Here's a story I started writing last year. Currently I have only two chapters written as I can't seem to find the time (or sometimes the will) to work on it. So keep in mind its a work in progress. Comments and reviews appreciated. Note: First chapter introduces Antagonist. Second chapter introduces Protagonist. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1 Strangers on a Misty Night He walked at a steady pace through the misty gate-entrance of the small town. The stone path in which he followed was cast with puddles from the falling rain, an aftermath of the evening storm. Silence was cast upon the line of formal buildings, and all appeared to be deserted except for a loud tavern far down the road. The silhouetted buildings in the moonlight gave no indication to any life abroad. Strangers entering at this hour were probably not a common occurrence for such a place, though little did it matter considering few were around to witness his arrival. I presume he would look quite frightening, his hood cast over his head in a mysterious manner, his hands covered in dried blood, his emerald green cape, and his menacing grey eyes. But most threatening would be the identical short swords attached upon his back and the deadly mace which hung leisurely at his belt, sending the message that this man was familiar with death. His horse trailed behind him, a large stallion, grey in colour. The constant beat of the hooves awoke the quiet, damp air. Nearby, an old man sitting against an older building, smoking a pipe, awakened from his daydream in fear as the stranger walked toward him. The grey eyes from underneath the stranger’s hood met the old mans worried blue eyes. As the stranger approached, paying little heed to the elder, the man pointed a trembling finger toward a sign posted in large letters for all to see. “ALL TRAVELLER’S WEAPONS WILL BE CONFISCATED BY DURNHAM TOWN HALL UPON ARRIVAL” ISSUED BY THE FEREDOTH REGION COUNCIL After glancing at the sign swaying in the wind, the stranger slowed, until he came to a slow halt parallel to the old man’s ridged face. Behind him, his horse sounded the crisp air with his voice before he became motionless like his master. The stranger’s grey eyes stared with intensity at the old man, while he pulled his emerald cape further around himself. “Weapons ain’t allowed in the town of Durnham, good sir. You need to give em’ up to the council.” Rang the soft, yet scared voice of the petrified elder, not knowing what else to tell. The stranger, quite annoyed, kept their eyes in a deadlock for a moment longer, letting the elder think his confused thoughts in fear, before responding in a powerful, yet mystical voice. “The Great One gave me this deadly mace as a symbol of my glory and power. I forewarn, do not question or threaten The Almighty, for in doing so, one invites death.” The power of the stranger’s voice threw back the elder in dread, and the threat of the strangers words put him into an ultimate silence of fright. Seeing that he had left the intended impact, the stranger started on again, finally leaving his eyes from the disturbed bystander. As the stranger made his way up the stone path through the town, he came across four more men, who all either averted their eyes and swallowed back in fear when he passed, or quickly ran off into the shadows of the alleyway. After a fair walk, he came across the lively tavern, the source of action in the town. The stranger peered through the window from afar, and analysed the dimly lit room of ‘The Durnham Steed’. Seeing there was little to be concerned of, he stopped and decided he had the time to rest over a glass of port. Guiding his horse to the lean-to stables casually attached onto the right side of the tavern, he stationed his horse in the farthest empty stall, nearest to the back door. Making sure his grey stallion had a good supply of hay and water, he then removed the two identical short swords and their plain sheaths from under his emerald cloak. Looking around, as to locate a worthy place for them to be concealed from other eyes, the stranger finally decided upon hiding them in the darkness of the rafters atop. Knowing that it would not be suspected nor seen there, and knowing that the stable boy would surely not stumble upon it because of the great height, the stranger carried on satisfied. Quickly rinsing his hands in the water trough to rinse off the dried blood, he then carried onwards into the tavern. The young stableboy, around the young age of ten, awakened from his deep sleep in the haystack just in time to see the hooded man in his emerald cloak, it caught innocently the wind, leave the building and enter the mist that shrouded the air. Pulling his emerald cloak tightly around himself as too partly hide the mace, the stranger then slowly entered the tavern. Glancing around the poorly lit room, he found no immediate threat, therefore carried onwards to a table near the back window. Silence was cast over the room as all turned around to see who the foreigner was, but once they stole a glance, they went back to their conversations. When he had sat down at his table in the dark shadows, the stranger began his instinct analysis of the room while he waited for the serving lady. Near the door, there was a large table of several older men playing a gambling game, while drinking ale, most of them intoxicated. In the far corner opposite of the stranger, two troubadour’s played folk songs by a large fireplace, one wielding a flute, the other a fiddle. An assortment of younger men and their wives sat at numerous tables, several of them congregated together, enjoying the tavern’s atmosphere. Sitting at a table not far from the stranger, a young blond haired tracker sat by himself, with three scent hounds laying quietly at his feet. Behind the counter the bartender, a short and slightly bigger fellow, tended to his customers with a loud, jolly voice. Not too far off from him sat two big men clothed in identical dark blue cloaks containing an embellished symbol, representing their authority. One was eating a bowl of soup in haste, the other smoking a pipe with his eyes closed. The stranger quickly noticed that these men carried long hunting knives in decorated bronze sheaths, the only ones in the room, other than himself, who carried any form of a weapon. On each musclier left arm, a large marking in red stood out resembling the symbol that was upon the navy cloaks of the two men. Finally, not to far from the stranger and the tracker, an older lady and a younger, attractive woman sat together, indulging in a strong discussion of politics. Within two minutes of the strangers arrival, a quiet middle aged woman, who held the position of the serving lady, came forth to take the strangers order. “And what can I get a tired traveller? Perhaps some mushroom soup and a loaf of bread?” The serving lady seemed unaware of the mace in which the stranger carried, the weapon covered by the emerald cloak. The stranger replied quickly in a quiet, yet harsh tone. “Nothing but a glass of port.” Looking a bit surprised from the strangers rudeness, being used to friendly faces and tones, the serving lady quickly left to carry out his request. The stranger sat quietly observing the others around him while he sipped his aged drink. Becoming very interested in the conversation between the elderly lady and her grand-daughter, concerning the politics of this region, he listened attentively seeking information. “I say them Feredoth officials steal to much of our hard earned coins. What do them spend it on? Where does it go? I don’t see nothing change around here, except the town becoming over run with those nasty guards.” The older woman nodded her head to the two men in identical clothes, both holding the identical symbol sewn upon their cloaks and tattooed into their arms. She went on, talking with her raspy voice. “We could all be rich n’ well off by now if we could keep our payments in full. Durnham would be prosperous and well known over the empire. The amazing city built by potato picker’s and cheese makers. Places like Airoma and Sarinic would trade with us. We would be the soul of this region, not that darn city Feredoth.” The younger lady now spoke in response, her voice sounding quite soft compared to the hard sounds of laughter and cheer around her. “Do not day dream, for you know that these Guards are for a good purpose. Without them, the region of Feredoth would be unprotected from an attack by the barbarians living in The Wilds. Rumour has it that the Prime Gate has been opened, though I don’t believe it to be true. Plus, the Council of Feredoth has not just invested silver in our protection. They also rebuilt the roads linking little towns like ours to the cities, and began to create a harbour down south.” “Heresay, that’s all it tis. Why, the Prime Gate hasn’t been opened in decades. Mad men come from them parts. The stories my pa’ used to tell me about them still haunt me day and night. Strange folk, indeed. But it’s all just drunk man talk, that’s it. The Prime Gate is safe and far away from Durnham.” As the conversation next to him carried on into aimless chat, the stranger pondered what he had learned from his convenient eavesdropping. Within moments, the serving lady came around carrying a jug of port, offering the stranger a refill. “Anymore Sir?” she said in a rushed, petrified tone, while glancing to her sides quickly. The stranger nodded his approval, and the middle aged woman nervously poured as best as she could, given her fright. The strangers menacing presence suddenly seemed to grow in shadow and size, and out of clumsiness, the serving lady accidentally poured a good portion of the port onto the strangers prized emerald cape. “Oh my! I am dreadfully sorry sir, please sir, let me clean that.” As the serving lady spoke in a begging tone, she grabbed the emerald cloak in an unexpected manner, hoping of soaking a bit of the port with her old rag. As she did so, she discovered the covered and deadly mace which was until then hidden from her and the others sight. Within a flash instant, the stranger grabbed her wrist and held it in a secretive yet threatening position, in hopes that she would not sound her discovery. Yet the serving lady panicked, and let out a deafening scream, which was followed by a loud crack from the stranger snapping her wrist into fragments. No sooner as she fell down in pain, the stranger was up and out of his chair, heading towards his escape, the door. When he got roughly halfway there, the two large guards, clothed in their blue cloaks, blocked his way. Among the two guards were many tipsy commoners, forming a circle to surround the stranger. Each guard held out their long hunting knife in an aggressive way, intent on capturing the mysterious stranger causing trouble. The first guard lunged towards the stranger dead on, hoping to be quick and stab him with his knife. In one quick motion the stranger grabbed his mace from his leather belt while gracefully dodging to the left, avoiding the momentum of the guard. The stranger then turned around at the same moment as the guard started to stand on his feet, shaken from his fall. Without hesitation, the stranger let his mace meet the guards face. The second guard came from behind and tried to dive his knife into the back of the strangers neck. Knowing that the guard was already there, the stranger grabbed the guards arm as he swiftly turned around. With a large snap, the stranger broke the guards arm and threw him with force down onto the ground. Holding the mace in both hands, the stranger lifted the mace far above his head, and used all his capable physical strength to bring it down on the helpless and defenceless guard. With none left challenging him, the stranger ran quickly past the crying women and astonished men, and left through the doorway. Once out into the cold, fresh air, the stranger slowed his pace down to a hurried and disciplined walk. Within seconds, he entered the shabby lean-to which served as the stables, and quickly retrieved his energetic grey horse. With nothing left to do, the stranger made off as quickly and quietly as he came. The lonely town of Durnham sounded with many noises during the middle of the that night. The confusion set upon those in the tavern who witnessed the tragic murders, along with the rain falling in a continuous pattern on top of the stone road awoke many who were in a restful sleep. In the distance, the faint beat of a great steed running his heart out could be heard loud and ever clear. The moonlight’s silhouette showed an unknown man, wearing a emerald cloak, fleeing as fast as he could . If one listened close enough, they would hear the faint laugh of misery drifting in the wind.