Tales of Cera: Lords and CatsbyArcerdo©
A/N: Here is something I've tried to write for a while now, and finally succeeded. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it. Also, English is not my main language, so if there are typos or mistakes, I apologize.
Tales of Cera will be a series of stories that happen in the same world, but each story will focus on different people and even different periods of time. Some stories will refer to others and one or two may be crossovers, but no need to be worried. I will give an A/N if that is the case.
For now, enjoy my first story in this series!
= Narration =
*** Scene change ***
Chapter 1: Meeting, Secrets and the Request
"1. In the beginning, the world of Cera was nothing but a dead wasteland.
2. Then from beyond the great void, traveling through the stars and descending from the heavens came our supreme creator; The One.
3. With the passing of countless eons, The One breathed life into the barren soil with mana; the energy that became the source and sustainer of all life.
4. As the soil revived plants blossomed, trees grew, oceans were born and mountains were formed.
5. Then came the Land Gods, beings who would oversee that the balance of mana would not be disrupted, who would administer life to nature, fields and to all newborn souls as well as bring natural disasters of death, wither the fields and guide the souls of the dead to their final rest.
6. For life and death must always be balanced.
7. Finally, The One created all species;
From tiniest of insects to the mightiest of dragons,
From battle hardened orcs to magically intelligent elves,
From primitive animals to ancestral humans,
All came from The One, all will return to The One.
8. The One continues to watch over all, forever more spinning the wheel of fates."
- Church of The One, Book of Light, Chapter of Genesis, verses 1-8
=The land of Ironveil, a domain that has for generations belonged to the Eisengard family.
In the old days, Ironveil was inhabited by several tribes of men, who were masters of iron, Elves who were masters of magic, and Beast-kin who lived by the laws of strength.
After several generations of power struggles, the Eizengards arose to power, establishing a dominion of power and blood over the other tribes.
It did not last, for when the 2nd heard of the Eizengards had began the extermination of Elves, he was challenged and cut down by his son, who became the 3rd head of the family.
He was written in history books as the one who put an end to the cycle of war, and established peace, albeit a shaky one, among the tribes.
The Elves accepted under the condition that The Eizengards would not enter their lands, and have not been heard from since.
The Beast-kin also demanded their own territory, and even though the relations between the two are strained to this day, trade-relations between the two are stable.
That is, until reign of the 6th head of the Eizengards, took a turn for the worse... =
The tavern around him was loud; a traveling performer's troupe was in town and as a result, people of all sorts were coming over to see them and join in on the festivities. The troupe in question was famous in many domains, hence wherever they went people were sure to follow... but the troupe is a story for another time.
The man, who was sitting in a corner of the tavern wearing travelers' clothes with a hood to keep his face from being seen, normally did not mind all the noise, laughter and music from the people making merry, but this time was the one exception.
Any other night, he would complete his tasks and join in on the fun, maybe even end the night in the bed of a local wench... and as his luck would have it, there was a particularly attractive one here tonight and judging from her attire she was the traveling sort, which meant his window of opportunity was closing fast.
Cursing under his breath, he was wishing that all the people there would just shut up for a minute, for the noise of their good time was only adding to his rapidly growing stress.
'By all the demons of Najvhara, why me?' (Najvhara = World of Darkness)
Thought the hooded man, looking down at his pint of ale; 'Yes, I grew up around these parts and yes, I happen to know the roads and paths that allows travel without being noticed... most of the time, but this is like a cruel punishment of sorts. All this fun going on and I cannot partake in it at all, for I must keep my wits about me if I wish to have even the slightest chance of success negotiating this request, especially so because the person I'm about to request it from is... err, most likely not very keen on accepting it.'
He took a huge chug from the pint, hoping the ale would help his nerves to calm down, but with very little effect, causing him to mutter to himself: "... They must be desperate, hoping to enlist help from those filthy-"
He was cut of by a voice coming from behind him: "Not a good way to get started now is it?"
He jumped slightly, mentally cursing himself. This was already a low chance task to begin with, and now with each passing second he could literally hear those chances going down the hill and steadily crashing towards the bottom.
By the time he had turned his head to look behind in an attempt to identify the source of the voice, the said person had already taken a seat in front of him, stating in a voice filled with mirth: "Also not very good at grasping the situation, now are you?"
He wanted to make a snappy retort, but knew better than to provoke someone who was, without a doubt, holding every advantage from the get-go.
The person in front of him was dressed similarly to his own attire, covering all the areas needed to conceal ones identity from any possible third parties. But he did not need to see beneath the attire to know who, or rather, what the person in front of him was, despite the voice clearly being faked to make gender harder to determine.
He did appreciate the extra mile of effort though, in case someone was listening in.
He cleared his throat, beginning by asking a simple question: "Password to proceed?"
The other person replied with a chuckle: "How cutely cautious, aren't you? The password is; ... Apple ale." The person tried not to giggle at that, asking: "Who came up with that, a child?"
He kept his own words in check, thinking: 'Yak it up will you... and it took me all day to come up with it, too.'
He then continued: "Greetings, I am Alexei. On behalf of the one who wishes to request your services, I give my thanks for agreeing to meet me."
The other person raised an eyebrow, asking: "A little stoic, but better. You are aware who I am?"
Alexei nodded: "You have quite a reputation, especially for completing requests that others would not even consider hearing out, all with absolute secrecy."
He then took a deep breath, before continuing, feeling his heart beginning to beat faster: "Which is exactly why I was told to seek you out, and no one else; for the request I have been tasked to relay to you, is not only difficult but also... strange, possibly even by your standards."
The other person shifted arms to a more serious pose, now asking with a serious tone: "What is it you seek? And I don't need to remind you, that you are not off to a promising start."
Alexei swallowed, thinking: 'You can do this Alexei, there is too much at stake to fail now... remember, you are a professional as well, so act like it!'
Before responding: "You are aware of what has been happening in Ironveil for these past 10 years?"
The person responded with a 'meh': "Who isn't? Not long after the 6th head of the Eizengards began his reign, for one reason or another, the 2 neighboring domains made an alliance and declared war on Ironveil. After about 8 years of devastating warfare, The Eizengard family surrendered and since then, not much has been heard from the 6th head or from the rest of the Eizengards."
Alexei was not certain, but despite this person's use of casual words, he could tell that whenever the Eizengards were mentioned, something about this person changed just slightly. It would not surprise him though, considering who and what he was talking to.
The person then finished: "... So what does any of this have to do with the-"
Alexei noticed a chance to take an advantage, so he cut her off by replying: "The request is from the Eizengard family."
He could barely contain his triumphant smug from showing as he felt the sudden shock from the revelation hitting the person in front of him, he then added with a serious tone: "So before we proceed, I must warn you; if you hear this request, you must agree to complete it no matter what. For now that you know the employers name, you must understand the gravity of what you are being asked to do, so if you do not want to undertake this request... now is the last chance to back out."
Alexei could now literally feel his heart beating like crazy, for this was a critical point. If the request was refused now, he would have to return empty handed... but what frightened him was not the prospect of having failed in his task, but what it would truly entail to Ironveil itself.
He had to keep his feelings in check, for he knew that the person in front of him would pick up on even the slightest change in his demeanor and take full advantage of it.
The person was silent for a while longer, before saying with an intimidating voice: "Well, well, it seems like I've underestimated you. You are either incredibly stupid, or foolishly brave to bring a request from the Eizengards to me, while knowing full well from where I came from and what I am."
The person the finished with a playful grin: "I must admit I do not dislike men like you."
Alexei swallowed again, feeling his guts tightening: 'phew... so far so good, I think.'
He then collected his thoughts and asked: "So, are you willing to hear the request or not? If yes, you can be assured the reward will be substantial. If not, then let us not waste anymore time, I have things I would rather be doing."
The person took a moment to think, before saying with a teasing tone: "Yes, the brunette at the counter, for one." This caused Alexei to cough and blush, slightly embarrassed. The person then laughed quietly, before responding: "Well, despite your rather clumsy start, I must admit you have caught my attention with your guts and directness... though you would do well to train keeping your feelings in check a little better."
After waiting for Alexei to take a another sip of the ale, no doubt in attempts to keep himself from showing the big rush of relief, the person finished: "I will hear your request, for I too am a professional... and I am curious as to what the Eizengards themselves would want from me, knowing our history."
'Well, they do say curiosity killed the-' Alexei stopped that train of thought right then and there, because despite his prejudice against what his person was, even he found the thought to be in bad taste.
He then cleared his throat: "Very good... now, there will be no written contract of this, which I know is highly unusual, but I believe after I am finished you will understand why. The request is as follows..."
Alexeis' voice was lost in the noise of the tavern as the patrons were picking up the pace of their drinking, singing and games of chance.
Only the person in front of him could hear what was being told, and by the time Alexei was done with conveying what he had been ordered to do, the person only had one thing to say:
"That... I can with all due honesty say... is something I did not see coming."
Alexei then added: "I know, I am the one conveying it and I still cannot believe I have just uttered it."
There was a long, awkward silence between the two, until the person said with a loud sigh: "But regardless, I have committed myself to completing it, my pride will not allow me to fail."
Alexei knew full well what those words meant, so he replied: "Despite what I may think about your kind, those words are reassuring. Now, what is it you desire as a reward upon successfully completing the task? I have been authorized, to a limit, to accept whatever you propose right now. Should it be over the limit, you must discuss it with the requester."
The person nodded and was just about to respond, when instead asked: "Wait... Before I say anything else, I must inquire as to the name of my employer."
He was a bit caught off guard about this, and it showed: "Wh-why do you wish to know this...? I have never heard of you inquiring your employers name like this."
The person then replied with a irritated tone: "Well, this is a very unusual request to begin with that will take a huge toll on me regardless how it turns out, but considering it is the Eizengards who are making it, I must know which one of them is willing to go as far as seek ME out of all people to complete it. Also, depending on who it is, I may have to re-think my reward."
Alexei knew that by revealing the name, he would be taking a serious gamble where the odds were not in his favor, but he had come this far, so he decided to tackle those odds: "Your employer... is Ian Eizengard." he was surprised at how much it had strained his throat to say that name, for it was not a name to be uttered lightly.
The person's eyes were wide open with shock at this, and had to ask: "Ian?! As in...?!"
Alexei then nodded: "Yes, the 6th head of the rulers of Ironveil; Ian S. Eizengard."
There was a very long moment of silence as the person's entire posture and face became utterly unreadable, making Alexei feel more nervous than ever before. In an attempt to finally break the oppressing silence, he tried to continue: "An-anyway, as to you- your reward-"
"Is beyond what you can promise, I assure you."
The person said firmly, cutting him off before continuing: "I will discuss it with the lord himself. Now, if there is nothing else, I must take my leave and prepare for the task. You can inform lord Ian that I will be arriving before the month is over."
Alexei was least to say stunned by the abrupt way the person had ended the negotiation, but this did mean the task he had been given was a success... though he was left with a feeling of unease about all this.
"Very well, I will inform my lord about your decision. I have no doubts about your skills, but the fact that we have to ask you of all people for help, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Believe me, I would rather be drunk in the gutter than spend one more minute talking to your kind."
The person just said with an evil grin: "And yet you're still here, little Alexei."
Alexei just grit his teeth before slowly getting up: "Only because I am loyal to my lord, unlike you whose only loyalty is to gold or... whatever you demand for this task."
The person then merely giggled: "Your lord knows I am worth every bit of it, otherwise you wouldn't be here, boy."
He just got up, finished his pint while thinking: 'Perfect, there goes whatever desire I had left for having a good time.' after finishing he said: "Yes, our lord is well informed about your reputation;
Sahnja of Cat-kin tribe, member of the Black Sky Guild."
With this, Alexei left the tavern, muttering about 'annoying beast-kin' and 'damn that brunette had a perfect ass', ending with 'I hate my work'.
Sahnja though, stayed behind for a while longer, staring at her hands with gleaming amber eyes, thinking:
'This has to be the workings of the First Walkers... And for it, praise be to them.
(First Walkers = the deified ancestors of all beast-kin)
It is too almost too much to believe; the chance that I had given up on 2 years ago is delivered right into my arms once more.
Ian Eizengard, if it is indeed who I think it is, this will be more than just a job for me...'
With those thoughts, she got up and disappeared amongst the crowd, while having an enigmatic grin on her face.
Outside, still muttering more curses was Alexei, heading back towards the stables of the town, still feeling bitter about being the one who had to seek out Sahnja.
But despite his grievances, he did also think: 'Black Sky Guild; if you believe the rumors, they say that if you manage to hire one of them for a request, the task is as good as done.
Just...Why a beast-kin? I know I am just supposed to seek her out, present the request, hire her and return but, I cannot help but wonder if Lord Ian truly knows what he is doing. No... no matter how desperate or cornered, I must believe in my Lord, in the man who managed to find hope in a hopeless situation.'
He then talked quietly to himself: "... for the future, no matter how bleak, of the Eizengards and ironveil depends on this."
=In the history of Ironveil, the name of Ian Eizengard is a topic of immense debate among its historians and people.
Some called him a heartless ruler, who abandoned his people for his own gain,
Others would praise him as a brilliant lord, who with cold precision preserved the future of Ironveil.
Now, to all of you who have come this far, the unknown chapter of Ironveils history begins to unfold; the chapter known only to a handful of people.=
"In the fractures of two lies, one begins to see the truth."
- Church of The One, Book of Light, Proverbs of Iskildro
(Third Saint of the Church)
To Be Continued...
A/N: Well, there is the first chapter, now to get the second one going.
I know this chapter was lacking in details and descriptions, but those will follow in the chapters to come. For now, this is just to get things moving.
If you have any comments, suggestions or opinions on how to improve the writing or story, please feel free to post/send them. I am always looking for ways to take my writings to the next level. Anyways, until we meet again!