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Offline Alec_Shadowkin

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« on: June 13, 2005, 09:32:01 AM »
I'm not sure where something like this should go, so I figured the Myths and Rumors Forum was safest. This is a story I've been working on, set in my world of Terescence. Please feel free to give any constructive critisism.


   Shink… Shink…

   He could hear the blade sliding on the executioner’s whetstone.

   Shink… Shink…

   It was a sound he had grown used to in the past few weeks, hearing it every day. It always came just before and after the magistrate of this gods-less city pronounced sentence on another prisoner.
   
   Shink… Shink…

   Today was different, though.

   Shink… Shink…

   This time the axe was being sharpened for him.

   Shink… Shink…

   Julian Coraan, rogue and mage extraordinaire, was finally caught. It had been an exhilarating chase, spread throughout the entire city of Corin. He had scaled rooftops, slunk through dark alleyways, and even dove off one of the many docks in Corin’s harbor and swam partway across the city trying to get away from the city guard. That had been almost a month ago, by his sense of the passage of days, which could very well be rather off considering he hadn’t seen the sky since his capture. Now he was stuck here in this dank, rat-infested hole of a jail, waiting these last few hours before his trial, sentence and execution.

   Shink… Shink…

   There was no escape possible. Iron rings on chains attached his wrists and ankles to the cold granite wall at the back of his dark cell. The ones on his wrists were enchanted somehow, successfully preventing him from using any of his magic. He was a halfling, dark hair, brown eyes and only a touch over four feet tall, with strength enough to lift himself to great heights on a building side or rope, but certainly not enough to snap these iron manacles. He had already tried everything he knew to release himself, but nothing had worked.

   Shink…

   The noise ended. Julian’s blood ran cold. It was time. In just a few moments, the Head Gaoler would be unlocking his door and taking him up to the Magistrate’s offices for sentencing. He heard a loud snap from the direction of the door and suddenly the small cell was flooded with light. Julian yelped and buried his head with his arms, his eyes not used to light after so many days without it.

   “Get up, worm.”

An arm accompanied the gruff voice and yanked him to his feet. He felt his manacles falling away with the clash of chains, and then he was roughly shoved toward the door, hands still trying to cover his tender eyes. His arms were pulled around his back, then tied, and he had to squint, trying to get his eyes to adjust as quickly as possible so he’d know better what was going on. The Head Jailer prodded his back with a pointed stick, provoking a cry of pain and a number of quick steps forward from his virtually blind charge.
“Get moving. The Magistrate doesn’t like to be kept waiting, especially when his schedule is so full.”

“If the Magistrate’s schedule is so full, maybe I shouldn’t bother him right now, I was finally getting used to that cell and – “ Julian broke off as his captor showed him just what was thought about the rogue’s comment. When he stood back up, head throbbing, they started forward and up a flight of stairs toward the Magistrate’s apartments.

“Wonderful person this Magistrate, living right above the cells...” Julian thought as they walked directly from the damp jail into the Magistrate’s cool, pristine clean housing, with no separation between the two buildings. He was finally able to stop squinting just as they got to the main office, where the Magistrate oversaw all sentencing. The gilded oak door swung open to reveal a decent sized room with a large desk, many bookshelves covered in tomes and artifacts, a large assortment of cushions and pillows for attendants to sit on, and a small podium where the accused stood to receive their hearings. One of the objects decorating the Magistrate’s desk was a small statuette made of gold, created to resemble a full-grown dragon, with two small rubies for eyes and the rest of the body outlined with silver dust melded into the gold.

It was to the podium that Julian was directed, flanked by two of the city guard. He now got his first good look at the Magistrate, a heavyset, balding man in his middle years. Dressed in the finest silks and holding a small scepter, the man certainly could use to have his food supply cut off for a little while. A few weeks perhaps. Julian allowed himself a small smile at the Magistrate’s expense before being roughly shoved forward onto the podium.

“You have been caught stealing objects which are the personal property of the High Magistrate of Corin, may his illustrious personage live forever.”
The court scribe began to drone. “How do you plea?”

“Not guilty.” Julian spat. “It was my impression that the actual ownership of the bloody statuette is somewhat debatable, considering the rather shadowy circumstances under which your ‘High Magistrate’ acquired it.”

The Magistrate began to splutter, shouting about blasphemy and insults. Julian had a hard time making most of it out considering how upset and incoherent the Magistrate was being, but he did understand a few things, like ‘sewer-scum’ and ‘godless son of a pig’. Once the Magistrate calmed down a bit, he slammed his fists down onto his desk.

“You are worthless swine and a bad thief.” Julian’s brow tightened and his back straightened at the latter insult. “You aren’t even worth enough to have the swift death of the Headsman cutting your head off, so I will enjoy watching you hang this afternoon. One less piece of gutter-trash infesting my city. Guards, take him to the cage at the gallows and let him stay there for a few hours before we actually kill him.” With a rotten smile, the Magistrate sat back down as Julian’s flanking guards grabbed his arms and dragged him from the room. He turned his head to spit on one of the elaborately cushioned chairs as he went through the door, earning another clap to the side of his head. He blinked his eyes, trying to clear the stars, but his malnourished body decided it had its own plans and he quietly slipped into the dark.
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- "You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?"
- REVELATIONS, CHAPTER SIX.

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Offline Alec_Shadowkin

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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2005, 09:34:58 AM »
II


He woke a few hours later to water being thrown on him. He cracked his eyes against the onslaught of intense sunlight. He felt too hot, and when he shifted into a sitting position, he saw that his lower legs and arms had been badly sunburned, probably his face and neck as well. He looked around, wincing at the tenderness of his skin.

He was in a small cage, not even 4 feet tall and not even wide enough for his elbows to be out from his sides more than a foot. The guard who had thrown the water on him was walking away, and two others stood next to the cage he was in. The cage itself was in Corin’s Gallows Square. Directly inside the city’s east gate, the large gallows, the half a dozen sets of stocks and the numerous cages served to provide adequate warning to tourists of Corin’s strict system of justice. The largest structure in the entire square was the Magistrate’s personal pavilion. It was a gaudy, disgusting thing, bright red canvas roof, plush chairs for the Magistrate and his friends, and a pair of guards stationed on it every day to deter vandalism and looters. It was on stilts, lifting it up above the crowd and making sure that the Magistrate always had a perfect view at the proceedings. The Magistrate was currently sitting in the largest chair, a massive blue cushioned thing. The square itself was full of gawkers and spectators, apparently come to see the ‘bad thief’ get hanged.

A guard walked up to the cage with a set of keys and opened the door. He roughly grabbed Julian by the scruff of the neck and hauled him out onto the cobblestones. The two guards who had been flanking the cage each grabbed one of his arms and began half walking, half dragging him across the square and up the rough, wooden gallows steps. The executioner was a large man, tall and muscular, wearing a black hood, so as to obscure his identity. He set the loop of twisted rope over the halfling’s head, gently tightening the slipknot against his neck. Julian was turned to face the Magistrate’s pavilion, forced to see all the faces of the citizens come to watch. This was how it was going to end. After all this time, after all the thefts and chases, he was brought down by a corrupted official in a scummy city, surrounded by people who were here for some entertainment! It was pathetic. He shook his head and looked straight at the plump governor.

“So, worm, do you have any last words?” The rotund man was sweating, despite the shade of his pavilion. Julian nodded slightly.

“Only to point out that you call me a thief, and I agree, I am a thief. d**ned proud of it, as a matter of fact. But at least I’m a thief that isn’t ruling a city.” Julian’s voice was dripping with distain. “You, your Eminence, are the worst kind of thief, because you steal from those who look up to you, those who look to you for rulership and guidance. They expect you to help protect them and help them, but you siphon their tax money to buy yourself all the luxuries you can find. You claim to increase the city guard and supply them with better equipment, but you instead take that money and host fancy dinners for your friends. I am a thief, but you are a pilquat.” He literally spat the last word, a halfling epithet not used in polite conversation.

The magistrate stood up, shaking with anger, “I have had all the insolence and insult I will take from you! May your soul be d**ned for all eternity.” He gestured to the guard on the gallows. The man pulled back on the lever and Julian unceremoniously dropped, only to land on the ground beneath the gallows with the frayed end of the rope hanging around his neck.

The entire square had erupted into chaos. The magistrate’s pavilion was on fire, flaming arrows stuck into the canvas. The magistrate was screaming, trying to get off the podium, but guards were blocking the way, as they tried to get down themselves, but were blocked by the panicking citizens.

A wagon tore across the square drawn by a pair of black horses. A tall man wearing a deep blue shirt was driving and a woman stood behind his. She was the one firing the flaming arrows that had already begun reducing the magistrate’s pavilion to ash. As the wagon swung around behind the gallows, a short figure jumped off and ran over to Julian, who was still sitting under the platform, slightly dazed.

“Get up, you lazy thief! We’re risking our hides to save your scrawny neck, and you just sit in the dirt!”

Julian smiled at the dwarf and started standing up, though awkwardly, since he still wore the manacles. They ran toward the wagon, which was now stopped between the gallows and the pavilion. The dwarf picked up Julian and threw him into the back of the wagon before jumping in himself.
The magistrate saw the thief being rescued and started toward the wagon, only to have his shout for the guards choked back. A black panther jumped in front of his growling. He squeaked and fell backwards onto his considerable backside. The panther bared its teeth, then turned and leapt away.

Julian sat up as the driver cracked the reigns and the wagon rocked into motion. They started driving toward the gates. Julian jumped up, almost falling over again as the wagon lurched forward.

“My equipment!” He wailed. The dwarf knocked him down as a crossbow bolt shot through the space where the halfling’s head had been.

“Stay down, Julian.” The driver called back over his shoulder. “We just saved your neck, quit trying to give it back to them.” He cracked the reigns again, the wagon thundering out of the gates. As they tore down the road Julian looked over the side and saw the black panther running down the road with a small sack in its mouth. The cat sped up, then leapt into the wagon, dropping the sack next to the halfling, who eagerly opened it up and started pulling his belongings out of it.

“Thank you very much, Aurora. I was going to be upset if I’d have lost my stuff.” He reached over and rubbed the panther’s right ear. It gave him and eerily human smile. Julian went back to his belongings, opening a worn leather roll and pulling out a delicate looking tool, which he began using in the lock on one of his manacles.

“Good work, elf. If we hadn’t gotten his stuff we’d’ve never heard the end of it.” The dwarf grunted then settled back against the boards.

The panther sat back on its haunches, and then closed its eyes. After a few seconds it started to shimmer like a mirage. Its shape started to stretch and grow larger. The black fur shrank back into the skin; long black hair started growing from the head and claws retraced back into the paws, which were rapidly growing fingers. The jaw and nose shortened back into the face and the eyes changed from gold to a deep green like the leaves in an ancient forest. A few seconds later it was done and instead of a black panther, a young elven woman crouched in the wagon bed.

She was breathtakingly beautiful. Long hair black as ebony flowed down her back and across her shoulders. Her light complexion and slender frame combined to make her appear frail, but people soon found out she was anything but. She wore a tunic and pants made of soft brown leather and around her neck lay a small, round cut of an ash tree on a leather thong. A druidic rune was carved on it, which she claimed meant “feline soul”. Her friends all believed her, if for no other reason than that no one, including Julian with his extensive knowledge of languages, could read the ancient druidic alphabet. She sat back next to the halfling and watched the landscape slide past.

The land around Corin consisted mostly of lush grassy plains that petered out a few dozen yards from the shoreline of the Sea of Stars. The city itself was a rather large seaport, the main alley of trade coming southeast across the Blue Divide from Makal. They were traveling on a road known as the King’s Way, which continued on for a couple hundred miles, stopping at the city of Ketliss before turning and heading north into the Praete Wastelands.
Authentic Strolenite©

- "You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?"
- REVELATIONS, CHAPTER SIX.

-- Death in conversation with a biker (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, Good Omens)

Offline CaptainPenguin

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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2005, 11:26:36 PM »
You gonna' finish this?
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