|01-16-2010, 02:15 AM||#1|
Maiden Desmodus - Short Story "Paragas"
(Continued from part 1 due to message size)
“Shhh!” Paragas hissed at me.
We’d taken cover in an old warehouse when the foreman’s attention was elsewhere. I could hear yelling outside – a mercenary guard, I figured, telling everyone that he’d found our horses ditched in the Market. Even terrified as I was at the thought that I’d be put up on the gallows if they caught me, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever see Copper again, or what they’d do to him. I was at the end of my rope with Paragas and his schemes.
“How are we going to get out of here, Paragas?”
“I know another way out of the city. Follow me!”
We waited at the warehouse door, hiding in the shadows there, until the sounds of the Black Down mercenaries faded away. When we were sure it was safe, we slipped out alongside a wagon pulling away from the workhouse across the street.
Our heads were kept down as we walked, and it wasn’t long before Paragas suddenly pulled me away from our escort and into a group of slaves working at repairing the city wall. The slaves stopped to watch us curiously as we moved through them to a crack hidden by the scaffolding.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“A way out!” Paragas glanced back to make sure we weren’t being followed, but behind us were only the slaves, now facing lashings for the delay we caused them. Paragas pushed me down into the hole. “Crawl, you fool.”
I squirmed through the crack quickly, my heart beating painfully in my chest. When I reached the other side I pulled myself out and found that I’d emerged at a place looking out upon fields of wheat and flax.
Turning around to see what was keeping Paragas, I was startled to see the air before me shimmer as the Rahist mage stepped out of a swirling vortex.
“You’re going to die a horribly painful death,” the mage threatened as he raised a bloody, trembling hand toward me.
I felt my body stiffen against my will. There was a great heat rising within my veins and my heart began to feel like a lump of hot coal burning within my chest. I opened my mouth to scream, my eyes squeezing shut against the building agony.
And then it was gone.
I opened my eyes and staggered back at the sight of Paragas’ dagger slicing clean across the mage’s throat. A curtain of blood ran down from the wound, staining the Rahist’s shirt crimson. Eyes wide with surprise looked at me pleadingly, but the cut was made, and the mage slipped quietly to the ground.
“Come on!” Paragas yelled as he turned to run alongside the city wall, making a point to keep in the shadows thrown by the rising sun. “We’ll jump the wagoner in the woods and hitch a ride to Kemble.”
“It’s cold,” Paragas complained, pulling his cloak tightly around him. “What the hell are we doing way out here?”
I crouched beside him as we caught our breath from the frantic flight. The chill was a welcome bite after my ordeal at the hands of the blood mage.
“I can’t go back to Johannasburg with the cabal after me,” I said. “And like you told me, the cabal will find me no matter what village I hide in.”
Paragas looked angry. “So we’re going to hide here on the tundra, freezing our eggs off? That’s your great plan?”
“No,” I said as I looked back across the barren landscape. I glanced to the south and focused for a moment on the distant treeline that marked the edge of Kemble. “I need to have powerful friends who can protect me. It’s time I joined a guild.”
Paragas let out another infectious smile and threw his hands wide, pulling me into a crushing hug. “Finally,” he yelled to the heavens, “My friend has seen the light!”
I smiled and took a flask of whiskey from my knapsack. “To a new life,” I toasted, handing the flask to Paragas.
He took a heavy draw and coughed. “Whew, that will warm a man up.” He laughed. “That’s good, where’d you get that?”
“Well, while you were busy robbing that peasant girl of her honour, I had a talk with that mercenary that we’d been following”
Paragas began to look a little pale. He handed the hardened leather flask back to me and I smelled the rim of it.
I continued, watching out of the corner of my eye as Paragas began to sweat heavily. “I told him about my gambling and the cabal back in Johannasburg. And he told me that I should keep my gold, and not pay them.”
A fit of coughing came from my friend. “He took me over and introduced me to a man named Ewyn, a member of your guild actually. I paid him the last of the gold I had on me for the whiskey. I forget what he said he’d put in it – digi… – diga…”
“Digitalis?” Paragas sputtered in rising panic before he fell over to his side and began thrashing around in a fit of painful spasms. He screamed horridly, but way out here in the tundra, nobody other than myself could hear him.
I watched calmly. “That’s right, digitalis. He assured me that it would kill you quickly.”
Paragas looked up at me through watery eyes, his mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. “Why?” He managed after some time.
“Because one dead Kneyan is as good as the next, as Argarath said. I need the head of a Kneyan to prove my worth to the Black Down.” I smiled. “I have indeed seen the light, my old friend, and I have enough people wanting me dead without you getting me into trouble everywhere we go over a skirt or a score.
“In a few minutes, Paragas, I’m going to cut your head off. Not only will I be able to pay off the cabal in Johannasburg with the bounty that the Rahists have no doubt put out for you for killing that mage, but I’ll be a part of one of the most feared guilds on The Isle. If I’m lucky, I might even have enough gold left over to get old Copper back.”
I grinned and looked down at Paragas who lay still and pale on the frozen earth.
Paragas was dead.
Last edited by Wade_Gustafson : 01-16-2010 at 04:03 AM. Reason: (formatting)
|01-16-2010, 02:22 AM||#2|
Re: Maiden Desmodus - Short Story "Paragas"
The following is a short story set in the world of "Maiden Desmodus" (www.maidendesmodus.com). The story relates to one of the many possible ways a player can earn their way into one of the guilds in the game. We revealed it on our website to open a contest for players to submit their own tales, art, etc. I thought that it might make an addition to this forum. I hope that you enjoy it.
Paragas was dead.
I looked down upon the once flawless face of my oldest friend, the man who had been like a brother to me for almost twenty years. The colour was gone from his face. Ice had begun to form upon his plump lips. A faint line of blood had frozen down the side of his jaw.
There would be no more long nights consoling him about the gold wasted trying to impress some lass who had no interest in bedding a rogue. There would be no more adventures into Johannasburg to refill our purses with gold pilfered from decadent city folk. No more daring escapes when those we had offended with our exploits came looking for us.
It was unlikely that Paragas and I had ever become friends in the first place. I the only son of a wealthy Thirian tailor who traveled freely between both kingdoms, and he the son of a Kneyan ruffian who had spent his life jailed in one kingdom or the other. Paragas was forced by circumstance to fend for himself at an early age, and as such it didn’t take long for him to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Fellowship of Shadows.
I had tried to talk him out of the guild on many occasions. “I’ll win enough gold betting on the jousts when we get back in Johannasburg for you to attend school and learn to be a physician,” I said. “Following this mercenary is only going to lead to trouble.”
Paragas smiled at me before tipping his tankard into his lips.
“Paragas,” I pleaded, “I have a bad feeling about this one. We’ve stolen enough, we should just head back to Johannasburg.”
I was about to say something more when Paragas turned away suddenly, showing his back to me. His attention had been stolen by a dame entering the tavern alone.
Several other drunkards had turned to watch her, but in truth she would only have been considered with half a glance in Johannasburg. Here in Tharn, I supposed, she was quite the find.
Paragas was the first to his feet and moving toward her. As a man who was both handsome and beguiling, no other challenger presented themselves, knowing full well that their grease and grime was no match for a charming confidence man with a pocket full of gold.
Within minutes, Paragas and the peasant girl were together at a table sharing drinks and laughter. Soon after, they left together.
“Your boy there is going to get himself into a heap of trouble.”
I spun around at the grainy voice over my shoulder and saw the mercenary we had followed hovering over me. His barrel-chest was so close to my face that I had to lean back against the bar on my elbows to look up at him.
“He’ll be through with her soon enough and she’ll be back looking for another rich suitor tomorrow. Your – friends there – should worry not at all,” I said.
The mercenary cocked his jaw and made a sound somewhere between a growl and a tone of acknowledgement. A minute later he was seated beside me at the ale-stained bar of the Drunken Bull.
“You look quite chipper for a man with a split lip and a black eye,” I said to Paragas as we saddled our horses the next morning. “Was she worth it?”
“Not really.” Paragas climbed onto his old roan mare. “In the end, she took me for half of my gold before she left and let her brother and three of the biggest Thirians I’ve ever seen into my room.”
I climbed up onto my saddle and spurred the gelding I’d dubbed “Copper”. “Well, at least the trip wasn’t a total loss. What did we haul, about four hundred gold, maybe five?” I asked.
Riding beside me down the street of Tharn, Paragas reigned in his mare. I stopped and looked back at him. There was a clutter of activity in the background as slaves carried stone away from a place where the Kneyan Blood Knights had nearly battered their way into the city a week before.
The look on Paragas’ face said it all.
He had taken a beating and paid for his life with our gold. I stared down at my saddle horn and took a deep breath to calm myself. “How much do you have left?”
“Nothing,” Paragas confided, “They got it all.”
I felt heat in my eyes as they welled up with tears mixed of anxiety, anger, and fear.
“Two weeks!” I raged. “I was given two weeks, Paragas, to settle my debt with the cabal in Johannasburg. I lost everything betting on the last tournament and now you’ve stolen my only chance. You’ve killed me! They’ll cut my fecking head off and put it up on a pike if I don’t have the gold for them when we go back to the city!”
“So we don’t go back,” Paragas said placidly, as if he had already given this a great deal of thought.
“And what?” I screamed. “Stay here? After I’ve…” I lowered my tone, “After I’ve helped you rob half the damn city!”
Paragas offered a shrug. “People come and go through here all the time, nobody is going to know it was us.”
“That mage saw both of us. If he hasn’t already given our descriptions to the sheriff he soon will.” I was furious, my hands shaking and white-knuckled on the reigns.
“We still have time.”
“Time for what?” I asked.
“That mercenary.” Paragas said.
I blinked. “No!”
“Why not?” He carries more gold on him than anyone else I’ve marked in this city. Hell, his ring alone is worth at least what you owe the cabal.” Paragas smiled at me as he continued. “We hit him now, while he’s probably still hung over. We hit him, and we ride out of here and don’t come back to Tharn for a good long while.”
“He’s too dangerous,” I said.
“You’re just scared, mate.”
I spent a moment seething. “I have a better idea.” Paragas smiled again with that infections grin that had made him a natural swindler. “We ride to Kemble.” I spurred Copper forward into a canter.
Paragas rode up beside me. “Kemble? You want to just hide from the cabal? They’ll find you in Kemble. The Isle isn’t big enough to hide from them.”
“I know,” I said.
“What are we going to Kemble for then? You’re not thinking of taking one of those creaky old boats and leaving The Isle all together are you?”
I shook my head and looked forward nervously as we drew near the city gate. We both stopped our horses simultaneously and froze. Black Down mercenaries were accosting people at the gate, throwing back hoods and studying faces.
“Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with us,” Paragas whispered.
The mercenaries waved a wagon through, and as the mule pulled it out of the way I caught sight of the Rahist mage we’d robbed the day before.
“****e!” Paragas said, turning his mare and galloping back the way we’d come.
Maybe if Paragas had kept his head we could have turned and rode back the way we came without drawing notice, but now it was too late. The mage saw Paragas charging away and began shouting and pointing my direction as the Black Down began calling for their horses.
I yanked hard on the reigns and spun Copper around, driving him forward down the road and sending people diving out of my way.
I braved a quick glance back at the mage. He held a knife in one hand and the other thrust up in the air. Blood was running down his arm.
(Continued in Part 2 due to message size)
Last edited by Wade_Gustafson : 01-16-2010 at 02:27 AM. Reason: (formatting)