The Raven: Ascension (Part 3)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: September 30, 2016

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Submitted: September 30, 2016



Chapter 3



In the cavern once more I presented the head before the Zaharek like a gundog presents its master with a pheasant; on my knees besides the pool and held out in front of me with both hands. The head was that of a young man. He’d had a head and beard of bright orange hair and pale blue eyes that were now glazed and lifeless. The muscles in his face were contorted in pain. My two swords, currently strapped to my back as they always were when not in use, had seen to that.


“I take it he gave you no trouble” the Zaharek asked. He still looked exactly the same as when he blessed me with immortality. So did I.


“Of course not enlightened one. He never knew what hit him. Which was a pity” I said grinning.


The Zaharek shifted uncomfortably. Most people did when I smiled. Apparently it made me look even more insane than I already was.


“I’m sure it was” the Zaharek said. He took the head from my hands and held it up with one hand so he could look into those lifeless eyes. After a while he tossed the head into the pool where the dark water fizzed and bubbled before disappearing completely.


“Another target eliminated Lord Darkfire. Most impressive”


“Thank you enlightened one”


“No doubt you’re eager to rest after being away for so long?”




“Unfortunately I have another mission for you that must be dealt with immediately. My apologies”


“There is no need to apologise enlightened one. I’m eager to kill” I said but inside I was cursing. The promise of a soft bed had urged me to ride day and night. “Who is the target?”


“Not target my lord. Targets. A group of Tivian nobles are meeting with the leader of a Elmorian rebel movement during a month long masquerade ball and jousting tournament at Kranriver Palace in Kranriver three weeks from now. This rebel plans to lead an uprising against the Tivian king and wishes for the nobles to lend him funds to support the movement.”


“Forgive me enlightened one but why is this any concern of ours?”


“One of my servants is the warden of Elmoria” That made sense. The Zaharek had the loyalty of hundreds of high level officials. He even claimed to have the ear of the king himself. Of that I had yet to see any proof. “He has served me well for many years. If this rebel succeeds in gaining support then I fear for his life.” said the Zaharek. He withdrew a handkerchief and dabbed his eyes. “You are to meet one of my agents, Kaspar Niedhal, at Fox and Hound Inn on the River Road. He will give you the full details on your targets. Now go; kill these traitors. Bring me their heads”



Outside in the stone corridor I was greeted by my Second and friend, Pypar Black. He was as tall as me with yellow-blonde hair, deep blue eyes and an ability to get on with almost anyone, a trait I myself lacked.


“Welcome back my lord” he greeted.


“Thank you Pypar but I fear my stay will be short lived. The Zaharek has given me another mission.”


“Already? You’ve only just got back” said Pypar his face grim.


“My thoughts exactly”


“Thats a shame. Some of the lads were planning to share a drink with you. You have been gone for three months after all.”


“It felt much longer old friend” I said clapping him over the back. “But there's no reason why we can’t share a drink. The River Road is three days ride at a stretch. I don’t have to leave right away.”




Pypar lead me through dozens of similar corridors, all cold and sparse. Unusually sparse. Where was everyone?


I got my answer when Pypar opened the door to the Wraith’s private underground dining hall and a wave of yellow light and hearty cheers came out. Inside the hall it appeared that they’d managed to squeeze fully half the Wraith’s onto the long wooden benches that ran parallel either side of the even longer drab granite table. Gammon and lamb and beef and all manners of fruit and vegetable were piled high on plates of silver while drinking horns were being held in the air and constantly refilled with wine or beer by sombre looking servants in white robes carrying jugs of gold. Torches hung from the walls.


By the looks of the red faces and semi glazed eyes they’d been drinking for a while.


“Soldiers of Tenerbrisis. Our High Wraith has returned to us”


“Hail” the Wraith’s cried, slamming their drinking horns rhythmically on the table “Hail. Hail. Hail”


Smiling I raised my hand for silence.


“My fellow Wraiths.Eternal servants of Tenerbrisis. After three months I have succeeded in the mission the Zaharek, the instrument of the dark god's will, gave me”


I paused for effect and drank in the eagerness in my warrior’s eyes before slowly making my way to my grand chair at the far end of the table, placing each foot in front of the other with deliberance. Pypar followed.


“My target” I went on “Had betrayed our order in favour of gold. He fed the Zaharek false information which resulted in the death of one of our own, Firion Vexx.”


A chorus of hisses echoed off the high walls.


“The Zaharek, obviously distraught, wanted to send one of you to bring this traitor to justice. But I insisted that I should have the honour. Any man who betrays us, I said, should feel the wrath of Raven Darkfire.”


“I almost feel sorry for the bastard” Pypar said. There was a murmuring of agreement.


“I chased the traitor all over Tivia, from Tavok to White Mountain to Dranso. Through forests and deserts, over mountains and ravines the traitor fled. He hid in remote taverns, abandoned castles. When I finally caught him he’d crawled into the Xyblos sewage system like the rodent he was. He died surrounded by a thousand tonnes of shit”


Before my chair I saw that a horn filled with blood red wine had been placed next to a plate of steaming hot gammon. I picked the horn up slowly, treasuring it as though it was made of glass.


“He ran for three months, down every path he knew, to try and escape our vengeance but he ultimately failed. It seems he had forgotten our words” I raised the horn up to my eyes.“Kujas Zharen ne julis. All roads lead to death.”


“Kujas Zharen ne julis” the Wraiths echoed.


I drained the horn, savouring the strong taste. I feel into my chair, a great wooden thing, and dug into the gammon. Pypar took his place to my right.


“What has happened while I was gone?” I asked him.


“Well for starters we have some new recruits”


“I noticed. They’re the ones closest to the door correct? The two wood elf twins and the berserker looking one?”


Pyapar blinked.


“That's them. It never ceases to amaze me how you notice new people”


“I wouldn’t be a very good leader if I didn’t. Have they been initiated?”


“They have”


“I would like to meet them then.”


“I thought you would”


Pypar whistled so loudly it cut through dozens of conversations. Three Wraiths at the bottom of the table rose once they’d heard it. Well, two rose. The other, a beast of a man with an orange mohawk and beard, attempted to get up but managed to trip over the bench and landed on the floor face first. He shot to his feet red faced and marched towards me and Pypar rather stiffly.


“These two lovely elf maidens are Rhian and Annas Redtree” announced Pypar when the trio arrived. The two elves, identical except that Rhian had a small mole on her cheek,had been blessed with chestnut hair, hazel eyes and skin as deathly pale as my own. Their physique was slender and they seemed to float rather than walk. On their backs they each carried an Elven wind bow, their upper and lower limbs lined with silver, and a quiver of arrows with nasty looking steel heads. By their sides they carried a pair of Kopis’s, slender and deadly.


“And this drunken oaf is Faas Skorson of the Northern Isles”. Faas was a terrifying specimen. Not only was his hair and beard bright orange but he also had a network of scars on his naked scalp either side of his mohawk. One of his eyes was sky blue but the other was a golden brown.


“Who you calling an oaf you son of a pig fucker?” the huge northerner slurred. He was what I like to call completely and utterly shitfaced drunk. Beside him, Rhian giggled.


“Do you think it is wise to use such language in the presence of your captain?” I asked.


“Would you rather I dropped to my knees and offer to suck your cock for the love I bear you?”


“Not particularly”


“Then I suggest you get used to the language my lord”.


Rhian burst into open laughter then and had to lean against her sister to stop herself from falling. Annas looked thoroughly unimpressed.


“Forgive her my lord” she said “She’s had one too many horns of ale”


“So I can see”


“With your permission I would like to escort her back to her room before she embarrases herself further”

“Of course”


Annas bowed and wrapped her arm around her sniggering sister before frog marching her out the hall with as much dignity as she could muster.


“Drunken bitch” scoffed Faas. He grabbed a jug full of wine from a passing servant and downed it in three mighty swallows. The purple liquid ran through his bushy beard, staining it beetroot. “If we are done here my lord I would like to return to my seat”


“By all means”


I watched the northerner stagger back to his place at the end of the table, nearly knocking over another poor servant. Pypar,I saw, had buried his face in his hands.


“Well. That was interesting”


“My lord I am so sorry. If I had known that they would behave the way they did….” His voiced trailed and he had to gesticulate with his hands to finish.


“Nonsense Pypar. As long as they are loyal, can fight and treat the Zaharek respectfully I don’t care how they act around me”


“They can fight my lord. Believe me. Faas is a demon with an axe. And the twins! I’ve never seen anyone shoot an arrow so accurately”


“They’re wood elves Pypar. Chances are they were using bows before they could walk.” I said. My throat felt dry so I signaled a servant and he refilled my horn with a sickeningly sweet honeyed wine.


“Even so”


I waved the subject away with a hand.


“Anything else?”


“Nothing that springs to mind”


“Where's Klios? Does my Third deem my return not worth his presence?”


Shifting slightly, Pypar whispered “Klios is dead”


A beat passed as I digested this new, foul tasting information. I could my anger building up within me, begging to be released like a leviathan. My left arm shot across the table and grabbed the collar of Pypar’s tunic before I yanked his face so close to mine our noses were almost touching.


“Explain.” I hissed “Quickly.”


Fear shone in Pypar’s eyes as he started babbling.


“The Zaharek sent him on a mission a few weeks after you to assassinate an Elmorian man called Antoine Tybos. He was a member of the Red Hand, a group dedicated to fighting for Elmorian independence and based in Qurth. It appears that though Klios managed to kill Tybos, he still raised the alarm and was overwhelmed.”


I searched Pypar’s face for any sign of deceit. Thankfully I found none.


“And this didn’t spring to mind?”


Fear was replaced by a burning shame. Good. I released Pypar and sat back in my chair.


“I want you to go to Qurth” I said “Take your new recruits. Now's as good a time as any to bloody them.”


“What would you have me do my lord?” asked Pypar.


“I want you to find every single Red Hand member in Qurth and I want you to kill them. Kill them slowly and painfully and when they’re dead, skin them and hang them from the city walls. Show no mercy and leave no witnesses. If anyone sees you, kill them as well. I don’t care who they are; rich, poor, male, female, strong or weak. I. Want. Them. Dead. Is that understood?”


Pypar risked a small smile.


“I understand perfectly my lord.” he answered.


“Good.” I rose then. “If you’ll excuse me I must prepare for my mission now. Have my horse prepared as soon as is convenient. Good night Pypar.”


“Good night my lord and good luck.”


“Thank you Pypar”


I began walking when a thought entered my mind.


“Oh Pypar. One more thing; If you fail me in this matter I will skin you and wear your hide. Do I make myself clear?”


Watching Pypar’s face pale was answer enough for me and I left him there, contemplating his future.


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