Chapter 1: Siege in The Sunlight

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

Reads: 84

Chapter 1

Siege in the Sunlight 




 

Arethor Celstrum proudly poured another special brew, the customers were drinking them up as fast as they could. With travelers coming in from quest to quest, it is a good way to get a quick bit of energy for the coming troubles they may face. And it was becoming even more apparent ever since the royal guard had increased its military spending significantly. Which only meant trouble was brewing among the nations. Arethor had seen it happen many times before. Luckily, the village of Tavernkeep was strong, mainly because of the level headed and ambitiously smart King, King Orieth. 

A man walks up to the bar, taking a seat next to a daily customer, Killian . Killian comes to the tavern no matter the circumstances. He's an average citizen who works at the Tavernkeep library, which is larger than most buildings in the entirety of the city, second next to the Kings castle.

Killian observes the man with a large stature who's tall and muscular. He wears an armour set that perfectly encapsulates his posture. But Arethor can tell by the looks in his eye he is going to leave this one for now. The man in his booming voice calls Arethor over.

“I’ve been told you have a special brew here that may nurture my wounds.” Baxar booms. Arethor pauses, thinking over his options on how to tell him it’s just a refreshing drink. But decides it is best to play along with him. 

“Why,  just what may your name be sir?” He gives a prideful smile, fixing his posture, his large axe clinking with the other blades he had attached to his back.

“I am Baxar the Strongest! Having taken many villages over on my lonesome journey, and destroyed castles with my bare hands.” Killian does his best to cover his smile, turning his head to pretend to attend to something important. Arethor on the other hand doesn’t even flinch, he had gotten used to having to listen to over exaggerated stories as to hype up everyone in the bar. Late nights roaring with laughter and applause with the torches blazing bright was what he lived for, but not without its fair share of impossibly unrealistic stories.

“Well, Baxar the Strongest, let's make a deal, you don't destroy our fine village and I give you my finest brew!” Baxar bursts out laughing, his long beard and hair glimmering in the late night torch light, shaking his head and pounding his fist on the table, making cold coins jump about.

“Haha! I agree with your deal, even though I know I could not take on this beautiful village you have here, it is so peaceful. Has it ever seen the face of war, or the trenches of evil?” 

Arethor pours the enthusiastic man his special brew, sprinkling an extra amount of the special grinded plant to make his drink seem a bit more powerful than it was meant to be. He thinks over the few times a mod of goblins had dug a hole through the ground and trashed some stores, and the time they had conflict with a nearby village over a mass disappearance of a few hundred chickens. But mostly Tavernkeep had stayed away from war. 

“The only war we’ve seen around here was the one that brought this place to life. Our King three generations ago had found a bandit camp, almost the size of our village. So he spent years gathering people from different villages, people sick of the tyranny, and when he had enough, and trained them to be warriors, they obliterated the bandit camp and made this village. Over time people from other lands came and stayed.” Baxar chugs his drink down, being as loud as possible with it as well. He slams the wooden cup down with fury, wiping away the brew stuck on his beard.

“Your King sounded like a real warrior. I was part of a village that got raided when I was a youngling. Ever since, I’ve gone from town to town trying to find the perfect place to rest. But these quests keep calling me, it’s what I was meant for anyways.” Suddenly a creature in the corner, perhaps a badger, starts to strum his guitar. Of course, everyone requests the village's anthem, and so he complies. Singing his heart and lungs out. Arethor smiles, the badger is Hemm, he comes every once and awhile, brave little badger he is. Gets himself into all sorts of trouble like most people who enter this tavern.

Baxar gets up, walking over to the fire pit where they all were gathering to sing, and sat down next to Hemm, who gives him a warm smile. After he finishes the song everyone cheers and chugs down their brew perusal. 

“You are quite the character now are you mate? Howdo Youdo? I'm Hemm.” Hemm had a history of getting in trouble for seeming sarcastically friendly, but Arethors theory is that everyone is just a bit too sensitive. 

“I am Baxar the Strongest, and may I request to play a song from my village. It was destroyed and I am the last person in the land to remember it’s sweet melody.” Hemm, with no real response, just hands the guitar over to him. When he played, it was like he was a whole different person. Everyone cheered for him as he sang and played. It was weird seeing such a huge man dance around like an elfling. Killian watches, dazzled by the performance. After he finishes the performance he shakes everyone's hands, almost ripping their arms off. It was safe to say that Baxar had found his place to rest. He walks back over to Arethor who had already brewed him up another drink, which he graciously chugs down immediately. 

"Way I see it, if a two-bit thief comes around here and steals my bread, then what's stopping me from lobbin' his bloody head off right where he stands?!" A presumptuous man exclaims from the table just across the bar. Arethor can tell from just his unique voice that it's Seamus. A local merchant who is quick to voice opinion on the high rates of crime, which is fair when you're a lonely ol' merchant who has little to no protection and insists on selling in the darkest corners of the village. It's natural selection if you ask Arethor. 

"With the war to the East and the skirmish to the West, who knows what will happen to Tavernkeep! Everyone wants to be a hero until they see those huge waves of Jorinian soldiers marching over the hills, then it's them trembling in fear." Seamus mutters aggressively as he sips away at his brew, his best mate Cisco sits half unconscious across from him, his head laying down on the wooden table, his mug barely in his grip. Cisco only really stays around for the free brews that Seamus seems to endlessly supply him with. But Seamus was right about something for once, and that's that Arethor doesn't want to be in the path of a Jorinian army. 

Jorinian are believed to be beings from out of this world. They have complex technology that is beyond any current researcher's understanding. Though all you really need to know, according to most Kings wanting to calm the situation, is that the Jorinian army stops at nothing, they go to villages and raze them as they please. They seem to speak the universal language of Korvak, the language that most creatures speak in the continent of Hyvak.

 The Jorinin aren't inherently aggressive, they make deals and have trade routes with plenty of kingdoms, but sometimes they just take what they want. Some battles have been won agaisn't them but not many, and not without thousands of casualties. 

"HEY!" A man screams from across the bar. Arethor quickly looks to see Hemm jumping up and down as a man dangles his guitar above him. Arethor walks out from behind the bar, snatching the guitar out of the man's hand and dropping it into Hemm's arms who scurries away quickly. 

"What are you? A child? Get out of my bar you junkrat." Arethor spits, waving him away with his hands. The man doesn't budge, he stands with a mug in his hand, clearly having had one to many despite Arethor not recalling serving him even once. Another daily customer puts his hands on Arethors shoulder, he faintly looks to see it's his bubbly friend Otis, who gives him a concerned look.

"That's Leviticus, the King's son!" He whispers aggressively, his eyes wide with panic. But no such threat made Arethor's heart jump even a single beat. He had dealt with Leviticus before, only now he had cut his hair and wore peasants clothing, rendering him nearly unrecognizable from his usual high status. 

"Leviticus, what in the seven hell's has gotten into you?" Arethor asks, with a stern but concerning tone. Leviticus tries to maintain an aggressive posture but breaks down crying, slamming down onto the wooden bench behind him. He rubs his eyes, which are red from what he can only assume is a mix of lack of slumber and previous crying.

"My father has banished me from the castle! Not that I want back into the stuffy dinner party of a household, but he left my bloody stuff in there! So I have no money or clothing. Just this damned dagger to my name and that's it!" He whimpers, showing off a dagger with his family crest edged in. Fine workmanship from the finest of blacksmiths. Though his story was compelling, he didn't have a whole lot of sympathy for him. He had always been known to disobey his father and go off drinking and doing gods know what. 

"Dare I even ask why you were exiled?"Arethor responds, eyeing the bar to make sure no one was sitting around expecting service. Suddenly Baxar the Strongest appears from behind him. His booming voice disrupting all that was at peace.

"Dare I ask you to get off your lazy hinds and become a warrior! Show your father you are not a coward!" He raises his axe enthusiastically, almosting taking off the head of a nearby customer. 

"Only I am a coward! It wasn't even because of my drinking habits! We got news of a nearby bandit camp that was inching closer to Tavernkeep. Often we would just send a volley of men but this time father wanted me personally to go in with a troop and wipe the camp out. I've been training for weeks now, or rather, that's what my father thinks. I've actually been sneaking out to meet with...nevermind. Point being, I have no experience at all! So when we went to the camp, I ran away at the first sight of trouble." Baxar bursts out laughing, slapping his knees like he had just watched a jester fall down a staircase. 

"You are a coward!" He laughs loudly. Arethor gives him an ugly look, but quickly looks back at Leviticus who has an even more devastated expression. 

"Did your men parish?" He asks firmly, no longer caring if his words hurt his feelings. Because in all honesty Arethor was no warrior, but had at the very least the honor not to run away. Leviticus adjusts himself in his seat as if he was preparing himself for the bad news.

"Unfortunately not, because they immediately went and told my father!" He waves his hands in the air exastarbatingly. "Which is why you see me here before you today." He murmurs after taking a swig of a brew that was most likely not his. 

"Dear gods, you are a coward! Get out of my bar! I have no time for traitors." Arethor says, trying to push him out of his seat. He is only met with a shocked and confused face, pushing away Arethor and grabbing onto the bench for support. 

"You act as if I had joined the bandits or something! I would do no such thing! I didn't do such a thing!" He yelps in return, Arethor had only now really noticed how annoyingly flamboyant his voice was. He acted like a child who knew no better but thought they deserved better. One short glance at Baxar was all he needed to storm over to Leviticus and pry him off the bench and roughly toss him out of the bar. He scampers up and makes a dash for the door but Baxar slams it in his face to which they hear a loud thunk of his head hitting the hard wood.

"I WILL TELL MY FATHER OF THIS!" There is silence for a solid few moments. An empty thread considering he was just spouting about his predicament. 

"I SWEAR OF IT!" He yells before stomping away to whatever brothel he is sleeping in. Arethor shakes away the odd feeling the situation had given him and positions himself behind the bar, a customer placing down a few silver coins for a brew. He wears a cloak that carefully covers his face. 

"Does royalty always stir such trouble for you?" He asks, his voice low and scratchy, not aged but war torn. He had heard a voice as such many times before, always a different person. He sees a lot of faces in a bar where travelers come and go but you start to remember important types after a while. 

"We have no need for a mercenary in this town." Arethor says sternly, still handing him his brew. The Merc smiles, unveiling his cloak to show his dark black hair and even darker hazel eyes, one of which had a scar going through it that led all the way up his hair leaving a small empty line. He can make out a greatsword on his back as the handle pushes up on the cloak like a pitched tent. 

"Not in town for business, I have land here." He explains, taking a sip. It wasn't hard to believe. It isn't like Mercs are bad people, they have been responsible for taking down giants of war and large bandit camps and terrifying creatures of many types. But it comes to no surprise that they have also done some considerably bad things too.

"Really?"
"Really. I bought land and built a house just outside the walls deep in the forest. Technically it's part of Tavernkeep, at least according to the King who sent men down to my house to inform me of such. So I still have to pay his bloody taxes. I guess their reach is much farther than I knew." He says, taking a hardy swig of his drink, clanking the wooden mug back down. Arethor felt an overwhelmingly positive feeling of his presence, as if he was secretly a saint in disguise. 

"The King may seem a bit out of touch but his actions go not without reasoning. His taxes are fair are they not?" Arethor questions, looking busy as he washes away at the dirty mugs with a bucket of water beside his feet, which now looks thick as mud with how long he had been using it. The Merc leans back on the stool, daring himself not to tip over. 

"Yes I would say they are fair, coin is low right now. There is an awful amount of peace around here, no real need for a hard armed merc." He complains, letting the stool fall back forwards with a loud clunk. Arethor was used to people playing rough with the stools, he paid a good carpenter to make them as sturdy as possible. 

"Ah, no one is trying to hire a steelbound warrior to shoo away their Bongol infestations?" Arethor replies jokingly, awaiting some sort of facial reaction from the Merc, but he remains unamused. 

"Don't even joke about the damn Bongols, stupid name and equally stupid creature. Running around stealing crops." He mutters agrily with a look of disgust and obvious regret of how much he had probably dealt with them. Bongols are small gray creatures, imagine monkeys but hairless with pale grey skin and large heads but overall smaller. Ugly vermin that sneak into houses and steal things and quickly run away, more of a nuisance than rats. But at least rats can be cute sometimes. 

"I am much more than a Bongol Basher mind you! I've seen every war here for the past 200 years." He exclaims proudly. Now things started to make a bit more sense. 

"Oh, you're Elder? What's your birth year?" Arethor asks interestedly, leaning in to hear better over the loud bar. 

"103 BR" He says bashfully, downing the rest of his brew. 103 BR is certainly old. A long time ago the continent Hyvak became more advanced and started keeping track of time by years, starting at 1 naturally. Once they reached the year 150 more kingdoms had sprung up and after a great war known as The Horde War, they decided to start over, there is no real answer as to why but every kingdom felt it necessary so that is what they did. They called it the Rebirth, so 103 BR means the year 103 Before Rebirth. The current year is 240 AR, After Rebirth.

"Wow, you sure have seen war, only for 200 years though? Did you not join the army at 18 years of age?" Arethor questions, quickly crafting another batch of brew beneath the table from spare material from the last shipment. 

"For the first 50 years of my life I remained at my home village as a sort of guardian, I had all the skills of a warrior from my training but wanted to stay with my people. But after The Horde War, there was nothing left to protect. Which is why I became a Merc and had different armies hire me, but I only ever joined Armies that were good. I only ever wanted to protect, and that's what I plan on doing. Since I am Eldar I will live at least another hundred years, and I won't stop protecting until I am in my grave." He says rather heroically. 

"Well, I insist you stay at our inn, It's just upstairs." Arethor invites. 

"Perhaps, oh gods, I was so lost in my story I forgot to ask, what would your name be?" The Merc asks politely, leaning into the bar. 

"Arethor, and what might yours be?" He replies.

"Mesus, in ancient Elder language it means Strong Heart. But, Arethor, what is your story? I'm sure as a barkeep you've told your story many times." He says sarcastically. But he is right, and yet he still told his story each time. 

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you how many times I've told my story, I found a way to summarize it. Born in Lightholde, raised in Tavernkeep, took the family business and here I am!" He said as excited as he could, but after telling it over and over again, it was starting to get annoying. But Arethor is a very tolerable person and it was the least he could do for such an experienced veteran such as Mesus. 

"So what kind of conflict have you seen, Arethor?" Mesus asks, flexing his new vocabulary. Arethor had always been a rather peaceful person, his parents having taught him such; which was boding well for him thus far. It was at this point completely against his nature to harm someone, though he was plenty capable. 

"A fight in school once and that's about it." Arethor says jokingly. Though he was telling the truth. 

"Really?" Mesus laughs. "Who won?" He asks, doing his best to choke the answer out of him. 

"In all honesty, I lost. Well it's debatable because we both left with a bloody nose and a thorn in our asses. But he was much larger than me." He replies. His name was Torna and he was a large kid, though he wasn't inherently aggressive.e. He liked to act like his father was in charge of the school when in reality he was just a teacher. So naturally he would tell his father whenever a student had done something wrong and he was rewarded, and while generally Arethor strayed away from doing anything mischievous, he didn't find Torna's use of his father very fair. So without the intention to get in a fight he told him to stop crying to his father, which of course ended in him throwing his fists like a child. 

"Oh I'm sure you gave him a good fight though." Mesus says cheeringly, placing down a few coin for his tab. But before Arethor could give a clever response back the world shakes, glasses clatter and wooden mugs make hollow thunks as they hit the floor. Everyone in the room sat very still, but then all at once the warriors and guards sitting in the bar all fled outside to see what the source was. Arethor had only felt that horrid shake once in his life and it was something he surely hoped wasn't occuring now. Without hesitation, Mesus grabs Arethors arm, tugging him over the bar which he almost trips over. 

"What is this?" Arethor asks, his mind racing so fast he didn't even notice the entire tavern had emptied and they stood alone as the last person fled the door. The man screams as a blazing arrow pierces his chest, falling to the ground as he grips the entrance wound that was spreading fire across his ragged clothing. Mesus pulls Arethor out the door, they enter the small alley way that leads up to the main town square which was actually a giant circle full of market stands with buildings surrounding them. Arethor pulls away from Mesus's grasp and runs up the steep alleyway to the entrance of the town square, having to step over several flayed corpses, some of which are on fire. 

He peaks around the corner to see the clash of what he can register as bandits fighting the royal guard. They had considerable numbers and a constant barrage of fire arrows outside the walls plucking off soldiers along with their own men. As he stares incautiously a smaller collection of bandits lock eyes on Arethor standing defenselessly. They split away from the battle and start to charge towards the alley. 

"ARETHOR!" Mesus screams, waving violently at him to follow him as he stands at the bottom of the alleyway with his sword in hand. Arethor picks up the blade of a flaming body and starts his accelerated descent down the alleyway. Mesus runs alongside him as he passes and they keep a steady yet attentive pace as they run through the streets. Mesus looks back to see the ten or so bandits shouting their battle cry as they tear through the people running in the streets behind them. 

"This way!" Mesus aims at a small section of the city wall that was a gaping hole, no doubt used to smuggle people in, as for illegal items. Though right now wasn't the time for technical thinking, he was dead set on getting on the other side of those walls. He makes a quick maneuver and slides through the hole, his body slowing as it scraps along the grass. He rolls over and looks back to see if Mesus was close but watches as a bandit drops from a nearby house on top of him. They both hit the ground with a jarring smash. His sword flung from hands.

 The bandit grabs Mesus's cloak and pulls himself on top of him with a dagger. Arethor grabs the edges of the wall and pulls himself back into the city, and within a few feet of scrambling to get up he slams into the bandit and pushes him to the ground. Handling the sword he had found he jabs the sharp blade into the neck of the bandit who was over-encumbered by the weight of the many swords he had on his back. Though he closes his eyes he still feels the weight of the blade sinking into flesh. He lets out a gaspy breath as he tears the blade back out. 

"Arethor forget it, come!" Mesus says as he recovers, grabbing his shoulder and yanking him towards the hole in the wall. This time they both safely crawl out of the city, even motioning for people running by to come through as well. 

"My cabin is just north of here, we can make it there and wait out the siege." Mesus suggests as they stand in the grassy patch that divided the city walls to the forest just a few feet away. Arethor couldn't help but feel he was abandoning his people, which is an understandable feeling when you are sneaking out of the walls during a siege. 

"I have to go back! My tavern, everything I have left is there! I mean, I'm abandoning my people!" Arethor yells in a moment of realization. He had been so desperate to survive he didn't think about what it was he was really leaving behind. 

"No! I've seen hundreds of sieges in my life and every man who ever ran back in never comes back out! Your city might survive, they are strong, but you are not a warrior and it would be a useless death for you to go back in there and die. No one will blame you for running, this isn't a war." Mesus assures. If Arethor was going to trust anyone with advice when it comes to war, perhaps Mesus wasn't a bad idea. Though he hadn't really proved who he was entirely. 

"But did you see me? I killed that bandit!" Arethor argues, a weak one at that. 

"I won't forget you saved my life, but do you really think if that man had gotten up that you would have survived?" Mesus replies, carefully. Arethor gives him a silent gestures to suggest that he knows he wouldn't. 

"You are better off alive and well, now come on, we should reach my cabin before nightfall."



 

Baxar watches as the tiny men run out of the tavern, he can't help but notice the frantic behavior of Arethor behind the bar who had a petrified look on his face. No need for concern, Baxar already knew what was happening, and he wasn't about to let his new found paradise be fondled by some scum. 

"Everyone, FIGHT!" Baxar screams, raising his battle-axe. Naturally this only spooks everyone in the bar furthermore and starts a frenzy of everyone running out of the tavern screaming even faster. He gives a snort of disappointment and charges out of the building, running through an uncharted city until he winds up Infront of a band of bandits starting their attack on the first wave of royal guards. The design was that in which he had never seen, elegant but powerful. Like a swan with knives for feathers. He observes as the blades slide off the armour like a hammer to an anvil, never to be dented or pierced. He was impressed, and furthermore invigorated. 

He lets out a fearsome battle cry and charges into the middle of the clash. Tossing and throwing bandits as they attempt to slash and hack away at Baxar's own thick silver chestplate and greaves. What little skill the bandits had they made up for in overwhelming numbers, there had to be at least a hundred bandits in just the town square alone. 

"Seal the gates!" One of the guards screamed, pointing his sword at the large gate that now had a gaping hole in it from what can only be the works of a poorly constructed trebuchet. It was puzzling how they were able to transport it into the forest and get a clear shot, but more issues were at hand. Baxar takes the orders without any real direct instructions and brutally pushes his way through the bandits on the left to reach the gate. Ten or so other guards already stand prepared as Baxar walks up to them rather aggressively. Understandingly so, they immediately assume he is a bandit, to which they raise their swords to his thick bearded chin.

"Halt! Surrender your men!" One of the guards yell, pressing the sword closer. Baxar laughs, smacking the sword downwards.

"I'm here to help! I am Baxar the Strongest!" He exclaims proudly. The guards can't respond as they switch their attention to the wave of bandits now rushing the gate. 

"Prove your name's sake!" One guard yells as the bandits finally reach the entrance, stumbling over each other as they pour through the hole only wide enough to fit three of them at a time. Baxar gives an approving grunt as he slides down three at once as they attempt to push each other through the hole which makes the ones behind them fall like dominos. Easy pickings as the guards have a field day stabbing the bandits as they struggle to get up. Even for Baxar it felt cruel but he didn't think much of it as he jumped through the hole and sent down his steel onto the now terrified bandits. 

"He did not palter, he is the strongest." One of the guards says jokingly as he watches Baxar flick the gore off from his axe. He steps over the bodies and pats one of the guards on the shoulder. 

"The battle is not over, they continue their push for the castle!" Baxar says, pointing at the the battle that was still raging in town square

"Perfect, we will press them from behind!" The head guard shouts as he swings his sword. They unleash their blades on the bandits from behind, slicing away at them as they desperately attempt to thwart the forces squeezing them from both sides. Baxar's armour was unimpressed with the bandits' cheaply smithed swords, some of which broke when impacting.

 It was only a matter of time before the bandits were on their knees begging. The Head Guard signals a cease fire and everyone stops, circling around the last four bandits that sat shaking in their torn leather armour. The Head Guard, Heathgrim, stands ominously over the four. His sword sitting on his shoulder, speckled with the blood of their fallen allies. 

"Speak." He says, his voice low and wartorn.

"Wh...what?" One of the bandits shakily asks. Heathgrim slams the blade down into the ground just next to the bandits foot. 

"You know what!" He screams, his eyes frantic from rage. His day had been going well, he was going to be let out from his duties earlier to spend time with his family, but now worries about the safety of his daughters. 

"We are just outsiders! We want food, water, anything!" He shouts back, his eyes locked on the blade that was inches from his exposed feet. How he had managed to shake away his shoes was a mystery.

"Why didn't you just ask?" Heathgrim asks smugly, pulling the sword out from the blood soaked dirt. 

"Maybe because you sent a troop of men and wiped out our camp. Which wasn't even in your territory mind you! Oh, and did I forget to mention your coward prince who ran away?" He says daringly, a bad decision as Heathgrim swings his sword around and cuts his head clean off his shoulders. Instantly he points his sword at the next person, as if he hadn't just cut a man's head off. 

"Let's try someone else. Is this all of your men? Anyone else sneaking in or outside the walls?" He questions with his blade tucked into the bandits neck. 

"No. This was all that was left." He says confidently, all while maintaining eye contact with the immediate threat. A bold but respectable move. Baxar can sense the loyalty in his tone. 

"You were military weren't you?" Heathgrim asks with a smile of confidence. The bandit shuffles in his crouched position, but not nervously. 

"Yes, I was in the Horde War." He says, almost gritting his teeth.

"Wow, an Elder? A true veteran. What side?" Heathgrim asks rather respectfully, which was at this time far past the point of being acceptable.

"Let's just say I have plenty of Orcish swords in my collection" He returns with his own devilish smile. A witty but we'll receive a response. Baxar could feel the tension, but wasn't concerned now knowing that the siege had ended as soon as it had begun. Heathgrim then signals for his men to come forth. 

"Take them to the Grounds, the only light they will see for the rest of their lives will be that from a candle." Heathgrim mutters as his men drag the bandits away. He notices Baxar standing with the group of guards and walks over curiously. 

"Who are you?" He says sternly

"Baxar, I believed we fought at the gates together, did you not hear my name then?" Baxar responds, his ego only slightly hurt from him not remembering his moment of bravery. 

"I don't have time for ridiculous Merc's and their personas." Heathgrim says rather painfully as he turns away and follows his men up to the castle, leaving Baxar alone in the bloodied streets. 

"I am not a mercenary!" He yelled back, but he had already gone up the large stairs leading to the castle. He shrugs away the insult and stops to think of what to do next. 

"Arethor!" He yells out loud, remembering the small tavern he had just been attending. He runs past the body's on fire and smashes through the door of the tavern. Luckily it was left untouched. But a slight shuffling noise makes Baxar ready his axe, taking careful steps in the direction of the noise. It seems to come from behind the bar, which was a mess of broken glass and spilt brew. 

"Oh thank God!" A voice yells, and out jumps Hemm the Badger from behind the counter. His guitar loosely hangs by it's strap on his back. 

"Hemm was it? I'm surprised you stayed." Baxar says, grabbing him by the neck and helping him over the bar rather harshly. 

"ACK! Oof! Geez careful on the fur, mate. But yes I stayed. Where else would I go? More importantly, what's going on out there?" He asks nervously, straddling his guitar which was clearly his only prize possession. 

"It was only a few loose bandits, we crushed them. Where is Arethor?" Baxar had a liking for the tavern and didn't want it to go away just yet. Though he also did care for the personal well being of Arethor, his brews were what his eyes were really on. Meanwhile, Hemm scratches his chin as if it was a truly difficult question.

"A lot happened during the shuffle, but I recall him running off with that Merc. He said something about a house in the woods nearby." 

"Tomorrow you will set off to tell him that the siege was short lived and that he can come back." Baxar demands. Hemm gives him a surprised look of disbelief. 

"Why me?! I barely know the guy!"

"Because I said so weasel!" He replies, which makes him quickly scutter out of the tavern submissively. They were lucky the siege wasn't nearly as bad as it could be. Yet, Baxar couldn't help but feel slight remorse for the charred bodies now being dragged away by the royal guards and gravekeepers. All they had to do now was wait for King Orieth's response. 

"Dear lords..." Hemm says just outside the building. Baxar stands over him, looking down at the burnt body Hemm was observing. He digs around in the pocket of the man and pulls out a few coin, shoving it into his own pockets. Baxar lets out a disapproving grunt, pushing past him to further examine the damage done to the streets. 

"What? Badgers gotta eat..." Hemm mutters as he scampers on all fours over to another body that was mostly left untouched except for a gaping wound to the head. The streets lay empty other than a few guards who insist they go inside, to which they promptly ignore. 

"Ohhh my precious friend!" A voice beckons just down the street. It was Seamus, who sits down in front of his friend Cisco who was shot in the back of the head with an arrow. Baxar rests his hand on his shoulder.

"His death has been avenged, I swear of it." Baxar comforts warmingly. But is only met with Seamus shaking off his hand. 

"It's those dirty damned Jorinian!" He shouts, spit flying from his angered fit. He stands up and starts kicking his friends body, screaming and cussing as he does. Baxar wraps his arms around him and lifts him away, throwing him back onto the ground. 

"This wasn't the work of Jorinian, it was a bandit camp. I suggest you take your drunken rage elsewhere!" Baxar kicks Seamus away from his poor friend's leaking body. 

"You don't know the first bloody thing about war! You just stumble around and muck up every tavern you see and then crawl back to whateve-!" Seamus is cut off by the sound of rubble crashing down. They look to see Leviticus shakily push his way past a large burn piece of wood that had fallen in front of the door. It seems he fled to a nearby house and had gotten himself stuck, typical. 

"Oh by the gods, please tell me my father was kilt!" Leviticus rambles as he stomps over the bodies carelessly. Baxar walks over to him and backhands him, which makes him frantically stumble backwards like a dog sliding across wooden floors. 

"Shut up coward, no that you would be made king in any circumstance." Baxar laughs, watching as Leviticus attempts to run but trips over a body. 

"What the hells would you know about this city anyways? You've never even been here before!" Leviticus argues as he finally managed to sit still and perch himself in an uncomfortable position on a now freshly blackened wooden beam.

"This is true, but I know honor and loyalty; you have no honor or loyalty." Baxar spits, his heart still pounding from the chain events that only happened a mere twenty minutes ago. Baxar was used to never having a break, it being his job. Well, job is a strong word, more like his hobby that he gets occasionally rewarded for. 

"Who needs loyalty and honor when you can just create your own destiny" Leviticus replies snarkily, a terrible ploy to choke out some sort of sympathy. Baxar rolls his eyes, and quickly points the tip of his axe right between Leviticus's eyes. 

"Why am I here wasting time talking to a traitor? Go clean the streets or cry to your father!" Baxar yells, swinging at the air which makes Leviticus dash down the alleyway like a cat chases a mouse. 

"Ye betta run ya bongol banga bastard!" Seamus yells, wildly swinging his hands around like a madman, the stench of ale still on his tongue. 

"Seamus, I believe your name is, go and make sure no one tries to loot from the tavern until Arethor gets back." Baxar orders, motioning for him to get a move on and stop sulking in the streets over a dead friend he very clearly didn't care all that much about. 

"Ye bloody lucky I was gonna do that anyways ya buggin' bother, no one tells Seamus what ta do!" He babbles as he drunkenly walks back into the tavern. Out of the corner of his eyes he can see Hemm scuttering back over, a royal guards medallion in his hand. 

"Ya might have more use of this than me, lad." Hemm smiles, dropping the medallion in his hand. It's a metal medallion shaped like a star but each line swoops down like a half circle, in the middle is the royal crest of a raven with a cracked peak. The medallions are used as a way to officialize you as a royal guard, and any "royal guard" that doesn't have one is either a fake, or an idiot for losing it and legally doesn't have to be listened to. Though useless to Baxar in a technical term, you are rewarded if you manage to find one sitting around.

 But they always seemed to know if it was stolen or placed on purpose, along with a way to tell if it was a legitimate medallion. But after a siege it was understandable that you might find a fallen soldier's medallion. Not to mention it is a sign of respect to turn it in instead of keeping it or pawning it off though perfectly legal. Reason being that Baxar understands this system is that it's been widespread and used throughout many kingdoms, and it isn't' the first Baxar had access to one. 

"This is good, thank you weasel man." Baxar smiles, petting Hemm as if he was a street cat."I'm a badger ya knocker!" Hemm presses, running off down the street to most likely loot off of more poor souls. More importantly, Baxar now had a legitimate reason to access the castle, and could even get a moment to speak with the King. Baxar readied himself, he wasn't sure what to do next but he knew that he had to speak to the King and inform him of his help during the siege and perhaps be rewarded, or better yet, become a citizen of the city he had just fought so hard to protect. 

 


Submitted: September 28, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Sam Elliott. All rights reserved.

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