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Chapter 1

by Despain 10 months ago in Excerpt
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From "Legacy of the Diaspora"

It’s been about four years now, but I am as much of a disappointment to my parents today than I was then. I came to Isledon after being offered a rather illustrious internship to become a blacksmith. Jumping on the offer without doing a bit of research, I would later come to regret it. Shocking, I know. Thom’s an honest man, and I can’t fault him if I’m going to be fair. Blacksmithing just isn’t my passion. Truthfully, it never was. I came here to escape the growing grip of responsibility being bestowed upon me primarily by my father.

I came here to steal. I’m a thief and I don’t shy away from that.

One of my most repeated customers is Mr. Schmidt who’s earned his wealth by exploiting the shipping docks from here to Southport. By exploiting, I mean using children to fish from the early hours of the day until late into the evening. He brings children over from Zanzabar and puts them to work, all of which is completely alright with Lord Castegar.

… Castegar. The High Lord of Isledon. The Warden of the South, and loyal dog to King Mistral. Ever since the young Prince Leonardo ascended to the throne after his father’s passing almost two decades ago, Lord Castegar has been working tirelessly to get within his good graces. The good King would frown upon the exploitation of labor, one would think. Regardless this has been quite lucrative for me. Sad for the children, and the parents sure, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is coin. Money is the universal language spoken across all the Known World, and I want it all.

I’ve been on the prowl for the next Mr. Schmidt to no avail. My rent’s due soon and I need money, and at this point I’m willing to rob Mrs. Ender. Sure, she’s almost eighty, but I never said I was a good person. No… my next target is Castegar. I’ve been procrastinating putting my plan into motion, because being caught stealing from a High Lord is an instant trip to the gallows. I’m not a fan of my flawed head, but I do not want to part with it just yet. I can’t do it alone, though. Which is why I’ve recruited my best friend, Gamble.

“When’s the job?” He would ask incessantly at every meet up.

“Not yet. Castegar has been calling more and more soldiers from the capital, so security is tight.”

“You know why that is, right? He’s sending an entire regiment down to the Forgotten Continent.”

“Ugh. Is he going? That could be our opening.” This may finally be the opportunity we’ve been waiting for, but I was let down with a very quick shake of the head before I could get excited.

“Castegar is too much of a coward. He wants all the glory, but none of the risk. He believes if he himself sends a regiment down there, he’ll get all the credit.” Gamble responded. “I think we should go ourselves.”

I paused because this sounded like a dumb idea. Castegar had every reason to be a coward.

The Forgotten Continent, from what I understand, was once the home of the Pria before they basically offed themselves. I’m hazy on the details and I’m the furthest from a historian, but let’s just say they made the wrong call, and no longer exist. Survivors of whatever happened to the Pria became nomads and migrated to the Known World. It’s a hellish place I have no desire to ever set foot in.

“Have you lost your mind?” I asked.

“You need the money. I need the money. We’re broke. There’s nothing here, Dante. Let’s table the Castegar thing for now.” Gamble was really into this. You could tell he had given this a lot of thought, but the risk of death is not something I ever look forward to.

“We aren’t warriors, Gamble. The hell are we going to do down there besides get in the way?”

“What does that even mean ‘we aren’t warriors’? You have your crossbows, I have my knives, and we’re very skilled at combat, somewhat.”

“How much are they offering?” I figured I’d entertain him for a bit, let him down softly kind of thing.

“Two thousand sol for a week of service. Strictly independent contractors. We go, we follow orders, get paid.”

“Get paid for fighting monsters a lot tougher than what we’re use to here in Isledon.”

Let me explain. Monsters are morbid creations that spawn from an over abundance of ether. What is ether? I’m not entirely sure myself, but what I do know is that some engineer in Isthia came up with an idea to harness the ether and turn it into energy. So, guess what they found down south? A whole lot of ether, but no labor to harness it all. The way Gamble explained it seemed to make sense. Adventurers would journey south, do what’s required, get paid. The bar for entry was so low that anyone could sign up, which to me meant trouble, but for some reason Gamble saw nothing but opportunity.

“I’ll think about it, Gamble.”

Thom’s was located on the Southend of Isledon pass the market. The market was always busy, which means more pockets for me to pick. You could find anything here, and that was because of Isledon’s location in Vaelyra. To the north was Isthia which we simply call “Capital City”, and from there if you travel south is a sprawling kingdom that stretches as far south as Terminus. The quickest way to travel within the Kingdom is through the King’s Road, which stretches from Isthia to here, Isledon. East of Isledon is Oredaen lands, and many people travel through Terminus to trade here in Isledon. Sifians have slowly started to come here through Southport, but they aren’t as welcome, considering we are still by definition at war with them. But like I said earlier, the only thing that matters is coin, and most Isthians would welcome monsters themselves if they act civilized and don’t kill anyone.

I’ve thought about leaving here and going back to the Vales, where I’m from, but to go back to my parents a failure is not something I could live with. Gamble’s right. We need money, and these expeditions might be the only thing that could keep me afloat. The truth is I’ve been practicing my marksmanship whenever I have free time. I’m not a fan of the bow, but the crossbow is something I’ve always been fond of. Depending on the weight of the crossbow, I’m crazy enough to use two at the same time. Gamble preferred to use knives and daggers. He’s humbler than I am, but he’s a literal monster when it comes to using those things in combat.

Gamble was one of the first people I met when I moved to Isledon. We became fast friends due to our shared admiration for fishing. He recommended some fishing spots along the Isledon River, and I’ve been indebted to him ever since. About two years back we got into a little scuffle at Fiona’s Southside, a bar located in the Southend. These two idiots from Southport decided to start a fuss with Fiona herself, but Gamble wouldn’t allow it. The men pulled out their blades, and that was their mistake. That’s when I saw Gamble’s ability with a knife for the first time. His alacrity would make the blade sing as he would move with absolute dexterity, almost as if he were dancing. Before I could volunteer my crossbow, the skirmish was over. The men crawled out of the bar and were never seen again. Ever since, we’ve been honorary members of Fiona’s.

I reach Thom to a bit of a ruckus. Two soldiers stood at the ready and immediately I thought they were there for me. As I thought about a possible exit strategy, Thom came out and motioned me inside. This couldn’t be good.

Excerpt

About the author

Despain

I am a thirty something year old that's had the same story playing in his head since I was a child. Let's see what happens, I guess.

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