Chapter 1: The Four
I watched my friend displaying the sign outside the pub of Rivertown and rushes back to his seat beside me. He's a little excited for this sort of thing. I can see that on his thumbs, moving non-stop. "Easy, man. We are just looking for two guys in our team."
"Yes. I know that. It's just this quest thing excites me."
"You watched too much plays, man. How can you be a badass wizard when you only know defensive spells."
"Don't forget my healing potions. They are very useful in the quest. I'm important." Alexander always brags about his potions. I say it is not very important in this kind of quest. We are just going on a hike to investigate the strange thundering sounds on Mount Lychinus. The young mayor of Rivertown came to my doorsteps of my grandpa's mansion and asked for my help about a noise coming from the mountains. He told me the reason why I'm the one fit in this kind of job. It's because of my talent in travelling dangerous places. He said that. A talent in travelling dangerous places.
I'm more than that. I'm a sharpshooter. Just like my father, my grandpa and my ancestor Sir Gregorio of Rivertown. So I asked him why not his immortal White Knights and their impenetrable silver armor. He simply answered, "I can't use my men to this kind of mission. That's not their job. Their job is to protect the town from bandits and foreign invaders."
"You have thirty White Knights and this kind of quest only requires four men."
The mayor gave me a story about thirty men defended a small town from hundreds of bandits. I heard that fairytale before and I don't believe it. I said to him directly, "I decline. Just send your best men to that cursed mountain and leave me out of it."
But the mayor knows how to persuade me.
A bag of money. Well, it's four bags of money. One for each men. That one bag can feed a family for the whole winter. He showed me the gold and begged for my service. He always do that since we were little kids. He uses money to get what he wants. I sighed and think about it.
"Alright, Cornelius. Just give me one good reason."
He told me about numerous rumors about dragons or an ancient evil about to attack the town. He just wants me to check if there is. I don't believe these nonsense at all but if the whole town are afraid and worried, I'll take it.
That is the reason why I'm at the pub with Alexander Raymoss, my friend and only available wizard in Rivertown, recruiting two more men for our team.
Few seconds later, several people read our sign and then formed a line towards our table. Many different faces and shapes came in. They look amazing and strange which is cool for me. My friend can't stop elbowing me. "Nathan, they are here. Elves, trolls, savage barbarians... and a dark assassin from the East. How awesome is that?"
"Yeah. Just stop doing that. You are acting weird again just like the time at LitCon." It's an annual convention where book lovers dress as their favorite characters from their favorite fantasy fiction books.
First one in the line was a dwarf with a large axe on his back. I asked him first. "Are you good in guarding a wizard and a explorer?"
The dwarf scratched his red fuzzy beard. "Sure. I can take down a group of bandits. How much will you two give me?"
My friend immediately replied, "I can give you free potions that will make you attractive to any women."
"No. I don't need your potions, boy! I want gold! Show me the gold!"
"And a bag full of gold you shall have after you do your part for this team." My friend grinned.
But the dwarf was not stupid, he wants proof. "Then show me the gold that you have."
"What?" My friend went speechless. He turned to me, asking me if I have the gold coins.
"Come on! Show me!" He wants to see the gold however, the place we are in is full of people who are badly needed for gold. If I brought it here, there will be trouble. With a lack of proof of gold, the dwarf left. "You guys are liars."
Not a kind fellow. Most dwarfs are like that. That's all I could say. So I called the next one. Now, it's an young female elf with a bow and arrow. I asked her a question, "So can you protect the two of us against bandits or anything dark and evil?"
"What's your point, human?" She crossed her arms. "Where are you two going anyway?"
"We are going to Mount Lychinus." My answer somehow frightened the elf. Her expression looks like a reaction that you see in a horror carnival. "You are going to that cursed mountain? Have you heard the rumors about that place?"
"Yes. That is why we are forming a team to investigate if the rumors are true. Mayor Cornelius wants to know about the strange sounds on the mountain." My explanation did not make her decide to join us. She left but before that she gave us one advice. "You can't go there. I mean, you must not go there. No one has ever came back alive. By the goddess' divine eyes, there is only death. Stay away from that mountain, humans! Stay away!"
Alexander and I were wondering about what she said. The others in the line heard everything. Many left the pub and few went to the bartender to order some drinks, forgetting about us. In the positive side, there are three people left.
I called the next one. A masked man with two dual swords steps forward.. Our first impression was that he's an assassin from the East. My friend asked him a question. "Okay. If we are surrounded by bandits or beasts, what will you do?"
The masked man remained silent. My friend and I waited for his answer. But after 30 seconds, I asked him. "Do you understand what he said?"
"Hello?" I said.
He did not respond. The only thing he do was staring at us. I can see his red eyes underneath that strange-looking mask. I whispered to my friend. "He must be from a distant land."
"I know. Different language. Different culture. Can you speak some Eastern language?"
"A few. Let me try." I faced the assassin and asked him the same question but using a different language. "Alam mo ba anong sinasabi niya?"
"Hindi." The masked man said No. He doesn't understand.
Alexander shook me, "What language is that?"
"Eastern River Men Language. Please, let me do this." I asked the assassin for his name.
"Martin" He said. A strange name for a River Man.
I asked him another one but this time it's about what he will do if the team was attack by enemies. "Anong gagawin mo kung may mga kalaban darating sa atin?"
"Patayin sila at..." And then he said something about bones and tradition which was kind of gross. I understand every word he said. After his answer, he waited for my response.
I paused for a moment. I don't like his answer. He's more brutal and messy for our team. "Should we get on with it?"
"Sure." Alexander can read my expression.
"Alright! Thank you, Martin. You can leave now." The masked assassin simply left like he understood us. A weird fellow. "Next!"
The next one was a girl wearing a simple dress and an apron. She steps forward and placed a frying pan on our table. She did not let us ask the question but she did. "Okay. You two are leaving town for this quest, right?"
"Yes." I answered.
"And will this quest of yours be dangerous for a woman like me?"
My friend then asked, "What do you do?"
"Yeah. I cook soups, breads and roasted beefs."
"Sorry. But we don't need a cook. I can do all the cooking myself." Alexander said, showing off his book of spells. But then she gave him something to think about. "Alright, whiz, you have a book of spells. Everything you can do is on that little book."
"What will happen if you lost the book, your wand and your magic stuff in your journey? Do you still know how to cook?" My friend did not answer. Alexander tried to think about it but he can't think of something to say. He knows she's right. He can't do anything without his stuff. So what they did next was staring at each other.
I looked at my friend and then to the girl. Their eyes glared at each other and it was getting really awkward. I can see the last guy on the line was waiting for his turn. Then I break up their staring contest and make a decision. "Okay, Miss. You are in. Sign your name here."
"Yes!" She took my pen and wrote down her name on my notebook. But then something caught my attention. It was strange to see a commoner like her have an amazing handwriting. Her handwriting was like royalty.
"I'm going to prepare my stuff." She ran to the bartender and gave him her apron. "I quit! Find your own cook somewhere to harass!" She ran upstairs with a joyful attitude. The large bartender turned to us and growled, clutching at the apron with his large hands. Alexander just smiled and waved, I told him to look away.
I looked at my notebook and read her name. "Caitlyn. Nice name."
"Dude, she's just a cook?" Alexander cannot believe I took a common cook in our quest. "Why would you allow a cook to be in our team?"
"Well, she's kinda important. And I think she needs to get out of here."
"But... my spells and potions are very important too! Who cares if she gets harassed by that big guy." Before the wizard reply to my last sentence, the large man in the line steps forward and shows his long sword with a bizarre green eye between the blade and the handle.
"Hello there." I said.
The man did not answer. I started asking him, "So, a big guy like you... um, are you capable of taking down large groups?"
The large man nodded.
"Oh, great. We have a mute." Alexander commented.
But then a voice spoke to us. At first, I thought it was the man however I noticed his mouth was shut while the voice speaks. "He's not here to look for a job for himself. He's here to look for a job for me!" The large man placed his enchanted sword on the table. We looked at it and saw the eye on the sword began to move and blink. With our shocked expression, the sword began to speak. "So you guys looking for a muscle in the team. You got the right one."
"But you are sword." I said, asking myself what can a talking sword do. "What can you do?"
"I have a long back story, kid. Let's just say, I was once a Warlord who conquered hundreds of kingdoms centuries ago and then my soul was trapped inside this invincible weapon of mass destruction."
My friend and I turned to each other, thinking about that talking sword. Then I looked around if there are people willing to sign up for our quest. But there were none left. I can see that the team was complete. "Alright. You are in. Write your name here."
"He can't write." The sword said. "But I can." The sword added and then laughed. "But I have no hands. What an awkward situation. Ha! Ha!" I took my pen and write his name down for him. "Your name, sir?"
"I'm Obliron Tagrette and this is my one and only descendant Bartholomew."
His name kind of familiar and even writing it reminds me of my history test. "Alright, the quest will start tomorrow. So be ready."
The team was set but Alexander was not happy about that cook. "Why did you join her?"
"She can cook, man."
"But I can cook."
"The last time you cook was marshmallows."
"Hey! How about the roasted pork I made."
"Less spices. A lot of charcoal."
"But you said it was delicious!"
I stopped, trying to recall that time. "Nope. I did not say that."
Meanwhile, that female elf, who ran away from the pub after hearing about Mount Lychinus, approached a man sitting on a dark throne made of monster bones. She kneel before him and told him about our quest. "My lord, I have some bad news."
"What is it, Aurora? What kind of bad news?"
"I was just looking for a job until I heard the Rivertown Mayor Cornelius has assigned the descendant of Sir Gregorio to investigate the noises on Mount Lychinus. The young mortal thunderer has formed a team, my lord."
The man gets up from his throne and picks up his enchanted spear. "Then I will break this team before they could reach the mountain. Mount Lychinus is mine! Mount Lychinus belongs to Lord Vesra!"
"I'll send my best men to take care of them."
"No." The man stopped the worried elf. "I can do this myself."
"But my lord!"
The man swings the blade of his spear to her and stopped just near her pale elvish neck. "Just shut up. I have made my decision, Aurora." He leaves his throne and walks outside the a large head of an ancient statue.
"It's good to hunt again. Do you want anything, Aurora?"
The elf felt uncomfortable answering her master. "Heads, my lord?"
"I'll get it for you. It's a promise."
TO BE CONTINUED