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Chapter 4b
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:07 am    Post subject: Chapter 4b  

Hey peeps, finally got this up. A bit rough, but I was so happy to actually have a story i figured i'd just throw it up here.

I woke up with a horrible taste in my mouth and a headache worse than the one that had welcomed me into this strange world.

An old lady, wrinkled and small, was bent over me, pouring something into my mouth. She seemed surprised when I opened my eyes.

I sat up, spat whatever foul concoction was in my mouth onto the floor. Which just meant she went from surprised to angry. She pushed me back down with surprising strength for an octogenarian.

“Where am I?”

She didn’t answer, only tried to pour more of whatever that stuff was into my mouth while I was busy talking. After a bit of gagging, I tried again.

“Gertrude doesn’t talk.” I looked up to see the innkeeper, Corbie, standing in the doorway.

“What happened?” I asked, shielding my mouth with a hand. Corbie hesitated. Then he told me.

Apparently, DuskTreader had rode back into town with both our horses, me draped over the saddle of mine. She was in a hurry to find some help. Corbie had sent someone for the village doctor, stayed behind to do a bit of first-aid. Only he couldn’t find anything wrong.

Then some guy nicknamed Teepee, the village drunk, starts ranting and raving about plague and diseases and just won’t shut up.

So before anyone can hit him over the hit or something, DuskTreader takes him apart. Literally.

Needless to say, some people started getting ugly. Decided that they didn’t want no sorceress in their town. They ended up a whole bunch uglier.

So now DuskTreader and I owned this town, pretty much. DuskTreader wasn’t letting anybody out for anything, and supposedly had some kind of big magic around the town that told her when someone was leaving and where. It got a lot of use in the first couple hours, but then things quieted down when the rest saw what was left.

Although she did send some guys to clean up what was left of the bandits. They had come back green around the gills and looking a lot more scared of DuskTreader.

Luckily for me, everyone thought that DuskTreader had taken those bandits apart. Although Corbie was looking at me kinda suspiciously.

He hadn’t forgotten my story from before. He knew for sure now that it was a lie. I mean, I could keep up my whole clueless bodyguard spiel, but I doubted anyone would buy that. I mean, from what Corbie told me she was in a panic while I was unconscious.

I wonder if it was because if I died she was in deep shit with her master. Probably. But it was nice to think maybe she cared a bit too.

After he told me the story, Corbie gave me one last penetrating look, then left, taking the old woman with him. She hadn’t managed to pour any more of that potion down my throat and seemed to take it as a personal insult.

I sat back, digesting what had happened. A thought struck me, somewhat humorous. That idea I had been having, about taking a break in some village to figure things out. That had happened after all. And all it had taken was me being nearly killed.

And that brought my thoughts to what had happened. I remember most of it. At least I had found the ability that the Dark Lord had given me. Four extra arms, tough skin, and a killer instinct. Just what every guy really wants in life.

I didn’t want to think about it too much, so I didn’t. But I did spend some time brooding over my passing out. If that happened every time, I wouldn’t be much help. Like one of those Viking Berserkers or whatever, unstoppable, but only for a while.

To stop myself from thinking about it, I just went back to sleep. I’d always been good at napping in the weirdest times, and there might’ve been something in whatever that old lady was feeding me, because I hardly had to try.


“You want me to teach you how to use a sword?”

I nodded, pretending not to notice Corbie’s incredulous stare. Life had been boring the last week or so, stuck in this room. I needed to get some exercise.

I didn’t think this, except for maybe in some deep down hidden corner of my mind, but maybe I was also looking for an alternative to going into that animalistic state again.

“So, let me just get this straight. You’ve been carrying a sword down this road for god knows how long and you don’t know how to use it?”

I said nothing. Corbie gave me a look like he was wondering what use I really was in my partnership with DuskTreader.

On the subject of DuskTreader, I hadn’t seen her around lately. Maybe she was having to spend all of her time hunting down runners. Not that that would work very long. Dulca wasn’t to far from Ixia, and no travelers from this direction would start almost as many rumors as letting someone get through would.

Corbie shrugged. “Sure, why not? I got nothing better to do.”

He reached below the counter, got out a long slim sword. It was straight, though the blade widened towards the end, giving the edges a sinuous look. I shot a surprised glance at the broadsword hanging up behind his head.

He caught my glance, laughed. “I’ve never used that thing in my life. Bought it off a passing northman who needed some cash. Took three guys to get it up there, and we had to arrange a whole pulley arrangement. Nah, when I have to use a sword, I use this baby here.”

He brought the sword with scabbard out in front of the inn, in a little spot off the main square. I was already wearing the sword I had picked up from the soldier.

First thing first, he asked to see my blade. When he saw it, he gave an expletive of amazement.

“What?” If this was some sort of hidden legendary weapon, I didn’t know what I’d do. Probably get into a laughing fit and end around the time pigs started nesting in trees.

“I’m amazed any smith would make this piece of shit. Where’d you get this thing? Be thankful you never had to use it.”

It looked fine to me. And I said so. Corbie gave me a funny look.

“If you want to keep it fine. But if you want something besides cheap army crap, I’d check out Mather over near the market. He doesn’t do it often, but he’s made swords before. Even out of practice, he could probably make something better than this. And it’s not like he has any other things to do right now. Apparently, have his customers inexplicably turned up torn apart when they tried to leave. Just don’t tell him you’re with DuskTreader.”

He gave me a Look, hoping that I would elaborate a little more on our relationship, but didn’t seem too put out when I did not.

He handed me back my sword, stepped back a bit, started lecturing. “There are two kinds of swordfighting. Fencing, and street swordsmanship. While they pursue different philosophies, they both work on the same general theory. The purpose of swordfighting is to be good at putting sharp metal objects where your opponent really doesn’t want them to be.

“Fencing is all about memorizing a series of moves. If your opponent does this, you do that. It’s all about training the muscles so you don’t have to think too much, so that your body reacts automatically against everything. That’ll take to long to teach you, and I was never very good at it anyways. Street Swordsmanship is when you know a bunch of basic things like the weak spots in armor and the way to hold a sword and you flail around ‘til they fall down or until you do. While this sounds simple, there’s a lot more skill in it than you’d think. And it’s a lot more use when you aren’t in a duel, or when someone pulls a trick you haven’t seen before. It’s usually good to have some balance between the two methods.

“First things first, let’s see you hold your weap-“

He was interrupted by a young man dashing up, wearing a sword and what looked like some kind of badge. He whispered in Corbie’s ear, something that made Corbie’s eyes go big.

“Get some of the boys here.” The young man went dashing off again. Corbie looked up at me. “Looks like I’ll have to take a rain check. Some stranger’s coming in, and the watch doesn’t like the look of him. So as head, I should be there.”

“Well, could I tag along? I’ve been bored out of my mind just lying in my room.”

He shrugged. “Sure.” Four men joined us, all armed, one of them the same man that had dashed up to us.

We jogged down one of the streets, until we got to the minor square that opens up straight from the City Gate, the gate from which all Ixian traffic comes. It was totally empty, as if people had been purposely getting out of the way for what looked like a confrontation.

The only other person in the square was a cloaked man on a horse.

The six of us spread out some, clearly blocking the way of the cloaked man. Corbie stood in front, hand on the hilt of his sword.

“Hello ser. Can I ask why you come to our fair village?”

The cloak man didn’t say anything, just keeps going with his horse. Corbie frowns, gestures. Two of the men go forward, stop the horse by grabbing the reins.

What happens next is completely unexpected.

The Cloaked Man somersaulted backwards off his horse, jumping forward immediately after his feet hit the ground. The man he attacked was lucky; he managed to stumble backwards with only a shallow cut on his face. The unsheathing of swords filled the square with the sound of sliding steel; I unsheathed my weapon as well, just to keep the others company.

The other two men stepped forward, now in a semicircle around the cloaked man, Corbie still behind.

There is a sliding sound from the cloaked figure and wrist-blades appear, half hidden by his sleeves..

Corbie snorts. “Wrist-Knives- the idiot’s weapon. No real fighter uses them. The only thing that can be said to be good is that it’s hard to cut yourself with them.”

The cloaked figure seems to hear him. He raises his arms so that the blades point at the men. Then he slaps his wrists together.

The points of the blades whizz out. One crossbow bolt finds the eye of the already bleeding man, the other finds the throat of another. They both go down instantly.

The other two don’t last much longer. The one to the assassin’s right swings his sword, only to have it caught in the groove of the disguised crossbow; even though the blade is there simply to hide the miniature weapon, it is still steel. A twist, and the sword jumps out of his hands, to be slammed down by the fighter’s other hand into the man’s foot. He screams in pain, only to be silenced with an elbow to the throat. The second man stands shocked, then tries to engage the man in one-on-one combat. He has no more luck than his friend. A few dodged swipes, then a throwing knife makes a flower of blood blossom from his chest, and he falls to the ground.

The figure retrieves his dagger, returns it to a sheath hidden in the folds of his cloak.

“You didn’t have to kill them.”

The figure speaks for the first time, his voice curiously scratchy and quiet. “You didn’t have to try and capture me.”

What the hell is going on here?
Corbie frowns. “I wasn’t sure it was you at first, and after I made such a show of bringing in reinforcements, I couldn’t exactly embrace you like a long-lost brother, could I?”

The Cloaked man doesn’t much seem to care, he shrugs and looks at me. A hand disappears underneath his robes. Corbie catches the moment, says in a warning tone.

“This is that new ShadowSworn. DuskTreader has been distracted. Let’s haul ass.”

The cloaked figure nodded. “Something more you need to know. The Illusionist has been spotted coming down this road. She’ll be here soon.”

Corbie looked startled.

“What the hell is going on here?” I finally verbalized my bewilderment.

Corbie hesitated, then said, “Raul Nightslayer and I are both members of the Crimson Vine. Our leader wants to talk to you.” He saw my still-bewildered look. “The Crimson Vine? The Resistance?”

So now there’s a third side to this war? Who exactly are the good guys?

Raul Nightslayer growled, “I told you, we’ve got maybe minutes before the Illusionist gets here. We have to be out now!”

“Who’s the Illusionist?”

Raul Nightslayer looked at me like I was crazy, snarled at Corbie, “You sure this is the new ShadowSworn?”


“The Illusionist is the first of the Amaranth’s Generals. She doesn’t leave the capital except for the most tough assignments, but apparently she’s coming here.”

My heart leapt. If this Illusionist was coming for me, then I would be getting into the Amaranth’s court much faster! Then it occurred to me that maybe the Illusionist was here to kill me.

“Let’s get out of here; she should be almost to the town by now.”

Corbie growled right back, “If we leave with her right behind us, she’ll find our hideout. I’ll stay behind and hold her off. I could buy you some time.”

Raul gave a chuckle. “You wouldn’t last three seconds against her. I’ll stay. I can catch up with you two later.”

“Like I’ll be leaving you behind with one of Her people.”

Raul stiffened. “What is that supposed to mean?”

I ignored the catfighting, weighed my chances. If I stayed and waited for the Illusionist, I might get nearer the Amaranth sooner. But she might also be here to kill me. I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to defend myself yet. And I still didn’t understand what everyone was saying about the Amaranth not believing prophecy enough to actively go against it; that just sounded stupid to me. On the other hand, if I went with this Crimson Vine people, I’d be getting farther away from my goal. Which was not good. I knew nothing about this resistance or whatever. In my movie, there’d been only two sides. Well, three, but two of them had been on the same side. No one I could see so far was on the same side.

And there we are. The DP, whether to go with the Illusionist or with Corbie and Raul to find out more about this Crimson Vine. And, if going with Corbie and Raul, who to leave behind? Or do we not leave anyone behind at all?
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Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:17 am    Post subject:  

Things we're supposed to be much more restful in this quaint little village, and what'd you do? Stumble into the middle of some resistance. *facepalm*

Well this Corbie fellow hasn't killed you yet so go with him to the Crimson Vine. Leave Raul behind to entertain the Illusionist.

Sounds like at some point you need to find your "stunt double" somewhere. Someone that looks enough like you to pass off as you. Everyone already appears to know who you are (despite the fact that they can't actually believe you're the new ShadowSworn) so someone that looks like you, but knows how a ShadowSworn should behave, could definately come in handy at some point I'm sure.
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:30 pm    Post subject:  

sorry bout that fauna. I was having some inspirational troubles following the course you suggested, so i changed it a bit.

A stunt double huh? That could be managed. Perhaps DuskTreader can do magical plastic surgery.
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:38 pm    Post subject:  

I'd put up a poll around now, but i have only one suggestion. That makes me sad. :-(

I'll give it another week or so, then i may just start writing using Fauna's suggestion.
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Lady of the Shadows

Joined: 06 Mar 2009
Posts: 67
Location: In the Valley of Shadows...Not such a bad place to be.

Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:52 am    Post subject:  

hey DeadMan
i reckon that the Hunted should stay behind and wait for the Illusionist. It may be his chance to get to Amaranth. If the Illusionist really is here to kill him, then it may be a chance to get to know his powers more. Also, didnt you say in one of the earlier chapters that Amaranth wouild try to prove she wasnt afraid of destiny? This may also be her move to show her defiance - to take him straight to her?
Just a few suggestions....
:clap: great job so far!!!
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:23 pm    Post subject:  

Eh screw it. I'm just gonna put up a poll. With the entire two options i've got. (I'm not putting in "Find a double" because i like the idea so much i may just incorporate it any way this poll goes. Also, it's not quite a decision that Metzger will make right now.)

EDIT: This one poll is my attempt to have two decisions at once, all the going with the rebel variations will be added together vs. the Going with the Illusionist option.
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:28 pm    Post subject:  

Two votes? Are those all the readers i have? Come on people!

And thank you two lovely ladies for voting already.
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:10 pm    Post subject:  

Eh screw it. I'm gonna close this while there's a winning option.

Leave or stay?
Stay and wait for the Illusionist; she may take you to the Amaranth and shorten your quest.

50% [ 2 ]
Go with the Rebels. You might learn more about this world. (leave Raul behind to hold Illusionist off)

25% [ 1 ]
Author's option

25% [ 1 ]
Whoops. Here's another option. Go with the rebels and leave Corbie behind to hold off the illusionist.

0% [ 0 ]
And yet another option i thought of. Make them both come with you, they obviously don't trust one another to stay behind.

0% [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 4
Who Voted: Crunchyfrog, DeadManWalking, Lady of the Shadows, Phantomfan

so we're going with the Rebels.
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lovely tunic

Joined: 11 Apr 2009
Posts: 5

Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:24 pm    Post subject:  

nice story dmw interesting but i dont get what the poll was for?
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