Chapter 3: (v.2) Steel Horn Mountain Part 1

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 320
Comments: 1

 

After Tharen and Aylwin left the farmhouse, they each took a fallen sword from the field, and expediently made way onto the nearby road, heading west with hopes to reach Steel Horn Mountain before nightfall. Their journey led them through another forest that was thin and not very vibrant. However, the canopy was unusually thick, and almost completely blocked out the sun. Luckily, the road they were on was easy to see and follow, so they had no trouble navigating through. And as the two Brayssians reached the edge of the forest, they spotted a pleasant surprise.

 

“Oh look,” said Aylwin with excitement, “you can see mountains from here!” In the distance, with in a massive dry basin, a vast mountain range can be seen. The basin’s top edge starts just a few meters away from the treeline.

 

As they walk out from underneath the last tree, Tharen looks to the mountains with his hand shielding his eyes, then looks to the sky. “Wow, we made it much faster than expected. We still have about half a day left to actually get there.”

 

“Then we should keep up the pace. The range seems to be a good ten miles away, or more.”

 

After just a few steps past the edge of the basin, the landscape abruptly changes. The feeling of grass and soil underfoot was replaced by gravel and dry dirt, and every few feet is the occasional brown weed. Tharen and Aylwin look around to notice the bareness of the land. They realize the strangeness of how a forest was right on the brim of a total wasteland.

 

“This place…’ Aylwin pauses for a moment, “it’s kind of ominous, don’t you think? As if the land itself is dying.”

 

 

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The Brayssians finally make it into the mountains about three hours before sunset. The road starts to make turns around the mountains, going in a dense zigzag. Once making a right turn around the fourth mountain, they spot signs of civilization. About a quarter mile away, they can see a few cabins and a horse carriage heading toward them, with a man atop it.

 

Aylwin gives a sigh of relief. “Ah good, people. Maybe they can tell us which mountain is Steel Horn.

 

“Yeah. We should ask that carriage driver when we meet halfway. He probably lives here.

 

They continue walking until they get about ten meters away from the carriage. Then they slow down to a stop as Tharen tries to wave the driver down. “A little help, please!” The Driver responds with the tip of his hat.

 

The driver is a white skinned, black haired, bearded man, wearing clothing common to upper-middle class men of Zanova. His carriage, pulled by four horses, had a large car and was tall. The clanking and rattling of steel can be heard coming from inside as he approaches and stops beside Tharen and Aylwin.

 

“G’evening gentlemen,” the man says with enthusiasm. “Whatcha need?”

 

“Hello sir. My name is Tharen, and this is my companion, Aylwin,” he said with formality and respect.“We’re looking for Steel Horn Mountain. We’d be grateful if you could you point us in the right direction.”

 

“Nice to meet you, Tharen. You can call me Silverblade. And if it’s Steel Horn that you’re lookin’ for, then you’re on the right path. I passed it not 30 minutes ago.”

 

Tharen’s mood lights up. “Really? What does it look like?”

 

“It’s the biggest mountain in the range. Believe me, you’ll know it when you see it. And there will be a lot more homes on it than the others.”

 

Aylwin chimes in, “Silverblade? Is that a nickname?”

 

Silverblade smiles and says, “in a way. It’s my tradin’ name. I’m a weapons merchant. In fact, lookin’ at those swords in your belts, I got the feelin’ that you boys might interested in my cargo.”

 

Tharen and Aylwin look to each other for a moment, then nod in agreement. Then Tharen looks to Silverblade and says, “depends on how much you’re selling for.”

 

“Depends on what you want. I’ve got some steel in here for as much as 500 gold, and some for as little as 5 silver. And lucky for you boys, you get the traveler’s discount. Helps me out to rid some weight on the way.”

 

“Well then, that’s worth taking a look, for sure,” replied Tharen, eager to see what’s available.

 

The merchant hops off his carriage and leads them to the side. He opens the side doors reveal his cargo and steps out of the way to let Tharen and Aylwin have a better look. There are all sorts of weapons from around Zanova, some perhaps even from beyond.

 

“You could arm a small city with all this,” said Aylwin.

 

“Indeed I could,” agreed Silverblade pridefully, “what exactly are you lookin’ for in a blade? Light, heavy? Short, long? Slashin’, stabbin’? You name it, and I got it.”

 

Tharen reaches into the carriage and pulls out a sheathed sword. He looks at Silverblade and asks, “may I?”

 

“Feel free, give it a try,” insisted Silverblade.

 

Tharen removes the sheath from the sword and slowly scans it with his eyes.

 

“Ahh, great taste. Four feet long, fifteen pounds, hardened steel. Mined, foraged and created by dwarves,” listed Silverblade.

 

“Tharen,” nudged Aylwin, “we can't afford that.”

 

“Call me old fashion, for I believe in trade as much as I believe in coin,” hinted Silverblade, “those bows on your backs, may I see them?”

 

“I will show you, but know that I will not be trading it,” said Aylwin handing the merchant the bow.

 

“My-my, excellent craft these are, up north is where you got them I presume?” wondered Silverblade.

 

“How would you know that?” asked Tharen.

 

“Do you see how it bends outwards at each side of the shaft? That is a design that is only available in the north,” said Silverblade.

 

“Odd, I was told that it was made down south,” said Tharen.

 

“That was no lie, it was crafted down here. We would transport them north,” explained the merchant still looking at the bow.

 

“We?” questioned Tharen.

 

“I helped the man who made these. Close friend and ally of mine,” replied Silverblade.

 

Alywin looks at Tharen with a concerned look on his face. Both of them know the man who crafted the weapons for the Brayssia, and he does not live this far south. They are worried that they are being conned.

 

Silverblade doesn't notice the change in the boy's body language, he is too busy looking at the bow. He then says “Ahh, yes. Look here very closely,” pointing at the inside part of the shaft right above the handle.

 

Tharen cautiously nears the bow and looks for what the merchant is pointing at.

 

“Do you see the two marks? HH, which is the signature of Henry Hugh, that man who made this bow, along with the other,” said Silverblade.

 

Tharen and Aylwin fade to ease as that is the name of the man they heard about.

 

“We know Henry too,” said Tharen.

 

“Is that who you are visitin’ in Steel Horn?” asked Silverblade.

 

“That is not why we ventured here, but if it be that Henry is there. I would like to pay him a visit,” said Tharen.

 

“Tell you what,” proposed Silverblade, “If you help me I will help you.”

 

“Go on,” said Aylwin in interest.

 

“I was on my way to Steel Horn to see him actually. Unfortunately, I saw signs of bandits up the road so I turned back. I alone can't defend my cargo. As you know It will be night soon and I'm in a bit of spot here, bandits are very active at night. If you two help me through the night and escort me to Steel Horn. I will give you a pair of those Dwarven swords in exchange for whatever coin you have and those scrap swords,” explained Silverblade.

 

“Deal,” confirmed Tharen.

“Glad to hear. I'm going to need all the help that I can get.”

Tharen looks at the sun and says, “it looks like we have a little under an hour before sunset. Should we just set up here for the night?”

 

“That would give us enough time to get a fire goin’ and layout my alarm,” said Silverblade.

 

“Alarm?” questioned Aylwin.

 

“Yes,” replied Silverblade. “My alarm. I set a perimeter of these very thin strings around us attached to some tin cans filled with some various noise tools, so that if anyone touches the string which will be practically invisible in the dark; it will rattle and wake us up. It's somethin’ I always bring with me so I can sleep the night without wakin’ up with a slit throat.”

 

“Good thing you're well prepared,” noted Aylwin.

 

“Well prepared my ass,” admitted Silverblade. “I brought my alarm, however I regretfully did not bring food with me.”

 

“Me and Aylwin will go hunt, though I haven't seen anything to hunt yet,” said Tharen

 

“There isn't much life here in Zenova’s belly button,” said Silverblade.

 

“So that’s what this place is called,” speculated Aylwin.

 

“That is what I call it anyways. This place doesn't actually have a name, nor does it exist accordin’ to some,” corrected Silverblade.

 

“What do you mean by that?” wondered Tharen.

 

“What I mean my friend,“ paused Silverblade, “is that most travelers aren't dumb enough to venture this way, or have no reason to do so. All you normally see in these parts are traders, and lots of them. Traders from around the world bring their goods through Steel Horn Mountain. Likely because there are no kings or laws or tariffs to deal with here.”

 

“No kings?” choked Tharen, “How? Why?”

“Look, we can chat after we have set up for the night,” recommended Silverblade, “We are losing sun as we speak.”

 

“Shit you're right, I'll get the firewood, you set up the perimeter; and Aylwin, try and find something we can eat,” ordered Tharen.

 

“Good luck, There are a few desert hairs around, but they are swift and agile. Very hard to catch one of them,” Silverblade made known.

 

“That's what bows are for,” smiled Aylwin walking away from the site.

 

Tharen looks around the camp for some dead logs to make a fire. At the same time, Silverblade gets to work on the alarm.

 

------

 

The sun has completely set much like the alarm perimeter around the camp. Tharen and Silverblade sit around the small fire and wait for Aylwin to return for his overly long hunt.

 

“You don't think anything has happened to your friend do you?” fretted Silverblade.

 

“What would happen to him out here? Did you not say that there isn't much out here?”

 

“Isnt much as far as small game and edibles. But there is no shortage of big dangers in the great basin. Scorpions, snakes, hyenas packs, sabertooth tigers, and much lesser dangers like bandits.”

 

“Aylwin knows what he's doing, if he isn't back in half an hour then I will worry. Until then, tell me about this leaderless place.”

 

“What is there to tell that I didn't already tell?”

 

“How does it work? Not having a leader rather.”

 

“It works perfectly. People are capable of doin’ things on their own. As long as you have a society workin’ together towards the same goal, a king isn't needed. Henry actually taught me that.”

 

“What is Henry like? I haven't seen him since I was very young. I doubt he'd even recognize me.”

 

“Where do I even start? He knows everything there is to know about managin’ a business and people. He is kind but can be firm, never too firm though. He values people more than he values money or things. That is likely why everyone wants to follow him.”

 

“It sounds to me like you do have a king.”

 

“Henry is business owner. He doesn't lead the town, though people would probably listen to him if he asked. Still, he isn't a king.”

 

“What is a king in your eyes, Silverblade?”

 

“Never thought about it before.”

 

“Would you think about it if there were different kings in the surrounding cities?”

 

“No. no lazy king wants to get off his ass and come to this wasteland, not even send a few soldiers to make sure we are even still alive. All kings care about is themselves and their homes. As long as they have men to protect them, people to serve them, and a way to eat, they are content. Changin’ who it is that scratches their ass on the throne changes nothing,” answered Silverblade in an aggressive tone.

 

“Don't let a couple of tyrants taint your view of kings. There are great people who can make great kings, you just have to find them.”

 

“And who is goin’ to find them? The current kings? Their followers? No, a king does not search for someone to take his power. Nor does his followers seek their graves to attempt betrayal. Tell me Tharen, who will find this great king?” ranted Silverblade.

 

“I will.”

 

“And why would you do that?”

 

“Because I love Zenova. I love its people. I love its lands, waters, plants, trees, mountains and everything inbetween.”

 

Silverblade can hear the truth and determination in Tharens voice and said “You truly do don't you?”

 

“I do,” Tharen answered confidently.

 

Suddenly the rattling noises of the alarm catches their attentions. They jump to their feet, draw swords, and look to the direction of the rattling.

 

“How do I get in!” called out Aylwin from the dark.”

 

“One sec! I’ll let you in!” said Silverblade sheathing his blade and walking over to Aylwins voice.

 

Silverblade lifts up the strings enough for Aylwin to crawl under. Aylwin crawls under and comments, “that is not visible at all.”

 

“That's the point,” said Silverblade.

 

Aylwin walks over to the fire and sets down two Desert Hairs.

 

“What took you so long man,” asked Tharen.

 

“The second one didn't die from my shot, I had to chase it around for like an hour,” explained Aylwin.

 

“No matter, we have food. Lets cook it up and get eatin’. Im starved,” complained Silverblade.

 

Aylwin wasted no time or words before he starts preparing the Desert Hairs. He skinned and gutted them fast and fluently as if he has done this one hundred times. Silverblade fetches a Grill from his wagon and sets it up over the fire, using sticks to hold it up. Aylwin places the small amount of meat on the grill.

 

“It's not a feast, but it will get us through the night,” said Tharen.

 

Silverblade looks at Aylwin expecting a response to the seemingly rude statement. There was no response or acknowledgment from Aylwin.

 

“You did great Aylwin. I would have been happy with one and you doubled that so… cheers to you,” babbled Silverblade in an awkward and uncomfortable tone.

 

“Are you alright?” asked Aylwin in a confused tone.

 

“Uh, ya. Never been better why?” muttered Silverblade with a guilty look on his face.

 

“What is the matter with you,” cautioned Tharen.

 

“I was expectin’ a fight,” confessed Silverblade saying words two times fast. “I thought when you said that it isn't a feast, he was gunna take that the wrong way. You know. Like saying he was a bad hunter or somthin’?”

 

Aylwin and Tharen look at each other puzzled from the random outburst, then look back at Silverblade and say nothing.

 

Silverblade takes a deep breath and calmly says, “Sorry about that. Something about the possibility of conflict between two friends turns me into an idiot. Sorta like a phobia.”

 

“What started this phobia?” asked Aylwin.

 

“It's not somthin’ I like to think about.”

 

“Sorry for arising old memories,” apologized Aylwin

 

“No-no, don't be. Lets just cook up some dinner and forget it,” said Silverblade.

 

“It's almost cooked,” announced Tharen flipping over the meat.

 

“Good, I’m starved,” said Silverblade.

 

Ten minutes pass and the meat is cooked. Tharen divides the meat three ways but seems to give himself a smaller portion than the others.

 

“I think you're shortin’ yourself Tharen,” mentioned Silverblade. “You can take more of mine.”

 

“I have what I need,” explained Tharen.

 

“Are you sure?” wondered Silverblade.

 

Tharen nods and takes a bite out of his meat. Aylwin and Silverblade take a bite out of their own meat. Before long the three of them finish eating without words and get ready for bed.

 

“Silverblade,” said Tharen to gain his attention, “if we get attacked, can we count on you to help us fight?”

 

“I am quite skilled with my weapons. I practice and use them to better get an understanding of my merchandise. This is what separates good merchants from the poor ones,” assured Silverblade.

 

“Sounds like something Henry would say,” said Tharen.

 

“He is the one who taught me what I know,” said Silverblade. “He is a great mentor and friend.” He finishes his meal and stands up. “I’ll take watch for the first couple hours. You two finish up and head hit the hay. We’ll head to the mountain tomorrow.” He goes to the carriage and sits on top of the car.

 

Aylwin takes his last bite and quietly asks Tharen, “do you think we can trust him?”

 

Tharen swallows the last of his food. “Definitely. I think we should rest easy tonight.”

 

“Alright. Goodnight then.”

-----------------END OF CHAPTER--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks for reading. Feedback is welcome :)


Submitted: January 30, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Dylan Henlisia and Marche Taylor. All rights reserved.

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Dylan Henlisia and Marche Taylor

We're having format issues when transferring the chapters from Google docs to here. Please excuse the inconsistencies in indentation/spacing.

Tue, January 31st, 2017 12:34am

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