The Torch Bearer Series - Second Chances

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
as with Cenvins Wish and The Fallen these excerpts will form a novel this is my intention, it is my wish for the story to grow and for these characters to be the focus of The Torchbearer series vol. 1

Submitted: March 14, 2014

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Submitted: March 14, 2014

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“He's late” pronounced a voice and meant to go on but was interrupted by another voice kneeling by what looks like a sack of goods on the ground in this dim light, but on closer inspection the goods seem to be squirming and they take on a human form rather than mercantile goods.

 

 “He'll be here” and to the vague human shape on the ground he clouts about the head as he sighs in frustration “be still boy or i might take my blade to an eye or ear”.

 

 The bundle quiets down as the first man (eyes darting to the shadows wary of signs of movement) goes on as if he hasn’t heard this reply “we have ‘the watch’ to consider Farrelly”

 

The mention of his name brings a weary look mixed with anger to Farrellys face “how many times have i told you no names you idiot” - he leans back over the bundle and says “maybe i shall tell him your name.. “Jonesy” he proclaims to the bundle that’s that idiots name”.

 

He glances back at Jonesy “now there you have it he knows both our names are you satisfied”...”you didn’t have to tell him my name” Jonesy childishly stated and then more brightly “but if suppose it doesn’t matter he won’t be talking from the bottom of the ocean”.

 

 Farrelly grunted his assent what was the point arguing with someone as dim-witted as Jonesy, how could he not understand there livelihood demanded they preserved there anonymity, discretion was vital to the folks who hired them as most were just ordinary citizens who had never broken any of the kings laws and availed there ‘special service’ as a last resort.

 

Reputation was very important to the retention of any future employ, farrelly took pride in his work and never jumped headfirst into a job, he was careful in his dealings with potential employers and often secretly surveyed there life to see if they were who they said they were – one could never be too careful in this line of work “a cutthroat business” a favourite saying of his and it was true in times of war as it was now in the kingdom the price of life was cheap indeed as any blaggard with a knife was willing to play assassin for a few coins.

 

But for the lack of brains Jonesy possessed he made up with loyalty and the willingness to take on all the paying jobs farrelly brought them, Jonesy had absolutely no compunction following orders and Farrelly had none handing them out – besides he saved my life he told himself but then another voice (which has started to speak up in all things Jonesy related) “surely that debt is played many times over after all without your guidance surely he would be a long time rotting in an unmarked grave or rooming in a dungeon compliments of the kings law” this voice had lately started to take precedent over any other because Farrelly was aware that Jonesy had started using ‘dragons clutch’ (a collection of herbs brought from the lands beyond ‘the forlorn sea’ by traders and sailors who arrive in Kree town's port) it was an addictive herb you smoked in a pipe and you enjoyed an blissful time till the effects wore off, but the more you used the more of your natural self you lost, everything became about the smoke and Kree was in a state of added tension from robberies and burglaries from users who are too far lost in the smoke to care about the consequences of their actions.

 

 “Any Last Words” the question seeming to come from thin air and both men stared about till the body belonging to the voice stepped from the shadows it was directed at the writhing bundle, his two captors brought him upright and Farrelly reached for the hood which was actually just an empty potato sack but was made from thick hewn cloth so it served this task well which was to keep the victim disorientated and quiet till Sirius chose to deal with him.

 Both hired men knew their roles well – ask no questions, follow all orders and grunt a laugh when expected to, both had being here before and this was usually where the pleading and bargaining took on its most desperate tone, coupled with tears falling from wide eyes and more often than not dark urine colouring the front of the pleaders pants, when they realise that all their prayers and pleas will go unanswered by the gods and these cruel men.

 

The hour is close to midnight and ‘Kree Town's’ port is empty save for a few small fishing vessels which have banked for the evening and its inhabitants have more than likely decided to visit the local Inns for hearth and company before moving on up the coast in the morning to ply their trade  before winter makes any journeys over the water an almost certain death sentence to any sailors unfortunately not on ‘the Kings Royal Vessels’ which there are six and said to be built to the largest and sturdiest size you will find this side of  ‘The Forlorn Sea’.

 

The full moon can be glimpsed in between  heavy clouds, this close to the water there’s a cold wind swirling around the four men coupled with the sound of the waves crashing insistently against the dock add winters feel to the heartless tone in which the question was asked.

 “Sure Tell Your Wife I’ll Remember Her Always” said the speaker in a put on jovially tone from his position between each captor, hands bound behind his back facing his would be executioner, as much of a smile as his split lips would allow, it’s an act of defiance neither man holding the speaker has heard from any other in a similar position at this stage.

 

This brought an unexpected chuckle from the smaller of the two men caught off guard from the response but it cut off abruptly when he glanced at is employers demeanour, it didn’t pay to be on the magistrates bad side and this was ‘Sirius Munt’ the magistrates right hand, in all things concerning his ‘other business’.

 

But instead of striking a face that has already being soundly beaten, Sirius merely smiled but it was not a happy smile it was a sly and wicked smile the kind that says I know something you don’t know, it made the receiver understand that even if he still held out hope till now, it was over and all he could hope for was a quick death.

 “Before i was to end your miserable life, i was asked to tell you about ‘Mabel’, he visibly starts at the mention of her name and tries to cover up but too late, the look of triumph on Sirius face tells him she’s being found out, denials would be pointless.

 

 “Gods protect her” he whispers, “Ha which gods do you pray to convict”, Sirius mocking tone adds weight to the news which sits heavy on his chest, and “Its being all for nothing you failed and now she is to be sold into service to the merchant ‘Kragen’ earning him silver from lying on her back”.

 

These last words were spoken very slowly and with added emphasise, convict made to attack Sirius but bound as he was could only struggle in his captors arms, any hope he would die well ceased to be an option, he used every weapon at his disposal which was spit from his mouth and every profane word he knew in a loud hurt screaming tone, which had a wild dog howling in return from a distance.

 

 A hard blow to the right side of his head brought an all-encompassing bright white to his vision, the small wooden baton – the kind favoured by barkeeps in the taverns who kept one within reach for the unruly and unpredictable behaviour brought on by too much ale or the mountain spirits (which was sometimes called lunatics soup on account that it turned normally docile customers into madmen if too much was consumed) - knocked him forward and all conscious thought ceased.

 

For what felt like hours but must of being only seconds, groggy as he was he could hear voices “hit to hard”...”want him conscious you idiot” but they sounded far away or underwater “Had to stop the screaming”... he couldn’t see. ”Was going to attract attention”.

 

His hazy mind tried to suggest that maybe the blow had blinded him – he tried to get some semblance of consciousness and was rewarded with a very dull pain in his head – which he didn’t need a free hand to feel the throbbing lump through his hair just above his temple “a very dangerous place to get hit” – a thought that sounded redundant due to the mere breaths that amounted to the rest of his life.

 

His focus fixed on an a anxious face hovering in his view staring intently into his eyes clicking thick fingers back and forth slapping (not gently) his face trying to correct a mistake that could prove costly to his own life when he was satisfied the victim was coherent he muttered something that sounded like a prayer of thanks under his breath.

 “He’s awake Sirius sir”... “get him upright then you fool and be thankful he is”

 

He was aware of a rough callused hand gripping his hair and then his head followed by his slow to wake body was wrenched into a kneeling position, he discovered that since his hands were bound as they were, the left side of his face took the brunt of his contact with the ground dazedly he was thankful it was the wooden floor of the docks instead of the red cobble blocking that paves ‘Kree Town's’ many effluent streets, when you got closer to the docks it was wooden support and clay (either wet or dry depending on the season) to support the many wagons from the traders who came to ply their trade.

 

This thought was sent far from his mind when Sirius struck him backhanded in a hand gloveless for the task, “focus scum..focus on my voice that’s it, now I’d love to stick around and torture you till your voice became hoarse from you begging for mercy but alas duty calls”, Sirius turns to Farrelly “check his binds make sure there tight then gag him and throw him off the dock” and then with a malicious glint in his eyes he said “I want him conscious as he drowns” - “as the water overwhelms his lungs i want him to reflect on the folly of meddling in the magistrates business”.

 

”Yes sir Sirius sir” states Jonesy eagerly and then more timidly - as he stood facing Sirius but not looking directly in his eyes - a fact that Sirius inwardly enjoyed - reputation really precedes all he thought happily “and about our silver for delivering the boy”.

 

Sirius produced a small pouch from under his coat and tossed it in the direction of both men, coins jingling as it barely hit the ground before Farrelly snatched it up and weighted in his meaty palm, “seems light” he said as if in conversation to himself but looked at Sirius meekly as to see would he agree with his surmise.

 

Sirius clearly exasperated as any higher ranked man would be discussing money with what they perceived as there betters -“we agreed on thirty pieces of silver you dolt” - “half on delivery half two nights from now when you deliver the girl to the merchant”. This seem to satisfy both men as their attention switched to putting back on convicts gag and getting purchase under each arm and when they looked up Sirius was gone.

 

 “I hate when he does that” Jonesy had gone a whiter shade although it couldn’t be seen this far from the lanterns, “come on you clod forget the ghost stories and lets get this over with” Farrelly nods in the direction the poor quarter of town  - “there’s a cask of ale with my name on it at ‘Bells Tavern’.

 

This brought the first genuine laugh of the evening from Jonesy – all the earlier talk of demons and black magic had given the night an otherworldly feel that had being close to overwhelming him (something he would deny vehemently) after all his work brooked no allowances for fears and superstitions he was under no illusions his deeds in life had paid for nothing but a bed of thorns in the afterlife, which was something the preacher reminded him again and again as he punished him for repeated infractions in the orphanage where he grew up.

 

But he liked the coin his job brought and he is quite content shutting his mind off for what awaits him should he take his last breath - ale and “dragons clutch” took care of any lingering guilt, he chided himself for getting caught up in old wives tales and bar room talk of the supernatural.

 

He lay limply in their arms as they half carried half dragged him to his final resting place at the bottom of the ocean maybe the tide would wash him up further up the coast but that consolation would mean nothing as the fish would have already eaten their fill of this corpse.

His mind kept picturing Mabel’s face which he tried to block out for no matter how he wanted to remember her – the face conjured only stared at him with accusing eyes and a snarl curling her top lip revealing perfect white teeth below, he didn’t need to hear her speak to know the face was telling him she hated him completely and would curse him till her dying day for the fate which he had brought on her.

 

Seeking comfort from accusing face he tried to prepare himself for any chance of escape - but he couldn’t see his surroundings, he was bound and gagged with the hood thrown over for good measure being dragged/carried at a brisk pace if he looked down he could catch quick snapshots of the ground beneath him as the hood jostled on his head then darkness again.

 

He kept losing his thought pattern and struggled to keep aware, he had not heard either men speak since they set off but now one said “just up here ‘Aisling Bluff’ it was hard to hear over the roaring in his ears.

 

“Gods damn it he’s heavy for a pup - will be happy when i can drop this load” gasped Jonesy in between greedy gulps of air, Farrelly snorted in disdain “surely you being breathless as an a man twice your age could have nothing to do with the black smoke you take when you’re in your ale”.

 

Jonesy stiffens at the mention of the smoke “my business” he mutters......”aye your business it is but i won’t stay partners with someone who falls into dragons clutch” Farrelly states and then matter of factly “you know what happened to..” he began but Jonesy finished hurried “your brother i know you told me often enough but worry not i can stop any time i want sure it’s not a problem - in fact my last time was my last” this was a lie he told himself every time he hit the smoke and when you can fool yourself so convincingly fooling others was easy.

 

“Right then that’s your word and i accept it just don’t break it” the tone in which Farrelly spoke these words left no doubt he expected that this would end the matter but Jonesy was already quietly making plans to visit the smoke house first chance he got and why not he surmised i earned that coin ill spend it how i like.

“Ok drop him here” he heard through the hood and he was aware of the smell of wet earth as his body was dropped to the ground, the view of both men clearly being why take care with that which was already a corpse and then the hood was pulled from his head for the second time this evening and the dark lit only by glimpses of the stars above gave convict a sideways view of  the dock which he was to be thrown.

 

Just as soon as Farrelly completed his final part of what he called his ritual which was to ask Gods forgiveness for what he was about to do, as he stood there arms raised to the heavens and eyes closed silently mouthing the words he never shared with anyone.

 

Jonesy who knew better than to mock Farrelly’s religious belief stood there quietly as to let him finish, he had observed this pointless exercise many times (he remembered there first job-kidnap, kill and disposal of a body and just before Farrelly cut the man’s throat, he started on with his prayers standing over the victim’s body as he was now and Jonesy thinking he was joking laughed out loud and no sooner had he started farrelly had him by the throat and he'll never forget the look of madness that came in to the man’s eyes, he expected he was going to die right there he could not breath the grip from his partners hand shut off all oxygen intake, in a calm reasonable voice which bellied the look of thunder painted on his face Farrelly merely said “never mock a man’s faith or the power of the gods forgiveness for your sins”.

 

That stayed with him as he watched Farrelly now, did he truly believe god forgave the taking of life?, did he think he would be welcomed to a blessed afterlife? Jonesy inwardly shuddered as he pictured Farrelly standing over his bound body with a blade seeking forgiveness from god to send him on his journey and then the enlightened look(that said its ok god forgives me) as he drove the blade through his heart.

 

“Grab his legs” Jonesy took hold of his feet with Farrelly standing at convicts head that serene look visible on his face even in the dark, convict had watched the bigger man bizarre ritual and was dismayed to to see it end he had hoped he would pray little longer to delay the inevitable.

 

His head could not see any other way out in its current groogy state, as the smaller man grabbed his legs he heard Farrelly brightly say “god awaits you”, he made to reply even through his gag to tell him “he hoped he died from the pox screaming in agony” but before he could he was falling, the wind blowing past his face and whistling in his ears and then all breath was thrown from his body as he hit the water, he struggled in his binds but it was useless there was no way to manoeuvre in there tightness, he sunk like a large boulder and caught glimpses of the sea world his arrival had upset – fish of many colours and size scrambling to avoid this unwelcome intruder (later if allowed time they would grow bold and investigate and supper till larger prey took over) as water began to invade his lungs he passed out but not before he noticed an oddly human shaped fish swimming toward him...strange he thought maybe it’s the ‘Sea God’ sending an emissary to welcome him to his domain..........Then blackness....


© Copyright 2019 Patrick Strange. All rights reserved.

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