Chapter One (New)

 

Here is the links to chapter two and three.

Journal entry one, Twenty-third of Harvest, 1007 FK.

Within two weeks I will be on the front line. Fighting an enemy that has powers beyond our imagination! It reminds me of something I read in school about the end of the Massacre of Magic, and the invasion of those Beasts and their shambling rotten minions! I would never have thought we would stumble upon those creatures from history in Greywalker Reach. How could the Earl and his soldiers miss this? Earl Feo has a lot to answer for! The bloody forts are just three days ride away!

Anyways, I’m beating a dead horse, or in this case, a dead Favinonian and dead people rising is just one of the problems I am dealing with.  I can’t believe the assassinations, the rebellion and all those weird-

Mela’s grace, I don’t have much time to write this, I cannot get distracted. 

I survived Greywalker Reach, I’m not sure if I will survive this war. But people need to know where it all started. That town, where I met my ‘family’, Lake Merrin.

Now we are heading to the war to end all wars. I regret so many things: Friends dying, losing the love of my life, and most of all, meeting that monster Zlata! After Greywalker, I know where she came from. Holy Saints of the Trinity save us.

The best thing to do is start when it all began, just two years ago, when I came to Lake Merrin. Back then I was a nobody, and all I cared about was money, women, and grog. Or was it grog, more grog and lots of grog, and paying for women? I was a wastrel. A scoundrel who only cared about himself and the next drink!

How things change. My story is one of change, just like Favinonia changed through the last two years. From when I signed up at the Hall in Lake Merrin; to catching that charter, to the uprising and finally to these horrific current events.

Should I start from when I first arrived in Lake Merrin? Or three months later when I finally got off my arse to sign up? By Jenell’s Book, I was lazy! Back to the start, where was that?

Oh yeah, having that quiet drink in that dingy inn, the Anvil and Musket on the docks of Lake Merrin…

What a beautiful day on Lake Merrin, that morning breeze from the shoreline is why I love this place. Except that the smells of the tavern downstairs can be a little on the nose.

Still, I don’t understand why the lake is named Lake Merrin as well. Was the town named after the lake or was the lake named after the city?

Who cares? Time for my liquid breakfast!

Now I just have to try and not wake up my ‘beautiful’ companion. She will just want me to spend more money on her. She can throw back grog even more than me.

Why did I choose this place? Black mould, greasy windows and cockroaches as big as my fist. That’s right. Two silver slips a week, can’t complain about the Anvil and Musket. What is a Musket anyway?

Gently closing the door, I stumble down those rotten steps, and there is something putrid in the air. It’s Bruce, I can smell from the stairway that enters the common room. His fragrance is like torture to my disturbed gut; a mixture of sweat, vomit and ale so old it’s rancid. At least he is working, not passed out in a booth. He is one of the reasons I need to drink my worries away.

There he is in all his morning glory behind the crack stone excuse for a bar. Patchy beard that looks like the hind end of a mangy dog, cauliflower ear and an apron so stained it looks more stain than apron. Ah, Bruce, you are such a sight.

“Greetings, good barkeep. Can I have your finest ale? Hold the roaches or rat droppings.” I hold back my laughter at myself, today I am the soul of wit!

He looks up at me, “Oh – it’s you. Your rent’s due!”

Pleased to see you too Bruce. “I know, I know. Um, can I make it up later today?”

“Do I have to get Malik to talk to you again?”

That son of a motherless goat! “No Bruce you do not! Here.” Two more notes gone! I need a job. “My ale?”

As I watch him with my cup in his hand about to pour my amber liquid, there is something moving in the glass.  Before I say anything, Bruce notices and just shakes it out. Jara’s Hammer that is so wrong.

I think it just ran into another glass…

“Can I have a cleaner glass, Bruce? It looked like two roaches were making babies in the bottom of it.” He reaches for the one that also has a shadow inside it, “Um, can it be that one.” I point out one, nowhere near the baby factories.

“Bloody stuck up white-back!” I love being a half-breed, I get so many nicknames. He grabs another glass. “Five coppers!”

Holding my glass of pure heaven on Amsul, then shoving his other hand in my face. What? So, if I had that other one, it would have cost me one copper?

Handing over a printed five copper note. “One thing Bruce, what is a musket?”

He smiles, a bit of last night’s food still stuck in his teeth and I get a gust of rancid breath. He pulls a weird weapon from beneath the counter. I assume it is a weapon, it’s a metal tube, connected to a club. He points the tube at me.

“Do you want to find out what it does too, or are you going to piss off?”

No idea why he’d point a tube at me when the club section of the weapon looks scarier. With Bruce’s oversized arms, my head would be cracked after one blow.

“Nope, I’m good!”

He puts the musket back under the bar as I walk away. I’m not sure what it does, and I don’t want to find out. Where to enjoy this weak-as-piss ale? Ah, next to my friendly neighbourhood drunk, Stinky Pete. Don’t know his real name as he seems to be asleep most of the time. But Stinky Pete is a great listener.

“Hey, Pete.” Sitting down in this booth, I can smell he has pissed himself again. Mela’s sacrifice he is in a bad way this morn. “Don’t need a hug today, we are the best of friends aren’t we?”

Pete’s reply is quite fragrant and so loud I can feel it through the soles of my boots. If it isn’t out one end, it is always the other.

“So, Pete, what should I do today?”

He coughs and burps for a change of tempo.

“Yeah, I know, a job. After spending five years in the army to gain my citizenship, those were some dark days. Every job I go for now is just some slack jaw job, I am better than this.” Quaffing my drink again. “Pete, my friend what am I going to do?”

He does take his time to answer, mouth flutters as he lets out a huge breath. “Well, my funds are not going to last me long, with pissing off Bruce all the time or dealing with Malik and the Dock boys.”

By his snoring, I know Pete understands.

“It’s the same thing every day. Find a labouring job to earn money, only to have it taken away by the Dock Boys. Bloody Malik and his butt-monkey Jimmy always find out when I have money.”

This conversation needs a drink. Ah, my amber brew! I nearly forgot about that.

“Oh, cause you know Pete, they demanded my money to pay back the last loan with interest. Then Malik in his element turns around and lends me money so I can survive. Not much I can do.”

I can see Pete is pondering my last statement.

“You are right, Pete! Unless you are a knight, in the military, or a registered Adventurer, the law isn’t always around to protect you. They are the only ones allowed to carry arms or wear armour. And then I don’t have to put up with their nonsense.”

Pete shifts slightly and lets out a fart even worse than the last one. I drown my nose in the sweet elixir of my ale. He finishes, and he should be proud of his eruption. By now my brew is finished.

“Pete, you have outdone yourself as well, shouting me a drink.” I grab his pouch off his belt, and there is one silver slip inside, enough for two more drinks.

“I’ll grab you one as well, Pete, don’t you worry!”

I’m glad to be moving back to the bar, allowing me some fresher air. I don’t call him Stinky Pete for nothing.

“Bruce, couple more ales!”

“Sure.” I think he said sure; there was an ‘s and e’ in his grunt.

I look forward to living in a proper place one day, maybe with a beautiful woman to cook me dinner.

“Thanks, Bruce, keep the change!”

It’s not like there is any – but it’s better to pretend he isn’t ripping me off. Pete is still sleeping, dropping his glass in front of him, I take a long draw of my ale. Even though I know he might not drink it, it was his money. Like always, the best thing for the morning, a good lukewarm brew!

As I drop my drink on the table, I spy my lady ‘friend’ coming down the stairs. She looks at me and waves. What is her name again? Cin or Bel? Damn it.

“Hey there, handsome.” She grabs Pete’s ale and has a long swig. “I woke up, and you weren’t there.”

Cin or Bel? She is staring at me. “Sorry, love, I wanted to come down and have some breakfast,” Shaking my half empty cup. “Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?”

Well, it is a stretch, with her acne and scabby skin but she is cheap and warm. I think she is blushing, but I can’t tell.

“You are embarrassing me.”

“It is part of my charm,” As she walks off to her ‘pimp’ Bruce, I smack her on her arse. Turning back to Pete. “Sorry about that Pete, I will get you another drink later. So, what were we talking about?”

Pete lets out a loud snore. “Oh yes, thanks, Pete. The Watch is out of the question, and I am never going back to the army. So, I could head west to the City States, join a mercenary band like my ‘dad’ was a part of. But again, that is too close to army and those encounters I had with rogue groups.”

I can see Pete is uncomfortable about this, me too. “So, the Mercenary band is out, City Watch is out, Army is out, so Pete what is left?” He ‘shrugs’, I think. “That means there is only one option, join the knighthood!”

Standing up brandishing my cup like a sword. I laugh. Pete ‘laughs’. “Yeah, could you imagine that, me being part of the Duke’s Shields? Bloody Jara, they are some stuck up prigs.”

The creaky front door swings open, Bruce needs to oil that. And for Jara’s Hammer, it is a Dock Boy. It is the rat-faced one, not sure what his name is, but he is always in that huge group that corners me. If we were one on one— “Ah, it seems that it is time for me to go, Pete,” Ratty sneers at me and forcefully flings the door open and runs out.

“You are right Pete; the only answer is becoming an Adventurer. I guess I’m off to the Hall.”

Jara, Mela, Jenell, what horrible timing for the Dock boys to be looking for me. I thought I would be not seeing them all week. They have been thick as thieves with that rogue charter, Fellowship of the Sword. I hate that group, ex-Duke’s Shield. Helmut and his thugs, love killing people for fun and money. Especially that brute Roth with his oversized meat cleaver. I don’t want to be on either gang’s list.

Running up those rotten stairs into my room, I might duck out through the secret back exit. I’m glad that there is a back door, I shouldn’t be caught by the Boys.

Looking around my room, what do I need? My peace-bound sword is a definite, my armour vest; my Jack, a must if I run into some more Dock Boys. Some knives and done. Feel like I am missing something. Oh yeah, where is my slip pouch of savings? That’s right in with my dirty underwear, glad I have the foresight to hide money. No-one will look there.

Taking a deep breath, I open my door a crack to see if anyone is in the corridor. Good, it’s empty. Only twenty steps and I am out that back door.

Out the second level and more subtle exit, strange that I am using it for avoiding the Dock Boys instead of being a wife or loved one worrying that their husband is cheating on them.

Heading down the even-more-rotten back steps, making sure to miss the exposed rusted nails and other disease-ridden objects. The last thing I want is to be heading to the Medical-shrine to have some Green treat me. I stop in my tracks and think. How am I going to make it to the Hall?

If I can make it to Route Street, avoiding Fish and Dock as that is their territory, I will be free and clear. In my mind’s eye, I know there are three back-alley ways from the Anvil to Route Street. That should be easy.

Now should I duck over to the other side of Route to more alleys so I avoid the morning crowds, or would it to be better to blend in?

Blending will be better, just have to make it to that fantastic busy morning traffic. Down the steps, and there is the first turn.

I am glad of my scouting experience from the Army. Otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed the heavy breathing. Who is in this next alley? I take a quick look. A Dock Boy, a brute of a half-breed, he must have some dwarf in him. His dark, heavy beard and pointed ears are a dead giveaway.

What to do? Bold is best in this, he might just be waiting for someone else. “Hey, what are you doing here? Doesn’t Malik have you lot on the docks every morning?”

He turns to me and bunches his shoulder, if he bunched anymore, he’ll rip his shirt. “Oi, you stay right here.”

He starts sauntering toward me. Drawing my dagger from my back sheath, I hold it in my fist. He grabs me, my first instinct is to stab him but I squash that thought, and I smash him across the face with the pommel instead. As he drops to the ground, I step around him and run.

Only rat-face and that brutish truth-spawn have seen me, only one more lane and I’m blending into that morning crowd. The second alley is clear, maybe I should have killed him. No time to worry about that.

And of course, caught up with my own thoughts there is another gang member. “You  .”

He goes for a grab but my training kicks in, and I twist towards him so I would have a clear shot to knee his ‘Jara’s Hammers’.

He drops to the ground clutching at his groin. I am nearly home free, Route is just a stone throws away.

As I peek out, I see only carts, fish, market goods, fishmongers, labourers and dock workers. A crowd is the best place to blend.

Just moving out of the alley way I hear someone call out. “There he is, Malik!”

Of course, someone is pointing me out. Why do they have such a hard on for me today? I owe the Dock Boys less than others.

As the crowd parts, I see that son of a thankless mother, Malik! Thank you so much, faceless mob.

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