Fiction logo

Content warning

This story may contain sensitive material or discuss topics that some readers may find distressing. Reader discretion is advised. The views and opinions expressed in this story are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Vocal.

The Arcana Coalition

To Make A Villian Series; Thelbe Jack, Part 2

By Frank EnglishPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 12 min read
You have what? A bunch of misfits, outcasts, and rogues? A pinecone, and a candle?"

Thelbe Jack reclined in the shadowy confines of the carriage as it speeds toward Watercrest. His gaze, the color of a clear winter sky, was fixed on the small satchel clutched by the elf sprawled unconscious across from him. He snatched the bag and glanced inside. The bag’s contents—a pinecone, a skein of yarn, a solitary black candle, two odd silver coins—were an enigma, seemingly irrelevant to any conceivable purpose. Among these oddities, Thelbe found a small delight: a piece of caramel, its sweetness encased in plastic. He pocketed the treat in his tunic and nonchalantly tossed the remaining trinkets at the elf, who twitched in response. With a weary exhalation and an eye roll, Thelbe turned his attention to the world outside the window, yearning for the freedom of the skies, a stark contrast to the confines of this terrible vessel. A shiver coursed through him as memories of a frigid night four years prior surfaced—the night he Staged his death to elude the Sun Kingdom’s forces that slaughtered his kin. That harrowing eclipse marked the end of his former self and the birth of the man he had to become. A simmering rage began to stir within him.

“Enough of this,” Thelbe barked, his patience frayed, “it’s been two hours. Wake up.” He brandished his cane, poised to prod the elf, but the man abruptly sat upright. He yawned silently, his attempt to stretch thwarted by the ropes binding his wrists. “Have we arrived?” the elf inquired with a melodic lilt, peering out the window. Thelbe inhaled sharply, “Were you just pretending to be unconsciousness?” The elf’s expression bordered on indignation. “Not at all, though I must admit the journey was rather serene, and I slept soundly. My thanks for your concern.” His grin was broad and untroubled, even as he remained bound, exuding a carefree aura. “You are insufferably vexing,” Thelbe muttered, arms crossed, brows knitted in a scowl. “Your name, once more?” In a fluid motion, the elf slipped free from his bonds and extended a hand. “Toby. Toby Macintosh.” Thelbe ignored the gesture this time leaving the elf's hand hanging.

“"Why are you here, Toby?" Thelbe asked harshly, looking at the elf closely. "Well, I need your help, we need your help." The elf smiled again as Thelbe burst into laughter. "The Arcane Coalition," Thelbe said, wiping his eyes, "that's a funny one. I thought they were broken and gone." Toby leaned back and folded his arms. "That's not true at all. We didn't give up, we pulled back." Thelbe laughed again. "Well, I'm not going to help you." Toby smiled once more and said, "We'll talk more at your place." "What?" Thelbe asked as the carriage halted, and the driver descended from his perch. The two men locked gazes, unyielding, until the door swung open.

“We’ve arrived, gentlemen,” announced the driver, gesturing for them to disembark. Thelbe nodded toward the exit, signaling Toby to precede him. The elf’s smile never waned as he alighted with grace. Thelbe retrieved his satchel of stolen coins then turned to leave, only to be blocked by the burly driver. “I recall a fare for a single passenger,” the driver remarked, his smile tinged with greed. Thelbe sighed, retrieved a handful of golden crowns, and with a straight face overturned his hand and scattered them across the carriage floor. “How clumsy of me,” he quipped, brushing past the driver, who grumbled but got down to collect the coins. Toby, already striding eastward and whistling, prompted Thelbe to hasten after him. “You’re unaware of our heading,” Thelbe called out.

Thelbe caught up with Toby and grabbed his arm, pulling him to a halt. "Listen, Toby, if that is even your real name, I don't know what you're up to, but I'm not interested. I have my own plans, and they don't involve joining some rebel group or fighting some war that's none of my business." He glared at the elf, who looked unfazed by his words. Toby smiled and shook his head. "You're wrong, Thelbe. This war is everyone's business, whether you like it or not. The Sun Empire is oppressing the people of this land, especially those who are different, like you and me. They fear our magic, our potential, our freedom. They want to control us, enslave us, or worse, exterminate us. You can't hide from them forever, Thelbe. Sooner or later, they'll find you, and then what will you do?"

Thelbe snorted. "I'll do what I always do. Survive. I don't need anyone's help for that, especially not yours. You're a fool, Toby, if you think you can stand against the Empire. They have an army, weapons, resources, allies. You have what? A bunch of misfits, outcasts, and rogues? A pinecone, a ball of yarn, and a candle?" Toby laughed. "You have a sharp tongue, Thelbe, but a dull mind. These things are not what they seem. They are symbols, tools, keys. Keys to a power that you can't even imagine. A power that can change the world. A power that you have within you, Thelbe. Don't you feel it? Don't you want to unleash it?" Thelbe felt a surge of annoyance and curiosity. He did feel something, a spark, a flame, a fire in his veins. He had felt it since he was a child, but he had never understood it, never explored it, never used it. What if there was a way to master it, to harness it, to wield it? What if there was a place where he could belong, where he could be accepted, where he could be free? He had not thought about having a real home since his parents were killed.

Toby sensed his hesitation and pressed on. "Come with me, Thelbe. Join us, meet our friends, our family. See for yourself what we're fighting for, what we're living for, what we're dying for. You won't regret it, Thelbe. I promise you that." Thelbe looked into Toby's eyes and saw sincerity, enthusiasm, passion. He also saw something else, something darker, something deeper, something hidden. He felt a twinge of doubt, a pang of wariness, a flash of fear. He wondered what Toby was hiding, what he was not telling him, what he wanted from him. Curiosity had a hold on him. He looked back at Toby and made a decision. He nodded slowly and said, "Alright, Toby. I'll come with you. But don't expect me to join your cause, or swear your oath, or follow your orders. I'm only here to see, to learn, to understand. And if I don't like what I see, or what I learn, or what I understand, I'm gone. Do you understand?" Toby grinned and clapped his hands in excitement.

The two men stood outside a small cottage by the river, its thatched roof sagging under the weight of years. The sun dipped low, casting a warm golden hue across the water. Thelbe’s eyes darted around, assessing the surroundings of his headquarters for the last several months, the perfect hideout for someone who preferred shadows to sunlight. Toby, with his flamboyant green-and-gold attire, blew into his flute and sang, “Oh, Thelbe, my nimble companion, let us dance through danger and weave our fate like a tapestry of moonlight!” His voice carried across the river, drawing curious glances from nearby birds.

Thelbe scowled. “Can't you save your songs for the taverns. We’re here for business are we not.” His fingers traced the hilt of his dagger, ever wary. Trust was a rare commodity in his line of work. Inside the cottage, they packed Thelbe’s belongings—a coil of thin rope, lockpicks, a pack of small crafting tools, and a vial of poison. “So, what exactly do you need my help with,” Thelbe asked as they packed. Toby smiled brightly before saying “The Impossible.”

“Picture this, a big bad dark elf leader’s tower. A spire so tall, it scrapes the underbelly of the roof of the cavern it's in. Its walls? Thicker than a dragon’s hide. Its guards? Grumpier than a troll denied its morning coffee. And what do we need from this illustrious tower? Oh, just a magic dagger. You know, the kind that can really spill the secrets out of someone. No biggie. “But Toby”, you say, “how will we infiltrate this impregnable fortress?” Well, my dear friends, we shall waltz in like we’re attending a garden party. I’ll sing a merry tune, distract the guards with my dazzling attire, and—voilà! —Thelbe, that's you, will slip past them like a shadow on a moonlit pond.” Thelbe looked over at the elf in disbelief, however that didn't stop Toby. The man prattled on as Thelbe unwrapped that Caramel and plopped it into his mouth.

“Now, about that dagger. The Dark Elf Leader might have it. Or he might not. Details, details! We’ll search his chambers, his sock drawer, and perhaps under his bed because everyone hides at least one magical artifact there, obviously. And if old Velkin protests, just offer him a cup of chamomile tea and a foot massage. Works every time.” Thelbe shook his head, a yawn escaping from his lips. “You are absolutely insane, surely, you've been told that before. And you think this Velkin guy is just going to let us walk out of there.” Thelbe rubbed his eyes as he tossed his bag over his shoulder, the heist today at the inn must have taken more from him than he thought, he felt exhausted.

Thelbe couldn’t help but smile at Toby’s awful impression. “Can’t you be serious for just a bit?” Thelbe’s tone lightened. The two men left the cottage, the sun now nearly faded behind the mountains leaving a receding twilight, the sound of hooves drew their attention to the west. A group of sun soldiers approached rapidly, leading a prisoner cart. Up front, next to the soldier driving, sat the carriage driver, clutching a hefty bag. "Seems our welcome has run out,” Toby yelled, already sprinting toward the river. Thelbe followed, but as he tried to move his legs, they buckled under his weight, and he collapsed to the ground.

Toby rushed back to the young man, trying to help him to his feet. But Thelbe’s body had gone numb; he couldn’t move. Toby’s eyes widened in realization as he released Thelbe, watching the young man’s body slump to the ground. Opening his bag, Toby discovered the missing caramel. “You thieving brat,” he muttered to Thelbe. The young man barely heard him, grunting in response as his eyes rolled back into his head. “You there, halt!” demanded the soldiers, dismounting from their horses and closing in on the two men.

With one hand, Toby rummaged through his bag and extended his other hand palm up. “Calm down, friend, I'm just a simple bard” Toby brought his flute to his lips and played a short tune. Two of the Soldiers aimed their arrows at him, ready to shoot. “Oh, you don't like music, huh.” Toby joked. “Is this about the money, here have some more coin,” Toby slid the silver coin he hid with his flute to his free hand and threw it out to the guards. “Come on, Baphey, give me something useful,” He muttered under his breath as he grabbed Thelbe and tried to lift him, failing under the young man's weight. The soldiers pulled back their bowstrings, but then the ground started to tremble.

A ring of green flames surrounded the silver coin. Then a star appeared inside the ring, forming a pentagram before the ground collapsed into a hole. The coin and the ground within the ring fell into a dark abyss. Arrows flew by Toby, missing him by a wide margin as he struggled with Thelbe. The ground slowly stopped shaking and a loud screech came from the hole, followed by a creature that jumped out of it. It landed a few feet away from Toby and the young man, its yellow eyes focused on the two men. “No!” Toby yelled at the bird-like creature, it snapped its sharp beak at the elf and crept closer. “You are supposed to get them” Toby shouted as he gave up on carrying Thelbe and dragged him by his foot instead. The creature rose on its two strong hind legs that looked like a lion's. It spread its two huge wings, its brown and white feathers fluttering in the wind. Two arrows hit the left wing of the griffin, making it look at the group of soldiers who had quietly surrounded the creature.

Amist the blood soaked clearing the griffin, its feathers ruffled and eyes ablaze, confronted the encircling sun soldiers. Each warrior donned gleaming armor, swords drawn, and shields raised. The creature’s beak snapped menacingly, and it lunged at the nearest soldier. The griffin’s talons slashed through the soldier’s armor, leaving deep gashes across his chest. Blood sprayed as the soldier staggered back, dropping his sword. The griffin’s beak clamped down on the soldier’s helmet, crushing it like a walnut. The soldier collapsed, lifeless. Another soldier ran forward but griffin was ready, wings sweeping forward, the griffin knocked the second soldier off his feet. As he struggled to rise, the creature’s beak pierced his shoulder, pinning him to the ground. The soldier screamed, futilely trying to free himself, while the griffin’s talons tore at his legs. Toby got down beside Thelbe and backhanded him across the face as the soldier’s foot flew above them. A desperate “Come on, wake up” spewing from his lips however he knew the sedatives in the candy would keep his friend unconscious for quite a while.

One of the soldiers sent another arrow into the griffin who cried out piercing the air around them. The griffin’s left wing, wounded from arrows, flapped with renewed fury. It struck the soldier, sending him sprawling. The creature’s beak found the soldier’s throat, and with a savage twist, severed it. Blood sprayed across the grass. The griffin’s right wing swept low, catching the fourth soldier in the midsection. Ribs cracked, and the soldier crumpled, gasping for air. The creature’s talons dug into his back, shredding armor and flesh alike. The soldier’s screams echoed through the clearing. Fear etched on his face, the final soldier hesitated before dropping his bow and running. But the griffin lunged, its beak tearing through the soldier’s armor. The man stumbled, tripping over a fallen comrade. The griffin’s talons closed around his ankle, snapping bone. With a final shriek, the soldier collapsed.

The griffin slowly turned to face Toby and Thelbe. Its feathers dripping in the wet blood of the Sun Soldiers, the creatures golden eyes darted to the two men. Its beak poised for the kill, as it inched forward. A shadow, swift and silent, flew across the clearing as the griffin lunged, but just as it closed the distance, something incredibly heavy plummeted from above. The impact was seismic. The ground quivered, soil and grass erupting in a chaotic burst. Cracks spiderwebbed through the earth. Dust and debris billowed, obscuring the scene. Toby, who had fallen onto his behind in terror as the griffin lunged, fell flat onto his back in relief as a soft thud was heard. “I’ve never been happier to see you Agnus’” Toby said almost crying, to the woman who landed behind him.

“You almost got yourself killed, and the boy was no help. Just like I said he’d be” Agnus spoke sharply. She stands still for a moment, her fierce amber eyes scanning the serene landscape. Her plumage, a storm of grays and silvers, shimmers with the touch of the last fading rays of the sun, casting a spectral glow around her formidable form. With a swift motion, she folds her wings, the sharp feathers tucking neatly against her back. The air hums with the latent power of her presence, the grass beneath her feet bending to accommodate the weight of her resolve.

“And now look at Orbie” she beacons over to the creator where the dust was settling. In the dimming light of dusk, Orbie, the stone golem, knelt silently beside the fallen griffin. His massive, obsidian form seemed to shrink with sorrow. The runes that adorned his body—a tapestry of ancient symbols—flickered to life, casting a soft, blue luminescence around him. Each rune pulsed slowly, like the gentle beat of a heart, reflecting Orbie’s grief in a silent symphony of light.

The air around him was heavy with the scent of pine and the metallic tang of blood. The griffin lay majestic even in death, its once powerful wings now folded and still. Orbie’s large, rune-covered hand hovered above the creature’s feathered head, not daring to touch, as if the mere act would confirm the finality of its departure. A single, glowing rune on Orbie’s palm—a symbol of mourning in the language of magic—shone brighter than the rest. It cast a pale light on the griffin’s serene face, highlighting the peace that death had brought to the noble beast. Orbie’s shoulders trembled, and though he could not cry tears, the sky above mirrored his heartache, as the first drops of rain began to fall, whispering through the leaves to mourn with him.

Toby lifted himself up to the feet taking in the scene, then turning to Agnus he said. “Who cares that thing was going to eat me, now help me get Thelbe to the cart.”

Young AdultthrillerShort StorySeriesFantasyAdventure

About the Creator

Frank English

Writing is my passion and boy do i have some stories to share! if you like any of my work please leave a like or a comment. Subscribe if you wanna stay up to date as i have a lot planned. you are all wonderful!

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For FreePledge Your Support

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (1)

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    That made for really entertaining reading, and it made me laugh a little. I love your story. You have a very creative talent for fiction.

Frank EnglishWritten by Frank English

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.