Chapter 3: Alone

Chapter 3


The close confines of the Tavern were alien to Darkstar, he'd always hated being in confined spaces with too many people. Even more so after the war. Anyone of them could have been Government or bounty hunters looking for their next big pay check. Darkstar had survived years of being a wanted man by being careful, by laying down ground rules and never ever crossing those rules. But Baxen always did things his own way. One day I'm going to kill that boy if he keeps making me come to these kinds of places. Downing his whisky the attractive barmaid quickly refilled it, giving him a glorious twinkling smile as she did. When he stopped looking at her she huffed in offense before moving off further down the bar. As more and more people funnelled in the music began to play and people began to dance in strict organised lines, smiling and laughing as the occasional drunkard that clattered to the floor.

Darkstar felt the bodies pressing around him, anyone could kill him without hesitation, capture him without anyone knowing what had happened. To hell with this...Just as he was about to stand to leave a small hand slapped him on the shoulder, the body connected to the hand sitting onto the stool next to him. Baxen was a tiny, irritating little man with his mousy blonde hair, a stupid smile and eyes that knew far too much there was not one minute that went by when Darkstar didn't want to punch his lights out. But he couldn't, Virtues had to look out for one another in this place. If his face annoyed Darkstar his clothes infuriated him, a tunic made from the finest purple silks with a fine mesh of lace protruding around the collar and cuffs of his sleeves. Not something that blended easily into a crowd, but when you could turn any metal to gold with the simplest touch you were bound to dress like you had money. But Baxen's clothes were nothing but a false skin, underneath the fine silks he was a Gutter Rat from the slums of Acillia. No matter how expensive his clothes where they couldn't change his past. 'Darkstar my old friend!' he said incredulously cheery.

'Baxen,' came his simple reply. 'Nice suit.' he said adding a small amount of his anger to his words.

'I wore this especially for you, it matches your eyes!' he paused as if expecting a laugh, when one didn't come he continued, 'I've been hearing stories about you big man!' he said with that stupid smile. 'The women folk of the local villages are all aflutter with the stories of the brave swordsman of the Silver Wood. Why did you save that wench anyway?' for a long moment Darkstar didn't do anything as his mind sent him back to that forest, the silver birches looming over him when he heard a bone shuddering scream. The woman was being the end he just shrugged. 'That's what I like about you Darky! It's hard to find a Sellsword with a heart.'

'If you’re here just for a pleasant chat Baxen I'd move on, I thought you had information for me.' Looking at him for the first time Baxen squinted before recoiling in horror.

'How'd you get that scar? Was that in the forest? Did one of them draw the great Darkstar's blood?' Downing his drink Darkstar stood and spun for the door when Baxen's soft perfumed hand grabbed his wrist. 'I'm sorry, I just thought it would be nice to have a conversation for a change.' he smiled. Darkstar shot him a glance that immediately whipped the grin from his face. 'Just sit, please.' Briefly glancing into the faces of the village folk none stood out to him as possible Government agents, so, if only a little reluctantly, he sat back into his place. Baxen's tone then changed, his voice dropped to a hushed whisper and his sparkling deceitful eyes began scanning the room. 'Rumours are a Gifted's in the area,' at the mention of the name Darkstar turned to look at him and started to pay attention.

'Just one?' he asked equally as quietly.

'As far as I know, which makes me doubt they're coming after you. They got Rickard, he's dead.' Darkstar closed his eyes. Dammit. 'He was an arrogant little gob of spit...but still one of us.'

'Yeah.' Darkstar muttered. 'That just leaves you and me in the area then.'

'Erm...Just you actually Darkstar.' Baxen said after a lengthy pause. Looking back to the tiny man Darkstar found he couldn’t even meet his gaze. 'I can't do this anymore Darkstar, the constant looking over my shoulder, the fear any second Government might storm my house and kill me and take my kids!'

'Where will you go Baxen?' Darkstar challenged. 'Sorocco? You think just because Government isn't in power there it's somehow safer than here?' he met his eyes briefly. 'It's just the same Baxen! Except in Sorocco you won't be killed, there it's worse.'

'Well at least there we live in communities without...' the music suddenly stopped and Baxen realised how loud he was talking, there was a brief smattering of applause from the dancers before the high speed fiddles picked up once again and another dance began. 'I'm sorry Darkstar. You're on your own now.' Darkstar couldn't believe how cowardly he was being, running with his tale between his legs to a country that was just as corrupt and deadly, the poor bugger couldn't see the wood for the trees. 'We can't all be as strong as you are.' Those where the alchemist's last words before he smacked him on the back and left. Downing another drink Darkstar sat for a few minutes fighting his rage before he realised how uncomfortable he was. Checking both swords were still in place he placed a single silver piece onto the bar top and left, wondering out into the darkened forest. Now with only the owls and nocturnal creatures watching his back instead of a blonde haired Virtue called Baxen.

The End

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