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Discussion in 'Creativity Surge' started by Late-Night Thinker, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    “If you so much as cast one spell without me ordering you to do so, I will kill you where you stand. Do you understand me?” Bailiff Dergen, his posture ready and his mailed fist resting upon to the hilt of his sheathed blade, scowled fiercely at the cloaked man who walked into his office, not even allowing him time to pull back his hood. “My dear mother would turn in her grave if she knew I had to work with someone like you... I mean it—one fowl dances, one tyke walks backwards, I grow a wart—and I’ll put this good steel through your charcoal heart!” His chin jutting forward, he stared down the tall, occult figure, promising the truth of his words.

    The sorcerer retracted his hood. Bailiff Dergen was shocked to realize this “warlock” was actually a young man, barely an adult. Even with that beard, the youth couldn’t have seen more than sixteen-odd years. What was worse, the visitor was grinning…at him—amused!

    The old soldier could just wretch—blacker and blacker grew this dishonor. Bailiff Dergen had known all his life that crushing evil was the proper work of a strong and wise man, and here he was, a strong and wise man, well-mustached, in the barracks his great-grandfather had built, in the very keep his father had died defending...allying himself with some perverse, tenderfoot demon trafficker! Well, he wouldn’t shake hands with him, that much was certain. Blazes, the boy was tall! Skinny too. The bailiff could just see him eating eyeballs and worms and reveling in all sorts of vile corruption and profanity.

    “Lord Frederick—whom prior to this very moment I considered a just and decent liege—has informed me that you are going to assist in the investigation. He has told me your name is Brune…” He paused, then spat out the epithet like it was a disavowal, “Brune…Six-Darts.”

    The youth took a solemn tone. “Please, just call me Brune, Sir.”

    Sir? That was a surprise. Bailiff Dergen crinkled his brow. “I’ll call you whatever I damned well please, you black-souled freak.”

    The lad flushed a shade. “Perhaps I should ask Lord Frederick to provide me with a different liaison…”

    Bailiff Dergen’s lips curled and his eyes flashed hateful ire. “Boy, you should know, the law of this burgh,” he jabbed his thumb into his chest, “goes through me and me alone. I make sure things get done and that they get done right.” He stabbed his finger forward, exploding, “There’s no need for you here! Lord Frederick thinks I can’t handle some bone-throwing freak like yourself..? Horseshit! I’ve bounced men twice as mean as you, you gangly broom-humper! I bet the only bosom you’ve ever seen was on the harpy witch that birthed you, you abomination, you long-haired—”

    Hackles raised, the youth reacted, sudden and hot. “You want to know why I’m here..? You want to know why they call me ‘Six-Darts’..?” He threw off his cloak, letting it fall to the floor below. Brune was dressed as any other burgher, except, oddly enough, he had a number of thin metal spikes holstered to his belt. In one smooth motion, feral-quick, the lad grabbed his belt and tore it loose, sending the spikes twirling away, detached and airborne.

    Bewildered, the bailiff raised his gaze, looked into the eyes of the lunatic that stood before him, and for half-a-breath, scoffed.

    The clang-clang-clang of the steel spikes clattering upon the stone floor…never came.

    With a shocked exclamation, Bailiff Dergen realized sorcery was afoot. He jumped backwards, springing against his desk. Heavy and oak, it stopped his flight obliquely, clipping him in the thigh, sending him sprawling. To his everlasting horror, six metallic shafts rose up into his field of vision, their gleaming points tracking his reeling head, wafting upon some infernal wind he could not feel. They reached eye level. There they hovered, fluttering menacingly, silently threatening his life as well as his sanity. He cowered behind his left arm, while with his right, he fumbled for his sword, finding the hilt impossible to grasp.

    “Are you going to start treating me with some respect…Sir?”

    For a fleeting moment Bailiff Dergen regarded the demonic youth that stood before him with nothing less than pure animal panic. He dove to the floor, scurrying on his elbows and knees towards the door. Brune, surprised, realized at the last moment that Bailiff Dergen was about to flee right through his shins..! He leapt aside, his loss of focus causing his darts to nose down as gravity reasserted its grasp.

    Reaching the door, the Bailiff scratched his way up the frame, risking backward glances all the while. Climbing to his feet, he jerked the handle…and bounced the door right off his forehead! Apparently not even noticing what he had just done, he squirreled around the leading edge, flew through the narrow opening, and fled down the hallway beyond, his mailed boots singing a fading clink-clink-clink.

    Brune’s chuckle of victory quickly faded into a sigh. He heard the gentle tinkling of his darts contacting the stone floor, their lazy fall completed. Shaking his head, he walked over and picked them up from the neat cluster they had formed directly before where Bailiff Dergen had cringed just a moment prior. He should have known he would be greeted with fear and animosity. At least Lord Frederick was reputed to be reasonable. That was some consolation.

    What to do now? The bailiff would certainly return…eventually. Brune decided to wait him out. He closed the door, not wanting any unexpected visitors, and picked up his cloak. After glancing about, he sat in the lone chair occupying the far wall across the room from the officer’s desk.

    He did not have to wait long.

    The rumble of booted feet filled the hallway, stamping and alarmed. They came to a stop right outside the door. A whispering murmur ensued, punctuated by clinks and dings as armored men adjusted their suits, bumping into the close walls as well as one another.

    Bailiff Dergen’s gruff voice rose above the din, crying out, “Tighten shoulders men—if it’s to Hell we must go, I want us to arrive together, as a unit—as a unit of men!” Clink-clink-clink, they closed ranks. A moment later, in a more subdued tone, the bailiff ordered, “Alright, Ralph, get in there—take him down.”

    Complete silence. Then, “Me?”

    “Yes, you!” The bailiff sighed his disgust. “Today is your day to wear our only suit of tourney plate—I didn’t force you to sign up for the rotation…you chose to do it. Now get in there!”

    An insolent muttering was followed by a bustle of movement. It sounded as if an entire armory, crammed into the space allowed for one man, shuffled up to stand before the door. A thin, metallic whine came through, head level. Brune started, realizing the man had lowered his visor.

    Thunk-thunk-thunk. He knocked on the door, three times.

    “Ralph,” Bailiff Dergen said, “I swear, if you don’t get in there right now, on my Mother’s Eyes, latrine duty, ALL SUMMER!"

    “The stupid gauntlet won’t close on the stupid catch!” Ralph hissed back.

    “Oh! Well...alright, Roger, open the door!’’

    A moment later, the catch let loose, and the door edged open…a finger’s breadth. If a mouse had sneezed, it would have sounded like a gale wind compared to the stark silence emanating from the corridor. Then, with what sounded like an absurd amount of creaking and clanking, Ralph set into motion.

    The tip of a sword peeked through the aperture, trembling.

    After a few tense seconds, there was the sound of someone marching angrily down the hallway. Then, of a sudden, Ralph came diving through the entranceway. Clearly visible, a mailed boot was pushing against his rear end, shoving him in. As he flew into the room, sprawling, his sword went skittering across the floor, and the door, with a loud BANG!, bounced off the adjacent wall and then promptly slammed shut right behind him, reengaging the catch.

    Flailing about upon the ground, his limbs made almost useless by his resplendent armor, Ralph resembled nothing so much as a steel beetle, stranded upon its back, trying to flip itself aright—though this beetle was on its belly, and wheezing franticly. A pitiful number of starts and stops ensued before Ralph finally found purchase with his hands and knees. From there, rising to his feet required only a small effort. He stood before Brune, swaying slightly.

    His armor, in a word, was magnificent. Burnished to a shimmering radiance, it was a riot of detailed etchings, whirling joint guards, meticulously interlocked plates of all sizes and shapes, and carefully orchestrated flourishes of plumage and gemstone, all colors delightfully coordinated. Brune almost felt honored.

    “If you take one step towards me, I’m sorry, but I will be forced to defend myself. Tell the bailiff I mean no harm.”

    Ralph, responding informally, fumbled about his neck, and then uttered breathlessly, “I…can’t...breathe..” He promptly teetered over, returning to the floor with an appallingly loud crash.

    From the hallway, someone cried out, “He killed him!” Someone responded, “He didn’t even have a chance!” Then someone else, possibly Roger, went, “Ahhh!” Everyone fled, their booted feet shaking the walls in their tumultuous, stampeding retreat.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  2. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Rewrote and continued...

    I like this one!
  3. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Brune’s laugh was cut short. Ralph was emitting a most rude gurgling noise. Realizing the soldier’s life might be at stake, Brune approached him hastily and knelt down alongside. What was the problem? It appeared the armor was choking him in some fashion…and it was. Brune noticed the uppermost edge of the breastplate was stuck under the complimentary edge of the backplate, causing the suit to clamp down upon the poor man’s neck in a most unfortunate manner. It must have gotten pinched in the ruckus of his initial fall.

    He worked his thumbs inside, one knuckling the man’s clavicle while the other slid in assisted by the man’s back sweat. Brune began to pry them apart. Alarmingly, nothing moved. They were really stuck together. He clenched his jaw as he jerked the soldier up and down, applying all his strength, bouncing the man’s visored face off the floor repeatedly. Clang-clang-clang, went the man’s kisser. Ahh! Of a sudden, the pinch came undone, and the two plates released their grasp.

    Brune rubbed his sore thumbs while the soldier sucked in vast gulps of breath, returning to consciousness with startled jerks. After a time, he began to move about, repeating his previous beetle-like dance except in slow motion.

    “Here you go buddy, let me help you.” Brune assisted him, careful to avoid getting his fingers bitten in the sliding movements of the interlocking plates.

    Both upon their feet, they stared at one another for a brief moment, Brune smiling mildly, the soldier’s face hidden behind his visor.

    “May I please leave?”

    “Yes, yes you may.”

    The soldier walked towards the exit, realized he had forgotten his sword, retraced his steps, retrieved his implement, and then gave Brune a small salute before reaching the door. His gauntleted hand couldn’t undo the catch.

    “Here you go buddy, let me get that for you.”

    “No, no. I got it. Thank you though.” Off came his gauntlet, and the catch was undone. With another small salute, he strode through the exit, each step sounding like a quartet of blacksmiths accompanied by a choir of tinkerers.

    Brune poked his head out into the hallway and caught a last glimpse of the receding soldier before he turned a corner, leaving the corridor completely empty. Was the entire barracks deserted? He closed the door and returned to his seat.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
  4. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    What was next? At this point Brune half-expected the citizens of Paget to lay siege to their own town. Perhaps a large boulder, lobbed by catapult, would crash through the wall. If he left the building, that might only make things worse. A panic might ensue...and there was little he could do against a mob. Lord Frederick had better show up soon, or this bad situation could become much worse.

    Brune released his mounting anxiety through an irregular regiment of finger-drumming, beard-stroking, and knee-rubbing. Of a sudden, he heard soft-soled boots striding purposefully down the hallway, swoosh-swoosh-swooshing towards the door of Bailiff Dergen’s office. The gait was certainly not that of a soldier. Only two alternatives seemed reasonable: it was either Lord Frederick or a fever-eyed cultist come to throw “blessed” water into his face. Brune truly hoped it was the sovereign nobleman—he was in no mood for a dousing.

    A series of polite, unhurried raps sounded upon the wooden door. Brune stood and approached, eager to allow the man entrance and bring this unfortunate mishap to a conclusion. He couldn’t undo the catch—it really was tricky! After a moment of frustrated fumbling, the door was opened. Standing before him was a very tall, robust man, eclipsing Brune in height—a rare individual indeed! A towering figure of satin and fur-lined hemming, the black-bearded, bejeweled nobleman beamed at Brune a white-toothed, pure, welcoming smile, regarding him with joyous warmth, as if they were old friends, long-parted and now reunited.

    “Brune Six-Darts! Good to see you! Good to see you!” He reached forward and grabbed Brune’s hand, shaking it vigorously, nearly dislodging the lanky youth’s shoulder. “My! What an honor! To welcome someone of your reputation and status to my fair burgh..! Truly an honor, indeed!”

    Brune knew for a fact that he possessed neither “reputation” nor “status”. He tried to respond, to offer his thanks, but was given no chance.

    “I hope you have found Paget as quant and charming as I do..? It may lack refinement—no, no, don’t try to deny it, I know all about my own town, I assure you—but what it lacks in sculpture and courtesans, it surely makes up for in fresh air and virgin forest. Did I mention I am an unmarried man? Yes, yes, it is true. Not much of a hunter though…I find archery requires too much practice. I swear my responsibilities are never-ending!”

    “Sir, I…”

    “Please, relax! Be at ease! You have no doubt traveled far. You are well-traveled, are you not? Yes, yes, of course you are. Wouldn’t you agree that Paget would be greatly served by a theatre? I have been considering the necessities of the construction. Why, Mortemont has the most splendid theatre one could imagine! And Helken..? My! That stage must be the largest in all the Methyr! Oh sure, my Paget has a tavern house that impropriety does not prevent me from frequenting, but much as I enjoy the table of Publican Olmar, the man simply cannot roast a capon. I saw the most beautiful actress dancing upon the stage at the Dramatic Omen. That’s the theatre Lord Rowen built. Do you think the stage company would make the trip from Helken to Paget? Surely, it is not too far… I am considering naming it, ‘The Dancing Stage’.”

    “Sir, it…”

    “Yes, I agree, it is a fine name.” Suddenly, his eyes glowed mischievously. “Say, after this whole nasty business with the criminal is over, could you cast a spell upon my mother..? She has the most old-fashioned ideas regarding courtship between nobles and those of lesser birth. She simply cannot understand the difference between courtship and a proposal of marriage. Could you somehow make her understand that? Somehow..? The difference..?”

    “My Lord, you…”

    “It is unfortunate, but my mother, when I was only a lad, having recently lost her husband, my father, was tricked into promising my proposal to the daughter of a rather important family to whom my mother required vassalage, the Olephbourne. Have you ever seen young Lady Janette Olephbourne..? Sly eyes..?” He mimicked her side-long squint. “Husky..?” He broadened his shoulders. “Short hairs, from the tip of her long nose..?” He held his hand an absurd distance from his face. “You’d recognize her immediately, I’m sure. Well, let me assure you, I will never submit to the predations of her and her greedy family!” The fire in his eyes was quickly replaced with a wicked cunning. “Say, perhaps you can help me with that sticky situation as well...”

    “Umm…I’m not sure that I can, Sir. My abilities are more…”

    “So what’s this I hear, you used your powers to bounce the door off the face of my poor bailiff..?! He has the most painful-looking red mark upon his forehead! What would possess you to do such a thing?”

    “My Lord, I assure you…”

    “Now, I realize he can be a bit blunt…foul-mouthed, even. But I simply must insist upon your cooperation. We have a magic-wielding deviant on the loose! It is a most serious and disturbing situation. When I contacted the Society, they assured me they would send forth a responsible, discreet sorcerer to help rectify this dangerous predicament. You are Brune Six-Darts, are you not?”

    “Yes, yes, of course, I…”

    “Well then! Let’s get to it and rectify! Your services cost me a small fortune and I want results. I mean, you are a smart lad, tell me truly, if word leaks out that there is some wicked demon prowling the streets of my fair town, do you honestly think stage companies would hazard the journey..?”

    “Sir, I don’t…”

    “Of course they wouldn’t! I mean, use your head..!” Lord Frederick was interrupted by the sound of mailed boots clink-clink-clinking down the hallway, approaching the bailiff’s office. “Ah, good! …here comes the bailiff now.”

    The salty-haired bailiff entered, a large, round, angry welt formed upon his forehead, looking surly and entirely put-upon. He made only a flicker of eye-contact with Brune, but within that fleeting moment the entire spectrum of resentfulness was touched upon. He then immediately turned to Lord Frederick, and addressing his liege’s shoulder, stated flatly, “Bailiff Dergen, reporting as ordered…Sir.”

    “My good Bailiff! Nice to see you! Nice to see you! Well, now that we are all here, I feel I must tell you, the Society has informed me that this evil monster of a man we must face is cruelly dangerous, and there is a good chance neither of you will survive…so it is important that we try our best! Bailiff Dergen, you will be happy to know that Brune has given me his personal word that he will be more cooperative. Well, alright then, get to it men! I’ll be in the manor if anyone needs me.”

    And with that, he abruptly strode out of the room, his fur-lined cloak whipping out of the doorframe. Swoosh-swoosh-swoosh went his satin boots as he hurried down the hallway, eager to return to his responsibilities.

    Bailiff Dergen turned to Brune, and with eyes full of base suspicion, whispered, “If you have any decency left, you’ll tell me the truth: I have been adding up some facts, such as Lord Frederick contacting that nefarious Society, your similar heights, as well as some other small clues that have surfaced over the years...answer me truly, is he a warlock too?”
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  5. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Hey, I was wondering if I could get the title of this thread changed to, 'Smolder-Head'.

    Would be much appreciated!


    [You can edit thread titles yourself via Edit -> Go Advanced. -Tal]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2010
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