"What did I miss?" Malachi called out as he jumped down off the wagon. He could tell by the looks on peoples faces that something had happened.
"Nothing much, other than I have a match in the arena... to the death." Syth said with a slight grin.
"You do not seemed worried." Malachi said bluntly.
"Well of course I am worried, but I know I will win." Syth said softly. "Plus that means I get a piece of the Gate Guard."
Malachi couldn't help but grin. "Syth, we have faced down Dragons together, I have no doubt that you can handle a single gate guard. I guess it is a good thing I was able to find a Gnome Smith that was able to outfit the group fairly well. He did not even have a single Bronze weapon in his entire store!"
"Then we have some work to do." Xavier said just as Garnet and Braki walked up. With a look Xavier called his entire group to him, then switched to the Sand Dragon tongue. "Malachi, I want you to purchase two more wagons, as well as a trunk for each of us, with a very good lock, magical if you can. We will store the weapons and armor in there, at least the ones that will draw undue attention. I want everyone to get used to the new weapons and armor that Malachi purchased for us. Mablin and Drathmore, his lead guard, will help us get used to the new equipment if we need to.
"I see the three of us that could test today have, so I want the rest of you to finish testing in your subfields, as well as any of us that can test here do so. When we get to this place I keep hearing so much about, this city of Junsac, we will finish testing, all of us." Xavier waited to see if there was any questions, and when there was not, he continued.
"Syth, I am sorry to say, but I think it would be best if you kept close to the Inn, and if you need to go somewhere else, make sure that either myself, Malachi, or preferably Garnet are with you. Being able to show off the Guild Pins, should keep the most foolish from messing with you. I would like you to spend that time doing the best you can to learn this new language." Syth did not look happy, but he nodded.
Xavier then looked to Olpha and Lucas. "I want you two to go through your spell pages, I know you were give several more before we left, ones you have not yet had the chance to go through. Find out which ones you have that are duplicates, as well as get the needed materials to copy pages so that you each have as many as possible in your books. The ones that you can sell, see if Mablin will trade for them. Perhaps we can acquire our trade goods from him." He paused as he looked at Malachi. "When you get the other two wagons, decide which is the best one. That will hold our personal gear, and any magic items we wish to trade. The others will hold any good we get to trade with in the future."
"This is why I want all of us to spend time with Mablin trying to learn how trade happens in this time. We will not make much, if any coin off our trading, at least not at first, but it will give us good cover. The coin will have to come from selling our excess gear, and from Syth's matches in the arenas."
"Finally, I was only able to acquire two of these." Xavier said as he pulled two small necklaces out of his pocket. "These will allow the wearer to understand any language. Whoever is shadowing Mablin I want to be wearing one, the other will be given out as needed. However, I still want us to act as if we cannot understand what is going on. This will allow people to say things around us that they may not normally." He handed one to Thane, as he spoke. "You are next to shadow Mablin, try to learn as much as you can. I wish to spend a while longer looking around, and trying to figure out as much as I can about this new time. However, I will come and relieve you by high sun." Xavier once again paused as he looked around at his group of friends. "Any questions?" When there was none, Xavier nodded to them all, and everyone went off to do what they needed to.
Xavier caught Garnet's attention, then waved him over to the side. "I see you finally cut the Dragonling's collar off."
Garnet nodded. "You know how I feel about seeing anyone in a collar, let alone a Dragon-kin." Xavier nodded, yet said nothing. "Braki has been learning to speak properly, and is trying his best to speak that way."
Xavier chuckled. "You do not have to defend your actions to me my friend, I am simply surprised it took you this long." Xavier reached up and put a hand on his best friend’s shoulder, and squeezed gently. In a very soft voice, he spoke. "He reminds you of Sordian." It was more a statement than a question, yet Garnet simply nodded, trying not to let the pain show on his face.
Xavier nodded, reached into his pouch and pulled out a trio of gold coins. "Go, take him and get him the best equipment you can for him. I doubt either you have realized it yet, but he is your apprentice. Begin his training, it will be good for both of you. I have rented out the smaller barn behind the Inn for our use. Begin your training there. Also do not forget about Tillcor, although I think Malachi would like to help in that lad’s training as well." Instead of answering, Garnet simply nodded, turned, walked to where Braki was standing, and together they walked away.
Mablin walked towards the barn that Xavier had rented, with a rather nervous Killian at his side. Mablin may have never admitted it outright, but he had a gentle soul, a soul that hurt to see what Syth was going through, as even what his new slave was having to endure. When Killian expressed an interest in befriending the Drow, Mablin was agreeable to arrange the meeting, as well as giving the boy as much time away from his duties as needed. He made it seem reluctant, but in all actuality, Mablin was happy with Killian for wanting to do this. Of course Mablin couldn't help but laugh when the lad said he thought it would be fun to learn Drow. Since then he could curse at someone in a language that sounds cool. To this end, before they even entered the barn, Mablin made sure to cast the spell on Killian that would allow him to understand the Drow's words.
They had heard that Syth had gone in here to train, so they walked inside, expecting to see him sparring with someone, or even going through his various weapons forms. What they found was no where near that.
The first thing that they saw was a target at the back of the open part of the barn, with several arrows sticking out of it. They did not see Syth anywhere, till an arrow hit the target close to the center. They looked where the arrow had come from, and saw Syth in the rafters, running along one of the beams. They watched as he drew another arrow, knelt behind a crossbeam, let the arrow fly, then jumped to another rafter. He was only wearing a loincloth, and his dark skin glistened with perspiration.
For almost three minutes, Mablin and Killian watched in shock as he leapt from beam to beam, loosing arrows when ever he stopped, then moved again. Not knowing which was more incredible, the accuracy of the shots or the grace at which the Drow Elf ran along the ceiling beams. However it was what he did to end his practice that left them both speechless.
He was almost directly in front of the target when he leapt off the beam, and fell to the floor nearly five meters below him. While still in mid air, he drew and fired. The arrow nearly hit the center of the target, only missing by a few centimeters. When he landed, he tucked and rolled to break the impact, came back to his feet, drew the last arrow in his quiver, pulled the string back to his cheek, and fired. The arrow perfectly slicing the last arrow he fired, in two.
By the time either one of them could speak, Syth had already approached the target and was pulling an arrow out of the target. "By the Gods!" Mablin finally gasped out.
Syth, startled by the comment, spun, dropped to a knee, and had the arrow knocked and ready to fire before he even knew who was there. So fast was the action that neither Killian nor Mablin were able to move, before Syth had the arrow ready to loose.
Mablin held his hands up, and backed away slightly. Killian though stood still and didn't move a muscle. Syth let the held breath explode from his lungs, as he slowly released the arrow. "It is not wise to sneak up on someone who is in the middle of training." He said somewhat irritably, as he turned and started to pull the arrows out of the target.
"Wow!" Killian said as he looked at Syth's back. "What made that scar?"
Syth glanced back at the boy and shrugged. He walked over to where the rest of his clothing and equipment as placed, as almost an after thought, Syth said softly. "A Dragon."
"You fought a Dragon?" Killian asked in awe.
"I am sure he meant to say a Dragonling." Mablin said softly to Killian.
Syth spun on his heel, glaring at Mablin. "Had I meant to say Dragonling, I would have said Dragonling. Since I said Dragon, that is what I meant."
Mablin stood up straight, his own anger flaring. "How dare a Drow..." He never got the word 'slave' out since Syth cut him off.
"That is exactly why I am stuck in here, instead of out helping my friends. All anyone sees is Drow. Perhaps if people would get over their small minded petty thoughts of what is good and evil, this world would not be the shit hole that it is in now!" He stalked up and looked Mablin directly in the eye. "Tell me, do you think it would be fair for me to treat you like some uneducated piece of trash, that would be better off being wed to a Orc, than a Teaching level Mage that you have earned? Simply because a large portion of your race happens to be that way. Or would you prefer, would you DEMAND to be treated as a person, and judged on your own merits?"
The stunned Mablin took a moment to find a response, yet he was not quick enough for the hot tempered Drow in front of him. "Do not bother answering, your words would give away your own ignorance. Since all you see is Drow, you obviously do not use the intelligence that the Gods gave you to see what is truly there."
"How dare you!" Mablin almost exploded. "I have been nothing but kind and respectful to you and your group, even with you being a Drow."
"Yes sir you have, but your eyes have given you away many times. Had it not been for the magic we carry, and the deal you made with Xavier, you would not have helped us the way you have. As my father always said, ‘the words a man says are only what he wants you to hear, his actions only what he wants you to see, but his eyes, the eyes do not lie.’ Good Sir, your eyes have shown the truth to your actions. Hate me if you wish, but allow me the decency to be the reason you hate me, not something that happened long before you were even thought of by the Gods." Syth turned and took a few steps away, before he turned one last time. "I can see you would demand no less than be judged on your merits, not those around you. The eyes do not lie."
A slight growl escaped Mablin’s lips as he the young Drow turned his back on him. As his anger bubbled over he spoke a soft arcane phrase, only to feel his restrain spell slam into considerably more magic defiance than he expected, far more than the youngster should have had. The spell fizzled just as quickly as Mablin had cast it.
Knowing the boy had felt the spell try to grab hold and refusing to allow a mere slave to speak to any free being, let alone himself, in such a tone, he spoke another phrase, and spun his fingers.
Even as Syth turned to confront the man a second time, a rope off to his left side seemed to come to life. It wrapped around him, then coiled. Caught off guard, but still very fleet of foot, he tried to spin in the opposite direction and jump, but it was too late. The rope quickly wrapped up his legs, coiled around his chest and finally locked his arms to his side.
With a quick flip of his wrist, Mablin caused the bottom end of the rope to come toward him, yanking Syth off his feet. The boy hit the ground hard, fully mummy wrapped up to his neck in almost twenty meters of rope.
Mablin moved up on Syth with a look of rage in his eyes. “I don’t give a crap about your race! Your people did it to themselves and if you had any decency you would be as disgusted as I am in what the Drow did! Yeah, I see a Drow, for you are one, and that comes with a mix of feelings whenever I came across one of your kind. Part of it is disgust, but another part is sadness, because you didn’t do anything but still have to live with the stigma of your ancestors’ actions. But you want to know what I really see? Well I don’t give a crap if you want to know or not, because I am going to tell you!
“For me every living, breathing, thinking, being is an opportunity to make money, a mark to be bested in trade. You however, need to remember your place as a slave, boy!” Mablin’s open hand crashed down on Syth’s left cheek. “For the record, you ungrateful piece of property, I detest having to strike any child, but a slave needs to know his place!” Mablin’s other open hand came down, delivering an equal painful smack to the boy’s other cheek.
Mablin was about to deliver one last blow, a solid punch to the boy’s stomach to knock the wind out, but stopped before the fist moved from its cocked position, over his shoulder position. Seeing the look in Syth’s eyes, the lack of tears, and even some shame, his fist wavered. Piecing it together with what he saw the boy do in the last couple of minutes of his practice session and combining it with the magic defiance the pieces seemed to fall into place, “You... You are pretending! You are no slave at all! You are part of your group and you purposefully tested below your guild ranking to prevent extra attention from coming to your already odd group, aren’t you?”
Mablin held up his hand, telling Syth there was no need to answer. With a flip of his wrist, Mablin released his hold on the rope which loosened it enough for Syth to easily extricate himself. “Boy, you chose this role, so you need to play it, unless you want to draw even more attention to yourself and your comrades than you would if you were walking around a free being.” Mablin moved close and stared right into the boy’s eyes. “You pull a stunt like this in public and you will be put in stocks and flogged; the crowd will cheer and scream for the blows to come down harder with each strike because you are Drow. Your flesh will peel off your back and no matter how tough you think you are, you will scream. Don’t let this happen. Play your part or take the damned bracers off.
“Now get your head screwed on straight and come talk to the two of us at dinner. You may be surprised what I came in here to talk to you about.”
Syth nodded, stood, turned and walked to where his equipment was his. He was about to walk out when suddenly he slumped. He turned and looked at Mablin and Killian. Mablin still looked beyond angry and was fuming taking deep breaths, yet Killian was simply wide eyed. Syth didn’t know what exactly to say, but knew he had to say something. "My apologies Sir. It was not right of me to take my aggressions out on you."
“You’re right,” Mablin stated while looking up to the rafters, “but you are beyond lucky it was me and not someone else. As far as I am concerned this whole matter never happened, but if you expect for me to apologize for slapping your face, you have another thing coming.”
Syth raised his head, met the man's eyes, as a small smile played across his face. "Sir, I will not ask you to apologize. No, I thank you for the slaps. They have indeed reminded me of the part I need to play." Confusing Mablin even more, Syth dropped into a bow that would have been most appropriate in a Royal Court. "You have my gratitude and my respect."
Hontel was getting annoyed. First, he had gated to this city expecting to meet up with Randell and the people who had 'captured' him. The whole plan was for Hontel to infiltrate this group, and find out what was going on. But they never showed up. At least not the group of kids. Some guard showed up, dropped Randell off, and took the payment.
So Hontel then needed to find these kids, figure out who they were, and try and come up with some other way to join their group. The one good thing about all of this, as far as Hontel was concerned was how he was dressed. He'd been an orphan for a very long time, and had been used to being treated as such. Now though, he wore the dress of someone of a much higher class than an orphan. Instead of being looked down upon by those he passed, he was nodded to, and people whispered about him, and the amount of money he had.
Finally he saw one of the boys, an Elf about his age in equivalency years, leave the group by himself. 'This be me chance.' Hontel thought to himself. Even with his fancy dress, he knew how to blend into a crowd, and how to trail someone inside a city.
He trailed the Elf for a while, not sure where the kid was going. He wasn't sure the kid knew where he was going. If Hontel went simply with the way the kid was dressed, he would not be able to tell if the kid was trained, since he did not wear Guild Pins. However, Hontel could easily tell he was. The way the kid moved, gave it away. He was dressed in nice loose fitting pants, and nice traveling boots. His shirt was tight, but well made, and a smallish cloak. It all came together to scream one thing, to those that looked. Sect Warrior... and a decent one at that.
He saw the kid stop, look down an Alley way, and even from the distance that Hontel was following at, he saw the kid tense up, and start to slowly walk into the alley. Obviously he saw something that he didn't like, and was going to check it out. That made it obvious this kid was not from around here. If a local saw something going on, they would have either ignored and kept on walking, or summon a guard, and feel their job done. No one took matters into their own hands.
Hontel sped up, and peaked into the alley way just in time to see the start of a fight that few would forget. The kid he was trailing had reached into his pouches, and came out with two fingerless gloves, one on each hand. Hontel almost gasped, and had it not been for his Watch training he would have. Indeed, they were 'Claws' the Sect Specific weapons of the Panthers, but it was what they were made of that got his attention. Had be not spent so much time with Aster in the forge, he probably never would have given it another thought. However, he could now spot Eldwar Steel the second he saw it. Not that he had ever seen anyone other than Aster carry it. The second thing Hontel noticed, while not quite as shocking, still gave him pause. The 'Gloves' were made out of Dragon Hide. Who ever this kid was, what ever this group was, Hontel had to figure it out. That set of gloves alone could buy every kid in his orphanage, feed them for life, and then some.
So shocked was Hontel that he almost missed the start of the fight. At the end of the alleyway were two young boys, both Halfelfs Hontel guessed. In front of the two boys, trying to defend them was a small white dog, no more the a pup really. Then there were five older teens, all of them armed, and wearing guild pins. Hontel took all of this in with a practiced eye, and felt sorry for the two kids. This was not going to end well.
Although he was about to see if this strange elf he'd been following was any good. Five swordsman, even if only two of them were into the Primary Echelon, would be a hell of a fight, unless the kid was seriously well trained. Especially since the leader of the group wore a Primary Step four pin.
The oldest of the teens laughed out loud while ordering one of his friends. "Just kill the damn Halfer's mutt! They won't need it where they're going!"
The kid he spoke to raised up a crossbow just as one of the two boy rushed forward and hugged the dog tight. "No! Please no kill Fluffy!"
The one with the crossbow laughed as he took aim. "Move it kid, I wouldn't wanna 'accidentally' hit you."
The teen never got a chance to fire. Hontel watched the Elf reach into the arms of his cloak, come out with two very small spikes, and whip them, taking the teen, one in each shoulder. The teen screamed in pain, dropping the crossbow. Hontel almost laughed as the crossbow hit the ground, and fired directly into the ankle of the kid standing next to him. "That had ta hurt..." Hontel chuckled softly.
He had to give the teens credit though, the three remaining spun, with the swords drawn, before they really knew what happened. What they saw really confused them, since the only person there was an Elf, younger than they were. "Five of you young strapping lads, against two little boys and their dog. That just does not seem fair to me, so I thought I would even the odds a bit."
"Boy, you gonna die for this!" The leader said as he drew himself up, then sat ready with his sword. Of course the kid laughing is not what they had expected, nor what Hontel had.
"Bronze!" The Elf laughed out. "You are going to insult me by fighting me with Bronze!"
One of the kids looked a bit hesitant, but one of them was obviously not smart enough to really understand what the Elf was saying. With a cry of rage, the teen raised his sword high and charged.
The Elf stood his ground, and waited. When the kid started to bring the sword down for a cleaving strike, the Elf struck, but not the way the kid imagined he would. Instead of trying to back up, the Elf side stepped and brought his left hand up hard, catching the blade with his claws.
Hontel wasn't sure who was more shocked when his sword blade snapped, the teen or himself. The Elf didn't stop there though, he used the momentum of the down strike, to push him behind the teen, then wrapped an arm around the teen’s chest. With a vicious yank, the Elf dragged the claws across the upper part of the teens chest, spinning both of them around, to face the remaining thugs.
The teen feel to his knees screaming, his hands bloody as he pressed them to his chest. The Elf didn't stop there though. With a strong kick, directly to the side of the teen’s head, the screams were cut short. The Elf then looked up at the two remaining teens, and spoke in a deadly calm voice. "Next?" He simply asked.
The two remaining teens who could stand, looked at each other, both of them now not so sure of themselves. Before either one could reply, heavy armored boot falls were heard. Hontel glanced over and saw three guards all running towards the alleyway. Knowing that he would be ignored by the guards, Hontel glanced back down the alleyway in time to see the Elf look over his shoulder, then sprint towards the two teens, and the wide eyed boys behind them. Before he got there, he jumped to the side, planting both feet on the wall next to him to spring himself over the head of the two teens. He flipped in mid-air, and when he landed, he was standing right next to the dog, and in front of the two boys.
"WHAT'S GOING ON HERE!" The lead guard shouted as they came running into the alleyway.
"DROP YER SWORDS!" Another guard shouted.
Hontel saw the Elf whisper something to the Halfelfs behind him, and both boys nodded, completely terrified, but somehow knowing that this boy was going to protect them.
"That pointed eared freak attacked us!" The leader said as he dropped the sword he was holding. "I demand he be arrested for assaulting a merchant’s son!"
"Only as a means to stop you from attacking the two young lads behind me." The Elf said in a calm voice, yet still poised to attack if needed.
"HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME THAT WAY!" The kid exploded. "Yer nothing but beggar scum!"
Hontel couldn't help himself anymore. He squared himself up and stepped out from behind the corner. "I would not be so sure of that. The way he handled himself in this alley, leads someone who has even the smallest bit of intelligence to see that he must be at least Secondary Echelon. That puts him as your equal." Hontel continued walking towards the teen, who started to back up a bit.
Hontel was unable to not get some satisfaction from the looks he was receiving. No one here saw an orphan, they saw someone who could be a Merchant Prince. Richer than everyone in the alley put together. As he walked past the teen laying on the ground with the crossbow bolt sticking out of his ankle, Hontel couldn't stop himself. He stepped his full weight on the bolt, snapping the tip off, causing the teen to scream out in even greater pain, until he passed out that is. He didn't bother to stop the sinister grin that came across his face. "Thank the Gods he's shut up. His screams were hurting my ears. What a wuss."
He stopped in front of the Elf, nodded then turned around. "Good Guards, do not believe the mistruths of these one step above Peasant Merchants. I witnessed the fight and their words ring as hollow as a dinner chime in a field of rotten vegetables. The boy was protecting the two urchins and indeed, the mongrel mutt, which they were actually talking about eating raw.” Hontel shuddered with fake disgust.
“Now either take them into custody and do as you wish or let us all go see the Magistrate and see whose word will hold the most weight here."
The leader of the teens looked about to try and attack Hontel, but before he could do more than move a muscle, the lead guard threw him to the ground, and placed shackles around both hands and feet, dragged him back to his feet, and pushed him towards another guard.
Hontel turned with a smile and offered his hand to the Elf, who had already put his 'Claws' away. "Well that was fun." Hontel said with a smile.
The Elf gave him a weird look, then smiled softly. "Indeed, although I would have expected more of a fight from five trained beings."
"Not from Merchant Brats, they are too soft." He paused for a moment. "I am called Hontel."
"It is an honor Hontel. My name is Thane." The Elf then performed a courtly bow. "I would like to get to know you better, however I do believe that we have two young ones that need to be dealt with."
Both boys turned and looked down at the two awestruck twins. Thane couldn't help but laugh. "You boys may wish to close your mouths. You never know if a small bird might find them to be rather inviting places to build a nest."
The boys both slammed their mouths shut. But then the one on the right got up the nerve to speak. "Thanks, we thought they's gonna kill Fluffy."
Thane looked down at the smallish white dog and grinned. "He is a good friend. He should get a treat for what he did."
"We's will. Even if we go hungry still, he's getten big treat!" The other one said as he threw his arms around the dog whose tail was now wagging fast enough to move his hips around.
"Hungry still?" Hontel asked, while Thane looked the boys over. The first thing he really noticed was that they were indeed identical. However, the one on the left, the one now hugging the dog was dressed in a very dirty red shirt, while the one on the right, wore blue. He also noticed pretty quickly that the red one was left handed, while the blue one was right handed.
"Yes sir." Blue stated quickly. "We's be out here tryun to find sometin ta eat."
"Why?" Hontel asked feigning surprise. He truly already knew why, but needed to keep playing his part.
Red, the one hugging the dog, let his face drop into the fur of his dog, but was still able to be heard as he spoke. "There no be enough to eat at the orphanage."
"What?" Thane asked in shock. "Why would there not be enough for the young ones to eat?"
"I think I need to go have a 'talk' with the orphanage master." Hontel said more to himself than to anyone else.
Thane though looked at the boy and nodded. "If he is not feeding the children enough, I think I would like to have a chat with him as well."
"Why you care?" Red asked softly. "No body cares bout us, we just orphans."
Thane knelt down quickly and drew both boys to him. "That is where you are wrong. It is not your fault that your orphans. Besides, all the young ones should be taken care of, no matter if their parents are alive or not."
"You must come from a long way away stranger." Hontel said sadly. "Around these parts, Orphans are little better the slaves."
"Why?" Thane asked truly befuddled.
Hontel looked confused, but then shook his head. "We shall have to speak later. First though, I would like to know who these two young ones are."
Thane nodded pushed the boys back a bit. "What are your names?" He asked gently.
The red one spoke first. "Me name be El'izar."
"Me be Ev'izar." The blue one said quickly.
"What happen to us now?" El'izar asked in a voice full of fear. "When Master find out we be gone, we be in big trouble. He probably whip us."
Thane saw red as he looked at the two scared boys, both of them with tears starting to leak out of their eyes. "El'izar, Ev'izar, I know that neither one of you have much trust in anyone right now, but I swear to you, no one will ever hurt you like that again. Not while I draw breath at least."
No one spoke for almost a full minute while the twins searched Thane's eyes. Hontel was really thrown for a loop. He had heard that this group was strange, but this was more than he had expected. Finally Thane opened his arms wide, and both boys crashed into his hug.
Finally Hontel spoke, trying to banish the thoughts of Aster, and a scene very similar to this one. One that he witnessed not that long ago. "Tell you what stranger. Take the boys, get them cleaned up, some new clothing, and something filling to eat. I will meet you... Where are you staying?"
Thane told him that they were staying at the Broken Bedpost, and Hontel nodded. "Then I will meet you there... after I have a chat with a certain orphanage master."
Thane smiled, nodded, and stood up, as Hontel spoke. "You may wish to stop at a Mystic shop, and get something for the dog. I am sure we do not want the boys getting fleas again, after they have been cleaned. Do you need coin?" Hontel said softly.
Thane shook his head, and led the boys from the alley, going back the way he came. "Very strange group indeed." Hontel muttered to himself as he shook his head, then moved off. He had some business to attend to, and he was going to enjoy it, immensely.