The Raven: Ascension (Part 4)

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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

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Chapter 4

Isaac

 

A week after my fight with Mayana I was laying on my bed in my chamber reading some book I’d picked up from the castle library called “A Military History of Tivia”. I’d always been interested in history and reading about how legendary warriors like the Soldier Kings of the Kriegas Dynasty, Sir Wilhelm Tylas and the Iron Duke Artur von Klass conquered most of the known world and fought against the old human kingdoms, the High Elves of Llyria, the Wood Elves of Elnish, the Dwarves of Drazak and the Orc and Goblin tribes of the wastes of Oras was just as fun as sparring with a very angry foreigner.

 

A knock at my chamber door made me put my book down.

 

“Who is it?”

 

“It’s me.” replied the high pitch voice of young Jack Meerson,the Grand Master’s personal servant.“The Grand Master wants to see you immediately”

 

“Give me a minute Jack.”

 

After folding the corner of my page I hoisted myself up. I was wearing a open neck shirt of white cloth and black woolen trousers, which were a lot more casual than the stone grey tunic and trousers I wore while fighting. My boots, currently sitting besides the door, were worn but made of fine brown leather. I pulled them on before moving over to my wardrobe. It and my bed were the only pieces of furniture in my tiny, three by eight room. Inside the wardrobe were a dozen pairs of identical shirts and trousers and a large leather belt. Attached to the belt was my sword Flame, a holster with a flintlock pistol in it and several throwing knives in small pouches. I wrapped it round my waist and tightened the brass buckle.

 

“Ready” I announced as I threw open the door and beheld Jack. He was only fourteen and as a result he’d been cursed,like most teenagers were, with acne. His jet hair was shaved to stubble at the sides while on top it was angled towards his left eye. By his side, attached to his cotton trousers, was a small steel knife.

 

“Good. Follow me.”

 

As we made our way through the winding hallways of the keep I looked out of one of the many gothic windows and was suddenly made aware that it was in fact late afternoon thanks to the now pitch black sky swarming against the faint orange glow that was now confined to the horizon, atop half a dozen mountain peaks. In the courtyard below a precision of about thirty men mounted on top of fine horses had appeared. By the looks of things they were well equipped with shining plate armour on their arms and barbuta helms as well as all manner of steel weaponry. Grass green surcoats covered their upper bodies and a silver star had been sewed onto the chest.

 

“Who are they?” I asked.

 

“Elmorians” answered Jack “And before you ask that's all I know. They arrived about ten minutes ago and their leader went straight to the Grand Master’s chambers.”

 

“What he look like?”

 

“Don’t know. He was wearing a hooded cloak.”

 

“Whoever this is clearly doesn’t want to be seen”

 

“You think?” Jack said sarcastically.

 

I was about to reply when we rounded a corner and came face to face with the looming door of the Grand Masters personal chambers. Jack racked his knuckles against the dark oak and stepped back as the door swung open and a figure appeared.

 

“I’ve bought Tivioli,Grand Master”

 

The Grand Master was a plain looking man in his late forties. His mahogany hair was starting to grey and the skin on his face was getting thiner and thiner. Bundles of expensive, onyx furs hid the fact his body was deteriorating as well.

 

“Good work Jack” said the rumbling voice of the Grand Master “You are dismissed. I shan't be needing you for the rest of the night”

 

“Thank you Grand Master”

 

He watched Jack run off before fixing me with his pale eyes.

 

“Come in Isaac” he said “We have much to discuss.”

 

The Grand Master’s chamber was much larger and more lavishly furnished than my chambers. Rugs of bearskin lay underneath a set of three blue velvet couches and a tiny, round table that sat beside a huge, roaring fireplace. In one corner stood a stone desk, covered in neat piles of paper and in another a Longsword lent against the stone wall.

 

The couches, I realised, were occupied by four people but it took me a couple of seconds to adjust to the fact that Quinn was among them. He looked up at me as I entered, confusion written across his face. Two of the three others I recognised as friends of Quinn but their names had long since abandoned my memory. Both were human but one was a brown haired female who looked short sitting down while the other was male and of average height. The hair on his head had been shaved to stubble but it too appeared to be brown. The third person, however, I had never seen before in my life. Like Jack had said they were indeed wearing a hooded cloak but the mysterious person was a she rather than a he, a woman around thirty years old. And she appeared to be quite wealthy as the cloak she wore was made of good quality green cloth lined with silver and gold thread. The boots on her feet were caked with mud, as were the bottom half of her trousers. I couldn’t see the upper half of her body due to the cloak but even that could not hid the arming sword that she carried at her side.

 

“Please be seated Isaac”

 

I obeyed and soon found myself beside Quinn who was trying to keep his face neutral. The Grand Master sat on his own separate couch. He leant forward, hands in fists on his lap, and said “Isaac. Quinn. Wimarc. Orella. May I present Lady Roisia of House Lysander, Marquisa of Mont Saint Michelle.”

 

I couldn’t believe it. Of all the people I’d expect to be hired by, an Elmorian noblewoman was definitely one of the wilder suggestions.

 

“An honour, my lady” Wimarc said.

 

“The honour is mine” replied the Marquisa. Her voice was soft and proper and had the bearest of the Elmorian rolling accent.

 

“May I now ask why you have come?” inquired the Grand Master.

 

“You may.”

 

The Marquisa drew herself up and launched into a lengthy explanation;

 

“I am a member of the Red Hand, an organisation of Elmorian nobles and peasants fighting against Tivian occupation. Over the past few years we have made arrangements, all of which I am not permitted to tell you, that have definitely strengthened our position. However, my fellow conspirators feel that having support from a few sympathetic Tivian nobles would greatly improve our position so they sent me to meet a few who have made it known to our various sources that they are interested at a month long masquerade ball and jousting tournament that is to be held at Kranriver Palace three weeks from now. And that's where you come in.”

 

I said “Forgive me my lady but how could we possibly help you in this scheme?”

 

“For starters you can help me actually get to the bloody thing.”
 

“I saw your escort on my way here. They looked imposing enough thirty feet up. No one would dare attack you.”

 

“I wish I shared your optimism but past events have taught me otherwise” said the Marquisa, giving me a sideways look. “In any case your swords and skill will increase my chances of getting to my destination and surviving the month. The second task I require of you is to kill a certain…. Thorn in our side if you will.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Marquis Marcel L'eaubleue of Dechant. Also known as the Duke of Elmoria.

 

“You’re joking.” exclaimed Quinn. “Why would you want to kill one of your own?”

 

“Because the man's a traitor. He was the late King Louis’s uncle and commanded by his nephew to lead an army against the Tivian’s. Instead he bent the knee and changed sides. It was his soldiers that not only cut down the young king, his personal guard and his loyal lords but also King Elisio and Queen Lucrezia of Wanland who had come to honour their alliance with our country. For these actions I do not consider him “one of our own”.”

 

An awkward silence fell on us like a blanket after the Marquisa’s outburst.

 

“I see” the Grand Master said after a while. “So you want these four for the entire festival?”

“And the three weeks leading up to it. Seven weeks in total.”

 

“That’s going to be quite expensive my lady. Very expensive.”

 

“Cost is no issue I assure you.”

 

“I hope so. It’s going to cost about sixty thousand Imperial Jel’s.”

 

Wimarc swore softly under his breath.

 

“I see.” the Marquisa said, considering the offer “That is indeed a large amount of money. I was thinking more along the line of forty five thousand.”

“My lady, these are no ordinary people. They are highly trained killers, plucked off the street at a young age and pushed to physical perfection. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone as good as these.”

 

“Oh I have no doubt about that. I just don’t believe they’re worth sixty thousand. At a push, maybe fifty.”

 

“Sixty.”

 

“Fifty.”

 

“How about we meet in the middle? Fifty-five thousand.”

 

“Done.”

 

It’s an odd experience watching people argue about how much you’re worth.

 

“Excellent.” smiled the Grand Master. “When will you be wanting them?”

 

“Immediately. We have much ground to cover if we are to arrive at the festival on time.”

 

An hour later, all five of us were in the castle’s courtyard. I had changed into my assassins gear and had a small satchel filled with salted meat and biscuits hanging from my shoulder. The others had changed as well; Quinn in the same outfit as before and an Pernach dangled head down from his belt while Wimarc and Orella both wore a dull white. He carried a pair of estocs while she carried a variety of savage looking knives of varying lengths.

 

“We’re all set my lady.”

 

“Good. Guiscard; find our new companions some horses.” ordered the Marquisa.

 

“At once my lady.”

 

I was placed on a destrier as black as sin. She was a suspicious thing and whinnied when I mounted. All things considered though, I was still better of than Wimarc, whose stallion threw him off the second he was fully in the saddle.

 

“Be patient with the horses.” Guiscard urged. “They’ve known no riders other than their owners.”

 

“Where are the owners?” asked Orella. She’d managed to calm her black and white horse.

 

“They’re dead. Them and forty others.”

 

“What happened?”
 

“Bandits.” was all he said before riding to his Lady’s side.

 

The horsemen were forming back into a column, three across and ten deep. The Marquisa was the column’s head, in between Guiscard and another soldier. We were placed at the rear in an extra row of three and one, Wimarc, on his own at the very back. Quinn stood in the middle on his surprisingly calm grey destrier with me on his right and Orella on his left. The other riders shifted impatiently and spoke to each other in Elmorian. A few glanced at us and whispered comments to their friends but we were largely ignored.

 

“Good luck.”

 

The Grand Master had silently appeared by my side. Earlier, it had been agreed that the brotherhood would receive the lion's share of the fifty-five thousand jels, while we were to be content with ten percent each, which was a whole three months wages.

 

“Thank you Grand Master. We will do the brotherhood proud.”

“I sincerely hope so Quinn.”

 

The column started off at that moment. Before I knew it I was riding through the great portcullis, thoughts of gold and adventure in my head, into the world beyond.


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