The Robed Traveler

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A robed traveler enters an inn to escape the cold, but unbeknownst to him, what he fears finds him indirectly.

Submitted: July 17, 2012

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Submitted: July 17, 2012

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The door to the inn opened slowly, almost curiously. One leather booted foot stepped through, followed shortly by a second. The tops of the boots were shrouded by a blackened robe, the likes of which covered the majority of this traveler. A dagger hung from his belt, among other trinkets and pouches. This itself was nothing special; most were armed during these dangerous days. The curiosity was the right arm holding the door open. The robe was torn off near the elbow and a solid, bloody tourniquet was wrapped tightly around the wrist. The other unusual thing was his skin. His arm was a mixture of deep red and pale, as if sunburnt or covered in light bruises. The veins of his arm also bulged slightly more than they should for someone with as lean and wiry a figure as his.

 

He stepped through the door, his facial features hidden partly by the robe's hood and partly by the darkness. The moonlight bounced off of his dagger but little else. He slammed the door on the invading chill, then walked casually over to sit himself in a wooden chair next to the hearth. He strided confidently past tables of drunks and other wanderers escaping the cold or seeking shelter, then stopped abruptly and delayed his chair-seeking journey when chills ran down his spine.

 

Glancing around, he saw a table with a group crowding around; precisely where the source of his uneasiness projected from. He walked over curiously to find a young man, almost a boy, staring intently at a floating mug with the crowd centered on him. He was performing magic for coin. Struggling through the crowd, the robed traveler grabbed the performer by the shoulder. Before he could even say anything, the mug burst into flames and then fractured into pieces that fell on the table. The crowd mostly jumped back but a few were too drunk to react fast.

 

The performer turned around and glared at the robed traveler as he berated him: "You idiot! You broke my focus. You could have hurt someone!"

"No, it would be your fault," the traveler replied. "Not only is magic outlawed under High King Camden, but you also lack refinement. Please, if you want to use magic, practice safely on your own."

The performer retorted drunkenly with acid in his tone "No, I'll do whatever I want. What will Camden do? Send a soldier after me? I'd just kill him."

The traveler sighed and walked off, shaking his head. After sitting, he pulled his hood back to reveal short bronze hair framing an average face. He stretched his hands towards the hearth, his fingers shaking lightly. The inn hostess greeted him, and at the sight of his eyes, gasped. Beneath the teal iris of each eye was blood, shifting aimlessly and changing shades as the concentration wavered.

"Oh, um..." She stuttered. The traveler smiled warmly and laughed, which eased her. "I'd like something strong, please," he said.

"No problem. Uh, sorry about Darin over there. He's an ass sometimes and the only thing larger than his ego is the amount he drinks," she said after getting a grip.

She returned shortly with a mug full of dark ale, a tasteful mixture of cinnamon and alcohol. The traveler drank and breathed deeply, letting himself enjoy the moment. "Do you like it!?" the hostess chirped and he startled at her question. "It's wonderful, thank you" he replied after a moment. The hostess walked off, smiling, to attend other guests.

 

For a while, all was relatively calm except for Darin and his occasional mishaps. Time slipped by and the traveler grew tired, nodding off in the chair by the hearth. When the moon was near its highest in the sky, the door to the inn burst open and a group of dangerous people swarmed in. The robed traveler woke with a start, literally jumping from the chair. He pulled the hood over his head as he turned to get a look at this group. He swore under his breath when he saw a man wearing red clothes with light golden armor and adornments, his face hidden by an eery silver mask beneath a red hood. The look on the mask was cold and unfeeling, and the face itself looked displeased. Behind the mask were golden glowing eyes, with an almost crazed look in them.

 

He barked orders to those who were with him; an escort of soldiers and guards. He told them to apprehend Darin and he handed one heavily armed and armored soldier a small spinning luminescent rock within a silver mesh, hanging from a chain. The crowd around Darin dispersed immediately in fear of the new entrants, yet Darin laughed openly at the situation. He stood up defiantly, waiting for the opposing party to make the first move. Two of the squad moved towards him. "We can do this the easy way or the hard way! Take your choice, savant" one of the soldiers said.

Darin replied with "It'd be easier for me to kill you all than for you to do whatever you're going to do to me."

 

The soldiers drew their swords and charged him. Raising his hands, Darin ignited one soldier with a magical flame and the other dropped immediately, screaming as he suffered some unknown internal agony. The burning soldier was the luckier of the two; the magical flames tore away at his armor, clothes, skin, meat, and bones. He burned to ashes before he hit the ground. The fallen soldier screamed incessantly as he writhed on the ground. The traveler stood watching, but was more worried about the soldier with the luminescent stone. He was walking around to the inn's guests, seeing which, if any, it would glow brighter for. It gleamed when in the direction of the traveler, and the soldier was moving closer and closer to him in his search.

 

His bloody eyes looked around quickly, seeking a subtle and nearby escape. Noticing a back door to the inn, he glanced at the searching soldier. Surely the soldier would notice him if he moved, but he had no choice. He bolted for the door. The soldier screamed when he noticed the runner, but the other soldiers were too busy dealing with Darin to give chase and he was the only soldier to follow him. The traveler slammed into the door, but was met, not with freedom, but the full force of the door resisting him. It was locked.

 

His heart pounding violently, pushing blood through his unusually large veins, he used all of the force he had when shaking the door. It didn't budge. He whirled around just in time to face the soldier, raising his dagger to defend himself. The soldier whipped his short sword out as he cornered the traveler.

"Please, don't. You don't want to do this" he begged.

"No, I don't, but orders are orders and you aren't coming quietly" the soldier told him, just a moment before sinking the short sword into the traveler's chest.

 

Doubled over, the traveler's face and eyes were seen by the soldier. He gazed into the bloody eyes staring back at him intently, but the thing that scared him was how the traveler grinned through his pain, so much that he even showed a mouthful of white teeth.

The soldier's focus came back when he felt a sharp pain in his side, where the traveler's dagger had stung him. He was going to pull his sword out of the traveler's chest, but stopped as he felt something on his hand. Looking down at the blade slowly, he could see that the traveler's blood was creeping up the blade and on to his arm. He stepped back, then looked into the traveler's face again in shock. As he did so, the traveler raised a hand to his head. The soldier felt the blood inside of his head stirring, boiling, before he blacked out. The traveler stripped the tourniquet off, and grabbed the soldier's head as blood flowed freely from the gash on his wrist into the soldier's head through his eyes, mouth, nose, and ears. The traveler dropped, unconscious, as his blood was drained, while the soldier regained consciousness and stood up.

 

The soldier looked down at the traveler with remorse before glancing around to see Darin and the silver-masked leader fighting. Darin was definitely losing and his uncontrolled magic was too strong for him to handle. The leader, shrouded in a magical aura, shrugged off Darin's uncoordinated magic with ease. Moving closer, the leader broke Darin's leg with a single wave of his red and gold covered arm.

 

The soldier thought for a second, then closed his eyes and focused. Blood sprouted from his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. He then fled the inn screaming as loudly as possible, making sure that the silver masked leader saw him running. He ran until his legs would no longer carry him, out through the streets, past the city gates, and into the forests. He collapsed near a tree, and pushed himself up to sit with his back to it. He wiped the blood from his face, then pulled out the charm the leader had given him earlier. Tears rolled down his blood stained face as he gazed at its magnificent glow near him.

 


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