|#1kalthandrixMar 05, 2007 18:56:46||Here is the first part of a dark sun short story I am working on - enjoy.|
Death of an Athasian Salesman
Slowly, the slave drawn two-wheeled carriage made its way through the crowded and dusty streets of Raam, the four sweating and grunting slaves stained to maneuver the conveyance though the streets. The progress since moving into this section of the city had slowed to a crawl, due in part to the mass of humanity in the way but mostly because of the seemingly increasing weight of their master. With the canopy over the top of his head to protect him from the glaring rays of the crimson sun; the grossly obese man was decked out in soft robes of linen and silk, cut in the current style that showed all who looked that he was a person of stature and importance still within the shattered city-state.
Reclining upon several soft cushions and idly toying with a short driving whip, the middle-aged human had longish, mousy brown hair that was oiled and pulled back for travel through the city. The skin of his face was an almost milk-like color, showing him to be a man who spent little or no time beneath the harsh rays of the sun and his soft, uncallused hands attested to the fact that manual labor was nota past-time that was also not an activity this man took part in. His six foot tall frame looked shorter then it was due to the man’s enormous girth and his breath came in a slight wheeze even as he sat within his carriage. To those who did not know better, he was nothing more then an overly fat, pampered noble or merchant with poor health. The fact was that this almost pitiful looking man was in fact Jo'tran Ronan, High Templar of Abalach-Re.
Before the death of the sorcerer-queen three years ago, Jo'tran had been one of the most powerful men in Raam, and while since that time the city had been in a state of almost pure chaos, Jo'tran had been able to not only retain a fragment of his former power were most of his brethren had fallen, but he had also been wise enough to take those opportunities that presented themselves and thrive. Bereft of the mystical powers granted from his queen, Jo'tran had not been caught completely helpless when the riots had started after Abalach-Re’s death, having secretly honed and a developed his natural abilities as a seer. Jo'tran had watched as his rivals had fallen and had been there when the merchants swooped in to seize a section of the city. Knowing that it was futile to cling to the now powerless templarate, the fat man had swiftly aligned with several small merchant houses and had been able to snatch up his own slice of the city before the dust had cleared and the city began to rebound.
Shaking his head out of the reverie that gripped him, Jo'tran looked around the crowded streets and scowled. Dirty droves of people cluttered the one relatively clear streets of the old merchant quarter.
“Thieves, beggars, and dung-footed farmers the lot of them.” He muttered to himself darkly.
Shifting his gaze from the unwashed masses, he quickly spotted his two half-giant body guards, Me’kah and S’retsam. The two behemoths waded through the flow of people below them without regard for the smaller folk, easily keeping pace with the slow slave-drawn carriage. Rarities among their people, the two were twins and almost mirror images in appearance – though a long, poorly healed wound formed a jagged scar that started at S’retsam’s left temple and continued along his neck and down his broad chest, ending at his lower ribs. Jo'tran did not know how a creature could survive such a wound and shuttered to think of what creature could have inflicted such a grievous hurt to one of these two. Regardless of the scar, or maybe because of it, S’retsam was as savage as a raging so-ut, and mostly replied with nods and monosyllabic words. Me’kah did the majority of the talking for the two, and was no less brutal then his brother, but he was more willing to appraise a situation before taking action. They Performed their duties well, and seemed to take a measure of delight in using their huge agafari clubs to knock aside any who came to close to their employer, swatting them lazily and sending the unfortunate person to the ground. Most were just dazed and shaken, though some did fare slightly worse. Jo'tran did not care how they did their job of protecting him as long as their actions did not spark a riot.
‘Perhaps another sweep of the city streets is in order.’ He thought to himself. The miserable creatures that crowded the streets day and night were a plight upon his city – and for those who had the right connections, these worthless flesh-bags could be turned to silver, which translated into power in a city now ruled by in part by merchants. Nodding and smiling now at the thought, the fat man settled further back into the cushions of this carriage and focused his eyes upon the fortified gates of his large mansion that were now coming into view.
“My Lord!” shouted a voice. Jo'tran dimly heard the noise through his musings. Reacting without a second thought, a shimmering field of force materialized before him as his unconscious mind reacted to a perceived threat.
“My Lord!” came the shout again, closer now. “My Lord, I beg of you, spare some coin please. I was a soldier in her Majesties army…huhhaa!”
Whatever the next words might have been were savagely cut off by a sweeping blow from a huge club, powered by arms thicker then most men’s torso. The pitiful beggar had drawn too close to the ex-tempar’s carriage and S’retsam reacted with brutal efficiency and speed that belied his size. The half-giant’s club smashed into the beggar’s body with such force that Jo'tran thought he could hear bones snapping under the force as the powerful attack swept the beggar from his feet and launched him across the street. The limp form of the man smashed into a vacant street stand; which promptly shattered under the impact, burying the beggar completely under a heap of smashed wood.
Unfortunately, the force of the blow had also been enough to blast off every particle of dust and dirt from the filthy beggar, Jo'tran noted, as a small cloud of the filth was carried into his carriage. Sneezing slightly as the dust tickled his nose, the fat man’s good mood disappeared and he shouted,
“Careful you lout! If I have one speck of that creature’s blood upon me, be sure that you will deeply regret it!”
Me’kah scowled slightly, and looking down at his employer said, “Me’kah and S’retsam good guards. Squash dusty bug no problem.” And with that gave a deep chuckle that was echoed by his scared twin.
S’retsam lumbered over to the wreckage of the stand, and using his club and tree trunk-sized legs, shifted some of the shattered planks of wood.
Jo'tran, quickly tiring of the guard’s antics and wishing to get off of the streets where he was exposed, shouted once again.
“S’retsam! Attend to your duties!” and with that gave a flick of his wrist, sending the coils of his short whip snapping forward to score a long welt across the broad back of one of the slaves pulling his carriage. Several other marks and scars criss-crossed all four backs of the slaves, a testimony to the frequent abuse the ex-templar dealt out. Without even a grunt at the unexpected blow, the four brawny slaves rocked back slightly and then forward again in a practiced unison, providing enough momentum to get the ponderous weight of their master and the carriage rolling forward again.
The streets were much clearer now – the sudden violence dealt out had encouraged those in the vicinity to find elsewhere to be. Within a few short minutes, the gates of Jo'tran’s large estate opened and the carriage wheeled inside. Dusting himself off and sneezing again at the cloud of dust he raised in his efforts, Jo'tran consideration the idea once more of sending a band out into the streets to collect the vagrants and riff-raff to sell into slavery. ‘They should thank me for doing it.’ He thought to himself. ‘At least as a slave they would be something, instead of the worthless rabble that they are now.’ Regaining his good mood again at the thought of the silver he would make, the fat man settled back as the gates behind him now swung shut and the huge wooden bar was lifted into place once again, sealing the filth of the shattered city of Raam outside. Sneezing again, Jo'tran determined that the first order of business would be to bathe and remove the dirt from that beggar from his hair and skin. Then he would send the messages required to set this evening’s events into motion.
When the gates to the fat man’s mansion closed and the bar was settled nosily into its brackets, those who had hid from the sudden brutality moments ago, abandoned their hiding places and swarmed over the wreckage of the vendor stand in hopes that there was something of value to salvage. Working swiftly before more people came, the desperate men and women dug through the shattered wood, pulling some lengths of the timber aside to use or sell, while others continued to shift the debris aside.
Soon the limp form of the beggar was discovered, face down in the rubble and motionless. At first, none of those gathered moved to touch the beggar, but desperation soon won out and one man stooped to rifle the downed man’s pockets, hoping to find a coin or other valuable. As he searched, his hand brushed a slightly cold and smooth object stuffed behind the beggar’s rough cloth and in the waistline of the motionless man’s pants. Excited at the prospect of a good find, the man rolled the limp beggar toward himself to shield his find from the greedy eyes of the others. Pulling the robe aside and searching with his hand, the man soon found the item he had felt and pulled it out.
The gleaming blade of an obsidian dagger greeted his eyes and the weight of the wrapped hilt filled his palm. Smiling the man praised his good fortune. Crouching further over to hide his prize, the kneeling man looked down and was greeted with the s single eye looking back at him – slate grey with flecks of blue and gold, looking up at him with murderous contempt. Before he could react, the beggar lashed out with his elbow, catching the man on the bridge of his nose and shattering the cartilage with a dull crunch.
Falling back and half blinded by pain and shooting stars that filled his vision, the man watched as the beggar continued moving, using the momentum of his elbow strike to roll onto a single knee and elbow and sweeping the other foot forward, slamming it into the knee of another man – producing another sickening crunch as the joint folded under the force of the kick and the surprised man fell with a scream of shock and agony.
Planting the foot he had just used to kick with, the beggar pushed off of the ground with his hands and brought his other leg around, twisting his whole body as he did so. Following the circular motion of his body’s momentum, the beggar shifted his hips with a violent twist and shot his planted leg up into the air, connecting with the back of a woman’s head with enough force to instantly throw her whole body to the ground with jarring power. With three people down in a single breath, and the beggar suddenly and violently on his feet, those who could run did so without a backward glance. The man with the shattered nose could only watch as the beggar came toward him, stepped upon his forearm and calmly retrieved the obsidian dagger from the wounded man’s grasp. Then without a word, the beggar tucked the dagger back under his robe and turned and walked away.
Once out of sight of the ex-templar’s mansion, the man dressed as a beggar staggered slightly and stopped to clutch his ribs. Several were cracked at the least, more then likely broken, he could tell as he made his way down a side street and into an alley. Moving as swiftly as his injuries allowed, the wounded man knelt down with a sharp gasp of pain and shifted a mound of rotting and stinking offal aside to uncover a wide crack in the alley wall. Reaching back into the darkness of the opening, the man pulled out a satchel and opened it. Rifling around, he soon found what he was looking for and pulled out a blood-red fruit half the size of a man’s hand and stuffed it in his mouth and chewed.
The juices of the fruit seemed to flow through his body and consolidate in the areas of his body wounded by the half-giant’s powerful attack. The sensation was cool and he could actually feel the bones of his ribs knit back together. Soon, the pain vanished almost completely and the beggar drew in a deep breath. Moving much faster now that he could, he stripped off the beggar’s robe and threw it into the hole in the wall and pulled a mottled brown and tan cloak from his bag. Slinging the satchel over his shoulder and pulling the cloak on, Ashryk left the alley.
‘Tonight.’ He mused to himself. ‘When the crimson sun sinks and before the twin moons arose, the fat man should be helpless and I will extract my vengeance from his bloated body.’
A rare smile graced the common features of Ashryk’s face. He knew that the poison he had released when he had been hit by the half-giant would do it’s work – being a blend of dried death asp venom and id moss that was ground into a fine dust, the poison would slowly sap the fat man of his strength and put him in enough of a stupor that he would be unable to focus enough to bring his mental powers to bear. Ashryk had studied the ways and habits of his quarry for months, and he knew that the huge ex-templar would take to his bed at the first signs of fatigue.
‘Tonight that filthy flesh-peddler dies, and I will have my vengeance!’
|#2Band2Mar 06, 2007 16:15:45||Interesting story. The half-giant twins are very intriguing. |
I would be interested to see where the story goes from here.
One complaint - I would change the title.
|#3kalthandrixMar 06, 2007 16:21:32|
Interesting story. The half-giant twins are very intriguing.
The title is a bit of a joke on my part, but also because I could come up with nothing else. I though of it when Brax (I think) brought up using stories to make adventures or something along those line.
I am glad you like it - there will be at least one more section, maybe two.
|#4j0ltApr 05, 2007 1:39:58||Judging by your description of Ashryk's fighting, I'd guess you've been studying martial arts.|
|#5kalthandrixApr 05, 2007 6:25:37|
Judging by your description of Ashryk's fighting, I'd guess you've been studying martial arts.
I did when I was younger. I was also a nonlethal combat instructor when I was in the Marines.
|#6j0ltApr 05, 2007 7:11:56||Cool. I can't wait to find out what happens to Ashryk next!|
|#7kalthandrixApr 09, 2007 15:51:16|
Cool. I can't wait to find out what happens to Ashryk next!
I will have another part of this up in a few weeks - and I will maybe polish a few areas of the orginal too - but first the robot ninja pirate!