Guilds and Motleys, Aislings and Mundanes: Temuair is interlocked

Chapter 3: Port A'zael

The wind blew at Palderon's face as he approached the port of A'zael. He slowed the horses pace to a trot, as the magnificent stone walls grew higher above his head. The moon had begun its ascent into the dark sky. He was glad he ran into that caravan when he did. Being able to purchase the horse off them was the best luck he had in weeks.

Horses were pretty scarce. In fact, usually only the most successful of merchants had them. There were many left in the wild, but they had become untamable, almost possessed with the demons that had appeared around world. It was very hard to breed them also, sometimes the young would die in the night or they would too be possessed and were killed. The well-rested horse had taken the weeklong journey on foot and shortened it to just under three days.

As he got closer, he could see the city gate tightly closed for the night. As far as Palderon could hear, inside the walls all was silent. Made sense, he thought, children were put to bed early and adults usually never stayed up late themselves - except for the rare merchant counting his earnings for the day. Turning around, he headed for a tall, leafy tree a little bit away from the city. The moon's silky glow glistened on the short meadow as his steps made quiet shuffling sounds. Lashing the horse's reins around a low grown branch, he found a soft spot of grass. He placed his pack at the base of the tree, and lay down, resting his head upon it. Looking up at the night sky on the horizon, he began to count the stars quietly in his head.

He remembered how he used to sit with his father on quiet nights like this, gazing at the stars talking. His father had always wanted him to grow up strong yet with a sense of caring. He remembered the one night they tried to count all the stars in the sky, that was the night before his father had died. It was a night that remained fresh in his memory through all through the years. Palderon's mother had died from complications when he was born, Palderon always felt that it was his fault for her death. Soon, he felt the urge to sleep fall over him as he continued to count. Slowly, his hand dropped to his side as his eyelids slid over his eyes.

Palderon awoke to the feel of cold water hitting his face. Slowly he opened his eyes to see the black sky above him, being lit up with the glow of lightning. His clothes were wet from the water dripping off the tree, the soft trickle of the rain falling on the leaves above his head filled the air around him. Realizing his head was rest on something hard and wet, reaching a hand behind his head, he felt the base of the tree connected to the ground below it. Sitting up, he looked where he had put his pack last night. The only thing there was the semi-dry grass where his head was.

Looking to where he left the horse, on the ground was the freshly sliced up carcass of what seemed to be a horse but was too mutilated to be sure. Lowering his hand to his waist to grip his sword, he didn't feel it. He grabbed the sheath still dangling at his waist but looking at it, there was no sword. The rustle of leaves from above startled him in his curious yet scared state as he heard a thump from behind him and felt something sharp poke him in the back, as a low voice scowled at him "Looking for this?"

"Who are you and what do you want?" Palderon sighed
"You have quite the bounty on your head" The stranger replied in a somewhat cheery voice, "but don't you worry, I'm just in it for the money, it's them guards who'll take your head itself in front of everyone in the city."

Palderon could feel the smile of the man on his back, as the sword prodded further into him, edging him on and leading him towards the city. Halfway over the green fields, the man stopped him. Suddenly the feel of cold metal raked over Palderon's skin as the man little by little drew the blade across Palderon's right arm, going slow as he could to inflict as much damage as possible, trying to torture Palderon as much as he could. Crying out in pain, Palderon quickly brought his other hand up. He could already feel the blood running down his arm as he cupped his hand over the fresh wound, the blood gushing in-between his fingers.

"Just incase you decide to try something," the man said, almost in a polite voice "let that be a warning. And be a man, just grin and bear it, we'll have none of that sissy screaming and crying here, shall we?" He gave another slice to Palderon's arm, this time fast and deep just above where his hand was holding the first already swollen wound.

Abel Tavern Tales


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