Author: Shang PM
In the world of magic and technology, fate choose a person, who's supposed to save the world from unspeakable evil. However, can a boy, who doesn't believe in fate, follow his destiny? And if yes, is he strong enough to fulfill it? Please R&RRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Chapters: 10 - Words: 36,738 - Reviews: 118 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 12-17-11 - Published: 08-30-07 - id: 2409290
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
And here's part III of the Christmas update. To be honest this chapter turned out to be quite easy to write, despite being finished next to last. Seems that Final Magic has become easier to write lately. But, unlike the previous chappie, I'm actually quite satisfied in how this one turned out. It's generally how I pictured it to be, so I can't complain and it does set the stage for a new arc. Those of you, who hoped to hear the rest of Barrick's story need not to worry (rhyme was not intended :D) – it will be completed at a later time. For now I just gave you what was need to understand the ecomancer's upcoming decisions.
With this, I believe the only thing left to do is thanking those who decided to review the previous installment and inviting everyone to the newest one. Hope you'll find it worth while. Enjoy:
Chapter #10: Small Time Crooks
Title Page: Milia is trapped in a tower and from boredom she observes a strange bird, that floats just outside it
"Looks like a spy" stated an elf as he held a cloaked figure by the throat. The pointy-eared man's expression remained indifferent as he scanned the captive with his green eyes, ignoring the fact that the latter was choking. The elf's attire consisted of a sleeveless, green top and fuzzy, shoulder protectors, each decorated with sharp bones growing upwards. His pants were black, covered by a leg guard on the sides, which in turns were covered in fur as well, while a necklace made of fangs hung in its rightful place. There was also a tattoo of a black dragon visible on his left bicep: "Shadow Society, no doubt..."
"Possibly" replied a man of brown skin and violet eyes as he stared into the distance, not interested in the predicament. Unlike his blond partner, he wore his medium-length, black hair in dreadlocks, while his chest was hidden beneath a black t-shirt. The man's right arm was wrapped by a skeleton of a snake, while his left shoulder wore a skull of a jackal. His legs, from the knee down, were protected by bone guards as well and one could also spot a massive sword with the handle made out of calcium parts tied to his back. A small tattoo of a dragon on his left cheek and a trio of triangular earrings in the right ear completed the look. "It'd only be logical they wish to learn of our actions."
"Those idiots" the elf spat, glancing at the mansion he and his partner were heading. "Allowing a spy to walk around. Wasn't Jonneth supposed to send his minions on guard duty?" he asked rhetorically and then once more shifted his attention to his prisoner. "What should we do with this one?"
"Kill him" the blackman responded immediately, marching forward. "Though make this quick; Sandro's already here, so it'll start soon. Wouldn't be good if we were the last to arrive" he announced, making his pointy-eared companion smile wickedly, while his grip on the captive's throat tightened...
-Back to Hafford-
"Well, I suppose that's fair" announced Milia as she devoured another bowl of noodles. "We really don't have any business in Hafford to begin with. We're heading to Siracol after all" she added, grabbing her fifth plate. At this Barrick merely sweat dropped, observing the scene, before he responded: "It's not like I mind, but it seems much unlike you to just move forward..."
"Whatever the trouble this town has, I'm sure the military can handle" the young priestess replied mindfully. "Besides, Rogwood often claimed that our mission was more important than a single city" she proclaimed, flipping her bowl upside down.
The ecomancer remained silent at this, yet narrowed his eyes slightly: You may say that, but the thing is, this is eating you up inside... as uncanny as that metaphor is in this, particular situation he thought to himself, realizing the irony. Granted, I don't feel like getting involve in the first place he admitted and then glanced back to the girl as a memory of the dream returned: "Well, if you say so... it can't hurt to stop by the Government base to learn what the deal is, simply to avoid trouble if nothing else. We may be leaving, but that doesn't mean we won't get involved even as we exit the town."
Hearing that, Milia froze and gave her companion a shocked expression, making Barrick take one as well. The priestess then smiled slightly under her nose and finished up her second-to-last last bowl, taking a breather: "You're the bodyguard, so I guess you know best" she stated, not fooled by the act at all.
But at that moment, both of them turned towards the kitchen, where a sudden ruckus drew everyone's attention. As their eyes caught the source of commotion, they noticed a chef throwing out a small, humanoid figure, wrapped in a black cloak. Upon closer inspection, Barrick narrowed his eyes, realizing who the mysterious creature was; yellow skin with the jaw and nose ejected out front, bat-like ears and tiny, brown eyes. The overall, skinny body left no more doubt, should previously there was any, that the figure was a goblin.
"Get out of here, you filthy parasite" the chef yelled as the small humanoid looked at him sadly. "There's nothing for the likes of you here" he announced coldly.
"I already told you I have money" the goblin replied weakly.
"Doesn't matter. Your kind is not welcomed here!" was all he heard as the man spun on his foot, turning his back towards the yellow-skinned. The cloaked figure lowered his head at his gazing at the ground, yet a moment later he raised it again, noticing a bowl being placed right next to him.
He stared at Milia, who now stood besides him, smiling warmly as she retreated her hand, leaving the meal: "Seems to me you're quite hungry. It's not much, but I'd figure this is better then nothing" she proclaimed gently and after throwing her a suspicious glance, the goblin grabbed the offering, starting to eat.
A while later, the two were sitting at the edge of a fountain, with Barrick joining them, his arms crossed as he did so: "So your name is Kalt?" the priestess asked politely, receiving a nod from the tiny humanoid. "That's... an unusual name for some of your kind, is it not?"
"Well, it's short and simple" replied the goblin quietly.
"No, I meant..." Milia, carefully choosing her words. "I meant that it's the name from the ancient text, isn't it? I recall a tale of a boy by that name, who constantly tried to reach the gates of the Golden City by climbing Mount Olimpus, but regardless to how far he got, the stairs just wouldn't end. He journeyed for weeks, which turned into months and yet there still was no end. Finally, he gave up and decided to head back, never realizing, he emerged victorious from the quest."
"My foster mother gave me that name" Kalt explained with a sad expression, but as the priestess waited to hear more, there was none. Finally she shifted her attention to the sky and spoke up again, once more cheerfully: "Well, what's in a name anyway? It's our actions that define who we are."
"If that is the case, then I'm afraid I have nothing to be proud of either" the goblin announced quietly, making Milia barely hear him. Again she gave his a curious gaze, yet in stead of elaborating, the humanoid asked a question himself: "Have you ever heard of Unity Temple?"
The name itself made the girl widen her eyes as she answered with a slightly shaky voice: "Of course I did... it's a place of legends, as old as the world itself. It's a structure filled with wonders..."
"It's much more than that" Kalt interrupted excitedly with a little sparkle in his eye. "According to legends, it was build before the world was divided! Before the World Government was established! Before the four continents split from the Mainland! And it was supposed to be built by the combined effort of all the races living on this land; humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, dryads... all of them had their input in the marvel of the temple! A place where everyone's welcomed, regardless to their heritage" he added, lowering his head.
"Yes" Milia nodded, smiling again. "Truly a unique place. However it is just a legend."
"Maybe" the small humanoid responded thoughtfully. "But various, historical scrolls mention it, like it really existed... or exists. These notes are never very specific as to the actual location of the Temple, yet most contain similar information concerning certain details regarding it... including a way to enter the place..."
"Enter?" the priestess repeated curiously.
"Preciously! According to those scrolls, if the Temple still stands, it is sealed off by powerful, elven magic. However there is a way to pass through the barrier, if one can meet certain... requirements" he announced eagerly, but at this point his enthusiasm died down instantly, making the goblin take his usual, sulking pose.
"You seem to know a lot of the Unity Temple, Kalt" the girl noted with a serious tone.
"Yeah" the yellowish humanoid nodded slowly. "I suppose I do..."
"Any, particular reason you're this interested in a legend?"
"Well..." the goblin began, yet his voice broke a moment later as he avoided eye contact.
"Come on" Milia insisted with a gentle smile. "You can tell us" she proclaimed.
"Well..." Kalt began again, playing with his fingers. "It's just that... I..." he froze again as his lips trembled. He gaze at the girl nervous and seeing her reassuring smile, he swallowed his saliva quietly, before announcing: "I always dreamt of finding that place!" he yelled, louder then he wanted to.
In a flash he covered his mouth, realizing what he has done, giving the priestess a worried look. To his surprise however, her shocked expression was quickly once more replaced with a warm smile, as she replied: "That's quite a dream. Certainly it takes a lot of courage to chase after a goal like that."
"I... wouldn't know about that" Kalt responded miserably, looking away.
"Of course it is" Milia assured his excitedly. "Such a grand dream that to most seem like chasing a myth... only someone of great resolve could follow through!"
"That's why I said I wouldn't know" the yellowish humanoid interrupted, his face falling. "Because I gave up on that dream long ago..."
"Huh? Why would you do that?"
"I've search for any clues to the Temple's locations for years" the goblin answered slowly. "Or anything that could help me get inside, should I happen to stumble upon it... you wouldn't believe what I've done... just to get closer to that dream... and yet, all that searching... and I have nothing to show for it. Except for those texts I mentioned, there's no indication that the Temple is anything but as you called it: myth. At some point one has to face the truth, regardless how painful it may be. I really did dreamed of walking into those ancient halls, but... there's no point in chasing an illusion..."
"That's just stupid" Barrick suddenly cut in, making the other two glance at him surprised, like they just noticed he was there. Milia gave her friend a stern look, yet her voice was calm: "It's not very nice... laughing at other people's dreams that is..."
"I'm not laughing at his dreams" the last ecomancer responded simply, shifting his attention to the goblin. "I'm scolding your approach; life isn't a spectator's sport. What, you think your dreams will just come true on their own? If it's something you really want, you should take action. Nothing is written in faith, you're the one filling the pages. Is your dream not worth following that you're this quick to give it up or did you expect that fulfilling it will be easy?"
At this Kalt's mouth opened slightly as he looked away, turning his gaze at the ground. The girl felt his sadness and slowly reached out her hand, to embrace the yellowish humanoid, yet before she managed to do so, the goblin spoke up, his eyes still settled on his feet: "I... I guess you're right. Actually, that dream is the very reason why... well, why I am were I am... but I can't find the courage to follow it, because deep down, I fear what I'll find... won't be what I've been searching for... I suppose you can call me a coward..."
"That you can only determine, once you find it" the young mage announced, smiling slightly. "And being brave doesn't mean that you're not scared. Being brave is about conquering that fear... acting regardless to it. And what better reason could there be to act, then to fulfill your dreams?" he asked seriously, making the tiny humanoid first hesitate and then smiled back at him...
-That time, Military Base-
"Shadow Society, sir?" Nataku repeated in his usual, monotone, face as emotionless as always.
"Yes" nodded an elder man as he gazed at the young corporal. The lieutenant was a massive, bald man with black beard covering most of his jaw, while his blue eyes were as sharp as they could be. His attire consisted of a standard, government uniform; mostly white with golden stars and silver stripes decorating the chest and sleeves: "It's an underground organization, supposedly of similar magnitude to the Dragon Claw."
"If that is so, I must admit this is the first time I hear of it" the smoker stated calmly.
"Well, for most part, they remain... below radar, so to speak" the higher officer explained, narrowing his eyes. "They handle illegal activity, mostly theft, smuggling and blackmail, but since it wasn't anything as threatening, like Dragon Claw, the Government let it slip at times, concentrating their efforts on the latter. Without a doubt, out of the two, it's DC that was more dangerous."
"Even so, being aware of evil and not doing anything about it, is reprehensible, to say the least..."
"You'll get no argument from me there, corporal" lieutenant admitted, nodding once again. "But what's done is done. Truth be told, Shadow Society rarely came to surface, despite their size. They're a covert organization, which greatest strength always laid in its secrecy. Recently, however, they've become more active, to the point of their actions becoming sloppy. It is mostly due to this that we're finally able to grasp what they're planning..."
"What could've made them act that way?"
"That we do not know... but the fact remains that Shadow Society possess many cells in various parts of the world. According to our intel, they're currently trying to establish one right here, in Hafford. I don't need to tell you why that is considered a big deal, do I, corporal?"
"Hafford is, basically, the last stop before Siracol" Nataku explained, without any shift in his voice. "Should anyone take control of this route, they'll gain a huge advantage in monopolizing trade in this region. Since Siracol is too big of a town to take over directly, by securing its outside posts, such as Hafford, one could gain the edge they need to eventually get a hold of Siracol itself."
"And those that control Siracol, control the trade of the archipelago" lieutenant finished grimly. "Siracol is, ironically, the only port in the area and, as such, is the only connection the archipelago has with the mainland. With it falling to the Shadow Society, things can take a turn for bad... very bad actually."
"Well then, has any actions been take to prevent this?"
"We do what we can, but the sad fact is SS still moves carefully and despite knowing their plans, doing anything to jeopardize them is quite problematic."
"I suppose that is understandable" the young gunman nodded, stone-faced. "I imagine this is where ma and my men come in, however I do not see what exactly can we do to remedy the situation; our, only advantage is that Shadow Society members are not familiar with us, like they are with other soldiers of this base. This does not give us any, actual means to make contact with them to infiltrate their ranks..."
"No, it does not" the officer agreed. "However there's an issue of you and that rookie in your squad... Jaz, was it... being friends with that priestess girl. From the report you all left, we can assume that Dragon Claw, for whatever reason they have, are after this girl. That might be the edge we need."
"Sir?" Nataku questioned, allowing himself to narrow his eyes slightly.
"They're both underground organizations, however DC and Shadow Society are not allies" the lieutenant announced. "Frankly, we believe SS activity has something to do with the fact Dragon Claw began more daring in their endeavors as well. We do not know what's the basis behind it, but should they start fighting each other, we're risking a global-scale war. You do realize we must do everything in our power to prevent that?" he asked, receiving a nod. "Good. Then I also hope you can comprehend the fact that, since DC wants this girl, it's a safe bet she'll be of interest to Shadow Society also, just to prevent the previous from obtaining their goal, if nothing else. This is the advantage we were hoping for."
"You're planning to use Milia as bait" the young corporal more stated then asked.
"You're already acquainted with her... thus, it'll be much easier for you and your men to stay close to her and react once SS makes their move. With that, you may be able to locate their hideout."
"Sir, with all, due respect" Nataku began in his normal monotone. "As soldiers, it is our duty to protect civilians, not endanger them. Skipping the fact that, even if we were to follow with this plan and locate the hideout, what chances do myself and my men have against a whole legion of thieves and assassins?"
"About that, you don't need to worry" the lieutenant assured him. "While this operation is, without a doubt, important to Shadow Society, their numbers in this region are few, counting only several, low-class minions. Ones you should watch for are ring-leaders that gathered in order to put the whole thing in motion. We know nothing of their identities, but our intel suggests they call themselves Six Shadows..."
-That time, back alleys of Hafford-
Kalt looked over his shoulder once more to make sure he wasn't followed. Seeing no-one there, he put his hood down and gazed at the wall before him, one three meters high; much more then he could jump over. Luckily this was not his intention. In stead, he waited for a moment, until the shadows of the alley gathered before him. In a flash they formed a low tornado, from which another figure emerged.
This one was taller then the goblin, covered in a black cloak, just like the yellowish humanoid. The shadows of its attire, hid the arrival's body entirely, including the face, leaving the only thing visible from beneath the cover a pair of shining, red eyes, that stared at the small creature, narrowed.
"You are late, Kalt" the figure announced in a deep, menacing voice.
"I apologize, master Damacon" the goblin replied, bowing slightly. "I was... detained..."
The mysterious arrival narrowed his eyes further at the statement, yet said nothing. Finally, he spun on his foot and headed towards the wall. By placing his hand on it, the shadows accumulated in the very spot. Immediately they spread, shaping themselves into a triangular hole, almost like an entrance: "Well, no matter... the others are waiting" Damacon responded, stepping aside.
The small humanoid nodded and walked forward, heading straight for the shadows, Yet, as he passed the figure, Damacon spoke again, making the goblin freeze at the spot: "But Kalt... keep in mind that this sort of sloppish behavior won't be tolerated. You must set an example... as one of the Six Shadows..."
The yellow-skinned thief nodded again and then walked into the shadows, quickly begin swallowed by them. A moment later, Damacon followed...
-a surprising turn of events! Who is Kalt?-
And this ends chapter 10. Hope you enjoyed it. I know, no fights... yeah, believe it or not, sometimes even in my stories that happens ;P Relax, before this arc is done, you'll have plenty of battles, but the stage must be set. This arc in particular is actually more complex then the previous three by comparison as it deals with more characters, going deeper into them. I'm both excited and worried over managing this one really ^^'
Thanks for tuning in and before I head out to Rune Raiders, I'd like to wish you all MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hope you'll decide to read on in 2012!