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Sword of Gaerus 1-1

Chapter 1: Innocents

The Bar was just another Inn in another town with a new sea of faces that are not worth the trouble to remember. The three brutes up near the innkeeper are trying to start a quarrel. The lone man in the corner did not wish to get involved, and why should he? He has spent the last decade or two getting involved in other people’s matters, other village’s problems, the Kingdom's wars. What did it get this man? Ridicule from his friends and family, shunned from his village, and afraid of getting closer to people in fear that his past would harm them, either emotionally or physically; he felt they would get hurt. An immense feeling of loneliness.

But some skirmishes are hard to avoid when people do not use reasonable tactics.

"Gorec, get his young one, he'll pay us one way or another," Said the first Bandit, his voice frail like an old man or a tortured soul. This man's face was all scarred. It showed his willingness to hurt and get hurt for a profit. His hair was black and short, cut like a soldier's but kind of shoddy. Maybe he was once a mercenary.

He had the build of a king's guard, but his mannerisms screamed sword for hire. His eyes seamed full of fear but his body language seemed he was confident that he could overcome any obstacle that lay in his path.

He seemed to be the leader, or most experienced of the three. The other two seemed unsure of what to do and how to go about getting it done.

"Right, Toren, His family will suffer until he gives us what we deserve," Gorec Replied. The expression on his face seemed like he was going to enjoy scaring a little child. His seemed more like that of a nobleman or his servant; his face had no scars and seemed rather clean for a bandit; his red hair was long and well-groomed; his body seemed small and skinny, like that of an underfed dog; his mannerisms where that of a nobleman, maybe a count or a duke; his eyes had a feeling of relief, no, pleasure when you looked into them. This man surely did not fit into the puzzle these men had made. What was he doing with this scum that thinks they can bully shop owners? What was in it for him?

The third man, clearly a product of a successful life as a shopkeeper; maybe a butcher. He had a large stomach, but his upper body was fairly muscular. His face was that of any normal man, his eyes seemed kind of friendly, yet, sad at the same time; his mannerisms seemed pleasant, like that of a people person—they were thoughtful and courteous. A trail of dried blood ran down his shoulder, and his battle axe seemed well taken care of. How did this middle-aged bald man fit in? What brought them together? Why did they feel the need to rob this innkeeper? This third man proceeded up the stairs in search of the child.

He sat there, drinking his ale, trying not to notice the events taking place around him. He didn't want to get involved. He was tired of seeing people die, by his hand or not. He hated seeing death. He finished his ale, then he got up from his chair and walked over and poured himself ale, and dropped a few silver on the counter for the barkeep. He then proceeded back to his chair and sat facing the fire place. He kept his back to the group of thieves, hoping they would not involve him. He also turned his back on the frightened innkeeper in his time of need. He felt like a coward; he felt like he has disgraced all he had worked for. He knew his father would hate him if he found out he did nothing to help a person in a moment of need. This feeling sickened him. He wanted to forget his past. He tried and tried but couldn't, so he decided to do the next best thing—drink away his memories. He tried so many times to lose his memories in a sea of ale.

Still, he felt bad for not helping. He chugs his ale and returns the mug to the counter. He drops a few more silver on the counter and proceeds to the door. Not more than two feet from the door, he hears a scream of a terrified little girl, then a cry of fear, but this wasn't from the child. The mother, perhaps. Upstairs, a woman shouts "No, you can't have her, leave us alone!" Shortly after the screams, the third man returns, empty-handed and a look of fear in his eyes. When Toren saw the brute without the child, he gave him a stern look of disappointment.

"Please leave them alone. I can get you all the coin you want, just please leave my daughter and wife out of this!" the innkeeper shouted, his voice filled with terror.

"You better, or else Murroy will carve your family like pigs and sell the meat to people as scraps for the dogs," Toren said with a tone of happiness in it. But was he happy because the innkeeper caved? Or because he would get to hurt people?

The look on Murroy's face seemed to darken, like a man who was forced to do unspeakable acts.

It was clear in his expressions that he didn't want to harm anyone, but he also looking frightened, as if he feared what would happen if he didn't do what he was told, like he would regret doing it, but regret it more if he didn't. He proceeded back up the stairs, fearing another return empty-handed, and the results it would bring to him from Toren. He now had the determined look in his eye.

"Gorec, stop that man from leaving and lock the door. We don't want an unexpected audience," Toren shouted

"Right, Toren. What do we do with him, though? Can we kill him?" Grinned Gorec, as he pushed aside the man and locked the door. The look in Gorec's eyes seemed he wanted to kill him no matter what Toren said.

"You better let me go. I will not tell the magistrate. I do not want any trouble. Besides, I make it my business to not to get involved with other people's problems," Said the man, his voice was coarse, almost a chilling tone. He truly meant what he said.

"Given the consequences, you both will do as we say. Have a seat, mister, you aren't going anywhere. Have another ale. It is on the house," said Toren.

"Wait your turn. We will deal with you when we have finished with the innkeeper," Said Gorec with a maniacal grin.

There was another scream from upstairs. A few quick moments later, Murroy returned with the small girl under one arm and his axe in the other, but his axe looked different, almost wet. But the color was darker, kind of reddish. The child looked unharmed. Just unconscious.

"Where is the mother?" Asked Toren, with a tone almost of concern. But was he concerned for the person or his plan to get the money?

"She refused to let the kid go...so I extinguished her life force," Murroy's voice seemed low and sad; full of regret.

"This has gone far enough. You killed the innkeeper's wife, I am sure he will pay you now, so just take your money and leave, or else I may do something I regret," Shouted the man as he quickly rose from his appointed seat.

"Oh look, now the coward wants to get involved with other people's business. Do you suppose he will try to save the innkeeper and his wretch of a child?" Said gorec in an amused tone.

"I guess with one death already, why stop there? I mean, we can't leave any witnesses now. Right?" Toren said as he drew his dagger from his belt.

"We have to kill them all," Said Murroy in a saddened tone. A look of great remorse crossed his eyes, but only momentarily.

The young girl awoke from her forced slumber. She looked around to figure out what was happening. When she realized, she bolted for the door. Gorec grabbed her. A look of complete fear crossed her face. She fought back the tears. If she was going to meet her mother in the afterlife, she would be strong and not show fear or sadness.

"Cry, wench, I won't let you die until your face is drenched with tears," he yelled at the little girl.

"Enough of this. I am going to kill you two quick and painlessly, but unfortunately, Gorec will die a very slow and painful death," shouted the man as he drew a short sword from behind his cloak and set it on the table. Then he drew two daggers and set himself for battle.

Toren and the wanderer both threw their daggers at the same time. What happened very quickly seemed like it took ages. The wanderer cried out in pain; he held his left forearm close to his body. When he righted himself, he showed the cause of his pain. A dagger had pierced through his arm. The blade was buried to the hilt, just stitches away from the bracer the wanderer hoped to use as a shield. He had misjudged the speed and force of his opponent's throw. Toren seemed to just stand there, still as a statue, clutching his throat with both hands, the hilt of the wanderer’s dagger protruding above the hands of Toren. His body fell slowly to the floor as he strained to scream out in pain. A large pool of crimson formed around his body. Murroy readied himself for battle. He raised his axe for a killing blow on the innkeeper. The wanderer leapt to the top of the table before him, he let out a scream, and lunged for the big man. Sword in one hand dagger in the other, he had made his decision. He would save the innkeeper no matter what. Murroy was distracted by the war cry. He prepared to take care of the airborne assailant. They collided, the sound of metal on metal filled the air. The wanderer deflected the axe with his sword, but the axe was too heavy to block unscathed. The two fell to the ground. The wanderer rolled to his feet as soon as he hit the ground with his foe. The axe had landed a blow; the wanderer clasped his right shoulder. Murroy was worse for wear; he lay motionless, a dagger stabbed into his neck. His face seamed relieved. He wouldn't be forced to work for these goons any longer. He was happy to move onto the afterlife.

Gorec, stunned to see his companions fallen in battle so quickly, grabbed a hand axe from his belt and drew a short sword from his back. "I am going to enjoy killing you. I was the better fighter of the group. If they could hurt you, I can surely kill you," he said with an evil grin on his face.

They charged each other. The bandit swung his axe, but it was deflected with great skill. The short sword was neglected. It met its mark—the wounded shoulder of his adversary. The wanderer screamed in pain, brought his short sword into the air and whacked Gorec in the temple with the butt of the hilt. Gorec heard a crack. He closed his eyes in pain and saw many colors flash before his eyes. Then it all went black. He felt nothing and heard nothing. The blow had laid the attacker unconscious.

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