Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 03

January 4, 2010

Reposted.

Links…

Chapter Three: The Return

Where Some Reconnaissance Goes

Bad and Brothers Are Reunited…

with little concern, the guards dragged what they believed was a Ranger through the dark and dank halls of the prison to the interrogation room. The prisoner had been disarmed and left nothing except for the tattered clothes that he wore. Blood stained his tan tunic and matted his brown hair. His bare feet were cut, calloused, and bleeding as they dragged him from the torture chamber.

This injustice you’re committing here will not be permitted to stand,” the prisoner said weakly. Even beaten, his face showed some level of pride, defiance and mockery. At the same time, it gave off a shiftless and bemused look. “I have committed no crime and shall not stand to be executed without due process. I want a blasted lawyer.”

Are you for real?” the guard asked. “Do you think due process matters right now? You and your Order have threatened the life of the High King. This is our duty.”

The prisoner smiled thinly to himself.

Zev was right, he thought. I said the word “Ranger” in the tavern and these guys came running. They were waiting for us to get here. Phase One is complete. Guess we’re almost set for Phase Two.

They reached a dark door at the end of the hall. Opening it, they tossed the prisoner inside without ceremony and closed the door. Struggling to his feet, the young man examined himself and the situation before him. Feeling his ribcage, he found nothing broken or severely damaged enough to hamper him too much in what came next. Surveying the room, he seemed to be alone and trapped in the dark room, with only a chair and a small cot. He glanced over the chair to make sure it was not a trap, and sat down. The small room stank of blood and urine as he balanced his energies and narrowed his focus for the task at hand. He slowed his breath as he planned out his escape, checking his feet to make sure they were not too badly hurt.

Nothing too difficult from the looks of it, he thought. Feet don’t look too bad either. Some good luck there. Can still walk well enough, although not quickly. Will have to compensate for that somehow. Door didn’t even look that strong when they tossed me in here. Probably just need to—

Hello Ranger.”

The prisoner looked around the room for the speaker and saw nobody with him. The voice was a growling hiss that almost scared him. He had a suspicion about who it was and did not want to confirm it.

Look up,” it instructed. The prisoner turned his head up and saw, clinging to the ceiling, a dark mass that stared down on him with glowing red eyes.

It is you,” the prisoner said. He gulped as the suspicion was confirmed. He could not make out the shape of the speaker in the darkness, but knew exactly who and what it was. “I assume you recognize me, I’ll be terribly disappointed if you don’t. I was there when they unearthed you. I saw as you slaughtered the men and goblins that freed you. Gruesome. Nobody I will miss, but still quite gruesome to watch. If you thought I was Zev, you’re wrong. In some ways I always wished I was, but I’m not. I’m not even a Ranger. Couldn’t pass the tests, attention span isn’t that long and I’m extremely impatient. Just a common thief who keeps ending up in crazy situations like this. Sorry if that disappoints you. Usually disappoints the ladies. My name is Fenway.”

I will spare your life if you give me the one you call Zev,” it said.

Can’t really give you to him,” Fenway said. “He doesn’t really belong to anybody and probably never will. I think he’ll be along soon enough anyway. When I don’t report back, he’ll probably come running and ready to fight. And he’ll likely have figured out how to kill you.” He leaned back in the chair and got comfortable, putting his hand behind his head. “If you’re going to kill me, get it over with. I don’t like waiting.”

puup

Cyrus, a general in the Knights of Duramar, watched as the guards escorted the prisoner from the cell. The giant goblin regarded him grimly as Fenway passed through the hall to an empty cell, towering over the humans. With leathery olive skin and pointed ears, he regarded the general sourly.

You did not have to beat him before delivering him to me,” the goblin said. With a low register and blocky yellow teeth, he looked less intelligent than he actually was. “His rambling got me angry enough to use some excessive force with him. He’s one I did not read correctly. It is quite remarkable that he still lives.”

His ‘rambling’ put my men on edge,” Cyrus replied without concern. With slicked back hair and a thin mustache, he looked devious and cunning—more so than he actually was, but still someway clever. “A bit of stress release seemed… necessary.”

Doesn’t really matter. I learned little from him today. I may yet learn something of note later. He was indeed one of those that I was concerned about. I took his hand before he admitted all that I wanted to know. It tasted less appealing than I expected it to. He was made of sterner stuff than I expected. Still led me to believe the one I want will be here soon.”

Cyrus nodded grimly as he considered.

It would be best if we caught an actual Ranger soon,” he said. “The High King is beginning to grow suspicious of the whole affair.”

Do not concern yourself with the whelp,” the goblin replied. “My armies march even now, set to arrive in Terran very soon. They will be here in due time.”

puup

A Ranger came to Aven on a hot summer evening, likely the hottest in centuries for the people of Aven. Summers tended to be fairly cool in the region, while the winters were mild. Such stretches of heat were rarely known to Aven. Not unheard of, but very rare. The town’s people were going about their work in a dull and sad manner, still in the grips of a general depression that had spread through the populace following the death of the High King a month earlier. Most of knowledge were confident that once Sydney established himself in the same regard as his father the economy would pick up. That soothed many minds as they toiled.

The Ranger walked through the crowded stone streets, casually observing the various details about the area around him. Concealed beneath a heavy cloak, most did not bother him out of reverence for his strange and foreboding appearance as he passed the crowded stalls of the market place in the street. Like all Rangers, he remained committed to what they referred to as “the Quest”. He had been searching for seven years, never truly knowing what it was he was looking for. In his travels he learned a variety of skills and arts that made him formidable in a variety of fields, lethal or merciful depending on the situation before him.

He had been born in Aven, living there with his family until he was thirteen. That was when the Ranger known as Herb came and took him from his family to follow his destiny as a Ranger. He had not been home since and had honestly felt little care to do so.

The Rangers are a group of people who go about randomly, searching for answers hidden among the many lands of Terran. They are never truly sure what questions they are trying to answer, or what the answer will be when they find it, they are merely trying to learn, for that is part of their quest as well.

The Order of the Rangers formed in the Age of the Magnus Draco, when the Dragons ruled the Earth and mankind lived in fear. They were searchers, trying to find any method to free the world of the scourge of the Dragons. But they did not know what it was that they were seeking, merely calling their meandering search “the Quest” and took a general interest in everything they came across. They wandered the world in search of enlightenment, hoping to be lucky and receive that which they searched. It was necessarily an aimless wander that brought the Ranger back to the city of Aven, but it was not of his choosing.

He stopped in the street, looking at the four pointed towers belonging to the Palace of Heritage. The white stone reflected the light around, making the city look almost mythic and bathed in sunlight as he regarded them.

It’s been fifteen hundred years since the founding of Aven, he thought. From the moment they slew the last dragon to today, it’s been the pinnacle of civilization in Terran. And now it’s about to come crashing down because I made a stupid mistake. I’m sorry Vera. I don’t regret helping you, but the cost just might be too much.

The town was settling down for the evening as he entered the local tavern, concealed beneath the dark hood of his gray cloak. His caked boots gave little indication of who he was, although he knew many men who could tell exactly where he had been based on the mud on his boots. He looked around at the patrons of the tavern, who were quietly conversing over drinks, discussing the issues of the day that haunted them. They gave him little heed as he moved deeper inside.

The Ranger sat down at the bar and waited for the barkeeper to come over. The barkeeper was a middle-aged man named Hans, who had gained fame throughout the lands as a brewer for his ales, wines and beers. He was a plump little man with thin a thin layer of gray hair. He wore a gray apron over his green clothes. He eyed the stranger jovially, not suspecting or caring for his nature.

How goes it?” the Ranger asked. He spoke with a calm tone, a smooth voice that would appeal to most anyone. In all of its appeal though, it was forgettable.

Could be better,” Hans said. “The city is settling down after the High King’s death, and Sydney is beginning to get the hang of being the High King. Business couldn’t be better though. Nothing like a depression to revive the flailing tavern and brewery industry, wouldn’t you agree?”

The Ranger nodded.

Usually works that way,” he observed. “How are the people taking to King Sydney?”

They know he is young, and I believe they forgive some of his mistakes,” Hans said. “They love him, yet they have their doubts. To be expected, I suppose”

That’s understandable. Can I get a beer?”

Sure. Any particular blend you’d prefer?”

You’re the expert. Whatever you think is best.”

Hans went and filled a mug to the brim with beer, choosing what all considered his finest brew. It was the special one that had earned him great renown throughout Terran, with a myriad of secret ingredients that no one knew. He brought it back to the stranger. The Ranger had tossed back his hood, revealed his long black hair and thinly bearded face. He had green eyes that scared Hans at first, but he quickly got used to them. They were tired and pain-filled, betraying some event that haunted the Ranger. He could see the dark green that made up the tunic beneath the cloak.

As the Ranger paid, Hans notice that he wore the ‘Ring of Zemo’. In legends, Zemo was a hero of old, one of the warriors who fought in the final battle to defeat Magnus Draco. After the Great Wars, Zemo had continued wandering, dying one day while saving a village in the south. Some say he learned a great secret that day, but never lived to tell anybody about it. He was often called the greatest Ranger that ever lived, and few ever refuted that.

Hans did not want any trouble in his tavern, so he went to ask the stranger to leave.

Stranger,” he said. He cleared his throat. “I suggest you leave immediately. I do not know if you are a Ranger or not—and it does not matter to me—but the High King has ordered that any Ranger found within the city limits is to be reported and they will promptly be executed.”

You saying I should leave?” the Ranger asked.

I am legally required to report you and I have no desire to cross that line,” Hans said nervously. “I don’t want any trouble Ranger. But I do have my dignity and honor as a barkeeper to think about. Finish your beer. I would not turn you in before you received that courtesy.”

You’re a good barkeeper,” the Ranger said. “One the best according to the tales I hear around Terran. I won’t cause you any trouble today. I can’t say the same for those three guys that just walked in though.”

Hans looked up and saw three Knights of Duramar walking into the tavern. He briefly wondered how the Ranger had seen them enter without turning. Turning slightly, he remembered the mirror above the bar and sighed at the relief of the powers at work not being too supernatural.

The Knights entered slowly, instantly establishing a presence in the room. Hans knew all three of them well. The first was Patracolus, the youngest captain in the Knighthood, who was being groomed for a general ship with Lothgar and would begin serving the training span for that soon. He was well known among the people and had become an idol for many of the boys in the city, as well as a romantic interest for a variety of young women—a traditionally handsome fellow with black hair and solid features.

To Patracolus’s right was Galic, an old captain, who had been with the Knighthood for the last thirty years. It was believed that he had been passed over for generalship many times due to his views, but he seemed content as a captain. Despite his age and gray hair, he still looked fit and strong.

The one to young captain’s left was Viktor, a young man who had just barely joined the Knighthood and was assigned to serve with the two captains as part of his training. He had been assigned to these two primarily because Galic was his uncle, sharing many features in common with his older relative. They all wore their red and black uniforms trimmed with gold and had their hair cut short in an identical fashion. Their swords flapped against their sides as they sat down.

They sat down the bar and waited to be served. The barmaid winked at Viktor as she went to retrieve some food. Hans looked at the Ranger. He had flipped his hood back over his head and turned away from the Knights.

Do what you must,” the Ranger said softly. “Tell them if you feel you should. If the Knights wish to deal with me, then I’ll deal with them.”

Hans nodded as he moved down to the Knights.

Good evening gentlemen,” he said. “What can I do for you this good evening?” The Ranger smiled as he watched Hans’ nervousness.

Beer,” Patracolus said. “Hear about any Rangers today?”

Hans froze as he poured the beer, nearly spilling it. He leaned in close to Patracolus.

The man in the hood,” Hans said. “The one sitting at the end of the bar. He wears the Ring of Zemo and just arrived in town. Don’t recognize him either.”

The three Knights stood, drawing their swords and turning to face the stranger.

Ranger,” Patracolus said. “You have entered the Kingdom of Aven against the orders of High King Sydney. That is an offense is punishable by death. Surrender now and it will be quick and painless.”

The Ranger finished his beer and stood. He looked steadfast and mysterious as he squared himself across from the knights. “You never could scare me little brother,” he said. “Don’t try to now.”

Patracolus looked closer, the voice sounded familiar but he could not be sure. “Zev,” he said.

It’s been a long time Patty,” Zev replied.

Hans spoke up now. “Could you please take this outside?” he asked. “I don’t really want people dying in my tavern.”

Consider yourself honored that justice is being performed in your establishment,” Viktor retorted.

The scene played out slowly. Zev goaded his opponents on, getting to make the first strike. Viktor and Galic advanced on him, but Patracolus stayed where he stood.

Zev looked at the two Knights as they approached with their swords held ready.

I don’t want to kill either of you,” he said. He did not make a move for the sword at his hip as they moved closer. “I do not kill needlessly, but if I have to, I will.”

If you plan to kill us then you should draw your sword,” Viktor said.

That’s silly,” the Ranger replied. “Why use a weapon when it isn’t needed?”

Viktor charged. In a motion that seemed incredibly fast, Zev threw the young knight to the side and kicked him into the wall. Plaster fell from the ceiling onto Viktor. Zev tossed a small pouch onto the bar.

“Sorry about the mess,” he said.

Zev turned to Galic and glanced at Patracolus. His brother still had not moved and Galic stood closer now. Looking at the knight, Zev knew the older knight would not fall for trickery.

Surrender Ranger,” Galic said. “There will soon be a dozen more Knights here and you won’t stand a chance.”

He will,” Patracolus said. He moved up and struck Galic in the back of the head with the butt of his sword. Galic fell to the ground. The bar was silent as the two brothers regarded each other. Patracolus held his sword at Zev. “Well, what are you doing here?”

“The Council wants to know why Rangers are getting killed in Aven,” Zev replied. “The edicts set forth by Sydney are a foolish insult to every one of us. They’re really worried about it, so they sent me here.”

“The Guardians of Sorcery said that a Ranger was going to kill the High King,” Patracolus said. “The High King then ordered that all Rangers be forbidden from coming here. If they do, we are to kill them immediately. That’s about all that I’ve been told.”

“That seems quite odd,” Zev said. “Fitting of a pattern, but still quite odd.” He looked down at Galic’s unconscious form. “What about you? Haven’t you just forfeited yourself here?”

“Yeah, I think I have. Follow me, there’s a back door out of here.”

Patracolus turned and went to the doorway leading to the back rooms of the tavern. Zev followed his brother. They passed through a couple of storerooms and were outside.

Hans opened the pouch and found fifteen rare jewels. While he did little with such things he knew there was enough there to build another tavern.

“Where do you think we should we go?” Patracolus asked eagerly. They bounded through the west gate towards the trees, running at full speed.

“The Deep Woods should be safe for now,” Zev said. “We were always able to disappear there, Patty. It should be safe for us to go there. Probably the Glade would be the best idea.”

Patracolus nodded as they ran into the forest.

The city of Aven was surrounded on three sides by forests, the southern side opening out into an extensive plain of fields and farmlands. To the North were the remains of Tyrant, the capital in the time before the Magnus Draco. It had been destroyed when the League of Vengeance sacked the city, slaughtering Tyrant’s army. A century later, when the Magnus Draco was defeated, people returned to the city to rebuild—claiming the area in an attempt to redeem the lands.

Beyond the remains of Tyrant was the Deep Woods. The Deep Woods were an area of forest where the trees were tall and thick, completely blocking out the sun in places. Few ventured there, believing that a great many evil spirits called the forest home. The few clearings that people actually ventured to had a variety of names, and the one that the two brothers were going for was called the Neoankh, meaning in an ancient and nearly forgotten, “Place of New Life.” Patracolus and Zev had played there as children and knew that area was ideal for hiding from any pursuers.

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One Response to “Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 03”

  1. ahelmic6 said

    Yay! Excitement. Such similar names though. Haha

    ~~~~~
    I will spare your life is you give me Zev,

    towarding over the humans.

    “His ‘rambling’ put my men were on edge

    Like all Rangers, he remained committed to they referred to as “the Quest”.

    He was plump man with thin a thin layer of gray hair

    among the people was an idol for many

    Their swards flapped against their sides as they sat down.

    “There soon be a dozen more Knights here and you won’t stand a chance.”

    Patracolus turned went to the doorway leading to the back rooms of the tavern

    They bounded through the west gate towards the threes.

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