Heroes of Rune Chapter 3

Cirdan’s Note: I’m pleased to introduce to you another installment from our very own spock0528. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been itching to find out more about the World of Rune! Make sure you’ve read the prologue,  chapter one, and chapter two before continuing on the journey below!

Chapter 3

Darius

Darius ran quickly over the cobbled stones, past a row of shopkeepers and through a narrow alley. As he ran he adjusted the strap on his courier bag. He was going to be late. Darius quickly sidestepped a merchant carrying a basket of a fruit on his head. He could see his destination just ahead. With a flying leap he jumped over the stone steps and skidded to a stop just in front of the door to the couriers office. He flung open the door and darted inside. Madame Dreyfus looked up from a stack of papers. “Ah, Darius, did you bring the message from the minstrels guild?” she asked in her dry nasally voice. “Yes Mam,” Darius said as he pulled out the envelope marked with a red seal. “They have everything ready for Lord Seacrests arrival.” “Excellent, now I think you’re wanted back at the palace,” Madame Dreyfus said taking the envelope. “Yes Mam,” Darius said as he exited the office.

Darius strolled through the streets of Teroh. He was approaching the palace, a massive tower that rose so high into the sky it’s head was not visible from the street. Etched into the side of tower was a gold dragon that curled all the way up the tower like a coiled rope. Surrounding the single tower was a courtyard with several small official structures inside it. This was the mighty castle of Teroh, the home of the great King Alistair, the mighty stronghold of the Eastirim. At each of the corners of the square courtyard were the four gates into the palace. Above each gate was a statue of one of the four gods. Each statue towered above the gate so that while walking through a gate you would go under the statue’s legs. Right in front of him was the North Gate and a golden statue of Acosor holding in one hand a sword and in the other a scepter.  As Darius drew closer to the center of the kingdom, the people he encountered grew more official looking and the merchants and street vendors began to diminish. The people here were dressed in fine robes and some wore armor and carried swords. The buildings became taller and less ramshackled. The road sloped steeply upward now, and Darius began to tire.

The city of Teroh was built into the side of a mountain with the palace at the top. Buildings were built on all sides of the mountain and long walkways extended from its many towers. Most structures were made of sandstone and the towers near the top of the mountain were capped with gold and red. Flags fluttered in the gentle breeze of a mid-spring day and the waters of Lake Teroh sparkled below. Teroh was a mass of buildings all stacked on top of each other and all sticking out at odd angles. To the a person viewing the rest of Teroh from the street it was a crazy mess of people and buildings. But from afar it looked as if it were one giant structure instead of the thousands of individual ones. It was quite the view, and Darius saw it everyday.

Darius was part of a special program for orphans in the city of Teroh. Darius had entered the city at the age of ten claiming his parents were killed by bandits. Instead of being put up for adoption he was selected by Master Pibb, the head of the program, to become a royal aid. There were about 15 orphans working as aids at a time and each one was selected from the orphanage by their devotion and loyalty to the kingdom. The aids worked a variety of important jobs around the kingdom. Darius had been a personal assistant to several important lords and helped in the royal kitchens. He had even been the king’s food taster for a while. And now he was working as a courier. The aids did whatever was needed. The program also allowed the orphans to experience a variety of jobs. If they excelled at a job, one of the masters of that trade could select them as an apprentice. It gave the orphans a chance to learn trades that they would have learned if they had parents.

Darius had pale skin, quite unusual for an Eastirim, so unusual many believed he had a skin disease, and blue eyes. His short raven black hair fell loosely in front of his eyes and he was constantly brushing it out of the way. He was around 14 years old (he claimed he had lost track of his birthday) and was just two years away from being chosen as an apprentice by one of the masters. Darius did not know what he would be chosen for. He was decent in all of the areas he had tried but didn’t really excel at any one. Darius found it hard to fit in in Teroh. It was so different from his homeland. He had friends, other orphans in the program, but he spent most of his time by himself. It gave him more time to reflect, to plan, to figure out how to get out of here.

As Darius approached the palace, he ran into Master Pibb. “Ah Darius, I was looking for you,” he said. Master Pibb was a heavy man with a bald shiny head and a pinkish face. Darius guessed that Master Pibb was around 50 but it was hard to tell with his bald head. “I assume Madame Dreyfus got her messages on time?” he asked. “Yes Master Pibb,” he said quickly. Darius got nervous when he talked to Master Pibb. He got nervous when he talked to any official. “I have new orders from Sir Roddick,” Master Pibb replied. Sir Roddick was in in charge of the army in Teroh. “You know very well of Lord Seacrest’s arrival here next week.” Darius nodded. “There is a tournament in his honor. Lord Nicholas Snow v.s. William Gore. You are to clean and polish Sir Gore’s armor and weapons. Make sure there shining! They will be collected tonight so hurry on down to the barracks”. Darius gave a “yes sir” to Master Pibb and headed around to the East Gate where the barracks were.

Darius cursed under his breath. He would be up all night polishing William Gore’s armor. If that even was his real name. Sir William Gore was probably the biggest man in Eastirim. He had bright red hair and was seven feet tall and he looked about seven feet wide too! He had become famous for winning a duel without any weapon when his opponent carried a great broadsword. He had simply grabbed the sword, broke it in two with his own bare hands and smashed the mans head open like a watermelon. This had earned him the name of “Gore.” Or so the story went. Darius doubted it was true, but either way he felt sorry for Nicholas Snow, whoever that was. He seemed to remember hearing it somewhere but he couldn’t remember where. Since Sir Gore was so big, special armor three times the normal size had to be built for him. Three times the size meant three times the polishing, and that meant Darius was going to have a very late night.

On the way to the East Gate Darius heard a commotion. As he drew closer he saw a man standing on top of a crate with a group of people standing around him, listening to him shout. “The last of the Turks are dead! Methelga and Fayrx were caught a fortnight ago near Farbean.”

Darius knew of the Turks. For a while they were the most powerful family in Zarkaran, second only to the King himself. Baron Ramm Turk, the head of the family, was the King’s most trusted advisor. The Turks basically had their own private army that they lent out to the King in time of trouble. Around five years ago the Turks had gotten cocky. They had launched an attack on an Eastirim city called Pinebone. They had burnt the city to the ground, killed its men and taken its women and children away to work as slaves. This caused outrage from the Eastirim and it nearly started a full scale war. The war was prevented when the Zarkakran government claimed the Turks had acted without permission from the government but the Zarkarans still protected the Turks. Action needed to be taken. An Eastirim raiding party attacked the Turks mansion and killed almost everyone inside including the Baron himself. Only a few stragglers had escaped and for the last half a decade the hunt was on. Now the last of them had been caught and killed. This move had not caused war right away, but Darius and many others believed the Turks were the main reason the Zarkarans were rumored to be attacking the north of Eastirim.

“Second cousins of the great baron himself,” the man on the crate shouted. Darius noted that he spit as he said the word “baron.” “Tracked down and killed like the dogs they were,” he shouted as the public viewing his rant cheered.

Darius moved on. He was going to to have to get a start on that armor sometime. He moved through the riled up crowd and continued on to the barracks. So the last of the Turks were dead. Darius thought about it. He had been hearing about the manhunt for years now. Darius continued to think about it. Then he smiled under his breath.

Polishing the armor took his whole afternoon and most of his evening and when he was done a burly attendant collected it with a grunt. Darius headed back to his house that he shared with three other orphans in the program, his arms sore and calloused from the job he had just completed. The others were not back yet. Good, he had time for it. Darius lit four candles and placed them in each corner of the room. He pulled up a loose floorboard near his bed and removed a small item from it. He sat in the middle of the room and put the item in his lap. Darius murmured a few words under his breath. “Ncvx delagreen xuqrt merkxh,” he said as if he was in a trance. He looked back at the door, his eyes wide. If someone walked in and saw this… He put his hand over the item and whispered a few more words. “lmbn haxcv uiz,” he said quickly. He then put out the candles and placed the item back in its safe spot in the floorboard. The item was a small stone statue of Azolael, the Zarkaran god. It was the last thing given to him by his father. His father, Baron Ramm Turk.

Send us an owl: Whoa! Twist! What did you think? Stay tuned for Chapter 4 coming soon!

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