“Why’s a filthy boy like you tainting this nice festival? You know full well the Lord doesn’t want to see you here.” grumbled Dracus Molp.
I hated this bald headed miser as far back my memory went and for good reason too. I swear he felt it was his divine duty from the Gods to stop me from meddling in any of his oh so noble affairs. I am an orphan, the lowliest of scum, a sore sight in the respected village of SukenCrest. This wasn’t the richest village. It wasn’t even the largest village, but that didn’t stop Lord Cresten from tucking away the unsavory parts of it away from visitors. Like the fat rolls that oozed out of Molp’s large robes, the poor would occasionally ooze out of the cage he trapped them in.
“I’m just here to enjoy the festival like everyone else. I’m not here to cause any trouble.” I stated in the calmest voice I could muster while forcing a fake smile. I desperately wanted to attend this festival so I was hoping he would forget about me and move on.
“I can’t do that today, boy. The Lord received a proclamation this morning that one of the great mages is passing through town during the festival. If Lord Cresten found out I let gutter trash into the festivities he’d have both our heads on pikes,” mumbled Molp.
I knew only two things in that moment. One, A wizard was going to show up. Two, I wasn’t going to let Dracus Molp, a tub of lard, block me from this festival and ruin my chance to meet a wizard. I sprinted into the endless crowd, expertly zigzagging my way around people. Colorful signs hung haphazardly blurred in front of me and smells of delicious food wafted around me. I didn’t have time to enjoy the event, however. I still had lose Molp and his goons.
“Hey, get back here!” I heard Dracus scream in the distance.
I slightly panicked as I reached the village center. Molp had certainly contacted the village guards through his communicator. Four paths, one in each direction, greeted me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back the way I came so that left me with three options. Straight led to the Lord’s Manor where I assumed many village guards were stationed. The right path led me down to the slums which wouldn’t help me enjoy the festival so I pivoted left and scurried down the busy road.
I figured I was in the clear. I didn’t spot any guards in the vicinity so I pulled my hood over my head and hunched over. A large genuine grin was plastered across my face, it felt good to lose that uptight prick. I wasn’t keen on attracting unwanted attention, but that wouldn’t mean I would ignore the festivities. What would be the point of hiding in the event if I couldn’t enjoy it?
The most amazing scents came from an unnamed food stall. A vermillion green sign hung above me, inviting me to spend my measly coins on their array of food. My stomach ached for food and I wasn’t about to tell it no, not today at least.
“How can I help you,” replied a small blonde girl behind the counter. Her blue eyes stood out among the numerous shades of brown that made up the irises of most common folk. She was not originally f rom SunkenCrest. Maybe she was a Northerner but who knew and who actually cared. I’d come to accept the world as a large and mysterious place. Food, while sparse, was something I was very familiar with, something I actually cared about.
“What can I get with four copper?” I asked.
The small blonde girl frowned, dropping the fake cheerfulness reserved for substantial paying customers.
“I can get you some artisan bread and maybe some herb and honey butter. That’s all you can afford with only four copper. Can I get your name?”
“Yeah, can you put the order under Erik.”
“I’ll call you when it’s ready.”
I traded my copper for a ticket with my order on it. I stood at the edge of the stall and peered out into the sea of people flowing up and down the cobblestone road.
Time was something I had plenty of. I’d come up with games to distract myself from the boredom that comes from living in a small village with no friends. Not many people wanted to associate with me. This wasn’t always the case. Hoth and Jackin had been my childhood friends when I was younger. Both had opted to leave the village after some new laws restricting the poor was implemented. I stayed thinking that these laws would be temporary. Sometimes I wish I had followed them. It was one of many mistakes I regretted the most.
I enjoyed picking people from the crowd and trying to figure out their past or at least manufacture a new one for them. It was the closest thing to travel that I could currently afford.
A middle-aged man wearing an ornate blue shirt embroidered with a gold trim stood out among the various browns and greys of most people’s clothing. It wasn’t him who caught my attention . Sure that man was wealthy but I’d seen these type of people occasionally as they made their way toward the city of Tamrin. It was the man behind this man that caught my eye.
This man was thinner than any person I had ever seen and believe me when I say I’ve witnessed many bizarre and eccentric people come through the village. This man towered over the crowd and his eyes were pure black. His clothing was simple leather but even I could tell they were sown by a master seamstress. I hadn’t seen thread anywhere that was as evenly spaced. I was so mesmerized by this mysterious figure, I didn’t realize when someone latched onto my arm.
My head swiveled to see Molp, his face bright red and his body covered in sweat. His breath was short from the running since he wasn’t used to doing it.
“I found you, you rat! You’re coming with me!” seethed Molp who I could tell was barely containing his anger. His arms were visibly shaking and his free hand was clenched. “
I pulled and pulled trying to separate myself from the overweight man. I kicked him in the stomach but Molp barely moved. He was a wall of blubber but impenetrable blubber from what I could tell. He had a surprising amount of hidden muscle.
Molp held me in place. He didn’t budge an inch. Eventually guards showed up to take me away. They grabbed my legs and arms, binding them together. I was shocked. Never had the guards bothered to constrain me like this. They usually just picked me up and carried me to the slums.
“What are you doing?” I asked, my confusion evident on my face.
“You’ve terrorized this town long enough boy. I’ve had enough of your shit. You’ll be lucky if you ever see sunshine again.” spat Molp with as much vitriol a person could have.
“NO, THIS IS A MISTAKE, SOMEONE HELP ME, HELP ME!” I screamed as I was dragged me to the Lord’s manor.
They threw me into a cell in the dungeon in the Manor’s basement. I groaned as my face met the cold unforgiving stone floor. I picked myself up and leaned my sore back up against the hard prison wall to gather my surroundings.
The faint glow of lanterns barely lit up the dark and dreary dungeon. Cobwebs covered crevices and the corners of the ceiling. It was clear that no one bothered maintaining the condition of this hell hole. A surge of anger coursed through me. I had been dealt one of the worst hands in life and now I found that the rest of my life would be taken away by some entitled Lord who cared more about his image than the people under his rule. I kicked the stone wall only to stub my toe. I let out a guttural scream and cursed this forsaken place.
Corroded iron bars are what kept me from freedom. They weren’t the strongest or most well kept poles of metal but they certainly were strong enough to keep any normal prisoner locked inside. That didn’t stop me from pulling on them to see if any of them moved, maybe they had been weakened over the lack of maintenance over the years.
In my cell sat a small green mat for sleeping which was next to a neglected lonely chair that probably hadn’t been used any time this century. It wasn’t a particularly comfortable chair, only slightly more adequate then the jagged rock that lined my cell floor.
I spotted a broad man in the cell across from my own. The tight layout of the dungeon suggested he was just two arms length away from me. A blanket covered his body, hiding most of his appearance. Light grey skin peeked out of the few tears in his blanket. A large bushel of curly brown hair covered his head, it was greasy and even matted in some places.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about who this person was. He was the only interesting thing in this dull prison and would probably my only contact for however long my stay was. For now, I’d let him rest. I had an abundance of time and I didn’t want to aggravate the one person I would be able to talk to.
“Get up!” yelled a guard as I felt freezing cold water soak the only blanket I was given.
I scurried to my feet, stumbling on my lone chair in the process. A measly wooden bowl of gruel slid between the small gaps between the iron bars. It was cold to the touch and had the consistency of glue. I picked it up and placed it on my small wooden chair. It was aggravating to find out my chair wasn’t quite straight when some of my precious goop ran down the side of the bowl. The only thing preventing me from obliterating the bowl was the intense hunger I felt.
I looked up to see the strange man across my cell grinning. He was an odd looking fellow probably the oddest looking man I’d ever met if I hadn’t noticed the strange man from yesterday. His eyes sparkled green and his teeth were unnaturally white. I had heard of people bleaching their teeth but I didn’t realize it made them glow.
“Ah the orphan boy, I’ve heard a lot about you. Pissed off the Lord one too many times?” the man said while grinning.
“Who told you about me? You don’t work for Molp do you?”
The stranger chuckled.
“No, I don’t work for Molp or even Cresten. I might be limited to this cell but I have eyes of my own” said the strange man while showcasing a small metal bug in his hand.
“You’re a wizard?”
“I guess that’s what your kind calls us,” chuckled my new cell mate.
“If you work for the king, why does Cresten have you locked up.”
“I never said I worked for the king,” the stranger stated.
“So you’re a rogue mage?”
This caused the weird stranger to laugh.
“If anything I’m the only loyal mage on this backwater world,” he muttered. “So you’re going to help me get out of this bit of hell,” he said to me in a much more cheery voice.
“Maybe, what’s in it for me?” I wearily asked.
“Freedom among other things”
“Other things? Like what?”
“Mysterious mage things.”
This caused me to frown. Even I could tell he was trying to leverage his position as a mage to get me to do what he wanted, but I really didn’t have anything better to do.
“Sure, as long as it doesn’t get me killed.”
“Oh, you won’t have to worry about that.”
For a second, a sinister smile flashed across his somewhat shifty and odd face.