERE." Yelled Toby. "Obviously you are a traitor to your kind for assisting this rebel." Raena said to Toby. "What? I barely know him, how was I supposed to know? Look please, I guarantee you, I'm no criminal as far as any Amarans are concerned alright? Please let me go so we can sort this out." One might think that Toby was abandoning Sukon once again, but this time the only person that Toby was fooling was himself. "As far as Amarans are concerned I do what I want!" Said Lia. Toby wanted to object, but nothing would come out of an argument anyway. What a 17 year old girl was doing being an Amaran spy and arresting war criminals Toby couldn't understand. Sukon however knew exactly who this was. "Ahhh.. Now I recognize you 3. Hard to tell last night in ze confusion.." "You know them!?" "Of course, zey have been chasing me for weeks now, zat is vhere I get first cuff see?" He said reffering to the original broken cuff around his arm. "It won't be so easy this time Horns, these locks are made of enchanted steel. You'd need the strength of at least 20 men to bend these babies." Said Astrid. "Oh. I was hoping for only a little bit short of 15 for today Astrid" said Sukon sarcastically. "Shut up Ork. You're dead meat now and that's all that matters." "Well. It seems the Seeker squadron is late.. Lunch my friends?" Said Lia, excluding Toby and Sukon. "Sure, ill take first watch of the prisoners said Astrid. Lia smiled and went to work finding their food supplies. Raena simply followed her without another word.