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View Full Version : Prophecies of the Crystal Orb- The Fixer- Chapter 1



wizardwriter
11-16-2007, 01:55 AM
This is the first of a series of fantasy novels I'm trying to publish-
Hope you enjoy-
Wizard

* * *

- CELEBRATION -
27th day, 1st moon of the wolf, in the seventy-sixth trideka of the snake;

“So, are these your paintings, Lady Krysa?”

With her nose high in the air she headed over to take a better look. “Yes Thorgon, you did a fine job, and in a timely fashion. I must say, you are worth every copper of your fee.” She peeked behind the three paintings. “And this is how you found them?”

I tugged at my ear, not sure what she was doing or meant. For being one of the richest in Nay she was young, newly widowed, and very distraught when she met me two days ago, after her family portraits were stolen. “Yes my lady, are they damaged in some way?” None were even decent paintings or marked up, and I could not imagine why they would be stolen.

She was calm and collected now, looking around the parlor to make sure we were alone. “There were papers kept behind the paintings. Family journals, nothing special.” She batted her eyes, and smiled coyly. “Well, the pictures are back, perhaps we should just celebrate that fact? I was thinking, as a bonus, perhaps a quiet late meal, just the two of us?”

My number one rule; do not get involved with those paying you commissions. I stood, my finger lightly tapping my lower lip, thinking, the rule was about to be discarded. On the other hand, commission had been filled, so such a rule might not apply any longer. “Sorry, I was not told about any journals, and was not looking for them. We are having a little celebration this eve, for my latest arena victory, you are more than welcome to join us. Afterwards, we... Well, –”

“Yes Thorgon, we can discuss afterwards, later. Was it Jessa, who took the paintings? Is he still alive?”

“Yes ma’am, to both. I told you we do not do that kind of commission.”

“Um-m, right. I thought my late mate’s useless half-brother would put up a fight, or run for it? Hm-mph, should have expected he was cowardly, as well as a poor thief. Figures, after all he is tainted with half-elfin gypsy blood.” Her eyes hardened, and face became twisted so it was easy to read the hatred she felt for the other races, a fact I already suspected. “You cannot trust those kind. If I had not returned early from my trip to Five Points the bastard cur would have been long gone. By royal decree, we should exterminate these worthless breeds before all human bloodlines have been tainted.” She took a deep breath, then tried to smile. “Oh well, one cannot have everything, can one? I wish to talk to him. Where is he?”

“Er, well....” I stared up at the ceiling, mentally counting the panels, trying to word this properly in my head.

“You do know where he is, right?”

“Yes Lady Krysa, right where I left him. Ah, the pauper’s temple, and could be a day or two before you can talk to him. He is a bit indisposed–”

She let out an un-lady like snort. “You got better than a foot, and a hundred stone, on him. He is not so addle-brained to attack you, the worm ran. How bad?”

“Broken nose, jaw, arm, leg, and maybe a rib or two, but–”

Blue eyes sparkling, she batted those long lashes again. Snickering, she slowly ran the tip of a fingernail down my chest, stopping at my belt. “And you said, you do not do such things. Seems I owe you more than a fee.”

My hands went halfway up, and I shook my head. “Lady Krysa, I swear, I did not do... Well, I did break his nose, and maybe his jaw.”

She raised an eyebrow, and waved me on for more information. Lady Krysa, was of average height and weight, but accustomed to getting her way. If her good looks did not work to accomplish this, her forceful manner and gold could. I would not be surprised to find out her bedchamber playthings might include rope and leather straps.

“He ran. I hit him once, a quick right jab to the nose.” I sheepishly shrugged. “I did not think it was so hard, but he went over the balcony. You might have got your wish, but he hit an eatery canopy, a pair of patrons, and the table, possibly a chair or two.” I pointed at the paper she was holding. “Bottom line or two of the expenses shows what it took to square things up.”

Lady Krysa glanced at the paper. She looked back at me, smiling and had a twinkle in her eye. “Not a bad return on fifty decars, if you ask me. A good thrashing would have cost me fivefold as much. I offer you my thanks, for the bonus. Although, I think some men enjoy a decent beating, what about you?”

Oh, I was not going to wind up in this lady’s bedchamber. “I think the meal is about to start. I cannot be late for my own celebration, can I?”

Running her tongue over those full red lips, she pulled the ‘v’ neck of her gown down, exposing most of her ample bosom. She took out a small coin purse, tucked between the two white mounds, smiled and tossed it to me. “I have found if you do not get an answer, it is usually a yes. You will find five hundred decars in platinum crowns in there, should be more than enough to cover the fee, expenses, and a bit extra.”

“Most certainly, Lady Krysa, our thanks for your generosity.” I offered my arm. “Shall we?”

“One last thing, who was the half-breed, weasel bastard going to meet? I mean, to sell my paintings to?”

“Ah, it was not confirmed, and we did not actually catch him in the act. We were told it was Manfru, but–”

“Manfru? Are you talking about Chief Overseer of my mercantile trade, Manfru?”

“He is the alleged one, but–”

Her eyes narrowed, jaw tensed, and face reddened. “I will flay that son-of-a-bitch alive. After all my family has done for his over the generations. I am personally going to burn a part or two off, if he does not tell me what I want to hear. He is going to be working his ass off in the coming tridekas, for nothing.” There went the notion she was really a tender lady trying to survive in a man’s world. She looked at me, then puckering her lips patted my cheek. “What’s wrong Sweetie, did I scare you with my little tirade?”

“Scared? Hardly, words do not scare me. It’s confusion,” I scrunched up the left side of my face, “I was trying to picture a trideka, and how much work that was.”

“It’s no machine,” she snorted a laugh, “Sweetie, it’s thirteen moons, a measurement of time. I believe you heathens call it a cycle, like some of the lesser breeds around here do.” Lady Krysa ran a fingernail across my lips. “Looks like I shall have to teach you the nuances of high society, which allows us to keep are place, above the mutts of this world.”

Lady Krysa was quite beautiful, but her race hating ways was starting to tarnish her image in my eyes. “A bit of mentoring could not hurt, would not want people thinking I am just an arena fighter. Believe it is about time to enjoy our meal.” I pointed her towards the dining hall, and escorted her in. I held her chair out, then went to fetch some wine.

“Is the bitch still here?” Elysa, a troubadour, an associate, and housemate of mine asked, as I came into the cookery.

Shaking my head I rolled my eyes, trying to imitate her favorite response. “She is a commission, and paid us five hundred decars for recovering the paintings. Not a bad day’s–”

“Is that a yes?” Elysa grinned, a wicked grin. “If you got paid, what’s the harm of me kicking her ass? I’d love to toss her ugly butt out of here, along with her even uglier paintings. Hell, if they were mine, would’ve paid someone to steal them.”

“Come on, she might have more work for us, or know someone who could need our service. Besides, she is not all that bad of–”

“No, Elysa is right. She is a bitch, and very good at it,” Flura, a mage, an associate, and another housemate mine confirmed.

“It is not going to be much longer, an hour or so. I invited her to join us for–”

“Oh no you did not?” Elysa’s sky blue eyes became mere slits, as she tried to burn a hole through me. “I’m not eating with the uppity strumpet, rather go eat with the hogs.”

I got the bottle of wine, and a goblet. “It is an hour, and will mean a lot to our trade. You only have to be nice for one hour, you can do that, right?”

“Fine, but I want to spit in the bottle.” She reached for the wine, and I pulled it away. “Dammit Thorgon, I’m dead serious. If I have to be nice to that bitch, I’m spitting in the bottle.” She made another move for the bottle, but I held it over my head. “Come on, what do you care, you do not drink wine.” She grinned. “It’s that, or I go kick her ass.”

To keep the peace I gave her the bottle, and she was right, I did not drink wine. After working up a nice big one, and noisily depositing it Elysa gave me the bottle back. “So, Flura you have a spell to turn her into a frog?”

“What do you have against frogs?” Flura wisecracked, and the two got to giggling.

Lady Krysa smiled as I came back in the dining hall. “My goodness sweetie, you get lost in your own house?”

I laughed at her joke. “Certainly big enough to. No, I had to go down to the cellar to get this. Hope you like the wine, I was told it is exceptional.”

She looked at the label. “Oh my, Tawlish wine is very special, very rare, very expensive. How nice, Thorgon sweetie. Did you know Tawl was destroyed a hundred tridekas ago?”

“Yeah, heard something about it, and that was what the seller said, special. And I can assure you, this bottle is very special.” I poured her goblet full, wishing I had chosen the blue tinted glass, or silver goblet instead of the crystal.

She took a drink. “Um-m, very special indeed. You are really going to have to learn to enjoy wine, you do not know what you are missing.” She ran the tip of one of her long nails across her upper lip and smiled, but her eyes hardened. “You know, after I look into a thing or two, I think I have another commission for you.”

“Well, that is great Lady Krysa, happy to do what we can. But if you do not mind, I think I will just stick with my beer?”

“Fine sweetie, whatever you are comfortable with.”

We were at the table when the overseer of the manor, Lev, called the household in for last meal. He was interrupted by the hollow thumping of the brass knocker at the front door. A curious time for callers, and I was not expecting anyone.

I was surprised when Lev escorted into the dining hall, Sipik, the arena master, and my current employer. I waved him over, as his leg crusher Murf took up a position enabling him to see the entire room and front door. “Ah, welcome Sipik. Just in time for a fine meal, and mug or two.”

He was short, overweight and one of the richest in Nay. He was born short, but the other two traits he got by pinching coppers on everything, except when food was the object. The fat man traveled with three bodyguards, and I suspected the other two were outside. Usually he had a young lass or two on his arm, but not this day, which told me this was not a social call.

Desire glazed his eyes, and licking his lips Sipik tossed me a coin pouch, a nice full one. “Um-m, smells like a fine meal. Guess my timing is good. As promised Thorgon, three thousand decars in platinum triple crowns, and two days earlier than need be. We done well, real well.” He sat in the chair to the right of me before whispering, “But after thirty﷓four victories, one loss and I can guarantee you ten thousand decars easy.”

While Krysa pretended to be looking out the back window, I arched an eyebrow. This explained the no ladies, he did not want any witnesses to our dealings. Seeing as he needed a bit more practice in the proper manner of whispering I was surprised he said anything with Lady Krysa sitting here. I turned back towards his guard. “How you doing Murf?”

He gave me a nod. His hands to his side he was watching everyone in the room, as if we might give him trouble. Big fellow, two knuckles over six foot and three hundred stone, he was Sipik’s favorite guard. He was a champion some cycles past, but fought too many matches, and was now a bit simple-minded. I waved him over. “Boss, you mind if Murf has a beer?”

“One.” He looked around me, and held up one finger for Murf. “Nice home Thorgon, you just paint the place? Could use a bit of art on the walls.” He gave me an exaggerated wink. “Let’s folks know you done made it big.”

“Um-m, so I been told. Yeah, the downstairs just got painted, but we do not like clutter. Besides, fancy art attracts thieves. When the bird comes out, grab a leg Murf.”

He gave me a nod, and headed back to his post. He did not talk much, but with his size he did not have to talk to get a message across. His main job was to follow Sipik’s orders, which he did rather well.

My two guests at the table were at opposite ends of the Nay social ladder, but judging by the glare each gave the other, they were acquainted in some form. I smiled, and scratched my head. “Guess you two know each other?”

“Aye, we done had a dealing or two,” Sipik growled, and he gave her a scowl. “Some tridekas past, Lady Krysa swindled me.”

“Swindled? Oh please! What a crock!” With her nose in the air, she waved the notion away. “I bought some useless bottomland, which at the time you claimed was a good price, and I am sure pure profit for you. Hell, we both know you won it from some hopeless hayseed who thought he could make a fortune on your fixed fights.”

“Fixed fights? My ass, there has been no proof of fixed fights, ever! And the land was not useless, you saw to that.”

I looked over at Krysa, seeing as it was her turn. With her nose still in the air, she shrugged. “Paid the price you were asking, if it was under-valued, that was not my fault.”

“How was I to know town elders were putting in a new levee system, and land would be worth tenfold my asking price? You kept enough to build your big-ass mercantile on and sold the rest off, making a damn fortune.”

She batted her eyes, and smiled sweetly. “Oh Sipik, when did it become my official job to inform the seller on what he might be selling? Come on, dear boy, let’s get to the heart of the matter, you are used to sticking it to women half your age, and a quarter your weight, and do not like it the other way around. If I were a mere man, you would have gotten over it by now.” She looked over at me. “Besides, I tried to make it up to him, and sold him another piece of bottomland, cheap.”

“C-cheap? You think that was cheap? My ass, cheap! I paid good coin for the land. And since they never built no damn levee there, it’s worthless, and–”

“Come on Sipik, how was I to know the building fund was going to dry up?”

I had to laugh at her getting the better of the fat man, twice. Lady Krysa laughed with me, but the matter was still a touchy subject with Sipik, and he just sat there scowling. She excused herself to use the water closet and freshen up a bit.

Sipik took a drink, and leaned in. “So, what do you think about a loss?”

“You mean throw a match?”

He downed half his mug, then looked around the room. “Never said ‘throw.’ I said, ‘one loss,’ and we could do damn fine.”

“I believe I just heard you tell Lady Krysa, you do not fix fights?”

“No, I said, ‘there’s been no proof of me fixing fights, ever!’ Hell, you be too damn big for one on one, but I know a pair of fellows could do the job convincingly enough. They’re out of Savon, no one knows them here, and it be a one-time thing. If something like this were to happen, I could see my way to giving you a twentieth of the wagers.”

“What a deal,” my friend Garon crowed from the far end of the table. Sipik gave the gnome a hard stare. “For you! Come on, you know a fifth would be a steal. He’ll–”

“Not throw a fight,” I finished his sentence, also giving him a hard stare.

The two ignored me. “I could see a tenth,” Sipik countered, “but no more.”

Garon thumbed that big nose of his and snorted, but got up to sit in a closer chair.

Sipik tapped his fingers on the table, and scrunched up his face as if the beer was sour. “Look, got folks I gotta answer to, can’t be giving out too much coin on any single fight, and can’t skim more than a tenth off the wagering. But, I can give you the same deal on a second fighter. That’s double your fee, and tenfold better than a first time fighter gets.”

I rolled my eyes, and shook my head. But Garon’s eyes lit up, and he went to running his fingers through his beard, his way of thinking the proposal over.

“How about you Garon, want to step in the ring?”

He looked over at Sipik, and puckered up his face. “I’m a gentleman gambler, not a damn fighter. I want decent odds on big coin for–”

“Hah, you’re a thief! A known guildsman.” Sipik spat. “I won’t let you bet more than five hundred decars on any match, that’s not about to change.”

Garon did not argue. All of us seated here knew he had shills placing his wagers, but they both let the matter drop.

“How about the half brother of yours?” Sipik gave a head bob in Soon li’s direction. “Bit scrawny, but heard tell he can fight.”

No doubt from Garon, I thought, giving the thief another hard look. “He is my adopted brother, and a monk. He will not fight, and would be less inclined to throw a fight than I.”

“Hm-mph, high morals don’t put gold in your purse,” Sipik grumbled, as the servers brought in the meal. Patting his belly he stuck his nose just above the roast bird and took a deep breath. “Um-m, smells great. What says you to the big black savage?”

“His name is Acur, and he is not a savage. In his country he is a holy man, just as moral as my brother and I.”

Sipik was right the meal did smell good. Braised spiced pheasant, roasted herb potatoes, and beer steamed corn on the cob. Each smell complimented the others and made my belly rumble, or it could have been Sipik’s.

I pointed to Elysa and Flura seated at the far end of the table, trying their best to ignore us. “I suppose you want to throw the ladies in the pit?” No doubt they were down there to keep from getting sprayed with beer every time Sipik spoke.

“Everyone knows of Elysa’s fine music and Flura’s magic. Neither would be a good draw. I need fighters, that’s what them folks pay to see.” Sipik licked his lips, and tucked his table linen in his collar. The way he eyeballed everything he was about to make an eve of it.

Murf came over and got a leg. Sipik took care of the rest of the bird. He dug into the meal, and the rate he was going I think he planned to get my wages back by eating all we had. Letting out a deep sigh Elysa rolled her eyes and shook her head. Fortunately, my friends had their own platters of food at the far end of the table and did not run the risk of getting hurt being caught in the middle of Sipik’s feeding frenzy.

Waving a second quarter pheasant he speared, Sipik, stopped eating long enough to say, “Just a warning, around here gold is gonna dry up for you soon. What? You think you’re gonna be happy kept on a leash by the likes of her?”

“You have the wrong idea. We–”

“That’s what you think?” Sipik waved the pheasant in the direction Lady Krysa had headed. “You think what you want? But, she’ll sink her claws into you, and you’ll never know it. Mark my words, you’ll have her leash on. Better get used to wearing a lot of clothes, if you don’t want the whip marks showing. She’s a bit–”

Lady Krysa’s entrance cut him off, and we both let the unpleasant matter drop.

Krysa dished up a plate of food, and tried to ignore Sipik, who was sitting across from her. She did smile every time she looked my way. I was trying to get the picture of her holding a leash, out of my head. What was worse, I was on the other end of the leash.

Smiling sweetly she dabbed her mouth with a table linen. “Thorgon sweetie, it is so nice of you to let the female workers eat at the same table as you.”

Elysa’s eyes flared, and I think she was going for the stiletto in her boot. Flura reached across the table and grabbed her arm. I held up my hand, trying to keep the image flash, of a constable looking at a pair of Nay’s richest after a bad beating, out of my head. “Lady Krysa, you know this is Elysa and Flura, two of my partners and good friends. They were quite helpful on your commission.”

“Oh yes, I remember them now. Dressed in worker clothes I thought... Oh, well, I was mistaken, no harm done, Thorgon sweetie.”

Acur was now helping to restrain Elysa. In my mind, the constable was now looking at a pair of corpses. Lady Krysa’s constant half-elfin gypsy cracks were not helping, seeing as Elysa was a half-elfin gypsy. Flura’s bloodline was full elfin, and the Lady’s prejudice did not sit much better with her. Garon and I had convinced them three hundred decars for a day or two of work, what was a slur or two? Now, I wished I had gone to her estate to pick up our fee.

“Thorgon, I must say you have a remarkable cook. I usually do not like game, that’s for those living in the wild. Vander did not sneak back here, did he?”

I really hoped she did not understand elfin. It looked like Sipik knew a little, as he looked Elysa’s way, and grinning toasted her. I was pretty confident if Flura zapped her there would be no harmful fallout to the rest of us. I raised my mug Lady Krysa’s way, and gave her a nod. “No, after you doubled Vander’s wages we have not seen him. However, this was prepared by Enger, a cousin of his, and yes, a remarkable cook. So, Vander is still working for you?”

“Oh my, yes, I would never be able... Well, you know how fantastically he cooks. Sweetie, it was not my fault you were not paying the man what he was worth.” She waved her table linen around, and snorted a giggle. “You know he is so great, I have had three friends try to poach him, and been forced to give him a raise each time. I am paying him better than thrice what you were, so I saved you a lot of coin.” She kept snorting those little giggles.

Elysa was mimicking her, but just doing the snorting part. Or maybe she was making fun of Sipik’s eating style. No doubt, she was killing two birds with one stone. I was more accustomed to getting the throbbing in my head after drinking, not during.

Sipik took a break from shoveling food in to look around the room. “Seen you got decent farmland, but now days you can’t get much profit outta crops. Place like this gotta cost decent coin.”

“We get by,” I shrugged, “and without breaking the law.”

He polished off the pheasant, then re-filled his plate. “Who the hell wants to just get by. Seems to me you need to prepare–”

He was cut off by loud banging at the front door. Was not the thump of the knocker, had to be from the butt of more than one sword. Two unexpected set of callers at mealtime, what were the chances? Better yet, why were they here with drawn swords? First thought was, Lady Krysa’s guards. But why would their weapons be drawn? Second theory was, they were Sipik’s bodyguards, and I looked over at him, but he looked as surprised as the rest of us.

With echoes of the knock dying in the entry five men were ushered into the dining hall by Lev. Of our newest guests the two in front were dressed in splendid clothes, cut by a master tailor. The elder a noble and in charge, the other being a minor assistant, rest wore purple and gold uniforms of the Frelan Royal Guard, with insignia denoting them jailers of the King’s dungeon. Seemed odd, dungeon guards would be on escort duty.

Elder man glowered at us, as if his daughter had been a guest at one of our late night parties. I could not picture a lass with a family resemblance of his being at one of our celebrations, but I did have a tendency to enjoy enough spirits to make all the lasses look good. I glanced over at Garon to see if this noble might have dealt with my friend in a business venture. Neither looked like he recognized the other.

I had no idea who this arrogant looking royal might be, however the way the blood drained from Sipik’s face, he did. Since he was wolfing down everything within arm’s reach I thought he might have choked on a bone. But the look in Sipik’s eyes was fear, radiating like a beacon for all to see. He sunk down low in his chair, and tried to make himself smaller than Garon.

Taking a glance behind me, I was not surprised to see Murf had deserted his post and employer, leaving the empty beer mug on the small table by the entry. Probably raced through the cookery, when he first heard the knock. Sipik was going to have to loosen those purse strings and hire better help.

The page bowed grandly while unfurling an ornate, over-sized scroll. He began in a loud, clear voice, “Lords and Ladies, it is my honor to introduce Jal-ot-Gnar, Grand Marquis of Tor-nay, capital city of the mighty Frelan nation.” He droned on with a score of more useless titles, all sounding about the same.

I ignored the introduction, and kept eating as soon as he slurred the great city of Nay. Tor, older of the twin cities, was forever overshadowing her rural sister.

From the look on Lady Krysa’s face she recognized him as well. She just was not impressed or intimidated. She also ignored the introduction, and picked away at her food, as if bored with the whole affair.

The lad, no more than fifteen tridekas old, a noble, by the look of his fair complexion and smooth skin, appeared no happier reciting these useless titles than we were listening to them. As a contrast the royal escorts were weather-beaten and scarred, looking a bit more like they should be prisoners behind bars, not wearing royal tunics guarding prisoners. After what seemed like forever, the introduction was over.

The Marquis gave a slight bow. Curling his lip he looked around at each of us, with his hand resting on the bejeweled short sword at his side. Sipik was the last to receive the sullen glare, and the fat man began shaking like a leaf. Baring his teeth the Marquis gripped the sword tighter, and kept his eyes trained on Sipik. I knew the arena master was a blustery blow hard, but I did not think he was spineless. If the chair were armless I think his fat ass would have melted right on to the floor under the withering gaze.

I would put this Marquis’ age at fifty tridekas or better. He stood near six-foot and appeared fit enough to give a good account in a fight. Although, the sword was strictly for looks, amount of rust between the hilt and scabbard I wager it had been some time since the sword was pulled in anger, if ever. This fact also led me to believe the weapon was gilded and stones paste. Garon confirmed my suspicions by not even giving the blade a second look.

An air of nobility hung about this Jal-ot-Gnar like a shroud, but he wore it like the grandest of cloaks and expected, no demanded, all scrape and bow before his very presence. He was clean-shaven with short, deep black hair, slicked down, and no doubt colored. His dark brown eyes had a hardness to them and I would bet all my gold he seldom laughed, or even smiled. I did not have to be a great seer to note he had a dislike for all seated here. I knew before he even opened his mouth I would never like him either.

“Good eve, to you all.” In obvious disdain the Marquis was facing the back wall more than the table. “First, Thorgon, I offer belated congratulations to you on behalf of King Asa for your victory in the Frelan grand arena. I must admit, your good luck has cost some a considerable fortune over the last two moons.” He turned, and gave me a crooked half smile, like he was joking. No, it was a sneer, and he was not joking. He did not even try to hide his scorn, nor decrease the hardness in his eyes.

There was scattered chuckling around the table, even the page smiled. “I am truly sorry for you.” I purposely failed to mention his court title, or even acknowledge his station with the slightest of a courtesy bow. With a mouthful of food I waved a near meatless leg bone. “Perhaps, you and your men will join us, and recoup some of those losses with this excellent meal?” I wiped the dripping grease off my chin with the end of my sleeve.

He shook his head, muttering curses under his breath. He turned back towards the wall. “Do not have the time this eve, perhaps another.”

“As you wish.” I proceeded to clean off the bone I held with a loud slurping noise. When finished I tossed the bone to the side of my plate before picking up half a breast.

“If I might suggest a new strategy,” Garon spoke up, “next time bet on Thorgon.” As per his custom he chuckled at his own little joke.

The Marquis frowned at the impertinent gnome. “Perhaps,” was all he said. He turned towards me. “I am here strictly on business. Thorgon, you have been granted a formal appointment by our majesty, sovereign ruler of all Frelan, the greatest kingdom in Orthax, King Asa. The one and only true King expects you on the twenty-eighth day of the second moon.” He growled, “That by the way, is on the morrow, at two bells.”

“Suppose this is a great honor–” I caught the look of disgust amidst outright hate on the Marquis’ face. Although my mouth was still half full I took another large bite. “Ah, well we would be happy and honored to meet your good King Asa.” Wiping my mouth, again with my sleeve, I casually looked away as if to signal this meeting was now over.

The Marquis’ face turned a deep crimson as the veins in his neck bulged. After a handful of heartbeats, his eyes narrowed to mere slits and jaw tensed. “Shall inform the King of your decision, I do suggest you be punctual, and it would do you no harm to brush up on your court manners.” Not taking the time to wait for a response he turned and left with entourage trailing. Halfway to the door he muttered some kind of pox upon all barbarians and demi-humans.

Except for Sipik, who was still half under the table, everyone began laughing before he could get out of the dining hall, even the normally quiet Flura. I am not sure Lady Krysa laughed, but she was smiling.

Garon yelled as the front door slammed shut, “Think the sovereign ruler of all Frelan better check with my brother gnomes about his title. Or perhaps the halflings, dwarves, and elves of Frelan might enlighten this self-important, fat-headed ass, the Great Marquis of who damn cares.”

“You be playing with fire, a damn bonfire, Garon. I gotta go,” Sipik said, his voice cracking. “Thorgon, mind if I use the back door?”

Giving him a shrug, I pointed towards the cookery, and the fat man was gone. He left half a plate of food and a full mug. Bet both was a first.

Lady Krysa clasped her hands together, with index fingers extended, and rested her chin on the tips. “Thorgon sweetie, Sipik is right, this is not a man to trifle with. If he is after something, best to stay out of his path, unless you have some powerful dirt on him. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to have my men take care of the paintings and shall be back.” She just could not leave it at that. “I am sure you need to talk to your workers.”

She did not get out of the room before Elysa pointed at her back, then me. “Had it with this night, first the bitch, next a hog, and finally a prick invades our home. What the hell good are your so called watchdogs if they can’t keep out vermin?”

“Your ordeal is near over, just–”

“Right, pass me down her wine.” Elysa motioned for me to send it down, but I refused. “By the gods, now you have to deal with the damn King.”

“Perchance,” I suggested, after I finished off the half breast of pheasant, “this Marquis is an unfair comparison by which to judge this Frelan King Asa?”

Garon let out a snort. “Don’t wager much gold on that, my friend. The man we laughed out of our house is King Asa’s top councilor, answering only to the King. I wager a sizable sum most times not even he knows what this lowly snake is up to. Heed my words, you watch your back with that one.” He emphasized ‘snake’ and ‘that one.’

“Now my good friend,” I gave him a sly smile, “thought that was your job?”

“By the gods of ill-luck, so it is.” He ran his fingers through his white beard. “But, it’s a rather large chore, and I don’t need you making the task any harder.”

“Despite his theatrics, Garon is right brother.” Soon li spoke in a hushed tone, but heard over everyone. “Marquis is a very powerful and dangerous man, you made an enemy this eve.”

“Hm-mpf,” I shoveled more food in my face, “he will get over his problem in time.”

“I do not think so.” Acur shook his head. “He swaggered in with hand on sword, trying to intimidate us, then reached for his sword on three occasions. I believe, if he thought he had even the slightest of chances he could take you, he would have made a formal challenge.”

“Do all agree?” I looked around the table. One by one my companions nodded their heads. “I too saw him reach for his sword, but never laid eyes on his ass before, and know no reason for him to bear ill will towards me. Besides, I could have taken him with this dull table knife, or my bare hands.” I grinned, holding up the gravy-dripping knife.

“Thorgon, my dear boy,” Elysa chided, as she gracefully filled her goblet, “with one such as him you’ll never entice a face to face confrontation. Your death will look like an ordinary accident, in a contest at the arena, as you stagger out of the brothel, or perhaps caused by a bad mug of beer from the local tavern. This man is a master of subterfuge, betrayal, and with enough gold you’ll never know who struck the fatal blow.”

“Do not forget dark magic,” Flura meekly chimed in.

“Unlimited gold, power, black magic, and an intense hatred,” Garon waggled his hand, “this adds up to a most formidable enemy.”

“Enough of this my friends, he is nothing more than a sore loser, and I will not permit this royal pain in the ass to spoil our festive occasion. We will handle this matter, if it should ever arise, as we have other problems we faced. Till then, I propose a toast to our eve’s jester, Jal-ot-Gnar, Marquis of something or other, first of blah, blah, and whatever else his poor page droned on about. Here’s to you, you royal buffoon for adding spice to our lives.”

“And so the journey of light begins,” Flura revealed, as each raised mug or goblet high.

We drank to the strange toast, then the front door opened. Elysa scowled. “Great the bitch is back. I’m calling it a night, and hope the morrow is better.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *
-to be continued

cum4me
11-16-2007, 03:01 AM
thank you for the new story cant wait to read more
keep em cumming

freedom
11-16-2007, 06:17 AM
Gotta say...really like that Elysa character. Great first chapter, great characters and can't wait for more.

Kristin
11-16-2007, 09:26 AM
Oh Wizard! It's great! I am sure you'll get it published!

gypsy
11-19-2007, 11:43 AM
Awsome story Wizard ,like Kristen I also believe it will be published.

Oh and I love the characters they are something.