35th Selosse (Half-Blossom), year 251 AMU.
It was a chilly night that night, but I was not so sure whether for the actual temperature drop after the sunset or for the presence of that man. Yes, we had been deceived when most vulnerable. What are we if not just fugitives who seek shelter? I doubted not for a moment of his identity for we craved for guidance and assurance. None of us saw the lie. What a fool. We must be grateful to Logan and for master Kezrin’s cleverness. Yet, although aware of the true self of that man we were fucked anyway.
I tried to remain calm, nobody else was. My heart was pulsing so rapidly I could feel it inside my head. The blue frigid eyes of that man were fixed on us.
The sultan, Abu Mehal stroked gently his long moustache while walking towards us. The air became colder and colder, and the ice broke at his rash and serpentine voice, “I was very looking to this moment. Circulus Veri, Badala, and Kezrin’s hound. It is a pleasure to meet you all at this moment and place. I am the glorious Abu Mehal, but I am sure you know that very well.” Logan gritted his teeth, then looked at us silently.
Abu Mehal stopped right in front of us with his arms set behind his back, “I wonder what that thrash of Kezrin might have told you. You are so new here, you do not understand anything about the choices I made for the greate–“, Cassandra did not let him finish, maybe rattled by his hypocrisy, “There are tons of people in chains, people willing to fight for a right place, don’t tell me about balance, about deals, about greater good. Put an end to this shit, and then we talk about what’s good.” Abu Mehal wore a surprised and impressed face.
I was indeed shocked as well; I have always admired her burning determination. I stopped to shake and took a quick breath. I pretended to be calm, “Cassandra’s right. We know your secret, Genie! We know how you forced the monks to sacrifice their lives to stop the lake from flooding in our world. But we have been chosen by him. We are his champion, Genie. We are the warriors of Vatten and we’ll stop you if you do not collaborate!” The words flowed from my mouth naturally; for a moment I was confident. Fool, but confident.
The “Genie” did not appear to be worried at all. He continued to caress slowly his moustache, and beard, and moustache again. I do not know what was in his mind; it appeared to me like there was some kind of machine inside, doing calculations, analysing the situation, in short: trying to fuck us.
“I want to collaborate indeed. I do not love slavery, but it is a great business for the nobles of the city. Now, you are rebelling against the law. Ten people against the system. But, just imagine how many slavers, pirates, merchants, nobles will arise if I take their most beloved possession?” He seemed really concerned, but I trusted him not for a moment. For he was the devil to me. Abu Mehal started to walk back and forth thoughtfully, like he was not paying attention to us at all, sure of his position of power. Indeed, I saw Envsyn secretly pointing at me one of the roofs around us. We were already surrounded by many Kshatriyas.
In the silence of the sultan contemplation, we saw a muscular horned humanoid approaching. He seemed like a walking mountain with his large shoulder and all the muscles flexed showing the veins underneath. His face was dark and severe with yellow cat eyes. He joined the sultan drawing a huge greatsword which then pointed to the ground.
“Oh, Olus here you are. I was just proposing our guest to collaborate instead of having a futile bloodshed.” He turned to us, “Give me that beast, Logan, and the name of the person behind the bombing; then we can forget about the bounty and we shall enjoy a pleasant conversation in my palace.”
“Chester put some darkness around us. Prepare to run guys, it is our only hope. Raise your index when you are ready.” I recognised that nasal childish voice to belong to Tad. That little gnome looked nervous, but he was right. Through the sewers, that was our best shot.
“If you offer me more money than that guy Kezrin, I am in.” Jordis accepted the enemy proposal and took his side, “Sorry guys, you know, these are dark times. No grudges eh?” he grinned.
Obviously, what we could expect from a mercenary? I ignored him, instead, I raised my index quickly, bubbling something to take time. My friends did the same after me.
Olus grew impatient, “This is the last call then I will cut you in half, I swear it.” Logan gave him a prompt answer: with a small hidden knife, he cut his own underarm. The spilt blood lit his powers and the enemies seemed to be locked in place. Chester did not lose any time engulfing everyone nearby him in darkness, and then I was dragged away. I heard the sound of the crossbows’ shots hitting the ground we were staying some moments ago. Yet, it was not the time for relief.
We run and run for our lives, so much depended on our escape, plus I did not like the idea of being dead. The dead are just… well, too dead.
The bad guys were right behind us; we could have not just fled. While I was scanning my mind for a clever idea, I met the young face of Ren in that chaos. He was slowing down, almost to a walking pace, maybe he came up with a sort of plan. Ren was always the calm one. I do not know if those things he practised each day with meditation and stuff were helping him to mature so rapidly. He was looking for something: jumping with his eyes from corner to corner, from people to people, until he runs to a woman who was holding a big pot over her head.
Obstacles for the chasing guards, great. I tighten the grip on my beloved bow, “Toirneach Tonn.” Nature answered with a thundering roar matching the wild wind force which was flowing from my body towards the enemies. Some of them were blown away, but not Jordis, that traitor, nor Olus for he was too strong.
My friends Envsyn and Cassandra were already down into the sewers with the Badala group. Only me and Ren remained behind to cover them. I went down the stairs for first, while Ren was pouring around the chicken stew inside the lady’s pot, but we were so dangerously close.
“You fool, don’t you fucking see eh? That is an illusion, and a bad one. Follow me, demon man. NOW!” Jordis shouted angrily. For a moment Olus stopped, figuring out what to do. But we were out of the way into the sewers in a blink of an eye. I smiled.
Now, we had to decide where to go; so many options but none of them seemed completely safe. I made a decoy in one of the direction, while we took the other path. To the docs, it was decided.
These canals were like a labyrinth. So many bifurcations that it was hard to picture a map in my head. But, Envsyn knew his deal; I think he was just naturally good at it, being an elf helped him though.
We continued in the darkness for hours, but every time we felt we were safe the echoes of our enemies returned to torment us. Chester and the lizard man, Kimert, lost their patience.
“I ssiink, we sshoul divide. We’ll confussse them, yesss!” Kimert did not wait for an answer and chose a direction to follow. Chester runs with his friend, and Tad got along.
“Such idiots, craa. This is why I never want to work with you, craaa.” Although he was using my voice (and it was so weird) Urlon could not mask his half nature. I checked on the last member and old friend, Brona, who remained quiet. I saw her sadness behind the irritate expression.
The sound of a battle shortly erupted beyond us. They were in danger. I knew that.
“We cannot help them, it was their choice. We need to focus on our goal. If we fail today, this city will never be free.” Cassandra was harsh, but nobody dared to oppose her because she was damn right.
We took the opposite tunnel. But the more we run, the louder the cracking sound of metal became. I soon realised there was no escape for today. No more Circulus Veri, no more battles and adventures. And finally, there they were: fifteen or even twenty Kshatriyas in front of us ready to shoot. But I would not have accepted a fall without fighting. I was scared. We all were.
“Put down your weapons, it’s over.” One of them shouted.
I could not help my legs from shaking. There was cold. A weird cold. It was different from the one I felt before, yet familiar and comforting. From a tunnel at our right-hand side, a bright spark of blue light showed up and just after some seconds, a frost blast buried all the enemies.
“Guys let’s break them together!” His croaked voice was unmistakable.
“But, you, I…” I was broken. I left him. I thought he was dead.
“Come on guys, fast. I have a place where we can hide into. It is not the most magnifique of the accommodations, but it’ll do.” Master Kezrin was right behind our companion. That flamboyant noble had always a few tricks up his sleeve.
Everybody was visibly excited and happy, and that help to ease the pain and the fatigue for the final sprint.
I, instead, was the one silently crying.