Introduction to our protagonist; Vherit. First chapter to my novel.
ONE The streets were dimly lit by small oil lamps spaced evenly apart along the side of the road. Long grim shadows lay sprawled across the gravel and dirt. It was nearly two hours past midnight and the taverns and pubs started to slowly dry up. Drunks stumbled carelessly into the streets. Most of the people were in their homes sleeping when the town fell quiet. But at the same time, all hell broke loose in the bars. Tavern owners were pretty wealthy in these parts along with the provisioners who offered timber, metal, flour, grain, and other raw materials that the large trading companies bought up in a instant. In the morning the town's guards would make their morning patrols up and down every street and clean the drunks off the road as if they were some sort of dirty filth. Suddenly Vherit's train of thought was brought to a screeching halt when the sound of shattering glass rang through the early morning air. A slim athletic looking man laid limp on the hard earth while a tall tattooed man with a thick black beard leaped through the windowless void. The burly fellow stood a little off balance; probably from drinking so much ale and wine. The smaller man most likely said something that offended the larger one which started a fight. Drunken brawls happened at a frequent rate in the poorer parts of the city. Up in the higher class end of town taverns closed up a few hours early to prevent people from getting so piss drunk that they would fight each other over something so small that it didn't make any sense. In the back of Vherit's mind he thought that he should have gone to help the skinny man in his little duel, he would surely lose without some sort of help. The thought was quickly discarded once he realized that if he intervened then other people might do the same to keep the fight even and if that were the case people might make the unwise decision to take out their weapons. No, best to let it be. Vherit was a fine man of his early twenties with blunt features and yellow-brown eyes. He was in decent shape other than being a little underweight, but that is what happened to a man who didn't have any home to retire to at the end of the day. Vherit had only a couple of copper pieces left in his woolen purse that hung off of his belt beside the fine steel long dagger he had recently purchased. He also carried a few throwing knives and another shorter dagger. This one wasn't as pretty as the long dagger on his other hip, its edge was chipped and there were one or two spots of rust that showed its aging. Almost everyone in the city of Neverlon wore steel, less than a quarter of which knew what they were doing with it. Vherit's black cloak sheltered him from the elements and his large hood hid his face form the light as he passed the fight on the street. He stayed up late and stole money or good from larger trading companies while they were asleep in their fine feather beds in the higher end of town. Other than being a fine swordsman, he was also a master thief. When he was younger he had saved up almost two silver pieces in order to buy a lock for a door from one of the stalls that lined the streets when the foreigners came to sell their wares in town. He practiced picking that lock until he could practically do it with his eyes shut. He could have easily done it with a simple unlocking spell but most of the larger establishments were guarded by wards that repelled any magical attempts since magic was so commonly used by humans. Everyone knew some spell or another so the wealthy sealed their homes and businesses with very strong magical wards. Vherit only stole from these places because the owners or store clerks would never notice a couple of copper or silver gone missing where as a smaller company may call out an alert about a thief. If that happened then the king might have the towns guards patrol that street as a part of their daily routine. After a few moments of walking in the cool morning air he reached the door of a store that he hit fairly often; Silver Moon Provisioners. Silver Moon was fairly large which was odd for a company of such wealth to be located in the poorer district. They had other locations throughout the city as well, the only reason this one was where it is was because its backside is up against the water. Most stores had large - or small depending on how wealthy the company was - storehouses where they kept a huge supply of their inventory waiting to come onto the shelves, most of which were guarded by armsmen. He walked up the few wooden steps that led onto the building. The pine steps where depressed in the middle of each step from years of people walking on it. He looked at the black iron lock covered in ancient runes and arcane symbols. The script had a ghostly glow to it. Vherit fished around a small pouch that was strapped to his upper thigh and hooked the proper tools to get through the lock. After a quick look over both shoulders he could see the street fight evolve into one massive brawl with more than the two initial gladiators participating. It drew the attention of anyone who might have been lingering around the street. Now self-assured that everything would go as smoothly as planned, Vherit set his knee down so he was at the same level as the lock. He shoved the tools into the keyhole and started his art form. In the space of only five heart beats a click indicated that the door was unlocked. Some larger companies spread sand across their floors at closing time, when the last person left the establishment and locked up, he or she would rake the sand of any footprints this way any intruders would leave something behind after they left. But after so long of thieving Vherit had perfected a minor spell that lifted his body only a hands breadth above the ground so he wouldn't leave any footprints. The door swung open with an eerie creek. The storefront was completely black, he let his eyes welcome the shadows until he could see. He closed his eyes and focused the spell he wanted to preform and concentrated. Soon he lifted off the ground. Using magic was like fighting or doing anything physical. When someone used a spell it would hinder them just like if they had just ran a marathon. But that was only to the common user, just like a trained warrior could fight for a long period of time before getting short of breath or become fatigued, a well taught mage could fire off multiple spells before he started to get weakened. But someone who has grown up on the streets like Vherit, it would him him like a ton of bricks. Using the spell interrupted his breathing, he started breathing a little heavier but nothing more. He stepped a couple of feet in then turned to close the door slowly. No one could see him now behind the dirty glass of the door and windows on each side of it. He turned back to the room awaiting him. Each wall was decorated with shelves that reached the ceiling, in the middle of the room there was a free standing shelf with stuff on both sides of it. Near the floor where there were no shelves there were sacks of flour and grain all stacked on top of each other until they reached the bottom of the lowest shelf. In other places there were rolls of silk and linen and wool. There were also nets and fishing gear along with spices and herbs in the middle shelf. One vial of spice caught Vherit's eye. The tag that hung from the little container told Vherit it was worth a lot, seven silver pieces to be exact. Now selling it to his fence he would get a lot less but it was still something. He usually didn't steal any goods from this store but the vial was small enough that it would fit nicely in one of his pockets and it wouldn't trouble him any. He usually just stole money from here and that was it. Then the thought occurred to him: he could steal all the spice, all the copper, all the silver, all the gold, he could steal silk and anything else that was light enough for him to carry, fence it and become rich and buy himself a home and maybe some nice things to go along with that home. But he diminished the thought , if he did do that then the town patrol would be looking for someone who all of a sudden became wealthy. Then he spotted the chest in its own home behind the counter that held yesterday's profit. He climbed over the counter and lifted the heavy wooden chest onto the wooden counter top. He stood for a moment and just looked at the chest. It was just a bit smaller than a man's torso. The wood was a dark, deep brown with worn steel bands holding the wood in place. The lock on the chest was a little stronger than the one on the door but that didn't mean much, it would still only take him a few moments to get into it, like always. He dived into the same pouch that he had earlier to get through the door and pulled out the same tools. There was that beautiful click of the lock then the lock fell to the wooden counter top with a bang. He lifted the lid and inside there were piles of gold, and silver and copper. There were also a few notes on the side that could be taken to any of the banks and be cashed in for more money. It just all seemed to glow in the darkness shrouding the room. He scooped up a handful of copper pieces and let them fall into his purse. He quickly shut the lid and replaced the lock on the latch. He took a moment to look around the room then set the chest back where he found it. Now that he was done with the chest he could slip through the back door and check the store room for some more stuff like the vial of spice that he could steal and sell to his fence. Unfortunately there might be some guards stationed at the back and he wasn't about to take that risk. Now it was time to leave. Vherit made sure that all of his pouches were closed up nicely and double checked the room to see if he left anything out of place, which it wasn't. He looked about and spotted the small window beside one of the shelves. he unlatched it and slipped out, landing in a shallow puddle, it had started to rain lightly. It wasn't too surprising, he knew it would rain sooner or later, everyone knew it, the skies have been gray for a couple of days now. He looked to his right to see that there were still people crowed on the street, he must have only been inside a few minutes, then he turned left and began his journey to his second hit. Vherit was now only twenty yards away from the small store in front of him. This store was also another provisioner. His minor spell had worn off on his way, weaving through allies and he was walking on solid ground now. The old bag is still awake? At this hour? Vherit thought to himself. The windows of the building were glowing brightly in the dark night. He picked up his pace and ran toward one of the windows where he knelt down; taking cover under the window sill. There was no way that the owner was awake still by choice. The owner was an elderly woman in her early seventies he guessed. She was brittle and walked with a shaky stride. Her hair was snow white with a few strands of silver. Her shop closed up early and he never really stole much from her anyways, the only reason he went there was because it was close to his fence and he thought hell might as well hit one more place on my way there. He could hear voices through the closed window, voices of men, two of them. And between laughs of men he heard the shutter of the elderly woman. The window was closed so all the noises coming out were muffled from the glass; Vherit couldn't hear exactly what was going on but it couldn't have been good. Over the voices there was the sound of glass shattering and a thud of something hitting the floor. He risked a quick peek through the window. The old woman was tied to a chair and one of them men held a sword to her neck laughing. He was a large man, probably the biggest Vherit had seen in a long time. He was at least a head and a half taller than himself and probably outweighed him by double, maybe more. The other man wandered aimlessly through the store, throwing things off of shelves and smashing anything he could. He was shorter, still taller than himself again. But this man wasn't as thick as the first man. He had a short chin strap beard in contrast to the thick man's clean shaven face. Vherit pulled himself back down and thought of what to do next. If I go in to help her than she is going to be wondering why I was here and what I was doing up so late. But if I don't help her than they are either going to kill her or maim her. He decided on helping her. Screw the consequences, he wasn't going to let a couple of fools kill an old lady. Killing or harming a woman is dishonorable and disrespectful. He scooted over to the door and drew the nice long dagger. Slowly, he opened the door, both of the men had their backs to Vherit which was perfect for what he was going to do next. He slowly approached the beardless man in front of the elderly lady and pushed his head forward, at the same time he swept the blade under the man's neck severing his jugular and his windpipe, blood splashed down onto the floor but none of it got on the owner or Vherit. He found this to be far less messy than to pull his head backward, even though it was much easier that way, the spray would go over everything and everyone. The woman looked at him with wide, scared eyes of emerald green eyes. He put his index finger up to his mouth, signaling her to be quiet and not to give him away, then he lowered the lifeless body to the floor without making a sound, his sword was still in his hand even after death. They called it Dead Mans Grip. He turned his attention to the man laughing as he tore items off off shelves and slashed sacks of grain. He decided that he would kill this man the old fashioned way; one on one, toe to toe, man to man. He drew the rusted dagger in his off hand, duel wielding weapons was a hard task that took a lot of training to make it worth the loss of a shield of a longer weapon like a long sword, but lots of practice and free time made Vherit a decent blade master. He tapped the man on the shoulder, the moment he turned his head, Vherit punched the man directly in the nose. Blood poured out of his nostril like a waterfall and pooled on the floor like the pond at the bottom of the fall. A spark of anger ignited a flame in his eye. The bearded man retaliated with an overhead slash that Vherit stepped out of the way of. The swing carried through the bodiless space and sliced into the floorboards. Vherit took advantage of this and fed the man an elbow to the mouth. He could feel teeth shatter beneath his arm. The man spat blood and broken teeth onto the floor. "You'll pay for that!" the man's voice was deep and angry. He unstuck the long sword from the floor and thrusted forward as hard as he could. Vherit shot the blade back to the floor with his long dagger and with the rusted, shorter dagger, smashed the man in his collar bone with the pummel. A sharp cracked echoed through the store. The bearded man cried out in pain as he collapsed to his knees. His sword clattered to the floor, Vherit kicked it away. He sheathed the short dagger and put both hands on the long dagger. With all his might he drove the tip of the blade through the man's tunic, through the leather armor her wore underneath, through the skin, he could feel the blade bounce off the part of his spine that went through his neck, the blade continued through the skin to the side creating a massive cut that almost severed the man's head. He pulled the blade out of the floor boards and cleaned it on a small rag that hung from his belt beside his purse for just this reason. He hated sheathing weapons with blood still on them, it ruined the blade. He learned that when he sheathed the shorter blade and it turned into rust. He sheathed the clean blade and looked down at the body, it was just laying there. Life was no longer in the corpse. It had drained out of him with the blood that pooled around the man's face. Then looked at the other body. Both men wore black tunics with a gold star on an empty field. he stared blankly at the symbol but couldn't recall what guild or gang it belonged to. In the midst of all his pondering and thinking, he had almost forgot about the whole reason he was here; to save the old woman. He rushed back to the imprisoned woman and removed one of his knives to cut the hemp bonds that held her in place. "Praise the Gods! Oh Heavens, thank you!" the woman said as tears streamed down her face like watery ribbons, "I owe you everything young man, thank you!" she embraced him in weak, bony arms. Her voice was cracked from screaming and calling for help. Then her hold got even weaker than what it already was. She was short and barely even reached Vherit's chin. She looked up at him with a confused look. "How, how did you know that I was in need of help?" her praising had gone to pure ignorance. Sure she had suspected of something. She was a lot older than Vherit so she had many years of experience behind her. She wasn't stupid. He looked at her for a moment, and tried to think quickly. He had forgotten all about what he was to tell her once he was done doing what he did. He needed something good, he couldn't look like he was lying. Oh it was so hard, he was such a terrible liar. "I was up doing some business around this area." She wasn't going to fall for it, "Do you know who these men are or why they were here?" He had to do something to get her mind off of what he was really up to, so why not ask the same question he was already asking himself? She looked at him for a moment, then looked at the bodies that laid on the floor. "Thieves. Murderous, no-good thieves. I woke up and caught them here red-handed!" she said, "I caught them stealing the money from my chest and threatened to call the guards on them. After that they tied me up and did all this." She waved her hand around the room, motioning to all the wreckage. "Well I'll go notify them right now, I'm sorry but I really -" he couldn't expect her to really believe all this. "-have to get back to work. Sorry." With that he turned his back on her and started out the doorway. He could hear her footsteps behind him then stop. He guessed she was standing in the doorway, watching him leave. The small guard outpost sat not two blocks away from his fence. He decided the best thing to do was to tell them that he had heard some loud noises from a shop just down the street. He wasn't about to go in and say "Oh hey, you might want to go just down the street to this elderly lady's store, I just killed a couple of people and left them on her floor. See you soon!" No. That was definitely not going to work. After his quick stop at the station, they sent a party of five well trained Royal Armsmen over to the store to check everything out. The fence was now just a street away. The water misted his face as the wind carried it up from the ocean. Buildings were pushed close together off to his right. A sign, not far in the distance read Dragon's Fire. The building had a long main room that wasn't very wide. The floor was littered in tables of various sizes where people played different games and bet on themselves to win. At the back was the most wealthy person Vherit had ever known in person, the owner to Dragon's Fire and his fence. Vherit showed himself through the heavy wooden door of the back room, and there in a tall leather chair, sat Druuno Black. He was a thick man with a long braided beard. At the end of each braid was a small golden bead. he wore formal clothing unlike the black and dark gray thieves garb that was strapped to Vherit's body with bits of leather. Each of Druuno's fingers bore a shinny gold ring, some even had precious stones in them. "Ah, Vherit! Just finishing your early morning run? I wasn't expecting you for another quarter hour or so. Why so early?" His voice was deep with a light hearted laugh, lacing every word. It made Vherit think of the two men he had killed. He wasn't really upset for doing what he did, nor did he feel any remorse. He had killed people before today, it was just part of the survival of living out on the streets, you do what you have to to get by. "I ran into some trouble on my last stop, had to hurry things along, nothing to big. But I did manage to snag this on my first place." Vherit reached into his pocket and pulled out the small glass vial of spices. "You interested in this sort of thing?" He stood patiently as Druuno inspected the continents of the vial. "Hmm. I'll give you two silver for this." Vherit switched his gaze to the floor boards and put a serious look on his face to appear to be in thought. He was poor, he needed everything and anything he could get and both of them knew he was going to accept the offer, regardless of what it was. "Okay." He nodded in agreement. Druuno opened a drawer in his desk and retrieved two small silver pieces and dropped them into Vherit's palm. In turn he quickly opened his black woolen purse and dumped the coins in in case Druuno decided he would revoke his offer; which he never did. Vherit looked at him in the eye and dipped his head slightly before turning to walk back through the game room "I'll see you tomorrow!" he called out on his leave. When he got outside an awful odour stung his nostrils. He swiveled around to see if he could pinpoint where the foul smell was coming from. Down the street he seen massive pillars of black smoke rising into the night sky, obstructing the stars. The smoke was coming from the old ladies store, the place he had just killed two men from some sort of foreign gang. He started running, then his run turned into a sprint. The wind flowing through his hair he wondered how the place could have started in flames. He thought of the two men thrashing in the store. Did someone see what he did to the men than tell some sort of superior? Did they come to the store looking for him and not finding anyone but the old lady and a couple of bodies? Flames leapt from the broken windows. Men in black mail armor, wearing the same black tunic with the gold star fought the guards. Vherit drew a throwing knife in each hand. He let one loose and it found its home in the eye socket of a gross looking man with missing teeth. The second wasn't as lucky. It hit the armsmen in the temple with the flat of the blade, not doing anything but making a loud slap sound. The man turned to face him, but at that point Vherit already had both daggers in hand, running toward the lucky attacker. By the time the man raised his sword, Vherit had already impaled the man in the midsection. His eyes went blank and started to gloss, blood poured out of his mouth. Vherit twisted his blade and removed it, letting the mortally wounded man fall on the ground to his demise. Vherit looked around to choose his next foe. There was a man standing atop a small stack of crates with a crossbow firing at the three remaining guards. Vherit ran at him at full speed, jumped up on top of the crates and slashed the man across the face, splitting his cheek open to reveal the inside of his mouth. He stumbled back and fell off the crates, hitting the ground with a hard thud. Vherit looked down at him for a quick moment then leapt after him, thrusting the dagger into his neck. There was a spray off blood that covered Vherit's face and torso. When he stood up to look around for another enemy, there weren't any; all the blackened armsmen were dead. He could see a large party of the town's guards running toward the bright blaze that painted every one's face red. He had to leave. Even though he might have saved the guards' lives, they would want to know many things about him. Too many things. Things that would get him sent to prison for life, or even sent to death. He jumped onto the crates and then climbed onto the roof top, he wasn't getting caught. He ran as fast as he could along the roof tops, jumping from building to building. Then all of a sudden he hit something that felt like a solid stone wall. Vherit fell backwards while black spots swam through his vision. His hood had fallen off while he was fleeing and now his slightly pointed ears poked through his dark brown hair. After his vision cleared, he looked up to see a man looking back down at him wearing all black. On his chest was a golden star on an empty field. His skin was washed with a pale blue and his eyes glowed slightly. His long hair was pulled back, showing scared ears. Ears that were once long and pointed and were shortened and rounded by a knife, resembling human ears. He was an Elf no doubt.