Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fighter Flight of Fancy

Drebin leaned against the plow, resting from his work. It had been a long day and would probably only lead to another hard day tomorrow. He had wanted to finish the field like his father told him, but over the winter months, the mole weed had snuck in and taken up root a good hand length beneath the surface. Its tough, sinewy root system had criss-crossed the field like a giant spider web and it was taking far too long to pull or cut the blasted tendrils of thorny plant loose from the ground. It would probably take an extra two days, just to clear the field and finish plowing the rows for planting. That is, it will if the damned root doesn’t re-grow and heal itself in the mean-time. Drebin reached and picked up a chunk of the mole weed and glared at it.

“It’s your fault, you know,” he said to the lump of putrid brown vegetation in his hand. “Right now, I could be out with my friends practicing with old Veren, the king’s old arms master. I could be learning how to use the sword and shield. I could be learning the ways of battle so I can get out of this forsaken pit of land. I could become a great warrior and join a band of adventurers and see the world. But because of you, I am stuck here, even longer in fact, to have to toil over this stupid chunk of land. Having to push this plow behind this stubborn horse…”

The beast turned its head toward Drebin.

“Just kidding, girl,” he said, patting her rump. “I just wanted to see if you were listening.” He dropped the weed back to rest with the rest of the pulled roots, into the bag he had tied to the handle of the plow so he could burn them all later and not give them a chance to sprout again and ruin the fields.

As he did, he thought about how much like the weed he was. How much he wanted to grow, to spread out across the land and see new things. But, like the weed, he was cut short and would probably be stuck in this bag until the day he too would be tossed into the void, never to grow again. This only depressed him more. He tugged the reigns and the plow moved forward. Drebin’s well toned and muscled arms kept it steady and the row straight.

A distance off, an old man lifted his head from over a scrying glass and smiled.

So, he thought, young Drebin wishes to be freed of his responsibilities at home so he can go out and see the world. Well, perhaps he shall get his chance.

A dark chuckle curved the lips of the old hedge wizard. He had been watching Drebin for some time now. The boy had caught his lustful eye some time ago when Drebin and his family had come into the heart of town for the festival of harvest. The old man spotted him in the crowd and followed him for hours, taking in every inch of him with a vile and shameless glare. From that day forth, the old wizard, Carrem, had been keeping a very close eye on the boy. An eye that now sparkled with the light of a cruel design that was forming in his mind.
---------------

Drebin awoke with a start. He could feel the presence of someone in his room. He looked around, but there was no one there. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves and slow his heart, which had begun beating quickly with fright. He closed his eyes and could hear the beat of it in his ears. He took deep calming breaths until it had finally slowed to its normal rhythm.

What was that about, he thought to himself. He took another look around the room and still, there was no one there. He moved to lie back down, but stopped when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. To the right of his bed, near the doorway, he could barely make out a shadow on the wall. It was very difficult to see, but there was definitely something there. He started to rise from his bed to investigate, but was stopped as the shadow formed into the dimly lit form of an old man.

Drebin tried to call out, but the man moved his hand, sweeping the air, as if sweeping away flies, and to his surprise, Drebin could no longer speak. He could feel his lips moving, but nothing escaped them. Panic rose in Drebin and a sense of doom washed through him like wave upon the sand.

“Fear not, young one,” the old man said with a wry grin, “the effect is not permanent. Please relax and will tell you why I am here.”

Drebin eyed him cautiously and settled back against his headboard.

“That’s better,” the old man said, seating himself on the chair next to Drebin’s bed. Drebin scooted away from the man as he did this.

“You must forgive my brashness,” the old man said, “I could not help myself. I suppose some kind of introduction is in order. I am Carrem.” Drebin’s eyes widened at the name.

“And I see from your expression,” Carrem continued, “that you have heard of me.”

Drebin had heard of him. All of the town’s people knew that name. It was known throughout the small village of Berden, and probably throughout the town of Litram to the north, that name was. The name Carrem was to be feared by many of the mothers and fathers for many miles. This name was synonymous with the words “monster” and “fiend.” The stories of him varied, but all had the same base to them. Carrem was a stealer of children. It was said that he did terrible things to them until he grew tired of them, or until he used them up completely. Either way, there was nothing left of the child, alive or dead, when Carrem had finished with them.

Drebin drew away further, nearly falling off of his bed in the effort.

Carrem only sighed.

“I see you have heard those stories,” the old man said, shaking his head wearily. “You probably will not believe a word I say, but I tell you now, they have been fabricated and manipulated to the point of horror tales that children tell one another around a camp fire. They are not true, young lad. If they were that bad, why has no one come to destroy me for my evil ways? Why have I not been brought to justice? As you can see, I am but an old man, and can hardly defend myself.

“Yes, the tales call me a dark wizard, and yes, they tell of my great powers, but they are also highly exaggerated. It is true I have some powers of magic, but none the likes of the tales. Why, it took much of what little power I have to keep your tongue still for a limited time. I so worn from the effort, I cannot even remain on my feet until I rest a bit,” he said, motioning to the chair in which he now sat.

“But,” he resumed, “that is neither here nor yonder. I have come with a gift, my young friend. I have come with tidings of good will and of freedom for you, lad.”

At this, he reached behind himself and pulled out a bag. It seemed nearly empty to Drebin’s eyes, but when the old man reached in and pulled his hand back out, it was holding a large shield. Drebin looked back at the bag, which was scarcely half the size of the shield. His amazement at the sight must have been apparent, because Carrem grinned widely with amusement.

“Ah, yes,” the old man said, “I suppose you have probably never seen one of these before, have you my young friend. This,” he said, holding up the bag, “is called a ‘bag of holding.’ I wish I could take credit for its astounding power to hold such large items in such a small space, but unfortunately, I cannot. I can, however, take credit for this,” he said, nodding to the shield.

“This,” he went on, “is a very special shield indeed. It took me a very long time to craft it. It holds within it the power to deflect fire. It will stop the flame from reaching you, no matter how hot it may burn.” He handed the shield to Drebin, who took it cautiously.

“And there is more,” Carrem said, “much more.” He reached into his bag again and drew out a sheathed sword. He handed that over to Drebin as well. Drebin was so enamored with the object that not even his fear of the old man slowed him from taking it from Carrem’s hands. He drew the blade from the sheath and it shone as if lit by sunlight. The silvery glow of the blade seems to fade a little, but it seemed to keep a constant aura of light that lit the room around him as well as any candle. He swept the blade through the air, and he could swear it sang to him.

“You see,” Carrem said, startling Drebin, who had been caught up so much by the sword that he had forgotten the old man was still there. “If I meant you harm, why would I give you a means to fight me? No, no, my boy. As I said before, I am here to aid you in your upcoming quest.”

“Quest,” Drebin said, and then started, realizing he could speak again. He was tempted to call out for help again, but was too intrigued by the idea that he may have the chance he had been waiting for handed to him.

“Yes, my boy,” Carrem said, a smile spreading across his lips and a gleam leaping to his eye. The boy was like a fish on the line now. All he had to do was pull him to shore before he knew he was caught by the hook, and the boy would be his.

“You see,” he went on, “I have chosen you to be a warrior of justice in the land. You must go forth from here and right a great wrong that is being done, and with this sword, you now have the strength to do just that. It was forged in the halls of the dwarves. It has the power to defeat a creature of great evil in the land, and you, my strong and handsome lad, shall be the one to banish it.”

Drebin couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It was too good to be true, and yet, something deep inside of him told him it was so. He would be the one to save the land from darkness and shine the light of hope in the hearts of others, throughout the world. His gaze kept shifting back to the glowing sword in his hand. The more he gazed upon it, the more his confidence grew.

Carrem saw the boy’s staring upon the sword and knew it was only a matter of time. Soon the spell he had placed upon it would take hold and the boy’s mind would be lost in a cloud of shifting dreams and imagination, but the rest of the boy, would be his to command. He would follow any order given without a second thought as the rest of his mind fought of countless dragons or ogres or whatever beasties the boy wished to slay. He would not feel the atrocities the old man would lay on his body, or if he did, they would meld into the dream and Carrem could have his way.

“And finally,” the wizard said, no longer hiding the lust in his eyes, since the boy was so far gone that he would no longer see it, “the last gift.” He reached into his bag and drew out one last piece.

Drebin watched and saw a piece of shining chain mail unfurl in the old man’s grasp. It was dazzling. It flashed and flickered in the light of the sword. At the thought of the sword, Drebin’s eyes were drawn back to it.

“This,” Carrem said, “is a very special piece of armor. It is so light weight, you will not even feel it against your body, but it is so strong that not even the strongest orc with the sharpest axe can damage it in the least.”

The thin length of chain in Carrem’s hands dangled limply and dully in his hands. Years of rust and dried blood encrusted it and chipped off as it swung. It would guarantee that the boy would never be free of him or the charm. It had been cast by the old man and enchanted so that it would invade the mind of any who wore it to make them docile and pliant to the will of its maker.

“Let me put it on you, my young warrior,” the wizard said, moving beside the boy. Drebin, transfixed by the sword merely nodded.

As the old man moved to put the chain around the boy’s neck, Drebin gazed at his reflection in the blade. In the silvery glow of the blade he could see what the wizard truly held. It broke the charm upon him and he tried to shake it from his head. Carrem saw the boy trying to free himself from the spell and moved to snap the chain into place, but Drebin pushed him away, flinging him from the bed. As the boy cleared his head, he saw that the shield he held had not changed, but the sword no longer held its glow. It looked so much less magnificent that Drebin, for a moment, regretted letting go of the vision. As he the thought crossed his mind, the sword, for a moment, began to gain some of its brilliance again, but Drebin knew it to be false now and it quickly washed away again.

Carrem had gained his feet again, chain dangling from one of his fists.

“Strong willed are we,” he hissed out as he stood. “Then perhaps we need a different approach.” At this he threw up his hands and dart of light flew from his fingers. Drebin dodged out of the way and swung his sword in the small distance between them. He felt it connect and rolled to his feet, like Veren had taught him. He focused back on the wizard who was now clutching a gash in his arm that was bleeding profusely.

The mage cried out, “You little son of a whore! You have no idea what you are dealing with.”

“I do now,” Drebin said, gripping the sword tighter. “I’m dealing with nothing more than a filthy old man who can throw around some spells.” The wizard cast another spell, but again, Drebin dodged it, moving closer to the door. He called out to warn the rest of the household that there was danger and to rouse help. Carrem started to laugh, his face going pale and his eyes filling with madness.

“You won’t be laughing when my father gets here with his bow,” Drebin said, smiling at the thought that he might get out of this alive. “He can hit a knot in a tree at fifty paces, you should pose no threat.”

The old man was nearly doubled over laughing. He took a deep breath and the laughter halted. He stared into Drebin’s eyes and said, with menace, “You young, delicious fool. No one is coming to aid you. I took the precaution of slitting their throats in their sleep, and yes, that includes that little sister of yours. Wouldn’t want her running off for help, now would we?”

The words struck Drebin like a blow and he was stunned for a moment. The thought of the loss of his sister, Heana, at any other time, would have taken him to his knees, but now it only enraged him and focused his will to stop the mad man in front of him. The mad man who had just raised his unwounded arm to cast another spell. He turned aside from it and blocked the brunt of it with his shield and swung out with his sword, severing the raised arm. He then spun and plunged the blade deep into the wizard’s chest.

“You,” Carrem groaned, “how… you can’t… I can’t… die. Not now.”

“You can,” grunted Drebin, twisting the weapon deeper, “and you will.”

The old man’s lifeless form dropped to the floor. Drebin felt a wave of relief wash over him, then a flood of grief. His family was dead. Tears filled his eyes, but then a thought occurred to him. The wizard may have been lying. He rushed towards the door, but as he turned, he saw it was engulfed in flames. The fire licked from the door frame and was spreading to the ceiling on either side. The heat was intense, but he had to get through, then he thought of the shield. It was fire proof. It would protect him. He put it in front of him and rushed through the flames, hoping it would be safe on the other side.

As was everything else from the wizard said, the resistance of the shield to fire was minimal. Drebin was lucky enough to be through them and safe on a barely touched other side of them, but he had to pat out several patches of his clothing that had caught flame and he flung aside the shield, which was now scalding hot. He had only one thing in mind though and pushed all else away for the time being. He had to check on his family.

He reached his sister’s room and found she was not in bed. He was relieved at this much. It looked as though the wizard had been lying after all. He checked up the hall and saw the flames advancing, quickly. He rushed down to his parents’ room and flung open the door.

The sight took his legs out from under him and he crumpled to his knees. There, in their bed, lay his parents, their throats sliced open and gaping. In their arms lay his Heana’s body. Her throat was also slit open, and on her face was a horrified, open eyed shriek. She had been awake when the bastard had killed her. Drebin’s eyes filled with tears, but they soon dried in the heat from the flames. He looked up the hall and the flames were all around him now. His only way out was through the window over his parents’ bed. He would have to climb over the bodies to get out. For a moment, he was tempted to just lay down with them and die, but then something inside him made him get up. He was moving towards the window before he realized it and was soon on the other side, burned patches of skin and glass cuts on others. He was running from the house as fast as he could as his past burned behind him. The only thing left were the clothes on his back and the sword in his hand. He had no idea where he would go, but he knew it had to be far from here.
---------------

He ended up in the town of Litram. He arrived with not even a copper to his name. He found a shop in the town that sold weapons and offered to sell them his sword. He needed the money for food, but the shop keepers merely laughed in his face, telling him what he had already guessed: the sword was worthless.

For two weeks, he lived on garbage and charity, but not much of either. No one wanted his sword and no one cared what became of him. One night, while he slept, three pick-pockets tried to steal the few coppers he had gathered together from what people gave him out of pity. He awoke and caught them, but only to be beaten to within an inch of his life. His sword had done him no good either. They had quickly disarmed him and kicked and battered him until he was unable to even move. They took every last copper on him, and his clothes, leaving only his undergarments, ripped and barely clinging to his waist. They left the sword.

When he awoke, he was barely able to move, but somehow he rose to his feet and wandered down an alley. He decided there and then that he would find an out of the way place and fall upon his sword. There was nothing left for him here.

He raised his sword and pushed the point against his sternum. As he closed his eyes, a small tear trickled out. He leaned forward.

A piercing scream brought him up short. It was nearby, around the next corner. He lowered his sword and stumbled towards the sound.

As he turned the corner, his eyes fell on the source of the scream.

“HEANA!”

He couldn’t believe his eyes. She was alive. But she was in danger. The men who had beaten him were now turning on her.

“No,” he bellowed and he raised his sword and rushed at them. The thieves turned and were stunned for a moment at the site of a nearly naked madman rushing at them with sword raised. The first of them lost his head before he could even draw a breath. The second was quicker to respond and rushed in, knife drawn. As the thief thrust a stab Drebin, the nearly naked defender moved aside and swung in a circle, arcing the blade around with him. It landed and was buried into the thief’s back. As the second thief dropped, Drebin pulled his sword free and stood facing the third, who had a crossbow leveled at the heart of the man who had just dispatched his accomplices.

“You should have stayed where we left you,” the brigand said, pulling the trigger.

Drebin side stepped enough that the bolt missed his chest, but pierced deeply into his arm. If he felt any pain, he showed no sign of it on his face, only rage as he rushed in and brought his sword down in an over head sing into the shoulder of the last opponent. It stopped an inch below his heart. As the thief fell, the sword, and any strength Drebin had left, fell with him.

Drebin turned to their victim and reached out a hand.

“Heana,” was the only word that passed his lips as he slipped into the darkness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It doesn’t seem like ten years, does it,” I asked Livy as we rode.

“Oh hush, Drebin,” she said back, a little blush forming. “Don’t give away my age. It might scare off the customers.”

“There’s no one around to hear us. We can talk freely, you know,” I said, grinning widely. It was a wonder though how I had lasted this long. After that night when I saved Livy from those thugs, she had taken pity on a poor, scrawny runt like me and hired me on as her personal body guard. It’s a strange life. Start out a pathetic yokel, and ten measly years later, end up as a pretty well off body guard with a bad eye and so many scars that you look like a patchwork quilt.

Still, besides that idiot with the bottle messing up my face and my eye along with it, it’s been pretty easy living. The occasional fight with rabid patrons, the occasional scuffle with sore losers at cards, and the other little annoyances are pretty fair trade. I get paid well. I have my freedom. I’m tied to no one, well, except Livy, but it’s not like we’re lovers or anything. She’s more like a bratty sister than anything. I could leave whenever and do whatever I want.

But why would I go anywhere? I’ve got everything I need here. Besides, she wouldn’t last a week without me.

“You know,” she said with a wry smile, “that makes you 25. You’re getting pretty old.”

I smiled and said, “And just think, in three years, you’ll be just as…”

“Hush,” she reprimanded. “You’re my guardian. You don’t get the privilege of making fun of me.”

“Since when,” I said, grinning again.

“Oh, just… hush.” And with that she trotted off ahead of me.

Yes, sir. Life is strange.

6 comments:

Degolar said...

Bravo!

Hadrian said...

I thought you might be going for barbarian there when he started the naked sword fighting.

Aerin said...

Sure hope that muscley-armed swordsman brings me some good news~

Yeah he sounded pretty barbarianish, you should totally change everything to barbarian!

ressespe: too drunk to type recipe

Aerin said...

So, as we've not seen a story from the missus yet, can I presume that Livy is her character, or is Drebin going to lock her in a closet and go wandering?

Aerin said...

Also, from a mechanical standpoint, are you going to take the shaky flaw to account for his lack of depth perception? (-2 on ranged attacks) Not sure if you'd already considered it, but it might be fitting.

Kenpachi Zaraki, that's what his description sort of reminds me of!

Lummox said...

I had taken it into account.
That and his balance checks due to his 7 inch wide penis.

Livy is Rachel's character.
Not sure when she will post the story, but basically, I am her body guard, she is a young girl trying to spread her wings (quiet Aerin) and I have to follow her to keep her safe. She's like a little sister to me (if you didn't catch that already) :D.